Monday, May 28, 2012

Denyse O'Leary: Catholics & Evolution

As I'm sure you all know, the Intelligent Design Creationists have a small bevy of really, really, smart people who strike fear and dread into the hearts of evolutionary biologists.

Here's Toronto's own Denyse O'Leary giving a lecture at Biola University in October 2010.




141 comments :

  1. It is difficult to explain O'Leary in terms of Evolutionary Theory.

    But not impossible :)

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  2. Professor Moran, may I leave? My brain hurts...

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  3. Interesting little talk. I'd never heard of her before. There are a few problems with her facts, for example, Henry Newman was a very early non-opponent of Darwin. She also tends to define "Darwinism" kind of oddly but, then, so do many Darwinists, a lot of other Darwinists would seem to share her criticisms of EP.

    I'd be interested in your objections to her main points.

    I've become more interested in just why the evolution has attained such out of measure stature in general culture when for the large majority of people it is about as important as the most esoteric of mathematical topics. I think that question does, actually, hinge on its presumed usefulness in attacking religious belief. A question which, itself, has an extraordinarily large and largely unadmitted position in academic culture. Even those parts of academic culture that are quite unrelated to questions of religion.

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    1. Evolution has attained its "out of measure stature" by explaining vast amounts of biological data. Silly biologists, to believe it for that reason, when they could refute it by taking public surveys of how often most people think about it!

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    2. Evolutionary theory does explain many things - that is for sure. But does it explain the really important things about living organisms? Unfortunately, it does not. It is time for scientists to have the honesty to admit this rather than just repeat "evolutiondidit" over and over again.

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    3. What really important things about living things does evolution not explain? What does explain them o explain them better?

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    4. She also tends to define "Darwinism" kind of oddly but, then, so do many Darwinists

      What is "Darwinism", exactly? What is a "Darwinist"?

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    5. I've become more interested in just why the evolution has attained such out of measure stature in general culture

      Same reason the Bible did: it purports to answer basic questions human beings naturally ask about their origins. The difference is, it's not made up out of imaginary whole cloth but from discoveries gleaned by studying the world, and ones that provide practical results when applied. Next time you get 'this year's' flu shot, thank a "Darwinist".

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    6. But does it explain the really important things about living organisms? Unfortunately, it does not.

      Nor is it supposed to. Evolution isn't "the answer to life, the universe, and everything". It's a description of how life diversifies over time -- how speciation occurs. That's pretty much it. It doesn't address the nature of the universe, or how life started, or how the mind works, or the pretty pictures of Jesus and Mohammed oxygen-deprived brains supposedly perceive in "near death" experiences, or why you feel happy in the springtime. And it's not supposed to. Other studies of science, sometimes in entirely other fields, touch on those matters. And so far, none of them has discerned a supernatural agency as the cause of anything.

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  4. There are times when I'm glad that my internet connection is too slow to watch internet videos, and this is one of those times. :)

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  5. "The church has always rejected Darwinisms principle doctrins (...) and for good reason."

    Yes, and it also rejected heliocentrism, also for good reason. ;)

    But of course I "was programmed by Darwinism" so I may not see The Truth.

    Anyway, she mentions some evolutionary experts (G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc) and makes fun of evolutionary psychology. Seems like she knows what she's talking about (but I had to stop watching after "gorillas divorcing their wives" :D ).

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  6. Damn, she looked so normal, so natural; there was no indicative outfit like a Monckton or a Markuze would try to make an impression with. In fact for the first half minute I actually hoped I'd hear an informative, smart and educated talk.

    Then I began bargaining, come on, this is a talk at a *university*, you don't get to hold ... oh no ... what ... that doesn't even ... has she checked *any* fact ... is she even trying to assemble an argument or is she just lost in the maze of her mind?

    Finally I just sat in shock and awe at her garbled thoughts. Not even the sympathetic audience (Was that really a talk at a university?) could follow most of her "jokes".

    Here's her rational wiki page, a fun, burning read:
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Denyse_O%27Leary

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    1. Remember that this "university" used to be called the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA) or something like that.

      I loved the way she apprehensively touched her computer as if it were a dangerous magic stone and asked "I wonder if this will work?" (4:58).

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    2. "I loved the way she apprehensively touched her computer as if it were a dangerous magic stone and asked "I wonder if this will work?" (4:58)."

      She also looks to me like she is praying when she holds her papers with both hands.

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  7. Joe Felstein, you misunderstand my question. Of course evolution is true, as Gould said it's the most massively supported idea in science by sheer bulk of confirming evidence. It is, though, no more true than any of the little known proven positions of advanced mathematics.

    What I want to know is why evolution has become such an important cultural touchstone for people who hardly understand the first thing about it. That's true of people who deny the truth of evolution but it's also true for many of those for whom Charles Darwin is their cherished team mascot. The number of people who have any use at all for knowledge of evolution is extremely small for the size of its position in general culture.

    By the way, what she said about evo-psy being an article of religious faith is true. All you have to do is read most English language newspapers to see that just about every week if not day. As for Darwinism's position in science....

    http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1139/g03-115

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    1. What I want to know is why evolution has become such an important cultural touchstone for people who hardly understand the first thing about it.

      To some degree, I think this is reactionary. You have a vocal bunch of people who (from their utterances) clearly don't understand evolution ... but they hate it, they hate atheists, they aren't too keen on science, they are the only people possessed of True Morality ... oh, and something about Hitler. Yes, of course people who don't share their religious stance, or recognise the logic of evolution, or feel their own worlview to be perfectly legitimate, are gonna argue with them.

      That's true of people who deny the truth of evolution but it's also true for many of those for whom Charles Darwin is their cherished team mascot.

      Darwin is greatly, and rightly, admired as a scientist. Ditto Newton by people who are perfectly capable of sticking to the planet without his assistance, or Einstein by people who don't need to travel at near-light speed ... even Hoyle deserves credit for his work on nucleosynthesis (but NOT for his biology!) ... scientists are admired for the cultural contribution to understanding, for those people who give a shit about how things work. Perhaps hardly any science leads directly to the practical betterment of the human race (although evolutionary theory has made real contributions). But ... so what?

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    2. Charles Darwin is their cherished team mascot

      Well, I don't know anyone who suggests he made the world, or walked on water, or turned water into wine for a bunch of drunks to turn back into water again. All he was was a scientist with admirable courage for his time. He took a set of observations others had made before but ignored because they had troubling implications for the conception of the world they lived in and unlike them, dared to recognize, and more to the point, state publicly, the conclusion: life diversifies over time from common ancestors. That's it. That's all he really did, and if he's a "mascot", he's no more so than Louis Pasteur, or Albert Einstein, or Johannes Kepler, or Nicolaus Copernicus, or Galileo Galilei, or Jonas Salk, or John Snow. None of them were gods, and none of them are worshipped or held as infallible. What they were, were men who took the world at face value and changed it -- simply by acknowledging it, and helping the rest of us to, too.

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    3. Re barefoot hiker

      Let's not forget the greatest scientist who ever lived, at least according to Neil Tyson, Isaac Newton.

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    4. @ SLC

      It's hard to be really inclusive in a list like this. :) Genuinely, we'd need to include hundreds, maybe thousands of names... the vast majority of which, sadly, most of us (particularly me) aren't even commonly aware of.

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  8. Although intelligent design is true - developmental biologists try and explain ontogeny in terms of the artificial intelligence of cells (just ask Michael Levin) - the ID movement is composed of non-scientists who don't understand biology and related fields. That is what is so tragic about this (at least from my perspective)

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    1. developmental biologists try and explain ontogeny in terms of the artificial intelligence of cells

      That's completely absurd.

      So the couple of hundred cells of a blastocyst use their "artificial intelligence" to what... go to the library, look up the biological pedigree of whatever species they happen to represent, and say, "Ooo, okay, apparently we had fishlike ancestors, so let's be really retro and paste up some gill slits over here on the wall for a while... that'll impress the womb... Later on, we'll slap together a fake yolk sac... stylin'!!!"?

      "Artificial intelligence of the cell". What next.

      Here's an idea. Maybe it's just different genes being activated and deactivated at different times that have the upshot of creating structures that the activation of other genes later on modify until you end up with whatever it is you end up with from that structure in that species. A hand, a wing, a fin.

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    2. Nope. It is not just a matter of genes being switched on and off. Cells have to make decisions about the information they receive in order to communicate and coordinate with other cells in a highly synchronized and organized way. This is where AI comes in.

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    3. Cells have to make decisions

      Cells don't "make decisions". Decisions are value judgements. Even individual brain cells don't tackle that; value judgement determination is an emergent property of myriad neurons firing in response to previous patterns.

      Cells respond to chemicals they are confronted with, and they respond in natural and predictable ways, such as secreting chemicals in response that affect OTHER cells. But it's not a matter of interpreting "information". There's no little man sitting there in the cell going "hmmm..., should I or shouldn't I...?". They don't "coordinate" because they're not aware of one another, or ANYTHING. They do what they do because chemical X is on the scene, and moments later they do what they do because chemical Y shows up.

      This is where AI comes in.

      This is where the WOO comes in, you mean.

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    4. Why do you refer to this alleged intelligence as artificial?

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    5. I think this is Homunculus argument.

      A little man sitting inside cell making a decision, but he himself is composed of something (another level of little cells?) which also contains little men making decisions etc (you get the idea).

      This is logical fallacy, but I doubt Atheistoclast is capable of understanding that.

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  9. Looking a bit at her blog posts, I can see what you mean, Larry Moran. O'Leary doesn't seem to miss a trick. She was aware that J. H. Newman didn't oppose Darwinism, though I guess she sees that as not particularly significant.

    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.php/2/2006/06/07/the_catholic_church_and_id_what_s_really

    I'd criticize her for failure to observe the restrictions of what science can and can't do but she is, actually, responding to people who do that constantly, themselves.

    I've got a problem with the use of "Darwinism" to mean "evolution" as if they were homonyms, but, then, that's almost ubiquitous, even among those in science who should know better. I would present a lot of the ideas she talks about as being the theft of science for use in an ideological war, materialists vs. biblical fundamentalists. That war should never have been brought into science which can't honestly be used that way. Though it often is. Evolutionary biology, dealing with the process of life in its environments and within groups, was bound to constantly deal with ideas that have breech the wall separating science from extra-scientific ideas, natural selection was born from extra-scientific ideas of Malthus, after all. It might have been a good idea to be careful in making claims when that happens but in too many cases scientists have been the ones making absurdly expansive claims in exactly those areas. And the real motive has often been the promotion of materialism, not examining evidence and data.

    Being religiously and politically on the far left, I certainly don't agree with a lot of her positions but she's no fool.

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    1. I've got a problem with the use of "Darwinism" to mean "evolution" as if they were homonyms, but, then, that's almost ubiquitous

      No, scientists call what you're talking about "evolution from common descent", not "Darwinism"; and they certainly don't generally call themselves "Darwinists". They tend to call themselves "evolutionary biologists". The only people who call them "Darwinists" are creationists who what to trivialize and calumny an entire science that threatens their worldview by portraying it as nothing more than a personality cult.

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    2. Being religiously and politically on the far left

      I thought you Marxists were supposed to avoid partaking of that opiate.

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  10. Barefoot hiker, for the vast majority of his fans, Charles Darwin is a team mascot or a brand name. I'd guess most of the citation of him on generally liberalish blogs is as uninformed as a lot of that you'd find on creationist blogs. Start to question them about his actual writings and it's clear that some have read Voyage of the Beagle, fewer have read Origin of Species, hardly any have read the putrid Descent of Man and far fewer have ever read his papers or letters.

    The man died more than 120 years ago, by far most of the evidence of evolution was discovered after that. It's high time for evolutionary science to dump the Darwin cult. He left some really awful stuff. He, his children and his close circle are far more useful to creationist propaganda than they are to contemporary science.

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    1. The man died more than 120 years ago, by far most of the evidence of evolution was discovered after that.

      Yes, and Newton died about four hundred years ago, he was wrong about alchemy, and his description of gravity has been superseded by Einstein's. Does any of that negate his accomplishments or the contribution he made to human progress? Darwin was, like Newton, a man of his times who did something to make OUR time possible... THAT'S the point. If we go condemning everyone who was left behind by the advance of civilization, in part because they've subsequently DIED, I'm afraid we'd have a history a couple of pages deep.

      And, again, I'm afraid the characterization of admiration for anyone you personally happen to find overrated as a "cult" tells us more about you than it does about said "cultists".

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  11. What really important things about living things does evolution not explain? What does explain them or explains them better?

    Well, consider the following:

    1. Genetic information: Evolution may explain certain small changes in genomes, but does not explain the origins of genomes and the important information (namely the motifs) contained in them.

    2. Diversity of Form: Evolutionary theory does not explain the diversity of body plans and morphology in terms of mutations in DNA.

    3.Instinct and Behavior: Evolutionary theory does not explain how a spider can spin a web based upon the proteins encoded in its DNA.

    4. Sleep: You spend 1/3 of your life asleep. Evolutionary theory cannot explain why you sleep and how this habit evolved.

    5. Consciousness: Evolutionary theory has no explanation as to how and why certain animals like ourselves are self-aware.

    The bottom line is that seeking explanation for all this based on randoms mutations in DNA is quite pathetic. We need to look beyond the genome and proteome.

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    1. We need to look beyond the genome and proteome.

      Yeah, we do, which is why evolution doesn't address ANY of those matters (with the exception of point 2, in which you are simply wrong; it DOES), and other disciplines DO. You're looking in a sock drawer and scoffing because you don't find the toaster in there, and ignoring the fact that actually are more appropriate places where you WILL, if you just LOOK.

      As for point 1... genes don't contain "information". Information is the communication of memes between minds. No minds are involved in what DNA does. It's a catalytic acid whose shape ultimately gives rise to proteins. We tend to characterize it as "information" in order to discuss the process in analogous terms we're used to in modern life. Hundreds of years ago, people would have called it "magic"... but it isn't that, either (creationist "understandings" of the process notwithstanding). The problem with doing so, however, is it opens the door to people like you insisting information implies an informer, and slapping the name "God" on that unwarranted assertion.

      It's like that old question, "if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?" It's meant to be a conundrum but actually, the answer is "no", because of the nature of "sound". Sound is the perception of the movement of molecules sufficiently energetic to excite certain centres of the brain, and it's subjective (ask a human and a dog if there is a "sound" at 40kHz and you'll get two different answers... and subjectively, they're BOTH right). Without someone to perceive it, it's not a "sound"... it's simply the unrealized vibration of molecules. Likewise, DNA is not passing anything between minds... it doesn't represent "information" in doing what it does. It only becomes "information" in the abstract when we conceive of it as such.

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    2. Let us assume, for the sake of discussion, that evolutionary biology does not explain any of those things. After all, there are lots of things that evolutionary biology does not explain: I'll just mention the periodic table of elements.

      My question is whether you have any explanation for any of those things, or for the many things which evolutionary biology does explain.

      I can't think of any generally accepted scientific theory which does explain all things, and many very good scientific theories only explain a few things, so it doesn't seem to be much of a deficit for evolutionary biology to point out a few things which it (supposedly) doesn't explain. On the other hand, I don't know any scientific theories which do not attempt to explain anything.

      TomS

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    3. Great points. You totally convinced me, now what? God? How do you explain 1-5? What do you propose? Actually you only convinced me that you are willfully ignorant. All of your claims are factually wrong.

      One brief rebuttal: I will agree that we can not look at the genome of an animal and determine its specific behaviors, but are you suggesting that a spider doe not use nerve cells to stimulate muscles to move in certain ways at certain times? (Are you suggesting that the ability to catch a ball in your hand is not directed by your brain, maybe magic fairies move your arm and fingers?) Are you suggesting that the 'firing' of nerves and contraction of muscles is not a biochemical process carried out by proteins? Are you suggesting that those proteins are not encoded by the organisms DNA? If there is something magical about making spider webs, why do treatments with mind altering drugs affect web making ability? Do you realize these drugs act on proteins, proteins encoded by DNA?

      Is everything DNA and proteins? Of course not, where did you get that idea? Just because you do not understand something does not mean it is not understood by others. Just because you do not understand something does not mean you can conclude it is understood as the function of magic fairies (or whatever term you want to substitute).

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    4. My question is whether you have any explanation for any of those things

      And what if the honest answer happens to be "no"? How does that justify jumping up and insisting a story about an invisible man, his mud gollum, a woman made from a spare rib, and a talking snake -- or any set of combinations and permutations you care to invent -- qualify as the "real" answer?

      And I'm not saying for a moment there aren't answers. We've come a long way in understanding how the mind works, and so far, nothing's come up that points to supernatural agency or a "soul". If consciousness is not a function of the brain, then chemical inebriation and damage to the brain should have NO bear whatsoever on personality, thought processes, motor skills, or intellectual capacity... and yet, they do.

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    5. What I am saying is that behavior is not itself encoded in DNA. There are indeed proteins that facilitate and influence behavioral activities, but you won't ever find a gene coding for web-making in spiders. Likewise, you won't find a gene that instructs birds how to fly and navigate huge distances.

      Now, if instincts and habits are not somehow stored in the genome, then where do they come from and how are they inherited? I would argue that they are not based in the physical cell and that we must seek answers that are in possible non-material realities.

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    6. What I am saying is that behavior is not itself encoded in DNA.

      Really? How do you know that? On what basis do you assert that? If instinct is innate, which is to say inherited, what other mechanism do you propose that serves the purpose of biological heredity other than DNA? The world waits with baited breath; your Nobel Prize awaits, I believe.

      but you won't ever find a gene coding for web-making in spiders.

      Are you sure? And how do you KNOW that?

      And what if it's two genes? Or seventeen? Or a hundred and forty-seven? Isn't the principle the same regardless of how many different locations in the genome the sequences that give rise to the required proteins are found?

      Now, if instincts and habits are not somehow stored in the genome

      As the ephors of Sparta said to Philip II of Macedon, "If." You haven't demonstrated that yet. You've simply asserted it.

      I would argue that they are not based in the physical cell

      Yes, that much you've done. What you haven't done is supported it with anything like evidence.

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    7. It is well known that animals can be bred for behaviors. That's why there are such things as pet dogs which have been bred from wolves, and in particular, why border collies behave so well as helpers for shepherds. Also see the long-lasting experiment of breeding domesticated foxes.

      But let's suppose that there is a non-hereditary component to behavior. To repeat the question which has been asked a couple of times above: So what? Yes, we all know that evolutionary biology does not explain everything. It doesn't explain the Pythagorean Theorem. Why replace evolutionary biology, which does explain some things, with creationism/intelligent design, which does not even attempt to explain anything? C/ID does not show any prospect, or any interest, in explaining behavior, nor does it attempt to explain eye color, nor the number of limbs, nor anything else.

      TomS

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  12. The Whole Truth: "There are times when I'm glad that my internet connection is too slow to watch internet videos, and this is one of those times. :)"

    Oh, you are missing a treat. Do watch it if you can. Failing that, at least read the transcript.

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  13. BF, like Marx said of himself, "Je ne suis pas Marxiste". I don't believe in the dialectic, for a start and I'm not a materialist believing that living beings, not least of which are people, have inherent rights. Marxism has been a disaster for socialism. I'm a leveler and an egalitarian absolutist, far more radical positions than Marxism or the even more awful Fabians.

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    1. like Marx said of himself, "Je ne suis pas Marxiste".

      Darwin would probably have said likewise. Certainly, no one else need answer to the name, either.

      I'm a leveler and an egalitarian absolutist

      Are we equal to God?

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  14. What is "Darwinism", exactly? What is a "Darwinist"? BF

    If you don't know that I'm wondering why you're participating in this discussion unless it's to confirm my contention about passionate faith in Darwinism held in the absence of knowledge about it. You might want to consult a dictionary or an encyclopedia. I'd suggest a print one, one that is somewhat less likely to be ideologically "edited" by who knows whom.

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    1. If you don't know that

      No, I do know that. I was being rhetorical, actually, along the lines of wondering if you routinely go around calling people who believe in gravity "Newtonists" or people who believe in germ theory "Pasteurists", for example.

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    2. Why don't you go lecture Richard Dawkins who calls himself a "Darwinist" just as Darwinists have since Thomas Huxley gave the term its present day meaning in one of his reviews of Origin of Species in 1860. Before that "Darwinist" had meant someone who agreed with the evolutionary theory of Erasmus Darwin.

      You should't take your etymological guidance from Sciencebloggers who practice folk etymology out of ideological motives instead of evidence of usage. It's usage that governs meaning, not the predilections of ideologues.

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    3. Or people who believe in relativity Einsteinists.

      By the way, here's an announcement that I'm sure will be of monumental non-interest to Mr. McCarthy.

      http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/1724-see-james-randi-in-washington-dc.html

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    4. SLC, I'd be as likely to make an effort to go see Ms. O'Leary, though I'd never just assume that what either of them would say was "entertaining and informative". However, I don't have a long list of deceptions and outright lies from O'Leary, but, as I said to LM, I just heard of her the other day. I've known about your hero and his antics for decades.

      You seem to think there's something immoral about looking skeptically at the "skeptics". But if there's one thing obvious about the "skeptics", they believe they are above being looked at by the same standards they pretend to advocate for other people.

      I'm surprised they'll let him leave the state until that spot of identity theft was cleared up.

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    5. @The Thought Criminal: On the contrary, you shouldn't conflate the usage of one person with "usage that governs meaning". Dawkins is prefectly free to call himself "pudding" if he so choose, along with creationists who are all too happy to do the same in an attempt to equate the position with a mere personality cult (as they can, and do, characterize Islam as mere "Mohammedism"), not to mean "someone who agreed with the evolutionary theory of Erasmus Darwin". It hardly obliges anyone else who is convinced that descent from common ancestry is a natural process.

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    6. I would suggest that Mr. McCarthy spend less time smearing James Randi and Charles Darwin, which smears impress nobody, and more time working to defeat the referendum on same sex marriage in Maine.

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    7. BF, "free to call himself a "pudding" But Richard Dawkins didn't call himself a "pudding". If he had there is nothing in anything I know of him or his writings that would support that, there is massive evidence in his writing going back for at least four decades to support him calling himself a Darwinist. Your absurd use of an absurd argument does, though, remind me of the frequency of blog atheists resorting to that particular absurd tactic in argument. Maybe I should start collecting examples for future analysis.

      Dawkins lies on the extreme of Darwinism but he is certainly within the continuum of Darwinism. Having criticized him on many points, I'm not going to criticize his use of the term. I haven't read any of their most recent stuff but I'd put him as somewhat less extreme than Daniel Dennett who is about as extreme as it's possible to get.

      SLC, a smear has to be untrue, you can't smear someone with the truth. As I've shown you in the past, James Randi has a very checkered career, including documented lies, topped off by his involvement in an identity theft by his partner.

      Charles Darwin did leave some putrid stuff, all you have to do is read The Descent of Man to find scads of bigotry against many different racial and ethnic, as well as economic groups. Francis Galton credited his cousin as the inspiration of his eugenics, producing an enthusiastic letter CD wrote to him about Hereditary Genius. Charles' son, Leonard, succeeded Galton as the head of the British Eugenics Society and promoted it at least up into the 1930s. I believe at least three of CD's other children were also active in eugenics. I did an extensive search for people who knew CD intimately who objected to eugenics as a distortion of his thinking, I put out several calls for citations of that kind of objection and have yet to find any where that they objected. I didn't find any serious attempt to distance CD from eugenics until after WWII. I could go on for quite a while up to today's ultra-Darwinists. And that's only one line of the trouble with the continued and unwise identification of Charles Darwin with modern evolutionary science. Science would be well served by junking the Darwin industry which has worked so very badly in defending evolutionary science from the creationism industry that already has the goods on him and his circle.

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    8. And so, nonentity Anthony McCarthy continues his smear campaign adding Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett to his list of smearees. How about Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers?

      Of course, for the information of any who may be reading this thread, Mr. McCarthy's animosity towards James Randi (and Martin Gardner by the way) has nothing to do with their alleged shortcomings. It's because they rejected the absurd notions of ESP and PK and exposed charlatans like Uri Geller and had the temerity to criticize the work of Joseph Rhine, a totally discredited researcher. Mr. McCarthy is a believer in ESP and PK, ideas that have no support in the scientific community and are considered pseudo-scientific crap therein.

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    9. You don't have to be able to lay an egg to know a bad one.

      I see you haven't refuted the specific mention of the identity theft by James Randi's partner, domestic as well as business. Since there is conclusive documentary evidence that Randi knew his real name and that he marketed him under the stolen name, it would be rather difficult for you to do that. Just as those other documented examples of sleaze in his CV are rather difficult to debunk by any means other than suppressing the evidence or, as is usually the case, just lying about it.

      If you want to add to the evidence supporting my contention of baseless hagiography in the pseudo-skepticism industry, the prohibition of skeptically looking at the "skeptics", their insistence on a double standard that favors them, feel free.

      Where exactly was Joseph Rhine "thoroughly discredited"? Citations, not baseless assertions, please.

      "a believer in ESP and PK", if you want to call actually reading papers published in reviewed journals and, in the absence of evidence of fraud or demonstrated error, taking them seriously, I'd guess you could also say I believe in lots of things on that basis. Here's an interesting one from Physics Essays I read just last weekend.

      http://www.deanradin.com/papers/Physics%20Essays%20Radin%20final.pdf

      Compare the methods, etc. with any paper published in evo-psy or most of psychology. Not looking so good for your club, these days, SLC.

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    10. BF, "free to call himself a "pudding" But Richard Dawkins didn't call himself a "pudding".

      And likewise, the vast majority of evolutionary biologists don't call themselves "Darwinists", nor you a "Marxist". Thank you for coming back to and buttressing my initial point.

      Your absurd use of an absurd argument

      I'm not the one purporting Dawkins to be either the only evolutionary biologist on Earth, or else to speak authoritatively for every other one. That would be you, I'm afraid.

      Maybe I should start collecting examples for future analysis.

      Can I suggest a larger sample than ONE to form the basis of your NEXT proposition?

      Dawkins lies on the extreme of Darwinism but he is certainly within the continuum of Darwinism

      Again: what IS "Darwinism"? Define it.

      The Descent of Man to find scads of bigotry against many different racial and ethnic

      So does the Bible. And?

      And that's only one line of the trouble with the continued and unwise identification of Charles Darwin with modern evolutionary science.

      So let's see if we have your bottom line mapped out here. Observation: life diversifies from common ancestors. Conclusion: Auschwitz.

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    11. I see you haven't refuted the specific mention of the identity theft by James Randi's partner, domestic as well as business

      Oh, not this again. You still haven't told us what this has to do with disproving "psychic" phenomena. I suppose you'd insist 2+2=4 should be suspect if we were advised it's so by that naughty Mr. Hitler, too.

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    12. Re Anthony McCarthy @ 1:34 PM

      Mr. McCarthy links to a paper in a journal Physics Essays. After going to their web site and looking at the titles of some of the papers previously published in this journal, I am less then impressed by their gatekeeping. However, since even less then reputable journals may publish legitimate articles, let's examine this particular one. Since this is a long post, I will divide it into 2 parts.

      The first issue with this article is that the authors do not understand quantum mechanics very well, not a serious complaint as nobody understands quantum mechanics. Therefore, the first item of business is to describe the 2 slit problem.

      Consider the situation of a monochromatic plain wave of light impinging on a screen which has two parallel slits in it. The issue is that the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics states that each photon in the light beam that makes it through to the other side of the screen passes through both slits. However, any attempt to observe this phenomena results in the collapse of the wave function that describes each photon so that one ends up observing that each photon that is observed passes through one slit or the other (I will refrain from going into the alternate parallel universe interpretation which has been posited as an alternative to the wave function collapse explanation).

      This is the phenomena that the authors of the linked paper are attempting to exploit in order to demonstrate PK. The next post will describe how the experiment was conducted.

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    13. To continue the discussion of the experiments reported on in the paper referenced by Mr. McCarthy, the idea is fairly straightforward.

      What the subjects are being asked to do is to use the power of PK to cause the collapse of the wave functions, even though they are not being observed for at least some of the photons and at the same time concentrating on one of the two slits. The idea is that if some of the subjects are able force the collapse of some of the wave functions in such a way that the slit concentrated on is positively biased, e.g. more of the photons end up passing through that slit, this should be, in principle be observable by looking at the interference pattern on a luminescent screen placed behind the screen with the slits. If there is no effect, the interference pattern will consist of two identical peaks, the maxima of which are separated by the separation of the slits. If there is an effect, e.g. more photons pass through one slit then the other, an asymmetric interference pattern will be observed in which the peak opposite the favored slit will be higher and wider then the other peak opposite the unfavored slit.

      The first experiment found no statistically significant difference between the peaks. The second experiment found a statistically significant difference at the 5% level, approximately 2 standard deviations. However, the standard in physics is 3 standard deviations and publish. I would criticize the reviewers of the paper for allowing the authors to claim a statistically significant effect at the 2 standard deviation level, which would not happen at a more prestigious journal such as the Physical Review, published by the American Physical Society. The bottom line on experiment 2 is that there was, in fact, no statistically significant finding at the 3 standard deviation level.

      The 3rd experiment, which used a Michelson Interferometer,k appears to have found a statistically significant effect at the 3 standard deviation level. However, I am somewhat dubious as to the rational for using this particular instrument in this type of experiment. The Michelson Interferometer has been successfully employed in measuring the speed of light and in the Michelson/Morley experiment but I fail to see how employing it in this experiment proves anything.

      The bottom line here is that the authors have apparently kept trying different experimental setups until they found a statistically significant effect, without providing an explanation what was the problem with the first two experiments. Thus, I would conclude that the results of this set of experiments is inconclusive, at best and in no way, shape, form, or regard provide extraordinary evidence for PK, which as Carl Sagan pointed out is a requirement for extraordinary claims.

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    14. SLC, having seen you resort to that kind of tactic before, I'd like to know you credentials for judging the validity of journals.

      Which of the authors in the March issue do you find disreputable?

      http://physicsessays.org/toc/phes/25/1

      I wonder how your CV would stand up against, say, Dean Radin's:

      Short Bio: Dean Radin, PhD, is Senior Scientist at the INSTITUTE OF NOETIC SCIENCES (IONS) and Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Psychology at SONOMA STATE UNIVERSITY. His original career track as a concert violinist shifted into science after earning a BSEE degree in electrical engineering, magna cum laude and with honors in physics, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and then an MS in electrical engineering and a PhD in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. For a decade he worked on advanced telecommunications R&D at AT&T Bell Laboratories and GTE Laboratories. For over two decades he has been engaged in consciousness research. Before joining the research staff at IONS in 2001, he held appointments at Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, University of Nevada, and several Silicon Valley think-tanks, including Interval Research Corporation and SRI International, where he worked on a classified program investigating psychic phenomena for the US government.

      I'd recommend that anyone who is interested in the paper read it for themselves, I gave a link to the pfd.

      Carl Sagan was the man who wrote The Amniotic Universe, for you fans of extraordinary, not to mention preposterous, claims with absolutely no evidentiary basis. Interestingly enough, PK was one of the two reported PSI phenomena that Sagan said should be studied on the basis of positive results, which must have given Kurtz a stomach ache. He also included reincarnation as a third item, which I hope isn't true because I don't want to have to be 12 again, leaving me to wonder why so many voluntarily remain so.

      Your last paragraph is a distortion of what the paper says and rather funny considering past complaints about this kind of research.

      I gather that you're positioned somewhere around the CSICOP-CSI-JREF clique from the obsession you've got with protecting the mythic repute of James Randi from the documented record of his misdeeds. As I said, feel free to prove my point about pseudo-skeptical double standards and dishonesty, anytime.

      Where's your documentation of the claimed discrediting of J.B. Rhine?

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    15. Well, nonentity Anthony McCarthy now includes Carl Sagan in his list of smearees. What a guy.

      Relative to assessing the journal Physics Essays, there can be no question that it is not in the same category as the Physical Review, which is the gold standard of scientific publications, along with Science and Nature. My assessment was made based on the titles of what seem to be somewhat dubious sounding papers that this journal has published in the past. As I said however, the paper in question should be judged on its own merits or lack thereof.

      Actually, I think the research that was conducted shows considerable originality in that it attempts to take advantage of a quirk of quantum mechanics in order to test the notion of PK.

      Mr. McCarthy is a liar; I made no assessment of the qualifications of any of the authors, other then the fact that their understanding of quantum mechanics is, at best, rather dated as the notion of photons (or electrons for that matter) being more particle like or more wave like is archaic terminology. I believe that my explanation of the theory behind the two slit experiment is better then what they offered in the paper.

      I'll give Mr. McCarthy an opportunity to smear another scientist. Here's what Prof. Bob Park of the Un. of Maryland Physics Department had to say about ESP.

      3. ESP: THIS IS ABOUT THE LAST THING SCIENCE NEEDED.
      Four years ago when the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research lab (PEAR) closed its doors after 28 years, scientists saw the closing as a sign of progress. The public had lost interest in the make-believe science of ESP. Not a single accomplishment marks the existence of the world's most famous ESP laboratory. ESP today exists only in second-rate science fiction. That's where it belongs. However, according to an article by Benedict Carey on the front page of yesterday's New York Times, a respected psychology journal plans to publish a paper described by the author as "strong evidence for extrasensory perception." How strong? Extraordinary claims, it is often said, require extraordinary evidence. Any evidence of ESP would qualify as extraordinary today. I have not yet seen the paper, but I have gone through the exercise of trying to imagine evidence for ESP I would find persuasive. I couldn't even come close.


      I recall that Prof. Park discusses ESP and PK in his book, "Voodoo Science," quite unfavorably.

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    16. "Mr. McCarthy is a liar; I made no assessment of the qualifications of any of the authors.

      How can a question be a lie? I asked for your qualifications to evaluate the quality of the reviewed journals you dissed and then asked you to say, on the basis of those who were published in the March edition, for examples of disrepute. I then wondered how your CV would compare with one of the authors of the paper you dismissed.

      Carl Sagan did write The Amniotic Universe, that's a fact. It's a fact that there is absolutely no evidence to back up his ideas in it and that it is preposterous. He also listed PK as one of the three areas of PSI research he acknowledged had produced positive results that should be studied more [I believe it was reprinted in The Demon Haunted World but the memory fades]. Though I'd question if reincarnation should be considered a PSI phenomenon.

      As I told you a while back, I'm not familiar with Parks or with that research. Though I read that Parks was a prominent member of the former CSICOP so I would be hesitant to accept his word on published research in this area. Certainly not without reading the original research, Park's entire article and unbiased, reviewers. Looking around I see he's been published in the unreviewed magazine Skeptical Inquirer. Is that where your quote was first published?

      My opinion of CSICOP and its "fellows" and "councilors" is best summed up in that Richard Kammann article I believe I recommended you read:

      http://www.discord.org/~lippard/kammann.html

      The pseudo-skeptical industry rewards its, mostly, otherwise obscure stars with fame and hopes of income. Any positive results in research would endanger those and could lead to them being seen in quite a different light. All motives for them to try to discredit positive results that should be considered.

      Where's the discrediting of J.B. Rhine you assert is so total? He never worked at Princeton.

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    17. I am not impressed with Dr. Radin's CV. I can name scientists with far more impressive CVs who turned into nutcases. For example, Nobel Prize winning chemist Linus Pauling, Nobel Prize winning physicist William Shockley, astronomer and one time president of the American Astronomical Society, J. Allen Hynek.

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    18. Linus Pauling was a "nutcase"? I assume you mean his very late assertions around ascorbic acid. I'd compare that to The Amniotic Universe or the CSICOP record in sTARBABY if you want to evaluate nuttiness. Pauling was fallible, but I haven't brought him up in this or any other discussion I recall. His earlier work and his being one of the few double Nobel's are an indisputable part of his record.

      You aren't going to back up your claim that Rhine had been "totally discredited" are you. I'd guess that just about all of that would go back to the late Martin Gardner who, among other things, supported the clear falsification of CEM Hansel regarding work done at Rhine's laboratory, which you know I know about already.

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    19. Having a few more minutes and out of curiosity I googled Linus Pauling and CSICOP. While I can't find he was ever a member, he was present at the conception of CSICOP, one of the 192 fathers of it, as it were.

      http://tinyurl.com/cojhgtp

      Imagine, even as he was promoting the virtues of vitamin c, Linus Pauling was asked by the the father of CSICOP to sign his petition of outrage against anti-science.

      Have I mentioned that I've gradually learned to love Googlebooks?

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    20. Linus Pauling was a "nutcase"? I assume you mean his very late assertions around ascorbic acid. [...] His earlier work and his being one of the few double Nobel's are an indisputable part of his record.

      As is his unequivocal support for negative eugenics! Or are we only interested in Darwin in that regard?

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    21. There's one big difference, well more than one, but one relevant to this discussion. People who admire Pauling don't seem to be denying his advocacy for negative eugenics.

      http://paulingblog.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/mastering-genetics-pauling-and-eugenics/

      I'm all for telling the whole truth when that's available. Pauling was obviously naive about the wider problems with his proposal. The tattoo idea was especially outrageous, made in the post-war period.

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    22. People cannot deny Pauling's advocacy for negative eugenics when his own words confirm it. They can deny Darwin's, since he explicitly came out against it despite concerns about the potential deterioration of the race.

      Delete
    23. Where did he explicitly come out against it?

      Delete
    24. Re Anthony McCarthy

      Pauling's claims about vitamin C being a cancer cure were totally without foundation and he refused to listen to medical researchers who were far better informed about the subject matter who tried to set him straight. By the way, we can add Lynn Margulis, HIV/AIDS denier, and 9/11 troofer to the list of productive scientists with far more impressive CV's then Dean Radin who turned into nutcases.

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    25. So far you've tried to associate Dean Radin with Pauling, Shockley, Hynek and Margulis. Unable to debunk his research you're stooping to the lower depths of Gardnerian smear. Next stop is Randian lies. I'm never surprised at how low a CSICOP will go.

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  15. That was probably the most incoherent speech I have ever heard. Did she ever finish the same sentence she started out with? I hope nobody ever shows her the transcript - it might drive her crazy.

    And what on earth is her definition of "Darwinism".

    Good standup, though.

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  16. "And likewise, the vast majority of evolutionary biologists don't call themselves "Darwinists", BF

    How do you know that? I'd like to see the surveys you depend on to say that. I have no idea if it's most or a minority, it wouldn't change the meaning of "Darwinism" nor that many biologists have called themselves "Darwinists" for the past century and a half.

    "I'm not the one purporting Dawkins to be either the only evolutionary biologist on Earth, or else to speak authoritatively for every other one. That would be you, I'm afraid." BF

    Where did I "speak authoritatively for every other one" or even "one"? Actual quotes. Considering your assertion quoted just above, you came rather closer to doing so than I have.

    "Can I suggest a larger sample than ONE to form the basis of your NEXT proposition?" BF

    Since the proposition that I believe you are referring to is either the definition of "Darwinism" which was based on an etymological dictionary, or that Dawkins is a Darwinist, which I did so on the basis of him calling himself a Darwinist and on the basis of his published record, your question matches a lack of foundation with incoherence.

    "Again: what IS "Darwinism"? Define it." BF

    Look in a standard English language dictionary and I'll bet you'll find it. One that can't be "edited" online.

    "So does the Bible. And?"

    I didn't assert it didn't, did I? Though I would hazard a guess that column inch for column inch The Descent of Man is far more chuck full of it and in far more ruthless assertion.

    "So let's see if we have your bottom line mapped out here. Observation: life diversifies from common ancestors. Conclusion: Auschwitz." BF

    Actually, I was thinking of technical problems with some of Darwin's assertions, such as pangenesis. Your statement is another of your absurd assertions made because you can't deal with what's being argued. I've long noticed the blog atheist habit of pretending I've said what I didn't so they can argue something I not only didn't say but never have said, due to their inability to deal with what was actually said.

    So, BF, you know of anyone who knew Charles Darwin who objected to him being associated with eugenics? I mean more closely associated than his own children? Because I've looked, off and on, for several years now and have not found the first one of those. You might need to explain the many, positive citations of Galton, W.R. Greg and others in The Descent of Man in order to achieve that disassociation.

    Which of his books have you read? You don't seem very familiar with him.

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    1. How do you know that?

      Because one of my hobbies happens to be listening to them to learn what's up, and they tend to say things like "evolution by common descent" and be introduced to audiences as "evolutionary biologists". I tend to hear "Darwinists" coming out of the mouths of the creationists I watch when I need a laugh or two.

      Where did I "speak authoritatively for every other one" or even "one"?

      By citing him and only him in opposition to my point.

      Since the proposition that I believe you are referring to is

      No, it could by your telling us the sky is falling because a single acorn fell on your head. I'm not bothered by the make of the tinfoil hat you sport, just that it have more than one fold in it.

      Look in a standard English language dictionary

      No, I'm challenging you to define the term YOU'RE using as YOU understand it. You can do that, can't you?

      I didn't assert it didn't, did I?

      No, that's right; I did. Since you're so uptight about Darwin's PERSONAL opinions on such matters, which have no bearing on the validity or invalidity of his SCIENTIFIC conclusions, I'd just like to know if you feel likewise that any unsavoury element invalidates the whole of something. Given how you keep bring up Randi, that would seem to be the little firecracker you think is big dynamite where any scientific postulate you don't agree with is concerned. Don't like the conclusion? Discredit the source!

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    2. Actually, I was thinking of technical problems with some of Darwin's assertions, such as pangenesis.

      Then actually, why didn't you bring THAT up instead of playing the race card? You want to discuss the science, good... discuss the science. You want to gossip, go write for People magazine.

      I've long noticed the blog atheist habit of pretending I've said what I didn't

      Oh, really? Well, count the number of times "pangensis" appears on this page BEFORE your using it to cover your tracks, and then tell us which of us is pretending you said things you didn't really say.

      So, BF, you know of anyone who knew Charles Darwin who objected to him being associated with eugenics?

      First of all, I don't know that Charles Darwin was actually an advocate of eugenics. Aside from that, can you name anyone who objected to it in 1860, and age when some people still OWNED other people in some countries because their constitutions and jurisprudence legally held some people to be inherently and permanently superior to others on the basis of race?

      Well, this isn't 1860, and Charles Darwin lived when he did. And this might come as a real shocker to you, so hang onto your chair... it's actually possible for a discerning human being to see the merit in some of another person's ideas and not in others, and choose to embrace the former and reject the latter. Yeah, that's right... it's possible to accept the reality of evolution by common descent without adopting the notion of systemic eugenics. I'll let you stew on that for a while.

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  17. "Because one of my hobbies happens to be listening to them to learn what's up..."

    Well, as I take the meaning of language and the requirements to be able to validly claim to know something a bit seriously I'd doubt you could find out that "the vast majority of evolutionary biologists don't call themselves "Darwinists" without, at least, one valid sample of the universe of evolutionary biologists showing that. I didn't claim more than the standard, lexicographic definition of Darwinism, its etymological origin and that Darwinists such as Richard Dawkins call themselves Darwinists. I've tried to get the ORACle to walk back his research-free assertions about the word, presenting him with much more evidence that he was wrong and had led his groupies astray but, alas, with no success.

    It's no wonder you don't seem to understand anything else about what's being said in the rest of the argument. Point for point you get it wrong and, at every point, that's due to your ideological framing. Someplace here in the past few days I think I pointed out that atheism isn't anything like a magical guarantee of enhanced reliability. Well, knowing something takes more than that.

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    1. I'd doubt you could find out that "the vast majority of evolutionary biologists don't call themselves "Darwinists" without, at least, one valid sample of the universe of evolutionary biologists showing that.

      Here you go. Here's "one". (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVaXlRgLi5Q) Count how many times she says "evolutionary biology" and "evolutionary biologist" as opposed to how many times she says "Darwinist" or even "Darwinism" in the course of her lecture, even when she's not being self-referential.

      I didn't claim more than the standard, lexicographic definition of Darwinism

      And you didn't define it, either, so I'll ask you again: what do YOU (think) YOU mean when YOU use the term "Darwinism"? Put away the grease gun, wash up, grow a pair and answer the question.

      Well, knowing something takes more than that.

      Yeah, like the ability to define the terms you're using. Get on with it.

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  18. As to Charles Darwin's unrelatedness to eugenics, note the two main sources, Galton and Greg, of this passage.
    A most important obstacle in civilised countries to an increase in the number of men of a superior class has been strongly insisted on by Mr. Greg and Mr. Galton (19. 'Fraser's Magazine,' Sept. 1868, p. 353. 'Macmillan's Magazine,' Aug. 1865, p. 318. The Rev. F.W. Farrar ('Fraser's Magazine,' Aug. 1870, p. 264) takes a different view.), namely, the fact that the very poor and reckless, who are often degraded by vice, almost invariably marry early, whilst the careful and frugal, who are generally otherwise virtuous, marry late in life, so that they may be able to support themselves and their children in comfort. Those who marry early produce within a given period not only a greater number of generations, but, as shewn by Dr. Duncan (20. 'On the Laws of the Fertility of Women,' in 'Transactions of the Royal Society,' Edinburgh, vol. xxiv. p. 287; now published separately under the title of 'Fecundity, Fertility, and Sterility,' 1871. See, also, Mr. Galton, 'Hereditary Genius,' pp. 352-357, for observations to the above effect.), they produce many more children. The children, moreover, that are borne by mothers during the prime of life are heavier and larger, and therefore probably more vigorous, than those born at other periods. Thus the reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society, tend to increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous members. Or as Mr. Greg puts the case: "The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting, ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him. Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts—and in a dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five- sixths of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would belong to the one-sixth of Saxons that remained. In the eternal 'struggle for existence,' it would be the inferior and LESS favoured race that had prevailed—and prevailed by virtue not of its good qualities but of its faults."

    http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/2300/pg2300.html

    Considering the fact, obviously known to Darwin, that within his lifetime the Irish population had been decimated by famine, you wonder why he wouldn't see the remaining Irish population as having undergone a vigorous “natural selection” less than 30 years before he published Descent of Man, that the English and Scottish populations hadn't. If the Irish population that survived didn't show some selected superiority by the 1870s, it would have had to constitute evidence against his theory even as he promoted it in The Descent of Man. And, as Darwin might have also known, the population of Ireland had also been brutally culled by another famine a century before that. But, no, instead he depends on the bigotry of Mr. Greg – I seem to recall his credentials consisted mostly of getting rich from the textile industry and being rich and British. Other places in the book he looks forward to the extermination of entire races as well as the great apes. So much for the myth of St. Darwin.

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    1. Perhaps you didn't read what I said previously? Or maybe you did and you're surprisingly dense. So at the risk of repeating myself, I'll repeat myself:

      "it's actually possible for a discerning human being to see the merit in some of another person's ideas and not in others, and choose to embrace the former and reject the latter. Yeah, that's right... it's possible to accept the reality of evolution by common descent without adopting the notion of systemic eugenics."

      Let me put a very fine point on it for you. If Charles Darwin had in fact held the personal opinion that half the population of England should be rounded up and force-marched into a furnace by the other half, that would have no bearing whatsoever on the validity of evolution by common descent. That would still be a demonstrable fact that is in no way countered by the "evidence" you bring to the matter. It really amazes me that you seem incapable of grasping that, on this matter and virtually every other. Perhaps you're of the opinion that if only GM could have linked Ralph Nader to dalliances with hookers, the Corvair would turned out to be a safe car after all...?

      If you'd like to discuss the merits of evolution by common descent, I'm sure you've come to the right place. If you actually think that slinging mud at personalities amounts to some kind of disestablishment of it, and it seems you really do, then in truth, you belong in grade three.

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    2. So much for the myth of St. Darwin.

      Oh, it's a "myth", alright, but only among the god-botherers who must INSIST that any science that threatens their beliefs must itself be portrayed as simply a cult of personality... as you've just so ably demonstrated.

      Let's consider the matter. No one knows the name of the person who first grasped, hundreds of thousands of years ago, that fire could be produced by humans through technological means; that it wasn't just a spirit that could be stolen from the gods when lightning struck and then shepherded along generation after generation. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn, though, that opinions of the time held what he (or she, I suppose; we'll go for "he" for the sake of argument) was doing was impious and unnatural. I can envision all kinds of religious equivocations about the process. Oh, yes, well, Ug SEEMS to be making fire, but really, the gods just put it in the rocks in the first place. Ug still needs the gods to "make" fire!

      And then, of course, would come the personality attacks. Did you know Ug uses the fire he "makes" to cook and eat people from other tribes? So you see, anyone who uses Ug's "unnatural" fire is tainted with cannibalism! Or eugenics... whatever.

      So I wonder... if we knew this, that there was an "Ug", that he founded the human production of fire, and that one of the uses to which he put it, or maybe just advocated, was the cooking and eating of other people... would we, the modern users of fire in SO many ways, be obliged to adopt cannibalism ourselves, or even in danger of doing so? Or else, would we be obliged to completely give up any human agency for creating fire, and only wait till it was given by the gods and keep the embers burning on our hoods to spark our fuel injectors, in little pots on the kitchen counter to light the gas in the oven, etc.?

      Or -- here's a radical idea -- would we be free to say "I accept that fire can be produced by humans by mechanical means as established by Ug; however, I don't personally and we don't as a society support or advocate the cannibalistic purposes to which Ug put it, and we're going to use fire, but not for that"? Yes, I think we'd be free to do that.

      And I think we'd be right to laugh at anyone who tried to insist otherwise.

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  19. BF, someone should tell you that calling names and attributing things to people who haven't said them are signs of havin' nothin'.

    Eugenics was inspired by Darwin's theory of natural selection. We know that because the man who invented eugenics, Francis Galton, said so and showed that Charles Darwin was well aware of and approved of it.

    THE publication in 1859 of the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin made a marked epoch in my own mental development, as it did in that of human thought generally. Its effect was to demolish a multitude of dogmatic barriers by a single stroke, and to arouse a spirit of rebellion against all ancient authorities whose positive and unauthenticated statements were contradicted by modern science.

    I doubt, however, whether any instance has occurred in which the perversity of the educated classes in misunderstanding what they attempted to discuss was more painfully conspicuous. The meaning of the simple phrase "Natural Selection" was distorted in curiously ingenious ways, and Darwinism was attacked, both in the press and pulpit, by persons who were manifestly ignorant of what they talked about. This is a striking instance of the obstructions through which new ideas have to force their way. Plain facts are apprehended in a moment, but the introduction of a new Idea is quite another matter, for it requires an alteration in the attitude and balance of the mind which may be a very repugnant and even painful process. On my part, however, I felt little difficulty in connection with the Origin of Species, but devoured its contents and assimilated them as fast as they were devoured, a fact which perhaps may be ascribed to an hereditary bent of mind that both its illustrious author and myself ha{re inherited from our common grandfather, Dr. Erasmus Darwin.

    I was encouraged by the new views to pursue many inquiries which had long interested me, and which clustered round the central topics of Heredity and the possible improvement of the Human Race. The current views on Heredity were at that time so vague and contradictory that it is difficult to summar' ise them briefly. Speaking generally, most authors agreed that all bodily and some mental qualities were inherited by brutes, but they refused to believe the same of man. Moreover, theologians made a sharp distinction between the body and mind of man, on purely dogmatic grounds. A few passages may undoubtedly be found in the works of eminent authors that are exceptions to this broad generalisation, for the subject of human heredity had never been squarely faced, and opinions were lax and contradictory. It seems hardly credible now that even the word heredity was then considered fanciful and unusual. I was chaffed by a cultured friend for adopting it from the French.

    Francis Galton, Memories of My Life; Chapter XX. Heredity

    http://galton.org/books/memories/chapter-XX.html

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  20. The verdict which I most eagerly waited for was that of Charles'Darwin, whom I ranked far above all other authorities on such a matter. His letter, given below, made me most happy. ,,



    DOWN, BECKENHAM, KENT, S.E.

    3rd December

    "MY DEAR GALTON,--I have only read about 50 pages of your book (to Judges), but I must exhale myself, else something will go wrong in my inside. I do not think I ever in all my life read anything more interesting and original--and how Well and clearly you put every point! George, who has finished the book, and who expressed himself in just the same terms, tells me that the earlier chapters are nothing in interest to the later ones! It will take me some time to get to these latter chapters, as it is read aloud to me by my wife, who is also much interested. You have made a convert of an opponent in one sense, for I have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work; and I still think this is an eminently important difference. I congratulate you on producing what I am convinced will prove a memorable work. I look forward with intense interest to each reading, but it sets me thinking so much that I find it very hard work; but that is wholly the fault of my brain and not of your beautifully clear style.--Yours most sincerely,

    (Signed) "CH. DARWIN"
    ibid

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    1. As he was quoting the thing in The Descent of Man, it's clear that Charles Darwin remained positively disposed to his cousin Galton's work. I assume the George mentioned was his son George Darwin, one of the four Darwin sons who were important figures in eugenics, though it's Leonard Darwin's eugenics correspondence through the 1920s and 30s that makes for the most disturbing reading.

      However, George's son, Charles Galton Darwin wrote a book AFTER WWII! in which he slammed family planning as inevitably dysgenic and lamented that more active eugenics measures were unlikely to be adopted by democracies. I have to say that I think someone who clearly learned little to nothing from WWII should be considered far less intelligent than CGD believed himself to be. But he was hardly the only prominent eugenicist who seems to have failed to learn much from it.

      http://www.galtoninstitute.org.uk/Newsletters/GINL0412/chief_sea_lion.htm

      As I said, I have not found a single instance in which someone who knew Charles Darwin as well as his children or his cousin who tried to distance him from eugenics. I haven't found much of any attempt to do that from before WWII. As seen in his grandson, there were Darwins in the 1950s who kept the eugenics faith despite seeing what it could lead to.

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  21. BF, someone should tell you that calling names and attributing things to people who haven't said them are signs of havin' nothin'.

    Eugenics was inspired by Darwin's theory of natural selection. We know that because the man who invented eugenics, Francis Galton, said so and showed that Charles Darwin was well aware of and approved of it.


    Oh .... Kay ... then ... so evolutionary theory is wrong, then? There was no historic pattern of common descent and lineage divergence? Reproducing types differing in their reproductive capacity will not cause the population to be dominated to fixation by the type with the higher reproductive capacity? Or people are wrong to admire Darwin because of some dubious views or subsequent abuse of ... well, genetics, actually. It's that bastard Mendel, HE's the troublemaker!

    Argumentum ad hitlerum.

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  22. Allan Miller, if you could be bothered to read the comments here is what I said above, on May 29th to another practitioner of the false alternative fallacy:

    Joe Felstein, you misunderstand my question. Of course evolution is true, as Gould said it's the most massively supported idea in science by sheer bulk of confirming evidence. It is, though, no more true than any of the little known proven positions of advanced mathematics.

    What I want to know is why evolution has become such an important cultural touchstone for people who hardly understand the first thing about it. That's true of people who deny the truth of evolution but it's also true for many of those for whom Charles Darwin is their cherished team mascot.

    You might want to look at the link posted at the end of that comment:

    http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1139/g03-115

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  23. Thought Criminal,

    If you could be bothered to read my own comment upthread, I have already addressed why I think people admire Darwin and defend evolutionary theory. To a great extent, I think clowns on the internet who misrepresent science, or look down their noses at those who do not share their particular religious peculiarities, are ample reason for others to take up the gauntlet in opposition. "They sure do talk about religion a lot, these Darwinistas!". It's reaction.

    Your link referred to a revisit of Lamarckian inheritance (with which Darwin was sympathetic) and the ideas of Goldschmidt (to which he probably would not have been, but who really cares?). Yes, the theory has moved on from Darwin's day, and aspects may need revision.

    All I see from you is a rehash of classic Creationist attempts to smear either evolutionary theory or those who accept it by various, rather dubious means. You'll be telling us that Wallace was cruelly sidelined next.

    Darwin was a great scientist and, by all accounts, a rather genial bloke. But I'm sure he had his faults. Newton, by other accounts, was a bit of a git. But still admired by many.

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  24. "All I see from you is a rehash of classic Creationist attempts...." Allan Miller,

    No, what you see is someone who has looked at the available evidence consisting of what Charles Darwin, Leonard Darwin, other Darwins, cousin Francis Galton, and others have left which anyone can look at.

    The post WWII myth that Charles Darwin had nothing to do with eugenics is exactly that, a myth. It is a myth that is debunked by his own words and in the continued eugenics careers of those closest to him. Galton, Darwin's sons and associates knew the man, they talked to him, they knew him intimately in a way that not one of the post-war propagandists who try to cover up the record did. I have yet to find a single person who knew Charles Darwin who tried to distance him from eugenics, even as eugenics was under attack and was being adopted by governments. I'd be extremely interested in finding someone who both knew Charles Darwin and tried to disassociate him from eugenics. I haven't found that evidence and no one I've asked to produce that record has, yet. Leonard Darwin's letters in the years before WWII are extremely disturbing to read, but, then, everything to do with eugenics is anything from disturbing to horrific.

    Like it or not, the creationists have the good on Charles Darwin in so far as eugenics is concerned. They certainly don't have any direct link between Charles Darwin and the Nazis. Which is hardly surprising since he died in 1882 but his ties to eugenics, consisting of those things I've mentioned, couldn't be more authoritatively confirmed. You can either face that fact and do what should have been done from the beginning, depend on the science instead of BBC style costume dramas and pious tales about Charles Darwin in the defense of science, or you can distort that record with increasing desperation and impotence. Which course is more in line with the ideals of science?

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    1. No, what you see is someone who has looked at the available evidence consisting of what Charles Darwin, Leonard Darwin, other Darwins, cousin Francis Galton, and others have left which anyone can look at.

      Emphasis of cousin fits well with my suspicion that this is smear-by-association. Actually, it's half-cousin, but it matters not one whit. "Galton" could have been Darwin's name for his Mr Hyde-style alter ego when drunk for all the relevance it has.

      And you can parade any number of individuals of the surname Darwin - following an arbitrary line through male descendants - to what purpose, exactly? Again, to smear the name of Darwin, by hook or by crook. Not the sainted name; not how-dare-anyone-criticise-my-bearded-hero - he's just a bloke who wrote a very influential book. But the attempt appears not to be driven by scholarship.

      Eugenics is a genetic policy. Though Galton may well have been inspired by Origin, it is totally independent of evolutionary theory, since it is the simple principle of selective breeding from 'stock' that was already in operation when Darwin was born, and had been for a good many years - hence his inspiration to recognise its 'natural' analogue, and what it might achieve over the long term. Application to humanity was not a principle Darwin appeared to advance in any of his published writings.

      You can either face that fact and do what should have been done from the beginning, depend on the science instead of BBC style costume dramas ...

      It is a matter for historians to argue over, rather than scientists. But I see no evidence - despite the shedloads of bandwidth allocated to this bullshit campaign - that C. Darwin actively espoused or advocated the selective application of breeding strategies to humanity. Your best shot appears to be a congratulatory letter to Galton on persuasive style after having waded through the first 50 pages of the book!

      Some noted evolutionists have been avowed eugenicists - eg Fisher and Hamilton. But lacking the name of Darwin, perhaps they suit the smear campaign less well.

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    2. If there were any connection between evolution and eugenics, then it is confined to what the creationists insist on telling us that they accept, "micro"evolution, evolution within a "kind", in this case, within "mankind". There is nothing about "macro"evolution, the origins of the bacterial flagellum, for example, in eugenics.

      And eugenics is based on the idea that purely natural processes would only lead to "downward evolution" or "deterioration of the kind", and must be supplemented by purposeful, directed, "intelligent design" intervention. There is nothing about "random variation and natural selection" in eugenics.

      So, if there were any connection between evolution and eugenics, it would be something that creationists would have to account for in their own social/political movement. There is no connection, so they don't - I'm not stooping to their level.

      TomS

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  25. For anyone who is interested in protecting evolutionary science, look at the irrational and dishonest antics of the Darwin fan club and ask yourself if its any surprise that their case has so far failed. Following them down that proven failure is foolish. For example:

    "Emphasis of cousin fits well with my suspicion that this is smear-by-association." Allan Miller

    If you want to call Galton saying, outright, that The Origin of Species was the inspiration of his eugenics, the letter from Charles Darwin praising "Hereditary Genius" and favorably citing, not only Galton but Greg and other figures in eugenics in The Descent of Man, making eugenics arguments and assertions all through the book,... if you want to call those things "smear-by-association" I'd call them taking Charles Darwin at his word and Galton definitively and authoritatively citing him as the inspiration of his work.

    You clearly can't do what would be necessary to refute the charge that Charles Darwin was associated with eugenics. You'd have to get past his own words, those of Galton, Charles Darwin's own children and their careers in eugenics and those of just about everyone involved in eugenics before WWII, many of whom knew Charles Darwin, to do that.

    Any rational person would require that you come up with contemporary attempts by people who knew Charles Darwin, personally, to divorce him from eugenics in order to make your case. And those people would have to be as intimately associated with him as his own sons. I doubt that can be done. Though coming up with the first one of those would seem to be impossible as anyone I've asked has been unable to do it.

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    1. Sorry, but you simply have not made the case. My children have views that are not mine. People have been inspired by books to take viewpoints that are not those of the original author. I don't deny that Galton claimed inspiration from the Origin. It contains a lot on selective breeding, after all.

      I am entirely prepared to accept that Darwin was an advocate of selective breeding of humans if something more than what his kids or his cousins or 5th-generation descendants did, said or thought were advanced. Something along the lines of "I think humanity would be better off if we legislated who to breed from and who not to breed from - signed C Darwin" would be nice. I would then say "aha - I was wrong. Darwin did espouse eugenics".

      Cut out all people who are NOT C. Darwin from the picture, and what evidence are you left with? Quote mines from Descent of Man?

      The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage.

      Yeah, what a bastard!

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    2. That is one of the two life-jackets I'm aware of in that work. You might want to give the preceding prediction of disaster, well, you might not want to but here it is:

      I have borrowed ideas from several of these writers.), and previously by Mr. Wallace and Mr. Galton. (10. For Mr. Wallace, see 'Anthropological Review,' as before cited. Mr. Galton in 'Macmillan's Magazine,' Aug. 1865, p. 318; also his great work, 'Hereditary Genius,' 1870.) Most of my remarks are taken from these three authors. With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

      Given he's said that his next paragraph, that you give, is irrational. He's predicting disaster because "the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick" are vaccinated and given help and then saying, in effect, Oh, yeah, it's going to be a disaster but... hey forget I said that. History proves that people didn't just forget he'd said that. Though he seems to have forgotten your favorite passage later in the book.

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    3. Ha ha! 'Phone him, ask him what in hell he was thinking. "You said it was gonna be a disaster, but you said we have to grin and bear it anyway. So were you advocating active eugenics or not? Mr Darwin? Hullo? Hullo? Huh. Line's gone dead. We'll take that as a yes, then.".

      "Hallo? Herr Hitler? I was just wondering if you were familiar with ...."

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    4. You don't have to phone him, he said it. He couldn't have said it more clearly.

      Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

      And note that in that passage he compares human beings to animals in a breeding operation. This is especially outrageous as, being a country squire, Darwin would have known that animals not selected for breeding were marked for early slaughter. Other people certainly would have made that observation (a lot of the early Darwinists wrote about breeding operations). And by 1871 he would have known that others were drawing those kinds of conclusions from his theory. Don't blame me for noticing the clear implications of what Darwin said. He wasn't a newcomer to writing for public consumption when he wrote it, he had more than a decade of experience with people going through his writing looking for implications as well as explicit denotation.

      It's not my fault he said it or that other people noticed what it means.

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    5. It didn't have to be that way. You could contrast what Alfred R. Wallace said about eugenics, somewhat famously calling it “simply the meddlesome interference of an arrogant scientific priestcraft,” and advocating that people vigorously oppose any attempt to make it the law. Imagine how different the history of the 20th century might have been if his idea of natural selection had been the one that prevailed. Hitler couldn't have pointed to the eugenics laws in effect in the United States and elsewhere as an excuse.

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    6. And note once again that you have simply elided the passage I originally quoted. He GOES ON TO SAY ... that we should not do it.

      You, sir, are a common quote-miner.

      And Wallace ... ah, Wallace! I knew he would spring up sooner or later. Wallace and Darwin were in quite close agreement on the theory of evolution by Natural Selection. Wallace was unequivocal in condemnation of eugenics, and good for him. But imputing a specifically Darwinian influence upon US eugenics laws (which would, you say, not have been enacted had Wallace's viewpoint held sway?), and Hitler's taking a cue therefrom, is simply Making Stuff Up.

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    7. Now I know you haven't read Darwin, who often cited Wallace.

      Word search for "Wallace" in Darwin's work:

      On the Origin of Species
      http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2009/2009-h/2009-h.htm

      The Descent of Man
      http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/2300/pg2300.html

      as well as many of his other works (all available online) and you'll find that Darwin cited Wallace extensively. I'd have thought such an authority as yourself would have known that. But, then, you seem to have missed his frequent citations of Galton, Greg, and his citations of others such as Spenser.

      I'm always so interested to find so often that the most dedicated devotees of Charles Darwin have not bothered to read him.

      Of course, it's a fact that Wallace came up with the idea of natural selection himself and that Darwin and his buddies rushed into print to get the priority for Darwin. So it's not surprising that a Darwin groupie would despise the man.

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    8. Oh, and as to "quote mining", your having taken the famous "aid which we feel impelled to give" paragraph, without noting that it's set in a book that massively asserts that giving that aid is going to lead to disaster, is the quote mining operation. I'm wondering when you're going to come up with the one other Darwinist life jacket I'm aware of in the otherwise entirely putrid book.

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  26. Eugenics is a genetic policy. Though Galton may well have been inspired by Origin, it is totally independent of evolutionary theory, since it is the simple principle of selective breeding from 'stock' that was already in operation when Darwin was born, and had been for a good many years - hence his inspiration to recognise its 'natural' analogue, and what it might achieve over the long term. Application to humanity was not a principle Darwin appeared to advance in any of his published writings. Allan Miller

    "Eugenics is a genetic policy".

    Galton didn't know about genetics as he invented eugenics. Eugenics would have worked with any mechanism of heredity that preserved traits from the parents. As Charles Darwin, clearly, believed in such traits -his theory couldn't have worked without those- your objection is baseless and nonsensical.

    Though Galton may well have been inspired by Origin, it is totally independent of evolutionary theory Allan Miller

    Galton's cited inspiration of On the Origin of Species would have been enough to make the air-tight case of a connection. To assert that it's possible to divorce eugenics from natural selection is either evidence of ignorance or of dishonesty. Eugenics only makes sense if you believe in natural selection and assume that human culture impedes it.

    "since it is the simple principle of selective breeding from 'stock' that was already in operation when Darwin was born, and had been for a good many years" Allen Miller

    Do you think that the country squire, Charles Darwin, was ignorant of artificial selection and didn't use it as evidence?

    "The savages in South Africa match their draught cattle by colour, as do some of the Esquimaux their teams of dogs. Livingstone shows how much good domestic breeds are valued by the negroes of the interior of Africa who have not associated with Europeans. Some of these facts do not show actual selection, but they show that the breeding of domestic animals was carefully attended to in ancient times, and is now attended to by the lowest savages. It would, indeed, have been a strange fact, had attention not been paid to breeding, for the inheritance of good and bad qualities is so obvious."

    You could try doing a word search of the text to find other examples.

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1228/1228-h/1228-h.htm

    "hence his inspiration to recognise its 'natural' analogue, and what it might achieve over the long term. Application to humanity was not a principle Darwin appeared to advance in any of his published writings." Allen Miller

    On the Descent of Man is full to the gills with arguments that were made by eugenicists and which would be used by them in their application to humans. The couple of instances in that book when Charles Darwin weakly demurred from the logical inferences of his assertions and citations are the life preserver that his fan club depend on but it can't overturn the fact that natural selection was the inspiration and essential foundation of eugenics, something Charles Darwin was clearly aware of from the publication of "Hereditary Genius". He did nothing substantial to refute it as it was developing right before his eyes. His sons certainly didn't think eugenics refuted the work of their father.

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    1. "Eugenics is a genetic policy".

      Galton didn't know about genetics as he invented eugenics. Eugenics would have worked with any mechanism of heredity that preserved traits from the parents. As Charles Darwin, clearly, believed in such traits -his theory couldn't have worked without those- your objection is baseless and nonsensical.


      Genetics - heredity - existed before its mechanism was elucidated or the phenomenon given its modern name. Of course. Nonetheless, eugenics is a policy based upon selective breeding (Artificial Selection) of heritable traits - ergo, it is a genetic policy, whether or not Darwin or Galton would have understood the phrase. You do, or you should, and I'm communicating with you, not them. Your attempted refutation is petty word-gaming.

      Darwin observes artificial selection, writes a book about the natural analogue, Galton reads said book and determines that artificial selection - not natural - would be of benefit to the 'improvement' of the human race.

      On the Descent of Man is full to the gills with arguments that were made by eugenicists and which would be used by them in their application to humans.

      So full that you can't find one? Post some, and I'll have a search round and see if you missed any important phrases out, just to make sure it's not a quote mine.

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    2. Galton didn't know about genetics, neither did Darwin - who seems to have left Mendel's paper unread. That's the reason Darwin proposed a different mechanism. If you didn't understand the point that eugenics would have worked with any mechanism that allowed inheritance of traits from the parents, you don't understand the first thing about this argument.

      You haven't read The Descent of Man if you've missed the eugenic content. Do you think that Darwin didn't understand what Galton (he cites him all through the book) was writing about?

      As I said, Galton and Darwin's sons saw nothing in eugenics that violated his theory of natural selection. It's absurd for us to second guess them, considering their intimate connection to him. You think you're a better judge of his intentions than his own sons?

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    3. Galton didn't know about genetics, neither did Darwin - who seems to have left Mendel's paper unread. That's the reason Darwin proposed a different mechanism. If you didn't understand the point that eugenics would have worked with any mechanism that allowed inheritance of traits from the parents, you don't understand the first thing about this argument.

      Why are you talking to me, then? You simply repeat your missed-the-point point: eugenics is a genetic theory (ie: a theory of heredity) as WE - you and I - understand the term. Darwin and Galton clearly understood that animals can breed to type. They did not call it genetics, but that is what they were basing their respective theories (one "IS", one "OUGHT") upon.

      As I said, Galton and Darwin's sons saw nothing in eugenics that violated his theory of natural selection. It's absurd for us to second guess them, considering their intimate connection to him. You think you're a better judge of his intentions than his own sons?

      Ask my kids what I mean by ... anything! A more irrelevant argument would be hard to find.

      I don't see anything in eugenics that violates his theory of NS! I don't know why I would need to consult his offspring on the matter! This does not demonstrate that Darwin advocated the coercive or persuasive policy necessary for eugenics.

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    4. Why am I talking to you? I don't know. Maybe I'm expecting someone who knows what's being talked about might read my answers that you obviously don't understand. Maybe I'm just accumulating data of the irrationality within the culture of new atheism and scientism.

      "I don't see anything in eugenics that violates his theory of NS!" Allen Miller

      And yet you deny the connection between eugenics and Charles Darwin's claim to fame, despite Francis Galton crediting it as eugenics' inspiration quoting, in full, the enthusiastic letter of Charles Darwin who credited Galton with convincing him that Galton had.... I'll let Charles Darwin speak for himself:

      "You have made a convert of an opponent in one sense, for I have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work; and I still think this is an eminently important difference."

      No reservations, no denial that Galton's repeated citations of natural selection in Herditary Genius were in error, nothing but enthusiasm and the confession that Galton had converted him to thinking that mental ability was the product of inheritance. As I've already shown you, Darwin didn't seem to change his mind as he repeatedly and favorably cites Galton as an authority in his last major book.

      That Charles Darwin never seems to have disavowed responsibility for his part in eugenics, that his sons and other intimate associates don't seem to have, are definitive links. You have no credible claim to be able to do what they didn't. No one in the post-war period, when the disaster that eugenics proved to be was known, has the ability to do that. For good or ill, natural selection and eugenics are historically linked. If natural selection can be divorced from eugenics is doubtful since neo-eugenics is flourishing on the basis of a crude faith in present day interpretations of natural selection. Gould, Lewontin and a host of other eminent biologists warned that eugenics was being reborn in the 1970s, though it never had quite died, as eugenics laws were still on the books and in effect at that time.

      If people want to clean natural selection of its eugenics baggage denying history and the published record isn't going to do it. That record is known. It will have to be done by junking the mythical eugenics free Charles Darwin myth and moving on, where science is supposed to go. It looks to me as if it's going backward in that particular area.

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    5. And yet you deny the connection between eugenics and Charles Darwin's claim to fame, despite Francis Galton crediting it as eugenics' inspiration quoting, in full, the enthusiastic letter of Charles Darwin who credited Galton with convincing him that Galton had.... I'll let Charles Darwin speak for himself:

      "You have made a convert of an opponent in one sense, for I have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work; and I still think this is an eminently important difference."


      That is a decidedly ambiguous sentence. Galton has made a 'convert', for CD has always maintained X, yet he still thinks it important ... so has he changed his mind on hereditary variation in intellect or not? I can't tell. And if he had, would it make him a eugenicist? Of course it bloody wouldn't!

      I certainly don't deny the existence of links between evolution and eugenics. Evolution"ism" is littered with unambiguous eugenicists. But CD is NOT one of them, however much it may suit your bizarre ends to argue it so. Hamilton, Fisher, Darwin's own kids, Galton, James Watson & Pauling (to broaden the 'evolutionist' net slightly) - all, by their direct words, leave no room for ambiguity. Yet they never receive a mention. The only one you seem to give a shit about, the bull goose kill-the-inferior advocate, is CD himself. And on that specific matter, the case is simply feeble.

      CD MAY have been a eugenicist. He MAY not. It is not proven, certainly not by the ridiculous irrelevancies of the influence of OOS on eugenic thinking by other people, or the existence of prominent eugenicists in Darwin's own kin or intellectual successors.

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    6. however much it may suit your bizarre ends to argue it so

      My "bizarre end" is to tell the truth in face of an ideological myth told after WWII when Nazis and other racists made eugenics all to temporarily unacceptable.

      Can you show me a single example of a prominent Darwinist who objected to the association of Charles Darwin with eugenics before WWII? I haven't looked that extensively, focusing on only those who actually knew the man but I don't recall seeing those who didn't know him doing that from before the war, either. I'd like to know how they explained Leonard Darwin, possibly the most prominent figure in eugenics, largely due to his being Charles Darwin's son, up into the 1940s.

      Given the neo-eugenics that even your comment acknowledges in the post-Nazi period, it's not an unimportant question. Talking evolutionary biologists into giving up one of the most spectacularly futile PR campaigns against creationism is of secondary importance to preventing eugenics gaining traction and political influence.

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    7. Can you show me a single example of a prominent Darwinist who objected to the association of Charles Darwin with eugenics before WWII?

      O tempora! O mores!. Of course the flipside of eugenic politics was thrown into relief by Nazism. But did Darwin's view need revisionism? 20th-Century commentators, like us, had Darwin's writings, copious letters and contemporary writings to go on - the same vague inferences we are batting back and forth here. And in that, there is nothing of substance. So the absence of a knowledgeable contemporary distancing him from a viewpoint that he has not even expressed with sufficient force to make it unequivocal that he actually held said position, and indeed has explicitly disavowed on humanitarian grounds - a position that nonetheless would not have been particularly exceptionable at the time ... ! It's not particularly noteworthy.

      I doubt your case would stand up in court, were eugenic sympathies a crime and this your evidence he was guilty of it.

      I don't know where the 'PR campaign' is supposed to emanate from - and certainly, cannot see how argument on the facts of the case constitutes "anti-Creationism". Classic spin, IMO. Run a 'PR campaign' to try and denigrate evolutionary theory by dubious asociation, and cry "anti-Creationism" or "cult of Darwin" when people try and answer the charge.

      Yes, of course eugenics is a bad idea. And bad genetics IMO - precipitate removal of variation is a Bad Thing for a population. But, as I say, this all boils down to argumentum ad hitlerum, and has little or nothing to do with science, whatever the underlying historical truth.

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    8. Re Allan Miller

      Considering that Frankenberger rejected common descent, just as Stalin rejected natural selection, asserting that Darwin had some responsibility for either Nazism or Communism is piffle.

      By the way, if one is going to reject the theory of evolution because Darwin was allegedly a racist, then one must also assert that the Stark effect doesn't exist because Johannes Stark was a Nazi and virulent anti-Semite. One must assert that transistors don't exist because William Shockley was a virulent racist (Shockley was a far more egregious racist then Darwin). One must assert that PCR is fiction because its discoverer, Kary Mullis, is a total nutcase (he's an HIV/AIDS denier, a CFC/ozone depletion denier, a believer in astrology, and a climate change denier).

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    9. SLC, as I began with Allan Miller by pointing out he was practicing the false alternative fallacy on just that point, I should point out you're compounding his error.

      Allan Miller, Francis Darwin published quite a few of Darwin's letters in the 1880s and 1890s, all of the published works were available. I believe just about anything relevant to show his relationship with eugenics was available well before 1910. And there were still large numbers of people who knew Charles Darwin who lived into the 20th century.

      The post-war revision, removing an inconvenient relationship with a then discredited idea won't hold long, especially as it's ultra-Darwinists who are always pushing the eugenics envelope.

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    10. Oh, SLC I answered your attempt to falsely associate unrelated people to the Shockleys and others above. As I said, I'm never surprised at how low a CSICOP will go. Something I learned from reading that Richard Kammann article I linked to above and from reading sTARBABY. It's your club's normal operating procedure.

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    11. Once again, Mr. McCarthy shows his total ignorance. I have no association with CSICOP, don't belong and don't read any of their literature. Mr. McCarthy really is a total schmuck.

      Once, again, Mr. McCarthy lies. In no way, shape, form, or regard did I associate Dr. Radin with Shockley, et. al. Mr. McCarthy is impressed by Radin's CV. What I pointed out was that scientists with more impressive CVs turned into nutcases. Thus Dr. Radin's CV is of little relevance in assessing whether he too is a nutcase, an assessment which I refrain from making on grounds of insufficient information. I might add, by the way, that Prof. Bob Park's CV is at least as impressive as Radin's, for what that might be worth.

      By the way, I found a link to a post by Dr. Park relative to a preposterous claim by Dean Radin. Based on this information, I have now concluded that Radin belongs in the same catagory as the Shockleys et al. He is a nutcase.

      3. GLOBAL CONSCIOUSNESS: JUST ASK YOUR RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR.
      Did you know that we all sense the future? Did you know that our minds influence the functioning of machines? If you knew both of these things, you will not be surprised to learn that random number generators around the world anticipated both 9/11 and the Indian Ocean tsunami. The Global Consciousness Project, headed by Dean Radin (WN 06 Aug 04) found these events in the output of 65 RNGs in 41 countries. And this is just the start. Once they refine what constitutes an anomaly in a random signal, they'll be able to predict even the most trivial events -- after they happen. But a more ominous interpretation is that the RTGs are causing these horrific events. A sensible precaution would be to ban the use of all such devices.

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    12. Re Anthony McCarthy

      1. Mr. McCarthy has challenged me to cite a reference to my claim that the late Prof. Rhine was discredited. Happy to oblige. As is recounted by Bob Park in his book, Voodoo Science, Rhine was visited by Nobel Prize winning chemist Irving Langmuir, where the latter was informed that experimental results where the former was convinced that subjects were deliberately guessing wrong were omitted from his calculations! This is absolutely astounding incompetence and totally negates any results reported by Rhine.

      2. Bob Park in the same book suggested an unambiguous test for PK which would not depend on arcane statistical tests, such as the Radin experiment discussed earlier.

      Why, you may wonder, all this business of random machines? Jahn has studied random number generators, water fountains in which the subject tries to urge drops to greater heights, all sorts of machines. But it is not clear that any of these machines are truly random. Indeed, it is generally believed that there are no truly random machines. It may be, therefore, that the lack of randomness only begins to show up after many trials. Besides, if the mind can influence inanimate objects, why not simply measure the static force the mind can exert? Modern ultramicrobalances can routinely measure a force of much less than a billionth of an ounce. Why not just use your psychokinetic powers to deflect a microbalance? It's sensitive, simple, even quantitative, with no need for any dubious statistical analysis.

      As Park points out, the reason why the Radins, of the world don't like this simple test is because the micro-balance stubbornly refuses to budge. This explains why statistical studies are so popular in parapsychology research: they introduce all sorts of opportunities for uncertainty and error.

      Delete
    13. Well, no one's a CSICOP anymore, are they? Not since the brand name got so sullied that they had to change it into another of the alphabet soup of names in Kurtzian pseudo-skepticism.

      I didn't compare anyone's CV to Dean Radins, I just wanted to know how yours compared. You didn't say. Bob Park was a CSICOP and for all I know is now a CSI or a CFI and so has an ideological bias that should make anything he writes about pseudo-skepticism's index of officially forbidden topics worthy of skepticism.

      All I did was invite anyone who was interested in it to read the paper I linked to, It's clear the idea of reading something before making up your mind about it is a novel concept to many here. Googling your #3, I see it's by Bob Parks. I wonder if he's saying that people shouldn't look into things like that, which seems to be the goal of pseudo-skepticism, to make it taboo to think or talk about forbidden topics and to shut down any attempt to look into them. I guess that's the difference between us. I figure nothing should be off limits for discussion or research, including the post-war received wisdom on Charles Darwin and the sleazy career of James Randi.

      I'm entirely skeptical of string-membrane-multi-universe theory but I'd never advocate people not read about it, talk about it or .... well, I guess they're not to the point where they can actually do anything like research on it. But, then, I'm all in favor of really free thought as opposed to "Free Thought", inc.

      Delete
    14. Looking at Park's blog, it's kind of useless. Like Denyse O'Leary, he seems to link mostly to his own blog. At least on the pages I've looked at.

      Delete
    15. Nobody is stopping Mr. McCarthy from reading and talking about PK and ESP. If he want's to make an ass of himself, it's a free country.

      By the way, as I predicted, Mr. McCarthy added Bob Park to his smear list, without responding to the criticisms of a Nobel Prize winning chemist relative to the late Prof. Rhine nor to Park's suggestion for an unambiguous test of PK.

      I also read the paper to which Mr. McCarthy linked and IMHO, I gave a better description of what they were trying to prove then they did.

      Gee, Mr. McCarthy is skeptical about string theory. Who cares? I doubt that he has the mathematical background to even understand it. I'm skeptical of it myself, totally based on the fact that it's been around for some 25 years and has yet to produce a testable hypothesis. There are a number of reputable physicists who are skeptical of it, including Lawrence Krauss. The only reason it is still around is because of its potential for producing a theory of quantum gravity, which is required to investigate phenomena such as what goes on in the interior of black holes.

      By the way, I object the labeling the hypothesis of strings as a theory. What it is is a branch of mathematics that may or may not have application to physics, the jury still being out on that one. As an example, several branches of mathematics, e.g. Riemannian geometry, and Hilbert spaces have been shown to have application to physics.

      Delete
    16. Gee, according to Mr. McCarthy, being a member of CFI is a no no too. Is Mr. McCarthy aware that our distinguished host, Prof. Moran, is a member of CFI Canada?

      Delete
    17. make an ass of himself

      Give details, you might as well try to back up at least one thing you say here.

      As I noted above, SLC, if something is true it can't be a smear. However, I know little about Parks except that he's a former CSICOP, that he's a pseudo-skeptic and that his blog is, to me, uninteresting and self-referential. Speaking of respect for Nobels, how you feeling about Brian Josephson? How about J.J. Thomson? Come to think of it, I think you're probably the only one on this comment thread who has dissed Nobels, Pauling, Shockley.

      I have no problem with you calling string theory "string hypothesis" if it makes you happy but I'll bet if you went to a string believing blog and used it, the true believers would flip out. They sometimes do when I call evolution a fact instead of a theory.

      As to the paper from Physics Essays I gave the link to, maybe you should submit a review to them and see if they'll publish it.

      So, where is that documentation of the the total discrediting of J. B. Rhine's research that you asserted had happened above? Or did you really mean the Gardner-Hansel stuff?

      Delete
    18. Where did I say being a member of CFI is a "no no"? All I said is that I wouldn't accept a member of CFI or CSI or a former CSICOP as necessarily a reliable critic of controlled research into topics on the index of prohibited idea. In other words I'm s-k-e-p-t-i-c-a-l of their willingness to let the facts speak for themselves. You know, what the former CSICOPs Truzzi, Rawlins, Kammann, and likely others have said on that subject. I also wouldn't trust police to police themselves or the Vatican to conduct an honest investigation into clerical misconduct and crime.

      Delete
    19. As I have stated on several blogs on many occasions, Brian Josephson is a once productive scientist who has embraced ESP, PK, and cold fusion and has turned into a crackpot.

      Strings does not, as we sit here today qualify as a theory as it has produced no testable hypotheses, currently predicts nothing that is observable, and is not falsifiable. Of course, results from the LHC may change this but, as I said, as we sit here today. By the way, the string theorists probably don't think much of Lawrence Krauss either.

      So apparently, one shouldn't diss William Shockley, first class racist. By the way, a million years ago, I had an interaction with the good professor when he sent me copies of some of his papers on the alleged inferiority of black Americans. I found it amazing that so distinguished a scientist could write such tripe. One also shouldn't diss Linus Pauling over his crackpot vitamin C activities, according to Mr. McCarthy. How about Lynn Margulis, J. Allen Hynek, and Kerry Mullis? Are they also not to be dissed?

      What about J. J. Thompson? He was wrong about the plum pudding atom but so what. As Enrico Fermi once said, a scientist has never been wrong is a scientist who has never accomplished anything.

      And Mr. McCarthy has not commented on Langmuir's claim about Joseph Rhine nor about Bob Park's proposed experiment to observe PK.

      Delete
    20. Where did I say "One also shouldn't diss Linus Pauling over his crackpot vitamin C activities"? All I pointed out was that compared to The Amniotic Universe and CSICOP's one and only scientific investigation in the infamous sTARBABY affair Pauling was following regular scientific methods of research. I could have added a number of other popular hobby horses including just about anything done in any of the social or behavioral sciences. As someone once pointed out, if the standards Ray Hyman demands of PSI research were applied to his field, psychology, it would disappear. I'd add evo-psy and most of the rest of behavioral sci to that observation.

      I have not commented on Langmuir's claim because I can't find it online in anything but a third hand version that I suspect is filtered through Park's book, typical of just about anything to do with that area of research. If there's one thing that the pseudo-skeptics are good at, it's distorting the discussion. Nor have I seen any answer from Rhine or his associates or other reviewers of it, though I have seen statisticians who said that Rhine's statistical methodology was sound. You want to show me where I can find Langmuir unfiltered through the CSICOPiscope? Have you read it, yourself?

      You seem to forget that you're the one who has been bringing up every Paul Bill and Kerry to try to discredit Dean Radin. And that you've yet to establish any connection among them and Radin that is anything like the connection between Francis Galton and Charles Darwin.

      Delete
    21. Apparently, Mr. McCarthy's Google skills are rather lacking. A Google search on Joseph Rhine and Langmuir turns up the following essay written by the late Prof. Langmuir in 1953, published on Princeton University's web site and not filtered through Bob Park. It confirms what Prof. Park said in his book about Langmuir's visit to Rhine's lab in Voodoo Science.

      http://www.cs.princeton.edu/~ken/Langmuir/langC.htm

      Prof. Pauling was not following the accepted protocols of science relative to his advocacy of vitamin C. He made his proposal relative to the efficacy of using vitamin C as a cancer treatment without a jot or a tittle of evidence and he continued to promote the idea, even though he could produce no evidence nor could anyone else. The verdict of the scientific community is that a once distinguished scientist greatly damaged his reputation, or as the British would say, blotted his copybook. Pauling had no expertise in medical research and was completely incompetent to pontificate in that area of science.

      As for the late Carl Sagan's proposal that near death experiences could be attributed to trauma encountered during birth, he was wrong. Big deal. Isaac Newton was wrong about a great number of issues, including spending inordinate amounts of time on alchemy and religious speculation. Doesn't detract at all from his accomplishments which exceed all but a very few scientists in history.

      Delete
    22. It didn't come up in the first ten pages of my search. Having given a number of links to primary sources in my comments on this blog I wonder why you haven't been backing up what you say.

      Did you happen to note this insertion into the text of Langmuir's talk:

      (A section of the speech is missing at this point. It evidently described some tests that gave scores below 5. )

      An informal talk on this subject with that omission wouldn't constitute a reliable report. Do you happen to know if Rhine answered it or, since he's reporting something that he says happened in 1934 if Rhine's decades of reports after that is in line with Langmuir's allegations? I believe the reports I've seen of analyses by statisticians of Rhine's statistical methodology date from after that, though I'll need to go to the library to check that.

      "Prof. Pauling was not following the accepted protocols of science relative to his advocacy of vitamin C."

      You should word search "ascorbic" and see Pauling's publication record on the subject, published mostly in scientific journals.

      http://www.girinst.org/~zeke/test.bit.pdf

      You can compare that publication record with the record of Kurtz, Abell, Zelen, Randi, Klass, and the rest of CSICOP on sTARBABY and Sagan on The Amniotic Universe, to see if my contention that Pauling's record was not far more in keeping with normal proceedures of science than Sagan and the CSICOPs. I didn't endorse what Pauling and his co-authors said, I just said that he was following scientific procedures in contrast to your heroes.

      Delete
    23. Sagan's record of being a sucker for the outer fringes of psychology go far past that one abomination, and that's not to mention the several historical whoppers he had a role in propagating. Not to mention his part in spreading the annoyingly widespread habit of misusing terms of formal logic instead of applying logic among pseudo-skeptics and new atheists. I'd take what he said about planets within the solar system, up to the time of his death, seriously. Outside of that he was often of variable reliability if not totally out to sea. Or maybe that should be in to sea. "Exobiology", a "science" that has no examples of the supposed object of its study available to study is his counterpart to evo-psy and abiogenesis, producing a simulation of science to be plugged into ideological polemics but useless to tell us anything reliable about the universe.

      Delete
    24. Your Langmuir link isn't to a paper, it's a transcript (?) of a speech, quite a bit of its reporting is third hand. And you might have missed this ellipsis (A section of the speech is missing at this point. It evidently described some tests that gave scores below 5. ) Or maybe not? I'd like to know if Rhine agreed with the account of a conversation, given in quotes as if he'd actually said what is attributed to him, apparently decades after he allegedly said it. You have anything better than this? Did Rhine ever answer him? Do you have any evidence that Rhine's publication record shows what Langmuir alleged? I'd like to know if the statisticians who said that Rhine's statistical methodology was sound addressed this. I believe Langmuir said that Rhine was honest (it's hard to tell what's what in the text) and he knew that everything he did was looked at by his critics so I doubt he'd have tried to conceal his methods.

      Maybe if you had higher standards of evidence your allegation might be more convincing.

      You might want to check Linus Pauling's publication record, as well before repeating yourself. Do a word search for "ascorbic", noting where he and his colleagues published.

      http://www.girinst.org/~zeke/test.bit.pdf

      Compare that to the CSICOP record in sTARBABY (google Rawlins sTARBABY) or Sagan's Amniotic Universe to see who was making an attempt to practice science and who clearly wasn't, which was the only point I made about it.

      Delete
    25. So Mr. McCarthy considers Exobiology to not be a respectable science. This is one of the hottest fields of current research in biology and astronomy, in fact in all of science, along with and concurrent with, the search for exo-planets. The current scientific thinking is that abiogensis will likely occur where conditions are right. The issue of the inevitability of the evolution of intelligent life is another story, which I have discussed on a thread on Panda's Thumb. Why does Mr. McCarthy think that NASA is planning further exploratory trips to Mars, Europa, and Titan? The answer is for the specific purpose of looking for evidence of exo-life.

      It is interesting to note that there was an internet debate between Sagan and Ernst Mayr on the subject of the prevalence of intelligent life in the universe, where Sagan argued that such life might be quite plentiful and Mayr argued that such life would be quite rare. Note that the subject was intelligent life, not life in general. It should be noted that the debate took place before the discovery of the first exo-planet.

      Delete
    26. Where's the first example of "other life" for the "SCIENCE" of exo-biology to study?

      I'm not about to accept any alleged science that doesn't have even one example of what it purports to study available to subject to the methods of science. Sagan vs. Mayr is a bit premature as not a single example of "other life" is known, never mind what that life is like, never mind that we don't know if, perhaps, life on Earth is the only life that exists anywhere in the universe. Even finding Martian squigglies would give us a grand total of two, perhaps, independent lines of life in what may well be a mindbogglingly stupendous number of possible venues.

      Wittgenstein famously said, "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." but, then, he didn't take into account PhDs on the make and their ability to substitute repute and authority for having, you know, ANY EVIDENCE before they get funded. You don't know how funny it is to get told all the time that you guys are all about evidence in the face of this kind of thing but it's highly risible at times like this.

      Delete
    27. So Mr. McCarthy, have you written to NASA demanding that they forthwith cease and desist funding any and all research into exobiology, since according to you it's not science? Have you written to your congress-critters and senators demanding that they vote to zero out all research on exobiology?

      IMHO, the reason why ex-life has not yet been found is because our current technology is not capable of finding it. How does Mr. McCarthy expect us to obtain evidence for exo-life if all research is defunded and more advanced instrumentation is not developed?

      The real reason why Mr. McCarthy is against exo-life research is the same reason he doesn't want researchers to use a microbalance to attempt to measure the force of PK. He's afraid we might find it, just as he's afraid that the microbalance will find no measurable force of PK.

      I and others on this blog have engaged in extensive discussion and debate on another thread on this blog with a moron calling himself Denny who insists that the only life in the universe is on this planet and I really see little other then heat to be generated by continuing that discussion on this thread.

      Relative to the discussion between Mayr and Sagan in the mid nineties, the Anthony McCarthys of the world would have argued at that time that there was no evidence of the existence of exo-planets and hence some evidence should be found before spending resources on finding them. We can see how that would have worked out.

      Delete
    28. Mr. McCarthy would be 200% in favor of "exo-life research" if there was the first evidence of such life available to be subjected to the normal methods of science. Which blog does "Denny" comment on? I'd like to ask him how the blazes he knows what he's asserting any more than the most febrile exobiological groupie believes they know about it.

      I never expressed myself on the topic of "exo-planets" in the 1990s, the 1980s, or any other decade going back to the 1940s. I believe that since about the age of seven I'd have assumed the existence of planets around other stars was probable. As of today identifying the existence of other planets would seem to be far easier than identifying the exitence of "other life". Are you asserting that's not the case, SLC? On what basis?

      I have expressed no opinion about the "use of a microbalance to attempt to measure the force of PK", having been engaged too much in the refutation of ideologically motivated historical falsification to have thought a lot about it this week. Does Park assert that a microbalance would be required to measure any force in nature that is able to have an effect at the level in the double split experiment? Does he believe that all phenomena documented at that level of matter is manifested on a larger scale? Does SLC?

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    29. It really gets tiresome attempting to have a discussion with a numbskull like Mr. McCarthy but I'll ask again, how does Mr. McCarthy expect us to find evidence of exo-life if we don't spend any funds to improve our instrumentation, given that what we currently have is inadequate?

      In other words, PK is so weak that the microbalance experiment proposed by Prof. Park can't measure it. It only manifests itself on the atomic level where it lies hidden barely out of the noise level.

      And for the information of Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Denny produced his comments on a thread on this blog.

      Delete
    30. You see, SLC, I don't feel it's necessary to call names in discussing these issues, preferring to rely on other things like citations and reason.

      So, does Park or do you believe that any phenomena that are observed at the scale of matter relevant to the double slit experiments in Radin's paper would have to have demonstrable effects on larger scales in order to actually exist? Why don't you answer that question as I've already said I haven't considered the question you asked. I'd assume you would believe that in order for your question to be relevant.

      I know full well why you don't want to answer the question, which is why I asked it.

      I don't find any link in your last sentence. Maybe you'd like to ask "Denny" my question, which is the same one I have of any assertions about exo-biology, how do you know without any evidence to go on? But, then, you see, I'm old fashioned enough to think that you need evidence to actually obtain reliable information with science. That used to be something that materialists used to claim to believe, though, as can be seen in that list I give above, only when it suits their ideological purpose. They're just as willing to go evidence-free when they imagine they can further their ideological purposes and that pesky need for evidence gets in the way.

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    31. Re Anthony McCarthy

      So, does Park or do you believe that any phenomena that are observed at the scale of matter relevant to the double slit experiments in Radin's paper would have to have demonstrable effects on larger scales in order to actually exist? Why don't you answer that question as I've already said I haven't considered the question you asked. I'd assume you would believe that in order for your question to be relevant,

      Theoretically, the answer is yes. Practically, the answer is no. Thus, as an example, one can solve Schrodinger's equation for, say, the Sun/Earth system, replacing the universal gravitational constant with the permittivity of the vacuum, and the charge on the proton/electron with the masses of the Sun and the Earth. One doesn't need to do any work, the solution will be the same as for the hydrogen atom, with Legendre polynomials for the axial part and Laguerre functions for the radial part, which will yield quantized energy levels and quantized angular momentum. However, the energy and angular momentum levels are so close together that, as a practical matter, they are indistinguishable from a continuum. In addition the lifetimes of the excited states are many orders of magnitude larger then the age of the universe.

      Another example would be throwing golf balls at a picket fence. In theory, there would be interference and diffraction patterns observed behind the fence, assuming the separation of the pickets was much larger then the size of the golf balls. As a practical matter, this would be impossible to observe.

      Relative to exo-life, what Mr. McCarthy proposes is what is known as a catch 22 situation. He opposes the government funding exo-life explorations until some evidence is produced that such exists but we can't produce such evidence until our instrumentation is improved which can't be done without spending money.

      Delete
    32. If "practically the answer is no" then why would you think that a microbalance would give a definitive test of the kind of phenomenon Radin demonstrated in the double slit experiment? If "theoretically the answer is yes" then the experiments in Radin et al's paper aren't outrageously.

      So, how about entanglement at a macro level?

      "Relative to exo-life, what Mr. McCarthy proposes is what is known as a catch 22 situation. He opposes the government funding exo-life explorations until some evidence is produced that such exists but we can't produce such evidence until our instrumentation is improved which can't be done without spending money."

      1. I don't recall opposing government funding "exo-life explorations until some evidence is produced". Where did I say that? As always, with pseudo-skeptics, I'll have to insist on actual quotes with links because I'm skeptical of the ethics of name callers.
      2. What I said was that until an example of "exo-life" is found then you can't study "exo-life", what you're studying is speculation which may, somewhere in the universe, correspond to something but there isn't any way to know that. In other words, you can't know if you're finding reliable information about the universe, science, or if you're just producing science fiction.
      3. "catch 22". Actually, what you've described is Ray Hyman's never to be met requirement for PSI research.

      In addition to a community of shared concerns and paradigms with respect to a given problem, the observations must be made with standardized and proven procedures, the observers and their instruments must be reliable, the data must be reported according to conventional categories and attributes, and the settings and tasks must be ones in widespread use or ones that have gone through preliminary checks and standardization. In addition, especially if the reported results are anomalous or at variance with current theories and presuppositions, they must be systematically studied under a wide variety of conditions, and they should be repeatable by investigators in independent laboratories.
      (Hyman, 1981, p. 136)

      Child (1987) commented:
      This is a very fine statement of what might be theoretically desirable. In practice, it seems to offer a recipe for guaranteeing that anomalies will never be studied. For it prescribes that no one in the scientific world should pursue the study of an anomaly until a large number of scientists have already pursued it at great expense. The preliminary work required by this statement of principles might well require many times the budget of all the existing parapsychology laboratories and many times the number of trained scientists ever to have worked on the problem of psi. But none of these scientists should start working on the problem until after the large-scale preliminary work has been completed. This seems to be a Catch-22 statement of principles. (p. 223)

      http://www.tricksterbook.com/ArticlesOnline/HymanReview.htm

      So, it seems you've mixed me up with Ray Hyman. As I said, if you or Dean Radin has got the evidence to study, I've got no problem with studying it. Without that, you've got no evidence to study.

      Delete
    33. SLC, having looked a bit more into your Bob Parks, it would seem that he's of the unusual opinion that there is "other life" and that it stays home and doesn't want to make contact with "other life". If that's the case, not having read his book, I'd guess he'd be likely to see SETI and the such as being folly. Has he ever expressed his skepticism on the topic of exo-bio as science? It would seem, considering the distances involved and the time factor, that he'd be at least as skeptical of that as I am.

      Delete
    34. SETI Finds No Signs of E.T. Nearby

      http://www.technologyreview.com/view/428038/seti-finds-no-signs-of-et-nearby/

      Delete
  27. You might want to contrast the disaster Darwin predicted would result if the unfit bred unchecked with this passage:

    "Man accumulates property and bequeaths it to his children, so that the children of the rich have an advantage over the poor in the race for success, independently of bodily or mental superiority. On the other hand, the children of parents who are short-lived, and are therefore on an average deficient in health and vigour, come into their property sooner than other children, and will be likely to marry earlier, and leave a larger number of offspring to inherit their inferior constitutions. But the inheritance of property by itself is very far from an evil; for without the accumulation of capital the arts could not progress; and it is chiefly through their power that the civilised races have extended, and are now everywhere extending their range, so as to take the place of the lower races. Nor does the moderate accumulation of wealth interfere with the process of selection. When a poor man becomes moderately rich, his children enter trades or professions in which there is struggle enough, so that the able in body and mind succeed best. The presence of a body of well-instructed men, who have not to labour for their daily bread, is important to a degree which cannot be over-estimated; as all high intellectual work is carried on by them, and on such work, material progress of all kinds mainly depends, not to mention other and higher advantages. No doubt wealth when very great tends to convert men into useless drones, but their number is never large; and some degree of elimination here occurs, for we daily see rich men, who happen to be fools or profligate, squandering away their wealth."

    My question is why the wealthy Charles Darwin didn't list the laws against theft as one of the primary impediments of natural selection. That's something that Cobbett had already pointed out in regard to Malthus and it's one of the most obvious of them. Imagine if the "drones" hadn't been able to use the state to prevent more vigorous and clever laborers from taking their wealth from them, as well as their food. Imagine if THAT impediment of natural selection imposed by civilization was done away with. Surprising that Darwin, in his thoroughness, didn't address that. Or not, considering he was wealthy, himself. Odd too was Charles Darwin, who was famously valetudinarian if not a hypochondriac, doing nothing to limit his own reproduction. I've found no instance of his family or his followers forgoing vaccination or medical care to allow natural selection to work on their families.

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  28. Mr Criminal,

    Have you ever been diagnosed with bipolar or other mental disorder(s)?

    Geezer

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  29. Geezer, what are your qualifications to practice medicine? Are you more than a BS? Blog "Skeptic"?

    It's always so interesting to find out what happens when the normal practices of history or the humanities, actually looking at primary sources, applying reason to what people say in primary sources, meets the culture of pop-sci and pseudo-skepticism. Considering the practices of those, it's no wonder that consulting the actual record looks like a mental aberration.

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  30. If one is going to reject evolution because of a connection between evolution and eugenics, then one ought to be consistent about that, and reject

    (1) "micro"evolution, evolution within a "kind", in particular within "mankind"

    (2) goal-oriented, purposeful, "intelligent design" selection

    And if one has an opinion about "macro"evolution and natural selection, it must be on some other basis than a relationship with eugenics.

    Yet a great many advocates of creationism in its various forms, including Young Earth Creationism and Intelligent Design insist upon both (1) and (2), and therefore they are as tainted with eugenics as anybody. Unless, of course, there is no connection between evolution an eugenics.

    TomS

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  31. SLC, I'll see if this third attempt to post a comment on your Langmuir "essay" goes through.

    I say "essay" in quotes because what you link to is apparently a transcript of a talk, apparently an incomplete transcript as it contains this ellipsis (A section of the speech is missing at this point. It evidently described some tests that gave scores below
    5. ). Well, maybe that's what's missing and maybe not, which points out only one of the problems with it as evidence of anything except, perhaps, Langmuir's predisposition. It contains what are, apparently, purported to be quotes from Rhine reported decades after Langmuir says he talked with him and, apparently, third-hand content from his nephew.

    Do you know if Rhine ever responded to what he's alleged to have said? As the conversation is reported to have happened about 1934, do you know if what was alleged is reflected in Rhine's published work before or after that date? I wonder what the statisticians who said that Rhine's mathematical methodology was sound after that date would have made of it. Here's what someone else had to say about that.

    Between 1934 and 1940, a flurry of critical articles appeared, mainly in the psychological literature, that challenged the evaluative methods and experimental conditions used in the card-guessing ESP studies. All the major counterhypotheses that have been raised against ESP were aired during this period. Critical attention initially focused on the mathematics of evaluation used to assess statistical significance (Kellogg, 1936). These criticisms were later withdrawn (Kellogg, 1940) after a number of mathematicians - including the president of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, Burton H. Camp - approved the evaluative techniques.

    continuing on

    By 1940 the active methodological controversy over ESP research methodology had subsided considerably but not completely (Diaconis, 1978). For the most part, recent critical attacks (Price, 1955; Hansel, 1966) have accepted the statistical and methodological adequacy of the better-controlled ESP studies but have focused on the possibility of dismissing even these studies by assuming the incompetence or dishonesty of the principal investigators. Although providing no evidence to support allegations of investigator fraud, these critics reason on a priori grounds that any explanation, regardless of how unlikely it seems to be, is mole likely than ESP. Such extreme charges are not uncommon in the history of science. The extent to which normal science protects its favored doctrines and theories from anomalous data has been well documented (Kuhn, 1962). However, Price retracted his allegations in an apology to Rhine and Soal (Price,1972).

    A. Freedman and H. Kaplan ed. The Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, Volume 3, Third Edition, Chapter 56, Section 15, pp. 3235-3245, 1980.

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  32. As could have been predicted, Mr. McCarthy adds Langmuir to his list of smearees. By the way, what objection does Mr. McCarthy have to Prof. Park's suggestion of using a microbalance to measure the force exerted by PK?

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    Replies
    1. How is noting that your "essay" isn't an essay but a sloppy transcript of a talk and that it presents a decades old conversation in the form of attributed quotes a "smear"? Oh, I'm forgetting the pseudo-skeptical rule that they get to do things like that by virtue of their greater sciencyness.

      As I said, the humanities have somewhat higher standards for those kinds of things. At least they try to.

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    2. SLC, it's been raining here for a while so I had a few minutes to look up whether or not Rhine ever responded to Langmuir and found this:

      " Famed scientist Irving Langmuir, awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1932, devoted most of one day attempting to prove to Rhine that ESP was a myth and Rhine ’s methodology ridiculously inept and inadequate. What had aroused Langmuir was the behaviour of a nephew at M.I.T., who read Rhine ’s first book, Extra-Sensory Perception, and immediately plunged into his own ESP experiments, which gave positive results. In vain Langmuir tried to ridicule the nephew into quitting, then predicted that if he persisted in the tests he would eventually and inevitably get chance results. After telling Rhine of the foolish nephew, Langmuir concentrated on the foolish Rhine . First he gave Rhine a long list of definitions of science and of nonscience. Then he described one of Rhine ’s experiments and said that every single approach he had defined as “nonscientific” was manifest in that experiment. “True,” Rhine replied to Langmuir. “If I had done the experiment the way you’ve described it, I’d agree with you that it was nonscientific. But you haven’t read my account. I didn’t do it the way you’ve described.”
      The Enchanted Voyager' 1982 - Denis Brian

      I haven't read the book but it would seem the habit of having strong opinions of things that haven't been read, on full display all over this comment thread, was shared by Langmuir.

      Apparently after your boys revived the incomplete tape of Langmuir's talk you depend on, after Rhine was dead, his daughter also responded to it.

      "We can vigorously point to arguments that data were not selected even back in the early 30's when experimental methods were not as sophisticated as they are today."

      http://zetetique.canalblog.com/archives/2007/10/index.html

      The rest of the post is interesting but you'll have to read French to read it.

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    3. Apparently the file-drawer effect that Langmuir seems to imply Rhine was guilty of has also also analyzed in relation to his work. I saw two figures, one is that it would have taken 428,000 unpublished studies averaging no better than chance to negate the results of the 188 experiments Rhine described in 1940. A more conservative method of analysis, though, puts the number at a mere 9,800 studies averaging no better than chance, or 52 unpublished studies for every one published. It's just about impossible to believe that that many unpublished studies exist, if you don't understand that.

      http://tinyurl.com/838qo54

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  33. As for what you say about Linus Pauling, you might want to word search the list of his publications using the term "ascorbic".

    http://www.girinst.org/~zeke/test.bit.pdf

    Note where he and his colleagues published and compare the record of Sagan's Amniotic Universe and the record of Kurtz, Abell, Zelen, Klass, Randi, et all, re the sTARBABY scandal to see who was working within the normal methods of science. Which is all I said about Pauling's vitamin C activity. Research is always being refuted within the normal practices of science, that's not unusual, unlike what Sagan and the CSICOPs were up to in their one and only "scientific" investigation. Sagan, not to mention Hyman, didn't exactly cover himself with glory in that one, either.

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