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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Evolution = Where censorship and incivility are welcome? How can this change?

"I wish I could get that one thought into these guys heads: evolutionary theory predicts differences as well as similarities." P.Z. Myers

"This is rich: If PZ is right, and evolutionary biology predicts both similarities and differences between vertebrate embryos, then it would seem that evolutionary biology really predicts nothing at all about development and is unfalsifiable regarding the evidence from vertebrate development. According to PZ, evolutionary theory predicts whatever it predicts, conserves whatever it conserves, and modifies whatever it modifies. Some theory."  - Casey Luskin

If real science was the point, if science was actually concerned about knowing truth, then all possible points of view would be allowed to be heard.  The sad-but-truth is that an unproven hypothesis composed almost entirely of stories with no observable evidence that can be identified as proof has been shoved down our throats as "established science."   Well, a Geocentric Solar System was "established science" once as well.   In today's scientific and academic establishment the scientists who have a belief that Creationism or ID are the best explanation for what we see in the observable world are kept from peer review, denied tenure, hooted out of conventions, fired from their posts when identified, shunned by colleagues and so on and so forth.   The utterly shameful treatment of rising star Astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez is a telling story - one of the most highly qualified young Astronomers in the world was at Iowa State University.   When you read the story and understand what it means, you realize that Darwinism is therefore "dumbing down" science simply by culling out and throwing away the dissidents from the ruling paradigm.   Imagine how many of the greatest minds of science were completely out of the loop when they first began to propose new ideas?

A commenter mentioned that he had seen some recent technical articles posted and peer-reviewed that did not mention Darwinism.  They were not dissident viewpoints, but they did not include the normal sop to Darwin that papers have customarily contained.   Usually to get grant money any scientific research that might touch on evolution has required a Darwinist paint job to get funding, while any paper opposing Darwinist thought gets tossed aside before getting a review and funding requests opposing Darwinism are turned down.  This needs to change.   Many scientists working in their particular fields have doubts about Darwinism that they discuss among themselves but cannot dare reveal in public for fear of losing their jobs.   The thought police are everywhere.

The following article is part four in a set of ten and includes the entire set of links boxed on the right side.   It is worth your while to read all of them.  I have read them and I assert that, if you do read them it will help you understand the real issues.   It is NOT that Darwinists have the evidence on their side, what they have is nothing more or less than the bully pulpit.   Bullies use intimidation to try to get their way and they fear a fair fight.   Frankly, Darwinists have become so obviously biased that even their apparent allies are becoming uncomfortable:

This series began when ENV writer Jonathan M. asked some tough questions of PZ Myers about evolution and embryology at a Skeptics event in Glasgow, Scotland. As a recap of this series, below are links to ENV articles which have appeared on this topic:
Part 1: Colliding With the Pharyngula: My Encounter With PZ Myers: Jonathan M. gives his firsthand account of what happened at PZ Myers' lecture.
Part 2: Rate My Professors: P.Z. Myers: David Klinghoffer asks whether PZ Myers should be bullying undergraduate student Jonathan M. simply for asking some hard questions of evolutionary biology.
Part 3: Revisiting Those Early Developmental Stages: A Response to PZ Myers: Jonathan M. responds to PZ, reiterating that he isn't simply critiquing Haeckelian capitulation, and re-explains why the evolutionary funnel model of vertebrate development is wrong.
Part 4: How P.Z. Myers' "Incendiary Rhetoric" and "Class-War Claptrap" Shocks His Fellow Evolutionists (Prelude to a Rebuttal): Casey Luskin investigates PZ Myers' heavy use of personal attacks, and why they expose PZ's lack of scientific rebuttals.
Part 5: Demystifying the Debate with PZ Myers Over Evolution and Embryology: Luskin breaks down the embryology debate between Jonathan M. and PZ Myers into three simple points and counterpoints, revealing that PZ is not responding to our arguments.
Part 6: Haeckelian Recapitulation Is Not the Issue: Luskin explains, for the Nth time, that PZ Myers is wrong to consistently misrepresent ID arguments as only attacking Haeckel's recapitulation model.
Part 7: Caught in Contradictions, PZ Myers Claims "Evolutionary Theory Predicts Differences as well as Similarities" (and Therefore Predicts Nothing: Luskin discusses three contradictions in PZ's arguments, showing PZ has changed his tune over what evolution says about vertebrate embryos.
Part 8: PZ Myers Replies With Incendiary Rhetoric Instead of Scientific Arguments: After PZ writes a name-calling filled reply, Luskin explains that PZ uses personal attacks instead of scientific rebuttals.
Part 9: Challenging the Precious Pharyngula: Luskin discusses mainstream scientific papers which challenge the existence of the idea which gives PZ's blog its name--the "pharyngula".
Part 10: Three Flawed Evolutionary Models of Embryological Development and One Correct One: Luskin recounts various models of embryological development which have been discussed during this debate, concluding that evolutionary biology has failed to explain the data.
"I was not rude enough to MacLatchie," writes PZ Myers, despite the fact that PZ recently told pro-intelligent design undergraduate student Jonathan M. that he should be "ashamed to have been responsible for this bulls--t." Apparently PZ doesn't feel it was "rude enough" to have alleged that Jonathan M.:

  • is a "flaming moron"

  • "is an idiot"

  • is guilty of "ignorance"

  • is "completely ineducable"

  • promotes "ludicrous nonsense"

  • "doesn't know word one about basic biological concepts"

  • PZ closed his supposedly "not rude enough" comments to Jonathan M. by stating, "You should be ashamed. This is disgraceful." PZ's treatment of a Darwin-doubting undergraduate student of course led to great applause from PZ's audience during PZ's recent talk in Glasgow, Scotland. Is this the type of dialogue that new atheist evolutionists stand for?

    Such harsh personal attacks from PZ and his followers are nothing new. In fact, the rhetorical strategies of Professor Myers and his colleagues are so uncivil that they have earned criticism from mainstream academics and writers who are otherwise pro-evolution.

    In 2009, an article titled "Blogging Evolution" was published in the pro-evolution journal Evolution Education and Outreach by Adam M. Goldstein, a scholar in the Department of Philosophy at Iona College. Goldstein reviews Myers' popular blog Pharyngula, noting that "Myers' antipathy for creationists often takes a personal turn," commonly resulting in PZ "insulting" his opponents. Goldstein continues:
    I do not mean to claim or imply that Myers provides no useful information about evolutionary science. Having said this, I do want to claim that the blogs listed in the "Amateurs" category above are a better source for information about science.

    (Adam M. Goldstein, "Blogging Evolution," Evolution Education and Outreach, DOI 10.1007/s12052-009-0149-9, July 2009 (emphasis added).)
    What's that? A credible academic reviewing evolution blogs in a leading evolution-educational journal just said that "amateur" blogs are a "better source of information about science" than P.Z. Myers' renowned Pharyngula.

    Another scholar who has attacked PZ is Chris Mooney, an ardent Darwin lobbyist and an outspoken defender of left-leaning politics. In his recent book Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, Mooney co-writes:
    The most outspoken New Atheists publicly eviscerate believers, call them delusional and irrational ("demented f***wits," as [P.Z.] Myers put it in the Webster Cook case), and in some cases do not spare more liberal religionists, or even more conciliatory fellow scientists and atheists, from withering denunciation. ... If the goal is to create an America more friendly toward science and reason, the combativeness of the New Atheists is strongly counterproductive. (p. 97)
    So according to Mooney, PZ's uncivil style is not conducive towards making a society that is "more friendly toward science and reason."

    Even left-leaning media outlets like the NY Times and LA Times have taken notice of PZ's uncivil methods. A 2009 op-ed in the LA Times observes PZ's colorful rhetorical style:
    Then there's P.Z. Myers, biology professor at the University of Minnesota's Morris campus, whose blog, Pharyngula, is supposedly about Myers' field, evolutionary biology, but is actually about his fanatical propensity to label religious believers as "idiots," "morons," "loony" or "imbecilic" in nearly every post. The university deactivated its link to Myers' blog in July after he posted a photo of a consecrated host from a Mass that he had pierced with a rusty nail and thrown into the garbage ("I hope Jesus' tetanus shots are up to date") in an effort to prove that Catholicism is bunk -- or something.
    Likewise, in 2010 the NY Times took PZ to task for his uncivil methods. The NY Times article was striking:
    Hammering away at an ideology, substituting stridency for contemplation, pummeling its enemies in absentia: ScienceBlogs has become Fox News for the religion-baiting, peak-oil crowd. Though Myers and other science bloggers boast that they can be jerky in the service of anti-charlatanism, that's not what's bothersome about them. What's bothersome is that the site is misleading. It's not science by scientists, not even remotely; it's science blogging by science bloggers. And science blogging, apparently, is a form of redundant and effortfully incendiary rhetoric that draws bad-faith moral authority from the word "science" and from occasional invocations of "peer-reviewed" thises and thats.

    Under cover of intellectual rigor, the science bloggers -- or many of the most visible ones, anyway -- prosecute agendas so charged with bigotry that it doesn't take a pun-happy French critic or a rapier-witted Cambridge atheist to call this whole ScienceBlogs enterprise what it is, or has become: class-war claptrap.

    (Virginia Heffernan, Unnatural Science, NY Times (July 30, 2010).) )
    Readers should not miss the gravity of what was just quoted: The NY Times is probably the most prominent of all the adamantly pro-evolution media outlets on the planet. One cannot imagine a major media outlet that is more predisposed to be favorable towards someone like PZ Myers -- a professional biologist at a respectable university, and creator of perhaps the most popular pro-evolution science blog on the internet.

    Yet the NY Times doesn't see Myers' methods favorably. Instead, the paper compares PZ Myers' blog (as well as his fellow science bloggers) to "Fox News"--the ultimate insult in the left-leaning world of the establishment media. The article makes this comparison because of the "incendiary rhetoric" and "class-war claptrap" which permeate the writing of Myers and his fellow Sciencebloggers. For the NY Times to turn against one of its own to such a great extent would seem to imply not just that something is amiss, but that something is radically distasteful about PZ's methods.

    Sadly, PZ's behavior is really not very atypical for the Darwin lobby. Is it a coincidence that what is probably the most popular evolution blog on the planet also happens to belong to a leading "new atheist," who wields incivility to such a great extent that it shocks his own allies in the Darwin-friendly media? No, it's not a coincidence that PZ has risen to a huge level of popularity, because his style and behavior are tragically common among hardcore members of the new atheists and the Darwin lobby.

    Other scholars have noted the Darwin lobby's generally uncivil and less-than-scholarly methods. In a 2009 paper in the journal Journal of Science Communication, Inna Kouper explains how tribalistic name-calling is used on evolution blogs to intimidate people from joining "them":
    In the excerpt below evaluations serve as a technique for reinforcing the boundary between two opposing groups of actors: "us," the pro-evolution authors of the blog and those readers who agree with them, and "them," the members of the creationist movement.
    Excerpt 4 - Panda's Thumb
    It is another mark of the incompetence of the ID movement that they actually hand out an award named after Casey Luskin. Pick the most ineffectual, uninformed, pathetic loser on the creationist side, and use his name to inspire the next generation of IDiots. It's actually amusingly appropriate.
    Emotional and often insulting evaluations are very common for this and some other blogs that seem to be eager to demonstrate not only their rightness, but also to distinguish their group of reasonable and worthy individuals from others, who are wrong, unintelligent, and overall worthless. The frequency of such evaluations and mockery undermines the goals of rational debate and criticism. Such activities can foster solidarity among the like-minded individuals, yet at the same time, they may spur hostility in those who are undecided or hold a different opinion.

    (Inna Kouper, "Science blogs and public engagement with science: practices, challenges, and opportunities," Journal of Science Communication, Vol. 9(1) (March, 2009) (emphases in original).)
    Aside from the fact that Kouper wrongly lumps "them" as "the creationist movement," her analysis is spot on. Kouper's thesis helps us make sense of PZ's rhetorical style: by creating an "us" vs. "them" environment, PZ's continuous mockery of the opponents discourages his fellow evolutionists ("us") from becoming sympathetic to Darwin doubters ("them").

    But there's another important reason that so many evolutionists use personal attacks, mockery, and other such incendiary rhetoric as a primary rhetorical strategy. Not only does PZ's incivility discourage members of his own tribe from thinking about switching sides, but his harsh style also effectively intimidates many who are already skeptical of Darwinian evolution from speaking out, lest they become targets of that mockery. PZ's harsh rhetorical style is, in effect, a deliberate method of silencing opposition.

    In subsequent articles, I'll examine how PZ tried to use such tactics against Jonathan M. in a failed attempt to win a debate over embryology and evolution. This debate must be very important to PZ because it hits at the very existence of the concept that gives his blog its title: the pharyngula. 
    "Contrary to the evolutionary hourglass model, variations in the adult body plan are often foreshadowed by modifications of early development. A good example is the aortic arch system in the rat that, even during the pharyngula stage, begins to presage the adult pattern of arteries. Thus the first arch has already broken down completely by the 25-somite stage in the rat (de Ruiter et al. 1989). In summary, evolution has produced a number of changes in the embryonic stages of vertebrates including:

    1. Differences in body size
    2. Differences in body plan (for example, the presence or absence of paired limb buds)
    3. Changes in the number of units in repeating series such as the somites and pharyngeal arches
    4. Changes in the pattern of growth of different fields (allometry)
    5. Changes in the timing of development of different fields (heterochrony)

    These modifications of embryonic development are difficult to reconcile with the idea that most or all vertebrate clades pass through an embryonic stage that is highly resistant to evolutionary change. This idea is implicit in Haeckel's drawings, which have been used to substantiate two quite distinct claims. First, that differences between species typically become more apparent at late stages. Second, that vertebrate embryos are virtually identical at earlier stages. This first claim is clearly true. Our survey, however, does not support the second claim, and instead reveals considerable variability - and evolutionary lability - of the tailbud stage, the purported phylotypic stage of vertebrates.

    (Michael K. Richardson et al., "There is no highly conserved embryonic stage in the vertebrates: implications for current theories of evolution and development," Anatomy and Embryology, Vol. 196:91-106 (1997) (emphases added).) "

    "Similarly, an earlier paper by Richardson focused on the "pharyngula" or "phylotypic" stage and found it to "poorly conserved":
    The "pharyngula" stage. This is when a paired series of pharyngeal arches and pouches is present. The total number of pharyngeal pouches varies between species, but if embryos with four pouches are compared, it is seen that the degree of development of organ Phyloprimordia differs between species. In the lungfish, for example, the heart tubes have appeared by this stage but the fin buds have not; in Xenopus, neither heart nor limb primordia have appeared; and in the lizard Lacerta, both are present.

    (Michael K. Richardson, "Heterochrony and the Phylotypic Period," Developmental Biology, Vol. 172:412-421 (1995) (internal citations removed).)"

    In other words, Myers is completely wrong,  From Part Nine, in which they continue by saying that:
    "This particular paper concludes, "The data reveal striking patterns of heterochrony during vertebrate evolution. These shifts in developmental timing have strongly affected the phylotypic stage, which is therefore poorly conserved and is more appropriately described as the phylotypic period."
    Also, a 2003 paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society, B argues that the phylotypic or pharyngular stage--commonly cited as evidence for common ancestry--does not exist in vertebrates:"

    There are Darwinists (including a few of my commenters) who cannot even process non-Darwinist arguments.  They cannot conceive of the ID movement as being about observable science and continue to proclaim that it is a cover for a religious movement...while they fail to see that THEY are a religious movement themselves.   Darwinism is the resort of Atheists and Atheopaths.   It is about Naturalistic Materialism and that, my friends, is not science it is WORLDVIEW.  P.Z.  Myers is apparently incapable of the reality that he is himself a religious zealot who reviles opponents with derision and foul language in order to intimidate and put an end to dissent. His pet pharyngula stage of development is mostly his imposition of his opinion on science, in other words, if P.Z. would not do it that way there is no God.  But not everyone is afraid.   Thus, the article above.   Real scientists dissenting from the groupthink Darwinists and doing so using evidence and logic.   Don't be a dumb sheep being led to slaughter, think about what you believe and why you believe it!


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