Myers 1, Cordova/McGrew 0

I have two more installments planned for my Dawkins series, but I think I will hold them over to next week. Instead we really must pause to consider the latest example of mind-boggling ID sleaziness.

The story begins with Tim McGrew, a philosopher at Western Michigan University. In the comments section to this blog entry, McGrew wrote the following:

Let me rephrase that: Myers has changed Wells’s wording and then has the temerity to accuse Wells of misleading the reader at the very point where Myers himself has made the change in Wells’s words.

Let me put that more bluntly: Myers is lying through his teeth. Literally. He is actually that dishonest. And not a single commentator on Panda’s Thumb for the past two months could be bothered to check Myers’s quotation against Wells’s actual words to see whether Myers was telling the truth.

This sort of thing just frosts me. John and others who frequent PT and Pharyngula should be warned that they cannot take what they see there at face value. (Emphasis in Original)

Serious charges. Before showing just how badly McGrew has stepped in it though, we should pause to mention that lying through your teeth is not something you can literally do. You can only do it figuratively.

Those are some serious charges McGrew is levelling. For some reason I’m reminded of something Richard Dawkins once said in response to critic Mary Midgley: “Indeed, we are in danger of assuming that nobody would dare to be so rude without taking the elementary precaution of being right in what she said.”

The charges relate to this essay, written by Myers and posted at The Panda’s Thumb. It was a reply to one chapter of Jonathan Wells’ book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, specifically dealing with issues related to embryology.

McGrew also wrote the following:

Because I was curious about this one, I cross-checked it against Wells’s book. The least interesting of the discrepancies is that Myers has apparently slipped in the page references to Wells: the quotation he finds objectionable appears on pp. 30-31, not on “pp. 35.” What is much more significant is that Myers has misquoted Wells — not simply selectively quoted him, but out and out misquoted him, attributing to him in direct quotation something that is critically different from what Wells actually said.

Pretty unambiguous. We have two charges to consider: (1) According to McGrew, Myers claimed a particular quote appeared on page 35 of Wells’ book, but that in reality the quote appears on pages 30-31. (2) Myers altered the quotation for the purposes of distorting Wells’ intent.

Of course, it didn’t take long for Myers to point out the obvious. The quote he attributed to Wells not only appears on page 35, but is actually placed in a graphic offset from the rest of the text. You would have thought that no one could have missed it. Yet McGrew, after boasting that he had checked it himself, assured his readers that the quote does not appear on that page.

Here is the quote as it appears on page 35 of the book:

It is “only by semantic tricks and subjective selection of evidence,” by “bending the facts of nature,” that one can argue that the early embryo stages of vertebrates “are more alike than their adults.”

Wells’ attributes this statement to biologist William Ballard. In his PT essay, Myers pointed out that this is a rank distortion of Ballard’s clearly stated intention. As presented above, the quote appears to say that vertebrate embryos are not more alike than their adults. Ballard’s point was that the very earliest stages of these embryos are different, but that these different beginnings quickly converge on a small number of developmental pathways.

So both of McGrew’s claims are utterly, laughably false. Myers had the right page, and presented the quotation accurately. But of course, these are creationists we are talking about. So the story does not end there.

Salvador Cordova, never one to let a few inconvenient facts get in his way, pounced on McGrew’s comments. He posted a blog entry at Uncommon Descent trumpeting McGrew’s findings. Under the title “More Antics from P.Z. Myers?” he writes: “You be the judge.” And then he presents McGrew’s comments.

But there is nothing to judge. McGrew made certain assertions of fact. These assertions are easily seen to be totally false. Surely that’s the end of it, right? I mean, most bloggers, upon learning that they had been duped into reprinting blatantly false charges, would withdraw the charges and apologize for having reprinted them. Having seen several of Salvador’s public presentations, I am well aware of his own predilection for presenting the work of scientists grotesquely out of context. On several occasions I have pointed this out to him. But surely in this case the facts were so plain and McGrew’s error so unambiguous that even Salvador would feel compelled to apologize.

Not so. Here is how Salvador responded when McGrew’s error was pointed out to him:

I posted it for discussion, I want the readers to decide and argue amonst themselves and provide data and links or whatever.

What is at issue is not what Ballard said, but Myers quotaion of Wells.

That, my friends, is the textbook definition of sleaze. As we have seen, there is nothing to decide and argue here. When you reprint someone else’s offensive acusations, and then have it pointed out to you that those accusations are totally false, you do not absolve yourself by saying you were just offering the charges for discussion.

Since apologizing for reprinting blatant falsehoods apparently goes against Salvador’s grain, he instead tried to change the subject, in a later comment:

What is at issue is page 30-31, not page 35. Myers is omitting the fact he ignored what Wells actually wrote on page 31 as McGrew pointed out.

The issue is whether Myers misrepresented the clear intent of what Wells was writing by omitting what Wells wrote on page 31.

Of course, down here on planet Earth the issue was the potentially libelous charges levelled by McGrew towards Myers. We have already seen that those charges were false.

So what’s this about pages 30-31? Well, it seems that Wells used Ballard’s quote twice. Once in the graphic, as already cited. And once in the main body of the text. The new claim is that this second use of Ballard’s quote absolves him from the charge of distorting Ballard’s intention. Let’s take a look. Here’s the full context, from pages 30-31 of Wells’ book.:

Like Haeckel’s fakery, the dissimilarity of early vertebrate embryos was well known in the nineteenth century. Embryologist Adam Sedgwick pointed out in 1894 that the doctrine of early similarity and later difference is “not in accordance with the facts of development.” Comparing a dogfish with a chicken, Sedgwick wrote: “There is no stage of development in which the unaided eye would fail to distinguish between them with ease.” It is “not necessary to emphasize further these embryonic differences,” Sedgwick continued, because “every embryologist knows they exist and could bring forward innumerable instances of them. I need only say with regard to them that a species is distinct and distinguishable from its allies from the very earliest stages all through the development.”

Modern embryologists confirm this. Dartmouth College biologist William Ballard wrote in 1976 that it is “only by semantic tricks and subjective selection of evidence,” by “bending the facts of nature,” that one can argue that the cleavage and gastrulation stages of vertebrates “are more alike than their adults.”

The gambit is that since Wells here mentions the gastrulation and cleavage stages of the vertebrates, that is, the very earliest stages of development, it is acceptable that this caveat was left out of the graphic on page 35.

Sadly, this gambit fails. As is clear from the quote above, Wells is using Ballard as evidence that modern embryologists endorse Sedgwick’s nineteenth century conclusion that embryos differ at every stage of their development. In reality, modern embryologists do not support Sedgwick’s conclusion. The modern view, supported by Ballard, is that embryos differ greatly at their very earliest stages, before converging on very similar pathways through a slightly later stage.

So let’s review:

  1. McGrew said that the quote used by Myers does not appear on page 35. In reality it appears prominently in a graphic on that page.
  2. McGrew said that Myers doctored the quote, thereby altering Wells’ meaning. In reality, Myers did not do this. The quote on page 35 was presented accurately and meant exactly what Myers said it meant.
  3. Salvador Cordova shamelessly repeated these false charges at William Dembski’s blog, and did not apolgize even after the error was pointed out to him.
  4. Instead he tried to change the subject (as did McGrew) to a different page of Wells’ book, where the same quotation is used with slightly more context. But this second usage is also unambigously erroneous. Wells made it seem that Ballard supported Sedgwick’s nineteenth century conclusion, when in reality Ballard unambiguously contradicted it.

As a coda, we might ask how McGrew reacted when his boldface accusations of lying and doctoring quotes were shown to be false:

First up: PZ Myers did not fabricate the quotation, as I originally thought he had. He took it out of a call-out box on p. 35 of Wells — the page that he said it was on. My apologies to PZ for assuming that he was trying to quote the text rather than the call-out box: he is absolved of the crime of actually fabricating the quotation.

Well, that’s something. But then McGrew plays the page 30-31 gambit:

For PZ Myers: Did you notice that Wells actually refers to gastrulation in the original text at the bottom of p. 30? Did you look for the text from which the call-out was taken? If you did, why did you choose to quote from the call-out instead and to focus on the wording there, which differs from the wording in the text precisely by replacing the more precise reference to “cleavage and gastrulation stages” with the briefer reference to “early embryo stages” – and then to claim that Wells is being deceptive? Isn’t that dishonest?

If you didn’t, doesn’t this pretty much torch your central criticism of Wells — that he dishonestly represented Ballard as referring to the pharyngula stage? And if that’s the case, don’t you owe Wells an apology?

Of course, the “call-outs”, as McGrew called them, are intended to be simple, take-away points from the text. They are arguably more important than the main text itself. And what was presented in this particular box was totally false. I hardly see how P.Z. can be faulted for pointing this out. We have also seen that the use of Ballard’s quote in the main text was also unambiguously out of context, so this hardly helps McGrew’s case.

There is one last line of defense. That is the claim that the blatantly inaccurate call-out was probably inserted by an editor, and not by Wells himself. It’s a pretty feeble defense. As we have seen, Ballard’s quote is misused in the main body of the text as well. Second, I am not aware that Wells has protested the editor’s decision in creating this call-box.

We have seen this sort of jaw-droppingly brazen dishonesty previously from the creationists and ID folks. In this essay I documented William Dembski’s refusal to correct his blatant misuse of a statement from paleontologist Peter Ward. In this one I showed how Dembski’s co-blogger-in-chief, Denyse O’Leary, was duped into repeating blatantly false charges about the views of Stephen Jay Gould. Even after the error was pointed out, she refused to offer any correction.

Shame on them, of course. And shame on any respectable scholar who persists in believing that ID should be treated with respect.

Comments

  1. #1 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    November 3, 2006

    I am SHOCKED! SHOCKED! I say, to hear that Salvador T. Cordova has been less than honest.

  2. #2 steve s
    November 3, 2006

    You know what this reminds me of? That business where Pim accurately quoted Dembski and Dembski and pals wrongly flipped out:

    http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/06/science_versus_1.html

    Like this PZ Myers business, it also features DonaldM acting like an hysterical idiot.

  3. #3 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    November 3, 2006

    It sez here that McGrew is a Department Chair! Personally, I’m willing to believe that he is as dumb as a piece of furniture. Has McGrew apologized, or even admitted his error in any relevant venue?

  4. #4 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    November 3, 2006

    Yes, McGrew admits his error in the original venue, but instead of standing down, he tries to rationalize it away. Less than impressive.

  5. #5 MarkP
    November 3, 2006

    Once again the IDers reveal their fundamentalist religious view of the world, for their reaction to these errors is the same as when Biblical literalists are shown errors in the Bible. Then suddenly, words mean whatever they need them to mean, the main point they were making is no longer the main point, and points completely irrelevant to the issue are suddenly all they want to talk about.

    And of course they never admit their error.

  6. #6 J-Dog
    November 3, 2006

    I see why McGrew is at a MAC school… and he should be extremely happy he is not forced to preach, I mean teach, at a Liberty U or Bob Jones U, which is where he will wind up if he doesn’t quickly buy a clue. Maybe he could ask Dembski what it’s like to move down the educational status ladder?

  7. #7 Salvador T. Cordova
    November 3, 2006

    I did not argue that McGrew was accurate, I merely reported what he said and offered it for discussion, as I thought he could be right on some points (if not all). No where in the original post did I assert McGrew was absolutely correct or argue Myers was a liar. I wasn’t about to do so since I was interested in seeing the reactions and clarifications on the net.

    Myers, as far as I know, could have visited UD and given his side if he chose. I personally provided the link to his response (even one that implicated me, even though I made no charge against Myers).

    McGrew apologized to Myers, and I posted the apology. Do I get credit for posting the apology. Fair is fair.

    Salvador Cordova shamelessly repeated these false charges at William Dembski’s blog, and did not apolgize even after the error was pointed out to him.

    I posted McGrew’s retraction. What more do you want? Are you going to acknowledge I reported and posted McGrew’s retraction. He made a mistake, I can’t be held responsible for McGrew’s mistake. I’m making it plain, I think McGrew made a mistake. Maybe I was slow, but why should I apologize for something I didn’t say but only reported on, especially since I also reported on the retraction. What do want, I put headlines that McGrew retracted. That can be arranged.

    Nevertheless, Myers owes Wells a major apology since Myers used a misrepresentation to argue Wells was a liar. I did however demonstrate quite well Myers seriously misrepresented Wells in the comment section. And now the issue of Myers misrepresentation of Wells is quite evident.

    I did not and have never (to my knowledge) said PZ was a liar. Now it’s PZ’s turn. He should offer an apology to Wells. PZ has not established that Wells pretended Ballard was referring to the Pharyngula stage. Wells used the word “gastrulation” 3 times. Myers used that false charge to accuse Wells of lying. Myers owes Wells an apology.

    I have reported that McGrew has made a retraction. I will not disagree with that.

    I recognize PZ is your friend and on your side, and I can understand you might not publicly suggest Myers acknowlege and apologize to Wells. You may not like me, Wells, or what has happened, but an apology is still the right thing to do. Wells might be accused of many things, but when he has been clearly exonerated on certain points, he should not be accused falsely, even if you and others think ill of him.

  8. #8 Doc Bill
    November 3, 2006

    Wells hasn’t been exonerated on any point. His first book, Icons of Whatever, was pure fiction. He continues the genre with the vanity press PIG book.

    Yes, Sal, I hold you accountable for your actions. You gleefully posted McGrew’s inaccuracy, then defended it.

    More Antics from PZ? No, More Antics from Sal.

  9. #9 PZ Myers
    November 3, 2006

    What? Cordova thinks I could have just visited Uncommon Descent and given my side? Excuse me, I have to go get over this laughing fit.

    That’s insane. Everyone knows that the UD whip-bosses edit and censor comments that disturb their equanimity. There was a deletion in that thread already; I suspect that only the fact that some of us caught on fast and started pointing out the hypocrisy of their actions prevented the whole thing from vanishing down the legendary UD memory hole.

    As for the claim that Wells is not denying morphological similarity at the pharyngula stage, what kind of idiot does he take us for? That was the whole point of the chapter. It was the point of the related chapter in Icons of Evolution. As I’ve already documented on my site, Wells clearly quoted Ballard on page 31 specifically to back up his claim that modern biologists support Sedgwick’s claim that there are major morphological distinctions “all through the development” — a false impression.

    Man, Sal is one of the smarmiest, sleaziest of the ID mouthpieces, isn’t he?

  10. #10 Tyler DiPietro
    November 3, 2006

    Nevertheless, Myers owes Wells a major apology since Myers used a misrepresentation to argue Wells was a liar.

    Well, that’s a good point. Lying is consciously distorting the truth, and we don’t know for sure that Wells has done that. He could just be an idiot.

    I wouldn’t go with that defense though, most people will find it hard to believe that Wells can’t tell the difference between quote-mining and honest citation.

    Face it, Sal. You fucked up, just deal with it and hang your head in shame. Won’t be the first time someone from your camp has done so.

  11. #11 MarkP
    November 3, 2006

    Sal wrote: “I did not argue that McGrew was accurate, I merely reported what he said and offered it for discussion…”

    I see. So was this an exception you made in your normally thorough fact-finding mission? Or is posting things without concern for whether or not they are accurate par for the course over there?

  12. #12 Eric Thomson
    November 4, 2006

    Disgustingly typical creationist smear. Their crypto-political movement is becoming less cryptic and more dishonest and overtly political in tone. Their lack of appreciation for basic academic virtues, especially honesty, is reprehensible. They are hearkening back to the days of Gish and Morris. Just pathetic.

  13. #13 sparc
    November 4, 2006

    The story is getting even more absurd:
    McGrew makes an apology and the new fallback position of Sal C. is that he never accused PZ of lying and that the quote in question was not written by Wells but added by the editor (http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/1762)

    my original charge of outright fabrication was careless and arose from my reading of the text actually written by Wells rather than of the callouts written by some editor�I�ve apologized to PZ. But PZ needs to apologize to Wells.

    That’s the way they wash their hands of it. Sounds like some kind of apology but in the very same sentence they put the blame on somebody else (an editor who added the text in question) and self-righteously ask PZ to apologize for something that (if true) he could not have known. Indeed, if the story is true (which I seriously doubt) Wells himself was unaware of the call-out box.

    One additional remark on McGrew:
    If his other work as a professor in philosophy is of the same quality I really wonder how he could get into his position.

  14. #14 Todd
    November 4, 2006

    “Thus, the energy of investigators and particularly students is diverted into the essentially fruitless 19th century activity of bending the facts of nature to support second-rate generalities of no predictive value. Though enthusiasm for Haeckel’s (1900) recapitulation ‘law’ died out, unfortunately the popularity of Von Baer’s ‘laws’ of 1828 was renewed. In order to defend the latter’s descriptive statements that general characters appear before special characters as an egg develops and that the less general and finally the specific characters trail along later, we have to decide intuitively that certain characters are of ‘morphological significance’ and others are not. When referring to vertebrates, we have to use words like blastula and gastrula in such a way as to imply that things that are vastly different from each other are really very much the same.

    In fact, the most obvious structural characteristics of either the eggs or the cleavage stages of a shark, a salmon, a frog, a bird, or a mammal are unique each to its own class, not generally shared. We would not consider them very much alike unless we had been taught so at a very early age. Very few vertebrates pass through a stage which can strictly be called a blastula. The embryo in its period of most active morphogenetic movements is usually called a gastrula, but as all agree this word has no morphologic meaning anymore. Each class of vertebrates (in mammals we might almost say each particular order) develops and then loses its own set of temporary structures – like the parade ground ‘formations of maneuver’ – during this period. The plain fact is that evolutionary divergence has taken place at every stage in the life history, the earliest no less than the latest. To bolster the partial truths in Von Baer’s generalities by insisting that the eggs of vertebrates are more like one another than their ‘blastulas,’ the blastulas more like one another than their ‘gastrulas,’ and to homologize all theoretical ‘functional blastopores’ where ‘invagination’ is taking place would be running the risk of assuming what is not yet demonstrated – that the genetic physiologic, and cell-behavior processes going on are the same in time and nature.”

    – Ballard, 1976.

    He concludes the paper thusly, “It may be that the cells of representatives of different phyla are behaving in such different microenvironments and being controlled by such different genes and forces that the analysis of their morphogenetic movements will be as difficult to compress into a single account as the description of their early embryonic stages has proved to be. It seems wise, in the meantime, to avoid assumptions of uniformity drawn not from precise observation, but from antique homological theory. We should be cautious with the use of terms that have become more and more loaded with implied meaning while they were becoming less and less definable.”

    It seems Ballard is arguing caution when accepting antiquated notions of morphogenetic uniformity, supporting Wells’ basic claim regarding Haeckel and embryology, does it not?

  15. #15 Tyler DiPietro
    November 4, 2006

    It seems Ballard is arguing caution when accepting antiquated notions of morphogenetic uniformity, supporting Wells’ basic claim regarding Haeckel and embryology, does it not?

    No, because his basic claim is that the EAC is using Haeckel as an infallible textbook authority to buttress evolutionary theory, very different from what Ballard is saying in what you quote.

  16. #16 Adam
    November 4, 2006

    My grandmother once wrongly accused me of lying about where the comics section was. After we found it in her lap I held the tv remote hostage until she apologized for calling me a liar, changing the channel from her soap opera to white static (on a cliffhanger Friday!) to help her in her decision making. She groused and threatened, but finally said, almost literally through gritted teeth, “I’m sorry you’re such a rotten little liar.”

    God, I loved that woman.

    Maybe Sal could do something like that?

  17. #17 truth machine
    November 4, 2006

    There is one last line of defense. That is the claim that the blatantly inaccurate call-out was probably inserted by an editor, and not by Wells himself. It’s a pretty feeble defense.

    It’s also patently false. First, it’s Wells’s book; he had to approve of the final draft. Second, they are his words; he has used them before. See, for instance, http://www.trueorigin.org/unseatng.asp and http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?program=CRSC&command=view&id=1209

    Nevertheless, Myers owes Wells a major apology since Myers used a misrepresentation to argue Wells was a liar.

    Sal, you lying sack of feces, Myers did not use “a misrepresentation”, he used Wells’s own words published in Wells’s own book.

    As for Todd, he’s a troll and a fool who has already polluted PZ’s thread on this subject and has been repeatedly and soundly refuted. Specifically, Wells wrote that Ballard agrees with Sedgwick that the doctrine of early similarity and later difference is “not in accordance with the facts of development”, whereas Ballard explicitly disagrees in the piece from which Wells quote-mined, as reported by PZ in his original article: After the standardized pharyngula stage, the maturing of the structures of organs and tissues takes place on diverging line.

  18. #18 truth machine
    November 4, 2006

    It seems Ballard is arguing caution when accepting antiquated notions of morphogenetic uniformity, supporting Wells’ basic claim regarding Haeckel and embryology, does it not?

    Wells’s basic claim is that there’s no evidence for evolution; it’s all “icons”. To that end, he misrepresents Ballard as agreeing with Sedgwick that the doctrine of early similarity and later difference is “not in accordance with the facts of development”. And addition to failing to understand the issue of Wells’s misuse of Ballard, you thoroughly misunderstand the material from Ballard that you quote, even though it’s there in black and white in the quote: Though enthusiasm for Haeckel’s (1900) recapitulation ‘law’ died out, unfortunately the popularity of Von Baer’s ‘laws’ of 1828 was renewed. He’s not addressing Haeckel’s error, which pertains to recapitulation (which Wells repeatedly misrepresents Darwin as accepting), not “morphogenetic uniformity” (which he doesn’t mention in the material you quote but which he does assert in re the pharygula stage: “remarkably uniform”), he’s referring to Von Baer and his descriptive statements that general characters appear before special characters as an egg develops and that the less general and finally the specific characters trail along later. But, despite none of this apparently making any sense to you, you go on about it in your desperate attempt to refute those “hostile athiests (sic)” that you write of at Pharyngula.

  19. #19 truth machine
    November 4, 2006

    “morphogenetic uniformity” (which he doesn’t mention in the material you quote

    I should amend that; he does mention uniformity, but in a very specific way:

    It seems wise, in the meantime, to avoid assumptions of uniformity drawn not from precise observation, but from antique homological theory.

    But Wells ignores and denies the facts of morphological uniformity, despite Ballard’s assertion, which Wells omits from his mined quote: All then arrive at the pharyngula stage, which is remarkably uniform throughout the subphylum, consisting of similar organ rudiments similarly arranged (though in some respects deformed in respect to habitat and food supply).

  20. #20 truth machine
    November 4, 2006

    She groused and threatened, but finally said, almost literally through gritted teeth, “I’m sorry you’re such a rotten little liar.” … Maybe Sal could do something like that?

    I thought that’s pretty much what he did.

  21. #21 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    November 4, 2006

    I did not argue that McGrew was accurate, I merely reported what he said and offered it for discussion, as I thought he could be right on some points (if not all). No where in the original post did I assert McGrew was absolutely correct or argue Myers was a liar. I wasn’t about to do so since I was interested in seeing the reactions and clarifications on the net.

    Why would you think that promulgating a falsehood was an appropriate way to “see clarifications”? Do you own a copy of Wells’ book? Why wouldn’t you think that the best way to “see clarification” was to open up the @#$%@#$% book to page 35 and check it for yourself?

    By the way, that was not a rhetorical question. Do you own a copy of Wells’ book?

  22. #22 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    November 4, 2006

    He made a mistake, I can’t be held responsible for McGrew’s mistake.

    I did not and have never (to my knowledge) said PZ was a liar.

    You can be held responsible for spreading a lie without checking your facts. By the way, do you own a copy of Wells’ book?

  23. #23 Robert O'Brien
    November 4, 2006

    Peezee has had to retreat from false accusations he made against Francis Collins and a guy he accused of spamming him (whose contact info he posted.) Dr. McGrew admitted his error, just as Peezee had to do, and that should be the end of it.

  24. #24 Robert O'Brien
    November 4, 2006

    I see why McGrew is at a MAC school… and he should be extremely happy he is not forced to preach, I mean teach, at a Liberty U or Bob Jones U, which is where he will wind up if he doesn’t quickly buy a clue. Maybe he could ask Dembski what it’s like to move down the educational status ladder?

    Unlike Peezee, Dr. McGrew appears to publish, so I doubt he has to worry about that.

  25. #25 Jason Rosenhouse
    November 4, 2006

    Salvador-

    Of course you can be held responsible for McGrew’s error! The accusation of doctoring the quotation was easily checked. You chose not to. When a newspaper reprints someone else’s error on something they could easily have checked themseves, they can be sued for libel. Even in a situation where the newspaper could not reasonably have spotted the error ahead of time, they still apologize and print a correction.

    It’s nice that you finally posted a prominent link to McGrew’s semi-apology. But what I want from you, to answer your question, is to acknowledge that you personally did something wrong in reprinting McGrew’s charges. If one of my friends reports that Salvador Cordova wears women’s underpants, and I reprint the charge, I think you would expect an apology from me when the charge turned out to be false. Would you think it reasonable if I said, “Don’t blame me! I’m just repeating what someone else said!”

    As for Ballard, he plainly does not support Sedgwick’s nineteenth century conclusion. Wells’ said he did. PZ pointed it out. This isn’t complicated.

  26. #26 Tyler DiPietro
    November 5, 2006

    Unlike Peezee, Dr. McGrew appears to publish, so I doubt he has to worry about that.

    Yes, because the demand for rigor in philosophy and humanities journals makes it extremely difficult to get anything published, unlike science.

  27. #27 Larry Fafarman
    November 5, 2006

    For starters, I want to say that there is no question that PZ Myers deliberately misrepresented the book.

    Jason Rosenhouse writes in the opening post –

    Here is the quote as it appears on page 35 of the book [i.e., the call-out statement] —
    It is “only by semantic tricks and subjective selection of evidence,” by “bending the facts of nature,” that one can argue that the early embryo stages of vertebrates “are more alike than their adults.”
    Wells’ attributes this statement to biologist William Ballard.

    Only the words within the quote marks are directly attributed to Ballard — the words in question, “early embryo stages,” are not within quote marks. I agree that the statement is ambiguous and potentially misleading, but that does not excuse PZ Myers from completely ignoring the pp. 30-31 text which clarifies the above call-out statement.

    Jason Rosenhouse writes in the opening post —

    Of course, the “call-outs,” as McGrew called them, are intended to be simple, take-away points from the text. They are arguably more important than the main text itself.

    I disagree. Call-outs are intended to be attention-getters or to highlight key points — they are not intended to be substitutes for the text.

    The above call-out statement should not even have been a call-out in the first place because to most people that statement has significance only in the context of the text whereas call-outs are supposed to have some significance as stand-alone statements. The only reason why PZ noticed that this call-out statement is ambiguous and possibly misleading is that he is a specialist in the field of evolutionary developmental biology.

    BTW, “call-out” is a common term in the publishing business.

    Anyway, IMO the whole statement would be bad even if it had been an accurate representation of what Ballard said. As I noted on my blog,

    . . . .because the structures of the adult forms and early embryo forms of organisms are radically different, statements that the early embryos of two species are “more alike than their parents” or “less alike than their parents” are often meaningless. I assert that Ballard created tremendous confusion here by speaking in those terms.

    McGrew apparently made an honest mistake by understandably thinking that Myers’ reference to page 35 was a reference to the text and not to a call-out. In contrast, Myers’ review deliberately misrepresented Wells’ book by ignoring the text on pages 30-31. Would it have been that hard for Myers to discuss both the call-out on page 35 and the text on pages 30-31?

    PZ Myers’ misrepresentation of Wells’ book is discussed on my blog at —

    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2006/11/sleazy-pz-myers-is-caught-quote-mining.html

    My review of PZ’s review of chaper 3 of Wells’ book is at (this review of PZ’s review has some serious errors resulting from PZ’s misrepresentation of the book) –

    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2006/08/review-of-pz-myers-review-of-chapter-3.html

  28. #28 Larry Fafarman
    November 6, 2006

    (http:// prefixes have been removed from URL links to prevent the comment from hanging up)

    For starters, I want to say that there is no question that PZ Myers deliberately misrepresented the book.

    Jason Rosenhouse writes in the opening post –

    Here is the quote as it appears on page 35 of the book [i.e., the call-out statement] —
    It is “only by semantic tricks and subjective selection of evidence,” by “bending the facts of nature,” that one can argue that the early embryo stages of vertebrates “are more alike than their adults.”
    Wells’ attributes this statement to biologist William Ballard.

    Only the words within the quote marks are directly attributed to Ballard — the words in question, “early embryo stages,” are not within quote marks. I agree that the statement is ambiguous and potentially misleading, but that does not excuse PZ Myers from completely ignoring the pp. 30-31 text which clarifies the above call-out statement.

    Jason Rosenhouse writes in the opening post —

    Of course, the “call-outs,” as McGrew called them, are intended to be simple, take-away points from the text. They are arguably more important than the main text itself.

    I disagree. Call-outs are intended to be attention-getters or to highlight key points — they are not intended to be substitutes for the text.

    The above call-out statement should not even have been a call-out in the first place because to most people that statement has significance only in the context of the text whereas call-outs are supposed to have some significance as stand-alone statements. The only reason why PZ noticed that this call-out statement is ambiguous and possibly misleading is that he is a specialist in the field of evolutionary developmental biology.

    BTW, “call-out” is a common term in the publishing business.

    Anyway, IMO the whole statement would be bad even if it had been an accurate representation of what Ballard said. As I noted on my blog,

    . . . .because the structures of the adult forms and early embryo forms of organisms are radically different, statements that the early embryos of two species are “more alike than their parents” or “less alike than their parents” are often meaningless. I assert that Ballard created tremendous confusion here by speaking in those terms.

    McGrew apparently made an honest mistake by understandably thinking that Myers’ reference to page 35 was a reference to the text and not to a call-out. In contrast, Myers’ review deliberately misrepresented Wells’ book by ignoring the text on pages 30-31. Would it have been that hard for Myers to discuss both the call-out on page 35 and the text on pages 30-31?

    PZ Myers’ misrepresentation of Wells’ book is discussed on my blog at —

    im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2006/11/sleazy-pz-myers-is-caught-quote-mining.html

    My review of PZ’s review of chaper 3 of Wells’ book is at (this review of PZ’s review has some serious errors resulting from PZ’s misrepresentation of the book) –

    im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2006/08/review-of-pz-myers-review-of-chapter-3.html

  29. #29 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    November 6, 2006

    Two days and no response. Mr. Cordova, do you own a copy of Wells’ book? If so, why did you not check page 35 to verify the quote?

  30. #30 Larry Fafarman
    November 6, 2006

    Mustafa Mond, FCD said,

    Two days and no response. Mr. Cordova, do you own a copy of Wells’ book? If so, why did you not check page 35 to verify the quote?

    Possibly the reason why you are not getting a response is that you are kicking a dead horse. The accuracy of PZ’s quote of the call-out on page 35 is no longer an issue. The issue now is PZ’s failure to note that the meaning of the term “early embryo stages” in the call-out is clarified by the text on pages 30-31.

  31. #31 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    November 6, 2006

    I understand your desire to control what “the issue is.” I do not acknowledge your authority to do so.

  32. #32 Larry Fafarman
    November 6, 2006

    Jason Rosenhouse said ( November 4, 2006 10:44 PM ) –

    Salvador-

    Of course you can be held responsible for McGrew’s error! The accusation of doctoring the quotation was easily checked.

    There are two possible excuses for Salvador’s failure to note that PZ’s quote of the call-out statement on page 35 was accurate –

    (1) Salvador might not have had his own copy of the book.

    (2) He — like McGrew — might have understandably thought that the reference to page 35 was a reference to the text and not to a call-out.

    As for Ballard, he plainly does not support Sedgwick’s nineteenth century conclusion. Wells’ said he did. PZ pointed it out. This isn’t complicated.

    That has nothing to do with PZ’s failure to note that the text on pages 30-31 clarifies the meaning of the call-out on page 35.

  33. #33 Salvador T. Cordova
    November 6, 2006

    what I want from you, to answer your question, is to acknowledge that you personally did something wrong in reprinting McGrew’s charges.

    Jason,

    Weblogs are not newspapers where accounts can get published and go unchallenged. You are incorrect to characterize UD like one would characterize a newspaper.

    I was contacted by a 3rd party about McGrew. I read his account, and the part I focused on was the 3 times Wells used the word Gastrulation when Myers used the word Pharyingula. In my estimation, that was sufficient to merit repeating his quote and solicit competing accounts. The checking, I presumed would be done by others, especially your side, and the truth would come out. You guys have been quite helpful in regard to things like that.

    At the time of posting it, I had reason to believe since McGrew was accurate at that point, he could be accurate on others. The posting was available where other people could prominetly dispute what was said. Weblogs are not newspapers where accounts and comments can go totally unchallenged. That’s the difference.

    Part of posting the material is so that it can get critiqued, and the truth can be arrived at.

    I post stuff to the weblogs, invite and solicit critiques so that materials disseminated in less pliable media can be crossed checked.

    Im not going to give away all my secrets, but one thing I sometimes do is post on the web a chapter or section from a forthcoming book, let the critics descend, and then revise it so that what appears in book form preempts the critics objections. An additional advantage with this approach is that I can cite the website on which the objections appear, which typically gives me the last word in the exchange. And even if the critics choose to revise the objections on their website, books are far more permanent and influential than webpages.

    William Dembski,
    appropriate methods of using critics in
    “Dealing with the Backlash”

    If McGrew’s account was correct it would have been egg on Myers face. It was not totally correct, and McGrew has since withdrawn his hasty judgements. I was deliberately guarded in my language as I was yet not fully decided. I awaited further commentary.

    PZ asserts:

    As for the claim that Wells is not denying morphological similarity at the pharyngula stage, what kind of idiot does he take us for?

    That hourglass diagram which Wells posted seems to dispute your account that Wells deny’s some similarity.

    Anyway, that is not the issue I posed a question of. Yout statements evade the question I posed.

    The issue which you have yet to address is the fact Wells used the word “gastrulation” 3 times in referring to Ballard’s quote, yet you said of Wells, he:

    “pretend[s] it applies to the pharyngula stage”.

    Why do you say he pretends it is pharyngula when the word Wells used is gastrulation.

  34. #34 Robert O'Brien
    November 6, 2006

    Yes, because the demand for rigor in philosophy and humanities journals makes it extremely difficult to get anything published, unlike science.

    In general, I have a low opinion of modern philosophers, since many, if not most, of them are pretentious atheists. However, Tim McGrew is not and he appears to have published on some interesting topics.

    Anyway, Peezee’s area does not require a great deal of acumen but he still can’t manage a decent publication record.

  35. #35 Salvador T. Cordova
    November 6, 2006

    Jason writes:

    what I want from you, to answer your question, is to acknowledge that you personally did something wrong in reprinting McGrew’s charges.

    You, you do have a point. I was not as clear as I should have been, so in deference to your complaint, I have edited my post to say:

    You be the judge. I welcome commentary and contrary accounts. Here is what professor Tim McGrew had to say:

    I will try to do so in the future on appropriate matters.

  36. #36 Larry Fafarman
    November 6, 2006

    Mustafa Mond, FCD said ( November 6, 2006 11:15 AM ) –

    I understand your desire to control what “the issue is.” I do not acknowledge your authority to do so.

    Finding fault with Salvador is not going to excuse PZ.

  37. #37 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    November 6, 2006

    Finding fault with Salvador is not going to excuse PZ.

    Your attempts to change the subject do not excuse Salvador from wrongdoing.

  38. #38 JimC
    November 6, 2006

    With each and every post one can see why Robert O’Brien has an award named after him over at dispatches.

  39. #39 Jason Rosenhouse
    November 6, 2006

    Salvador-

    You should be aware that as a matter of law you are incorrect to separate newspapers from blogs in the way that you did. Bloggers can be sued for libel just as surley as newspapers can. I know this, because I once got threatened with a lawsuit in circumstances very similar to this. I reprinted an excerpt from a magazine that contained a false statement about a particular person. Even though the false statement was about something very minor, and even though I could not reasonably have been expected to detect the error at the time I posted it, the lawyer informed me that the person threatening me could have a case (though he would probably lose in court).

    In your case you could have been aware that the charge of quote-doctoring was totally false, and the false statement was unambiguously defamatory. That’s most of the elements of libel right there.

    As it happens, in my case there was no need to threaten me with a lawsuit. Once the error was pointed out, I was happy to take it down and post a correction.

    Next McGrew accused Myers of lying through his teeth, and placed that accusation in bold-face type. The basis for that accusation turned out to be entirely inaccurate. Embryology is nice, but I think PZ can be forgiven for thinking the issue was the inaccurate and arguably libelous charges against him, and not what Wells said on page 30-31.

    As for what Wells said, I believe I addressed this already. Throughout his chapter Wells plays fast and loose with what is meant by “early” in discussions of development. In certain places he accurately describes the idea of the developmental hourglass. But in other places he tries to give the impression that embryos are different throughout their development. One place where he does that is on page 30-31, where he quotes Sedgwick explicitly saying, “There is no stage of development in which the unaided eye would fail to distinguish between them with ease.” He then states that modern embryologists confirm this conclusion, citing Ballard as a specific example.

    This is totally false. Modern embryologists, Ballard included, do not support Sedgwick’s conclusion. The fact that in certain places Wells is careful to say what he means by “early” does not change the fact that in other places, like the ones PZ was talking about, he gets things completely wrong.

  40. #40 Robert O'Brien
    November 6, 2006

    JimC:

    Your spelling and grammar appear to have improved somewhat. Did you hire an editor?

  41. #41 Larry Fafarman
    November 6, 2006

    Jason Rosenhouse said ( November 6, 2006 12:58 PM ) –

    Salvador-

    You should be aware that as a matter of law you are incorrect to separate newspapers from blogs in the way that you did.

    Salvador did not discuss any potential legal issues. Salvador said, “Weblogs are not newspapers where accounts and comments can go totally unchallenged. That’s the difference,” and I think that this statement is right on target. Newspapers print only a tiny fraction of the letters they receive, and the letters must be kept short. There is no comparison between a blog and a newspaper.

  42. #42 Dave S.
    November 6, 2006

    Larry says:

    For starters, I want to say that there is no question that PZ Myers deliberately misrepresented the book.

    You could say it, but it would be wrong.

    I agree that the statement is ambiguous and potentially misleading, but that does not excuse PZ Myers from completely ignoring the pp. 30-31 text which clarifies the above call-out statement.

    If you had read PZ on this, you’d know you were simply wrong. That’s probably why you didn’t read him.

    I disagree. Call-outs are intended to be attention-getters or to highlight key points — they are not intended to be substitutes for the text.

    As already pointed out, Wells in other articles uses the exact text as found in the call-out, in the body of his work. And it is his book.

    The only reason why PZ noticed that this call-out statement is ambiguous and possibly misleading is that he is a specialist in the field of evolutionary developmental biology.

    I agree…the scientifically illiterate like yourself is Well’s target audience. And he might have gotten away with it had not someone who actually knew the field intervened.

    McGrew apparently made an honest mistake by understandably thinking that Myers’ reference to page 35 was a reference to the text and not to a call-out. In contrast, Myers’ review deliberately misrepresented Wells’ book by ignoring the text on pages 30-31. Would it have been that hard for Myers to discuss both the call-out on page 35 and the text on pages 30-31?

    Once again, flatly false. If you’d bother to read Myers, you’d know that he did discuss 30-31. There’s nothing there that exonerates Wells. He merely missrepresents the science in a slightly less blatant way. He mentions the gastrula (and equivocates with ‘early’), but still fails to mention that the actual evolution evidence is in the pharyngula stage.

    If the evidence agaionst evolution is so strong, why do you people insist on missrepresenting it?

  43. #43 JimC
    November 6, 2006

    Your spelling and grammar appear to have improved somewhat. Did you hire an editor?

    Your so schoolyard. Elementary schoolyard.

  44. #44 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    November 6, 2006

    Here’s a passage from 1984 by George Orwell:

    The first and simplest stage in the discipline, which can be taught even to young children, is called, in Newspeak, crimestop. Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity. But stupidity is not enough. On the contrary, orthodoxy in the full sense demands a control over one’s own mental processes as complete as that of a contortionist over his body.

  45. #45 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    November 6, 2006

    Here’s another passage from 1984 by George Orwell:

    Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of doublethink he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt. Doublethink lies at the very heart of Ingsoc, since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensibly necessary.

  46. #46 Larry Fafarman
    November 6, 2006

    (http:// prefixes removed from URL links to prevent comment from hanging up)

    Dave S. said ( November 6, 2006 02:48 PM ) –

    If you had read PZ on this, you’d know you were simply wrong. That’s probably why you didn’t read him.

    If I didn’t read PZ on this, then how do you explain how I wrote the following two articles on my blog –

    im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2006/08/review-of-pz-myers-review-of-chapter-3.html

    im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2006/11/sleazy-pz-myers-is-caught-quote-mining.html

    BTW, the first of the above two articles is badly screwed up because of PZ’s misrepresentation of chapter 3 of Wells’ book.

    Wells in other articles uses the exact text as found in the call-out, in the body of his work.

    What does that have to do with PZ’s review of chapter 3 of this book?< Anyway, I read one of Wells' articles that made the same statement as in the call-out, and the rest of the text in the article clarified what was meant by "early embryo stages" -- see http://www.trueorigin.org/unseatng.asp

    the scientifically illiterate like yourself is Well’s target audience.

    That’s the way to positively influence people — make insults and ad hominems instead of addressing the issues. Yessirree.

    If you’d bother to read Myers, you’d know that he did discuss 30-31.

    I have read and re-read Myers’ review of chapter 3. There is nothing in that review that noted that the text on pages 30-31 clarified the term “early embryo stages” in the call-out on page 35. Instead, Myers called Wells a “disreputable scoundrel.”

    He mentions the gastrula (and equivocates with ‘early’), but still fails to mention that the actual evolution evidence is in the pharyngula stage.

    I think that Wells’ point was that the dissimilarity of vertebrate embryos at the cleavage and gastrulation stages is a contradiction of recapitulation theory — see http://www.trueorigin.org/unseatng.asp

    If the evidence agaionst evolution is so strong, why do you people insist on missrepresenting it?

    If the evidence for evolution is so strong, why do you people insist on misrepresenting criticisms of evolution?

  47. #47 Michael Geissler
    November 6, 2006

    “If the evidence for evolution is so strong, why do you people insist on misrepresenting criticisms of evolution?”

    Because pointless and boring back-and-forward he-said, no-he-didn’t exchanges are all that is possible when ID wants to present itself as science but never puts forward any actual evidence. That’s evidence, people, not “criticisms”.

  48. #48 Dave S.
    November 7, 2006

    Larry says:

    If I didn’t read PZ on this, then how do you explain how I wrote the following two articles on my blog –

    I’m not a psychologist Larry. I can’t explain why you do what you do.

    What does that have to do with PZ’s review of chapter 3 of this book?

    It proves that the call-out is not a missrepresentation of Wells Larry, because Wells has used the same statement before. The fact he also mangles the same statements somewhat differently on another page doesn’t exonerate him.

    That’s the way to positively influence people — make insults and ad hominems instead of addressing the issues. Yessirree.

    Larry, I already know from experience that evidence and logic have no effect on you.

    I have read and re-read Myers’ review of chapter 3. There is nothing in that review that noted that the text on pages 30-31 clarified the term “early embryo stages” in the call-out on page 35. Instead, Myers called Wells a “disreputable scoundrel.”

    Which he is.

    Have you read Myers’ blog?

    You’re under the unfortunate impression that pages 30-31 somehow vindicates Wells. It doesn’t. It’s still a missrepresentation. And as we’ve seen, the call-out quote is also fully Wells, despite attempts to make it look like Wells had nothing to do with that.

    If the evidence for evolution is so strong, why do you people insist on misrepresenting criticisms of evolution?

    Actually “we people” are mainly engaged in gathering actual positive evidence for the evolutionary position. If were not to do so, the ID crowd would have nothing to say, since their position is simply to attack those findings.

  49. #49 Larry Fafarman
    November 7, 2006

    Dave S. said,

    If I didn’t read PZ on this, then how do you explain how I wrote the following two articles on my blog –
    I can’t explain why you do what you do.

    Did you read the articles? Do they appear as though I didn’t read what PZ said?

    It proves that the call-out is not a missrepresentation of Wells Larry, because Wells has used the same statement before.

    That defense of PZ is a load of crap and you know it. In his original review of the 3rd chapter of Wells’ book, PZ did not say that he was ignoring pages 30-31 because Wells had previously used the statement in the call-out on page 35.

    Wells also clarified the statement in the other instance where I saw him use it.

    Myers called Wells a “disreputable scoundrel.”

    Which he is.

    How much do you want to bet that my comments here won’t be censored if I start referring to Myers as “Sleazy PZ”?

    You’re under the unfortunate impression that pages 30-31 somehow vindicates Wells. It doesn’t. It’s still a missrepresentation.

    PZ should have told the whole story and let the readers decide for themselves what appears to be a misrepresentation and what does not.

    Actually “we people” are mainly engaged in gathering actual positive evidence for the evolutionary position. If were not to do so, the ID crowd would have nothing to say, since their position is simply to attack those findings.

    What is wrong with attacking the scientific findings of others?

  50. #50 Dave S.
    November 8, 2006

    Did you read the articles? Do they appear as though I didn’t read what PZ said?

    Did you read his blog? He covered pages 30-31 3 days before you wrote in your comment here that he “completely ignored” them. And as shown, Well’s comments on pages 30-31 do not exonerate him. They’re merely yet another example of his deceptive treatment of evolution. It’s like your saying it’s unfair to convict the bank robber of shooting the teller, because other times he robbed banks, he didn’t shoot tellers.

    That defense of PZ is a load of crap and you know it.

    No Larry, I don’t and it isn’t.

    In his original review of the 3rd chapter of Wells’ book, PZ did not say that he was ignoring pages 30-31 because Wells had previously used the statement in the call-out on page 35.

    He’s under no obligation to point out every instance where Wells distorts the science. He quoted Wells, a philosopher friend of Wells stupidly claimed that that quote could be found nowhere on page 35 and flatly called Myers a liar, and hilarity and obfuscation has ensued since.

    How much do you want to bet that my comments here won’t be censored if I start referring to Myers as “Sleazy PZ”?

    I think you just did.

    PZ should have told the whole story and let the readers decide for themselves what appears to be a misrepresentation and what does not.

    Did you want him to come to your house and read all of Wells’ book for you?

    What is wrong with attacking the scientific findings of others?

    Nothing, accept they aren’t attacking the actual theory, but a strawman. And claiming such attacks constitute support for their own “theory” to boot.

  51. #51 Larry Fafarman
    November 8, 2006

    Dave S. said,

    Did you read his blog? He covered pages 30-31 3 days before you wrote in your comment here that he “completely ignored” them.

    I am not talking about what PZ said a few days ago — I am talking about what PZ said over two months ago in his initial review of chapter 3 of Wells’ book.

    He quoted Wells, a philosopher friend of Wells stupidly claimed that that quote could be found nowhere on page 35 and flatly called Myers a liar, and hilarity and obfuscation has ensued since.

    Tim McGrew, Wells’ “philosopher friend,” evidently thought that the reference to page 35 was a reference to the text instead of a reference to a call-out. McGrew probably also thought that the reference to page 35 was a mistake and that the reference was really to pages 30-31 where there was a similar sentence in the text. McGrew has since apologized for his error, which was an honest mistake. You are kicking a dead horse.

    >>PZ should have told the whole story and let the readers decide for themselves what appears to be a misrepresentation and what does not.>>

    Did you want him to come to your house and read all of Wells’ book for you?

    That is obviously not what I meant by “the whole story.”

    What is wrong with attacking the scientific findings of others?
    Nothing, accept they aren’t attacking the actual theory, but a strawman.

    I don’t see any straw man here — Darwinists are still claiming that embryology supports evolution theory.

  52. #52 Dave S.
    November 9, 2006

    Larry carries on:

    I am not talking about what PZ said a few days ago — I am talking about what PZ said over two months ago in his initial review of chapter 3 of Wells’ book.

    But his blog comments were made before you mouthed off in this thread that he completely ignored it. A fact which you ironically completely ignored. Also, as already well documented, the text on 30-31 does not exonerate Wells. You are wrong.

    Tim McGrew, Wells’ “philosopher friend,” evidently thought that the reference to page 35 was a reference to the text instead of a reference to a call-out. McGrew probably also thought that the reference to page 35 was a mistake and that the reference was really to pages 30-31 where there was a similar sentence in the text. McGrew has since apologized for his error, which was an honest mistake. You are kicking a dead horse.

    Strange he never even mentioned the call-out (a call-out which also fully represents Wells’ views as he has made clear) until it was pointed out to him. He instead went straight for the “liar” card, and it back-fired nicely on him.

    I don’t see any straw man here — Darwinists are still claiming that embryology supports evolution theory.

    Because it does Larry. You should read about that some time.

  53. #53 Larry Fafarman
    November 10, 2006

    (http:// prefixes removed from URL links to prevent the comment from hanging up)

    Dave S. said,

    But his blog comments were made before you mouthed off in this thread that he completely ignored it.

    It was obvious that I was talking about what PZ said months ago and not about what he said recently after the scandal broke.

    Also, as already well documented, the text on 30-31 does not exonerate Wells.

    Even if Wells was not “exonerated,” that does not excuse PZ’s misrepresentation.

    And I think that Wells was totally exonerated. PZ said,

    I’m afraid my quote [of the call-out of page 35] was accurate. Wells did distort the quote to suit his ends. He quotes Ballard elsewhere in the article [pages 30-31], too, but it’s more of the same: he’s trying to twist Ballard’s words into some kind of refutation of the facts, to lie about what a distinguished dead (and therefore unable to rebut him) biologist had to say about the similarities of embryos. The point of Ballard’s paper was to argue for the diversity of gastrulation mechanisms, but right there in the paper, in the paragraph above the one Wells’ selectively quoted, he affirms that “the pharyngula stage?is remarkably uniform throughout the subphylum.”

    – from scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/11/pz_myers_is_such_a_liar.php

    PZ’s above claim that Wells’ discussion on pages 30-31 ignores the similarity of vertebrate embryos at the pharyngula stage is false. Here is what Wells said on page 31 —

    So vertebrate embryos start out looking very different, then they become somewhat similar midway through development (though not as similar as Haeckel made them out to be) before diverging again. Embryologists call this pattern the “developmental hourglass.” (Figure 4) (my emphasis)

    — from image of page 31 at the above link.

    The statement that “they become somewhat similar midway through development” is of course a reference to the pharyngula stages. All Wells did was substitute the words “somewhat similar” for Ballard’s “remarkably uniform.” This is not a serious misrepresentation of Ballard. And Tim McGrew has pointed out that another publication of Ballard supports Wells’ statement that the vertebrate embryos are “somewhat similar” at the pharyngula stage:

    Some of these actual pharyngulas have a tailfin and some do not. Those which are tetrapods have lung buds, the fish pharyngulas lack them. They all have a liver, to mention an organ at random, but the livers of fishes, birds and mammals are interestingly different in detail even at the pharyngula stage. Arteries can be compared easily but there is little uniformity in the veins. Most conspicuously, the circumstances and needs for respiration, nutrition, and excretion at this stage have been met by a good many structures of a temporary nature, aptly referred to as scaffolding tissues, which are in bold contrast in the different classes of vertebrates. — from William Ballard, Comparative Anatomy and Embryology (Ronald Press, 1964), p. 69

    – from comment on thread at theconstructivecurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2006/10/my-denver-post-review-of-two-new-books.html (tried to create a direct link to the comment but it didn’t work, and no date is given but only the time, 6:13 PM. It is one of the last comments in the thread)

    Dave S. says,

    Strange he {i.e., Tim McGrew] never even mentioned the call-out (a call-out which also fully represents Wells’ views as he has made clear) until it was pointed out to him. He instead went straight for the “liar” card, and it back-fired nicely on him.

    I explained how McGrew got screwed up — he mistakenly thought that PZ was quoting the text instead of a call-out and that the page 35 reference to the call-out was supposed to be a reference to the text on pages 30-31 instead. I mean, sheeesh — it was an honest mistake. McGrew has since apologized. You are kicking a dead horse. Don’t you folks ever give up?