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That didn’t take long: Darwin’s man Jerry Coyne defends zombie science

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Of course, he allows us to know, he did not read Jonathan Wells’ book, Zombie Science:

I will be accused of having “reviewed” Wells’s book here without having read it, but this isn’t a review: it’s a notice that a scientifically rejected charlatan has published another book, and has even issued a “teaser trailer” for it. Here it is below. There’s no intellectual content there, but of course the buyers of the book aren’t looking for truth and reason; they’re looking to confirm their own religiously-based biases.

Reading a book signals that one intends to address the information therein. When people are sufficiently well established, they do not need to know information in order to dismiss it. Indeed, that may be a bad idea.

In this case, it would definitely be a bad idea. Wells’s information that icons discredited two decades ago are still around should be embarrassing. Given that it isn’t embarrassing in the present state of things, an increasingly popular intellectual fashion is not to address the information. That prevents one’s readers from experiencing any discomfort with denouncing it unread themselves.

Perhaps this approach is now being taught at universities, to judge from recent events. The technical term we use here is noviewers.

From Evolution News & Views:

As Dr. Wells argues in Zombie Science, however, if his case rested on “incorrect or misleading” examples, the solution would have been for publishers to correct or get rid of them in subsequent editions. But they’re all still with us, like zombies.

Why? Coyne doesn’t venture an answer to this telling question. Come on, Jerry, why do the zombies persist?

Meanwhile, copious reader comments following Coyne’s post reveal just how much time his followers have on their hands. It’s interesting how much space they devote to whether Jonathan should have been allowed into the biology PhD program at Berkeley.

See what we mean? Coyne is giving his followers permission to make the issue how to fix Wells, not how to fix the textbooks.

They assume he ignored what he learned there, when actually it was his Berkeley education that convinced him that the icons (starting with Haeckel’s embryos) were false. More.

In fact, many such icons were sneer-lauded as “the most famous fakes in biology.”

Question: Has anyone researched the evolution of the zombie, based on natural selection acting on random mutation?

Note: sneer-laud Allow one’s inferiors to know that one has passed beyond the need for one’s information to be correct, and only admiring assent is now tolerated.

See also: Are polls scientific? Well, what happens when human complexity foils electoral predictions? (The pollsters did not need to understand the voters right?)

Breaking: Texas science standards survive the mother of all gravy bombs

and

What do we call people who refuse to read books the are attacking?

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23 Replies to “That didn’t take long: Darwin’s man Jerry Coyne defends zombie science

  1. 1
    harry says:

    What evidence would falsify Darwinism according to Coyne? If it is real science it must be falsifiable.

    I ask any of the atheists reading this page:

    What evidence, according to you, would falsify Darwinism?

  2. 2
    rvb8 says:

    The ‘zombies’ persist because they are not zombies.

    Haeckle overstated the case, and scientists pointed out his flaws. However they are still useful, and are therefore used, in showing the develoment of ‘gill’ flaps, in the migration of bones throughout gestation, and homolgies. Therefore they will remain; useful. Does Wells not know this?

    The Peppered moth study showed blind mutations in genes, producing darker moths led to a related selection for those darker moths. Thus, in only decades evolution was shown to be observable; Wells disputes this? Good luck getting anything outside of the vanity press publishers pursuing those book rights.

    Horse and whale evolution didn’t happen? Oh brother. Google it.

    If you are critical of Islam and have not read the Koran, you should not criticize?

    I’ve read several pages from a few chapters of Wells’s first book, and it is painful, even to an amateur such as me.

    I’ve just finished re-reading Sagan’s Gifford Lectures, I suggest Wells does the same, before he publishes (in house), his next to be ignored book.

  3. 3
    hammaspeikko says:

    Harry: “What evidence, according to you, would falsify Darwinism?”

    Darwinism was falsified almost a century ago.

  4. 4
    rvb8 says:

    hammaspeikko,

    what an odd statement. You own a computer because you post.

    It has other uses you know? One of them is serching. Don’t type in ‘evolution’, ‘natural selection’, or ‘Darwin’.

    This ‘falsified’ theory is remarkably tenacious. Apparently, it has been sucessfully refuted and falsified, for the last 150 years. And still, every university, research institute, and rsearch company, worth the name, doggdly pursue its furtile fields.

    You have a slightly unbalanced understanding of the word, ‘falsified’.

  5. 5
    soundburger says:

    There are so many spelling and grammar errors in comment #4 my head hurts. For crying out loud, man, YOU own a computer ‘because you post’, right? It has other uses, you know. One of them is NOT ‘serching’ but SEARCHING for the correct spelling of words you don’t (but certainly should) know how to spell.

    SMH

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, I believe you urgently need to attend here http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-629923 , and also address onward issues cross posted for reference here: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-630383 — OOPSIE, conflated two objectors, RVB8 you need to look here: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-630382 KF

    PS: For those who imagine Haeckel only exaggerated, it is clear they need to actually read on and ponder what went so shamefully wrong in that case.

  7. 7
    harry says:

    kairosfocus @ 6,

    See my post @ 1.

    No atheist has responded to my question. In your long experience, have you ever heard what evidence it is that Darwinists admit would falsify Darwinism? If so, what is it?

  8. 8
    rvb8 says:

    soundberger,

    quite correct, I apologise, I am a lazy speller. However if we criticized posts for poor grammar and spelling, rather than for their content, ID would do even less than the, almost nothing, they are doing today.

    hammaspeikko said Evolution (Darwinism), had already been ‘falsified’. The gist of my post was that people have earnestly tried to falsify Darwinism for the past 150 years. And yet here it is, at the base of private enterprise, the source of inspiration for inventors, and the basis of University Biology departments in all good reputable institutions.

    Bad spelling aside, where am I misssstakkken?

    Sorry, ‘mistaken?’ Heh:)

  9. 9
    rvb8 says:

    harry,

    Evolution would be falsified if a very old idea like ID had physical evidence to back it up.

    Then that evidence would have to be academically, and publically freely available. This new idea would then have to run the maize of academic scrutiny, laboratory testing, field work, and constant shoring up by new discoveries.

    Hang on! We already have such a theory. It has survived all of the hollow arrows tossed at it, and it remains at the center of biology.

    “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Theodosius Dobzhansky.

    Feel free to give a stinging rebuttal quote from Dembski, Wells, Berlinski, O’Leary etc.

  10. 10
    Seversky says:

    harry @ 7

    No atheist has responded to my question. In your long experience, have you ever heard what evidence it is that Darwinists admit would falsify Darwinism? If so, what is it?

    This has been discussed a number of times before. At some point, Haldane’s example of a rabbit in the Cambrian is usually cited although many doubt that a single counter-example on its own would be sufficient to overturn a theory that is well-supported by other lines of evidence. However, if the fossilized remains of a range of modern species were found in rocks dated to millions of years before they were previously thought to have appeared then I imagine that would cause some serious head-scratching and re-thinking.

    Now, tell us, what – if anything – would cause you to reconsider your religious beliefs?

  11. 11
    Bob O'H says:

    rvb8 – to b fair, Darwinism probably has been falsified. After all, all major theories have been. It’s just that we find different explanations for the falsification.

    e.g. Darwinism was falsified when Fleeming Jenkin pointed out that blending inheritance wouldn’t produce the variation required. This is why, in the later volumes of OoS, Darwin moved more towards Lamackianism. Then, around 1900 Darwinism was again falsified when a different form of inheritance was found: Mendel’s Laws.

    What happened? Well, a bright mathematician (and Christian!) showed how Mendel and Darwin could be combined, and as a by-product he invented the analysis of variance.

    (warning: like all pop histories, this is at best a simplification of what went on)

  12. 12
    rvb8 says:

    Bob O’H,

    quite right, and Darwin himself was at a loss to explain how traits are passed on.

    But those falsifications you mention, didn’t they in the end just end up adding to, and strengthening Darwins idea of descent with modifcation?

    After all, the discovery of DNA, strengthened it, as did better understandings of homologies, and filling in those fossil gaps with more intermediate species.

    As you say these ‘falsifications’ lead us to different, and better explanations, and only end up making evolution more robust.

  13. 13
    harry says:

    Seversky @ 10

    What evidence, according to you, would falsify Darwinism?
    — harry

    … if the fossilized remains of a range of modern species were found in rocks dated to millions of years before they were previously thought to have appeared then I imagine that would cause some serious head-scratching and re-thinking.
    — Seversky

    That’s it? The order of the appearance of species in the fossil record indicates that Darwinism is true? And if so many anomalies were found that they were no longer anomalies but became the preponderance of the evidence then Darwinism would be falsified? That approach ignores a lot of scientific discoveries since Darwin’s time.

    Let’s say Kim Jung-un starts WWIII and the human race is annihilated except for some savages on a remote island someplace. Let’s further suppose that in 100,000 years these savages are still basically savages but their seafaring abilities advance to the point that they begin exploring the rest of planet Earth and come across artifacts of our computer technology. A debate ensues about the nature of this unknown stuff as more and more of it is found. It begins with various interpretations of the readily visible hardware, but is totally ignorant of the software. Centuries go by and they eventually begin to understand software and its significance in terms of the nature and purpose of the hardware. That should change the terms of the debate dramatically.

    Why are you still basing the falsifiability of Darwinism on fossilized skeletons, or the “hardware,” so to speak, when we now know it is a matter of the origin of biological information, or the “software”?

  14. 14
    LocalMinimum says:

    rvb8:

    …people have earnestly tried to falsify Darwinism for the past 150 years. And yet here it is…the source of inspiration for inventors…

    How does this even work? Inventors are intelligent agents, design is their mode. When was someone inspired to say “we’ll just leave it alone for a really long time, and maybe when we come back it’ll have made itself into something amazing that we couldn’t have found ourselves”? Sounds like a fatal case of procrastination.

    Can you back up that Dobzhansky quote by offering even one thing in biology that only makes sense in the “light” of evolution?

  15. 15
    cmow says:

    rvb8 – “As you say these ‘falsifications’ lead us to different, and better explanations, and only end up making evolution more robust.”

    I.e., evolution is unfalsifiable.

    If you’re saying that falsifications make the theory stronger, then, at the least, you don’t have a well-formed theory.

  16. 16
    Seversky says:

    harry @ 13

    That’s it? The order of the appearance of species in the fossil record indicates that Darwinism is true? And if so many anomalies were found that they were no longer anomalies but became the preponderance of the evidence then Darwinism would be falsified? That approach ignores a lot of scientific discoveries since Darwin’s time.

    You asked for examples of evidence that would falsify Darwinism. By “Darwinism” I assume you mean the theory of evolution through natural selection, descent with modification. A theory that was developed and written by a Victorian-era scientist who, I remind you, had no knowledge of genetics, information theory or computers.

    Observed fossil sequences are consistent with Darwin’s theory and hence provide a strong line of evidence to support it. The hypothetical scenario I suggested would represent a significant challenge to that evidence and by extension the theory itself. So far, nothing like that has been found.

    Why are you still basing the falsifiability of Darwinism on fossilized skeletons, or the “hardware,” so to speak, when we now know it is a matter of the origin of biological information, or the “software”

    You asked about “Darwinism”. Genes and their alleged information content were not a part of Darwin’s original theory. As far as the origins of information – however that is defined – and the regularities or order or laws that make the Universe possible are concerned, I have said many times that they are still a profound mystery and Darwin’s theory says nothing about them.

  17. 17
    harry says:

    Severksy @ 16,

    A human being requires much more biological information to construct than a single-celled, reproducing life form. For humanity to have evolved from a single-celled, reproducing life form enormous amounts of new information had to come from some place along the way. So it is not just about the origin of the information required for the first life form; the whole Darwinian process is dependent upon the creation of new information needed for the construction of new body plans and the new tissues required for new functionality like advanced tactile, auditory and optical systems. This requires new sequences of nucleotide bases — new digital information — that provide the assembly instructions for the required proteins.

    Darwinism is falsified if the mechanism it proposes is shown to be insufficient to have produced the required massive quantities of functionally complex, precise, new information that evolution requires.

    Take a look at this:

    DOUG AXE EXPLAINS THE CHANCES OF GETTING A FUNCTIONAL PROTEIN BY CHANCE

    Actually, the Darwinian mechanism has already been falsified.

  18. 18
    harry says:

    Seversky @ 16, harry @ 17,

    I should have added that getting the correct sequence of nucleotide bases for the construction of a functional protein is at least as unlikely as Axe explains it is to get a sequence of amino acids for a functional protein from some pre-biotic soup. It is probably more unlikely than what Axe was talking about, because particular proteins are required for, say, a new optical system, and Axe is talking about the odds of coming up with any old functional protein mindlessly and accidentally, without the assembly instructions in the cell’s DNA.

  19. 19
    rvb8 says:

    Harry,

    Seversky answers your question, with a reasonable example of the evidence required to falsify evolution; large numbers of animal fossils in the wrong strata.

    You reply with the old, “10 to the Nth power of improbability”, argument. What is generally known as the, ‘incredulity’, argument.

    His example is testable, material, and relavent. Yours is, ‘I just don’t see how this is possible.’

    Also, the fossil record has been studied for at least one hundred years before Darwin’s idea. In all of that time, not once, not once, have the discovered fossils ever disagreed with the correct strata, they were expected to be in.

    So, consistently finding fossils in the wrong strata would indeed disprove evolution. Your amino acid, information hand waving is not scientific proof, it is answering a question not asked. Answer the question, with a material testable solution.

    Physical proof to disprove evolution; not hope, and wishful thinking.

  20. 20
    harry says:

    rvb8 @ 19,

    You confuse the “incredulity” argument and the “rationality” argument.

    It is irrational to insist that that which has been mathematically shown to be virtually impossible just might have happened anyway only because you desperately want to believe it happened.

    You desperately want to believe that the digital information-based, self-replicating nanotechnology of which cellular life consists came about mindlessly and accidentally. You persist in your belief

    — in spite of the math indicating that that happening is a virtual impossibility.

    — in spite of the fact that there are no known instances of digital information-based technology coming about mindlessly and accidentally; in other words, you persist in your belief without any evidence whatsoever to back it up.

    — in spite of the fact that the functional complexity of cellular nanotechnology is light years beyond our own, and

    — in spite of the fact that the very definition of technology is that it is the result of the application of knowledge for a purpose.

    Darwinists offer no plausible explanation of how the assembly instructions for cellular nanotechnology were written into the coding regions of DNA memory in the first place. They ignore the fact that mindless, accidental ongoing changes to the contents of DNA memory — or some precursor to the DNA molecule — that might have actually accidentally arrived at functional contents instead of its contents always consisting of ever changing gibberish, would be impossible for some replicating, pre-life chemical units to have achieved by Darwinian means simply because continually re-writing non-functional gibberish provides no functional advantage; it is a huge waste of energy. So the process by which the contents of memory might have been filled in with functional information mindlessly and accidentally can’t even get started. It would be stopped by natural selection.

    Not to mention that the very notion that a digital information storage device came about mindlessly and accidentally in some pre-life, self-replicating chemical units which mindlessly and accidentally obtained the ability to read and write it, couldn’t be more preposterous.

    You are preposterous. Seversky is preposterous. Darwinism is preposterous.

  21. 21
    LocalMinimum says:

    Empiricism can be wed to mysticism. Look at ancient Chinese medicine. I would expect there are systems of alchemy that correlate strongly to chemistry with respect to specific sets of reactions.

    Actually, I would think that mysticism arises from insufficiently structured/explained empiricism. I’d say what separates modern science from knowledge systems of the past is the complete dedication to the nuts and bolts approach; something that some in this thread are trying to divorce from Darwinism as a means to defend it.

    That, and the fossil record is manufactured/massaged/what have you. To the point of being fallacious? I don’t know. But, little things like index fossils, made up mother/daughter ratios of isotopes, expectations of a relatively empty 4.5 billion year geological history, skeletons from loose teeth, genomes from dry bones, and other such assumptions make the fossil record questionable as an independent system of evidence.

    The weak or even non-existent complexity directionality even allowing evolutionist assumptions; homologous structures of necessarily separate origin; lines of descent built out of creatures with modern morphological counterparts (that are later, in the case of whales, put into doubt entirely by fossils of the final product found before most of the ancestors); apparently successful predictions of an ancestor’s position in the rock strata, only to be falsified practically immediately after; these and other issues all cast doubts on the fossil record’s viability as evidence at all.

    The fact that cladistics; which, from what I’ve seen, is pretty much naive Bayes applied by people who don’t know what’s wrong with naive Bayes; is apparently the bleeding edge of paleontology is not incredibly confidence inspiring.

    If we had an actual mechanism, if there was a nuts and bolts independent of assumptions, the apparent issues with the fossil record and its subjectivity could be overlooked, or at least tolerated. But Darwinism really looks like a vastly overwrought guess in defiance of experiment. We cannot yet offer a definitive general system of (im)probabilities; or directly prove it’s impossible; so it persists.

  22. 22
    rvb8 says:

    Preposterous? or does it just offend your idea of the centrality of humanity to creation; yes! I said it, ‘creation’. Of course I mean in it in the same way Spinoza, and Einstein use the term God.

    Fossils in wrong strata versus theoretical improbability? Sorry, I, and the police, and doctors, will go for physical evidence all the time.

  23. 23
    harry says:

    rvb8 @ 22

    Sorry, I, and the police, and doctors, will go for physical evidence all the time.

    See the following regarding DNA evidence:

    It’s a Match!

    Unlike you, the police and doctors, and hopefully the courts, rationally assess the physical evidence.

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