Stranger Fruit

Dissenting from Darwinism

Most readers are probably aware of the Discovery Institute’s "Dissent from Darwinism" statement which now has 700 signatories willing to claim

"We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

I have noted in the past that this statement does not, of course, imply that the signatories deny evolution and common descent and that it is almost certain that "random mutation and natural selection" cannot account for all aspects of the diversity and complexity of life. That said, what is obvious is that most of the signatories have no expertise in areas germaine to evolutionary biology. Over at the Pandas Thumb, Genie Scott notes:

It would be good, indeed, to analyze the rest of them to see if the proportion of biologists in relevant research areas remains a tiny percent of the Ph.D.s signing.

As it happens, I’ve almost finished analyzing the composition of the latest list of signatories, and will present the results in a few weeks (once the semester gets off the ground). For the moment, here is the composition of the 300 signatories in 2004:

  • Chemistry – 57
  • Engineering – 43
  • Physics – 40
  • Molecular & Cellular Sciences – 39
  • Medicine & Health Professions – 20
  • Mathematics – 14
  • Physiology – 14
  • Microbiology – 9
  • Computer Science – 8
  • Geology – 6
  • Psychology – 5
  • Pharmacology – 5
  • Organismal biology – 5
  • Atmospheric Science – 5
  • Exercise Science – 4
  • Anthropology – 4
  • Neurosciences – 4
  • Dairy or Animal Science – 4
  • Philosophy – 3
  • Statistics – 3
  • Chemical Environmental Science – 2
  • Veterinary Medicine – 2
  • Oceanography – 2
  • Forestry – 1
  • Agronomy – 1
  • Unknown – 7

Chemists, physicists, engineers, bench jockeys, doctors and mathematicians account for over 200 of the 300 signatories. And seriously, who cares what computer scientists, statisticians, philosophers and atmospheric scientists think?

At best, we have five organismal biologists (out of 300 signatories) who may have some training relevant to evolutionary biology. Given that one of them is the crankish Bernard d’Abrera who was canned from the British Museum and now publishes the DI’s Explore Evolution, I don’t hold out much hope for the rest as being qualified to say anything meaningful about the topic at hand.

At the risk of being a broken record, I’ll say this again: I don’t care what chemists, physicists, engineers etc have to say about evolution, and neither should you. They have no expertise in the field (and I have none in theirs).

While I’m at it, here’s my favorite d’Abrera quote:

“No field worker who studies insects, may now freely gaze upon his discoveries of insect morphology,biology or behaviour, without the taint of speculative Darwinism compelling him to colour his conclusions. No more is such a worker allowed to make direct, uncomplicated observations about objective facts about butterflies or moths…. Instead he is now compelled through the pressure of insidious programming by the overlords of the scientific establishment, to subject everything he has objectively observed to the tyranny of subjectivist and useless speculation about butterflies and their hypothetical origins. He must do so for no other reason than being able to collect his grant and acquire his PhD or some other doubtful honour of mutual respectability amongst his peers.The really dangerous part of this global pseudo-scientific cultism is that our worker has unconsciously been made to pass from the intellectual liberty provided within the legitimate realms of distinterested hypothesis, into the cul-de-sac of totalitarian absolutism of unprovable dogma” (2001, p. 64)

I’ll provide the breakdown of the 700 in a few weeks. But trust me, it’s not that different from what you see here.

Comments

  1. #1 TomS
    January 8, 2008

    What strikes me as significant is what these hundreds of people have produced. Expertise, it seems to me, is shown by what one does. I don’t care if someone is a high-school dropout, if they do the work, then that is enough. These hundreds of people have had many years to produce an alternative to “Darwinism”. Is there any indication of any progress in that direction? That is the most important test.

  2. #2 Foob
    January 8, 2008

    Well, my background is in computer science, and my degree is in artificial intelligence. I chose to focus in genetic algorithms, so I feel pretty qualified to talk on that subject. I can’t imagine that the study of evolution as a deep search algorithm is covered in too many biology courses.

    I’m not sure that dismissing computer scientists’ input to your field is particularly helpful, especially since the engineering uses for evolution provide some really great examples of its power. I guess this is an example of PZ Myers’ comment that everyone who studies part of evolution thinks that their field has the best evidence supporting it…

  3. #3 David Robin
    January 8, 2008

    Noting Anthropologists, I wonder which subdisciplines those four are in. Some parts of Anthropology are of course very much involved with evolution, but other areas aren’t.

    I’d hate to think the any of the the four are Biological Anthropologists.

    DPR

  4. #4 Sigmund
    January 8, 2008

    The wording of that statement is so vague that Richard Dawkins could sign it yet the Discovery Institute use it to imply that the signatories completely reject the theory of evolution.
    That said I think most of those who DO sign it probably do actually reject evolutionary theory. I found out recently that a former colleague (a well know UK-based haematologist) was one of the signers and he apparently did so for entirely religious reasons. As a physician I guess he didn’t need to understand the principles underlying evolution in his day to day work (recognize a disease from the symptoms and prescribe the appropriate treatment) so it is not so much of an intellectual problem compared to someone that works as with genomics, where evidence of common descent hits you in the face every time you switch on the computer.
    I would really like to know how many scientists currently working in human genomics (in the post genome sequence age) are on that Discovery list. I would hazard a guess of zero.

  5. #5 Kay
    January 8, 2008

    Foob…

    An elegant and graceful retort. Good Job!

  6. #6 SLC
    January 8, 2008

    In addition to the identified fields of expertise, it would be interesting to see where the individuals got their degrees. I seem to recall that a number of them got their degrees from bible colleges or diploma mills. How many of them actually received degrees from respectable universities. In addition, what research, if any in their respective fields are the signers currently engaged in? Obviously, investigation into the backgrounds of the signers would be a major undertaking but might yield some useful results.

  7. #7 J-Dog
    January 8, 2008

    I second what SLC said. I think the current exchange rate of a Bob Jones U or Oral Roberts degree to a real degree is 200 to 1.

  8. #8 Mac
    January 8, 2008

    Foob- (re #2)
    Of course a broad academic background (including evolutionary algorithms) would benefit any biologist studying evolution… in this case I disagree slightly with Mr. Lynch. But tell me, for I do not know: do computer science courses teach students about the chemical properties of nucleic acids, bench methods for analyzing novel proteins, or how to interpret fossil morphology?

    I’m not implying that CS and engineering disciplines have no contribution to evolutionary biology. I partly agree with you, I think they have a large potential for contribution. But Mr. Lynch also has a very valid point because biological evolution per se is, in all likelyhood, not their field of expertise. Computer science, furthermore, is much broader than the field of genetic search algorithms, at which, I assume, not every computer scientist is an expert. Evolution is large enough that even if ALL the computer scientists in the world “dissented from Darwin,” their opinions would hold little merit in this regard.

  9. #9 Moses
    January 8, 2008

    Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

    I’ve always agreed with that. Show everything. Make every high school student in the country take a one-year course on Evolution. Taught by an unrepentant science teacher.

    Because a careful examination of the evidence, including the phony claims of AIG, DI, etc., is a good thing and can only improve the understanding of the ToE in the general populace. And many people, though probably not a majority, will be convinced.

    Keep doing this, year-after-year. As time passes the center will move more and more to a general acceptance of the ToE instead of where we’re at today.

    And, who knows, maybe we end up winning the culture war for our grandchildren. Probably not. We’re so messed up that I don’t think it’s even possible.

    But it’s a nice fantasy in part of the “If I were King” game.

  10. #10 Frank B
    January 8, 2008

    There are many subspecialties of medicine where evolution may not seem relavent, but explains the underlying phenomenon. Blood banking is my specialty which deals with population genetics, which can only be understood in light of veriability and natural selection. Sicklecell trait and maleria is a well known example. Negative Duffy Phenotype and Plasmodium Vivax (maleria) is another example. Extreme veriability in the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) system gives natural selection something to work with.
    Researchers in my field can still do good work and extend our knowledge even if they reject evolution. It will only affect their level of understanding.

  11. #11 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    January 8, 2008

    In addition to the identified fields of expertise, it would be interesting to see where the individuals got their degrees…

    Keep in mind that the list publishes only one affiliation, and signers tend to use whatever affiliation is most prestigious. for example, William Dembski is signed up as “Ph.D. Mathematics, University of Chicago,” which sounds fairly prestigious. But he currently works at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he is listed as a “Research Professor of Philosophy.”

    Also, I’d like to point out that the list is distributed in a non-searchable, non-alphabetic PDF format. Apparently the DI does not welcome scrutiny.

  12. #12 ERV
    January 8, 2008

    You can strike off one of the ‘microbiologists’.

    Ive interacted with Donald Ewert in real life and on his review of ‘Design of Life’ on Amazon.com. Okay, Im just a student, right? This guy is so out of touch with basic micro/immuno research that I had to ‘teach’ him things that we are taught in class. Like, not ‘new cutting edge research’… stuff we are taught in class.

    He claims to have been involved in viral research in the past as well, and I cant understand a damn word he says (its all ID gibberish, front-loading and such).

    Completely incompetent.

  13. #13 M Jerome Garrett
    January 8, 2008

    What a clever argument. “You’re nothing like me and you did not get the same degree as me so you couldn’t know anything about this subject.” Awesome viewpoint.

    “Chemists, physicists, engineers, bench jockeys, doctors and mathematicians account for over 200 of the 300 signatories. And seriously, who cares what computer scientists, statisticians, philosophers and atmospheric scientists think?”

    WOW! That statement alone proves there is 1) incredible arrogance and 2) avoidance of logic. To think that this subject only encompasses one realm of thought is asinine, and to dismiss others’ thought as irrelevant proves that your thought does that take into account all the facts.

  14. #14 Bob O'H
    January 8, 2008

    And seriously, who cares what computer scientists, statisticians, philosophers and atmospheric scientists think?

    Oi! If it wasn’t for us statisticians, evolutionary biology would still be called biogeography. :-)

    Also, if one of the philosophers is Stan Stalthe, he does have training in biology, and even added to the evolutionary literature. He’s had a change of heart since then. But he’s not a fan of ID either.

    Bob

    Bob

  15. #15 Roger Stanyard
    January 8, 2008

    I’ve done some analysis of the signatories for the British Centre for Science Education.

    You can find it here: http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/IntelligentDesignAdvocates

    If you need something more up to date, please let me know.

    I hope that it all helps.

  16. #16 killinchy
    January 8, 2008

    The probable reason why there are so many chemists among the group is that there are so many chemists.

  17. #17 Rob Knop
    January 8, 2008

    I don’t care what chemists, physicists, engineers etc have to say about evolution, and neither should you.

    …but you should care. For if a physicist is willing to go on record saying that the theory of biological evolution is suspect, you should question that physicist’s scientific judgement. It’s a warning sign.

  18. #18 Bryson Brown
    January 8, 2008

    I’m rather pleased to see there are only 3 philosophers on the list– I’ve known a few colleagues with woolly-headed ideas about evolution, and I would have guessed that there would be more out there ready to sign onto this nonsense. The real question is always individual, I think: what does this person know about evolution? In general, qualifications do track disciplinary boundaries, if only roughly. Still, it is striking, given this, that so many of these people were expressing opinions well outside their field when they signed on for this propaganda effort (and the statement itself is so vague and slippery that it’s clearly designed for maximum palatability to the widest audience)…

  19. #19 Mark Duigon
    January 8, 2008

    Exercise Science? What’s that, a gym major?
    The categories seem a tad heterogeneous; on the one hand, there are 6 Geologists, on the other hand, (arguably about 100) biologists are split into a bunch of groups. I guess I’m one of those who does care what other scientists think–because if they entertain unscientific ideas about evolution, I might begin to wonder how scientifically they pursue their claimed fields: If my internist thinks an Intelligent Designer poofed all species into existence, perhaps he’ll recommend therapeutic touch instead of an appropriate vaccine. Or maybe my tax dollars will be spent drilling a hydrogen well.

  20. #20 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    January 8, 2008

    More on your methods please – are you just tabulating based on the affiliation listed on the petition? Or have you made some effort to track down the signers and find out what their current occupation and affiliation is? I.e. Do you have Dembski down as mathematics or philosophy? (he’s supposedly got a Ph.D in each.) And I notice there is no category for “burger-flipping,” so I suspect that I know the answer already.

  21. #21 John Lynch
    January 8, 2008

    Tabulating based on either (1) area of PhD specialization, or (2) current departmental affiliation for employed academics. Google was used to hunt down signatories and there were only seven whom I couldn’t get information on.

    Re burger-flippers: Some of the PhDs are no longer in academia. There’s at least one soccer coach and a home-schooling mom in the mix. The DI cast its net wide and wasn’t choosy about the fish it caught as long as they were Dr Fish.

  22. #22 John Lynch
    January 8, 2008

    Rob’s point (#17) is indeed true. When I say “I don’t care what chemists, physicists, engineers etc have to say about evolution, and neither should you,” I guess I mean that I don’t (and shouldn’t) let it sway me in what I accept to be true about evolution.

  23. #23 Jon McKenzie
    January 8, 2008

    Someone should look into how many academic publications each of the signatories has. Course, that would be a lot of work.

  24. #24 Sili
    January 8, 2008

    killinchy,

    Ouch.

    For what it’s worse this (not quite) chemist accepts evolution – even if he only has a rudimentary grasp of it.

  25. #25 Julie Stahlhut
    January 8, 2008

    There is no reason why a physicist or computer scientist — or a bank teller or a fashion designer or a full-time homemaker — cannot understand evolution in at least a conceptual way.

    The red flag goes up for me not because of whether the person speaking has earned advanced degrees in biology, but rather when the attitude is “I’m a physicist/programmer/engineer/economist/mathematician/super genius, and I disagree with everything that all research in your own field has supported for the last hundred years. And, no, I don’t have to read or study it. I just have to look at it and then I understand how simple it is and how wrong you are.”

    That’s one of my main tests for crankery. I call it the Lawson Screen:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Lawson

  26. #26 michael
    January 8, 2008

    My favorite on the list is E. Norbert Smith (aka Doc Gator) PhD Texas Tech Zoology truckdriver/minister. Look up his nightmares for evolution at godofcreation.com

  27. #27 Kristine
    January 8, 2008

    Given that one of them is the crankish Bernard d’Abrera who was canned from the British Museum

    Whoa, you might have something there. How many of these people were (probably due to their incompetence) canned? Is there a sour grapes quotient here? Perhaps the list should be called “failed scientists who diss disciplinary action”?

  28. #28 afarensis
    January 8, 2008

    Interesting. The 700 list only has three anthropologist listed (Braxton Alfred, David Ness, and Neil Huber) so apparently they lost one. Of the three, Alfred seems to be a legitimate anthropologist – which comes as somewhat of a surprise to me given that he:

    was a member of a large project on the health and nutritional status of BC Indians. He is the author of numerous scientific papers mainly dealing with population genetics and a text in statistics treating qualitative data analysis.

    .

  29. #29 TSK
    January 8, 2008

    I will print out your rant as an mind boggling example of pseudo-skepticism. A short conclusion:

    If experts from other fields agree with you, you take that as evidence for the correctness of your claim.
    If experts from other fields disagree with you, you take that as evidence for their incompetence.

    You didn’t say “Well, I don’t trust the signers” or “I stick with the majority” or “I am not really interested
    in the debate, I trust my own knowledge” or whatever more or less valid arguments you may have said.
    You said: “I don’t care what chemists, physicists, engineers etc have to say about evolution, and neither should you”.

    Do you know talk.origins ?
    a) For evolution we need a long time. Guess what, there are physicists who uses radiocarbon dating and found out the
    necessary energy source (fusion) of the Sun (One of the main problems of Darwinism when Kelvin errornously nailed down the timescale to millions of years).
    There are geologists who are examining the necessary time to build strata.
    Knowledge of pure biologists concerning the timescale: nil.

    b) To prove that selection/mutation together with inheriting
    is able to solve problems and improve solutions it is necessary to model it. That means simulation and that means computer science.
    Ability of pure biologists to prove that evolution *is* a functioning model: nil.

    c) To prove that evolving complex features is possible with the chemical and physical processes, especially in the case of abiogenesis you need expertise in chemistry and physics.
    Ability of pure biologists to set up experiments like the Miller-Urey one: nil

    (Miller had an Ph.D. in chemistry and changed to biochemistry, Urey was an physical chemist).

  30. #30 386sx
    January 8, 2008

    Instead he is now compelled through the pressure of insidious programming by the overlords of the scientific establishment, to subject everything he has objectively observed to the tyranny of subjectivist and useless speculation about butterflies and their hypothetical origins.

    Sounds to me like d’Abrera is upset that his god doesn’t stop being something other than a “poof” of smoke always running away from people whenever they try to show the skeptics that it’s really really real!! Really it really really is!! Really it’s not just pretend voices in their heads!!

    Well I don’t blame d’Abrera one bit.

  31. #31 John Lynch
    January 8, 2008

    @ TSK

    If experts from other fields agree with you, you take that as evidence for the correctness of your claim.

    Please show me where I make such a claim.

    If experts from other fields disagree with you, you take that as evidence for their incompetence.

    Let me fix that for you. If experts from other fields disagree with you regarding your field, you take that as evidence for their incompetence. See? It makes sense now.

    As for the rest …

    I’m well aware that physicists determine the age of the Earth (not using the sun or radiocarbon dating though). However, the age of the earth is not an area of research within evolutionary biology (or the subset of such called “Darwinism”).

    Proving “that selection/mutation together with inheriting
    is able to solve problems and improve solutions” may be doable using computer simulation. However studying Darwinian selection does not. I suggest you browse any major evolutionary journal for evidence from field and laboratory. No need for computer scientists, I’m afraid.

    The study of the origin of life is logically independent of the study of the diversification of life. The latter is the subject matter of evolutionary biology, the former is not and indeed been the domain of physicists and chemists.

  32. #32 BaldApe
    January 8, 2008

    Regardless of the degree someone has, I have never met anyone who does not accept evolution who understands it. Sometimes the misunderstanding seems like a deliberate blind spot (like the insistence on “randomness” as an objection) and sometimes they just don’t know what they’re talking about. (A safe bet if they pull the “evolution is just a theory” crap.)

  33. #33 Louis Savain
    January 8, 2008

    I have a question for the neurobiologists who frequent this blog. I am a Christian evolutionist, which means that I believe that evolution does and did occur but a huge part of it was designed and engineered by God. I am also a computer programmer and my main interest is in the field is artificial intelligence and software reliability, in that order. In addition, I do research in Biblical metaphors (e.g., the book of Revelation). I have excellent reasons to believe that the Bible contains amazing scientific knowledge coded as metaphors. Don’t laugh. Please read what follows.

    Based on my interpretation of various Biblical metaphors, I am able to make a couple of precise predictions regarding the human cerebellum (among other things). My predictions (see link below) go against the current consensus among neurologists who maintain that the cerebellum contributes to speech production. I predict that it does not. I believe that a careful inspection of cerebellar pathways will corroborate my claim. My question is, how does one go about getting a prediction of this sort tested in the lab using a real human brain and, more importantly, how much will it cost?

    Rebel Science News:
    http://rebelscience.blogspot.com/search/label/cerebellum

  34. #34 richard blaine
    January 8, 2008

    Ugh. I’m a chemist, and a staunch proponent of evolution. I know a couple of the chemists on the DI list, and (rightly or wrongly), I’ve lost all respect for them as scientists.

    A colleague of mine is a POLYMER chemist and creationist. He keeps telling me that it is impossible to decrease entropy. What the hell does he think happens when he makes polymers from monomers!?!

    I’m frequently amazed about the ability for humans to compartmentalize their brains so that they can hold mutually incompatible ideas.

  35. #35 Chris Noble
    January 9, 2008

    What would be interesting would be to look at the overlap between the “Dissent from Darwin” list and the corresponding list for HIV denial.

    Phillip Johnson and Johnathon Wells are on both.

    The HIV denial list also shows an inverse relationship between the people on their list and the relevance of their qualifications. Engineers seem to feature on both lists.

  36. #36 Mark
    January 9, 2008

    I think you should be interested in what engineers, chemists, and geologists think about evolution, because evolution is part of science. If evolution is untrue, then the “scientific method” is wrong and all of science comes into question. The basis for designing a bridge or a chemical plant is no longer valid. There will always be a few lunatics who refuse to see reality. Do you dismiss Richard Dawkins’ opinion about religion because he doesn’t have a theology degree? I would certainly like to know if a prominent scientist has signed a statement saying evolution is not true, because I then know that his (or her) scientific judgement is severely flawed, and should not be trusted.

  37. #37 Shawn Wilkinson
    January 9, 2008

    omg richard (re #34), that’s pretty scary. I’m a chemist with interdisciplinary interest in physics and computer science (eh, “theoretical chemistry” just seems like a bland title), so that statement spooks me.

    And though John’s comments implied that physicists, chemists, and computer scientists in general don’t know a thing about evolutionary biology, he is correct in general. The only time those professions may have encountered evolutionary biology is in a required undergraduate biology class, which though aims at developing an understanding of evolution through pedagogy doesn’t have a 100% success rate of developing such understanding. They definitely would not have faced such science in graduate school in general. Only in the particular case of studying evolutionary algorithms and applying them to their respective discipline.

    But in general, it really does bother me when a chemist speaks idiocy. I would like to think my field produces intelligent and competent individuals who rely heavily on empirical results and data to form conclusions. But, eh. One can only hope for so much?

  38. #38 Foob
    January 9, 2008

    Let me fix that for you. If experts from other fields disagree with you regarding your field, you take that as evidence for their incompetence. See? It makes sense now.

    It’s still perfectly possible for a computer scientist to publish on evolution and be working in his own field.

  39. #39 qedpro
    January 9, 2008

    the need to reword the statement

    I reject the theory of evolution. it is false without any evidence to support it.

    And then see how many of those people sign on the dotted line.

  40. #40 Ken
    January 9, 2008

    Thanks for this analysis.
    I would also be interested in pulling out information of country of residence. I think only 3 of the 700 are from New Zealand (my country) so this helps to put the significance of the list into context.

  41. #41 Gary F
    January 9, 2008

    “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

    If this list wasn’t obviously being used to promote Intelligent Design, I would carefully consider signing such a statement, and eventually decline. A few years ago, I heard that there was a controversy between evolution and creationism, I decided to try to figure out the truth. I treated both sides with a high degree of skepticism, reading arguments from websites both supporting evolution and denying that it has happened. I found solid science, supported by DNA sequencing, fossils, biogeography, and other lines of evidence on one side, and pure falsification mixed with Bible-thumping denial of evidence on the other. I learned that natural selection can generate complexity from the noise of random mutations, while creationism simply points to the myths of Bronze-age herdsmen to explain life, while denying or running away from new lines of evidence supporting evolution, such as bacterial enzymes that break down nylon.

    While I’m not really skeptical about evolution any more, rather, I’m convinced that it accurately describes the history of life on Earth, I understand that careful and skeptical examination of evidence supporting our understanding of evolution is a highly useful undertaking which prevents scientific findings from becoming dogma. It is unfortunate that many people choose to adulterate science, the amazing system that we can use to cut through falsehoods, with their religious beliefs, which are based on emotion and ancient literature rather than hard evidence.

  42. #42 Louis Savain
    January 9, 2008

    It is unfortunate that many people choose to adulterate science, the amazing system that we can use to cut through falsehoods, with their religious beliefs, which are based on emotion and ancient literature rather than hard evidence.

    Well, not anymore. I am one Christian who’s coming out with a number of falsifiable scientific predictions about the human brain. These are precise predictions that I was able to decode from ancient literature (2000 year-old or more), about aspects of the brain that cannot be found in the current scientific record. So I cannot be accused of making predictions after the fact. Very soon, you guys will have to deal with us Christians on scientific grounds (as opposed to treating us like a bunch of idiots as you usually do) because we’re coming out in force. There is a flip side to every coin. Think carefully before you choose.

    …The writing is on the wall.

  43. #43 John Lynch
    January 9, 2008
  44. #44 Louis Savain
    January 9, 2008

    Re: #43

    John, it makes perfect sense that you should mimic PZ Myers by engaging in ad hominems. Your blog consists mostly of attacking messengers while ignoring their message. I have made a falsifiable prediction about the human cerebellum based on my interpretation of certain Biblical metaphors. If you can falsify it, do so. Otherwise, your lame attempt at ridiculing my person is just that, lame. You wanted falsifiability, you’re gonna get it. Lots of it. See you around.

  45. #45 John Lynch
    January 9, 2008

    You wanted falsifiability, you’re gonna get it.

    Excellent. I expect to enjoy reading your research papers in neurobiological journals.

  46. #46 Louis Savain
    January 9, 2008

    I expect to enjoy reading your research papers in neurobiological journals.

    Forget it. I believe in going directly to the customer, i.e., the public whom you despise, but who ultimately pays for all science research. They are my peers. I’ll stay away from politically-correct publications, thank you very much. Like I said, see you around. And stay tuned. ahahaha…

  47. #47 Mark
    January 10, 2008

    Wow, this thread sure went downhill quickly since I last looked at it. After looking at your writings in the link, Louis, it appears to me that you’ve got way too much time on your hands!

  48. #48 Ex-drone
    January 10, 2008

    A list based on argumentum ad falsum verecundiam.

  49. #49 Ex-drone
    January 10, 2008

    Staying away from academic peer review. Going directly to the public who ultimately pays. Is Louis Savain (#46) talking about neurobiological hypotheses or Q-Ray bracelets?

  50. #50 Louis Savain
    January 10, 2008

    Staying away from academic peer review. Going directly to the public who ultimately pays. Is Louis Savain (#46) talking about neurobiological hypotheses or Q-Ray bracelets?

    The biggest problem with elitism in science is the insufferable pomposity of the elite and their condescension toward the public, not unlike the religious priests of old. And yet, as the late great Paul Feyerabend wrote in “Against Method”, “the most stupid procedures and the most laughable results in their domain are surrounded with an aura of excellence. It is time to cut them down in size, and to give them a more modest position in society.” I always laugh when I write this. ahahaha…

    To that I would add that there is a foolproof way to spot a voodoo scientist. If a scientist claims to have a theory about a natural phenomenon but is unable to explain the theory in a simple language that the average layman can understand, one can be absolutely certain that he is as clueless about the nature of the phenomenon in question as anybody else. ahahaha… AHAHAHA… ahahaha…

    Alright, enough of this. I got work to do. Mesdames et messieurs, it’s been a pleasure. ahahaha…

  51. #51 Mike
    January 12, 2008

    It seems to me that arguing over who signed what list is – if not completely irrelevant – a very weak argument for or against a proposition. It’s basically the “argument from authority” that we regularly deride creationists for using. One could even argue that it’s anti-Darwinian, given that Charles read anything and everything that might have anything to do with transmutation of species.

    Much better to argue for or against the proposition itself. In this case, the proposition is so vague as to be utterly useless. “We are skeptical…” – well, isn’t that the job of scientists? We have tons of evidence that clearly supports the propostion that natural selection, mutation and the unmentioned forces of genetic drift and gene flow can produce precisely the complex systems that are the darlings of DI. Let’s give ‘em that, instead of questioning their credentials.

  52. #52 truth machine
    January 14, 2008

    My question is, how does one go about getting a prediction of this sort tested in the lab using a real human brain

    You could volunteer yours; it’s not much good for anything else.

  53. #53 truth machine
    January 14, 2008

    It seems to me that arguing over who signed what list is – if not completely irrelevant – a very weak argument for or against a proposition. It’s basically the “argument from authority” that we regularly deride creationists for using.

    Demonstrating that an appeal to authority is fallacious is not itself fallacious.

    Much better to argue for or against the proposition itself.

    It’s their claim, and thus their obligation to argue for it.

  54. #54 truth machine
    January 14, 2008

    To that I would add that there is a foolproof way to spot a voodoo scientist. If a scientist claims to have a theory about a natural phenomenon but is unable to explain the theory in a simple language that the average layman can understand, one can be absolutely certain that he is as clueless about the nature of the phenomenon in question as anybody else.

    A foolproof way to spot an idiot is to observe that he has offered up such a boneheaded claim.

  55. #55 Mike
    January 14, 2008

    “Demonstrating that an appeal to authority is fallacious is not itself fallacious.”

    Granted – but it’s not a strong argument, either.

    “It’s their claim, and thus their obligation to argue for it.”

    But of course they can’t because the claim has no validity. Ok, snide comment aside – granted that they made the claim, they need to argue for it; we still need to present our arguments to show why the claim is false. Showing their argument from authority is less authoritative than our argument from authority (I’m thinking of the “Steve” list here) distracts from that.

  56. #56 Ric
    January 14, 2008

    Mike, the thing is there is no such fallacy as an argument from authority. The fallacy’s full title is “argument from false authority.” That puts a whole new spin on it, doesn’t it?

  57. #57 Bryn
    January 14, 2008

    The amusing thing to me was the first name on the Dissenters List. Okay, well, the first descriptor after the first name on the list–”Henry F. Schaefer, Nobel Nominee…. Really? According to the Nobel Prize website, nomination info is never released until 50 years after the fact. This is either someone who got nominated a whole lot of years ago or…

  58. #58 Stanton
    January 14, 2008
    I expect to enjoy reading your research papers in neurobiological journals.

    Forget it. I believe in going directly to the customer, i.e., the public whom you despise, but who ultimately pays for all science research. They are my peers. I’ll stay away from politically-correct publications, thank you very much. Like I said, see you around. And stay tuned. ahahaha…

    Mr Savain, by stating that you are going to circumvent the peer-review process, just as all other creationists are wont to do, you are not doing science. And by admitting that you do not want to have your experiments and predictions undergo the peer-review process, which includes the repeating and examination of your experiments and careful examination of your data and observations, you have stripped all legitimacy from your claims about wanting to do science.

    You can not be a scientist if you do not accept the fact that the modern scientific community is a meritocracy, not a democracy.

  59. #59 Mike
    January 15, 2008

    Ric – Ok, granted, I’d rather listen to Dawkins than Behe about evolution any day. However, the fact that Dawkins supports evolution and Behe doesn’t is still a weak argument in favor of evolution. It’s the evidence that matters, not who said what.

  60. #60 TSK
    January 15, 2008

    Ric
    : Mike, the thing is there is no such fallacy as an
    : argument from authority.

    Sure it is. It is a fallacy to assume that an argument of (correct) authority is necessarily the truth. An argument of authority is simply more likely to reflect the best current knowledge. Expertise should give you the ability to
    judge ideas and explain their consequences, but it is no infallible statement. It bolsters your position, but does not *prove* it.
    You see that ad oculus if two experts in the same field strongly disagree. Are both right or what ?

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