I love Walter ReMine

Some of you might be familiar with the work of Walter ReMine. He's been around the fringes of the online creation-evolution thing for quite a while now. His typical schtick involves the relentless self-promotion of his self-published book The Biotic Message, which he claims represents a revolutionary new origins theory of some sort.

It's been a while since ReMine was last on my radar screen, but he's posted a couple of items over at Uncommon Descent recently. These are advertised as the first two parts of a multiple-part essay of unspecified length. He promises that this essay will introduce readers to "Message Theory" - a term which he uses often, always with the capital letters, but has yet to actually define. Instead, he devoted all of his first post and half the second to a discussion of the importance of testability, and why it's such a good thing that Message Theory is actually testable. (He does not, of course, explain how to test it in either post.) The remaining half-post is devoted to an explanation for why it's not possible for him to publish his idea in the form of scientific papers - apparently, it's too wide-ranging and comprehensive to fit in anything less than a book.

And, besides, other people have published big deal concepts as books, so we shouldn't hold that against him:

Recall that Darwin never published his theory of common descent in a science journal, and not as a paper. It would have stripped down his ideas to a dozen pages or so, and created a laughable caricature. It would have been counterproductive to Darwin. Given the controversial nature of origins and the strong opposition to Darwin, a mere 'paper' would have diminished his theory. It would miscast his theory as less powerful than it was; to friend and foe alike.

So far, nobody in the comments over at UD has pointed out one of the more glaring problems with that statement. Lyell and Hooker presented Darwin and Wallace's papers on common descent and natural selection to the Linnean Society on July 1, 1858. Both papers were published in the Society's Proceedings later that year.

It should be noted that this was apparently accomplished without diminishing the theory in any way, even though the publication of both the Darwin and Wallace manuscripts occupied a combined total of 17 pages.


More like this

Given the quality of his "Cost Theory" paper, which he tried to publish in The Journal of Theoretical Biology, but ended up publishing in ICR's journal instead when the reviewers at TJTB didn't see anything novel in it, I'm not holding my breath.

By Dave Wisker (not verified) on 26 Mar 2009 #permalink

In some disciplines papers in journals can be very long. See for example, the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem which ran to slightly over a hundred pages. I have trouble believing that ReMine can't summarize his work in less than that.

Ah, a blast from the past -- I'm sure you, like me, remember his appearances on talk.origins (under various sockpuppets), his jousting with the ever-patient "Gentleman Jim" Acker, his endless mantra of "Buy my book!". Not surprising that he'd wash up at UD, where all the flotsam of the ID/Creationist world seems to come ashore eventually. Just think of UD as that place in the North Pacific to which all the world's garbage drifts....

As I recall, the secretary of the Linnean Society, summing up the activities of 1858, remarked that it was a bad year and nothing of any real importance had been presented.

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 26 Mar 2009 #permalink

The assertion that the biotic message wouldn't fit into a paper is rather odd given that it only, from what I can tell from the contents page, the "new theory" is only a side theme of the book while the rest is mostly criticisms of evolution (including recapitulation theory and Haldane's dilemma) and quotemining.

Many years ago, Scott Page and I used to participate on the old CARM discussion boards. Courtesy of that discussion board, Helen Setterfield (yes married to Mr C-decay Setterffield) graciously made available to several of us a recording of Kurt Wiseâs keynote speech from one of the International Creation Conventions (ICC). Dr. Wise bemoaned the fact that there are no good creationist biological, cosmological or geological models. During the Q&A Remine got up and said something to the effect that yes there was a good creationist biological model called the Biotic Message Theory and buy my book to learn all about it. Dr Wise then said (dripping sarcasm), âThank you Walter very much for that advertisement.â This produced a combination of gasps, nervous titters and a few guffaws from the audience. It was the highlight of a very entertaining speech. I have since lost the tape, but there may be more copies out there as Helen gave out several.

Joe T.

Hi Joe!

Yes, I remember that. Poor Walter..

Not that it matters - he has becoem a shining star in ID circles. But ID is not about religion, of course...

I have always felt our public schools should teach the controversy.

Both of the great explanatory theories of origins need to be taught - ReMine theory and Davisonian evolution.

But sound science has no chance in this politicized environment.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 27 Mar 2009 #permalink

Remine's presence on UD illustrates the fact that ID is bereft of any unifying theory. Supposedly, the IDiots accept common descent. Remine doesn't. The IDiots love to argue that epigenetics is Lamarckian, and thus disproves Darwinism, while Remine argues that the absence of Lamarckian mechanisms is predicted by "message theory". Etc.

There is, of course, no debate between Remine and the UD regulars.

The Darwin-Wallace papers to the Linnean Society were on natural selection. The secretary of the Linnean Society, summing up the activities of that year (1858), remarked that it was a bad year and nothing of any real importance had been presented. Darwin's theory of universal common descent had to wait for his book (as correctly noted by ReMine), whereupon even his theory of natural selection took on an expansive, controversial new meaning.