Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Purpose of "The Scientific Dissent from Darwin" List

A few years ago the IDiots tried to collect a list of credible scientists who supported creationism. They created a statement called "The Scientific Dissent from Darwin." It goes like this ...
We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.
Only an IDiot would claim that supporters of this statement are also creationists. Many atheist scientists, including me, would agree with the statement. Nevertheless, if you look at the list of people who signed [Scientific Dissent from Darwin List] you'll not find very many evolutionary biologists because we all know that the IDiots will misuse this list.

A few days ago someone named Joshua Youngkin posted to Evolution News & Views (sic) in response to a question about the list. According to Youngkin, the list "is a thorn in the side of those who say there's no scientific debate over whether evolution works in a completely naturalistic fashion."

Why is that? The statement doesn't say anything about god or naturalism. This is exactly the kind of doubletalk you expect from IDiots.

Later on in the post Joshua Youngkin says,
The Dissent from Darwin statement counters and preempts any claim that (1) there is no scientific dissent over how evolution happens, by what means, that is, or that (2) it is unscientific to be skeptical of the proposition that natural selection and random mutation together satisfactorily explain the development of life over time.
There are plenty of ways to "preempt" such a false claim. Reading the scientific literature is one.

The list does serve one important purpose and for that we are truly thankful. It's the best list of Ph.D IDiots that I know of. It's easy to find your local IDiots using a simple word search. For example, I found these names from the University of Toronto: Stephen J. Cheesman Ph.D. Geophysics and Alfred G. Ratz Ph.D. Engineering Physics. Unfortunately, as I pointed out some years ago [I'm not a Darwinist, but I Ain't Signing], neither of these gentlemen are listed in the university phone book and they are not on the University website so we don't know what they are up to these days.

Project Steve with 1249 signatures, is an excellent parody of the creationist list.


23 comments:

  1. There's only one Pole on the list, Prof. Maciej Giertych, a well-known conservative politician who made a spectacle of himself a few years ago, by organising a young-earth creationist seminar in Brussels (he was a member of the European Parliament at the time). He received his MA (in forestry/dendrology) at Oxford, his PhD at the University of Toronto, and his post-doctoral degree (habilitation) in my city in Poland. We could both claim him as an ex-local IDiot.

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  2. Only an IDiot would claim that supporters of this statement are also creationists. Many atheist scientists, including me, would agree with the statement.

    It's not ID proponents who say that the supporters of the statement are also creationists. That would be detractors of the list.

    You agree with the statement? Then sign it, coward.

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    1. Why sign a statement that was designed by creationists with the purpose of misleading scientists into thinking that it had some academic target, but was actually designed to fool the public about evolution and it's perception among scientists?

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  3. Only an IDiot would claim that supporters of this statement are also creationists.

    In the same post:

    Project Steve with 1249 signatures, is an excellent parody of the creationist list.

    So, only an idiot would confuse people who agree with the list's statement and creationists. In the same post, you call the list a creationist list. Bravo, Larry. Bravo.

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    1. To point out the blindingly obvious, "supporters of this statement" and "signatories to the list" are not groups with a 1:1 overlap.

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    2. For that matter, there are at least two ways of construing the phrase "creationist list". You've obviously interpreted it to mean "list of creationists", whereas it can also mean a list created and bruited about by a creationist organization (in this case, the Discovery Institute). This latter sense does not require that every signatory be a creationist.

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    3. By the way, only some 2% of the signatories are biologists by training. Most of the rest are unlikely to have an informed opinion on anything biological, so how can their dissent be "scientific"? If hundreds of biologists, pharmacologists, economists, computer scientists, agronomists and historians of science signed a letter of "scientific dissent from quantum chromodynamics", everyone would say, "So what? Who cares? They don't even understand what they are dissenting from." But apparently in matters of biological evolution every lay person's opinion matters.

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  4. To point out the blindingly obvious, "supporters of this statement" and "signatories to the list" are not groups with a 1:1 overlap.

    To point out the blindingly obvious, you're engaged in a desperate dodge. But hey, if you need to deploy some creative exegesis to save your prophet, be my guest.

    whereas it can also mean a list created and bruited about by a creationist organization (in this case, the Discovery Institute).

    The DI is not a creationist organization, unless we're bastardizing language for political gain. Oh wait! We are!

    And what's the other list mocking, Null? There's no statement in there about creationism by Moran's own admission. All that's there is a statement Moran claims to agree with, one he claims is all too obvious - but that he will not support, because to do so would embolden The Enemy.

    So, what's a scientist to do? Shut his mouth when someone says something that is true, and side with the people mocking what he knows to be true, because the wrong people with the wrong political affiliations happened to say it? He'd fit in well with Lysenko. No, actually - Lysenko was in charge for a while. He'd be a crony to Lysenko.

    Moran: you agree with the statement? Then sign your name to the list, coward.

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    1. To point out the blindingly obvious, you're engaged in a desperate dodge. But hey, if you need to deploy some creative exegesis to save your prophet, be my guest.

      If "supporters of this statement" and "signatories to this list" are supposed to be the same thing, then obviously Larry Moran cannot be a "supporter of the statement" and you have no basis for demanding that he attach his name to the DI's propaganda. If his name isn't there, he cannot be one of the statement's supporters.

      The DI is not a creationist organization, unless we're bastardizing language for political gain.

      The only people bastardizing language are the cdesign proponentsists, chiefly by concocting the term "intelligent design" to cover their transparent attempts to skate just under any Establishment Clause challenge. It is nothing but mere camouflage for attempts to force non-science into the public school classroom.

      Please, it's 2013. It's 15 years after the Wedge Document was drafted. Let's stop pretending as if ID is some new quantity, put forth by daring seekers after truth. It's a hackneyed attempt by religious reactionaries to breathe some new life into the moldering corpse of the argument from design.

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    2. Forgot to add this point.

      And what's the other list mocking, Null?

      The other list is mocking the idea that scientific issues can be properly addressed by drafting lists. As Albert Einstein aptly commented, regarding the comical polemic Hundert Autoren gegen Einstein (A Hundred Authors Against Einstein) which also relied on the Power of the List, "If I were wrong, then one would have been enough!"

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    3. This list serves one purpose: to convince the majority of the general public, who know little about evolution or science in general, that there is a crisis amongst scientists as to the robustness of the theory of evolution.

      --After all (paraphrasing Pat Robertson), if even hundreds of preeminent scientists have their doubts about the theory then why should I accept it.--

      The only scientists (and many of the signatories are in fact not scientists) who would sign that list are those whose world-views are shaped by religion first, and science second. Strange that religosity would be a pre-requisite for "scientific" dissent from a scientific theory.

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    4. Mr Crude, what about that list that claims that the ex pope is a Nazi paedophile and the new pope is an Argentinian war criminal ?

      Do you agree with the statement? Then sign your name to the list, coward.

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    5. crude said:

      "The DI is not a creationist organization..."

      Absolute hogwash. They push a creator, the imaginary christian god yhwh. Just because they deceptively use the word "designer" doesn't make them any less creationists.

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  5. So, what's a scientist to do? Shut his mouth when someone says something that is true, and side with the people mocking what he knows to be true, because the wrong people with the wrong political affiliations happened to say it?

    Your problem Crude, is that you think everyone is stupid. Scientists will not play your game. This must come as a blow given that the "list" strategy was so very, very clever.

    But alas, you will need to find another way to misinform the scientifically illiterate. But keep trying Crude..you are smart..and don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.

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  6. Honest people who understand the debate might agree with the intentionally ambiguous statement because they know there are important mechanisms of evolution other than just mutation and natural selection; for instance, genetic drift and founder effects.

    Honest knowledgeable people might refuse to sign the intentionally ambiguous statement because they understand very well that the statement will be used for dishonest purposes. Refusal to sign in such a case is no more cowardice than refusing to sign statements concocted by the Institute for Historical Research.

    Dishonest and/or stupid people will interpret the statement as Youngkin has -- as saying that evolution requires supernatural intervention.

    We all know what side Mr. Crude is on.

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    1. Refusal to sign in such a case is no more cowardice than refusing to sign statements concocted by the Institute for Historical [Review].

      I can just see it:

      "We are skeptical of claims that the German military bears sole responsibility for the Holocaust. Careful examination of the evidence for the Holocaust should be encouraged."

      This is undoubtedly true, if only because the Nazis often relied on allied organizations like Croatia's Ustaše to carry out their mass murders, and to a certain extent these organizations were given leeway for independent action (to use the example of the Ustaše again, there's no evidence the Nazi command had anything against Serbs, but the Croats did and so massacred them along with the Roma and the Jews).

      Yet as unexceptionable as each individual sentence is, I doubt many mainstream historians would be inclined to sign on.

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  7. The statement itself is pretty unobjectionable: the claim that "RM+NS [alone] can account for the complexity of life" is unsupportable in its face because other mechanisms and influences, such as horizontal transfer and epigenetics, are already known or suspected of being involved.

    Likewise, the call for "careful examination of Darwinian theory" is laudable, if only for its historic content, but also because the gobshites fail to take account of everything that has happened in science over the last 150 years.

    I've proposed this before: a bunch of the most fundie-repellent Evilushunist perfessers (that's you, Larry, and the other guy with a beard, and maybe that nice Dr. Dawkins) should ask to publicly sign the statement in the DI's offices and be presented with a scroll of it by DrDrDr D himself.

    And then you should give your acceptance speech on why you're signing it. Can I draft it for you?

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    1. Hell, I would sign it under those conditions.

      Larry, let's do it.

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  8. There is in fact a good bit of dishonesty concealed in the statement:
    1. The Seattle Bible Organization promotes a strawman rendition of Darwinism (for their purposes here random mutation + n.s.) that misrepresents two of the theory’s conventional cornerstones as its total content.
    2. Disco-Tute’s simplistic portrayal of evolution rigs a bogus view of an evolutionary biology that excludes genetic drift, recombination, gene interactions, multiple adaptive solutions, phenotypic plasticity and many other center-stage mechanisms that take “Darwinism” much beyond mutation and selection.
    3. DI’s “Scientific Dissent” oath could equally well have been written or endorsed by Hitler’s political machine (European man the Creator’s masterpiece – not a souped-up ape) or from the viewpoint Stalin-Lysenko Creative Evolution (Cosmic guidance to Socialist perfection – Lysenko had selectionists shot). I think the Pan-Voodoo “Big Tent of Dissent,” if they were to stop to think about it, is a little larger than our evangelical friends might like.

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  9. Chessman is listed here http://www.rae.org/pdf/darwinskeptics.pdf
    As a "genetic systems analyst" who got his geophysics degree of UT. Presumably this is his PhD thesis:
    http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/11067177?versionId=12953275
    A few papers show a few different addresses, one is Pacific Geoscience Centre, Sidney, BC, V8L 4B2, Canada.
    A few other papers seem to indicate Chessman worked for the Canadian Geological Survey. A 1993 paper lists the Pacific Centre as his address, but then says his current address is: Department of Physics, University of Toronto.


    And now I found at year 2000 paper with him as co-author, listing his address as "Custom Geophysical Software, Toronto, Ont., Canada"



    As far as AG Ratz, all I find with a web of science search are some engineering papers from the 70s.

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  10. Just found somethign for AG Ratz, a patent he filed for a "Random Noise Generator" (apparently he's not talking about DI), this was in 1969, out of Woodbridge, CT.

    Another website says that 1.8 million dollars worth of drugs and guns were seized in Woodbridge, so just for funsies I am going to assume this is all the same person.

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