He’s planning to debate Jonathan Wells…on Fox radio. I guess we can only hope the host, Alan Colmes, is a little less passive than Flatow was in the Mooney/Bethell debate, but we can guarantee that Wells is as ignorant and foolish as Bethell.
I am going to have to turn my attention soon to Wells’ new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll), but for two things: 1) The New Semester! Is! Flying! into my Face! for the next few weeks, and 2) Wells is a tawdry slug of a writer, who just thumps out lie after lie about the state of modern biology, and since he supposedly was trained in developmental biology, he really pisses me off with his poor scholarship.
For example, here’s his description of chapter 3 of his new book (this will look familiar: he’s clearly rehashing his old, much debunked book, Icons of Evolution.)
Chapter 3 : Why You Didn’t “Evolve” in Your Mother’s Womb
Guess what? Darwin thought the
for his theory was
embryos are most
similar in their earliest stages; the prob-
lem is, they’re not.
drawings are still
used in some modern
biology textbooks as
“evidence” for Darwin’s theory.
Scientists have never
been able to produce
by mutating an
Three paragraphs, three misleading lies.
Developmental biologists have not argued that embryos are most similar in their earliest stages. We have long known that they aren’t—there are variations in patterns of cleavage determined by degree of maternal investment, for instance, and in mammals, the crucial novelties of the the greatly expanded extra-embryonic membranes are set up in the earliest decisions of development. No, the interesting observation and the one that is difficult to explain without the linkage of common descent is that all vertebrate embryos converge in the formation of a common suite of primitive characters at the pharyngula stage…after gastrulation. The similarities arise at the time the embryo is laying out the body plan. Nineteenth century naturalists noted the superficial similarities between different species, and the similarities have deepened as we dissect the underlying molecular basis of the patterns—the Hox genes I talk about here.
I’ve found modern biology textbooks that reprint the drawings by Haeckel that he is referring to. However, it isn’t as evidence for evolution—it’s as an example of a historical, but obsolete theory. Wells also complains in Icons about textbooks that use photographs of embryos—photographs which show that the striking similarity of vertebrate embryos at the appropriate stages is real. (By the way, Michael Richardson has high-res examples of these embryos, and the old drawing in contention.)
That last one is a new one, but it’s painfully stupid. Mutating an embryo is a process that affects an individual; Darwinian evolution is observed in populations. You might as well complain that we’ve never observed a writer produce a book by pressing a single key on a keyboard.
That does give you a flavor of what Wells’ books are like, though: the man is incapable of pounding out a sentence without getting something wrong, and the whole production reeks of dishonesty. And since the book is coming from Regnery publishing, I guess that is no surprise.