Once more into the Haeckelian morass; or, Peter Moore is an illiterate fool

Perhaps you haven't noticed, but we've got a serial spammer in the comments. This twit, calling himself Peter Moore (also known as Ken DeMyer, or Kdbuffalo, as he was known on Wikipedia before being banned there), is repeating himself over and over again, asking the same stupid question, never satisfied with any answer anyone gives him. Forty nine insipid comments in three days is enough.

I will answer him one last time. Any further attempt to spam multiple comment threads with his demands (and this alone makes him an ass: an incompetent, unqualified hack like Moore is in no position to make demands) will result in his immediate banning.

Here's his assertion:

Dear PZ Myers,

In the link you provided above you wrote the following:

One premise that Wells [Jonathan Wells] brings up with regularity in this chapter is that evolutionary biologists have relied on the false doctrines of Haeckel to prop up Darwinian dogma. He claims that Haeckelian theories "have periodically risen, phoenix-like, from the ashes of empirical disconfirmation" throughout the 20th century. He uses section headings like "Resurrecting recapitulation" and "Haeckel is dead. Long live Haeckel." He accuses biologists of a conspiracy of silence, hiding the flaws in Haeckel's work on one hand, and using it as evidence for evolution on the other.

None of this is true.

This is so patently obvious that we only need to use Wells' own scholarship to show it. He cites a number of authors who discuss Haeckel or the biogenetic law:

Adam Sedgwick, 1894
William Garstang, 1922
Gavin de Beer, 1958
William Ballard, 1976
Stephen J. Gould, 1977
Richard Elinson, 1987
Jane Oppenheimer, 1987
Michael Richardson, 1995
Stephen J. Gould, 2000

However, here is the surprising thing: all of these authors condemn the idea that embryonic development follows the evolutionary pattern in no uncertain terms!

Now I think it is fair for you to bring up the work of Gould and others dismissing Haeckel's fraudulent work. However, I believe it is fair to say that you are being quite negligent in not raising the much larger point of why the evolutionary community allowed the fraud to be perpetuated for a full century and why so many biology textbooks which were most likely composed by evolutionists were allowed to be published and distributed in public schools.
PZ Myers, given the vociferous efforts of evolutionists to keep creation science and intelligent design textbooks out of public schools it is certainly fair to ask why that same vociferousness was not applied to keep Haeckel's fraudulent work out of the biology textbooks which were most plausibly written and edited by evolutionists. Can you please answer this reasonable question?

What we have there in my list is a century of biologists clearly and unambiguously stating that the biogenetic law of Haeckel is invalid. Many of them bring up the methodological flaws in Haeckel's work, as well. You do not get to complain that evolution is founded on Haeckel and has been hiding the errors in Haeckel's work when the biologists have been doing no such thing. Over and over again, eminent biologists beyond that list, including people like Roux and TH Morgan and Haldane, have squashed the theory flat, and still ignorant creationists whine that they have not done enough.

What are we supposed to do? Dig up the grave of Ernst Haeckel and piss on his tattered bones?

This is one issue: the explanatory theory of Haeckel has been falsified and long rejected. One reason it continues to be brought up, however, is that the data, the body of evidence that reveals similarity in organization of vertebrate embryos, is still intact. This is distinct from the theory of embryonic recapitulation, in which Haeckel suggested that the similarity was a consequence of a pattern of evolutionary change that was incorrect. But the similarities are still there!

What confuses the creationists is that they seem unable to distinguish a fundamental difference between an observation and a theory that explains that observation. Vertebrate embryos resemble one another. That's an observation. We still teach that, and we show photographs and slides of embryos illustrating the similarities. Textbooks have used Haeckel's old illustrations of the similarities to show those observations and show work of historical interest. This is not inappropriate, although there are now much better images available. I'll also add that the image used is NOT one that was produced by fraud, so it is incorrect to accuse textbook authors of using "fraudulent work". The actual image that was rather lazily faked in one of Haeckel's books is quite obscure and most of these carping creationists wouldn't recognize it if they saw it.

The textbooks have not promoted Haeckelian recapitulation, the outdated theory explaining those observations, for many years. Developmental and evolutionary biologists have been quite clear: the theory is wrong. The data is not.

The actual theoretical explanation most often used now is a variation on von Baer's answer, that embryos develop from the most general features of the organism to the more specific. Differences appear over developmental time as species-specific elements form on a general vertebrate core.

I don't expect any of this explanation to make the slightest difference to an ignorant ideologue like Peter Moore, but perhaps others with slightly more intelligence will be able to follow it. I can now say that if Peter Moore makes his inane demand one more time, I can declare him unteachable and evict his annoying butt from this site for good.

More like this

The Discovery Institute is so relieved — they finally found a textbook that includes a reworked version of Haeckel's figure. Casey Luskin is very excited. I'm a little disappointed, though: apparently, nobody at the Discovery Institute reads Pharyngula. I posted a quick summary in September of 2003…
(This is a rather long response to a chapter in Jonathan Wells' dreadful and most unscholarly book, Icons of Evolution) The story of Haeckel's embryos is different in an important way from that of the other chapters in Jonathan Wells' book. As the other authors show, Wells has distorted ideas that…
In the comments, Art Hunt passes along a short analysis from Patrick Frank of the instances of Haeckel's work in a number of biology texts from 1923 to 1997. Even the oldest was critical of Haeckelian recapitulation, and only a minority used Haeckel's figure at all. I looked at 15 books in total…
The Discovery Institute is stepping up their smear campaign against Randy Olson and Flock of Dodos, and the biggest issue they can find is their continued revivification of Haeckel's biogenetic law. They've put up a bogus complaint that Olson was lying in the movie, a complaint that does not hold…

I wouldn't expect a "thank you" or even an original argument... he's taken to copy & pasting his posts across multiple threads.

I suppose he also does not realize that schools used incorrect religious theories for millennia, and they certainly did no corrections. Its interesting to note the supernatural expectations they place on science and scientists, yet come up with elaborate apologies to excuse their own religious inequities.

Typical Religdiots, just like goldfish, always delighted to see the side of the bowl because they cannot remember its other side. Surely any cephalopod would.

By The Stone (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink

The actual image that was rather lazily faked in one of Haeckel's books is quite obscure

Do you happen to have the citation?

By David Marjanović, OM (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink

He's going to keep repeating himself no matter what anyway. You also haven't QUITE refined analysis of Haeckel to an exact science. I don't see a single chart or graph regarding the lack of acceptance of his theories anywhere. Therefore, Moore is going to assert that you've taken nonrepresentative data and he's still right that a widespread deception occurred. He will not need to cite any actual data of his own to do so, since him being correct is evidently the default position.

But repetition is important! We need those ignorant catechisms so that we can keep track of what we know! Or something like that.

You know, people have been addressing Peter Moore's "challenge" in the comments for multiple threads now. He just ignores people's responses. He's going to ignore this one too and insist once again that no one has answered his challenge. I would just give up. And ban him.

Looks like I'm too late. Whatever PZ wrote is likely to be quote mined to mean the earth is 6,000 years old, Noah had a Big Boat full of dinosaurs, and Jesus loves Death Cultists. No matter what it said originally. Grocery lists, laundry receipts, cereal boxes, soup labels, for a good quote miner nothing is off limits. This is what Peter the YEC and conservaLie-apedia do.

Whatever, who pays attention to them anyway? The humor wears off pretty quickly leaving a less than cheerful residue.

Peter lying some more:

I do think debate is important and with that in mind...

What Peter the YEC is after is most likely something he can quote mine. Peter and conserva Lie-apedia construct dunghills by quote mining what other people say and write. Don't trust a proven liar, death cultist, and nutcase.

I've got him down as Obsessive-Compulsive for his dozens of spams in 24 hours despite the fact that he knows what we think of lying, cultist, creos. But he could be psychotic. This continual spamming is a highly hostile behavior consistent with schizophrenia or bipolar. Psychotics often have large amounts of endogenous, free floating rage. Only Peter could enlighten us but who would believe what he says with his history.

Kenny doesn't work this way. He quote-mines vigorously, and usually uses fora such as Conservapedia where he can spout his bizarre rants unchallenged.
He'll be back, under one of his many pseudonyms, but his writing is very easy to identify.

If I recall correctly Haeckel published his illustrations in 1874, and they were challenged for accuracy almost immediately. Looking him up in Wikipedia I see that Haeckel also wrote Freedom in Science and Teaching, an argument in favor of teaching evolution in the public schools.
Perhaps this is why creationists are still going on about him after 130-odd years ?

Or perhaps Mr. "Moore" is simply confusing Haeckel with the practice of disrupting a public forum or performance with loudly shouted comments and jeers ?

I don't know PZ, I think you might be on to something with your idea to urinate on Haeckel's tattered bones.

This is an ideal time to direct everyone to my addition to the Sally Ride article at Conservapedia (you'll know it when you see it). I'd link to it, but Peter fucked that up for us.

He cuts and pastes multiple posts into one post... reposts it and doesn't even bother to remove the "Dear PZ Myers" from it.

Fucking hack.

What are we supposed to do? Dig up the grave of Ernst Haeckel and piss on his tattered bones?

This made me laugh out loud to the point of spewing Dr. Pepper all over my desk...

By Justin Wagner (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink

The following is from an individual ignorant of basic developmental biology (me), and as such should be taken with a grain of salt:
So, this von Baer's theory (or the current iteration thererof)is that the order of developmental events proceeds from the general to the specific (within vertebrates)--sort of an "elaboration upon a theme?"
If so, I can kinda see that. I mean, yeah, to be a vertebrate, some things pretty much MUST develop, and common ancestry suggests that the order of development of these basic necessities certainly CAN remain 'intact' as random changes get selected, but aren't those just the broad strokes? That is to say, in certain instances can't (and don't) changes/differences appear early that lead to relatively minor alterations in the 'final product?' I think that it is inherently appealing to imagine development as a series of branched choices along some kind of tree or path in which early pathway deviations lead to dramatic long-term differences, but doesn't our experience with the complexity of organisms make that assumption somewhat unreliable? Isn't it also almost inevitable that some branches would lead to paths that later 're-merge?' Wouldn't some additional, early steps not really change the ultimate course in fundamental ways? Perhaps the basic order could easily be altered without necessarily leading to dramatically different conclusions--in short, could it be that the specific, early order of vertebrate development observed by Haeckel not always be required to occur in just that way, yet still produce an unqualified vertebrate?

If the answer is no, then what might this mean?

Hell, it seems to me that Haeckel's observations would be embraced by folks who argue for some sort of mystical 'designer,' because (to the receptive mind) it hints at an underlying plan that messy old 'evilution' wouldn't necessarily produce!
I dunno, just my two cents. . .

By rubberband (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink

Long past time, PZ. Good for you.

I'm especially proud of the fact that you -- one of "my people" -- addressed the matter directly and openly, and not behind the scenes, as some conservative sites do.

Some places, your comments never get posted, or just vanish, and nobody will admit to anything afterwards. It's the Bill O'Reilly "CUT HIS MIKE!" school of blogging.

Let's see, this Peter Moore simpleton is spamming various blog comment threads with his ridiculous, stultifying gibberish, and we're supposed to take the moron seriously?

Gyaagh! It's like he's in some sort of contest to see which Conservapedia contributor can be the most freakin' dense and obnoxious.

Brilliant! I especially liked the "dig up the grave...and piss on his tattered bones" part. I laughed myself into an asthma attack. If I lived in Minn, I'd buy you a Guinness.

I don't understand what mechanism operates in the minds of these stupid hacks when they form a decision that's so flawed, they're blind to the facts of the situation. These idiots make up their minds before they're faced with the evidence, and then attempt to pick and choose snippets of things to support their weak claims. I think some people should be banned from the whole internet altogether. Just take away their license to sit around making hell for someone committed to sharing their knowledge, experience, and strong opinions with those of us interested.

By Helioprogenus (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink

Thanks, PZ.

First time poster, long time wishing-to-beat-stupid-people-around-the-head person.

As a non-scientist, I'm happy when someone suitably qualified knocks a serial wanker on the head, and spells out the facts for us knowlessmen.

Personally, I'm waiting for some new breakthrough in embryology (hopefully some Grand-Unified-Mindfuck Theory that means we can start growing replacement limbs/organs in ostrich eggs and be done with all that mortality nonsense) but in the meantime the current science will do fine. I'm disappointed, don't get me wrong, but I'm prepared to wait for science to catch up.

Well? We're waiting *taps foot*

You know, I would at least like to see some *new* creationist arguments. Haeckel has been throughly dealt with. This horse is dead and gone, and no amount of yahoos masturbating over it are going to change that.

So please, for the love of FSM, move on from this tired poorly-reasoned nitpick and find some fresh, new poorly-reasoned nitpicks. If the existence of one fraud disproves the entire expanse of evolutionary theory, then every Cristian tortures Jewish Spaniards.

By Master Mahan (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink

It's interesting to see how far some people will go just to prove their insane point. I mean, looking over your dungeon, it's hard for me to imagine how much time some of those guys spend on just spewing their crap on the internet. I mean, that must take some dedication to be that much of a smug, dishonest hack.

I'm conflicted. On one hand, this is a terrific smackdown, and you directly responded to his nagging. On the other hand, you directly responded to his nagging. Maybe it's better not to "reward" that kind of behavior at all?

Peter Moore has other aliases:


(might be Turkel aka JP Holding, not sure about that.)


Posted by: SteveC | November 5, 2007 9:53 PM

Ingersoll? Is he trying to be funny or is he trying to be ironic? Ether way, it does not work.

To rubberband at #16

To a certain extent, I'm not quite sure where you were going with your comment. The observation is that all vertebrate embryos pass through a stage of development, called the pharyngula, which is strikingly similar regardless of what branch of the vertebrate "family" a species is from.

PZ has discussed in the past the fact that the "range" of vertebrate development is rather like an hour glass, where there are a variety of starting points -- mostly dependent upon whether the egg contains a lot of yolk like a reptile or bird or does not have much yolk like a fish, amphibian, or mammal -- then converges to the pharyngula stage which is present in all vertebrate development, and then diverges again as each lineage follows its own development path.


This post has a nice description of what the pharyngula means in terms of vertebrate development, and it also has links to posts which discuss earlier stages of development.

But to sum up, the current theory which explains the observation I discussed above is that the pharyngula stage is the point in time when the relationships between the major parts of the body are established, so that evolution can now "act" upon further development without necessarily screwing everything up.

By Ian Menzies (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink

Dear PZ Myer,

As I stated in another thread, I certainly have no desire to be contentious
and certainly wish to be amicable.

Secondly, I do think your complaint that I am "spamming" multiple threads
and that I am somehow incompetent by posting in more than one thread to be
unwarranted given that you have dodged legitimate questions posed to you
regarding Haeckel's fraudulent work and its perpetuation in the initial
thread I raised it in.

Thirdly, you wrote:

"...Peter Moore ....is repeating himself over and over again, asking the
same stupid question, never satisfied with any answer anyone gives him.
Forty nine insipid comments in three days is enough."

Setting aside the insipid contention which you failed to support, what you
failed to disclose to your readers is that I did make comments to other
posters at your forum.I do think it is a duty of a writer to be clear in
his communication to his readers and I think you failed your readers with
your 49 comment remark. And in regards to your contention "asking the same
stupid question" I would point out that I did pose more than one question
to you.

I would also point out that you created poor essays criticizing
Conservapedia and when legitimate points were raised regarding the
inadequacies of those essays you were unwilling and unable to respond to
them due to the legitimacy of the points raised regarding your essays. I
would encourage readers to look at your essays on Conservapedia and the
criticism directed against them via the search feature on your blog using
the search term "Conservapedia". So I am beginning to see a disconcerting
pattern of you engaging in dodging when it comes to legitimate criticisms
of your writing.

Now before I respond to your material here regarding Haeckel's fraud and it
perpetuation by the evolutionists I will preface my response with some
material of the prominent evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould.

Stephen Gould wrote the following regarding Ernst Haeckel's work in a March
2000 issue of Natural History:

"Haeckel?s forceful, eminently comprehensible, if not always accurate,
books appeared in all major languages and surely exerted more influence
than the works of any other scientist, including Darwin?in convincing
people throughout the world about the validity of evolution... Haeckel had
exaggerated the similarities [between embryos of different species] by
idealizations and omissions. He also, in some cases ? in a procedure that
can only be called fraudulent ? simply copied the same figure over and
over again.?Haeckel?s drawings never fooled expert embryologists, who
recognized his fudgings right from the start. Haeckel?s drawings, despite
their noted inaccuracies, entered into the most impenetrable and permanent
of all quasi-scientific literatures: standard student textbooks of
biology... Once ensconced in textbooks, misinformation becomes cocooned and
effectively permanent, because?textbooks copy from previous texts....
[W]e do, I think, have the right to be both astonished and ashamed by the
century of mindless recycling that has led to the persistence of these
drawings in a large number, if not a majority, of modern textbooks!"

Stephen Gould continues by quoting Michael Richardson of the St. George?s
Hospital Medical School in London, who stated: "I know of at least fifty
recent biology texts which use the drawings uncritically". (for the source
of quoted material regarding Gould's statements please see:
http://www.creationism.org/caesar/haeckel.htm ).

Prominent evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould uses the words "astonished" and
"ashamed" regarding the perpetuation of the fraudulent work of Ernst
Haeckel which was used to promote the evolutionary position and I believe
it is perfectly fitting for Gould to do so. Do you, PZ Myers, offer any
such moral outrage? No you do not. And given your dodging of legitimate
points when they are raised and given your unnecessary caustic tone
directed towards me, the lack of moral outrage regarding the Haeckel fraud
affair is not particularly surprising.

You do, however, offer the following sarcastic remark along with some
additional material I will comment on shortly:

"What are we supposed to do? Dig up the grave of Ernst Haeckel and piss on
his tattered bones?"

Mr. Myers, the above sarcasm and the additional material you offered cannot
excuse away the laxity of the evolutionary community in allowing a large
number, if not a majority, of modern textbooks in 2000 to promote Haeckel's

For example, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) published an
educator?s guidebook entitled "Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of
Science" that it made available to educators in the United States. The
guidebook certainly encouraged educators to promote material that can only
be called evolutionist propaganda. However, can you show me a single
instance of the National Academy of Science encouraging biology textbook
publishers or educators not to teach the fraudulent work of Haeckel? I
don't believe you can do that.If you had such information you surely
would have revealed it.

As you are probably aware there is the National Association of Biology
Teachers (NABT) founded in 1938 which bills itself as "the leader in life
science education" and the NABT certainly made it clear that it is
pro-evolution.Now can you show me that the pro-evolutionary organization
NABT lead an early charge against Haeckel's fraudulant work being promoted
in biology textbooks which were in all likelihood written and edited by
evolutionists?I don't believe you can because if they did it is doubtful
Gould would stated in 2000 that a large number, if not majority of biology
textbooks were promoting Haeckel's fraud!

I would also point out that high profile evolutionists appear in the media
regularly and certainly promote the evolutionary paradigm in no uncertain
terms.However, you did not give me a single case of a prominent
evolutionist condemning Haeckel's fraudulent work and its propagation via
biology textbooks vis a vis the media and if you had such a case I believe
you would have offered it.

Now I could give a litany of pro-evolution organizations but suffice itself
to say if there had been a will and leadership on behalf of the
evolutionary community to root out the fraudulent work of Haeckel from
being promoted in textbooks to the extent it was it would have been
accomplished and the textbook situation would have been resolved. In
short,Gould's choice of the words "astonished" and "ashamed" are clearly
appropriate and your sarcasm and mere excuses are not.

Now I have no intention of debating you regarding the amount of
similarities and differences regarding vertebrate embryos given the amount
of previous amount of dodging you have exhibited. I will, however, cite
the following regarding the homology/similarity argument allegedly
indicating that macroevolution occurred and I will be citing from the
writing of Christian apologist JP Holding:

"Homologous structures, far from pointing away from a designer of infinite
wisdom, would have indicated to readers of the Bible in their time a
designer who did indeed possess infinite wisdom and mastery over His
creation. It is only because modern persons have arbitrarily decided that a
certain degree of what they see as ?originality? is a proper means
value that the evolutionists? argument carries any apparent force.
To frame our argument against the evolutionists? misuse of homologous
structures requires us to have an understanding of certain values critical
to ancient persons. Roman literature of the New Testament period tells us
that ?(t)he primary test of truth in religious matters was custom and
tradition, the practices of the ancients.? In other words, old was good,
and innovation was bad. Change or novelty was ?a means value which serves
to innovate or subvert core and secondary values.?

By itself, this demolishes one part of the evolutionists? argument and
makes it, clearly, a case of arbitrary imposition of modern values. In a
context such as the above, ?radically different design? would have
indicated to an ancient reader either no deity, or else a deity whose means
was chaos and instability, or a deity who did not have mastery over

Next, I am sure you are aware Jonathan Wells published his Icons of
Evolution is 2000 which highlighted the Haeckel fraud issue in relation to
the textbooks.

Also, I will cite the following from the American Spectator of December
2000/January 2001 written by Dr. Jonathon Wells:

"When biochemist Michael Behe pointed out in The New York Times last year
that the embryo ?evidence? for evolution was faked, Harvard Darwinist
Stephen Jay Gould admitted that he had known this for decades (as noted
above) ? but accused Behe of being a ?creationist? for pointing it

Now, although Behe supports the idea that some
features of living things are best explained by intelligent
design, he is not a ?creationist? as that word is normally
used. Behe is a molecular biologist whose scientific work
has convinced him that Darwinian theory doesn?t conform to
observation and experimental evidence. Why does Gould,
who knows Haeckel?s drawings were faked, dismiss Behe
as a creationist for criticizing them?

I suspect that there?s an agenda other than pure science
at work here. My evidence is the more or less explicit
materialist message woven into many textbook accounts."

Next a New York Times in an article entitled Biology Text Illustrations
More Fiction Than Fact By James Glanz
published on April 8, 2001 reported the following:

"The anti-evolution movement called intelligent design has helped its cause
by publicizing some embarrassing mistakes in leading biology textbooks."

Given that the evolutionary community clearly should have taken a more
active role in rooting out the fraudulant work of Haeckel in regards I
think the negative publicity directed towards the evolutionary community
generated by the intelligent design movement was well deserved.

Lastly, who knows how long it would have taken for the biology textbooks
written and edited by evolutionists to remove Haeckel's fraud from the
textbooks if the intelligent design movement hadn't publicized the matter.
Clearly, the Darwinist community had been lax for 100 years and it appears
as if they were not applying publicity to correct the problem.In
addition, it is truly an embarrassment that Gould apparently was not
pleased with Behe when he did apply the public spotlight to the issue the
perpetuation of Haeckel's fraud via the New York Times.

By Peter Moore (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink


That much goofiness disemvoweled is an amazng sight.

Any relation to Michael Moore?

By Mycelium72 (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink

I hope you didn't ban him. The last comment seed to be a bit more lucid. I think you're getting through to Mr. Moore.

Peter moore, attention whore,
Spied a chink in the armor of science!

With Christ-like delight, he cried, "What a sight!
It's proof that prayer works and God triumphs!"

At PZ's, on a spree, he hopped like a flea,
Infesting each thread with defiance,

He hammered and banged at the mar, and harangued
Like a mechanical godbot appliance,

PZ rolled his eyes at the in troll in disguise,
This apostle of strange pseudoscience,

And then with one pass, he truncated his ass,
And threw him out of the pool for noncompliance!

So sorry, Cuttlefish got me started. : - )

By RamblinDude (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink

"This horse is dead and gone, and no amount of yahoos masturbating over it are going to change that." -- Master Mahan

Ha! Otherwise known as "beating off over a dead horse." or maybe these days, "necrotic equestrian bukkake session."

Too much?

RamblinDude #34 may deserve a new Molly like award (The Tom Lehrer?).

(much less worthy but in Cuttlefish's & RambinDude's vein)
Here Lies Peter Moore
Evicerated by RD #34
No Peter, No Moore

Quoth the PZ: "NeverMoore"

In the consonants of "ptr mr":
"Stp mkng fn f my lmtd brn cpcty - th ntllgnt dsignr rn t f brns whn t ws my trn"

By steve murphy (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who invokes bukkake when confronted by creationism.

Incidentally, I just noticed that when conservapedia.com shows up in the Google hit parade, its site summary reads as follows:

An encyclopaedia with articles written from a conservative viewpoint.

(My emphasis.)

Somebody's having fun, aren't they? Oh, and bravo on the "Sally Ride" amendation. That's the best bit of drug slang I've heard since that random guy at a barbecue told me that college kids in Louisiana call 5-MeO-DiPT "acid's big ugly sister".

Mr. Moore:

You keep saying "lgtmt" ("lgtmt qstns", "lgtmt crtcms", "lgtmt pnts"). I do not think that wrd means what you think it means.


ng mnty

By noncarborundum (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink

Is it ironic that he was complaining about censorship, but then at Conservapedia I'm not longer allowed to edit for a month because I mentioned that the general theory of relativity was a theory based on methodological naturalism, that some object to it being taught without referencing God as its cause, and because I removed the adjective "secular" from before "geologist" on a page that said, "Secular geologists believe the world to be 5.6 billion years old." I should have guessed they would be lying, stupid hypocrites, especially after they put that PZ was censoring one of their "Conservapedians" without taking the time even try and verify it.

Well, PZ, your hard work trying to educate Mr. Moore hasn't gone entirely to waste. I found this very educational, and I will certainly put this to good use the next time I end up arguing with a creationist. I've had this come up before, but wasn't clear enough on the particulars to respond properly.

By Patrick Quigley (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink

I find that if I attempt to read and comprehend a disemvoweled post of such protracted inanity, I find my that my mind begins to slip into a sort of Zen-like state ... actually, no, I think it's just my brain cells destroying themselves out of desperation.


I removed the adjective "secular" from before "geologist" on a page that said, "Secular geologists believe the world to be 5.6 billion years old."

I hope you replaced "secular" with "no" - since consensus is that the Earth is of the order of 4.5 billion years old.


Since that was Peter Moore's dying fling, I'd have thought it wouldn't have hurt to leave it to stand in all its glory without disemvowelment; it would certainly have made it easier to see exactly which long-refuted arguments he was raising against your smackdown.

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink

Since that was Peter Moore's dying fling, I'd have thought it wouldn't have hurt to leave it to stand in all its glory without disemvowelment; it would certainly have made it easier to see exactly which long-refuted arguments he was raising against your smackdown.

I agree - I'm happy to see him banned, but I'd like to be able to see for my self how pathetic his response was - it's the best entertainment to be had out of a thread like this in some ways...

Rubberband, development does indeed resemble a series of path choices. Perhaps the best example is sex determination. If you do not switch on Sry you will be phenotypically female regardless of your genotype. Switch it on and you will be male.

The complexity arises because as development progresses the structures formed become little modules of their own and this then iterates down, especialy as final cell types get determined. In my own speciality, muscle development, skeletal muscles are determined when they turn on the Myogenic Regulatory Factor Myf5, there is then a cascade of events including the turning on of a subsequent MRF, myogenin when the cells fuse together, make myosin and become myotubes. They then make other downstream decisions, like whether to be fast, slow or intermediate. Decisions not available to liver cells or even the fibroblasts around the muscle cells.

This paper gives another example.

They have knocked out the Ptx1 gene in mice because they have a suspicion it is involved in determining limb type, forelimb or hindlimb. What happens is that they get something which is neither. By taking away what makes a hindlimb a hindlimb, a kneecap, very different sized bones in the lower limb and a big Calcaneus (heel bone). What they get is a basic pentadactyl limb that goes one bone, two bones, arays of small bones, five digits. During development this is encoded a suite of genes and on top of this are layered other genes that are restricted to just fore or hind limbs and they make limbs specialised for the demands of the adult animal, flippers instead of wings if you are a penguin for eg.

It is evidence like this that has convinced developmental biologists that von Baer was essentially right. We have not taken his idea and accepted it on faith. Like Darwins, we have kept on finding support for it, just as we keep finding fault with Haeckel. Except that having disposed of Haeckel we don't bother to keep kicking him so to the uninterested it might look like we tacitly accept him as we are not kicking his ideas into touch constantly.

By Peter Ashby (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink

Ooooo, RamblinDude Cuttlefished Peter Moore real good! :-)

By demallien (not verified) on 06 Nov 2007 #permalink

SteveC @ #35 -- Well, I used to be into bestiality, necrophelia and flagellation, but then I realised I was just beating a dead horse. ;-P

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 06 Nov 2007 #permalink

PZ, I have to protest the disemvoweling. I enjoy reading the creationist arguments. They make me laugh.

Haeckel... The one with the "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" argument? Not four years ago, when I was in high school, this ("ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny") was taught as a fact in biology class. The wiki article on Haeckel merely calls this theory "controversial". Maybe the wiki needs an edit?

PZ on Peter Moore:

Forty nine insipid comments in three days is enough.

Looks like Peter Moore was trying to get banned. 49 incoherent spams in 3 days on multiple threads is too many. Either that or he is truly bughouse crazy, schiz or OCD. Or both.

He will undoubtedly quote mine whatever PZ said about Haeckel into something about the earth being 6,000 years old, the Jews kept dinosaurs as pets, and PZ converted to fundie Xianity. These are the people that quote mined a cheerios box into creo to say, all liberals will go to hell.

Moore et al. are malevolent trolls who seem to have a lot of time on their hands. But as someone once said, evil can be banal. It can also be boring and after laughing once at trollapedia months ago, I never bothered to go back.

I'm sure you can find instances of Haeckelian recapitulation being taught. It's also out there in the popular culture — Dr Spock's baby book, for instance, is also full of it.

But you can also find teachers teaching creationism in the classroom. It's an aberration and a failure of the educational system, and something we ought to get mad about and correct; but it is not an accurate representation of the state of evolutionary thought.

The wiki article on Haeckel merely calls this theory "controversial".

More correctly, the wiki article on Haeckel directs the reader to a separate page on recapitulation, which describes Haeckel's theory as discredited.

The reason the creationists still harp on Haeckel is because they think the real important part of science is what gets taught to kids. That's where the battle is. That's what science is about. Converts.

After all, that's how religion works. The contrived contortions of theologians are only used when necessary to back up the important part: getting someone to believe, preferably as soon as possible, so that it's like breathing, and not like arriving at a rational conclusion. There's no wrong way to believe in God. So they think that's what science is about: not genuine discovery, but getting a lot of people to believe in it.

The fact that the scientists themselves rejected Haeckel therefore makes no difference. Peer review journals, like theology treatises, are background matters which don't matter. It got into the textbooks, and was taught to children. See? It must be equally important to scientists that people convert, by hook or by crook. Science is playing the same game as religion.

Theology recapitulates psychopathology. Discuss.

Has any creationist ever managed to find one single example of a recent textbook that treats Haeckel's drawings as part of MET? As anything other than a discredited side-note?

By minimalist (not verified) on 06 Nov 2007 #permalink

I think it's a tad contradictory to finally, at long last, give this guy his very own blogpost addressing his big fat ISSUE -- and then disemvowel his rebuttal. Yes, he's been a jerk, taking over other threads, but if he's worth rebutting he should be given one last blast. I'm not even going to bother trying to read his post. But I suspect most of us here would kinda have liked to.

Way too late for this, but for the record/hell of it:
I think Mr. "Moore" has actually been given too much credit. I don't think he has ever cared about recapitualtion theory; as I read his (first few) spamments, his issue was simply the use of Haeckel's original (not obscure at all) drawings in textbooks. They were used. A lot. And Haeckel's top row of embryos are unquestionably faked & therefore fraudulent. Now, Haeckel's motivation for fraud was to support his (now discarded) recapitulation theory.
But what seems to get lost in all this is the fact that most of the textbooks that (lazily and unconscionably) reproduced these faked drawings did NOT do so in support of the thoroughly discredited "strong" version of recapitulation. Instead, the drawings were used to illustrate the perfectly correct idea that early-ish stages of development often display ancestral characteristics that are then obscured by further differentiation. Therefore, embryology provides additional evidence for common ancestry not available from comparative morphology of adult animals. This is uncontroversial.
Mr. "Moore" and his ilk keep raising the issue as if it is proof of the cynical and sinister machinations of the International Darwinist Conspiracy, the willing and knowing presentation of fraudulent information in support of otherwise unsupportable (cue scary organ music) Darwinism.
And that's what's stupid. Textbooks that used Haeckel's drawings were only trying to illustrate the concept of phylotopy, which is true. The real problems (and I am not condoning any of this) were 1) lazy copying of the art programs of previous textbooks by newer versions--this is still common practice; 2) a lack of better illustrations of the concept in general circulation (until Richardson published those photographs in Science); and 3) an apparent dearth of knowledgable comparative embryologists in the textbook writing & reviewing business. That's all. Laziness and partial ignorance, not evil.
Of course, if I am wrong, I would appreciate correction (that's how science works, Ptr Mr).

By Sven DiMIlo (not verified) on 06 Nov 2007 #permalink

Mr Moore's last comment was simply a long-winded reiteration of the same question he has asked a dozen times, and which was addressed in my article. As I promised, if he couldn't move on and actually demonstrate an ability to read and respond to a rebuttal, he was going to get axed. And he was.

Sastra, you do must realize that he had literally been saying the exact same thing over and over again, and he was warned that if he said it again, he would be blackballed.
That being said, everyone, as far as I could tell, was absolutely sick of Mr (No)Moore's repetive harping on the Haeckel's Embryos, nevermind that Haeckel's recapitulation hasn't been taught as a part of science curriculum in over 130+ years. Mr Moore's arguments are as valid as a Protestant minister complaining to the Vatican over the inclusion of Arius the Heretic in Sunday School curriculum.

I've only skimmed Ken's disemvoweled post (can't be bothered doing a full translation), but from what I can tell it basically boils down to 'yeah, but why are Haeckel's drawings used in biology texts?'

Which is, of course, exactly what he asked in the first place, and is quite adequately addressed in PZ's post.

Haeckel... The one with the "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" argument? Not four years ago, when I was in high school, this ("ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny") was taught as a fact in biology class.

I don't remember if the name Haeckel was mentioned in my HS biology class (it was a few decades ago) but I do remember the phrase "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny." Education in the US is a bad joke.

Aww, seems Conservapedia is currently suffering some issues and is unavailable.

$10 says Peter Moore aka Ken, jonathondickenson, ingersoll6, ingersoll...is even now updating the front page to read:


My guess is that he'll probably spell your name wrong as well.

By Jay Hovah (not verified) on 06 Nov 2007 #permalink

Unfortunately, he's going to 'win' either way. Now that you've banned him (Presumably) he can go around and trumpet on how these Eviluitionists don't allow debate.

If you don't ban him, he parades around that Evilutionists can't answer his questions.

I wonder what happens if we use their same tactics... It makes me want to shower just thinking about it.

By Brendan S (not verified) on 06 Nov 2007 #permalink

In any case, Peter wasn't carping about the fact that a scientific inaccuracy crept into textbooks; he couldn't care less about that. He is railing against the fact that intelligent design creationism is pounced on with more fervor than the input of an actual pioneer in the field of biology.

It's like being outraged that the planetary model of the atom is still taught, while Peter Pan and Tinkerbell are not being mentioned at all!

It's obvious that he knows nothing about science, and only slightly more about the field of muckraking.

By RamblinDude (not verified) on 06 Nov 2007 #permalink

OK, can I vent a little grievance here? Please, for the love of all that is decent, don't abbreviate "Wikipedia" as "wiki". That's just like abbreviating "ScienceBlogs.com" as "blog". A wiki is a type of website used for collaborative editing, and the basic idea of a wiki has been implemented in many programs written in many languages. Wikipedia is one wiki, as is Conservapaedia.

I couldn't help myself, and had to have a look at the Conservapedia main page.

Sure enough, "PZ has been silent about...blah blah blah", and apparently he's refused to find factual errors in Conservapedia, except for, well, the one he directly responded to here.

I wonder, will Petey link to his gibberish comment as further evidence of PZ not responding to a direct challenge?

What pathetic rhetoric.

By Ryan F Stello (not verified) on 06 Nov 2007 #permalink

Peter Moore, Peter Moore, spamming through the 'net
Peter Moore, Peter Moore, and his dinosaur pet
With Conservapedia
He'll ride o'er liberal media!
He mines quotes from the rich
Rearranges them to bore
Ptr Mr, stpd btch, Ptr Mr....

$10 says Peter Moore aka Ken, jonathondickenson, ingersoll6, ingersoll...is even now updating the front page to read:


Of course, and then he will quote mine whatever PZ said to read, "PZ Myers says Haeckel demonstrates that the earth is 6,000 years old, the stars are just glowing dots plastered on the ceiling, and evolution is wrong."


Unfortunately, he's going to 'win' either way.

No. When they use the tactics they have used, they have lost before they started. Trolling around the internet like mentally demented 4 year olds. Quote mining to construct towering edifices of lie garbage.

No one intelligent or important could take this sort of behavior seriously.

No. When they use the tactics they have used, they have lost before they started. Trolling around the internet like mentally demented 4 year olds. Quote mining to construct towering edifices of lie garbage.

Ken Demeyer (assuming that he isn't a part of some Anonymous gestalt) has been around for quite a while, though - he's one of the more successful ones. He can't really ever lose, though, that's the problem - he's willing to disbelieve anything that doesn't fit into his world view. He's not even that close to Christianity, either; between him and the others on CP, they've found that a whole lot of Jesus' teaching is actually 'liberal deceit'. He can't even hold down one world view!

ken, lol.

Raven #68:

No one intelligent or important could take this sort of behavior seriously.

That leaves most people in the US. I had this reinforced for me last night when I logged into mutiplayer Halo. Oy vey.

By Nathaniel (not verified) on 06 Nov 2007 #permalink

"mutiplayer Halo"

Where 90% of the players seem to be under the age of 10.

Remember when Unreal Tournament 2004 came out...wow, just wow.

By Jay Hovah (not verified) on 06 Nov 2007 #permalink

Think Peter has a post up somewhere claiming victiory, because he was consored my the evilultionist kabal?

Wow. I really mangled that sentence.

I'm with Robin Levett (#42) and Paul Crowley (#43). Moore should have been banned, but not disemvowelled here. Now we've been deprived of his dying bleat.


I'm just learning Developmental Bio this semester, and I'm wondering...

Does the expression of Hox genes in any way recapitulate an organism's phylogeny? At a casual undergraduate glance, it seems they do.


I don't see how Hox genes can recapitulate phylogeny. Since all vertebrates share roughly similar Hox genes and express them in roughly similar ways, there isn't the kind of variation in developmental expression that could be mapped onto a phylogeny.

and 3) an apparent dearth of knowledgable comparative embryologists in the textbook writing & reviewing business.

There is a dearth of knowledgable anyones in the schoolbook writing business. Reviewing? What reviewing?

My sister once had a biology book that called a certain beetle larva an annelid. Look at its special characteristic: it has jointed limbs!!! I kid you not. I make not this up.

It's like being outraged that the planetary model of the atom is still taught, while Peter Pan and Tinkerbell are not being mentioned at all!

That's a great analogy. I'm so stealing it.

By David Marjanović, OM (not verified) on 06 Nov 2007 #permalink

Thanks, PZ!

Now Moore's insistence on ignoring pretty much every point in the OP is nice and plain.

I can't believe that asshole actually went ahead and posted a message. These creationists are used to just bullying their way, regardless of facts and evidence, into the minds of anybody they can conquer. At the same time, they annoy everyone else trying to make an honest life through science. Well, it's fortunate that this asshole's anonymous, cause this is one idiot I'd seriously like to punch in the face. For those who think violence doesn't solve anything, sometimes it's the only way to bully the bully. And his grave is one I wouldn't mind pissing on, long after he's dead and gone.

By Helioprogenus (not verified) on 06 Nov 2007 #permalink

I agree with PZ's decision. I was looking forward to Moore actually *responding* to PZ's arguments. Instead, most of Moore's diatribe was obviously written well before he ever read PZ's post. Sure, he tossed in a few paragraphs complaining about PZ's attitude toward him, to make it appear as though he was responding to the post. But when he got down to the actual substance of the debate, Moore reiterated claims that PZ had explained/debunked, without any hint that he had understood or even read PZ's post.

Have you ever had a "conversation" with a person who just wants to talk, and clearly ignores everything you say? It was like that. I guess Moore just wanted us to be good listeners.

Have you ever had a "conversation" with a person who just wants to talk, and clearly ignores everything you say

We talk to creationists, don't we?

I dealt with him over on Wikipedia. Hell, on that page you linked you can see me grumbling about him deleting a Pharyngula link ( http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/06/ann_coulter_no_evidence_for_… - it's one of the best collections of links supporting evolution I know of). He's an utter idiot, and just ignores anything he doesn't want to hear.

I remember once he tried to claim a Victorian newspaper article in The Illustrated London News supported recent survival of dinosaurs. I have access to research libraries, so I looked it up. It was a filler article that said it was a story going around France at the time, that claimed a living Pterodactyl was found completely encased in stone. Even the title the newspaper gave it poked fun at it.

...On the upside, the Illustrated London News is a great newspaper, and damn fun to read through, so it didn't work out too badly.

By Adam Cuerden (not verified) on 06 Nov 2007 #permalink

Ken DeMyer has also been banned at TheologyWeb, where he managed to apply the exact same head in the sand cluelessness in debating theological questions with fellow creationists. He also did the same old evolutionary nuttiness; but it was a real treat to watch him do the same thing with fellow-creationists on a different subject. He has tried to join in again with multiple IDs, and gets banned again in very short order because his style is so distinctive. It got to be a running joke, a bit like whack-a-mole.

He's certainly not the same person as Holding.

By Duae Quartunciae (not verified) on 06 Nov 2007 #permalink

Amazing. In addition to locking pages in Conservapedia, they've also taken to locking talk pages. I can't find a single page or talkpage open for editing.

Thanks, PZ. All is now clear(?)

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 07 Nov 2007 #permalink

The actual image that was rather lazily faked in one of Haeckel's books is quite obscure

Do you happen to have the citation?

By David Marjanović, OM (not verified) on 05 Nov 2007 #permalink

and 3) an apparent dearth of knowledgable comparative embryologists in the textbook writing & reviewing business.

There is a dearth of knowledgable anyones in the schoolbook writing business. Reviewing? What reviewing?

My sister once had a biology book that called a certain beetle larva an annelid. Look at its special characteristic: it has jointed limbs!!! I kid you not. I make not this up.

It's like being outraged that the planetary model of the atom is still taught, while Peter Pan and Tinkerbell are not being mentioned at all!

That's a great analogy. I'm so stealing it.

By David Marjanović, OM (not verified) on 06 Nov 2007 #permalink