Pharyngula

A few years ago, Mel Gabler died, and I put up my response below. Now his wife, Norma Gabler, has also died. Good riddance at last. Those two did an awful amount of harm to American science education by inflicting their ignorant opinions on textbook selection in Texas.


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I read this which led to this, where I learned a few months late that Mel Gabler was dead. This Mel Gabler. I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but Gabler had a good 89 year run in which he spread poison and ignorance and lies, and made his wretched mark on the textbook industry. He was a dishonest old man who reviewed biology textbooks through the lens of his own stupidity and religious prejudice, and he was darned good at it.

Take a look at his criteria for evaluating biology textbooks. I’ve added links to Mark Isaak’s indispensable index of creationist claims so that you can easily look up the real story. Every single one of these criteria that Gabler used to block the adoption of good science textbooks was a lie. Most of them are trivial and obvious lies to anyone with a little basic knowledge of biology. I look at his rationalizations and see gibbering, spittle-flecked senility…and this is the man the Texas State Board of Education took seriously.

Gabler’s criterion Gabler’s rationalization Isaak’s rebuttal

no fossil evidence for gradual evolution
“Punctuated equilibria” theory admits the systematic gaps between life forms
in the fossil record, and the lack of evidence there for gradual
evolution.
CC200

circular reasoning in “punctuated equilibria” theory
“Punctuated equilibria” theory says evolution occurs too slowly to see it
in the present, and too quickly for the fossil record to capture in the past.
This is circular reasoning: the lack of evidence for evolution proves it
happened.
CC201.1
circular reasoning in the standard geological column “Index fossils” are fossils of life forms that evolutionists think lived
only briefly in geologic time. Evolutionists position rocks in the Standard
Geological Column by the stage which their index fossils represent in the
presumed evolution of life. Thus the Standard Geological Column reflects
evolutionary assumptions but does not prove them.
CC310
subjective interpretation of the standard geological column No actual single example of the entire Standard Geological Column exists
in nature. The alleged evolutionary ages of rock strata do not always match
the alleged evolutionary ages of some of the fossils they contain. Supposedly
younger strata sometimes contain supposedly older fossils. Supposedly older
strata sometimes contain supposedly younger fossils.
CD101
complex initial appearance of life forms in the fossil record Evolution
says complex life forms developed from simple forms. But the “earliest” fossils
of each life form are as structurally complex as their modern counterparts.
The kingdoms, phyla, and classes that first appear in the fossil record still
exist today.
CB010.1
no
undisputed transitional forms in the fossil record
Scholarly
reappraisal often shows “missing links” to have been either fully human (e.g.,
Neanderthal Man, Cro-Magnon Man) or apes (e.g., Pithecanthropus,
Ramapithecus
). Archaeopteryx is discredited as a missing
link.
CC050, CC351

no examples of “micro-evolution”
Evolution
is the process of increasing net genetic complexity (between the original
cell and Einstein, there had to be new genes). Speciation and subspeciation
require no increased net genetic complexity, and are thus not even
“micro-evolution.” Darwin’s finches, Kaibab and Albert squirrels, industrial
melanism (spotted moths), penicillin-resistant bacteria, and DDT-resistant
insects are non-evolutionary adaptations of existing life forms to new
environments, involving no increased net genetic complexity and therefore
no evolution.
Isaak doesn’t cover this one specifically; Gabler has invented his own bizarre definition of evolution so that he can falsely claim evolution has not been observed.

no known mechanism for evolution
Recombination
reshuffles chromosomes. Mutations restructure DNA. Neither produce more complex
chromosomes or DNA. Thus neither increase net genetic complexity, without
which there is no evolution.
CB102
conflicts
between anatomy and biochemistry
Amino
acid sequence differences among life forms often contradict evolutionary
predictions based on anatomical similarities.
Sometimes they do. Convergent evolution can produce similarities that are not homologous. This is not evidence against evolution.
flaws in radiometric dating Radiometric
dating methods give conflicting dates for the same object and/or for different
samples of the same object. These dating methods assume a uniform decay rate
of the parent element, initial absence of the daughter element in the test
sample, and isolation of the test sample from outside contamination ?;
all scientifically questionable assumptions on various grounds.
CD010
statistical
improbability of evolution through chance mutations
Even
if all mutations were beneficial, the mathematical probability of life developing
by chance verges on absolute zero.
CB940

Mel Gabler is dead, but his work continues. Texans for a “Better” Science Education still uses Gabler’s dishonest garbage (a page that, coincidentally, was updated just yesterday; no lie reeks enough to convince a creationist to drop it, I guess). The odious Terri Leo has been re-elected to the Texas State Board of Education and will no doubt perpetuate his work.

So, no, I can’t feel any joy at the death of one sad and narrow-minded old man. The evil that men do lives on long after they’re gone, and he has left an enduring legacy. It’s awfully hard to dance on a grave when you’re still battling the corpse.

Comments

  1. #1 Anti Atheist Resistance Front
    August 2, 2007

    Can you imagine the hooting and clapping when Dawkins passes, or some of the other fundie atheists?

    Don’t complain.

    You have set the precedent.

  2. #2 Bronze Dog
    August 2, 2007

    Doggerel #71

    Of course there’ll be people applauding when Dawkins dies, regardless of any precedent we set. They’ll also get great, near-sexual pleasure out of the thought that he’s going to be tortured for eternity.

    The difference will be because fundies are uncivilized and amoral, thus they believe they’re allowed to besmirch the name of a good man.

    We celebrate the deaths of fundies because it generally cuts back the amount of evil they can work on the world. Most woos I run into, especially fundies, don’t seem to comprehend that evil is bad, hence the end of an evil is a good thing.

  3. #3 Brendan S
    August 2, 2007

    #23:

    It’s dishonest for you to sit here and claim that certain members of the ID community wont’ be glad to see PZ, Dawkins, etc. pass.

    Don’t ever pretend.

  4. #4 Sastra
    August 2, 2007

    Years ago, I read an article on the Gablers which took the “small folks(s) who make a difference” angle. It was supposed to be an inspiring piece, promoting an example of how ordinary people can make the Powerful Establishment sit up and take notice simply by exercising pluck, perseverance, and a caring concern for their values, their country, and — of course — the children. Gee whiz. Looka here, sometimes you can fight City Hall. Let’s hear it for David! Hoor-ay for the Little Guys like you and me!

    I suspect that a LOT of really stupid things get by the general public because of a deep-seated love and respect for this mythical template, with or without the religious aspect (worse with the religious aspect, of course.) If it’s not the truth, well, it should be. Makes you feel empowered and all that.

  5. #5 brightmoon
    August 2, 2007

    (Can you imagine the hooting and clapping when Dawkins passes, or some of the other fundie atheists?

    Don’t complain.

    You have set the precedent)

    OH, YOU DON’T REMEMBER THE VISCIOUS COMMENTS MADE WHEN STEVE GOULD DIED, DO YOU? sorry Anti-atheist, the fundies started this one

    oh, and Mats, #14 was magical thinking at its worst

  6. #6 MAJeff
    August 6, 2007

    Well, these hucksters and Falwell and now Tammy Baker. We only have a few hundred more to go! Wanna play “Closest to the Pin” on whos the next to take a dirt nap?

    I am throwing a huge-ass party when Jesse Helms kicks it.

  7. #7 tony
    August 6, 2007

    MAJeff:

    I am throwing a huge-ass party when Jesse Helms kicks it.

    I would have thought a *tight* ass party would be more appropriate! (That’s how *I* prefer my asses to be ;)

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