A writer encountered this all-too-common type of behavior recently and was, well, surprised. To see why it feels normal to many of us, it is helpful to understand a bit about Darwinism as a social phenomenon.
Faithful readers of various vintages will, of course, remember University of Toronto evolutionary biologist Larry Moran, best known publicly through his blog Sandwalk. At his blog Southern Prose, writer John Leonard happened to come across him the other
There are many excellent evolutionary biologists who could have signed the statement published by the Discovery Institute. They are not Darwinists and they believe that there is more to evolution than natural selection. Furthermore, all scientists believe that careful examination of evidence is necessary. Larry Moran, “A chemist who doesn’t understand evolution” at Sandwalk
At the time the Dissent statement was written, media releases quoted Darwin from 150 years ago as if he were Holy Writ. Indeed, it’s only in recent years that some of us have begun to notice a lessening of the nauseous trend, no small thanks to people with an eye on the news and an active gag reflex, some of whom signed the statement. But then Moran goes after Tour for signing the statement and says,
I suppose I’m going to be labeled as one of those evil “Darwinists” who won’t tolerate anyone who disagrees with me about evolution. I’m actually not. I just don’t like stupid people who think they are experts in evolution when they have never bothered to learn about it. Here’s my advice to graduate students in organic chemistry: if you want to know about evolution then take a course or read a textbook. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with admitting that you don’t understand a subject. Just don’t assume your own ignorance means that all the experts in the subject are wrong too. Larry Moran, “A chemist who doesn’t understand evolution” at Sandwalk
(Dr.) Tour has over 650 research publications and over 120 patents, with an H-index = 136 (107 by ISI Web of Science) and i10 index = 605 with total citations over 87,000 (Google Scholar). He was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors in 2015. Tour was named among “The 50 Most Influential Scientists in the World Today” by TheBestSchools.org in 2014; listed in “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” by Thomson Reuters ScienceWatch.com in 2014; and recipient of the Trotter Prize in “Information, Complexity and Inference” in 2014; and was the Lady Davis Visiting Professor, Hebrew University, June, 2014. Tour was named “Scientist of the Year” by R&D Magazine, 2013. He was awarded the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching, 2012, Rice University; won the ACS Nano Lectureship Award from the American Chemical Society, 2012; was the Lady Davis Visiting Professor, Hebrew University, June, 2011 and was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2009. Tour was ranked one of the Top 10 chemists in the world over the past decade, by a Thomson Reuters citations per publication index survey, 2009; won the Distinguished Alumni Award, Purdue University, 2009 and the Houston Technology Center’s Nanotechnology Award in 2009. He won the Feynman Prize in Experimental Nanotechnology in 2008, the NASA Space Act Award in 2008 for his development of carbon nanotube reinforced elastomers and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society for his achievements in organic chemistry in 2007. Tour was the recipient of the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching in 2007. He also won the Small Times magazine’s Innovator of the Year Award in 2006, the Nanotech Briefs Nano 50 Innovator Award in 2006, the Alan Berman Research Publication Award, Department of the Navy in 2006, the Southern Chemist of the Year Award from the American Chemical Society in 2005 and The Honda Innovation Award for Nanocars in 2005. Tour’s paper on Nanocars was the most highly accessed journal article of all American Chemical Society articles in 2005, and it was listed by LiveScience as the second most influential paper in all of science in 2005. Tour has won several other national awards including the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award in Polymer Chemistry and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award in Polymer Chemistry. John Leonard, “Calling the Wrong Guy Stupid” at Southern Prose
Leonard wonders why Dr. Moran, who has fewer recorded accomplishments, would imply that the eminent Dr. Tour is stupid. Ah, a question we can answer: to isolate people who critique the way things have been done in evolutionary biology for a century and more, no matter what their basis or their background or what the outcome of more candor would be.
Most people of talent who have questions cannot both work productively and deal with dozens of aggrieved mediocrities, to say nothing of the newer problem of trolls with little minds and big platforms.
By analogy, that’s how stagnant systems survive. Life forms that would shake them up prefer healthier conditions. They either cannot tolerate the stagnation and don’t stay or else they stay but don’t do much.
The Darwinians and their protected in-house critics like Larry Moran have the additional advantage of an adoring, incurious, and gladly ignorant media who just want to believe that they are helping “science,” file a story, and go home. Hey, in the ecology of news, their nonsense helps keep Uncommon Descent in business among the ruins.
If that’s not enough explanation, we will gladly provide more. It’s just that not many people ask. Perhaps more people should.
Hat tip: Philip Cunningham
See also: A World-Famous Chemist Tells The Truth: There’s No Scientist Alive Today Who Understands Macroevolution (March 6, 2014) Nearly 375,000 people have visited this post featuring James Tour.
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