Monday, May 25, 2009

The Darwinius Affair Continues to Embarrass

Today's the day we get to see the global event of the century, or is it millennium?. Sometime this evening there will be a TV show on one of the cable channels. It will reveal the astonishing fossil find that proves once and for all that humans have evolved. (Or something like that.)

The Darwinius Affair continues to embarrass everyone, including the creationists.

A friend alerted me to an article in The Bapstist Press (don't ask): Experts: Fossil find exciting but lacks significance . The article quotes certain "experts" including Kurt Wise the creationist who was a graduate student of Stephen Jay Gould.
"It is always exciting to find a well-preserved fossil, especially of something as rarely preserved as a juvenile primate," Wise wrote in a statement to Baptist Press. "The Messel site has generated a large number of spectacular fossils. Although the sediments seem to have been from a lake, it is an unusual one, somehow allowing remarkable preservation of animals both of the lake and the land.

"The unusual conditions of the Messel lake were probably created by a combination of global warmth (a much warmer earth than that of the present day) and the presence of active supervolcanoes (much larger than any known today) -- both a consequence (I believe) of the earth recovering from the effects of Noah's Flood," Wise, professor of science and theology and director of the Center for Science and Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said.
There's more than enough embarrassment to go around, however, evolutionists should take heed when Answers in Genesis (AiG) says ....
The group also said the pitch of Ida as the missing link is "full-out sensationalism by people who are bypassing the scientific community with a direct-to-the-public appeal on behalf of Darwinism."

"All of this seems a departure from the normal turn of events, where researchers study their subject and publish their findings, and let the media chips fall where they may," AiG said.
I agree with Answers in Genesis.1 We handed this to them on a golden platter and they are right to make it into a big deal. Shame, shame on all the scientists and media types who turned this minor, but interesting, discovery into a public-relations disaster.

1. Whew! I never thought I'd say that.

Franzen, J.L., Gingerich, P.D., Habersetzer, J., Hurum, J.H., von Koenigswald, W., et al. (2009) Complete Primate Skeleton from the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: Morphology and Paleobiology. PLoS ONE 4(5): e5723. [doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005723]


  1. It is still not a "minor" find. Here we have the other end: cynic idiots whose anti-journalims is leading them into saying the fossil has no importance. Any other stupid opinion want to join the boat?

  2. It is "minor" in that it is not changing the course of history in the sense that Pearl Harbor, the defeat of the Spanish Armada, 9/11/01, the signing of the Magna Carta, the burning of the libraries at Alexandria, etc...

    As I read the paleontologists' reaction to this, they are excited at the completeness of the skeleton (which is major,) and the possible realignment of certain phylogenetic relationships among primates.

    The History Channel is billing this as "This Changes Everything." If people buy into that, then discover that while it is an exciting discovery for paleontology it ultimately provides no new proof of evolution (which wasn't lacking for confirmation before today,) then it again provides creationists with a convenient whipping tool to use against "Darwinists," as much as the New Scientist "Darwin Was Wrong," magazine cover.

    This sensationalist journalism may get people excited enough to dig deeper, but for those who don't it is fodder for those who think that "Scientists can't make up their minds." It is going to feed the know-nothing egos of those who laugh about the contradicting studies on whether or not caffeine is good or bad for you.

    "This Changes Everything" types of promos are Super Bowl or Grey Cup hype; declaring an ultimate championship while knowing that next year there will be another, and again the year after that.

  3. If the media hype machine had not gone full blown out idiot on this one we might be discussing an interesting find, important because of its incredible preservation and its ability to help resolve some issues in early primate evolution and taxonomy. I don't know if I would have put it in the "major" category so whether it is major or minor might be somewhat debatable, mostly resolved by your personal opinion on the importance of, or professional interest in, early primate evolution and taxonomy.

    But the sad fact is that we have a riduclously overblown hype machine that went into full operation and that incidences like this further erode public perception of, and trust in, science. Thats bad no matter how important you think the discovery of Ida was scientifically.

  4. Certainly it is an important find but the amount of crap surrounding it is unfortunate. It is turning what would be an exciting find (enough to garner some excitement in the general media) into something of a circus act. Tiktaalik was pursued in a manner for befiting of a scientific discovery.

    If it was allowed to proceed as other recent and important finds of "transitional" forms it would simply be added as another "tic" against the creationists and ID. Instead it is a massive crap storm that allows them to quote us as sensationalist.

    shame. damned shame.

    That being said I am still excited about the find but am completely avoiding all the crap that is going to be on the history channel (unless it is "Hitler and the Occult" - That one is awesome"

  5. I agree with Answers in Genesis.In other news: Frost warning in Hades; Pope comes out as closet Scientologist; bears learn to use flush toilets.

    But you are, of course absolutely right. Shame on the discoverers for playing this find as showbiz.

  6. History channel today featured a story on the mysterious predator that is the real cause for livestock deaths and disappearances for the last 100 years. That's how kooky the big H channel is.