Environment

There is an update below the fold with much new information Last week I wrote about the fact that Michael Behe claimed last week under oath that his book, Darwin's Black Box, received even more thorough peer review than a scholarly article in a refereed journal. Now more and more facts are coming to light. We only know the names of 3 of the 5 reviewers - Michael Atchison, Robert Shapiro and K. John Morrow. Atchison, I've already documented, did not review the book at all. He had a 10 minute conversation about the book over the phone, without ever seeing the text, with an editor who was…
Here's another excellent resource for timely updates on the Dover trial. The ACLU of Pennsylvania has set up a blog with frequent updates on what is going on in the courtroom. Jonathan Witt of the Discovery Institute is also blogging live from the trial on the DI blog. His post on Ken Miller's testimony yesterday was rather off the mark, as one would expect. He makes the superficially compelling argument that Ken Miller argued both that ID was not falsifiable and was falsified. But this ignores a fairly obvious logical distinction. Witt writes: In friendly questioning from the plaintiff,…
The Wall Street Journal has a reputation for publishing excellent news pages and mendacious editorial pages. Now, an investigation by Environmental Science and Technology on an WSJ front page article on McIntyre and McKitrick makes you wonder if the editorial pages are influencing the news reporting. You should read the whole thing, but here are a few extracts: But the harshest critic of the whole issue is former Wall Street Journal page-one editor, Frank Allen. He now directs the Institutes for Journalism & Natural Resources in Missoula, Mont. When asked to read the front-page article…
There is an anti-evolution article on Tech Central Station that is just begging for a response, and I'd certainly hate to disappoint. The article is written by Roy Spencer from the University of Alabama. Up front, it is important to note that one should not be fooled by his credentials. He calls himself only a "PhD scientist", and indeed that is precisely what he is. But his area of specialty, climatology, is entirely unrelated to evolution. Thus, the fact that he has a PhD means virtually nothing. He has no more training in fields relevant to evolution - biology, paleontology, anthropology,…
Our intrepid creationist, William Gibbons, is back again. You might remember him from a year ago when I challenged him to explain the evidence from biostratigraphy, a challenge he has still not even attempted to meet. A couple weeks ago, he was back with a long reply of plagiarized and uncredited cutting and pasting as a reply. And now he is back again. But first, he's quite tweaked that I dared to take him to task for plagiarism: It would seem that it is quite unacceptable for a creationist to use and quote from creationist and non-creationist sources when answering critics. It is perfectly…
Last week, in response to more repetition of the false claim that environmentalists had killed many millions of people with a ban of DDT. John Quiggin set out the facts of the matter: DDT has never been banned in antimalarial use. The main reason for declining use of DDT as an antimalarial has been the development of resistance. Antimalarial uses have received specific exemptions from proposals to phase out DDT, until alternatives are developed. Bans on the use of DDT as an agricultural insecticide, promoted by Rachel Carson and others, have helped to slow the development of resistance, and…
Chris Mooney has some comments on the Peiser/Oreskes dispute about the scientific literature on climate change. I asked Benny Peiser for his list of 34 abstracts that "reject or doubt the view that human activities are the main drivers of the 'the observed warming over the last 50 years'." (mentioned in his letter to Science). Peiser wrote back: I have attached those ISI abstracts which question that there is a complete "consensus" as defined by Oreskes. Please note that the most important difference to the Oreskes study is not that there are, contrary to her claim, a few abstracts…
According to this profile, Miranda Devine (last seen making stuff up in an attempt to debunk the Lancet study), once worked for the textile physics division of CSIRO. So she should know that one purpose of peer review is to weed out scientific papers that are inaccurate or where the conclusions are not properly supported by the evidence offered. She went on to write an opinion column where accuracy and supporting your claims are not important, so perhaps that explains why in her latest screed she seems to believe that peer review is a tool to silence dissent. Devine takes on the…
Chris Mooney has an excellent article on how "balanced" coverage of scientific issues can misinform readers: Moreover, the question of how to substitute accuracy for mere "balance" in science reporting has become ever more pointed as journalists have struggled to cover the Bush administration, which scientists have widely accused of scientific distortions. As the Union of Concerned Scientists, an alliance of citizens and scientists, and other critics have noted, Bush administration statements and actions have often given privileged status to a fringe scientific view over a well-documented,…
David Tiley has an has an interesting summary of a BBC program on Global Dimming. It seems that, over the past 40 years, while the amount of sunlight reaching the top of the atmosphere has not changed, the amount of sunlight reaching the surface has declined. Despite this, the earth has warmed over the same time span. The BBC program raises the alarming prospect that burning fossil fuels is making aerosols that produce the dimming and global cooling that is partially masking the warming produced by increased greenhouse gasses. That suggests that the greenhouse gasses…
Some of you may remember Robert Meyer, a former Robert O'Brien Trophy winner we had some fun with a few months ago (see also here and here). He wrote an abysmal article packed full of blatant falsehoods about Stephen Jay Gould. He repeated a number of hoary old creationist chestnuts. For instance, he claimed that Gould and Eldredge developed Punctuated Equilibrium (PE) because of the absence of transitional forms in the fossil record (completely false, and debunked by Gould himself numerous times), and that PE was just like Goldschmidt's Hopeful Monster notion (also false, also debunked by…
And no, I'm not talking about Tim Conway doing a video about evolution and intelligent design. I'm talking about Michael Dorf, professor of law at Columbia, and his latest article at FindLaw. Dorf examines the question of whether teaching ID in public school science classrooms is unconstitutional and concludes that it is. It's an uneven article, with some arguments well reasoned and some poorly reasoned, but obviously I agree with the conclusion. In particular, I think he nails pretty well the question of whether ID is legitimately a scientific theory. Dorf makes two arguments for why ID is…
Just when you think Joseph Farah can't get any more absurd, he does. Exhibit A: this column about evolution and creationism. I especially like this tidbit at the beginning: I was stunned the other day when I asked evolution-believing listeners to my nationally syndicated radio show to call in and tell me why they believed. "Just give me one reason why you accept the theory," I said. "Just give me the strongest argument. You don't have to give me mountains of evidence. Just tell me why I should accept it." Not one evolutionist called in. Meanwhile, the phone banks lit up with dozens of…
A few days ago, I wrote a strongly worded but entirely accurate critique of an absolutely abysmal article by Robert Meyer. I pointed out that every single claim he made about Gould's views on evolution was not only false, but exactly the opposite of what Gould actually believed. That led to an email exchange with Mr. Meyer, which I posted previously, in which he didn't bother to even address the criticisms I made of the falsehoods he perpetrated in his article. Now I'd like to post the e-mail exchange I had with Mr. Gardinier, beginning with the comment he left on the previous thread and my…
Today's target is one Robert Meyer, who wrote this train wreck of an article, Were We Fooled by Stephen J. Gould ? on a site called intellectualconservative.com. If this article represents what they consider to be intellectual, it's time to redefine the term. It's one of those extraordinarily common articles where someone who clearly knows nothing whatsoever about evolutionary theory nonetheless feels qualified to spout off about it, combining smugness with ignorance along the way. In it, Meyer goes for the two oldest and most often refuted lies about Gould. They were in fact refuted by Gould…
In comments to my previous post on Paul Georgia's nonsense about temperature, Sarah wrote:Yes, bad physics, but that was an easy target. I'd like to see you take on a hard target, like the petition signed by 17,000 scientists who declared that global warming is a sham. The research review is here. At the OISM site she linked it says: This is the website that completely knocks the wind out of the enviro's sails. See over 17,000 scientists declare that global warming is a lie with no scientific basis whatsoever. The global warming hypothesis has failed every relevant…
When I ask scientists what's the biggest misunderstanding people have about their work, they often talk about how they know what they know. People tend to think that a scientist's job is to gather every single datum about something in nature--a mountain, a species of jellyfish, a neutron star--and then, simply by looking at all that information, see the absolute truth about it in an instant. If science departments were filled with angels, that might be the case. But they're staffed by humans with finite brains, with tight research budgets, and with only so many years left before retirement or…
Rusty from New Covenant has replied to my post replying to his post in response to comments at the end of my post. Did you follow that? Drugs help, I promise. The upshot of the whole thing, and the issue under dispute, is that Rusty thinks it's "inconsistent" for anyone who accepts evolution to be true to take any moral position on any question. He manages to reach this conclusion through one major misunderstanding (the same one that Ilona has in her responses to me over the last few days) and one major non-axiomatic assumptions. Let's get right to the fisking: He begins:Ed over at Dispatches…
Rusty has again left comments on a post below. Unfortunately, the comments only allow a short message and the issues he raises may require more than 300 words, so I'll copy them here and respond in more detail. Rusty's words are in italics, my responses are in plain type. I will take a different tact here and state that I disagree that the order of appearance MUST be as the record shows for evolution to be true. Gould himself stated that if the evolutionary tape were rewound and then run again the results would be entirely different. For all the data we have on the Cambrian Explosion there is…
Rusty Lopez of the New Covenant blog has stated that his latest response to me regarding the "testable creation model" that he advocates will be his last. I thank him for an engaging dialogue on these issues, and regret that he chooses not to continue the conversation. He says he does not have the time, and I take him at his word. These kinds of posts can indeed, as he says, become very complex and time consuming, as this one already has. In my case, I think it's worth the time and effort, both to stimulate one's own mind and perhaps educate others. So presuming that he chooses not to…