Cordova Steps in it – Again

Ed Brayton, Orac, and the Hoofnagles have already covered this story (click here, here, and here, respectively.) But why should they have all the fun?

Over at Uncommon Descent, Salvador Cordova discusses the MacCallum essay, Now, I’ve seen several of Salvador’s public presentations. So I am well aware of his rather imaginative use of quotations. He almost seems to prefer quoting people inaccurately to giving his audience an accurate view of what was said.

But this one is low, even for him. MacCallum opens her essay with the following paragraph:

It is curious that Charles Darwin, perhaps medicine’s most famous dropout, provided the impetus for a subject that figures so rarely in medical education. Indeed, even the iconic textbook example of evolution–antibiotic resistance–is rarely described as “evolution” in relevant papers published in medical journals [1]. Despite potentially valid reasons for this oversight (e.g., that authors of papers in medical journals would regard the term as too general), it propagates into the popular press when those papers are reported on, feeding the wider perception of evolution’s irrelevance in general, and to medicine in particular [1]. Yet an understanding of how natural selection shapes vulnerability to disease can provide fundamental insights into medicine and health and is no less relevant than an understanding of physiology or biochemistry.

Seems clear enough. Here’s how Salvador presented the same paragraph (the emphasis is his):

Charles Darwin, perhaps medicine’s most famous dropout, provided the impetus for a subject that figures so rarely in medical education. Indeed, even the iconic textbook example of evolution–antibiotic resistance–is rarely described as “evolution” in relevant papers published in medical journals. Despite potentially valid reasons for this oversight (e.g., that authors of papers in medical journals would regard the term as too general), it propagates into the popular press when those papers are reported on, feeding the wider perception of evolution’s irrelevance in general, and to medicine in particular

Notice something missing in Salvador’s version? Like, say, the last sentence? The one that pointed out that evolution is actually very important in discussions of medicine and health, and seeks to correct what she perceives as an oversight in current practice?

There are certain basic rules of etiquette when quoting someone else’s work. Whenever possible (as it surely is here), you quote an entire paragraph as opposed to individual sentences. And even if that’s not possible, say for reasons of length or because the paragraph veers off into irrelevant issues, you still have to be careful to give an accurate perception of what the person is saying. What you certainly do not do is simply cut-off the final sentence of a paragraph. Heck, that would be true even in cases where the final sentence has little relevance to the point being made.

At least, that’s what you do if you care about a serious discussion of ideas. If, by contrast, you’re a shameless propagandist pawing through the web for the sole purpose of finding things that can be turned to rhetorical advantage, then you don’t bother with such niceties.

It’s an extraordinary thing to lop off the final sentence of a paragraph, especially when that sentence fundamentally alters the content of what is being said. Most bloggers wouldn’t even consider doing such a thing. So how could Salvador defend such conduct? In the comments to his own post, Salvador responds to fellow PT’er Jack Krebs on this issue:

Well gee Jack, there happened to be a link that I provided to the full article.

And also I edited out what was distorted picture of reality.

Well gee Jack, there happened to be a link that I provided to the full article.

And also I edited out what was distorted picture of reality.

First of all the correct conception of natural selection is Blythian, not Darwinian. MacCallum inisist on natural selection as conceived by Darwin, and that is all wrong.

And I already pointed out, anti-biotic resistance is Blythian evolution not Darwinian. Darwin’s work was on promoting the false notion that natural selection is the primary mechanism in the origin of species. Are we going to teach doctors that resistant bacteria are new species????? Blyth had the correct conception of evolution. See:

Blythian evolution explains antibiotic resistance, not Darwinism

The mechanism of anti-biotic resistance is a means of preserving bacterial species not originating substantially new ones. And that is Blyth’s conception of natural selection, and not Darwin’s.

Given MacCallum’s misconceptions, I found little need to re-print the rest of her ill-conceived ideas.

The point of citing the article was the fact a campaign was being waged to shove Darwinism down the throats of medical students.

The point of the citation was to point out that medical school TODAY and for all time have found Darwinism largely irrelevant.

The fact that a non-medical Doctor like MacCallum is prescribing what medical professors ought to teach only highlights further the irrelevance of Darwinism.

Darwin has added next to nothing to our understanding medical science. It would be instructive to compare Darwin to a real scientist like the ID proponent James Clerk Maxwell

See:
Comparing Darwin to a real math and physics genius

Darwin wrote of himself:

I attempted mathematics [at Cambridge University ], and even went during the summer of 1828 with a private tutor (a very dull man) to Barmouth, but I got on very slowly. The work was repugnant to me, chiefly from my not being able to see any meaning in the early steps of algebra. This impatience was foolish, and in after years I have deeply regretted that I did not proceed far enough at least to understand something of the great leading principles of mathematics; for men thus endowed seem to have an extra sense. But I do not believe that I should ever have succeeded beyond a very low grade.

Autobiography (p. 58 of the 1958 Norton edition)

Go back to the original for the links.

What a charming fellow. Of course, anyone with a conscience would have quoted MacCallum in full, and would then have gone on to discuss the points he finds wanting. What he would not do is pretend the unhelpful parts were never said at all.

As for the remainder of this extraordinarily snide and jaw-droppingly stupid comment, I’ll leave that for another day.

Creationists like Salvador find it so easy to engage in this sort of behavior because they are not really interested in honest discussion or thoughtful exchanges. Their interest is in propaganda pure and simple. Creationism can not survive in any forum where people know what they are talking about, or in which strict rules of evidence are in force. The only thing they have going for them is the emotional appeal of their message, and the relative ignorance of most of their target audience. That’s why their various media outlets present such a caricatured, exaggerated view of what scientists actually do and say. And since they believe they are doing the Lord’s work, they have little trouble putting aside pesky annoyances like ethics or honesty.

Comments

  1. #1 gwangung
    May 3, 2007

    Basically, they’re sinning to do the Lord’s work.

    Nobody sees te contradiction?

  2. #2 ZacharySmith
    May 3, 2007

    Thanks to Sal, we now have an idea of what the IDiots do when they do “research” .

    They read articles and cut, paste and rearrange words and sentences so that the final product is unrecognizable.

    Maybe we should pitch in and buy Sal a pair of scissors and a bottle of Elmer’s glue so he can cut and paste to his heart’s content, like a happy pre-schooler. A little archaic perhaps these days, but at least after the glue dries he’ll have something to frame and hang on the wall.

  3. #3 Richard Wein
    May 4, 2007

    “There are certain basic rules of etiquette when quoting someone else’s work.”

    You don’t need any “rules of etiquette” to avoid this sort of dishonesty. You just need to follow the basic rule of not telling lies, whether by commission or omission.

  4. #4 slpage
    May 4, 2007

    Well, Jason, Cordova did ‘cite’ me – I am so proud…

  5. #5 Blake Stacey
    May 4, 2007
  6. #6 infamous
    May 4, 2007

    He straight-up says:

    “Dr. Michael Egnor… has repeatedly pointed out why Darwinism is irrelevant to modern medicine.
    …And it turns out, Michael Egnor’s claims are being supported by an uncomfortable admission by Catriona J. MacCallum…”

    He intentionally makes it sound as if she is ADMITTING (his word) that Darwinism is irrelevant to modern medicine. There is no defending that. He blatantly misrepresents her, and that is wrong.

  7. #7 Ick of the East
    May 4, 2007

    2000 years ago somebody died on the Cross for us. It’s about time somebody stood up and bore false witness for Him.
    .

  8. #8 trrll
    May 4, 2007

    It certainly illustrates the extent to which a crackpot belief can destroy one’s moral compass. Sal clearly believes that there is noting wrong with editing somebody’s words to suggest a point of view that he knows the author did not hold.

  9. #9 Timcol
    May 5, 2007

    Another fascinating illustration how a supposedly intelligent person’s critical thinking skills are hijacked by religious beliefs that have no grounding in facts, evidence or history. It’s the confirmation bias writ large – an a priori religious belief colors everything they do; so, unconsciously or otherwise, they see nothing untoward in altering data or facts in order to avoid cognitive dissonance. I work for a large well-known computer company; it’s a data-driven company with many engineers who all scrupuously demand empirical data and regularly utilize advanced critical thinking skills. Yet, when it comes to their own personal lives, not a few are born-again Christians, and they unquestionably simply accept what is stated in a 2000 book (of highly dubious origins). They never think to apply the same thinking skills to the area of their ‘faith’. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be quite fascinating really.

  10. #10 Salvador T. Cordova
    May 8, 2007

    Ed makes the same mistake that Jack Krebs makes. UD commentor Borne shows his insights:

    borne writes with genius:
    I’m afraid you did not understand in the least what Salvador’s post here is about. Perhaps you’re Darwinist prejudice is blinding your discernment of content and purpose? You sadly mistake drawing logical conclusions from a pro Darwinist article for mere quote-mining. Salvador is not “falsely interpreting” but drawing logical conclusions from the articles implications – indeed from it’s very existence. It is clear that Salvador uses MacCallum’s article to demonstrate exactly what the article implies;(why do Darwinists always fail to see logical implications?) i.e. Darwinism is useless in medicine.

    If Ed and Jack Krebs were accusing me of suggesting MacCallum is arguing for Darwinism’s irrelevance they are all wrong.

    The point was to show MacCallum is forced to admit Medical Doctors today find little use for Darwinism. Her article unwittingly demonstrates Egnor’s point.

    I was highlighting the irony of the fact that while MacCallum is saying Darwinism is fundamental to medical science, medical doctors in practice to day find it inessential. Her own article does a good job of refuting the very point she was attempting to make. She unwittingly made and embarrasing admission.

    They totally misunderstood what I was trying to highlight.

  11. #11 Jason Rosenhouse
    May 8, 2007

    No, Salvador, what you don’t understand is that when you quote a person you don’t arbitrarily lop off inconvenient sentences at the end of paragraphs. Instead, you give an accurate picture of what the person said and then go on to discuss your points of agreement and disagreement with him.

  12. #12 Science Avenger
    May 9, 2007

    Salvador is not “falsely interpreting” but drawing logical conclusions from the articles implications – indeed from it’s very existence. It is clear that Salvador uses MacCallum’s article to demonstrate exactly what the article implies;(why do Darwinists always fail to see logical implications?)

    Isn’t it truly amazing how the creationists/IDers are so consistently able to discern “logical” implications from scientific articles that elude the authors? Indeed, they are often able to do so even for implications explicitly rejected by the authors. Truly astonishing, this new “scientific” technique of theirs. Instead of hypothesize, experiment, and revise, it’s cut, paste, and reinterpret.

  13. #13 Blake Stacey, OM
    June 25, 2007

    Lagrangian mechanics is Cordova’s latest target, so physics buffs, sharpen your knives!

    (Torbjörn Larsson, OM caught a great quote mine, too.)