Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Students vs Icons of Evolution

 
I teach in a second year course on "Scientific Misconceptions and Controversies." In my part of the course we discuss creationism and evolution. The object is to learn to think rationally about the controversy.

Students have to read Icons of Evolution and write an essay analyzing the arguments in one of the chapters (their choice). They have no problem recognizing the flaws in the logic and the outright mistruths in that book. For typical university students with a rudimentary understanding of evolution it's like shooting fish in a barrel.

The Discovery Institute sees it differently but they must live on another planet.


Here's how David Klinghoffer describes Jonathan Wells in a recent posting on Evolution News & Views [Celebrating Ten Years of Icons of Evolution].
A Berkeley PhD in molecular and cell biology, Wells is among the most lucid and accessible scientist-writers devoted to the modern project of critiquing Darwin. When I say the book is sweetly reasoned, I don't only mean that it's well reasoned but that there's an appealing geniality, a sweetness, to the man's writing that stands out in contrast to the donkey-like braying of a Darwinian biologist Jerry Coyne, the sinister coilings of a Richard Dawkins, the ugly "humor" of a P.Z. Myers. Yes, you can get a sense of a person's character, and perhaps too his credibility, from the words he uses.
And here's an example of "sweet geniality" from page 234 of Icons.
What about scientists who knowingly make false utterances or misleading omissions but believe the overall effect is not misleading because they are teaching "a deeper truth"? Does the commitment to a supposed deeper truth excuse conscious misrepresentations? Such an excuse probably wouldn't help a stock promoter. Under federal law, a stock promoter is not justified in mistating the facts just because he or she deeply believes that a company is destined to prosper. The stock promoter commits fraud by misrepresenting the truth, regardless of his or her underlying beliefs. Shouldn't scientists be held to the same standard?

Fraud is a dirty word, and it should not be used lightly. In the cases described in this book, dogmatic promoters of Darwinism did not see themselves as deceivers. Yet they seriously distorted the evidence—often knowingly. If this is fraud when a stock promoter does it, what is it when a scientist does it?

...

If dogmatic promoters of Darwinian evolution were merely distorting the truth, that would be bad enough. But they haven't stopped there. They now dominate the biological sciences in the English-speaking world, and they use their position of dominance to censor dissenting viewpoints.


10 comments :

  1. Wow.... just wow.

    What about scientists who knowingly make false utterances or misleading omissions but believe the overall effect is not misleading because they are teaching "a deeper truth"?

    "Hello Kettle, this is the Pot.... you're black."

    As for the video, right from the start it lost me:

    Miller-Urley/abiogenesis != evolution

    How many times do people need to be told this?

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  2. Did he happen to mention which scientists he was talking about or provide any references at all?

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  3. I remember seeing this in the science section of Barnes and Nobel when it first hit the shelves. Evolutionary theory is a passion of mine so when I saw it, not knowing what it was, my instinct was to buy it. Looking through it, I just laughed. There were twelve of them on the shelf and I marked each of the spines with a small dot so I could tell if they sold. A month later none had sold. The same copies sat on the shelf for more than two years at BN. Then, they started to move, because an instructor at a local Christian college made them required reading. I happened onto a student buying one and commented that they weren't selling very well. He told me he was forced to buy it. Today, ten years later, two of the twelve I marked still occupy the shelf. I've seen stacks of them at bargain book places.

    The video says fifty thousand have been sold in ten years. No so impressive.

    I'm waiting for one of those Larry Moran biochem texts to show up on the BN shelf. I'll buy that for sure.

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  4. "... the sinister coilings of a Richard Dawkins ..."

    This is my most favoritest piece of writing ever.

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  5. For many IDiots, it's simply enough for them that there exists a book out there that purports to defend their views scientifically. It's not actually important that they buy, read, and understand it.

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  6. [T]here's an appealing geniality, a sweetness, to the man's writing that stands out in contrast to the donkey-like braying of a Darwinian biologist Jerry Coyne, the sinister coilings of a Richard Dawkins, the ugly "humor" of a P.Z. Myers. - David Klinghoffer, 21st century defender of intelligent design

    The great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. - Thomas Henry Huxley, 19th century defender of the theory of evolution.

    Damn those nasty scientists, slaying Wells' sweet hypotheses with their ugly scientific facts!

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  7. When I say the book is sweetly reasoned, I don't only mean that it's well reasoned but that there's an appealing geniality, a sweetness, to the man's writing that stands out in contrast to the donkey-like braying of a Darwinian biologist Jerry Coyne, the sinister coilings of a Richard Dawkins, the ugly "humor" of a P.Z. Myers. Yes, you can get a sense of a person's character, and perhaps too his credibility, from the words he uses.

    So talks an ass of an IDiot - David Klinghoffer - who would not merit even a clownish appearance at a scientific conference! Ten years later, things are as they are for charlatans like Wells. Irrelevance changing to ridicule.

    Truti

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  8. It's not actually important that they buy, read, and understand it.

    Why should it be? Even their own scriptures apparently don't warrant they read and understand them.

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  9. Can we have more Casey Luskin videos please? He is my idol.

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  10. So Klinghoffer doesn't care about lies, as long as the author's "tone" meets with his approval. Nice.

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