Thursday, January 25, 2007

I'm not a Darwinist, but I Ain't Signing

Bill Dembski continues to demonstrate his ignorance of evolution by ranting against Darwinism. In his latest posting [Dissenting from Darwin] he urges those of us who are skeptical about the exclusivity of Darwinian evolution to sign a petition.
Increasinginly I find that those with doctorates in the natural and engineering sciences are asking, “What can I do to help in the fight against Darwinism?” For some this will involve research bearing directly on Darwinian theory. But there is also another way to help. Many in the media and the public still do not know that there is scientific dissent from Darwinism. They have no idea that MANY scientists are skeptical of neo-Darwinian theory.

So one way you can help is to put your head on the chopping block and voice your skepticism of Darwinism (if you do, trust me, Darwin’s dogmatic defenders will try to chop off your head). This is why Discovery Institute created their statement “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.” It states: “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”
There's nothing wrong with the statement. I am skeptical of claims that natural selection accounts for all of the complexity of life. There are lots of other things going on during evolution.

But I will not sign this petition because Dembski and the IDiots will deliberately misinterpret my intentions. They have no idea what dissent from classical Darwinism really means. They have no idea that someone like me could (mostly) agree with the statement while, at the same time, referring to all Intelligent Design Creationists as IDiots. I suspect that some of those who signed the petition would feel the same way about Intelligent Design.

The list of dupes and IDiots is [here]. There are 686 names and two of them claim the University of Toronto as their affiliation. They are,
            Stephen J. Cheesman Ph.D. Geophysics
            Alfred G. Ratz Ph.D. Engineering Physics
Neither of them are listed in the phone directory and they have no affiliation with the university according to a search of the website. Chessman was involved in writing some software for an undergraduate lab back in 1992.


  1. If someone works at an institution they will list that otherwise it's where they got their phd.

  2. Chris Hyland is wrong about how affiliations are noted in the Disco Institutes's list of Darwin Doubters.

    The Disco Institute is deceptive about how it lists the affiliations of people, consistently choosing a 'connection' that's most prestigious. For example, the affiliation of Stephen Meyer, Program Director of the Center for Whatsit at the DI, is listed as "Cambridge University" on their Darwin Doubters list. Meyer got his Ph.D. at Cambridge. And that Cambridge listing was the case when Meyer was a faculty member at Palm Beach Atlantic University, a conservative religious institution. It never appeared next to Meyer's name.

    On the other hand, Glen Needham, an Ohio State entomologist, is listed with that affiliation though his Ph.D. is from Oklahoma State. Hence the U of TO affiliation listed for those two guys is not surprising.

  3. Dembski himself is listed as "PhD Mathematics University of Chicago".

    I can't sign up. My name isn't Steve.

  4. The NCSE's Project Steve Steve-o-meter is up to 784. I consider myself a "Steve by proxy" since I convinced someone else to sign up.

  5. What is needed is a similar statement about Newton. Or Lord Kelvin. Yes, Lord Kelvin. We are skeptical about Lord Kelvin's estimate of the age of the earth and other research. Clearly his work on thermal energy is flawed and increasingly we find dissent among PhD holding scientists...

  6. Almost any evolutionist (besides extreme proponents of self-organization) would agree that "random mutation and selection" is necessary but not sufficient for the "complexity of life."

    Also, what does the statement mean by "complexity"? Does it refer to the diversity of life at all levels of biological organization, in which case non-selectionist processes are important, or does it mean adaptation, in which case selection has a predominant role (notwithstanding models focusing on self-organization and/or instructionist processes).

  7. The "Complexity of Life" would include the complexity of the DNA code and the associated reproductive machinery that it drives.

    Darwin's Model is about the occasional emergence of new species from existing ones, by means of perturbations in the reproductive processes.

    In other words, Darwin's Model takes over after DNA-based self-reproducing systems have emerged out of whatever preceded them. Darwin's Model is mute on the origin of life itself and offers no insight into how such an astonishingly complex system of self-reproducing molecular machinery ever emerged out of organic chemistry.

    If and when science ever solves that mystery, the theory will probably owe very little to Darwin's thinking on the subject, since he admitted (in letters to colleagues) that he had no clue how life on earth ever got started in the first place.

  8. Is your name Moran or Moron?