The Questionable Authority

Someone once pointed out that when a dog pisses on a fire hydrant, it’s not committing an act of vandalism. It’s just being a dog. It’s possible to use that analogy to excuse a creationist who takes a quote wildly out of context, I suppose, but I don’t think it’s really appropriate. Creationists might indulge in quote mining with the same casual disregard for public decency as a male dog telling his neighbors that he’s still around, but, unlike dogs, the creationists are presumably capable of self-control. We’ve simply grown blase about their propensity for twisting other people’s words because they do it so often.

Still, I expected more from Michael Egnor. He’s not some diploma mill hack, who really might not know any better. The man is a professor of neurosurgery and pediatrics at SUNY Stony Brook, and is actually the vice chairman of neurosurgery. He’s been in academia for some time, and presumably has some understanding of the importance of intellectual integrity. When he picks and chooses which words to quote to make it appear that someone has said something very different from what they meant, he has very clearly chosen to tell a lie. And that’s just what he did when he quoted from one of my posts.

Here’s what he wrote:

Zoology graduate student and Darwinist Mike Dunford at Panda’s Thumb has replied to recent posts in which Dr. Jonathan Wells and I pointed out that Darwin’s theory is irrelevant to medical research on antibiotic resistance, and that antibiotic resistance itself is irrelevant to the debate about intelligent design and Darwinism. Remarkably, Mr. Dunford, referring to a recent advance in research on antibiotic resistance, concedes both points. He writes:

The scientists worked in a lab. They artificially replicated a set of conditions (an antibiotic-rich environment) that occur in nature. Finally, they placed the bacteria into this environment – something that happens spontaneously outside the lab…We’ll pretend that anything that happens in a lab must be artificial selection, and that it is totally and completely wrong to use the phrase “natural selection” when referring to these experiments.

Mr. Dunford is right. Selection that happens by design in a lab is artificial selection, not natural selection. This distinction is of fundamental importance in this debate. Why? Consider Mr. Dunford’s next observation:

Now, here’s what I actually wrote. The portions that Egnor skipped over are highlighted in boldface:

The differences between what the scientists did in a lab and what happens in nature are small, and not incredibly significant. The scientists worked in a lab. They artificially replicated a set of conditions (an antibiotic-rich environment) that occur in nature. Finally, they placed the bacteria into this environment – something that happens spontaneously outside the lab. Strangely, I find that I’m not as impressed as Egnor is by these differences.

Still, let’s be nice and (purely for the sake of argument) grant Egnor his rhetorical fun. We’ll pretend that anything that happens in a lab must be artificial selection, and that it is totally and completely wrong to use the phrase “natural selection” when referring to these experiments. Even if we make those assumptions, Darwin’s work remains relevant to the experiments.

Maybe I’m being nitpicky, but I don’t think that what I really wrote can remotely be construed to mean that I am saying that selection that happens in a lab is artificial selection, and not natural selection. What I said was that Egnor’s position on natural selection and antibiotic resistance remains wrong even if he is right to claim that any selection that happens in the lab must be artificial.

Had Egnor not decided to omit the bit where I wrote “purely for the sake of argument”, it would have been very clear that I did not agree with his statement. I find it hard to attribute his selective quoting to anything other than a deliberate decision to deceive. However, let’s be nice and (purely for the sake of argument) grant Egnor the benefit of the doubt. We’ll pretend that even though his decision to omit certain phrases creates the appearance of a misquote designed to mislead, this might be an isolated mistake.

With that in mind, let’s continue to read Egnor’s description of what he wanted me to have said:

Mr. Dunford is right. Selection that happens by design in a lab is artificial selection, not natural selection. This distinction is of fundamental importance in this debate. Why? Consider Mr. Dunford’s next observation:

The differences between what the scientists did in a lab and what happens in nature are small, and not incredibly significant. I find that I’m not as impressed as Egnor is by these differences.

As it turns out, that was not my “next observation”. I wrote both those sentences, but in my original post the second does not immediately follow the first, and neither comes after the first of Egnor’s cobbled-together quotes. In fact, the two sentences that he calls my “next observation” were part of one of the paragraphs that he (mis)quoted from before. This time, I’ll highlight the sentences that he did quote in bold:

The differences between what the scientists did in a lab and what happens in nature are small, and not incredibly significant. The scientists worked in a lab. They artificially replicated a set of conditions (an antibiotic-rich environment) that occur in nature. Finally, they placed the bacteria into this environment – something that happens spontaneously outside the lab. Strangely, I find that I’m not as impressed as Egnor is by these differences.

It’s common practice to use an ellipsis to indicate that you are skipping words in a quote, but Egnor failed to do so here. He also misrepresented where, in relation to the other material he quoted, those sentences actually appear. That makes two instances where he misrepresents what I wrote. Perhaps coincidentally, those are the only two instances in that post where he quotes from my article.

At this point, your reaction to all of this might very well be “so what?” or “big deal”. You might be wondering why I’ve chosen to bring any of this up at all. Dr. Egnor might have decided not to honestly represent what I wrote, but pointing that out does nothing to address the substance of his post. That’s true, and I’ll address his latest claims in another post a little later today, but the intellectual integrity issue is still important.

Intellectual Design proponents are fond of claiming that they’d love to be participating members of the scientific community, but that they can’t because the big bad “Darwinists” keep forcing them out. If that’s really what they want, they’ve sure got a funny way of showing it. If they want academics to take them seriously, they might find that demonstrating a smidgen of a hint of intellectual integrity would be a good place to start.

Comments

  1. #1 Gary
    March 12, 2008

    It’s a good thing for him that he has seniority. If I were heading a medical institution I would have major reservations about employing someone who plays so fast and loose with the truth.

  2. #2 J-Dog
    March 12, 2008

    I think his Department Chair should know what a pig-ignorant lying hack he is, don’t you?

  3. #3 Reality Check
    March 12, 2008

    Big sarcasm alert:
    People should realize that Michael Egnor is less intelligent than the bacteria that he is talking about. After all they know the difference between a natural and an artificial environment! His own words prove that he does not.

  4. #4 Flint
    March 12, 2008

    The thing to recognize is that creationists compartmentalize. When Egnor shifts over into his creationist compartment, religious faith simply disallows anything that challenges it. If it’s challenged by honesty, integrity, facts, knowledge, position, profession, etc. then these things are simply tossed aside. Faith rules supreme.

    I see this every day, with the engineers where I work. They insist on the most rigorous, logical, evidence-based analysis for all their conclusions and are meticulous in following the trail of evidence to create products or solve problems – UNLESS their creationism is involved. Then their eyes glaze over, their logic is forgotten, evidence becomes irrelevant, intelligence is abandoned at the gates. They become *creationists*, not like engineers at all.

    And the key observation here is, *they are incapable of realizing they’re doing this!* Point out that they have fabricated evidence as required to rationalize non-negotiable conclusions, and they deny it, then doubletalk it, then get angry. Their conclusions HAVE TO BE RIGHT, because GOD SAID SO! Which justifies anything they make up to support it, and makes it real.

    Egnor doesn’t realize he’s lying, and isn’t capable of realizing it. Jeezus TELLS him he is speaking the Essence Of Truth. How could he be lying? You will never communicate.

  5. #5 Chris
    March 12, 2008

    I think Flint hit the nail on the head. I don’t know if it’s been said like that before, but that really does explain the difficulty with attempting to communicate with them.

  6. #6 Stacy S.
    March 12, 2008

    J-Dog beat me to it. That was my exact impression as I was reading this.

    His boss should know.

  7. #7 Eamon Knight
    March 12, 2008

    From Egnor’s post:
    Except this: intelligent agency causes the first, but not the second, and the results are the same.

    Oh my non-existent god, I was right: the forking idiot really does think that the mere presence of a human mind, somewhere in the vicinity, magically causes the results to “mean” something different.

    And now we know that he’s a lying schmuck as well.

  8. #8 Greg Esres
    March 12, 2008

    he has very clearly chosen to tell a lie.

    No, I don’t think so. I think Cognitive Dissonance is at work. His desire to bolster his beliefs and arguments cripples his intellect in evaluating the appropriateness of his “evidence”.

    The more he commits himself in writing to the point of view expresses, the less likely he will ever be able to give up his position.

  9. #9 Jack Krebs
    March 12, 2008

    This is blatant lying. It seems like we keep finding case after case where they lie by distorted quotation, but they keep doing it.

    I like Mike’s point that they can’t be expected to be taken seriously if they so demonstrably have no intellectual integrity.

  10. #10 PalMD
    March 12, 2008

    I have trouble being kind to Egnor. He really should know better, cogdis or no.

  11. #11 BillG
    March 12, 2008

    I think this is a wonderful example of what Dawkins speaks of in “The God Delusion.” It’s lying if he does it out of malice, but it’s not lying if it’s due to religiously-inspired cognitive dissonance. Is it lying if he does it out of cognitive dissonance that’s inspired by something else?

  12. #12 Paul Burnett
    March 12, 2008

    Egnor is a surgeon, and surgeons get away with being a tin god in their little universe. (Almost anybody who’s spent time with them knows what I mean.) Plus, he’s Lying For Jesus(TM), so it’s he’s forgiven.

  13. #13 Keith Eaton
    March 12, 2008

    How laughable that a herd of brainwashed brownshirt goons claim some moral highground in any aspect of any discussion.

    I have read the comments of you pig people for twenty years, your high handed criticism and ad hominem attacks on anyone and everyone that dares depart from the heil darwin dogma.

    I suggest at least a dozen of your intellectual pygmies join in on the Egnor atack as it requires at least that many of you mental midgets to balance the intellect of one Egnor.

    Every time one of my heros smashes your butts into a whimpering little victim of superior intellect you start preaching your little ethical screed. Problem you have to have an ethic and a value system to stand on and sewer people don’t have such.

  14. #14 Steve Reuland
    March 12, 2008

    Intellectual Design proponents…

    Please don’t tell me they’ve changed their name again?

  15. #15 Mike the Mad Biologist
    March 12, 2008

    Funny how he didn’t bring up my discussion of artificial versus natural selection. Words are as weapons for these jackasses.

  16. #16 Chris Noble
    March 12, 2008

    Maybe we should fix the Egnor as the SI unit for cognitive dissonance.

    The only question is how many Luskins there are to one Egnor.

  17. #17 Jon McKenzie
    March 12, 2008

    LOL @ Keith Eaton

    It takes some serious mental compartmentalization to accuse someone of ad hominem attacks and high-handed criticism while at the same time employing ad hominem attacks and high-handed criticism.

    It’s a good thing to read something before you criticize it. I know creationists have trouble with that.

  18. #18 Paul Flocken
    March 12, 2008

    Big sarcasm alert:
    People should realize that Michael Egnor is less intelligent than the bacteria that he is talking about. After all they know the difference between a natural and an artificial environment! His own words prove that he does not.

    As far as the bacteria is concerned there is no difference between natural or artificial. They are both just ‘environment’ to the bacteria.

  19. #19 Paul Flocken
    March 12, 2008

    I think Flint hit the nail on the head. I don’t know if it’s been said like that before, but that really does explain the difficulty with attempting to communicate with them.

    Flint has built a house from all the nails he has hit on the head. I am waiting for the book!

  20. #20 raven
    March 12, 2008

    As far as the bacteria is concerned there is no difference between natural or artificial. They are both just ‘environment’ to the bacteria.

    True. You obtain resistant mutants by plating bacteria in the lab.

    You treat patients or livestock with an antibiotic and eventually you always get resistant mutants.

    So what is the difference? Both are evolution and the end result is the same.

    Egnor is just wrong and an old MD fading into crackpottery. Not uncommon. The people who work in the field call it evolution all the time.

    More to the point, evolutionary thought in medicine has far more importance than just bacteria and antibiotic resistance. We see it with HIV which evolves in each patient to evade the immune system, cancer cells which evolve to escape growth control and become more malignant and eventually metastatic and therapy resistant. With flu vaccines.

    Also with emerging diseases. This is a big one. We now know that sooner or later a new pandemic of something novel will happen. Unless we expect new diseases to evolve and are prepared to jump on them fast and hard e.g. SARS.

  21. #21 waldteufel
    March 12, 2008

    Egnorance, thy name is Keith Eaton.

  22. #22 raven
    March 12, 2008

    Incidentially, the current model for oncogenesis is an evolutionary one. Somatic cells are seen escaping growth control, evading host defenses such as macrophages, acquiring a blood supply, metastasizing, becoming resistant to radiation therapy, chemo, and biologicals, and rarely as with Canine Venereal tumor or Tasmanian Facial Tumor acquiring the ability to spread beyond the host as parasitic diseases. The number of mutations involved in this process is a matter of research right now but estimates are trending up from a few to greater than 10.

    Cancer will kill 100 million of the people now alive in the USA. And Egnor says evolution isn’t important in medicine. Whatever, he has a 1 in 3 chance of finding out the hard way that it does.

  23. #23 raven
    March 12, 2008

    Incidentially, the current model for oncogenesis is an evolutionary one. Somatic cells are seen escaping growth control, evading host defenses such as macrophages, acquiring a blood supply, metastasizing, becoming resistant to radiation therapy, chemo, and biologicals, and rarely as with Canine Venereal tumor or Tasmanian Facial Tumor acquiring the ability to spread beyond the host as parasitic diseases. The number of mutations involved in this process is a matter of research right now but estimates are trending up from a few to greater than 10.

    Cancer will kill 100 million of the people now alive in the USA. And Egnor says evolution isn’t important in medicine. Whatever, he has a 1 in 3 chance of finding out the hard way that it does.

  24. #24 GvlGeologist, FCD
    March 12, 2008

    Mike, what are the chances that you could email Egnor directly and ask for an apology for the deliberate twisting of your posting, and CC it to other members of his department, especially the chair of neurosurgery?

    Or would that be too low a blow?

  25. #25 Paul Burnett
    March 12, 2008

    GvlGeologist, FCD, wrote: “Mike, what are the chances that you could email Egnor directly and ask for an apology for the deliberate twisting of your posting, and CC it to other members of his department, especially the chair of neurosurgery?”

    Write Egnor a simple one-page request for an apology, detailing his transgressions. Cc: everybody: The chair of neurosurgery, all the neurosurgeons, all the surgeons and anesthesiologists and other specialists, the nurses and office staff, the PR office, the accounting office, the local newspapers and TV stations, the DA and the Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau…wallpaper his world. Google his name to find his office(s) address(es), then Google the building(s) address(es) and sent a copy to everybody in his building(s). Find out every association he’s a member of and send it to all the officers, past and present. Send it to the FBI, intimating he’s Client Number 8 (naah, maybe that’s too low.)

  26. #26 Opisthokont
    March 13, 2008

    Keith Eaton: How laughable it is that anyone could regard someone like Egnor as an intellectual titan when evidence of his dishonesty is so patently obvious. How laughable it is that anyone could reply to someone pointing this out (and in a careful, methodical, and transparent manner, too) by belittling their own intellect. How telling it is that no actual explanation or defence of the behaviour of their hero is offered — or indeed even insinuated.

    Everybody else: sorry for feeding the troll. Sometimes I just cannot resist.

  27. #27 Mark Perakh
    March 13, 2008

    Egnor has been caught in quote mining? Is this something new or unexpected? His buddy Jonathan Wells practiced a very similar manipulation of “quotes” as documented at http://www.talkreason.org/articles/ugly.cfm .

  28. #28 Shirakawasuna
    March 13, 2008

    Greg Esres: Yeah, I never know how much benefit of the doubt to give someone who makes such flagrant and obvious errors. Here’s my general subjective test: Can they write coherent sentences? If so, blatantly ripping apart a paragraph and adding parts together at will should be recognized as dishonest. How would you go about learning if someone is dishonest or amazingly incompetent?

  29. #29 Sigmund
    March 13, 2008

    Of course they know they are lying, the problem is that they actually feel justified about it.
    Think of it this way; (sorry about the reverse Godwin but its the closest I could come up with to a real life situation) Imagine you are living in Amsterdam in the 1940s and your neighbors, the Franks, are in hiding. You know that they are in a secret room as you have heard them but you care for them and don’t want them to come to any harm – you, after all, are a good person. One day the SS turns up and asks you do you know where the Franks went to….. Do you tell them the location (the truth)? or do you lie? I think most of us would choose the second option, not because telling a lie is in itself correct, but because the consequences of telling the truth in this situation would be so bad.
    Now switch to the creationism debate.
    We are dealing with a group of people that seriously believe that eternal torture and punishment await those who do not follow their Gods instructions. Is it really so wrong to tell a few white lies with the aim of dissuading people from following the path to damnation?
    This is the reason why it is impossible to debate with them on substantive matters. One side of debate actually thinks lying about scientific evidence is justified. Can you imagine that in a real scientific community? Imagine a conference where two groups are having a vigorous debate about the effect of one gene variant on a particular disease and both are presenting evidence and disputing the others claims. It happens all the time and it is part of the scientific skeptical worldview that allows us to uncover the truth in these situations.
    Now imagine how it would work if one group felt justified in lying.
    This is why creationism is not accepted in science.

  30. #30 David B.
    March 13, 2008

    Well it’s not surprising Egnor has nothing against artificial selection. Isn’t that just what quote mining is? Selecting a specific set words from their ‘population’ in order to adapt them to a particular need?

  31. #31 Amad�n
    March 13, 2008

    I have been having fun lately applying the Discovery Institute Quote-Search Algorithm. Using it, I find the following statement by Dr Egnor:

    “… my claims … are … a … sham”
    (Source: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2008/02/proving_dr_novella_wrong_imagi.html)

  32. #32 harold
    March 13, 2008

    The more he commits himself in writing to the point of view expresses, the less likely he will ever be able to give up his position.

    I don’t see creationists as benign but delusional, trying to save people for Jesus with white lies, but rather, as social and political authoritarians, for the most part, trying to control the behavior and even thoughts of others.

    However, the above is very true. They are psychologically locked in. They cannot ever admit error. There really is almost no such thing as an educated adult who takes a creationist stance and then abandons it on the strength of evidence. Some people raised in traditionally creationist churches as children change when they become adults, but that’s entirely different.

    I doubt if they have the concept of “true” and “false” that we do. Rather, everything is like a corrupt court case to them. Whichever position can be forced on people is “true”, and if there’s an element of forcing submissive others to deny certain obvious evidence, so much the better.

  33. #33 rimpal
    March 13, 2008

    Keith Eaton, are you so angry that you can’t come up with even a creationist rejoinder? Why that takes you down all the way to the likes Sal and DaveScott. You may have been reading about this for 20 years, but you haven’t learned anything!

  34. #34 Flint
    March 13, 2008

    As always, creationism doesn’t rest on evidence, and can’t be “cured” with evidence. Educated adults do overcome their creationism on rare occasion, but not because of evidence. As creationists, they regard evidence as either supporting their convictions, or being misinterpreted either deliberately (if they’re suspicious creationists) or by inadvertent victims of Satan (if they’re big-hearted creationists). Evidence cannot possibly matter, because evidence is something that *supports* truth, not something that *determines* truth. If it’s not supportive, then it’s not evidence.

    Instead, the rare recovered creationist tends to start out on the path to sanity by noticing that creationist leaders are not being honest. Mike Dunford is exactly correct here in focusing not on the merits of the case, but on the sheer dishonesty of the argument. And a few educated adult creationists may start to wonder why Egnor fails to refute the point Mike is actually arguing, and instead finds it necessary to misrepresent (and *obviously* misrepresent) Mike’s point before attacking it.

    The chink in creationist armor is exploited when they are seen as Bad People, rather than simply as good people making weak arguments in areas outside their expertise. I don’t need to understand HOW someone lied to disrespect them, I only need to be convinced THAT they lied.

  35. #35 Torbj�rn Larsson, OM
    March 13, 2008

    Lying about evidence isn’t justified in science.

    One side of debate actually thinks lying about scientific evidence is justified.

    Hmm. While you can’t put them on the stand (“Lying about evidence isn’t justified in science. Do you think it should be?”) one could at least start every comment with the obvious claim.

    The goal is to push those that recognize, consciously or not, their “cogdis” towards the resolution.

    Keith Eaton may have been pushed to the denial stage, as he doesn’t even care to defend Egnor’s obvious lies. So unfortunately he was able to accept that he (or Egnor rather) is making shit up.

    Hopefully the next time he hits his cogdis he has this historical baggage to lug with. But I’m prepared to accept that most people never resolve theirs – the mind is a fascinating mess of historical contingencies and vestigial remains. And to take that simile a bit further there is often no evidence of an over all plan. :-P

    Eaton may believe in belief, but he is always observed to be scrambling, and failing, to make any sense out of it.

  36. #36 Torbj�rn Larsson, OM
    March 13, 2008

    The chink in creationist armor is exploited when they are seen as Bad People,

    Okay, that was a clear nail hit. The argument relies on that “the rare recovered creationist” recognizes dishonesty, that they are capable “of realizing that they [others] are doing this” and I think it is possible but unfortunately indeed rare.

    Keep pushing Mike, and keep hitting those nails Flint! [Goes out to take care of own blue nails, that *never* seems to heal before the next miss. Sigh!]

  37. #37 Tukla in Iowa
    March 13, 2008

    “your high handed criticism”

    That’s rich coming from creationists, who do nothing *but* criticize without actually producing any results of their own.

    “and ad hominem”

    Using fancy words to look smarter than you are doesn’t work when you use them wrong.

  38. #38 Keith Eaton
    March 13, 2008

    There is nothing to defend because Egnor nailed the subject material with complete intellectual and scientific precision.

    You have no proof or evidence of any intention to mislead..for goodness sake the’re quotations.

    Some little henny penny evo gets all unnerved over their 15 minutes of fame in a life of obscurity and he complains when he should be appreciative of Dr. Egnor’s mentioning his unheard of name…a great intellect like Engor, knowing you exist is actually a most gracious gesture considering you lowly standing in the scientific community.

    I mean really do you 3rd teamers actually consider yourselves worthy to citicsm of people like Egnor, Dembski, Wells, Myers, et al.

    I mean you have no accomplishments, no name,no awards, no significant careers, all you have is spare trime to peck away on the internet with sophomoric, talking points provided by Lenny Flack, P Z Myers, or some other nondescript toilet mouth.

    You could learn from your superiors , but you can’t listen closely to logical argument and you appear hopeless.

  39. #39 Braxton Thomason
    March 13, 2008

    I think Keith Eaton must be satire. No one is that dumb.

    My favorite: “for goodness sake the’re quotations.”

    Here’s a quote for you, Keith:

    “I … have no accomplishments … I … can’t listen closely to logical argument and [I'm] hopeless”

    Silly me, that won’t cut it for the creationists. I should remove the ellipses.

  40. #40 Adam
    March 13, 2008

    I’m with Egnor on the second quote, where he chose not to use an ellipsis. Totally understandable. He knows that we know that a creationist’s ellipse is usually a lie. It’s, like, a lie-flag. We see the lie-flag, we look for the lie.

    He’s just trying to save us the time we’d’ve spent looking for the lie when there wasn’t one.

    By telling a different lie.

    Wait. Lemme think . . . .

  41. #41 michaelf
    March 13, 2008

    I think Keith is projecting; just because he is a “3rd teamer”, with “no accomplishments, no name,no awards, no significant careers,” with lots of “spare trime (sic) to peck away on the internet with sophomoric, talking points provided by” his creationist heroes, doesn’t mean everyone who reads this site or any other blog does. I rarely comment, but I happen to have a real job in academia and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of California.
    What about you Keith?

  42. #42 Keith Eaton
    March 13, 2008

    http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/index3.html?content=bacteria.html

    One of my evolution “handlers” who has some interesting and confirmed findings about how bacteris aquire immune capacity.

    Better yet how real cutting edge science continues to reveal the logrithmic increase in specified complexity and the information driven complex called the cell and life writ large.

    Egnor is correct to point out the error in the anachronistic thinking of the typical evo… stuck in 1953.

    Of course Shapiro politely uses some evo language and pays his dues to keep the brownshirt hordes away from his career.

    When one is freed from the mental chains of darwinism apparently it is possible to see the actual evidence.

  43. #43 _Arthur
    March 13, 2008

    “Better yet how real cutting edge science continues to reveal the logrithmic increase in specified complexity and the information driven complex called the cell and life writ large.”

    Wow, where is this paper that has measured the “specified complexity” of cells, on over what period of time did they measure it ?

    Tell us, Keith ? When was this exciting leading edge research published !!?

  44. #44 Andrew
    March 13, 2008

    Keith wrote:

    >Of course Shapiro politely uses some evo language and >pays his dues to keep the brownshirt hordes away from his >career.

    Wow. So anything anyone says in consistent with your postmodern worldview – because you assume anyone who disagrees with you is as scared of mythical “brownshirts” as you are scared of honest thought. Neat trick.

  45. #45 prof weird
    March 14, 2008

    Eaton : There is nothing to defend because Egnor nailed the subject material with complete intellectual and scientific precision.

    If you define ‘complete intellectual and scientific precision’ as ‘alter the quotes to imply something their original author didn’t intend’.

    You have no proof or evidence of any intention to mislead..for goodness sake the’re quotations.

    Arranged differently and spliced to imply something other than their author intended.

    The proof and evidence of Egnor’s intent to mislead is the FACT that what he CLAIMS Dunford said vs what DUNFORD HIMSELF actually said differ.

    Initiating belligerent posturing :

    Some little henny penny evo gets all unnerved over their 15 minutes of fame in a life of obscurity and he complains when he should be appreciative of Dr. Egnor’s mentioning his unheard of name…a great intellect like Engor, knowing you exist is actually a most gracious gesture considering you lowly standing in the scientific community.

    Wow ! Now THAT was Olympic level delusion !

    I mean really do you 3rd teamers actually consider yourselves worthy to citicsm of people like Egnor, Dembski, Wells, Myers, et al.

    Well, yes, we do. WHY do you consider droolers like Egnor, Dembski, Wells, Meyers, et al ABOVE criticism ?

    Are YOU intelligent enough to know what they are actually prattling on about ?

    Their errors, dodges, special pleading, power whining, hand-waving, egomaniacal obfuscations are quite obvious to anyone that bothers to examine their ‘claims’ closely and is NOT wearing Faithtm brand blinders.

    I mean you have no accomplishments, no name,no awards, no significant careers, all you have is spare trime to peck away on the internet with sophomoric, talking points provided by Lenny Flack, P Z Myers, or some other nondescript toilet mouth.

    Whined Keith at the face in the mirror ….

    Good thing that Dembski’s, Behe’s, Well’s, Meyer’s, et al errors and double-dealings are so blatant and easy to spot that little time or effort is required.

    You ‘determined’ that Lenny and PZ are wrong HOW, exactly ?

    You could learn from your superiors , but you can’t listen closely to logical argument and you appear hopeless.

    Upon what basis did you ‘determine’ that Those Who Whine ‘DESIGNERDIDIT !!!!!!’ are superior in anything but handwaving and obfuscation ?

    When has an IDiot actually PRESENTED a logical argument ?

    Note : a logically FALLACIOUS argument is not something that one should be proud of.

  46. #47 neo-anti-luddite
    March 14, 2008

    So Keith Eaton posts a link to an accomplished academic and claims that said academic is his evolutionary “handler” in response to someone throwing his “3rd teamer” comment back at him. I think this is a perfect example of the creationist modus operandi: when asked for evidence, supply garbage.

    Hey Keith, the Pope is my “religious handler,” so I guess I’ve got you beat.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/index.htm
  47. #48 Keith Eaton
    March 14, 2008

    Coming from the people who believe a furry giant wolf became a sperm whale and scales on a giant lizard became bird feathers…I’d say rationality is on my side.

    Also, assuming there was a first replicator and ignoring the how, when, and where thus moving the argument from abiogenesis (which evos define as a non-problem by handwaving)directly into the evolutionary line of decent from the common ancestral progenitor of all diversity by RM and NS, please describe the hypothetical first replicator in sufficient molecular detail to varify its being self reliantly alive, capable of self-replication, mutation and responsive to selective pressures.

    If you cannot supply a testable hypothetical candidate(s) or if possible candidates are shown by analysis, experiment, observation, forensics, etc. then we must consider your theory as falsified.

    Note: This is unrelated to abiogenesis and a direct inquiry into the major tenant of evolution, namely common decent with modification from the first replicator, assuming its existence.

  48. #49 Flint
    March 14, 2008

    Why waste time with an obvious troll who can neither think nor spell nor construct an argument nor grasp rules of inference? I’m going to claim Poe’s Law on this one.

  49. #50 Raphael
    March 14, 2008

    “If you cannot supply a testable hypothetical candidate(s) or if possible candidates are shown by analysis, experiment, observation, forensics, etc. then we must consider your theory as falsified.”

    Nope. Just because the specific details of how something happened have not been figured out yet, it does not mean that it didn’t happen. Just because research on something hasn’t discovered everything yet, it doesn’t mean that the results that it has produced so far are false.

    For instance, your hero Dr Egnor is a neurosurgeon. That means that, in his work, he makes use of various medical theories about how the brain works. However, a lot of the details of how the brain works are still unknown. But this does not mean that neuroscience in general has been falsified, or that the theories that Dr Egnor uses in his work are wrong.

    By the way, your last post shows that you’re apparently capable of using complete articulate sentences, so why did you start out with silly elementary school insults at first?

    (Flint: Why not?)

  50. #51 Science Avenger
    March 14, 2008

    Keith Eaton illustrated some common anti-evolution canards thusly: Coming from the people who believe a furry giant wolf became a sperm whale and scales on a giant lizard became bird feathers…I’d say rationality is on my side.

    Yes, but we don’t believe that, any more than you believe that your grandmother became you or that her blue hair became your mullet. And since it is not rational to attack a position your opponents don’t hold…

    …abiogenesis (which evos define as a non-problem by handwaving)

    Not handwaving son, reasoned analysis. Abiogenisis is a nonproblem for evolution for the same reason The Theory of the First Falling Domino is a nonproblem for The Theory of Successive Domino Falling.

    If you cannot supply a testable hypothetical candidate(s) or if possible candidates are shown by analysis, experiment, observation, forensics, etc. then we must consider your theory as falsified.

    No. Falsification comes when a prediction made by a theory fails to come to fruition. Theories are not falsified by having questions without answers. Were that the case every science would be falsified in this manner. You do understand that research scientists are employed to attempt to find those answers, right?

    To criticize a science, you need to understand it (see Aquinas). You don’t even understand the basics. You’re like a guy criticizing water polo on the grounds that horses can’t swim, and wondeing why everyone is laughing at him.

  51. #52 Will Hardin
    March 14, 2008

    I’ve read the original articles and all the (gasp) commentary’s with bemused fascination. Being an artist (I almost wrote “only an artist”) and not a scientist, I have no academically supported arguments to offer. But in the name of common sense and a judgement on the comments made by both sides, the scientists win hands down!

  52. #53 Keith Eaton
    March 14, 2008

    Under your theory I suggest there is no falsifiability in any theory because a failed hypothesis simply means additional effort is needed. It helps if there is any rational reason to believe success will ever occur.

    I knew you had no rational reply so as usual I prevail and your theory is falsified. You have a hypothesis that a first replicator came into being and evolved by RM and NS all the biodiversity extinct and extant. You cannot describe it, demonstrate it, theorize in detail about it and therefore your hypothesis is falsified.

    Alchemy may be in need of further investigation..you quit it too soon.

  53. #54 ice9
    March 14, 2008

    here’s my favorite:

    common decent

    It’s really quite nice. Also, for about the eighth time:

    major tenant

    I know we’re not supposed to laugh at him because he can’t spell. Take arguments at face value and all that, Haste or zeal or spit-slick keys could be the cause of his typographical troubles, but dang it’s amusing. In a board that is typified by acute wit, including scientists who have rhetoric, Mr. Eaton is an ape, one of those horny, dead-end-branch bonobos maybe, or a carnal chimp perhaps. I also liked

    evolutionary handler

    though he actually meant that. Like he employs a coolie to handle the toxic evolution, you know, so he doesn’t get any on him. It burns.

    I’m considering contracting a brain tumor just to meet this Dr. Egnor. Along with Eaton, Egnor’s name has a few homophonic possibilities. I feel a villanelle coming on.

    ice

  54. #55 Science Avenger
    March 15, 2008

    Keith Eaton said: Under your theory I suggest there is no falsifiability in any theory because a failed hypothesis simply means additional effort is needed.

    No, a failed hypothesis is falsified. But failure is achieved through providing a prediction that is shown to be wrong, not by being unable to make a particular prediction. Knowledge is gained in an imperfect step-by-step process. It’s not handed down perfect and complete from on high.

  55. #56 Raphael
    March 15, 2008

    “Under your theory I suggest there is no falsifiability in any theory because a failed hypothesis simply means additional effort is needed.”

    Wrong. A theory is falsified if it is proven wrong.

    Under your theory, Dr Egnor is a quack in his day job, because he cuts around in people’s brains on the base of theories about what happens in the brain allthough so far, the people who have come up with these theories cannot describe, demonstrate, or theorize in detail about many of the individual processes that are happening in the brain.

    “You cannot describe it, demonstrate it, theorize in detail about it and therefore your hypothesis is falsified.”

    Wrong again. It would be falsified if it was proven wrong.

  56. #57 Torbj�rn Larsson, OM
    March 16, 2008

    @ Keith Eaton:

    the’re quotations

    So you can’t explain why Egnor needs to use quotemining. It’s easy you know, he needs it to continue the scam in the face of facts.

    specified complexity

    There is no such thing. But be our guest and define it rigorously and shows its application here – you would be the first creationist able to do that.

    You have a hypothesis that a first replicator came into being

    Not so, we have observations of replicating populations. Look around you, and look at the fossils.

    If you cannot supply a testable hypothetical candidate(s) or if possible candidates are shown by analysis, experiment, observation, forensics, etc. then we must consider your theory as falsified.

    Not so, as absence of predictions makes a subject unfalsifiable and so scientifically empty. This is what characterizes ID for example.

    Besides, abiogenesis, the question how the first replicating population derived and become hereditary by todays type of genome, aren’t either a component of or a prediction of evolution theory. If you have a replicating genomic population, evolution applies. This isn’t rocket science, you know. Well, maybe for you it is.

    Under your theory I suggest there is no falsifiability in any theory because a failed hypothesis simply means additional effort is needed.

    No, it means a new theory is needed, as the old one is rejected. This is what characterizes YEC for example.

    Thanks for the run through of the failures of different variants of creationism. Of course, we already knew that, as evolution is verified beyond reasonable doubt.

  57. #58 JR
    March 20, 2008

    Keith,

    You’ve made the common mistake of confusing the question of whether something happens with the question of how it happens. Dr. Steven Novella has covered this topic excellently: here is an example. Unfortunately, it does involve your idol Egnor, so I’m not hopeful about you gaining much from it.

    As for your claims about falsifiability, evolution is certainly falsifiable. For example, were we to find mammalian fossils in rock strata older than rock strata in which trilobite fossils were found, the entire theory would be thrown into question. However, we’ve come across nothing of the sort.

    ID, on the other hand, is not falsifiable. Not even close. To continue my previous example, we find fossils arranged in rock strata exactly as we would expect them to based on evolutionary theory. How do ID proponents explain this? By their logic, the great and mysterious Designer *cough cough Judeo-Christian god cough* caused the fossils to be arranged that way. Problem is, they could keep on saying that even if the predictions made based on evolutionary theory continue to be vindicated.

    So the so-called “theory” of Intelligent Design is either bolstered by evidence (we find massive, authentic evidence that evolution is a broken theory) or it is… believed anyway (evolution remains as the best explanation, but IDers claim the designer arranged everything to look as if it had evolved). Compare this to evolution, which is either true (as the evidence we have now so strongly suggests – by which I mean it’s as close to truth as we can hope for), or false (we find authentic evidence that is powerful enough to counter the mountains of evidence in favor of the theory).

    As you can see, one of the two options is falsifiable, the other is not. Tell me, how is it possible to ever falsify ID?

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