Pharyngula

Egnor loses it, again

Creationists must live on a different planet. I just summarized this symposium I attended; I posted the schedule last week. In between, Michael Egnor takes this scrap of information and spins out a weird tale. He actually put up a post titled, “Is P.Z. Myers Attending a Conference on Eugenics?”. To which one can only mutter, “WTF?”

Here’s his “reasoning”:

I’m having trouble finding the program Myers is referring to (why wasn’t I invited!?), but Claudia Cohen Hall is on the medical campus at Penn, so I surmise that the presentations will be on eugenics (apologies for it, I hope), which is Darwin’s only legacy to medicine.

But of course eugenics won’t be mentioned, except perhaps brief exculpations (“Eugenics was the misuse of Darwin’s theory by a few rogue geneticists…”). No doubt the talks will be ‘Children Hate Vegetables Because of Ancestral Reproductive Advantage of Avoiding Toxins’ or ‘We Will Evolve Oiler Skin Because of Frequent Bathing’ or ‘X-Linked Color Blindness Evolved to Help Paleolithic Male Hunters See Camouflage.’ Believe it or not, these are actual cutting-edge evolutionary “theories.”

Do we need any further demonstration that creationists are divorced from reality, have no interest in pursuing the truth, and will make stuff up on the airiest of whims? No, it wasn’t a conference about eugenics, pro or con. No, it wasn’t about medicine. No, none of those very silly talks were given. No, since evolution contributes substantially to basic biology, all that stuff about how cells work and interact and change, evolution has contributed significantly to modern medicine — Egnor’s ignorance of the mechanistic underpinnings of what medicine does is no excuse.

Oh, and Dr Egnor, I can guess why you weren’t invited. It’s because you’re a babbling chowderhead.

Comments

  1. #1 Qwerty
    November 24, 2008

    “a babbling chowderhead”

    Aren’t they descendants from bobbleheads on the evolutionary chain?

  2. #2 David Lee
    November 24, 2008

    Yeah! What he said!

  3. #3 Shamar
    November 24, 2008

    No, babbling chowderheads are more closely related to the lemming, natures retard, on an evolutionary scale.

  4. #4 Zeno
    November 24, 2008

    I heard that this year the Babbling Chowderheads Conference will conflict with the Blithering Idiots Symposium.

    What will Michael Egnor do!?

  5. #5 Glen Davidson
    November 24, 2008

    Oh geez, they have nothing but accusations of immorality to throw against biological science.

    I guess Egnor’s aiming to be remembered as a droning repetitive fuck-up.

    I guess he’s totally missed the fact that Darwin is important to our understanding of “microevolution” (scare quotes because of how they use the term), something even the egregious Behe admits. Paley certainly didn’t give us microevolution, nor do any contemporary IDiots have any useful insights into it.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  6. #6 raven
    November 24, 2008

    Egnor’s rambling rant sounds like a combination of paranoia and early Alzheimers. From some guy pushing a shopping cart around the park, it wouldn’t be too surprising. From a faculty member at a med school, it is unusual.

    This guy seriously needs to make an appointment for a neurological workup.

  7. #7 thedarwinreport
    November 24, 2008

    Believe it or not, these are actual cutting-edge evolutionary “theories.”

    Egnor gets his science news from where? Not even AOL science is that pathetic. Oh, wait. Egnor must be listening to the voices in his head.

  8. #8 Bubba Sixpack
    November 24, 2008

    Interesting that this post is so close to that of Harun Yahya. And appropriate. The two of them would perfectly suit each other.

  9. #9 CJO
    November 24, 2008

    Good ol’ Egnor. He’s not sure what in hell he’s arguing against, but, whatever it might be, it’s got ‘evolution’ in the title, so he’s agin’ it. He should submit himself to his neurologist colleagues for testing on that truly prodigious knee-jerk reflex thing he’s got going on there.

  10. #10 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 24, 2008

    Egnor gets his science news from where? Not even AOL science is that pathetic.

    Same place the other ID folk get it. Magical fairy tale and la la la la la la la la la land.

  11. #11 TSC
    November 24, 2008

    Egnoring the evidence yet again.

  12. #12 Levi
    November 24, 2008

    Why weren’t you invited, Mr. Egnor? For much the same reason that you won’t get invited to mathematics conferences if you stubbornly insist that, despite all the evidence presented to you, algebra is false and contributes nothing to mathematics as a whole.

  13. #13 Nelson M.
    November 24, 2008

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2008/11/is_pz_myers_attending_a_confer.html

    Darwin’s positive legacy to real medical science is non-existent.

    Umm… What?

    It’s interesting that such an innocent thing as attending a conference can spawn such a rant. I wonder what it’s like to live in that kind of a mental state, where the innocent actions of another person would trigger what looks to me like a disturbed and paranoid reaction.

  14. #14 Michelle
    November 24, 2008

    WOW. He’s really reaching for scraps on that one, eh?

  15. #15 Tom
    November 24, 2008

    As a Babbling Chowderhead-American, I am offended that you would denigrate an entire class of people by suggesting Egnor counts himself among our ranks. We may be babbling chowderheads, but please don’t strip us of what little dignity we have!

  16. #16 Screechy Monkey
    November 24, 2008

    Hey, it’s simple creationist “logic.” If a talk is held in the medical building, it must be about medicine. This explains why creationists are so proud when a university lets them use a room in the physics building to hold one of their talks.

  17. #17 jynnan_tonnyx
    November 24, 2008

    “…I surmise that the presentations will be on eugenics…But of course eugenics won’t be mentioned…”

    Ummmmm…OK.

  18. #18 Sarniaskeptic
    November 24, 2008

    Oh my. I have never been to evolution news before and I must say, after reading some of the babble, PZ, you are MUCH too nice to these people.

    Unfortunately (and I can attest to the truth of it because of a lunch time conversation I just had) people follow and believe this crap.

    I think it is time for you to be as strident as they claim you are Mr. Myers.

  19. #19 Sastra
    November 24, 2008

    Yes, I love Egnor’s ideas about what “actual cutting-edge evolutionary ‘theories’” look like. Here are my own free-wheeling fantasy versions of “actual cutting-edge Intelligent Design ‘theories’”:

    “Children Hate Vegetables because that’s what the Designer wanted. Or it’s because of sin.”

    “If our skin becomes oilier, it will be because the Designer wanted that. Or sin.”

    “X-linked color-blindness was given by the Designer for a reason. Which could have been to punish sin. Or not.”

    The theories involve no experimentation, of course, nor do they propose a mechanism. The explanatory model is the Bible, and the laboratory is an armchair.

    But it has nothing to do with religion.

  20. #20 Seamyst
    November 24, 2008

    ‘We Will Evolve Oiler Skin Because of Frequent Bathing’

    Okay, what the hell is oiler skin?? And how the hell does it relate (or not) to eugenics?

  21. #21 Holydust
    November 24, 2008

    I’m no science student — I’m more right brained — so maybe this is just me being a ditz, but none of those theories sounded that far fetched to me. >.> At least not enough to be scoffed at so loudly by a guy who believes in a sky fairy. What’m I missing?

  22. #22 Hank Fox
    November 24, 2008

    Again I notice that the DI keeps its writers carefully immune to comments.

    Interesting, isn’t it? I mean, considering that Christians vastly outnumber unbelievers, you’d think they’d invite comments, so they could see for themselves just how large a segment of the US population supports them against the few malcontents.

  23. #23 BlueIndependent
    November 24, 2008

    As conservative idiots have based their worldview on a conspiracy theory model, so have they taken the loudmouth judgemental dumbass model as their exemplary figure for “reasoned inquiry”. Egnor’s faux-concern reminds me of a radio segment I heard just this morning where a local sports talk show had one of the myriad of Bush apologists on from the local conservaganza radio station open with “we have a socialist for a president”. Mind you, the segment was about a food drive for the needy the sports hosts were at, and this opportunistic prick opens with Obama’s a socialist without any prior political red carpet laid out to make it relevant. Thankfully the sports guys (surprisingly breaking from their usual elephant-agreeable tradition) laughed and smacked the idiot down with “you mean Bush?”

    We just do not have enough conspiracy theory smackdown in the national dialogue. It continues to gall me how these people defiantly make up bullsh!t excuses for why everything in their life is messed up. These people are masters of false victimhood, of false inquiry, of false intellectualism.

  24. #24 MPG
    November 24, 2008

    Yeesh. I see he’s spouting that sickening “Darwinists want a society where we don’t care for the weak because they hold back evolution” canard. Sorry Egnor, but fuck you. Fuck you very much.

  25. #25 Blondin
    November 24, 2008

    @20:

    I assumed it has something to do with a hockey team from Edmonton, Alberta.

    …Or maybe it’s a typo for ‘oilier’.

  26. #26 Elf Sternberg
    November 24, 2008

    PZ focuses on Egnor’s naming him directly, which means he missed the real graf from Egnor, near the bottom of the rant: “Fairy tales about the origin of illnesses and adaptations are worthless to medicine. The materialistic philosophical basis for Darwinism and the inference that humans evolved by natural selection have been catastrophic to medicine.”

    Because, you know, illness has a non-materialist origin. It’s all caused by demons.

    I really, really don’t want this guy as my neurologist.

  27. #27 386sx
    November 24, 2008

    Mr. Egnor thinks that people think they are supposed to obey evolution like it’s a god or something. He’s got ID on the brain, dude.

  28. #28 Cuttlefish, OM
    November 24, 2008

    Dear sir–accept our invitation;
    We need you for a demonstration,
    Your input on our science may prevent us from abusing it.
    We’d like to vivisect your brain;
    It shouldn’t cause you harm or pain–
    The way that God designed you, it does not appear you’re using it.

  29. #29 Shane
    November 24, 2008

    @17

    I think you captured the essence of the post right there. Just a little ignorant self-contradiction.

    I don’t know how some people manage to get by without having even a nominal ability to think.

  30. #30 John M
    November 24, 2008

    “the presentations will be on eugenics (apologies for it, I hope)”

    Can anybody doubt that creationist kooks, and even some who might’ve known better, are able to very effectively set parts of the scientific agenda. Ask yourself why the topic of “eugenics” is off-limits, right across the board, in western scientific circles. Yup, it’s the form of argumentation known as reductio ad Hitlerum, and we scientists have fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

    Eugenics could prove to be a thoroughly bad idea, but I’ve yet to see any mainstream scientific examination of it. One might start by enquiring why it is so good for race horses and milk cows but so bad for humans.

  31. #31 Bernard Bumner
    November 24, 2008

    What is that written at the bottom the page you linked to?…

    The misreporting of the evolution issue is one key reason for this site. Unfortunately, much of the news coverage has been sloppy, inaccurate, and in some cases, overtly biased.

    Is that their own mission statement? If so, they need to add fabricated to their list…

  32. #32 Janothar
    November 24, 2008

    It always amazes and horrifies me when I remember that Egnor is a neurosurgeon, Dembski got a PhD in math, Behe is a biochemist…how the hell do these people survive (and get advanced degrees!) when they clearly don’t have brains!

  33. #33 Not that Louis
    November 24, 2008

    Anytime you need cheering up, consider this: Even among theists, the number of observed phenomena for which a supernatural cause is believed necessary or even plausible has been in decline for the past 500 years and in steep decline for the past 200 years. If the purveyors of superstition defend supernatural first causes (the origin of the universe, the origin of species) with particular ferocity, it is because they know these are the last ditches.

  34. #34 PsyberDave
    November 24, 2008

    Pharyngulate this, please.

    http://www.answertheskeptic.com/index.php/evidence-of-a-designers-purpose/2008/11/24

    This is a post about how intelligent design is not biblical creation, but is substantiated science, as “scientists” have found evidence of a designer in the fossil record. It is written by someone at the Discovery Institute.

  35. #35 Chayanov
    November 24, 2008

    Fairy tales about the origin of illnesses and adaptations are worthless to medicine.

    I agree. That’s why we use science and not the Bible to treat illnesses.

  36. #36 Randy
    November 24, 2008

    I don’t get the title. The only thing Egnor has to lose is blithering ignorance and I fail to see that he has lost that….

  37. #37 Sven DIMilo
    November 24, 2008

    Eugenics could prove to be a thoroughly bad idea, but I’ve yet to see any mainstream scientific examination of it. One might start by enquiring why it is so good for race horses and milk cows but so bad for humans.

    It’s not a scientific issue. There was plenty of “scientific” discussion of eugenics back in the first third of the 20th Century. Of course eugenics would “work”–we could drastically reduce the prevalence of genetic diseases, most forms of mental retardation, polydactyly, widow’s peaks, redheads, or whatever else was desired.
    The problems, obviously, are a) who gets to decide who reproduces and who doesn’t, b) what criteria are applied (IQ? Briggs-Meyer? racial purity?), and c) how is it enforced?
    It’s a personal liberty issue and it’s one that the vast majority of thoughtful people don’t want to touch for obvious, crystal-clear reasons.

  38. #38 E.V.
    November 24, 2008

    On the news today, a North Texas student was honored with a Rhodes Scholarship. He is a captain in the US Army. He will attend Oxford and major in… you guessed it – theology
    *headdesk*

  39. #39 Glen Davidson
    November 24, 2008

    Another way to look at this, Egnor might be one of a handful of educated persons dumb enough to believe the movie he was in, Expelled. Or, he’s trying to recapture the last bit of flotsam and jetsam of credibility he had before he sided with a film subtitled “no intelligence allowed” (didn’t even pick up on that, Egnor?).

    No one can even imagine a reason for him being there, actually, since he doesn’t even have a manufactured tale of persecution to tell. He and Stein appear to be the most likely people to be ignorant enough to actually believe that BS and to actually have an education that should inure them to it.

    Even Crocker doesn’t seem that stupid to me, rather I think she’s driven more by revenge and a kind of self-righteous superiority derived from her religion (& no, not all religionists are like her).

    Keep going Egnor. You just reinforce the real meaning behind “no intelligence allowed” in the movie you were happy to be in.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  40. #40 BobC
    November 24, 2008

    Michael Egnor writes for his audience, the creationist retards. That’s his job. I’m sure his gullible idiot customers are totally satisfied with Egnor’s nonsense. I wonder if he’s really as stupid as he sounds, or is it all just an act to make a living. I’m betting on stupid.

  41. #41 Brad D
    November 24, 2008

    Creationists must live on a different planet.

    Ahhh, that explains all the NOTW (not of this world) stickers I see on car and truck windows around here. The T is of course a cross. Now I get it, they are just visiting from planet Moronia.

  42. #42 itzac
    November 24, 2008

    “We Will Evolve Oiler Skin Because of Frequent Bathing”

    Not sure how bathing will turn skin blue and copper.

    Go Oilers!

  43. #43 Alex
    November 24, 2008

    #40

    I agree. Anytime the creotards can get someone with sciency creds to show how evilution is wrong and god is right, they eat it up lock, stock, & barrel. It’s a charlatan’s dream. Although, he probably does delude himself into believing some of the crap he peddles. He probably loves eating his own dog food.

  44. #44 raven
    November 24, 2008

    I really, really don’t want this guy as my neurologist.

    I doubt that Egnor is getting many referrals these days and likely, most of his colleagues are looking at him like a rabid dog about to have a frenzied fit. There is a certain shrillness and paranoia to his ravings that indicate he is vaguely aware that people tiptoe around him and never turn their backs on him.

    Scientists are as prone or more so to madness, senility, and other ills of the brain/mind as anyone. One of my old professors disappeared in the middle of a semester. Next heard, he was in India and had joined a Hindu cult. He did come back, the university kept him (tenure), but he literally never touched a beaker again.

    Weird stuff like this happens a lot in science in general and academia in particular.

  45. #45 bill r
    November 24, 2008

    #32: Focus, focus, focus. Neurosurgeons cut into brains, and can get onto medical faculties for their skill in teaching that cutting and research on techniques. Mathemeticians well, they have to be really good at figuring at the consequences of a set of assumptions, without ever connecting those to what commonly passes for reality. I’ll leave the biochemists for the interested students.

  46. #46 hermit
    November 24, 2008

    If these fools are so convinced that Darwinism leads to eugenics, social engineering, killing of the sick and weak etc..ad nauseum…..they should prove their moral superiority by “putting their money where there mouth is” and go around mating entirely at random! If social engineering is the essence of evil, then blind promiscuity must be “God’s Way”

  47. #47 Holbach
    November 24, 2008

    Igor Egnor, the phantom from the creationist slime pit.

  48. #48 Brownian, OM
    November 24, 2008

    What a whiny, pathetic, asshole, prick.

    Perhaps some day I’ll get to meet him and ask why God didn’t save him from my punching him in the nose.

  49. #49 Anton Mates
    November 24, 2008

    Eugenics could prove to be a thoroughly bad idea, but I’ve yet to see any mainstream scientific examination of it. One might start by enquiring why it is so good for race horses and milk cows but so bad for humans.

    It’s good for the humans who own race horses and milk cows. On balance, I don’t think it particularly improves the lives of the horses and cows themselves.

  50. #50 Janothar
    November 24, 2008

    #45, I’m studying to become a mathematician…just need to point out that internal logical consistency is necessary, and Dembski fails miserably at it.

  51. #51 GreenishBlue
    November 24, 2008

    I did not receive Michael Egnor’s daily schedule in my e-mail this morning. Might that be because he’s trying to hide his participation in the ritualistic sacrifice of small animals to a minor desert god known as “Yahweh?”

    Based on Egnor’s own logic, one must conclude that this HAS to be true.

  52. #52 gazza
    November 24, 2008

    #32

    This emphasises the horror I feel about the damage belief in a supernatural being can do. Guys who presumably had enough of a critical facilty to get somewhere in surgery, maths and biochemistry can just switch it off when they want.

    For me, a critical or sceptical facity is pretty much there all the time (OK, family and my sports team can escape that side of me) so these people just have alien minds as far as I’m concerned.

  53. #53 DG
    November 24, 2008

    Eugenics, of course, is the ultimate elitist conceit. What eugenicist ever considered themselves unfit for reproduction?

    Anyway, probably half of the people at DI would choose “yes” if given a consequence free chance to answer “Should athiest parents be resitricted from reproducing?”

  54. #54 GumbyTheCat
    November 24, 2008

    The fact that this “evolutionnews” site does not allow comments on their posts is very telling. Seems to me if they had any actual science worth defending, they would happily open their site up to comments from us evilooshunists so that they could debunk us and prove their own “theories”. What a morally bankrupt bunch of sniveling anti-intellectual asshats. Just goes to show you that organizations like the Discovery Institute are not about the search for “alternative explanations” for evolution; they’re merely propaganda tools meant to sway public opinion so that they can further their political agenda. Douchebags.

  55. #55 Emmet Caulfield
    November 24, 2008

    We Will Evolve Oiler Skin Because of Frequent Bathing

    No, it’s a phonetics problem, he clearly meant “We will evolve Euler’s kin because of frequent bathing”. And, no, I don’t understand that either.

  56. #56 Rey Fox
    November 24, 2008

    Well, there’s a little bit about the X-related color blindness here:

    http://www.chester.ac.uk/~sjlewis/EM/Texts/Text9.htm

    I’m not sure if it’s any more than speculation, but then I also don’t know why Egnor thinks it’s so ridiculous.

    Keep calling him a “creationist” though, I bet that really bugs him.

  57. #57 Pegnor
    November 24, 2008

    Speaking of “Egnorance,” someone just posted a Youtube interview with Expelled co-writer Kevin Miller: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I2SEkbQfR0

  58. #58 maureen
    November 24, 2008

    Don’t worry, E.V @ 38, if this Rhodes Scholar is from Texas and is just out of the fundie-ridden US Army then studying Theology at Oxford will scare the pants off him.

    The music will be better but he’ll need to pick his way through any number of conflicting ideas – and that’s just from the academics who still believe in a god.

    Download a prospectus at top right.

  59. #59 bunyip
    November 24, 2008

    P.Z.

    Dare i ask that we get down to real fundmentals and ask if Claudia Cohen Hall was assigned you as the hall with the best capacity, facilities, etc?

    It seems to me nothing would demolish that ignorant essay than that simple administrative decision.

  60. #60 csrster
    November 24, 2008

    E.V. : it might do him some good. I used to know a theology/divinity student at Cambridge and he claimed that all his fellow students were atheists “except for the Baptists and they’re all crazy”. I imagine Oxford is very similar.

  61. #61 John Phillips, FCD
    November 24, 2008

    Cuttlefish, as usual, you excel. I am already looking forward to your next book so hurry up already :)

  62. #62 ginny
    November 24, 2008

    I’ve been reading both “Evolution News” and your fine blog for an ongoing discussion of evolution, creationism, ID, and the nefariousness of tightly-wound winguts who run for schoolboards. This discussion takes place… after church… for the next few months. We’re of a liberal denomination that the typical Creationist/ID acolyte denounces as “Christian in name only.”

    Yes, yes, my fellow Episcopalians and I reverently eat the crackers (and then collect food and clothes for the needy), but at my parish we also think that evolution is a much more logical and reasonable explanation for how we came to be than the account(s) in the Bible. Where do these ID people get off? Are we supposed to stop teaching geology, big-bang theory, paleontology, Carbon-14 dating, and dendrochronology? Oh, wait… I see that we are.

    I had seen the crack-pottery of Egnor’s post and wondered if he’d run out of tinfoil again. It appears that it might be a good idea to invest in aluminum futures.

  63. #63 robhoofd
    November 24, 2008

    (why wasn’t I invited!?)

    Poor Egnor, always gets left out of the evil satanist eugenics conferences.

  64. #64 scooper-doo
    November 24, 2008

    I don’t see how the evil Darwinists can take credit for Eugenics. It seems to me that Eugenics is more properly associated with selective breeding and animal husbandry which has been practiced for thousands of years. The Darwinian contribution was observing the results of “natural selection” on species as opposed to “human selection” via breeding.

  65. #65 waldteufel
    November 24, 2008

    I’ve read a lot of the Egnorant One’s musings since he first was dredged up by the Disco Toot. His writings have steadily drifted from examples of shoddy scholarship and stupidity to outright crackpot insanity; oh, and the usual christian practice of lying for jesus.

  66. #66 waldteufel
    November 24, 2008

    I’ve read a lot of the Egnorant One’s musings since he first was dredged up by the Disco Toot. His writings have steadily drifted from examples of shoddy scholarship and stupidity to outright crackpot insanity; oh, and the usual christian practice of lying for jesus.

  67. #67 has
    November 24, 2008

    Ugh. Brain surgeons should not self-medicate.

  68. #68 Matt
    November 24, 2008

    Go get him PZ!

  69. #69 Horwood Beer-Master
    November 24, 2008

    Egnor loses it?
    I’m not sure he ever had it.

  70. #70 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 24, 2008

    The problems, obviously, are a) who gets to decide who reproduces and who doesn’t, b) what criteria are applied (IQ? Briggs-Meyer? racial purity?), and c) how is it enforced? It’s a personal liberty issue and it’s one that the vast majority of thoughtful people don’t want to touch for obvious, crystal-clear reasons.

    Also, which mutations are harmful depends on the environment, and genetic diversity is good for resistance against pretty much everything that can cause mass death. You really don’t want us to end up as a monoculture.

    And then there are comments 49 and 53.

    Poor Egnor, always gets left out of the evil satanist eugenics conferences.

    Teh winz0r.

    Ugh. Brain surgeons should not self-medicate.

    Wwwww… what I just said.

  71. #71 Brain Hertz
    November 24, 2008

    Ah, but PZ, you just don’t understand.

    The clearest evidence that the conference was about eugenics is to be found in the fact that eugenics wasn’t mentioned (except perhaps to point out what a bad thing it is).

    Likewise, all of the conferences I attend are about UFOs, as evidenced by the fact that such things are never mentioned.

  72. #72 bluescat48
    November 24, 2008

    Why lower chowder to their level. What has chowder ever done to be compared to creotards?

  73. #73 Zelc
    November 24, 2008

    “but Claudia Cohen Hall is on the medical campus at Penn”

    Uh, no, Cohen Hall is where all the philosophy offices are and where a lot of the philosophy classes are taught. It was recently renamed Claudia Cohen Hall from Logan Hall this year. Perhaps some med classes are taught there (I’m not sure), but I’d imagine those are taught in the Nursing School and such a block or two south of Cohen Hall.

  74. #74 Gary
    November 24, 2008

    scooperoo@#64

    “I don’t see how the evil Darwinists can take credit for Eugenics.”

    Darwinists are not claimed to have originated eugenics but to have validated and promulgated the idea.

    Of course this requires CrIDers to purposely ignore the definition of ‘fittest’ beyond mere ‘might makes right’ as the early 20th eugenicists did.

    I see Egnor is still dishonest enough to exclude the discoveries from the late 20th and early 21st in his definition of ‘Darwinist’.

  75. #75 Citizen Z
    November 24, 2008

    Of course eugenics would “work”–we could drastically reduce the prevalence of genetic diseases, most forms of mental retardation, polydactyly, widow’s peaks, redheads, or whatever else was desired.

    Emphasis on the “or”. Good luck trying to get rid of all of those things.

  76. #76 Neil B
    November 24, 2008

    Can color blindness actually help anyone see some things better than those with normal vision? BTW I met a lady a few momths ago, who may be a tetrachromat (mutant) given her description of colors and her job as color consultant.

  77. #77 Rory Tate
    November 24, 2008

    Eugenics could prove to be a thoroughly bad idea, but I’ve yet to see any mainstream scientific examination of it. One might start by enquiring why it is so good for race horses and milk cows but so bad for humans.

    This is admittedly a difficult topic for a blog comment, especially if one wants to avoid triggering Godwin’s Law somewhere along the way. Here’s my not-so-short attempt to discuss the main points you raise:

    I really think this falls into the area of evolution that is most often misunderstood by the general public, namely that old teleological fallacy that species are trying or somehow want to become “stronger”. Following closely behind that is a very limited assumption of what “stronger” is, usually applied on a very small (individual) level. These simple misunderstandings form the basis of eugenics, and once they are dealt with, the whole thing falls apart rather quickly.

    Here’s a theoretical example that helps me make my way through this often purpose-laden quagmire: human beings (and other animals) produce adrenaline, a very handy substance. It is a hormone involved in the “fight or flight” mechanism, which places it at the most basic level of our ability to survive and reproduce. So let’s say that some people are “defective” and can’t produce it (I don’t know if such cases actually exist or not, any biologists in the audience feel free to jump in if you want…”lack of adrenal glands” is just a selection criteria that’s easy to communicate to others, but has no visual component for identification — unlike other indicators of health — so it carries less emotional baggage for discussion). Applying the simple misunderstandings that form eugenics, it appears obvious that a human selection program should breed to remove such a defect.

    Except, is that really such an improvement? What assumptions have we just made?

    Selection pressure from the environment is what is really being mimicked by any such breeding policy, with people assuming they understand the environmental conditions that will exist. However, it doesn’t take too much imagination to already find a flaw in this reasoning. As mankind journeys into outer space, a human without adrenaline would have a measurable advantage over others, considering that a frightened burst of adrenaline could easily send an astronaut slamming into something, with deadly consequences.

    So are humans really improved by removing something that would be an advantage in extending our biosphere to areas outside our single planet? Is not an Earth-bound humanity less successful than one that can colonize the stars? What does it truly mean for a species to be successful?

    This may seem a little too science fictiony for some, but this is a very real question right now for our species.

    So science has not been silent on this issue, as your premise suggests. Those who work with evolutionary theory have certainly identified strength in diversity, and adaptability, within living organisms. And human society has realized that it can change the current environment (through economics, social contracts, housing in winter, etc), while contemplating possible future environments, to completely rewrite what it means to be “strong” or “weak”. At a species level, those terms may not mean what you think they do.

    The reality is that I think science (and evolution/biology in particular) has moved beyond the misunderstandings of eugenics, so there really isn’t much gained in discussing it, except as an example of bad science, similar to something like explaining yellow and black bile, or evil spirits, in the realm of medicine.

    This teachable moment has been brought to you by the first 144 digits of pi (after the decimal place). :-)

  78. #78 Steve
    November 24, 2008

    This guy is giving Hitler WAY too much credit. I don’t think he was ever a geneticist…

  79. #79 John B. Sandlin
    November 24, 2008

    1) If he found your blog post about going, he should have been able to find links from the information you posted to go with the announcement… I found a link on the U. Penn site with that exact same schedule flyer.

    2) Maybe the folks at Penn only invited intelligent people, not intelligent design people.

    John B. Sandlin

  80. #80 Miguel
    November 24, 2008

    Blah, blah, blah … MYERS!!! … EUGENICS!!! … DARWIN!!! … Blah, blah, blah.

    Yet more vitriol from a whining anti-science propagandist. What an egnoramus.

  81. #81 Ryan F Stello
    November 24, 2008

    So let me get this straight, Egnor thinks your symposium was about Eugenics, and he wanted to be invited?

    Hmmm…

  82. #82 T. Bruce McNeely
    November 24, 2008

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/11/philadelphia.php

    If Dr. Egnor would pull his head out of his ass, maybe he would have found the above link, and realize:
    1) the schedule for the symposium is right there
    2) The location is right there
    3) He was invited! (as a member of the general public, unless, of course, he feels that he is not a member of the mere hoi polloi)
    If he has that much trouble finding things, I’d hate to see him searching around inside some poor bastard’s cranium.

  83. #83 phantomreader42
    November 24, 2008

    Egnor the Egnorant:

    I surmise that the presentations will be on eugenics

    And I surmise that the next conference Egnor will be invited to will be Ken Ham’s annual piglet rape festival. :P

  84. #84 Noadi
    November 24, 2008

    A friend of mine and I were discussing eugenics once and ways to decrease genetic disorders without running into the ethical issues involved and strong potential for abuse that historically has occurred. The only solution we could come up with is to offer couples where one has a serious genetic disease or strong family history free in vitro fertilization with genetic screening of the embryos (specifically we had been talking about Huntington’s Disease which brought up the idea of how to eliminate it) along with making it easier for them to adopt children as well. That way it is a choice for the parents and not something forced on anyone.

  85. #85 Blake Stacey
    November 25, 2008

    3) He was invited! (as a member of the general public, unless, of course, he feels that he is not a member of the mere hoi polloi)

    Academics are really shoddy when it comes to security precautions. Why, just this past Saturday afternoon, I was able walk all around and through the Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting, looking for Hector Avalos. (Eventually, I went to the hotel concierge, but I had an hour to kill and wanted to try the hard way first.)

  86. #86 Ed Darrell
    November 25, 2008

    Have you ever looked at the block of type at the bottom of posts over at that site, EvolutionNews?

    It starts out with this:

    The misreporting of the evolution issue is one key reason for this site.

    Is that confession? They’re there to misreport evolution?

    They’re living up to their purpose statement, it appears.

  87. #87 Hoosier X
    November 25, 2008

    This is one of those douches from “Expelled,” isn’t it?

    I can see why it was sub-titled “No Intelligence Allowed.”

  88. #88 Peridolius
    November 25, 2008

    Do chowderheads come in two types, Manhattan and New England?

  89. #89 Hoosier X
    November 25, 2008

    Oh, yeah!

    This guy!

  90. #90 Riman Butterbur
    November 25, 2008

    Also, which mutations are harmful depends on the environment, and genetic diversity is good for resistance against pretty much everything that can cause mass death. You really don’t want us to end up as a monoculture.

    The same genetic science that takes out harmful genes can always put them back in, if an environment is discovered where they would be desirable.

  91. #91 Angel Kaida
    November 25, 2008

    @77,
    I’m not a eugenicist for ethical reasons. However, I don’t think eugenics comes from the teleological fallacy at all. First of all, I believe the fact that “eugenics” exists at all is evidence that some species ARE trying to become “stronger” – this is not the course of natural selection, but natural selection isn’t everything. The sense of “purpose” and “moving toward” comes from the humans involved. The question of the desirability of that purpose – which demonstrably exists – is more relevant. I do agree, though, that another problem with eugenics is that we can’t properly define “stronger.”
    Question: would attempting to encourage human genetic diversity in order to improve species adaptability be considered eugenics?

  92. #92 Donovan
    November 25, 2008

    !!!HEY!!!

    I !AM! a chowderhead! You, sir, are a cheesehead!

    [fuming at the idea chowderheads should be at all included with the ignorant nematodes tossing their fecal creationism at the capitol, but alas, we have our share]

  93. #93 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 26, 2008

    The spam hit and runs are now dropping in on recent threads

  94. #94 ddjango
    November 27, 2008

    PZ . . .

    you are become tiresome, whiney, trite, and terminally narcissistic

    it is all i can do to prevent you from prying my grip on my own treasured atheism

    grow up (you, know, like *evolve*)

    the only babbling chowderhead i hear in the room is thee

    be at peace

  95. #95 Nerd of Redhead
    November 27, 2008

    Somebody say thing? Naw, must be a passing breeze.

  96. #96 Marion Delgado
    December 10, 2008

    Dr. Peter Venkman: Egon, this reminds me of that time you tried to drill a hole in your head.

    Dr. Egon Spengler: That would have worked if you hadn’t stopped me.

    I think oiler skin is a lamarckian move towards the selkie or seal-human hybrid as recorded in the natural history of Scotland. Frequent bathing is unmanly and unholy and Nature and Nature’s God will punish it severely.