Pharyngula

I get email

My crank mail can be categorized into several categories. There are the short, barely literate splutterings of abuse; the weird rants and threats; the reiteration of long-dead creationist talking points (yeah, I get email where the writer thinks he’s trumped me by saying “If evolution is true, why are there still monkeys?”); and then there are the long, rambling lectures from deeply clueless individuals. I’m afraid this is one of the latter. I’ll understand if you fall asleep partway through.

By the way, the author actually sent this to me pre-formatted in Comic Sans. I’m also rather peeved that he’s sending me a letter addressed to Eugenie Scott.

an open letter to eugenie scott

Dear Professor Myers: If you can refute this argument, I will commit myself to Darwin. As it stands now, I remain in doubt as to which theory is true: Darwin or intelligent design. Sincerely, Robert wood

Dear Eugenie Scott,

I am willing to be convinced of the truth of the theory of evolution?I mean as a final explanation for the origin and variety of species. However, as a non-scientist and someone who deems himself unequal to the challenge of debating this issue (evolution versus intelligent design) on its scientific merits, I can?t help but make one important observation concerning the respective disputants.

Those scientists who believe in evolution and who are strongly opposed to the idea of intelligent design, give the impression (tell me I am wrong in this, Eugenie) of being incapable of doubting the validity of the theory of evolution. Now let me explain. I believe that 2 plus 2 is 4; I believe in the theory of gravitation; I believe the earth goes around the sun?but should any of these beliefs be questioned, I only have to recall how it is and why it is I believe them to prove the falseness of any theory which would contradict those beliefs. In other words, I don?t just believe in the heliocentric theory; I have the satisfaction of confirming it by the manner in which I believe in it. The issue never touches me personally; therefore I take refuge in the objectivity of the truth of this theory, should it be challenged in any way by some competing theory.

Now the theory of evolution is deemed by the majority of scientists to have the status of scientific truth equivalent to that of quantum mechanics or the theory of relativity. Good. But, when it is questioned (perhaps by those who are willfully ignorant, or prejudiced, or fearful, or obstinate), do its proponents make contact with the inherent truth that would afford them a stance of detachment and sobriety?

In many cases they do not. Instead they act as if this is an ideological issue in which these supporters of Darwin are defending the honour and reputation and prestige of a theory without regard to a true assessment of its validity considered  in the light of a context created by a competing theory (intelligent design).

And so what happens is that the theory of evolution does not provide on its own merits the same kind of confidence and equipoise that other scientific theories automatically provide in the face of possible criticism. The belief becomes just that: belief; and the exhilarating and vital contact with the empirical truth of the theory of evolution no longer can determine the experience of the person who is defending Darwin against intelligent design. The belief in the theory overwhelms the intrinsic truth of the theory?in the context of this debate.

And it should not be this way were Darwin?s theory comparable in its accordance with physical reality as other scientific theories are. And this is where it gets interesting. You see, if a scientific theory is correct (there is an agreement with reality), then in a sense the more it is challenged, the more it proves itself under this adversity. This is always the case. But this is not the case with Darwin in the present circumstance. The more the theory is criticised, the more the alternative theory (intelligent design) is attacked. But this is absurd. Darwin?s theory stands by itself. And if this is true, why is it that scientists who believe in the theory of evolution, separate themselves from the context which is provided them by the fact that Darwin?s theory is true, in order to make it seem that the only way the theory of evolution can survive is by making certain the opposition is silenced, censured, stigmatized, and punished.

This is a great paradox. But it points up an extremely important fact: the hard-core Darwinist is not existentially in control of his belief in Darwin, for if he were, he would not be capable of acting with passion, vehemence, hostility when he finds this theory challenged.

If someone successfully mounted a campaign that attempted to bring into question any other scientific theory, what would be the response of a given individual scientist to this campaign? Would it, Professor Scott, take the form of the attitude of the National Center for Science Education on their website? As I read that website, it strikes me that the enemy is at the gates, and we must put down these insurgents with whatever force is required.

We have given up the project of converting them, They are mysteriously perverse; they refuse to be reasonable, they refuse to look at the facts impartially, they are determined to destroy the very integrity with which science is done. What can we do but fight back?with everything we have?

But I ask you, Eugenie, is this the scenario which will meet with success, triumph, and eventual vindication?

No, it is not. And this is because it is being driven by a psychology which finds it impossible to conceive that Darwin might be wrong. You see, Eugenie, it doesn?t matter if I decide, for purposes of clarification, to doubt what I believe in?in this case, the theory of evolution. In fact, just like entertaining, for the benefit which might accrue from thinking against what I knew is true, the thought that: perhaps the sun does indeed go around the earth, so too it is an intellectually salutary act to wonder: on what basis, in the face of what evidence, could I conceive it possible that I could doubt Darwin (or conceive there to be an ?edge of evolution?)? If I am secretly terrified by the thought (without knowing why) this may very well mean that I am invested in the idea of the truth of the theory quite independently of whether in fact that theory can stand the test of objective critical examination. You see, I won?t know the answer to this question (and therefore won?t have the tremendous satisfaction of re-believing in Darwin in the innocent way that I first came to believe in his theory), if I find that I cannot doubt the theory of evolution right now.

If my belief in the theory of evolution was predicated strictly on my own determination that it was true, then, when challenged by the theory of intelligent design, I could discriminate as to exactly why I still believe in Darwin, why I cannot believe in intelligent design.

But if metaphysically and psychologically I witness in myself that I will not, I cannot, I must not, doubt Darwin, then this, it seems to me, is prima facie evidence that my continuing to believe in Darwin is being determined by something outside of the control that I could exercise by my own will.

Do the intelligent design people (not the young earth creationists) conceive of the possibility that they might be wrong? I believe they do, Eugenie. Sure, they are confident they will displace Darwin at some point?for them this seems, based on the evidence, inevitable. But just as a private exercise in Socratic doubt, are they prepared to imagine they have been deceived and that Darwin?s theory will once again demonstrate itself to be a superior theory of speciation to that of intelligent design? I think (among those who are practicing scientists) they are. And so, what does that mean?

It means that their commitment to the validity of intelligent design is not being determined by their metaphysical and psychological need for it to be true. More than this, it means that whatever they are in contact with in expounding their views, it affords them a sense of normalcy which makes them naturally sensitive to the reasonableness and persuasiveness of the other side (the evolutionists). Simply because, evidently the belief in intelligent design stands or falls with the evidence; it is not being driven by a personal unwillingness to believe in the theory of evolution. More than this. It means that to believe in intelligent design is a personal choice, fully under the control of the individual scientist.

And this is the terrible irony, Eugenie: that the intelligent design theorist can see for himself the furious subjectivity of the ultra-Darwinist in his determination to destroy the reputation and credibility of a scientist who believes in intelligent design; this alerts him to an important fact: the Darwinist is not in control of his belief. His belief is held in place by something that exceeds even his (the evolutionist?s) assumption as to why he wishes to continue to believe in Darwin no matter what.

The conclusion I must draw, Eugenie, is that the reaction of the Darwinists is precisely the kind of reaction that is designed to bring about the most meaningful triumph of intelligent design, for without this intense opposition, the theory of intelligent design it could be inferred, can?t be true, because the real scientists, to a person (in this theoretical scenario) are treating it exactly like they would treat a challenge to the belief that the earth revolves around the sun, that 2 plus 2 is not 4, that quantum mechanics is wrong. They are letting the theory of evolution prove itself; and thus welcoming opposition, because as it turns out, opposition works on behalf of the theory of evolution to make it even more convincing.

Now the question you are no doubt asking, Eugenie, is: well, if we know a theory is true and people question its truthfulness, are we therefore just supposed to let this opposing (and unproven) theory have a respectable place in science? Well, of course not. But, you see, Eugenie, as a scientist you must proceed on the basis of a fair-minded, disinterested, and dispassionate investigation of the evidence which constitutes the competing claims of this rival theory. That rival theory must get exposure; it must be subjected to intense scrutiny?but impartially, not vindictively. The beauty of science is that it seeks to know what is factually the case. A fact is a fact. There is no excuse for scientists who believe in the absolute sufficiency of the theory of evolution, to act outside the role of a scientist in attempting to refute the validity of an opposing theory. And this is exactly what has happened.

In studying your own writings, I have to conclude that you are unable to contemplate the idea that intelligent design might have merit. For reasons which go well beyond science, this proposition is like a death threat, and it must be excluded from the realm of your experience. This is not the response of someone who knows something is true; it is the response of someone who (even if the theory is in fact correct) no longer has control over how that belief is acted out in the opposition to that belief.

And so, the Darwinist can?t help himself. The intelligent design theorist, he finds his theory does not and cannot create the existential inhibition of fanatical certainty that the theory of evolution must and does create inside the consciousness of the evolutionist.

Sincerely,
Robert Wood

Lord, how tedious. This fellow assumes the premise that scientists do not question evolution, that we think Darwin was never wrong, and that we never present evidence against Intelligent Design creationism or for biology, and that therefore the argument is all about ideology. And he’s wrong in every particular, but that doesn’t stop him from babbling at length.

We question evolution every day. Every evolutionary biologist is testing it continually — that’s his or her job.

We do not regard Darwin as infallible. In fact, there are huge chunks of Darwin’s version of the theory that we know are wrong (pangenesis, for instance).

It’s the job of the Intelligent Design creationists to propose ideas that show merit. They have not. They are not even a serious challenge that might drive new science — they are entirely ideologically driven, trying to find a pseudoscientific rationale. Evolutionary biology has come to the conclusions it has because we’ve been bouncing around tests of the idea for a century and a half, and it has held up well under a barrage of critical thinking and evidence-based testing by people much cleverer than the gang of religious apologists at the Discovery Institute.

Comments

  1. #1 MikeG
    September 29, 2007

    Wait, we’re loud, unlike the gravity defenders… therefore, we’re wrong?

    (Runs over to find the right Doggerel entry…)

    is it arrogant? or is it being defensive?

    Maybe a new suggestion for Bronze Dog…

  2. #2 raven
    September 29, 2007

    My eyes crossed a quarter of the way through and that saved me 2 minutes out of my life.

    With guys like this, just point them to the excellent talkorigins.org and/or PT sites. If they are too lazy to read up on evolution, that is there problem.

    IDist and creos don’t do science. They sit on the sidelines and take potshots at real science. This shows the emptiness of their position, right there.

    The only people who buy creo nonsense do so for religious reasons and they freely admit that most of the time. Xian and Moslem fundamentalists mostly.

  3. #3 RamblinDude
    September 29, 2007

    ZZZZZ…..

  4. #4 Brownian
    September 29, 2007

    Robert’s letter has so many things backward, I had to hold a mirror to it to read it.

    Evolutionists are convinced of the theory because that’s where the evidence leads. ID proponents are convinced that God…well, that’s it. Their theory comes first, and to hell with the evidence.

  5. #5 John Danley
    September 29, 2007

    Ooooooookay. This missive also requires that meth-steroid cocktail you mentioned.

  6. #6 Owlmirror
    September 29, 2007

    Nitpick: There’s a missing right-paren up there, after the words “still monkeys?”.

    Shorter Robert Wood: “I’d rather pontificate on the whys and wherefores of the whichness of what than pick up a damn book on evolution and read it. And I want a personal explanation from an evolutionary biologist on why my pontification is wrong, because otherwise I’m right.”

    There’s a very special sort of dumbness that only the overly-educated can aspire to.

  7. #7 Sheldon
    September 29, 2007

    Robert Wood said:
    “In studying your own writings, I have to conclude that you are unable to contemplate the idea that intelligent design might have merit.”

    Obviously this guy has not asked the most important question: What does ID propose as an alternative to Darwinian evolution?

    “Gosh, gee, (head scratch), I just don’t understand how this could have evolved by means of natural selection.” And thats about all the merit it has, incredulity and ignorance.

  8. #8 Janine
    September 29, 2007

    That letter is so sprawling and pointless, it is turning most of the letterings underneath it blue. Truly a strange letter.

  9. #9 Zeno
    September 29, 2007

    Now the theory of evolution is deemed by the majority of scientists to have the status of scientific truth equivalent to that of quantum mechanics or the theory of relativity.

    So the good Mr. Wood has more trouble with the concept of descent with modification from a common ancestor (a notion amply supported by DNA evidence from surviving species and fossil evidence from many of the extinct ones) than with quantum mechanics or relativity? Would Mr. Wood care to tell us how well he grasps the non-intuitive consequences of quantum theory? Does he understand spacetime metrics and the reason Einstein’s theory requires that the speed of light be a universal speed limit?

    After he gives a cogent defense of quantum mechanics and general relativity, perhaps I’ll listen to his concerns about the reigning synthetic theory of evolution. Perhaps.

  10. #10 Shalini
    September 29, 2007

    Why do kooks just love Comic Sans?

  11. #11 Rembukai
    September 29, 2007

    The answer is simply perfect. I have reading this blog for a log time, now is time to speak.

    It is incredible how outsider people are ignorant about the scientific method… and of course they also don’t know who is Popper and the falsifiability. It is strange, but in Europe, at least in Spain, every school of the country is obligated to teach this milestone principle to the children. Indeed this is quite a important principle in order to understand how science is made.

    But, I think mister PZ Meyer that you can wield whatever theory, fact, proof… whatever you want, to people like this poor devil. You will never make this people understand the theory of evolution and its implications. By the way… why they are always insisting on Darwin? they don’t know what is the new evolutionary synthesis?. In my opinion you shouldn’t waste your time answering stupids letters that are unsubstantiated as they stands. Intellectually speaking you are far away from them.

    I’m going to move from Spain to La Jolla to do my PhD and I am very concerned about how is going all this creationist – ID issue. In my opinion the real problem here was addressed by S.Stent in his book Paradox of Progress. I quote verbatim: “when the virus of uncritical imagination infects a territory of human inquiry to which science can lay claim, the scene became corrupt, a turf for mischief makers”. It was said also by Gould in “Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life”: Science and Religion are different worlds.

    I hope you understand my point, my english is quite poor. I don’t have the literary resources of Robert wood.

  12. #12 CraigF
    September 29, 2007

    “The more the theory is criticised, the more the alternative theory (intelligent design) is attacked.”

    Bearing in mind that intelligent design is a “theory” whose entire basis is supposed gaps in evolution, this is surely hypocritical?

    When intelligent design only has arguments which attack evolution, any defence of evolution obviously also becomes an attack on intelligent design.

    (That’s about as far down as I got… my eyes refused to focus anymore, for the good of my brain.)

  13. #13 George Cauldron
    September 29, 2007

    “commit myself to Darwin”

    This little turn of phrase is an amazingly revealing example of IDers’ total inability to think of science in nonreligious terms — indeed, their unawareness that there’s even any difference between religion and science.

    “Yes, today I have accepted Charles Darwin as my personal savior.” Groan.

  14. #14 Dan
    September 29, 2007

    Oh crap on a cracker, PZ.

    In fact, there are huge chunks of Darwin’s version of the theory that we know are wrong (pangenesis, for instance).

    You just know some poor creationist nit is going to gobble that little phrase up in his or her tireless effort of quote mining.

  15. #15 Bert Chadick
    September 29, 2007

    The only way I can think that Dr. PZ could read that whole load of crap would be that he has trained for years by reading thousands of vapid undergrad papers. I don’t think the average civilian should be expected to read the whole thing without losing consciousness.

  16. #16 PalMD
    September 29, 2007

    I think creationists, because of their own mindset, seem to think that scientists hold some sort of special reverence for individuals rather than ideas.

    While Darwin, Einstein, Bohr, and all the rest have made brilliant contributions, scientists to not view them as inerrant or hold the original ideas of the scientists to be the exact equivalent to some particular modern theory.

    We don’t, for example, regularly speak or “Galileism” or “Copernicism” for obvious reasons.

  17. #17 blf
    September 29, 2007

    Craig (#12) says:

    Bearing in mind that intelligent design is a “theory” whose entire basis is supposed gaps in evolution …

    Eh? I was unawares ID had any basis other than “big nasty bullies in the skies dunit”?

  18. #18 Hank Fox
    September 29, 2007

    I got as far as the phrase “the same kind of confidence and equipoise” and then started lightly skimming, and then stopped even that.

    PZ, I think there should be a quiet little in-house award, call it the Honorary Garbageman Award (maybe Honorary Dustman in Britain) among science bloggers or rationalist writers, for people like you who actually READ stuff like this all the way through. For me, taking out someone else’s bag of sodden, reeking garbage would be a comparative pleasure. Yet you and so many of the other science bloggers apparently handle this stinking, rotting refuse day after day after day.

    Damn.

    I feel a worshipful awe, combined with a massive amount of the exact opposite of envy.

    (And I hereby nominate PZ as the first recipient of the Honorary Garbageman Award, if it turns out there should be such a thing.)

  19. #19 Jon
    September 29, 2007

    Does anyone actually read these e-mails in full?

    Just curious. šŸ™‚

    I usually stop a few sentences in.

  20. #20 CalGeorge
    September 29, 2007

    In studying your own writings, I have to conclude that you are unable to contemplate the idea that intelligent design might have merit.

    Bravo, Robert! Not so clueless after all.

  21. #21 MartinM
    September 29, 2007

    I think creationists, because of their own mindset, seem to think that scientists hold some sort of special reverence for individuals rather than ideas.

    Interestingly, it’s not unique to creationists. I once encountered a fellow who rejected relativity; he had a tendency to refer to his opponents as ‘Einsteinians.’

  22. #22 Mike Fox
    September 29, 2007

    Please close your parenthesis in your first paragraph. šŸ™‚

  23. #23 Damon B.
    September 29, 2007

    Gratuitous Use of Italics meter… overloading… can’t… stand… all the… emphasis…

    *kaboom!*

  24. #24 gingerbaker
    September 29, 2007

    Dear Mr. Robert Wood,

    It is just very difficult for me to follow the socially “hotpoint” controversies that tend to “crop up” in this forum in a genuine discussion of life system “origins” and what some might refer to as “Intelligent Design” supported resolutions to the vast array of (just and ONLY JUST) humanly perceivable questions regarding the “creation to living ecosystems” splay of assertions that have historically (within the past decade or two) been (for understandable reasons up and to about 1959) been accepted as legitimate claims regarding how in the mighty unknown realm (you 20 to 90 and beyond if you are there, year old lovers of your masturbatorial philosphy) you could actually BELIEVE IN THESE RIDICULOUSLY OVERSTATED CLAIMS (UNDISCIPLINED IMAGINATIONS) TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THE STUPIDLY INTERPRETED RESULTS OF POINTED INVESTIGATIONS THAT WERE SET UP FOR THE PURPOSE OF DEMOSTRATING THE VASTLY FAR FRICKING FETCHED PHILOSOPHICAL PREFERENCES OF THE “EXPERT” OVER THE PUBLIC, SELF PROCLAIMED MASTERS OF SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE.

    ( YOU JACKASSES!!!!!!!)!!!!!

  25. #25 Unstable Isotope
    September 29, 2007

    I couldn’t get through the whole thing, but why is it that these doubters expect you personally to explain everything to them. They can’t bother to educate themselves but believe you should spend hours educating them. They truly believe they are privileged, that they should get a college education for free.

  26. #26 SoE
    September 29, 2007

    I barely made it to the third (or fourth?) paragraph…

    I have the satisfaction of confirming it by the manner in which I believe in it.

    I think, no, believe he’s stupid. Oh, it feels soooo good to say this.

    It actually does. Oh shit, maybe I should read the rest, some time, some day… Ah, whatever.

  27. #27 Rystefn
    September 29, 2007

    Meh, anyone with the discipline and drive can get a college education for free. All those textbooks are in the library, you know. Granted, there’s a lot to be said for a good teacher, but reading at the public library is a Hell of a lot more effective than listening to a poor teacher.

  28. #28 cyborgsuzy
    September 29, 2007

    I believe in the ‘theory of gravitation,’ too. The hungrier I am, the more I gravitate towards the donut shop. It’s just a matter of working out the details; is this relationship of hunger to gravitation-to-donuts linear or exponential? I’m thinking the latter, but I’m still tweaking the equation…

  29. #29 Rich
    September 29, 2007

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

    Cheers,
    Rich
    Rational Engineer

  30. #30 Ian H Spedding FCD
    September 29, 2007

    And this is the terrible irony, Eugenie: that the intelligent design theorist can see for himself the furious subjectivity of the ultra-Darwinist in his determination to destroy the reputation and credibility of a scientist who believes in intelligent design; this alerts him to an important fact: the Darwinist is not in control of his belief. His belief is held in place by something that exceeds even his (the evolutionist’s) assumption as to why he wishes to continue to believe in Darwin no matter what.

    …while the proponents of Intelligent Design are driven by a commitment to pure science and entirely free of any other ideological or religious commitment, as exemplified by a statement like this…

    I have plenty of ulterior motives. Ive got plenty of religious motives. I am Christian, I am motivated and want this to succeed in part because of my Christianity. Im not ashamed of that.

    …or this…

    At the end of the Washington Monument rally in September, 1976, I was admitted to the second entering class at Unification Theological Seminary. During the next two years, I took a long prayer walk every evening. I asked God what He wanted me to do with my life, and the answer came not only through my prayers, but also through Father’s many talks to us, and through my studies. Father encouraged us to set our sights high and accomplish great things.

    He also spoke out against the evils in the world; among them, he frequently criticized Darwin’s theory that living things originated without God’s purposeful, creative activity. My studies included modern theologians who took Darwinism for granted and thus saw no room for God’s involvement in nature or history; in the process, they re- interpreted the fall, the incarnation, and even God as products of human imagination.

    Father’s words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism. When Father chose me (along with about a dozen other seminary graduates) to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle.

    …or this…

    Governing Goals

    To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.

    To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.

    …or this…

    The objective (of the wedge strategy) is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism vs. evolution to the existence of God vs. the non-existence of God. From there people are introduced to ‘the truth’ of the Bible and then ‘the question of sin’ and finally ‘introduced to Jesus.’

    Perhaps you should ask Robert Wood if he has written to William Dembski or Jonathan Wells or Phillip Johnson to ask them how they square views such as these with empiricism and scientific objectivity.

  31. #31 Gelf
    September 29, 2007

    I’d like to say this is deja vu, but it appears Wood has actually reconstructed this entire screed from scratch instead. This is the same bogus Wood argument you defied us to read through a few weeks ago, but even longer if such is possible.

    I believe it was Wittgenstein who wrote something like, “whereof one cannot speak, one must therefore write to those who can and demand they defend themselves in the vain hope one will be considered Socratic instead of a simpleton.”

    I’m going to refute Mr. Wood by analogy:

    Dear Eugenie Scott,

    I have never tried to see a soccer game or looked up the rules of soccer, and therefore I am not qualified to take a position on the vigorous debate whether soccer is a sport or an elaborate made-up hoax. I have seen baseball and played tic tac toe, so I believe in those. If someone challenged me about those the way soccer skeptics challenge soccer, I could refer to my own knowledge and experience to refute them.

    Most of the world claims soccer is a sport the same as baseball or basketball. If they were confident in that belief, you would expect them to answer calmly, confidently and persuasively when someone suggests to them, as they exit a soccer stadium, that there is no such thing as soccer. If the truth is on their side such a response should be easy. Instead they say things like “stop following me, you lunatic” and “sorry, I don’t have any spare change.” When I leave a basketball game, we talk about the game, not whether the game existed at all. Nobody ever threatens to call the cops on me after a basketball game. The fact that soccerists do just proves how pathologically defensive and ideologically-driven they are.

    The noted soccerist AYSO has a web page decrying soccer skepticism, and for no better reason than that soccer skeptics have been waging an unremitting campaign to eliminate youth soccer programs and instead teach the controversy over the existence of soccer. If soccer skeptics didn’t have a genuine point, AYSO would not bother opposing them, because certainly no ignorant lie has ever hurt anyone.

    All of this demonstrates a clear mental pathology on the part of soccerists. After having seen soccer games, they no longer have free will to question whether soccer exists. This is not the case with soccer skeptics. They secretly are prepared to imagine that perhaps there really is a game being played in those stadiums of which they are completely ignorant. This gives the skeptics a sense of moderation that makes the shrill “what the hell do you think I’ve been doing for the last few hours” response of a soccerist seem extreme and unreasonable.

    It is this unreasonability that proves soccer skeptics right. People who really believe what they’re saying don’t react that way, and it’s certainly not the way to win an entirely legitimate and in no way fatuous debate.

    Sincerely,
    Robert Wood, local sane and reasonable person.

  32. #32 Abie
    September 29, 2007

    I hope you understand my point, my english is quite poor

    Rembukai, I wish my English was as “poor” as yours…

  33. #33 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 29, 2007

    By the way, the author actually sent this to me pre-formatted in Comic Sans.

    ROTFL!!! You start formatting all kook quotes in Comic Sans, and a few weeks later, the kooks follow! PZ MEIERZ HAZ CRAZEE POWERZ!!eleven! If only I could stop laughing!!!

    My whole larynx apparatus hurts. (Not the jaw joints this time.)

  34. #34 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 29, 2007

    By the way, the author actually sent this to me pre-formatted in Comic Sans.

    ROTFL!!! You start formatting all kook quotes in Comic Sans, and a few weeks later, the kooks follow! PZ MEIERZ HAZ CRAZEE POWERZ!!eleven! If only I could stop laughing!!!

    My whole larynx apparatus hurts. (Not the jaw joints this time.)

  35. #35 Sam
    September 29, 2007

    Yoiks, next time I have insomnia I’ll start reading this again. If you’re going to be a crackpot, at least be an entertaining one…

  36. #36 dorid
    September 29, 2007

    Damn it. What little I could stay awake for DID have a point: Science has to be open minded about these things, and if there’s conflicting evidence be ready to change their understanding of the world. I’m not going to take scientific theory for granted ANY LONGER! From now on, when my alarm clock goes off in the morning I’ll knock it off the nightstand. If it falls DOWN, I know the theory of gravity is still the most valid theory, and that it’s perfectly safe to try to get out of bed.

  37. #37 Dr Benway
    September 29, 2007

    Rembukai: I’m going to move from Spain to La Jolla to do my PhD and I am very concerned about how is going all this creationist – ID issue.

    Don’t worry. You’ll be having too much fun on the beautiful beaches to be bothered with such nonsense.

  38. #38 Ric
    September 29, 2007

    The writer said: “Now let me explain. I believe that 2 plus 2 is 4; I believe in the theory of gravitation; I believe the earth goes around the sun–but should any of these beliefs be questioned, I only have to recall how it is and why it is I believe them to prove the falseness of any theory which would contradict those beliefs.”

    That’s exactly the point. One who holds the theory of evolution to be true can indeed simply recall how and why he believes the theory to be true to prove the falseness of contradictory theories. But since this theory is under ideological attack it needs to be defended. Where gravity under attack it would be defended as vocally.

    This guys logic seems to be essentially that because evolutions defenders actually defend it in the public arena, their belief must be ideologically driven, because we all know that those whose beliefs are not ideologically driven do not ever vocally defend them. (!)

    What kind of screwy logic is that? Oh yeah, it’s creationist logic.

  39. #39 Zeno
    September 29, 2007

    I hope you understand my point, my english is quite poor

    Rembukai, I wish my English was as “poor” as yours…

    Posted by: Abie | September 29, 2007 3:43 PM

    No, no, no, Abie. You meant to say, “I wish my English were as ‘poor’ as yours….” You need the subjunctive.

    Of course, if you had used the subjunctive, then that would have tended to contradict your self-criticism, rendering that statement void. So the sentence would not be true if it were true…

    AAAAAAAuuuuuuuuuggggggggggghhhhhhhhh!

  40. #40 386sx
    September 29, 2007

    Instead they act as if this is an ideological issue in which these supporters of Darwin are defending the honour and reputation and prestige of a theory without regard to a true assessment of its validity considered in the light of a context created by a competing theory (intelligent design).

    You mean the one where Jonathan Wells says that T. rex can’t possibly turn into birdies? That’s all it amounts to, really. Evolution can’t do this, evolution can’t do that, blah blah.

  41. #41 ConcernedJoe
    September 29, 2007

    Magari PZ you done did it! I would never believe I would say this but I now see the wisdom and rightgeousness of the believers’ claims that atheists are an immoral, uncharitiable, and uncaring lot!!

    Your publishing of that letter and suckering us into reading it was cruel and heartless. My headache will probably last for days and it is all your heartless/godless fault!!

    A pox on you and your godless unthinking Darwinist Minions!!

  42. #42 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 29, 2007

    Does anyone actually read these e-mails in full?

    Just curious. šŸ™‚

    Normally I do. Yes, even with Neal’s. But not with this one. It repeats the same point over and over and over and over and over and over… I don’t so much fall asleep as unconscious after a few paragraphs (unlike other kook mail, this one has paragraphs — lots and lots of them!).

    OK. Now, how many Timecubes. 0.2?

  43. #43 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 29, 2007

    Does anyone actually read these e-mails in full?

    Just curious. šŸ™‚

    Normally I do. Yes, even with Neal’s. But not with this one. It repeats the same point over and over and over and over and over and over… I don’t so much fall asleep as unconscious after a few paragraphs (unlike other kook mail, this one has paragraphs — lots and lots of them!).

    OK. Now, how many Timecubes. 0.2?

  44. #44 Richard Harris, FCD
    September 29, 2007

    Rembukai @ #11 You said, “I hope you understand my point, my english is quite poor. I don’t have the literary resources of Robert wood.”

    I had no trouble at all with your English – it was perfectly intelligible. As for Robert Wood, he obviously doesn’t have your scientific resources. Your commment re the education system in Spain – “It is strange, but in Europe, at least in Spain, every school of the country is obligated to teach this milestone principle (Popper and the falsifiability) to the children. Indeed this is quite an important principle in order to understand how science is made.” – is most apposite & instructive.

    Good luck to you in La Jolla.

  45. #45 craig
    September 29, 2007

    “ROTFL!!! You start formatting all kook quotes in Comic Sans, and a few weeks later, the kooks follow! PZ MEIERZ HAZ CRAZEE POWERZ!!eleven! If only I could stop laughing!!!”

    Ooooh! Nifty idea! Instead of disemvoweling trolls, comic sansify them!

  46. #46 James Stein
    September 29, 2007

    Isn’t this *precisely* the same Robert Wood that sent you an equally long and inspid email arguing that Evolution is wrong because biologists get angry?

  47. #47 Dahan
    September 29, 2007

    “I believe the earth goes around the sun”

    Well, that’s a start. He’s accepted a proposition put forth by Aristarchus of Samos a mere 2300 years ago… AaaagggHHHhhh! What the hell is wrong with these people?!

  48. #48 don Smith, FCD
    September 29, 2007

    Zeno,

    Maybe you should have said “had you used” instead of “if you had used”.

    HTH,
    The Subjunctive Junky (subjunky?)

  49. #49 Don Smith, FCD
    September 29, 2007

    I think there is one further hurdle in trying to educate such people in that education itself is a sin. It says so right there in the Garden of Eden story. Eating from thr tree of knowledge got “us” kicked out of paradise. Therefore remaining ignorant is staying holy, just the way religion requires it to be.

  50. #50 Infophile
    September 29, 2007

    PZ, I have to ask: Do you ever wonder if some of readers get such a kick out of these e-mails that they make up their own stupidity to send to you under a pseudonym in hopes of showing up on your blog? Some of these letters do such a good job of looking ridiculous that you have to wonder, and it being pre-formatted in Comic Sans makes you think.

  51. #51 Unstable Isotope
    September 29, 2007

    LOL at Gelf! That was brilliant!

  52. #52 Lynn David
    September 29, 2007

    Idiot!

    Did I make the 500,000th?

  53. #53 Dennis
    September 29, 2007

    I wonder if these guys come back to the site to read the comments? I don’t think so because they would naturally assume you would censor them, of course because you/we are dogmatic Darwinists. Of course ridicule is hard to take for anyone, he would not get beyond the first few.

    The only appropriate responce to his long and distorted argument is a short statistic (google search only) of scientific papers that support evolution vs papers supporting ID.

  54. #54 Fernando Magyar
    September 29, 2007

    It’s sad enough that the science section of my local Barnes and Noble is probably the smallest section in the entire bookstore.

    To make it worse, it seems someone who is just as confused in his thinking as Robert Wood, makes the decision to place books like “The Edge of Evolution” by Michael Behe on the same shelf as The Complete Works of Charles Darwin.

    I know this issue has been addressed on other posts but WTF is wrong with the folks at Barnes and Noble. I was having a good day until I went there this afternoonand saw that. Argh!

    Would it be ethical to print cards stating that this book is not science but rather religion and just slip them in the book jacket and maybe include Pharygula’s or Panda’s Thumb’s urls?

    BTW I went up to the front desk and mentioned this to the nice lady behind the register and she said she would let someone know, somehow I bet it will still be in the same exact place next time I go there.

  55. #55 windy
    September 29, 2007

    What makes Bobby boy think that he’s on a first name basis with Dr. Scott?

  56. #56 k
    September 29, 2007

    Too much verbal diarrhea for me. If you read it, you’re a well of patience.

  57. #57 Axolotl
    September 29, 2007

    This has been pointed out many times before but here we go again …

    All of this person’s comments about the “emotional” reaction of supporters of evolution against Intelligent Design more accurately describe the typical reactions of ID-ers and other theists to the theory of evolution (not to mention their reaction to anyone who dares criticize their pet religious fantasy). I think there is a technical term for this … “transferance” … or something like that.

  58. #58 dwarf zebu
    September 29, 2007

    is it arrogant? or is it being defensive?

    It’s projection, pure and simple.

  59. #59 sailor
    September 29, 2007

    gingerbaker (#24), that is pretty cool, you have written a computer program to turn out crationist style craptrap and ADD THE UPPER CASE). You feed in the offending letter and then let it put out a meaningless reply in the same style… What a time saver!

  60. #60 VJB
    September 29, 2007

    Comic sans is fine, but I would recommend a font called ‘Marigold’, which is entirely unreadable for extended text (it’s a display font). But I doubt most computers would have it installed. Just exasperation at trying to slog through the verbiage above.

  61. #61 CraigF
    September 29, 2007

    blf(#17):

    Craig (#12) says:

    Bearing in mind that intelligent design is a “theory” whose entire basis is supposed gaps in evolution …

    Eh? I was unawares ID had any basis other than “big nasty bullies in the skies dunit”?

    Well, duh. Nasty sky bullies LIVE in those gaps. That’s just science, innit?

  62. #62 Rey Fox
    September 29, 2007

    Like many others, I gave up about halfway. Does this guy seriously think he has a point? Funny how these folks are happy to drone on and on and on about evolution’s defenders supposedly being ideologically driven and too emotional and yada yada while at the same time failing to debate the issue on the facts for even a single word. I might as well say that ID proponents must be wrong because they’re insufferably pompous and attentive to these stupid meta-issues.

  63. #63 rhian
    September 29, 2007

    How is that PZ is “Professor Myers” but Dr. Scott gets only “Eugenie”?

    Rembukai: A preemptive welcome to La Jolla! You’ll love it here. Maybe we’ll be classmates.

  64. #64 Monado
    September 29, 2007

    I thought that Gingerbaker was quoting the beginning of Neal’s letter from the other day. It certainly sounded familiar.

    Gelf, thanks for the analogy–it’s perfect. Now I don’t have to bang my head on the keyboard and yell, “You’ve got it exactly bass-ackward, you moron!” to R. Wood.

  65. #65 fontor
    September 29, 2007

    Oh boy! More training material for the Wood Generator v2.0!

    Here’s the output:

    I am secretly terrified by the theory of evolution. Now let me explain. I believe in evolution and who are practicing scientists) they are. And this is absurd. Darwin’s theory comparable in its accordance with physical reality as other scientific theories are. And this is absurd. Darwin’s theory comparable in its accordance with physical reality as other scientific theories are. And so, what does that mean? It means that to believe in it. The issue never touches me personally; therefore I take refuge in the opposition to that belief. And so, the Darwinist can’t help himself. The intelligent design is a fact.

    Makes more sense, no?

  66. #66 Marcus Ranum
    September 29, 2007

    You can dress religious idiots up, but they’re still idiots.

    What’s annoying is that the guy obviously thinks he’s smart and clever and making a sophisticated argument. This is what happens when rational people try to argue with the faithful instead of laughing at them: they think they actually have a point. We shouldn’t encourage this kind of silliness. They understand ridicule much better than reason.

  67. #67 Melanie S.
    September 29, 2007

    Well, if someone questions gravitation or 2+2=4, they usually are uninformed, so going back to principles is easy…it’s the first time they’ve heard it. Evolution is pretty much the only theory I can think of in which large numbers of people are educated in the facts and still choose to reject it. So there’s no point in going back to basics at all.

  68. #68 Nutmeg
    September 29, 2007

    Windy, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Obviously, he’s just an idiot and his “arguments” aren’t even really that (and honestly I felt like I was watching my dog chase his tail)… but I have a real problem here. If Eugenie Scott were a man, would this person continually refer to a man with his first name in such an obviously condescending manner? Maybe… but probably not.

  69. #69 Owlfarmer
    September 29, 2007

    In the protesting too much department: it seems to me that those who deal in belief show off their uncertainty about certainty when they invest so much energy in evolutionary theory. Darwin questioned the literal interpretation of scripture, so these guys have to point out his error by masking ideology as rational inquiry. If Darwin is right, they have to rethink their entire belief system (if thinking is really how they arrived at it in the first place). Big stakes require noisy defenses, apparently. If they understood the nature of metaphor better, they’d get a lot more out of their scriptures, and might even be able to marvel in the metaphorical potential of evolution.

  70. #70 Dan
    September 29, 2007

    Does anyone actually read these e-mails in full?

    Just curious. šŸ™‚

    I usually stop a few sentences in.

    Posted by: Jon

    I only read Neal’s rants in full. There’s a certain entertaining quality to them.

  71. #71 kristen in montreal
    September 30, 2007

    couldn’t read it. too stupid.

  72. #72 Leigh
    September 30, 2007

    Gelf, we need an award for “best satire completely deflating a pompous idiot’s tedious and tendentious screed”. We can call it the Gelfie.

    Isn’t there a charity someplace that sends free copies of “The Elements of Style” to these poor people? Like the Gideons, only rational. Well, perhaps not, but maybe we should start one.

  73. #73 tourettist
    September 30, 2007

    I was disappointed. Email rants are not what they used to be.

  74. #74 dogheaven
    September 30, 2007

    Thought I would just drop in here at Pharyngula for a moment before retiring. I had not expected to run into this thread and not be able to stop laughing. Fontor (#63) put me into an almost painful lauging jag.
    This was the funniest thing I have read in a long time.

    But on a bummer note, I will have to give up my private preference for Comic Sans.

    Thank you all for this fun.

  75. #75 Ick of the East
    September 30, 2007

    I think it’s time for PZ to get on the best-selling Atheist bandwagon.
    Just take a good sampling of your mail, which you know the majority of Americans would agree with, and shoot the arguments down.
    Be sure to use lots of pictures, labeled in Comic Sans.

    Letters from an Un-Evolved Nation
    (or Why Dr. Dino is in Prison and I’m Not)

  76. #76 markp
    September 30, 2007

    Infophile–

    unfortunately Comic Sans is alive and well, this letter is clearly genuine (and is painful enough to read, it would take incredible patience to actually fake one of these)

  77. #77 Hank
    September 30, 2007

    No charity needed, just hand them this link.

  78. #78 Hank
    September 30, 2007

    I gave it a try, but the rambling never ceases.

  79. #79 Rembukai
    September 30, 2007

    Thanks a lot for being so nice Rhian #61. However I’m moving to La Jolla next fall (2008) not this one. I have to finish first some projects in Spain and publish some papers. Here in Spain, I’m in the third year of the PhD but I want to make a fresh start in La Jolla. Here my study field is phylogenetics and evolutionary genetics. In La Jolla my intention is to work with McGuinis: Hox genes. I’m interesting in studying how the brain develops ontogenicaly and evolutionary by using this gene cluster.

    I have one question: Why PZ Meyers doesn’t take part in any of the debates?… I think that is because his limited time.

    By the way, it seems to me that maybe this never-end struggle has its root in the different philosophical approach to science of both sides. In my opinion, Creationists and more over their spearhead (I.D.) have a positivism view of science like it was formulated by Hume, in the sense that the methods of empirical science are the only means by which the world can be understood (one of the main critics of Behe is that the evolutionary theory can not be proved… in a positivist context this could be true).

    Notwithstanding, indeterministic science (Stochastical science) is based in a structuralist approach of science (specifically in the structuralism formulation of Kant). Before Darwin, the structuralism and even more Kant were neglected by the scientists, however, after the Darwinian revolution (and even more the actual knowledge of evolutionary theory) it was clear that knowledge about the world can enter our mind only through experience is valid if we consider only the ontogenic development of man, from fertilized egg to adult. but once we take into account also the phylogenetic development of the human brain through evolutionary history, it becomes clear that individuals can also know something of the world innately, prior to and independent of their own experience (this foregoing assumption is indeed the principle of structuralims). In other words: the Kantian notion of a priori knowledge is not plausible at all, but fully constant with present mainstream evolutionary thoughts.

    To conclude: the Darwinian and more precise the evolutionary explanation of the origin and development of live can be readily advanced for Bohr’s epistemological discovery that the enormous enlargement of the scope of science brought about by the twentieth century physics was achieve only at the price of denaturing the intuitive meaning of some of its basic concepts with which man starts out in his quest for understanding nature. And because of this phenomenon, the real philosophical implications of the principle of evolution (more than a theory je je je), and also the completely understanding of this principle, are incomprehensible to those people lacking of knowledge in this deep and difficult theory. Despite this assumption, I can’t understand why people like Behe, with a PhD, and with some knowledge in this issue can said such stupid things.

    Indeed this is a very deep issue where it could said almost everything.I hope my thesis is well understand for of all you. What do you think about this?

  80. #80 blf
    September 30, 2007

    Craig (#59), with tongue firmly in cheek, proposes:

    Nasty sky bullies LIVE in those gaps. That’s just science, innit?

    Ah, I gettit! When a fossil’s found fitting in a supposed gap, creating two more gaps, we gets another nasty sky bully! That’s how sky bullies multiply!

    Or divide? As into two when a fossil is plunked down in the middle of its home?

  81. #81 bernarda
    September 30, 2007

    One of the Republican candidates that raised his hand when asked if he didn’t believe in evilution is a rather strange xian conservative. I sometimes wonder if he isn’t a closet doubter.

    “I’ve been to Israel nine times. I’ve spoken in synagogues. You’ll find no one who’s more respectful, and I think mindful, of the fact that though I have deep spiritual convictions, I’ve also gone on national television and said that it doesn’t bother me so much if a person says he’s an atheist, it bothers me when a person says he’s a Christian but refuses to live like one. That bothers me a great deal more because I was asked about – I think it was, which congressman in California that –

    DIONNE: Pete Stark?

    HUCKABEE: Yes, Pete Stark said, “Yes, I’m an atheist,” and I was asked, “How does it make you feel? Do you think he ought to be out of Congress?” I think they thought I was going to jump all over it, but I said, “He’s honest; I can handle his honesty. It’s the dishonesty of a person who says he’s a Christian but hates people and is filled with bigotry and prejudice that bothers me a whole lot more than a person who says, he’s an atheist.”

    ADELLE BANKS, RELIGION NEWS SERVICE: You questioned some candidates who distanced themselves from talking about faith, so I’m wondering where you think the line should be drawn between what’s acceptable to talk about and what’s a personal and private matter.

    HUCKABEE: Well, I think when asked a question, we should give an honest answer. It’s not so much that we ought to go around making that the focal point of a speech, but when someone asks me, I shouldn’t run from it and say, oh no, I don’t talk about those things. That’s where I think it becomes – The important issue, Adelle, is simply a matter of candor, and if nobody brings it up I don’t necessarily think a candidate has to bring it up. But if a candidate is specifically asked about faith and then he acts like that’s sort of an item on the shelf that we don’t bring out in the public, then I’m concerned. I don’t mind candidates being asked, What’s your favorite football team, or What’s your favorite dessert? I don’t know whether it matters whether one is a president who likes one over another, but it may just be a part of understanding that person’s personality, what makes that person tick and what drives them.

    When a person says he has a faith but then says it doesn’t affect him – I mean, on its face – that should be problematic to all of us because by nature, faith is something that goes to the inner soul of who we are. So it’d be better to say, I really don’t have a faith, so therefore, I’m not judged by it and faith doesn’t influence me. That, to me, makes perfect sense. I’m a logical person, basically. I spent years debating in high school and college, and one of the things I always think to do is always follow something to its logical conclusion. So if a person says, “My faith doesn’t impact me,” I have to logically conclude that the person’s faith isn’t very real. And that’s why I say about the Pete Stark question – Pete Stark says faith doesn’t influence him because he doesn’t have one. I can understand that; that makes logical sense. But a person who says, “Faith is very important to me, it is so valuable, oh, it’s just – you know, the public – I love God so much,” but then you ask, “Well, how does it affect you?” and the response is,
    “Oh, it doesn’t.” There’s a disconnect there for me. ”

    http://pewforum.org/events/?EventID=150

    This part “I’m a logical person, basically. I spent years debating in high school and college, and one of the things I always think to do is always follow something to its logical conclusion.” seems to be a dangerous road to follow for a xian.

  82. #82 CraigF
    September 30, 2007

    blf(#78) says:

    Ah, I gettit! When a fossil’s found fitting in a supposed gap, creating two more gaps, we gets another nasty sky bully! That’s how sky bullies multiply!

    Or divide? As into two when a fossil is plunked down in the middle of its home?

    Well, clearly the sky bully divides when the fossil arrives (which it probably put there in the first place), but sky bullies can never be smaller. Only bigger. It’s scientific fact.

    There’s no evidence – but it’s scientific fact.

  83. #83 DrFrank
    September 30, 2007

    There’s no evidence – but it’s scientific fact.
    CraigF, was that a slightly obscure reference to the Brass Eye or just pareidolia on my part? šŸ˜‰

  84. #84 hoary puccoon
    September 30, 2007

    I couldn’t get all the way through Robert Wood’s letter (I tried, honestly I did) but his sole point seems to be that the theory of evolution must be in trouble because “the supporters of Darwin” get angry when people question them.

    But wait! There are 80 responses above, and nobody sounds angry. They’re all having a good laugh. So that should be the positive proof Robert Woods demands that the theory of evolution isn’t in trouble at all.

    So, now he’s going to admit he’s wrong and retract his letter, right?

    Uh, right…?

  85. #85 BaldApe
    September 30, 2007

    I’m sorry, I tried. I really tried, but I just couldn’t read the whole thing. I almost suffered a BS overdose.

  86. #86 PuckishOne
    September 30, 2007

    Perhaps this will reassure Rembukai somewhat: Even as a non-scientist, I know enough about the application of the scientific method to run screaming in the other direction every time I see or hear the word “theory” applied to ID. So it goes without saying that I didn’t even get out of the blue text on this one. (sigh) As for the copious application of Comic Sans, I think we should all be grateful they haven’t discovered Viner Hand or Mistral. šŸ™‚

  87. #87 David Marjanovi?
    September 30, 2007

    (more than a theory je je je)

    Good that I’ve seen a few Spanish comics, so I understand that you mean “heh heh”. Only Spanish spells that with j. You’re going to be misunderstood.

    On the other hand, I have no idea how this is pronounced:

    AaaagggHHHhhh!

  88. #88 David Marjanovi?
    September 30, 2007

    (more than a theory je je je)

    Good that I’ve seen a few Spanish comics, so I understand that you mean “heh heh”. Only Spanish spells that with j. You’re going to be misunderstood.

    On the other hand, I have no idea how this is pronounced:

    AaaagggHHHhhh!

  89. #89 American Scot
    September 30, 2007

    Huh? What exactly was Robert trying to say? He lost me at I am willing…I knew then it was all bullshit!

  90. #90 clamboy
    September 30, 2007

    HEY, DAN!! COMMENT #14!!

    Your version may be what is originally quotemined, but I will bet you dollars for doughnuts (or a bottle of Dembski’s scotch) that it will eventually morph into:

    EVOLUTIONISTS ON EVOLUTION

    #726. PZ MEIRS (fundamentalist athiest, cephalo-sexual) – “There are huge chunks of the theory [of evolution] that we know (emphasis in the original) are wrong.”

  91. #91 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 30, 2007

    Oh yeah, here’s what I forgot to put in:

    Evolution is pretty much the only theory I can think of in which large numbers of people are educated in the facts and still choose to reject it.

    Not one of them is educated in the facts to any meaningful extent. Not one. Not even Behe. What are you willing to bet?

  92. #92 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 30, 2007

    Oh yeah, here’s what I forgot to put in:

    Evolution is pretty much the only theory I can think of in which large numbers of people are educated in the facts and still choose to reject it.

    Not one of them is educated in the facts to any meaningful extent. Not one. Not even Behe. What are you willing to bet?

  93. #93 robhoofd
    September 30, 2007

    “… commit my self to Darwin.”

    Praise be Darwin!

  94. #94 uncle frogy
    September 30, 2007

    Well, what does this mean or indicate about the “debate”

    >> It means that to believe in intelligent design is a personal choice, fully under the control of the individual scientist.< < And this is the terrible irony, Eugenie: that the intelligent design theorist can see for himself the furious subjectivity of the ultra-Darwinist in his determination to destroy the reputation and credibility of a scientist who believes in intelligent design; this alerts him to an important fact: > the Darwinist is not in control of his belief. His belief >is held in place by something that exceeds even his (the >evolutionist’s) assumption as to why he wishes to continue >to believe in Darwin no matter what. ><< "Belief" in evolution is not a personal choice. I do not have any control of what is reality by belief. the facts speak for themselves we do not have perfect knowledge of everything in the past and more details will certainly be discovered but reality is in no way in my control. It requires no belief on my part what so ever. My understanding of reality does effect my personal decisions. The better I understand what reality is and how "it works" the better am able to make successful decisions. Regardless of the contribution to my life that the pure joy of the experience of reality and the wonder at all the details bring.

  95. #95 uncle frogy
    September 30, 2007

    Well, what does this mean or indicate about the “debate”

    >> It means that to believe in intelligent design is a personal choice, fully under the control of the individual scientist.< < And this is the terrible irony, Eugenie: that the intelligent design theorist can see for himself the furious subjectivity of the ultra-Darwinist in his determination to destroy the reputation and credibility of a scientist who believes in intelligent design; this alerts him to an important fact: > the Darwinist is not in control of his belief. His belief >is held in place by something that exceeds even his (the >evolutionist’s) assumption as to why he wishes to continue >to believe in Darwin no matter what. ><< "Belief" in evolution is not a personal choice. I do not have any control of what is reality by belief. the facts speak for themselves we do not have perfect knowledge of everything in the past and more details will certainly be discovered but reality is in no way in my control. It requires no belief on my part what so ever. My understanding of reality does effect my personal decisions. The better I understand what reality is and how "it works" the better am able to make successful decisions. Regardless of the contribution to my life that the pure joy of the experience of reality and the wonder at all the details bring.

  96. #96 Stagyar zil Doggo
    September 30, 2007

    Gelf @31: That was excellent satire. LOL! My favorite line:

    Instead they say things like “stop following me, you lunatic” and “sorry, I don’t have any spare change.”

    However. I skipped over Robert’s drivel after the first two sentences the first time around. Your satire forced me to read more of it (I got through about four paragraphs this time) just to be sure that I wasn’t missing any of the finer nuances. You owe me some asprins.

  97. #97 CraigF
    September 30, 2007

    DrFrank says:

    CraigF, was that a slightly obscure reference to the Brass Eye or just pareidolia on my part? šŸ˜‰

    It was indeed an obscure reference. Dr Fox uttering those words says more about the public’s perception of science than anything I’ve seen. And it’s bloody hilarious to boot.

  98. #98 Azkyroth
    September 30, 2007

    Dear Professor Myers: If you can refute this argument, I will commit myself

    Mr. Woods, no offense, but I think you’d better not wait… šŸ˜›

  99. #99 hoary puccoon
    September 30, 2007

    Gelf #31,

    I liked it, too. Of course, most of the world’s population doesn’t believe in soccer– only football, which they believe is exactly the same game.

  100. #100 woozy
    September 30, 2007

    So is no-one going to address the question this e-mailer asked. (Even though it was preposteriously long winded blather, I quit reading after four paragraphs, and nothing we haven’t heard a million times). Here is my straight answer, responding at non-ironic face value. I’m not any more educated in biological science than the email so let me know if I’m way off base.

    First I think his letter and specific question needs to be edited down to be clear.
    ===
    Dear Anybody who will listen.,

    I am willing to be convinced of the truth of the theory of evolution. However, as a non-scientist, I can’t help but make one important observation concerning the respective disputants.

    Those scientists who believe in evolution and who are strongly opposed to the idea of intelligent design, give the impression of being incapable of doubting the validity of the theory of evolution. Now let me explain. I believe that 2 plus 2 is 4; I believe in the theory of gravitation; I believe the earth goes around the sun. Should any of these beliefs be questioned, I only have to recall how it is and why it is I believe them to prove the falseness of any contradictory statements. In other words, I have the satisfaction of confirming it by the methods through which I came to believe it.

    But, when evolution is questioned do the same? In many cases they do not. Instead they act as if this is an ideological issue in which these supporters of Darwin are defending the honour and reputation and prestige of a theory without regard to a true assessment of its validity considered in the light of a context created by a competing theory (intelligent design).

    ====
    Okay, I took liberty with his post and wording to make the question legitimate.

    Now my response

    ==== response via woozy ========

    I’ll start by addressing you comment that were someone to question helio-centrism or theory of gravity, you would review the reasons you have for believing as you do. I dare say, I doubt you’ve actually been in a situation where someone has seriously question helio-centrism or gravity and you were expected to respond. I never have. Every single reasonable person I’ve ever known also accepts helio-centrism and gravity. When I *do* meet a person who doubts either of these, which has happened a few times, the person has always been a whacko and not interested in being convinced otherwise and and discussion would be fruitless. The whacko clearly is as familiar with helio-centrism and gravity as I am but has purposely rejected it for an irrational belief.
    Of course, your comment was a hypothetical situation of evaluating and debating scientific ideas, whereas my comment is practical advice on how to avoid weirdos at parties. This is to explain why scientists may appear dismissive to creationists, Intelligent Designers, proponents of extraterrestrial intervention. The theories of evolution and advancements and experiments and observation of the last few hundred years has established evolution to be as factual as helio-centrism and gravity. Thus pretty much the only opponents are nearly always the equivalent of the whackos at parties and there is simply no point in engaging with them.
    Now that we’ve gotten that unpleasantness out of the way I will address your fundimental question which I take as: What are the reasons biologists believe in evolution and what are the merits and weaknesses of intelligent design. This is a fair question.
    To begin with you toss about terms “the theory of evolution” and “Darwinism” as synonymous and the term “Intelligent Design” as contrary to both. A bit of clarification is in order.
    The is no one “Theory of Evolution”. The idea of Evolution, that animal species change over time and evolve into other species, has been around for centuries. The theory of “Natural Selection of Beneficial Adaptions” (no-one, except creationists, use the term “Darwinism”) attempts to explain the method of species change via “Natural Selection”.
    It’s important to realize “Intelligent Design”, despite its support by creationists and despite it’s critiques by proponents of “Natural Selection”, is not creationism. It is a theory of evolution. It accepts that animal species change over time and evolve into other species, that the earth is billions of years old and has gone through several stages of life including three and a half billion years of single cell life and less than half a billion years of multi-cellular life. Where “Intelligent Design” disagrees with “Natural Selection” is its attempt to explain the mechanics of these change.
    To catagorize these ideas there are two “theories” to consider: Evolution and non-evolution (most popularly expressed by creationism. With Evolution there are two viewpoints to consider. Evolution via natural selection of beneficial adaptations, and Evolution via intelligent design.
    First why believe in Evolution over non-evolution: The reasons are basic and numerous. Fossil evedince, Biological structural similarity, molecular biology parelleling morphologhy paralleling geographic disparity, isolated popularities, etc. all support evolution. Any biological textbook or any amateur exposition on evolution or the web-site talkOrigins can give a convincing overview.
    It’s a bit harder to dismiss non-evolution with the appearance of fairness because there doesn’t seem to be actually be any countrary theory, merely a refusal to believe evolution. The most popular non-evolution hypothesis is creationism, which believes the world is less than 10,000 years old and was created by God in a week as described in Genesis. The counter reason not to believe this is simply that all physical evidence contradicts this absolutely and completely.
    There are other non-evolutionary hypothesis, that fit a more accurate geological life time line. (Earth is 4 billion years old; 3 billion years of single cellular; cambrian explosion; age of dinosaurs; etc. etc) These postulate that species arose and did not evolve into other forms. The trouble is none of these provide any explanations or compelling reasons.
    If we accept evolution, we can discuss “natural selection” vs. “Intelligent Design”.
    Natural Selection: Natural selection is the idea that individuals of a species might have minute changes within a generation. Darwin had no means to understand what these changes were or how they occured but we have since determined these are discrete genetic mutations. Some minor changes or “adaptations” would prove very slightly advantages to certain environment. In the struggle with other individuals to reproduce, the individuals with “beneficial adaptations” would reproduce and pass on the adaptations. Over time and generations the adaptations will “win out” over individuals without. Over period of time (or sooner) the continual adaptations and environmental pressures will lead to evolutionary change and over eons of time this leads to divergent species.
    The reasons to believe this are many. It’s a “common sense” explanation that explains much we see. The predictions of species diversity and distributions support it. Predictable observations about divergent species and geographical seperation have been confirmed. Labratory experiments at the bacterial level have verified and replicated it, and at the fruitfly level have confirmed and replicated the nature of spreading traits. Read any book on evolution, (why not the original “Origin of Species” by Darwin) or the TalkOrigins site for an over view.
    “Intelligent Design”: Intelligent Design is the believe that there are organisms that display characteristics that are too complicated or interconnected with other traits that it is mathematically possible to show the organism could not have developed the traits via the mechanics of “natural selection”. The two most popular examples are the “propeller” fellagium of some bacteria or another, and something about the malaria virus. I’m not being facetious about this, I really can’t remember the specifics.
    The second biggest weakness of the Intelligent Design model is that it doesn’t provide any alternative explanation. At best it attempts to display weakness in the current theory and ask questions that future biologist will have to answer. If we were to accept Intelligent Design for legitimate scientific, rather than political, reasons we’d still have no complete explanations for the mechanics of evolution. Natural Selection would still be adequate for the vast majority of observed evolution but these two examples are two anomalies. This would be akin to physics in the last decades of the nineteenth century when observed speed of light was inconsistant and energy mechanics seemed to have a “leak” in high energy situations. (i.e. we were observing results of relativity and quantuum mechanics which were inexplicable prior to the development of the theory of relativity and quantuum mechanics) It’d be dishonest to call Maxwell equations a “theory” because it was an inexplicable observation with no alternative explanation. Similarly if we accept the irreducibility of the propeller fallegium and the maleria virus, this can’t be called a theory because it is only an inexplicable obseration.
    Note I said “if“. The biggest weakness with Intelligent Design and irreduciable complexity, is that all observences are discrediable. The propeller fallegium and the maleria virus have been demonstrated to explicable through the mechanics of Natural Selection. I’m not a biologist so I have no way of personally evoluating the complexity of either to determine whether they are or are not “reduciable”. However they’ve been well researched so a Google search should yield information.
    There are other reasons at the ad hominem and political reason to reject “Intelligent Design” (Its inventor became a biologist with a specific result {to prove the existence of God} in mind, a scientific no-no; it’s proponents are politicians with no training and remedial understanding at best, another scientific no-no as scientific results are neither discovered nor believed for political reasons; etc.)
    However, it is enough for me to accept the current theory of Natural Selection and reject an alternate of Intelligent Design, because:
    a) Natural Selection has been verified and substantiated.
    b) Natural Selection fits the evidence.
    c) Intelligent Design offers no alternative explanation but is an example of possible exceptions to Natural Selection.
    d) As exceptions the examples of Intelligent Design are not convincing in and of themselves.
    e) The examples have been demonstrated to be invalid as exceptions.

    Those are my scientific reasons for accepting Natural Selection and rejecting Intelligent Design. It goes further though. Intelligent Design is so weak that it barely deserves recognition. Intelligent Design is backed and pushed forward by Creationist and Anti-evolutionaries who have a centuries-long history of rejecting firmly established and long verified and proven and proven again and irrefutiable scientific fact solely on the basis of political and superstitious beliefs that defy any rational scrutiny (not to mention actual evidence). For those reasons, I tend to view IDers as the whackos at parties who tell you that they don’t believe in gravity or heliocentrism.

    Does that address your observation?

    ==== end of woozy’s woozy response===
    Thanks all for humoring me. I believe we don’t have any obligation to address every whacko theory addressed to us. nor do we have any obligation to defend our beliefs to any one who asks. But I *do* believe we have an obligation to critique and evaluate our ideas to ourselves.

    The above is why I, someone without adequate biological training, reject Intelligent Design and why I don’t believe it is an ideological belief I’m incapible of doubting.

  101. #101 Matt
    September 30, 2007

    I didn’t even make it 1/4 of the way through before my brain turned to jelly and I started hallucinating. How do you read all of the inane garbage in your inbox?

    Matt

  102. #102 Matt
    September 30, 2007

    Malaria is caused by the protozoan parasite Plasmodium falciparum, not a virus. Otherwise, your post is quite good at answering the basic questions.

  103. #103 tigtog
    September 30, 2007

    #53 and #61 note that Bobby-boy doesn’t have the courtesy to address Dr Scott with her full academic title even though he extends the courtesy to Professor Myers.

    No doubt he comes from one of the Paulinist sects where women can’t teach or have any authority over men, therefore he can’t bring himself to address a woman as “Dr”.

  104. #104 melior
    September 30, 2007

    I too faltered before finishing, but I think I got the gist.

    1) Gravity makes sense, because I can understand the explanation despite the little scientific education I have had.
    2) Evolution and natural selection are perplexing, because I have not yet bothered to acquire sufficient learning in order to understand them.
    3) When I’m stuck like this, I fall back on “What do smart people think about it?”
    4) I then choose the explanation by the first person I encounter who claims to be smart and can distill it down into terms simple enough to make sense to me.
    5) I commit to worshipping that person.
    6) You people say you’re smart, but I don’t understand it even after you explain it.
    7) Besides, the guy I’m already worshipping says you are poopyheads.

  105. #105 Stegve
    September 30, 2007

    …he’s wrong in every particular, but that doesn’t stop him from babbling at length.

    He’s wrong, yes, but at least he writes better than the typical wingnut who sends this stuff.

  106. #106 Ron Sullivan
    October 1, 2007

    I Blame the Patriarchy not only for this presumptious dunderhead’s addressing Eugenie Scott by her first name without, it’s safe to say, having been properly introduced, but also for his apparent belief that she owes him her time and effort to formulate an explanation for what he weirdly perceives to be a problem. Were I in a real blamin’ mood, I’d venture the suspicion that he sent a copy of his verbal sleeping potion to PZ Myers mostly to make sure he got a rational reply from a real person.

    “Real” here is pronounced “male.”

    Then again, I am on record as liking the Comic Sans font, so maybe li’l Robert and I are kindddddddrkindrkindkindkindedehdeh Oy, I can’t even write it. Some correlations really are spurious. All else aside, I couldn’t possibly type that stuffy mess, in whatever font.

  107. #107 Ron Sullivan
    October 1, 2007

    Oh. And this:

    I mean as a final explanation for the origin and variety of species.

    betrays, as much as the offer to commit to Darwin, a basic misunderstanding of what science is about.

  108. #108 Parse
    October 1, 2007

    Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m convinced by the argument by italics. </sarcasm>

    Does anyone else read this and think, “Wow, this would be perfect to help seed a creationist Markov Chain”?

  109. #109 fontor
    October 1, 2007

    Psst… Parse:

    Way ahead of you.

    Comment 63.

  110. #110 hoary puccoon
    October 1, 2007

    woozy,
    Nice post. Probably a lot of work for nothing re Robert Wood. But nice post, anyway. Maybe you should save it to use with people who have slightly less imbalanced brain chemistry.

  111. #111 woozy
    October 1, 2007

    Ugh. A nasty bout of insomnia and I’ve found myself reading past paragraph 4.

    I now feel I must retract my entire comment #95.

    His initial premise is that faith-like belief yields an inability to question and self-defensive reaction. This is interesting and applies well to creationists, as well as to Bush’s foreign policy.

    He comments he’s observed it among evolutionists. This is okay; we all have our impressions.

    This was where I quit reading and had he quit writing there it would have been a fair letter. Ugh!!!

    From here on he goes on and on about his impression the evolutionists have the faith like belief. He takes it as an absolute and undeniable given that all evolutionists display this reactive defensive behavior. The rest of the letter is a persuasion for us to observe and recognize that this behavior could be an indication of our internal doubt.

    How can one possibly respond to this? Quite simply I, personally, have never observed this behavior among biologists.

    ======

    Evolutionist: species evolve through natural selection.
    Robert Wood (in psycho-therapist mode): Whom are you trying to convince? Me or yourself?
    Evolutionist: Whomever is interested in the origin of species? The mechanics are straightforword and easily illustrated by many examples in nature, the fossil record, and the lab.
    Robert Wood: You’re being awfully defensive. Have you ever considered your passion is trying to hide your own doubts?
    Evolutionist: What passion? I’m simply laying out all the evidence.
    Robert Wood: Well, now you are just being hysterical!

    ======
    Actually I have noticed “faith like” reaction much more frequently among physicists and mathematicians than amon biologists. I assume this is mainly due to impatience with the extreme number of whackos physics and math attract. Also compounded with the amount of effort involved in laying a out the basis makes addressing issues not worth the trouble. But I digress. I’ve never noticed this faith-like behavior in biologists, and in fact Evolution by Natural Selection has one of the easiest to grasp and common sensical premises of any science I have ever known.

    Robert Wood? Isn’t he the “ontological whatsit” guy of a month or so back?

  112. #112 Jimmy
    October 1, 2007

    Informacje zawarte na stronie: http://serwisybukmacherskie.com prezentuj? najlepsze internetowe serwisy bukmacherskie

  113. #113 Rev. BigDUmbChimp
    October 1, 2007

    Yikes. Neal is my favorite these days. The Kansas troll is just getting too predictable.

  114. #114 Kristin
    October 1, 2007

    Well…

    At least he can spell.

  115. #115 Keith Douglas
    October 1, 2007

    Didn’t this get posted once previously?

  116. #116 woozy (god, why do I think the response to verbage is more verbage?)
    October 1, 2007

    *sigh* I honestly do not know why I get obsessed by these letters from ernest but out-there fringees. Maybe it’s because I just figure everyone can be informed and if maybe, just maybe, some of the fringees are truly interested in reaching their own conclussions, it’d be such a victory of honest inquiry and curiosity if they did so with proper facts. …. *sigh* … Anyway, I read the letter a third time and this time I got to the rather bizarre paragraph:

    The conclusion I must draw, Eugenie, is that the reaction of the Darwinists is precisely the kind of reaction that is designed to bring about the most meaningful triumph of intelligent design, for without this intense opposition, the theory of intelligent design it could be inferred, can’t be true, because the real scientists, to a person (in this theoretical scenario) are treating it exactly like they would treat a challenge to the belief that the earth revolves around the sun, that 2 plus 2 is not 4, that quantum mechanics is wrong. They are letting the theory of evolution prove itself; and thus welcoming opposition, because as it turns out, opposition works on behalf of the theory of evolution to make it even more convincing.

    So, here is yet another one of woozy’s open letters to Robert Wood writen in an idealistic belief these letters actually matter and there somebody’s home behind those lights on:
    =======
    Dear Mr. Wood;
    I found your observation of behavioral reactions to competing theories interesting. I have indeed noticed that people who believe something with a near religious fervor do react defensively and such behavior does often indicate an inability to questions one’s beliefs. This is particularly noticible with President Bush and his strategy for the war in Iraq and his habit of surrounding himself with people who will agree with him because he honestly believes actual facts and evidence have no bearing on his mission which he believes will turn out the way he wishes simply because he sincerely believes it will.

    However there are two observations about your letter to Dr. Eugenie Scott that I feel must be made.

    First, the actual validity of a scientific theory or fact has utterly no bearing on the behavior of either its proponents or its opponents. I’m sure you are aware of this. You point it out in commenting upon what you describe as the preferred behavior of a scientist of letting the actual truth prove itself. Thus observing the behavior of the participants in the debate between Natural Selection (no true scientist use the term “Darwinism” by the way; even the scientists among the Intelligent Design camp do not use the term) and Intelligent Design may give you insight and opinions to the individual characters, but it can’t have any bearing upon the validity or lack thereof of their proposed theories.

    To suggest “Darwinism” has become such an engrossing belief to have become nearly religious in nature while being ultimately incorrect or unverified would imply a conspiracy of scientific academia so vast as to be almost inconcievable. If such were the case, one would have to ask why. What is so appealing about Natural selection that it would blind biologists for nearly 150 years and compell them to religous ferver? I’ve heard some conservative Christian conspiracy theories that scientists have an athiestic agenda to destroy religion. If this is so we also have to ask ourselves how. How can biologists delude themselves and have a nearly one hundred percent conversion rate for nearly 150 years with a faulty theory. Likewise how can any of the advances in biological science come about with a faulty premise. Bad science yields stagnancy as nothing true or verifiable can result. I admit trends come and go but to imagine such a massive delusion for 150 years but which some-how yields workable results in the form of modern pharmiceuticals, immunology studies, bio-engineering, and agracultural advances of the last 150 years, all of which would fail were Natural Selection invalid, simply staggers the imagination.

    But more fundimental to your argument is the premise of your observed behavior of traditional scientists (believing 2 + 2 is 4 and that quantuum mechanics is correct), of Evolutionists attacking Intelligence Design with religuous fervor, and of Intelligent Design proponents behaving as the traditional scientists defending the sum of 2 + 2 and quantuum mechanics.

    To be blunt, your observation of behavior simply doesn’t match any behavior of the participants that I have ever observed. If I can’t recognize your attributed behavior of religious-like fervored defensiveness of evolutionists I simply can’t accept your conclussion that they hold Natural Selection as a ideology. Of course, observed behavior is a matter of opinion. I opened this letter with an observation that President Bush is incapible of questioning his position on the Iraq war and that he surrounds himself with advisors who tailor advice to fit his pre-ordained conclussions and refuse to accept that facts or evidence have any bearing. If I present this argument to someone who says his obervation of President Bush is that he is very open minded and his advisors argue and disagree with him frequently and he weighs every fact or analysis he comes across; if I present my observation to such a person we will never be capible of reaching any agreement because we are fundimentally observing utterly contradictory behavior.

    Still, I must wonder and question your observed behavior that is so radically different from mine. You state how a scientist will behave when confronted with a theory that 2 + 2 doesn’t equal 4, that quantuum mechanics is false, that the earth doesn’t revolve around the sun. Have ever been a case where such contrary theories have been presented and responded to seriously?

    Most scientists of all fields I know have very low tolerence for “whackos” especially from those outside academia. Nearly every math professor I know will absolutely refuse to acknowledge letters claiming to have trisected an angle or squared a circle or to have devised a new cardinal numbering system that will solve any immeasurability or parity issues. Likewise I don’t know of any physicists that will even bother to read a letter claiming to have discovered faster than light travel or principal of energy return higher than initial input. This is simply because any such claims are impossible. I don’t mean impossible by today’s known science, or radically revolutionary to our known methodology. I mean impossible now or ever at any stage past of future of science and technology. I mean demonstrably shown and proven to be impossible by any method.

    Likewise nearly all scientist I know will ignore, often quite rudely, any claim outside of academia of perfectly possible results. I know of no math professor that ever entertained proofs of Fermat’s Last Theorem, the Poincare Conjecture, or the Hodge Conjecture even though it’s perfectly feasable that they are solvable (and two have very recently been solved). I know of no phycist who responds to non-academic claims to have solved cold fusion. At best they send a snide letter saying, go to school get a doctorate, *then* submit. This could be unreasonable arrogance or it could be practical playing the odds against “whackos”. In either case, this behavior is prevalent and consistant and a far cry from “proceeding on the basis of a fair-minded, disinterested, and dispassionate investigation of the evidence which constitutes the competing claims of this rival theory” that you claim to have observed when someone has claimed 2 + 2 doesn’t equal 4 or quantuum mechanics is false.

    Consideration only begins to appear when opposing ideas come from fellow academics, but even then it is seldom civil. Newton and Liebnitz hated each other and corresponded with the most scathing and emotional of insults. Max Planck once observed “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die”. A bit wry and cynical but very apt. My favorite example of this uncivility is the title of Peter Woit’s book opposing String Theory: “Not Even Wrong”. A bit harsh, wouldn’t you say.

    In comparison, I find traditional biologists or evolutionists to be almost civil in their response to opposing theories. Unfortunately, all disciplines have their whackos. Many people insist they’ve trisected angles or squared circles. This was proven impossible by Galois Theory over a hundred years ago. I haven’t heard of anyone disputing heliocentrism lately but there is the flat earth society. Newton’s laws of gravity which have been verified beyond a shadow of a doubt simply allows no other option. Likewise, Darwin’s Origin of Species has been verified, proven, used for successful predication, and has passed all tests of scientific validity in the fossil record, lab studies, species diversification and geographic distributions, bio-technology, modern agriculture, and modern medicine, pharmiceuticals, and epidemiology. Unfortunately, biology’s whackos, creationists who believe all species were spontaneously generated as they are and do not change over time, are far more common and given credence than the whackos of any other science. This is probably because of the implied religious implications.

    Although your issue was with behavior in the Evolution via Natural Selection vs. Evolution via Intelligent Design debate, and not with behavior in the Evolution vs. Creationism squabble, I think it is worthwhile to note the behaviors here. In this case, we have creationist behaving in exactly the manner you have claimed to have observed and for exactly the same reasons. Quite simply creationists believe with a religious fervor that God created the Earth 6,000 years ago and created all life as it is now within the first week, and creationists are utterly incapible of questioning this or exploring alternatives. In response to deliberate self-limitations, biologists respond in much the same we as physicists respond to geo-centricists and mathematicians to circle-squarers and pi rationalizes; with quiet scorn and irritated impatience.

    But your concern is with the behavior of evolutionists favoring the mechanics of Natural Selection vs. the behavior of evolutionists favoring the mechanics of Intelligent Design.

    It’s important to note, this is a debate between evolutionists and not between evolutionists and creationists. Despite the support of creationists, Intelligent Design accepts evolution and the geological and biological ages of the earth as demonstrated in the fossil record and in the geographic distribution and bio-diversity of species. The theory of Intelligent Design is one stating the the method of evolutionary change can not solely be explained through Natural Selection alone but in irreduciably complex cases must have been influenced by other forces. In a lack of evidence of any other forces, one can conclude this is evidence of an Intelligent Designer.

    For the last hundred and fifty years, evolutionist have been studying and modifying theories of the forces of evolution. In Darwins day, nothing was known of matations or the nature of genetics and chromozones. Likewise theories of punctuated equilibrium, ontogeny, speciation, molecular drift, etc, has been studied debated and modified pretty much in the behavior you use to describe “traditional scientists” but not without the inevetiable inter-discipline squabbling of all scientists.

    The behavior in response to Intelligent Design was fairly typical of the response to any theory. There was a fairly predictable ammount of refusal to listen, of eager belligerence to disprove readily, and a bit of “invisible college” debate. On the whole it wasn’t much different than most other proposed unorthodox theories. There were however far fewer converts or hip bandwagon jumpers that accompanying most new theories. In comparison to other theories (whether right, wrong, or wild) proposed in the last century ID had reletively few converts. Those who did debate it examined the methodology and found it faulty.

    In all the behavior of oppenents to ID seem fairly typical of impartial scientists.

    The behavior of ID propenents, on the other hand, seem a bit suspect to me. Behe’s search for evidence to support his pre-ordained belief is anti-science, for example. Likewise, to conclude a specific (an Intelligent Designer) from an observed gap (the supposed inadequecy of Natural Select) seems to be forcing an agenda. But mostly, to accept a difficulty (the mathematics of a “propeller” phalenga) as a result (supposedly the mathematics is unlikely thus it is concluded that that there are other forces) rather than an intermediary step (when mathematics or statistic samples are slightly off one should reconfirm and double check rather than conclude this was the inteded result) is lazy methodology at best.

    Finally, to cater your results with religious activists and politicians, and creationists with no understanding of your proposed theory, strikes me as having a political agenda rather then scientific truth as an objective. After all, I’ve never heard of anyone proposing teaching geo-centricism as an alternative to heliocentrisism.

    ====

    Sheesh. Why did I figure I needed to get that out of my system.

  117. #117 Owlmirror spots comment spam
    October 2, 2007

    In #107: bukmacherskie is presumably Polish for gambling. Since bukmacher ==> bookmaker, according to http://www.dict.pl

  118. #118 Tina
    October 2, 2007

    Well I’d be thanking Robert for the entertainment value – you all have been munching on the tasty morsel he provided for opprox 112 comments. Pity we can’t get so excited about poverty.

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