Pharyngula

Since the mere majesty and grandeur of the natural world are insufficient to provide entertainment, perhaps science coverage in the media should become something like the Weekly World News. Arthur David Horn could be a major media star.

He now advocates the theory that modern man is not the result of a natural process of evolution, but that evolution was artificially aided by reptilian extraterrestrials. The reptilians bred mankind as servants and continue to rule the planet today, Horn said.

Reptilians have manipulated perceptions of world history and hold power over humankind through their influence over an elite and powerful group of humans, known as the Illuminati, Arthur said. Throughout human history, the reptilian beings have been recorded as dragons or gods.

I don’t think that was an example of media quote mangling, either. He was speaking at a meeting called a “Galactic Gathering,” organized by The Institute for the Study of Galactic Civilizations.

A plus on his side: there’s also a nice human interest story there.

The shift in Arthur’s focus came shortly after meeting Lynette, who was then a metaphysical healer, he said. After many conversations over the telephone, Arthur and Lynette finally met face-to-face in July of 1988 when they spent a week in Northern California’s Trinity Mountains searching for Sasquatch, commonly known as Bigfoot.

The couple never spotted the mythic creature, but fell in love, Lynette said. Only a few months later, they were married in the chapel on the CSU campus.

Awww. Woo Love.

Somebody pass his name on to Sharon Begley, who is manufacturing pseudo-controversies this week. She’s defending Lamarckism now, based on some work that suggests a plausible basis for multi-generation responses to the environment, a justification for some of the observations made by Kammerer on toads.

Genes for living on land seem to get “environmentally silenced in early embryos exposed to water,” says Vargas, who combed through Kammerer’s lab notes and whose analysis appears in the Journal of Experimental Zoology. “It has taken a painfully long time to properly acknowledge that environment can influence inheritance,” he told me. “I think academia has discouraged experiments testing environmental modification of inheritance,” because the inheritance of acquired characteristics—Lamarckism—drives the self-appointed evolution police crazy.

They might want to spend more time reading studies and less energy manning the barricades.

Aaaargh! Epigenetics is not Lamarckism! Also, Begley doesn’t seem to understand that the institution of science is extremely conservative, and rightly so: we ‘man the barricades’ because science isn’t like the Huffington Post, letting any wacky idea sail through unchallenged. There is a demand for rigor: show us the data, do the experiments, repeat until you’ve got a case that can’t be shot down by a lone skeptical first year grad student. Postulating reptoids guiding human evolution isn’t going to be credible until someone shoots one and writes a paper about the dissection, and Lamarckism is going to be sneered at until someone does the experiment that shows it.

I don’t think academia has been neglecting this field because of dogma, either. Epigenetics is hot right now (and again, it’s NOT Lamarckism!), and there’s some interesting work going on in the field of eco-devo. I also think that a replication of Kammerer’s work that demonstrated an actual effect would be easily publishable — I’d be interested in reading it, for sure.

We’re all the evolution police. It isn’t as sinister as Begley seems to imply: we just demand a little more evidence than speculation.