All that follows is from UD commenter Timaeus:
Larry Moran wrote:
“I’ve been trying to teach Denyse about evolution for almost twenty years. It’s not working.”
Perhaps teaching is not your strong point, Larry. There is some empirical evidence of that, I believe.
Or perhaps it is expertise that is the problem. Last time I checked your website for your publications on evolutionary theory, I found many popular articles on ID and creationism, and some apparently self-published biochemical data on your university website. I couldn’t find a single article on evolutionary theory in a peer-reviewed journal on the subject for over 10 years into the past. For someone who has so many opinions on evolution, and voices them so loudly in non-professionally-controlled environments such as blog sites, you are surprisingly absent from the professional discussions. Perhaps you can explain the inverse relationship between your popular involvement in debates over evolution and your visibility in the technical books and articles on the subject of evolution.
It strikes me that spending hundreds of hours every year trying to convince ID people and creationists they are wrong would not be as profitable a use of a Toronto professor’s time as actually researching evolutionary mechanisms and publishing the findings at academic conferences, in books, and in journals.
I’ll take Larry Moran’s silence on my request for a list of his recent peer-reviewed publications in evolutionary biology as a concession that he has no such publications. I.e., I will infer that he is a commentator on debates over evolutionary theory, not an evolutionary theorist himself.
Of course, being a commentator on something is not a bad thing in itself. For someone to say: “Gould says such-and-such about evolutionary mechanisms, and Futuyma says something different, and Coyne says something different, and here are some of the points over which these men have disagreed” — that would be pedagogically useful for many readers. But that’s not the way Larry Moran has ever written about evolution.
Larry writes in this fashion: “Evolution doesn’t happen that way; it happens this way.” That is, Larry does not merely describe what the experts think, and indicate areas of possible strength in weakness in their various views, but tells his readers which views are right and which are wrong, which evolutionary biologists know what they are talking about and which don’t. He poses as someone who can referee the conflicts, who stands above all the others and can pass judgment on their scientific competence and the correctness of their theories, and, in a pinch, when none of them is right, can tell us the way evolution really happened, on his own authority. This is pretty arrogant for a guy with no recent publications in the field, and whose work (as far as I can tell) is never or rarely cited by Shapiro, Newman, Wagner, Jablonka, or any of the other currently important evolutionary theorists.
Larry has an inflated idea of his own importance within evolutionary theory. In fact, in reality, he is just one more of 10,000 guys in the world with a Ph.D. in biology or biochemistry or genetics who is under the illusion that knowing one of those fields automatically makes one an expert on evolutionary theory and evolutionary mechanisms. But the people who actually *do* evolutionary theory seem to take little notice of Larry Moran (or his blog site) at all.
Of course, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Larry regularly gets invited to big conferences on evolutionary theory to be the keynote speaker; maybe his judgments are revered around the world the way Ernst Mayr’s used to be. If so, I’ll be glad to be corrected, and to retract my statements. Someone here can write in with evidence of the hundreds of times Larry’s research on evolutionary mechanisms have been cited in the literature, with the details of the publications Larry hasn’t bothered to list on his web site, etc. What I can see for the moment, however, is that Larry Moran is a nobody in evolutionary theory, a biochemistry teacher at Toronto with an interest in evolutionary theory who is convinced he knows more about it than almost everyone else on the planet, but with no track record to corroborate that opinion.
That’s the problem with the internet age. Through web sites and blogs, it gives people the ability to be prominent, and many readers assume that prominence equals importance. But it doesn’t. The Kardashians and Paris Hilton are as prominent in popular culture as Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep, but they aren’t nearly as important. To be important, as opposed to prominent, one has to demonstrate ability. *Ability*, not the verbal fluency to hold forth on a subject on a blog site. And in science, ability is proved not on blog sites but at conferences, in articles, and in books. So what is needed is a list of Larry’s publications in these venues.