Sunday, October 29, 2006

My Denver Post Review of Two New Books on Darwinism and Intelligent Design

A sharp split on Darwin, design
Two authors' takes on science and life
By Douglas Groothuis Special to The Denver Post
Article Last Updated:10/29/2006 12:31:39 AM MDT

These two books - released within a few weeks of each other - address Darwinism and its critics, but in radically different ways. Not only do the authors hold entirely different positions on Darwinism and the alternative theory of intelligent design, but there also is a vast chasm between the tone and approach of these books.

Jonathan Wells, who holds doctorates in both religion and embryology, is a leading advocate of intelligent design. This view holds that "it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than unguided natural processes."

Wells criticizes Darwinism - a view that says every aspect of the natural world is explained by unguided natural processes - because of its lack of evidence. This stance requires that Wells shoulder the burden of proof, since Darwinists control the scientific establishment.

But Wells takes up the challenge by sticking closely to the scientific and philosophical issues at the heart of the debate. He not only critiques the weaknesses in Darwinism, but presents intelligent design as a constructive alternative. While titled a "politically incorrect guide," the book is never glib, although it is not lacking in wit or confidence.

On the other hand, editor and author Michael Shermer, formerly a professor of psychology, is generally condescending toward intelligent design. He even writes that his friends Stephen J. Gould and Richard Dawkins, leading evolutionists, advised him to not stoop so low as to write a book against the theory.

Nevertheless, Shermer believes that intelligent design's influence in recent public debates - especially the attempt to teach it in public schools - merits a response. Shermer's contempt for intelligent design is evident from the first chapter. While recounting his expedition to the Galapagos Islands - famous for Charles Darwin's studies there - Shermer abruptly asserts, "Creation by intelligent design is absurd." This premature editorializing sets a sharp tone for the rest of the book.

Shermer conflates creationism and intelligent design, sometimes referring to "intelligent-design creationism." Yet these two approaches, while critical of Darwinism, are distinct in both their methods and their conclusions, as Wells argues.

Creationism insists on a literal view of Genesis. This requires divine creation in six literal days and a young Earth and universe. Intelligent design makes no appeal to Genesis for its arguments and avoids questions of the age of the Earth. Instead, it concentrates on whether particular aspects of the natural world (such as DNA and microscopic molecular machines) display evidence of a designing intelligence.

Whereas the majority of Wells' book concentrates on the evidence for design in nature, Shermer takes up this issue only in his chapter defending Darwinism and his chapter criticizing intelligent design. Shermer aims at many irrelevant targets: American cultural history (the Scopes "monkey" trial); psychological reasons why people do not believe in Darwinism; makes points against creationists that do not apply to intelligent-design thinkers; and lectures Christians that they should not expect a transcendent God to be detectible in the physical world. This would be a dubious claim coming from a theologian, let alone an agnostic psychologist.

Wells' case is arguably the more thorough, respectful and thought-provoking of the two. He disputes Darwinian claims that the fossil record, embryology and molecular biology prove evolution. Wells assesses the claims of Darwinism empirically and rationally, never appealing to religious texts to support his arguments.

Wells also notes that contemporary scientists typically presuppose a materialistic philosophy, which locks them in to Darwinism. They then bring this philosophical perspective to their endeavors - as opposed to making a solid case for Darwinism based on the empirical evidence. Shermer himself claims that science is permitted to give naturalistic explanations for life only because "there is no such thing as the supernatural or paranormal."

Yet to define science in this way must philosophically exclude any possible evidence for an intelligent designer. In informal logic, this is known as the fallacy of begging the question: What should be proved is instead presumed. Shermer's definition of science does not allow him to take sophisticated arguments for intelligent design as seriously as they should be. After all, they have to be wrong.

For Shermer, Darwin matters because he has been vindicated by science, and science gives us the best account of reality possible. For Wells, Darwin built a house of cards that is supported more by ideology and materialist philosophy than science itself. Thinking people should be apprised of both sides and judge accordingly, because two very different and exceedingly important visions of reality are at stake.

Douglas Groothuis is professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary and the author of "Truth Decay."
----------------------------------------
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design
By Jonathan Wells
Regnery, 273 pages, $19.95, paperback
----------------------------------------
Why Darwin Matters
The Case Against Intelligent Design
By Michael Shermer
Times Books, 199 pages, $22

118 comments:

Tom Hinkle said...

I might recommend the book "The Language of God" by Francis Collins. He's an evolutionist, the head of the Human Genome Project--AND an Evangelical Christian.

John Stockwell said...

To see a review written by people
who are more knowledgeable about the
science than Dr. Groothus,
see:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/
2006/08/
the_politically.html

I had to split this so that it would fit
in the allotted space.

Tim said...

John,

I went there and read through several of the sections of the multi-part review. They're very uneven in quality. The most interesting of the ones I read was P. Z. Meyers's criticism of Wells's treatment of embryology and in particular his use of some quotations. It would be interesting to see what Wells might have to say in response.

On the other hand, the "review" of the introduction was pretty much science-free and consisted of a lot of name calling. And the reviewer of chapter 15, Burt Humburg, seems to be out of his depth on topics ranging from the text of the gospel of Mark (he calls Mark 16:17ff "the litmus suggested by Jesus") to the history of science. Elaborating on the latter in the comments thread, Humburg says:

Centuries ago, “traditional Christians” wanted scientists to shut up about the whole Earth going around the sun thing.

And again,

Had Christians refused to rethink their theology in the light of heliocentrism, it would not be a feasible religion. So, too, are Christians having to rethink their theology in the light of evolution. And like the critics of Galileo, we have our detractors as well.

This is a real gem. I'm not sure whether the best part is the potted history of science or the analogy Humburg unintentionally draws between the Thumbsmen and the critics of Galileo.

John Stockwell said...

To Tim:

Re: Wells' book and the critique at
The Pandas' Thumb.

Regarding the commentary on Chapter 1,
basically, "Darwinism" as sort of defined
by Wells, is a strawman for demolition rather than a scientific program.

Regarding commentary on Chapter 3 by
PZ Meyers, Meyers' commentary is more
than merely "interesting" it is devastating to Wells' credibility. Wells is supposed to be this big expert, yet he seems to be howlingly ignorant on one of the most interesting aspects of modern evolutionary biology.

(Read Endless forms most beautiful
be Sean B. Carroll for a dose of knowledge regarding evolutionary developmental biology.)

As to other attempts to appeal to the reader's common sense with examples of people recognizing design, we could add the famous butterfly alphabet poster:

http://insectlore.stores.yahoo.net/
butalpos.html

Are we do believe that the patterns on the wings of butterflies that look like the Roman alphabet and the Hindu-Arabic numerals are evidence of design, as well?

Let's not forget that the whole design inference thing is supposed to be this statistically-based system of analysis,
where we are supposed to be calculating
probabilities. So far, neither methodology nor examples of DIs are presented by IDers.

William Bradford said...

Let's not forget that the whole design inference thing is supposed to be this statistically-based system of analysis, where we are supposed to be calculating probabilities.

And the whole non-design inference thing is what- statistical with respect to an initial functional genome? Or is there a chemical formula?

Ed Darrell said...

I wonder whether anyone has yet done a footnote analysis between Wells' book and Shermer's.

Were we to rate the books on their academic ethics, would they rate at least equal? If not, should we simply say that they are "two different world views?"

At what point does sin in the defense of God cease being sin?

Tim said...

John,

I didn't refer to the review of chapter 1 but rather to the review of the introduction. But since you've brought it up, it's worth noting that the review of chapter 1 is shoddy at just the point you mention. Humburg manufactures an appearance of inconsistency with this move:

But Wells also writes, “[Intelligent] design is compatible with some aspects of Darwinian evolution” (p. 8). Note that he did not write “evolution” but “Darwinian evolution”, presumably “Darwinism”. According to the stated definition on page six, Darwinism requires ...

And he's off, having -- on the strength of that "presumably" -- created an inconsistency ex nihilo.

As I said, I'd be interested in hearing what Wells has to say in response to Myers. (My goof on the spelling of his name in the previous post.) I will say more on this in a post below, since there are some things going on there that deserve special notice.

The butterfly alphabet poster is cute, but it's not really to the point. You seem to be conflating design reasoning in general with Dembski's eliminative approach when you call it "statistically based." Dembski's approach, with his "explanatory filter," is squarely grounded in classical statistics, and it is certainly the most popular view among proponents of ID, principally because it was the first view to be worked out in detail. But there are Bayesian and explanationist approaches as well.

Even restricting the discussion to Dembski's system, however, it is a mistake to think that the explanatory filter forces the advocate of ID to infer design in the butterfly wings. Note that the caption under the poster says these were "photographed over a period of years." In Dembski's system, this translates into an inflation of specificational resources. On the other hand, if 16 butterflies settle on your porch and spread their wings to display the message "DARWINISM IS FALSE" -- well, page Dembski.

You write:

So far, neither methodology nor examples of DIs are presented by IDers.

I'm baffled by this remark. You may not like Dembski's approach -- I'm critical of it myself -- but to say that he hasn't presented a methodology is just bizarre. What was The Design Inference all about?

Tim said...

John Stockwell has opined that P. Z. Myers's review of chapter 3 of Jonathan Wells's book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design is "devastating to Wells' credibility" and shows that Wells is "howlingly ignorant on one of the most interesting aspects of modern evolutionary biology." After reading Myers's review, I cross-checked it with Wells's book and discovered something rather interesting.

Before I go on, I want to say that I have page captures of the PT review page in question, and I encourage readers of this blog to go over there now, today, before the material I'm about to quote is removed, and make your own page captures so that the evidence is widely available. I particularly encourage John Stockwell to do this, in the name of intellectual honesty, notwithstanding John's extensive and longstanding disagreement with proponents of ID.

Let's start with Myers's commentary leading up to what he presents as a quotation in which Wells quotes -- according to Myers, misleadingly -- the developmental biologist William Ballard. Myers's own words are in italics.

This is the heart of Wells’s strategy: pick comments by developmental biologists referring to different stages, which say very different things about the similarity of embryos, and conflate them. It’s easy to make it sound like scientists are willfully lying about the state of our knowledge when you can pluck out a statement about the diversity at the gastrula stage, omit the word “gastrula”, and pretend it applies to the pharyngula stage.

Literally. He is actually that dishonest.


Now this is a very serious charge. If Wells is deliberately misleading his readers about Ballard's meaning, then his credibility is definitely severely damaged.

Myers continues:

Here’s how Wells quotes William Ballard (a well known elder developmental biologist, who has done a lot of work on fish and is therefore familiar to me):

Myers then gives the following statement in a quote box, which I will reproduce here in bold:

It is “only by semantic tricks and subjective selection of evidence,” by “bending the facts of nature,” that one can argue that the early embryo stages of vertebrates “are more alike than their adults.” (pp. 35)

Myers goes on, after the box:

Always be suspicious when you see partial phrases quoted and strung together by a creationist. Little alarm bells should be going off like mad in your head.

This is from a paper in which Ballard is advocating greater appreciation of the morphogenetic diversity of the gastrula stage—that is, a very early event, one that is at the base of that hourglass, where developmental biologists have been saying for years that there is a great deal of phylogenetic diversity. Here’s what Ballard actually said:


Now we get another quote box, and again I'll put the contents in bold:

Before the pharyngula stage we can only say that the embryos of different species within a single taxonomic class are more alike than their parents. Only by semantic tricks and subjective selection of evidence can we claim that “gastrulas” of shark, salmon, frog, and bird are more alike than their adults. (Ballard WW (1976))

Myers winds up his complaint:

See what I mean? He has lifted a quote from a famous scientist that applies to the gastrula stage, stripped out the specific referents, and made it sound as if it applies to the pharyngula stage. It’s a simple game, one he repeats over and over in this chapter.

Because I was curious about this one, I cross-checked it against Wells's book. The least interesting of the discrepancies is that Myers has apparently slipped in the page references to Wells: the quotation he finds objectionable appears on pp. 30-31, not on "pp. 35." What is much more significant is that Myers has misquoted Wells -- not simply selectively quoted him, but out and out misquoted him, attributing to him in direct quotation something that is critically different from what Wells actually said.

Here, for comparison, is what Myers says Wells says, and what Wells actually says:

Attributed to Wells by Myers:

It is “only by semantic tricks and subjective selection of evidence,” by “bending the facts of nature,” that one can argue that the early embryo stages of vertebrates “are more alike than their adults.”

Wells's actual words:

Dartmouth College biologist William Ballard wrote in 1976 that it is "only by semantic tricks and subjective selection of evidence," by "bending the facts of nature," that one can argue that the cleavage and gastrulation stages of vertebrates "are more alike than their adults."

Wells's actual wording supplies the very detail -- that Ballard is referring to the cleavage and gastrulation stages -- that Myers silently edits out of his quotation from Wells. Wells isn't talking about the pharyngula stage. He never was. That is entirely Myers's fabrication.

Let me rephrase that: Myers has changed Wells's wording and then has the temerity to accuse Wells of misleading the reader at the very point where Myers himself has made the change in Wells's words.

Let me put that more bluntly: Myers is lying through his teeth. Literally. He is actually that dishonest. And not a single commentator on Panda's Thumb for the past two months could be bothered to check Myers's quotation against Wells's actual words to see whether Myers was telling the truth.

This sort of thing just frosts me. John and others who frequent PT and Pharyngula should be warned that they cannot take what they see there at face value.

Donald M said...

Tim writes: "Let me put that more bluntly: Myers is lying through his teeth. Literally. He is actually that dishonest. And not a single commentator on Panda's Thumb for the past two months could be bothered to check Myers's quotation against Wells's actual words to see whether Myers was telling the truth.

This sort of thing just frosts me. John and others who frequent PT and Pharyngula should be warned that they cannot take what they see there at face value."

If the PT crowd had to actually do fact and quote checks, they'd end up deleting about 75% of their blog. Instead of calling their blog "The Panda's Thumb" they should call it "The Straw Man".

William Bradford said...

Donald M: If the PT crowd had to actually do fact and quote checks, they'd end up deleting about 75% of their blog. Instead of calling their blog "The Panda's Thumb" they should call it "The Straw Man".

Pinnochio might be a more apt analogy. I'm surprised this has not gotten more attention. This has all the appearance of deliberate deception. I'll give PZ credit for chutzpah though. He points the finger at Wells while doing the same things he accuses others of- and worse. BTW, are you the same Donald who has posted at TT. If you are then your posts were of excellent quality.

PZ Myers said...

So...have you actually looked on page 35? In a big, bold box prominently set off from the text to give it special attention?

Donald M said...

William B: Pinnochio might be a more apt analogy. I'm surprised this has not gotten more attention. This has all the appearance of deliberate deception. I'll give PZ credit for chutzpah though. He points the finger at Wells while doing the same things he accuses others of- and worse.

William, it has received mre attention now. I posted on it yesterday at teleological blog and Sal posted on it last night at Uncommon Descent.

BTW, are you the same Donald who has posted at TT. If you are then your posts were of excellent quality.

I am the same Donald M. Thank you for your kind words. I enjoyed your posts as well. I dropped out for the past few weeks because I had a death in the family to deal with.

PZ Myers said...

As purveyors of quality commentary, then, I'm sure you have looked at page 35. Seriously, it's hard to believe you guys missed it: it's huge. It takes up about a quarter of the page. It's got a graphic. It's got shading. It's got a big headline.

Do you guys actually have the book?

PZ Myers said...

Aw, heck, maybe you don't. Follow this link to see a scan with arrows and circles that might help you find it on the page.

Smokey said...

Tim wrote:
"The least interesting of the discrepancies is that Myers has apparently slipped in the page references to Wells: the quotation he finds objectionable appears on pp. 30-31, not on "pp. 35.""

Actually, that is most interesting. You owe PZ a massive apology.

"What is much more significant is that Myers has misquoted Wells ..."

No, the significant thing is that your accusation is patently false.

"Attributed to Wells by Myers:

It is “only by semantic tricks and subjective selection of evidence,” by “bending the facts of nature,” that one can argue that the early embryo stages of vertebrates “are more alike than their adults.”"

Which is exactly what is found on p. 35.

"Wells's actual words:..."

Those are the ones from page 31, doofus.

"Let me put that more bluntly: Myers is lying through his teeth. Literally."

No, literally, his quotation from Wells from p. 35 is perfectly accurate. Your accusation is false.

So, are you gonna apologize profusely, or are YOU lying, Tim?

Smokey said...

Billy Bradford wrote:
"I'm surprised this has not gotten more attention."

Me too! It highlights your inability to read.

"This has all the appearance of deliberate deception."

You might want to read the book before making such a claim, but i realize that's a lot to ask of you.

"I'll give PZ credit for chutzpah though. He points the finger at Wells while doing the same things he accuses others of- and worse."

PZ's quote was perfectly accurate. So you, too, either owe PZ a huge apology or you are lying. Which is it, Billy?

Todd said...

I wonder though, given the quoted text from pp30-31 if Myers, rather than lying, is just guilty of miscontextualizing the standout graphic. If the quote box from pp.35 is meant to highlight what was already presented on pp.30-31, then Myers is wrong that Wells lied and McGraw is wrong that Myers lied. He simply missed that the quote was reviewing material covered a few pages earlier.

Smokey said...

Gee, Todd, isn't falsely accusing someone of lying a tad more important than revising the false accusation to one of "miscontextualization"?

Especially when this whole ruckus highlights that at least one of Wells's quotes of Ballard is wrong, which is now obvious even without reading Ballard?

Todd said...

Smokey, Myers accused Wells of lying. Falsely, if the text quoted on pp.30-31 is accurate.

Aaron Kinney said...

@ TIM & Donald M:

You must be blind. Can you not see the grey box on P. 35??????

Look at this link here. PZ circled in red -and pointed arrows at- the quote:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/11/pz_myers_is_such_a_liar.php

In addition, PZ's quote was completely accurate, punctuation and all.

You people are absolutely unbelievably stupid. Talk about putting your foot in your mouth! Trying to catch eggs with your face, are you now? Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.

I suggest you IDers and creationists steer clear of PZ and everything he ever does for the rest of your lives, lest you get yourselves humiliated even further. You guys already had no credibility, and after this little incident, you guys are in credibility DEFECIT. Your credibility account is heavily overdrawn and you are being sent to the collections agency.

Heres another one to go right over your head:

"PWNED!"

Smokey said...

Todd, you're a hoot.

Are you trying to say that if I write (assuming, of course, that you don't rape children):

1) Todd rapes children!

..that you can't credibly call that a lie if I wrote in a LESS prominent place:

2) Todd doesn't rape children.

Isn't finding contradictory statements the very essence of proving that someone is lying?

Todd said...

Smokey,

You are clearly having trouble following me. The point has nothing to do with brevity.

Did Wells accurately quote on pp.30-31?

Was the boxed quote on pp35 an abbreviation of pp30-31?

If so, what is the big deal?

If the pp.30-31 quote is wrong, what makes it wrong or misleading?

PZ Myers said...

No, Wells did not accurately quote Ballard on pages 30-31. He was trying to falsely imply that Ballard agreed with Sedgwick, that all stages of early development were fully distinct. Ballard's paper plainly says otherwise, so Wells is guilty of ignoring the observations that refute his claim, and selectively editing people who would be among his most severe critics if they were still alive.

Tim said...

Wow, a little blog post has become magnified into Tropical Storm PZ! Here's an attempt to sort through the information.

First up: PZ Myers did not fabricate the quotation, as I originally thought he had. He took it out of a call-out box on p. 35 of Wells –- the page that he said it was on. My apologies to PZ for assuming that he was trying to quote the text rather than the call-out box: he is absolved of the crime of actually fabricating the quotation.

Here is the content of the call-out box, not counting the little "PIG" logo:

*****
When the evidence is against you, find a Darwinist for a lawyer

It is "only by semantic tricks and subjective selection of evidence," by "bending the facts of nature," that one can argue that the early embryo stages of vertebrates "are more alike than their adults."

-William Ballard
BioScience, 1976
*****

Call-outs –- which I personally find annoying and cluttering –- are usually created by an editor rather than by the author of the text. If you have a question about them, the thing to do is to look at the text from which the call-out was drawn to see what the original wording was. In this case, that text is on pp. 30-31, and the call-out does indeed simplify the quotation by replacing "cleavage and gastrulation" with "early embryo" at the critical point.

This raises questions for both Wells and Myers.

For Jonathan Wells: What's the deal with this call-out? For one thing, it seems to attribute the sentence in question to Ballard himself, when it is really a condensation of one of your sentences from pp. 30-31 in which you quote Ballard. Who did the call-outs? Does this person realize what the conventions are for ascribing a quotation? Will this be fixed in subsequent printings?

For PZ Myers: Did you notice that Wells actually refers to gastrulation in the original text at the bottom of p. 30? Did you look for the text from which the call-out was taken? If you did, why did you choose to quote from the call-out instead and to focus on the wording there, which differs from the wording in the text precisely by replacing the more precise reference to "cleavage and gastrulation stages" with the briefer reference to "early embryo stages" – and then to claim that Wells is being deceptive? Isn't that dishonest?

If you didn't, doesn't this pretty much torch your central criticism of Wells –- that he dishonestly represented Ballard as referring to the pharyngula stage? And if that's the case, don't you owe Wells an apology?

Smokey said...

Tim wrote:
"First up: PZ Myers did not fabricate the quotation, as I originally thought he had. He took it out of a call-out box on p. 35 of Wells –- the page that he said it was on. My apologies to PZ for assuming that he was trying to quote the text rather than the call-out box: he is absolved of the crime of actually fabricating the quotation."

So, since the quotations from the book don't agree with each other, where's your accusation that Wells is "lying through his teeth," Tim?

The funny thing about this is that it is clear that you, Todd, and Bradford can't be bothered to read Ballard before hurling accusations.

Tim said...

Smokey,

Did you read my post?

Call-outs are usually written by editors, not by authors. I do think Wells should ask the publisher to clean that one up, not on the grounds that it contradicts anything he's said in the text -- the text simply provides the context for interpreting the word "early," a context that Myers seems to have missed -- but because the call-out appears to attribute the sentence to Ballard, which is bizarre.

jaranath said...

Heh, Smokey...I think the funniest part is actually that Tim's new tack was shot down by the post directly preceeding his.

Smokey said...

Todd wrote:
"Did Wells accurately quote on pp.30-31?"

No. He misrepresented Ballard by selectively quoting.

"If the pp.30-31 quote is wrong, what makes it wrong or misleading?"

It completely misrepresents Ballard's position and ignores the evidence in Ballard's paper, which contradicts Wells's position. It is typical--deliberately dishonest--quote mining, and attempts to defend Wells without discussing the actual evidence (not quotes) are equally dishonest.

-----------

Tim wrote:
"Did you read my post?"

Yes. Did you read Ballard before trying to defend Wells's dishonesty? You claiied that PZ:

"...is lying through his teeth. Literally. He is actually that dishonest. And not a single commentator on Panda's Thumb for the past two months could be bothered to check Myers's quotation against Wells's actual words to see whether Myers was telling the truth. "

It seems that you owe ALL the commentators on PT an apology for falsely accusing them of negligence as well. Ethically, that would need to be posted there as well as here.

Of course, there's also your illiterate use of the term "literally," which is just plain funny.

You also owe PZ an additional apology for calling him dishonest, as that is far more than merely accusing him of misquoting Wells.

"Call-outs are usually written by editors, not by authors."

The quote mining of Ballard on pp. 30-31 was Wells's responsibility.

"I do think Wells should ask the publisher to clean that one up, not on the grounds that it contradicts anything he's said in the text..."

But he has no obligation to clean up because what he attributes to Ballard on pp. 30-31 is misleading to the reader? That he didn't discuss evidence?

LarryFarfarafararman said...

"...is lying through his teeth. Literally. He is actually that dishonest. And not a single commentator on Panda's Thumb for the past two months could be bothered to check Myers's quotation against Wells's actual words to see whether Myers was telling the truth. "

Tim, you are an embarrassment. Take the popular route and blame it on an alcohol problem.

Sophist said...

"-- the text simply provides the context for interpreting the word "early," a context that Myers seems to have missed --"

It's odd that you should mention context, seeing as you're apparantly blind to it. Lets look at the context of the quote on pp. 30-31 that PZ has provided, shall we?

'...a species is distinct and distinguishable from its allies from the very earliest stages all through the development." Then Wells says, "Modern embryologists confirm this," and uses the Bill Ballard quote.'

Hey, look at that. Wells is using the ballard quote to claim that all earlier stages are clearly different, just as in the call out box. Fancy that.

You're pathetic.

Douglas Groothuis said...

I suggest that contributers exercise some moral discipline and stop hurling epithets at each other. Stick to the facts, please.

Boo said...

The fact is that PZ's claim is substantively accurate whether referring to the quote from p 35 or from pp 30-31. Wells did indeed take Ballard out of context to imply Ballard agreed with Sedgwick's claim that all early stages of all embryos are distinct when Ballard clearly did no such thing. The fact is that Tim insulted a great many people, and keeps trying to obfuscate the facts. The fact is that Tim owes a great many people an apology.

Those are the facts.

Doppelganger said...

'Moral discipline'?

How ironic...

Douglas Groothuis said...

Nothing is ironic in my challenge. I am calling everyone to use moral discipline in their responses: deal with facts, do not attack people and call people names.

Ben Z said...

"The issue remains, how can he accuse Wells of omitting the word “gastrula” (or the concept thereof) when Wells uses the word “gastrulation” 3 times and not pharyngula????" -Sal, Uncommon Descent, comment 53http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/1760

Tim said...

Oh dear, the trolls are out in force.

From Myers's review:

It’s easy to make it sound like scientists are willfully lying about the state of our knowledge when you can pluck out a statement about the diversity at the gastrula stage, omit the word “gastrula”, and pretend it applies to the pharyngula stage.


He has lifted a quote from a famous scientist that applies to the gastrula stage, stripped out the specific referents, and made it sound as if it applies to the pharyngula stage.

I'm still waiting for clarification from Myers on where Wells -- not the call-out editor, who clearly simplified Wells's words, but Wells himself -- "stripped out" the reference to the gastrula stage.

C'mon, guys. It's there on the bottom of p. 30. The call-out uses "early" because the call-out editor balked at Long Words. But let's be honest and admit that Wells did explicitly say that it was the gastrula stage, that Myers apparently didn't see it, and that Myers built his complaint around the supposed omission and expended his invective on precisely that point.

The "well-he-is-still-misusing-Ballard" charge is a separate one, and we can consider that independently. But it wasn't the original charge Myers made. And the original charge was false and arose from careless reading of the call-outs without looking at the text, just as my original charge of outright fabrication was careless and arose from my reading of the text actually written by Wells rather than of the callouts written by some editor. Both charges, it now appears, were simply false. I've apologized to PZ. But PZ needs to apologize to Wells.

And please, nobody tell me that PZ just botched the joke.

Todd said...

From Ballard's paper:

"Thus, the energy of investigators and particularly students is diverted into the essentially fruitless 19th century activity of bending the facts of nature to support second-rate generalities of no predictive value. Though enthusiasm for Haeckel's (1900) recapitulation 'law' died out, unfortunately the popularity of Von Baer's 'laws' of 1828 was renewed. In order to defend the latter's descriptive statements that general characters appear before special characters as an egg develops and that the less general and finally the specific characters trail along later, we have to decide intuitively that certain characters are of 'morphological significance' and others are not. When referring to vertebrates, we have to use words like blastula and gastrula in such a way as to imply that things that are vastly different from each other are really very much the same.

In fact, the most obvious structural characteristics of either the eggs or the cleavage stages of a shark, a salmon, a frog, a bird, or a mammal are unique each to its own class, not generally shared. We would not consider them very much alike unless we had been taught so at a very early age. Very few vertebrates pass through a stage which can strictly be called a blastula. The embryo in its period of most active morphogenetic movements is usually called a gastrula, but as all agree this word has no morphologic meaning anymore. Each class of vertebrates (in mammals we might almost say each particular order) develops and then loses its own set of temporary structures - like the parade ground 'formations of maneuver' - during this period. The plain fact is that evolutionary divergence has taken place at every stage in the life history, the earliest no less than the latest. To bolster the partial truths in Von Baer's generalities by insisting that the eggs of vertebrates are more like one another than their 'blastulas,' the blastulas more like one another than their 'gastrulas,' and to homologize all theoretical 'functional blastopores' where 'invagination' is taking place would be running the risk of assuming what is not yet demonstrated - that the genetic physiologic, and cell-behavior processes going on are the same in time and nature."

Emphases mine.

Russ said...

Do none of these great minds see that all the talk of moral impropriety would be completely unnecessary if ID proponents would simply provide any evidence supporting their idea? Where were the ID heavy hitters in Dover? Where were those ID supporters - like Dembski, like Wells - who said they would demonstrate to the world the shortcomings of evolutionary theory when the evolutionists were put on the stand under oath and had not place to hide?

Sophist said...

I'm still waiting for clarification from Myers on where Wells -- not the call-out editor, who clearly simplified Wells's words, but Wells himself -- "stripped out" the reference to the gastrula stage.

It's amazing how quickly the idea that the call-out was written by someone other than Wells went from 'maybe this is what happed' speculation to a hard and fast fact that 'PZ really ought to have known from the beginning, doncha know'.

Odd, that.

Smokey said...

Tim wrote:
"C'mon, guys. It's there on the bottom of p. 30."

There's an admission that at the pharyngula stage, the similarity dramatically increases?

"The call-out uses "early" because the call-out editor balked at Long Words."

Irrelevant.

"But let's be honest and admit that Wells did explicitly say that it was the gastrula stage,..."

That's irrelevant too. The point Wells is eliding is that after the gastrula stage, similarity increases.

"... that Myers apparently didn't see it, and that Myers built his complaint around the supposed omission and expended his invective on precisely that point."

That's not the point Myers's complaint is built around. Why are you avoiding the obvious facts?

"The "well-he-is-still-misusing-Ballard" charge is a separate one, and we can consider that independently."

You don't seem to be capable of doing so, Tim.

"But it wasn't the original charge Myers made."

It's precisely the charge he made.

"And the original charge was false and arose from careless reading of the call-outs without looking at the text,..."

No, it was not. You cannot make an informed comment about the original charge unless you address the dramatic increase in similarity between embryos of different species as they progress from the gastrula to the PHARYNGULA stage.

That being said, not all comments that attempt to address this will be informed by the evidence.

"... just as my original charge of outright fabrication was careless and arose from my reading of the text actually written by Wells rather than of the callouts written by some editor. Both charges, it now appears, were simply false."

PZ's charge can only appear false to someone who is unwilling to examine the evidence provided by gastrulas AND PHARYNGULAS from multiple lineages.

" I've apologized to PZ. But PZ needs to apologize to Wells."

And you need to apologize to all those PT commenters whom you accused of intellectual negligence.

Todd said...
From Ballard's paper:

"..When referring to vertebrates, we have to use words like blastula and gastrula in such a way as to imply that things that are vastly different from each other are really very much the same."

Why didn't you emphasize a passage that discussed the PHARYNGULA, Todd? Better yet, why don't you look at the actual evidence instead of defending dishonest quote-mining with more dishonest quote-mining?

"...Each class of vertebrates (in mammals we might almost say each particular order) develops and then loses its own set of temporary structures - like the parade ground 'formations of maneuver' - during this period."

DURING THIS PERIOD, Todd. What happens AFTER this period? That is the essence of Wells's deception.

"...To bolster the partial truths in Von Baer's generalities by insisting that the eggs of vertebrates are more like one another than their 'blastulas,' the blastulas more like one another than their 'gastrulas,' and to homologize all theoretical 'functional blastopores' where 'invagination' is taking place would be running the risk of assuming what is not yet demonstrated - that the genetic physiologic, and cell-behavior processes going on are the same in time and nature."

This is because the PHARYNGULAS are more like one another than the gastrulas and blastulas.

It's not that hard if you look at the evidence instead of playing word games. Like the proprietor said, stick to facts. Those who want to elide facts use quote mining.

Ballard wrote (but you predictably failed to quote), "Before the pharyngula stage we can only say that the embryos of different species within a single taxonomic class are more alike than their parents."

How can you or Tim possibly come to any honest conclusion without acknowledging this basic fact?

Smokey said...

Russ asked:
"Do none of these great minds see that all the talk of moral impropriety would be completely unnecessary if ID proponents would simply provide any evidence supporting their idea?"

This deserves to be repeated repeatedly. When scientists have an idea that contradicts prevailing dogma, they attempt to falsify their hypothesis by experiment and/or observation. Usually, they are wrong, but their experiments/observations still produce new information for mankind.

IDers completely reject the scientific approach, and treat science as though it is merely argument without evidence, somewhat like English literature, pretending that mere blogs and critiques and quote-mining are going to convince scientists that they have been misled by mountains of evidence.

(Tim, in the case of sequence homologies, there are LITERALLY gigabytes of publicly-available and -analyzable evidence. This is a proper use of the term literally.)

This has been tested experimentally, because the Templeton Foundation offered grants to do ID research, and no one applied.

The only reasonable interpretation of the failure of ID proponents to produce a single new datum is that they lack the faith to put their notion of ID to the test.

Since IDers love quotes so much, I'll close with a beautiful one:
He went back to work, his mind occupied with a K'San semantic field having to do with river systems...Like a series of tributaries! Emilio thought, and felt once more the strangely visceral thrill of trying to disprove a hypothesis he suspected was robust
Children of God, Mary Doria Russell, p. 93.

Note that this is a priest employing the soft science of linguistics. Here we have the much harder science of biology, and not a single IDer has the courage to feel this thrill.

Russ said...

Evidence demonstrating ID could make this whole thread completely mute. If the ID guys actually pumped millions of dollars into research instead of public relations, then perhaps ID would be embraced by the Royal Academy, the National Academy of Science or the AAAS.

Why is that money not going to fund research? One simple reason: ID proponents know beyond a shadow of a doubt that research into ID can never produce anything. ID proponents are not stupid. They know that attempting ID research is throwing money away, so they choose intentionally to pour money into appealing to the masses.

Notice that while evolutionary theory amasses more evidence directly supporting it each and every day, ID simply promotes itself. ID is hype and hype alone.

While the likes of Wells can make lots of money marketing ID through religious channels and duping the ignorant, the next generation will not know who he was. Like an actor in a bad movie, he will be forgotten. Wells books, just like any other marketing brochure, will be gone from memory. ID will be renamed for a more advantageous marketing stance. But, when Wells, his books and ID are gone, Darwin and evolution will still be alive and well. On the Origin of Species will still be in print and the natural world will be producing more and more evidence for the fact of evolution.

RBH said...

Smokey wrote

"IDers completely reject the scientific approach, and treat science as though it is merely argument without evidence, somewhat like English literature, pretending that mere blogs and critiques and quote-mining are going to convince scientists that they have been misled by mountains of evidence."

IDers and philosophers. I've always liked Robert Heinein's definition of a philosopher as "... a scientist with no thumbs". (In Stranger in a Strange Land, IIRC).

McGrew's squirming reminds me of the quotation from Salvador Cordova published in Nature not long ago:

"The critical thinking and precision of science began to really affect my ability to just believe something without any tangible evidence."

RBH

Smokey said...

Russ wrote:
"Why is that money not going to fund research? One simple reason: ID proponents know beyond a shadow of a doubt that research into ID can never produce anything."

But clearly, at least some of them believe at some mental level (the lizard brain) that it is correct. When you look at their lack of action, it is clear that at some mental level they have zero faith.

Look at Behe--he has a laboratory, but completely stopped producing data (computer simulations don't count) when he embraced ID. There's no better longitudinal experiment out there.

Larry Fafarman said...

Some time ago I wrote a review of PZ Myers' review of Chapter 3 of Wells' book, before I became aware of this controversy over whether Myers misquoted or misrepresented the book (whether intentionally or not). My review is at --
http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2006/08/review-of-pz-myers-review-of-chapter-3.html

Here are some excerpts from my review of Myers' review --
. . . .because the structures of the adult forms and early embryo forms of organisms are radically different, statements that the early embryos of two species are "more alike than their parents" or "less alike than their parents" are often meaningless. I assert that Ballard created tremendous confusion here by speaking in those terms.

. . .according to Wikipedia, the main deciding factor in development at this stage is the amount of yolk in the egg and not -- as Ballard claimed -- the taxonomic class of the species.

Also, apparently Scienceblogs, the blog service of PZ Myers' blog Pharyngula, has at PZ's request blocked my comments on all of Scienceblogs' approximately 50 blogs, and I want to take this opportunity to protest that gross act of censorship.

William Bradford said...

As scordova has repeatedly pointed out:

How can PZ claim Wells is pretending the quote by Ballard is about the pharyngula stage when the Wells used the word gastrulation.

According to PZ, Wells:

pluck out a statement about the diversity at the gastrula stage, omit the word “gastrula”, and pretend it applies to the pharyngula stage.



So how can someone use the word gastrulation 3 times and still be accused of omitting the word gastrula and pretend it is “pharyngula”?

Russ said...

Good point, Smokey.

I'm continually amazed that the philosohpers will get in on the act analyzing all manner of linguistic subtlety and rarely ask the one simple question a philosopher should ask: where does the available evidence point?

If the ID'ers could be put under oath and questioned before their religious constituency - note the language of politics, not science - would they claim that any evidence for ID even exists?

How would Wells have fared in Behe's place in Dover? Would Wells, too, under oath have told the world that astrology should be admitted into public science classrooms? Would he too contend that there is a dirth in evolution-based explanations and then time and time again admit to not knowing the current state of evolutionary theory?

If ID actually possesses a more powerful explanatory capacity, why can they not demonstrate it? Why can't they point to research into ID research programs? If including the supernatural in your definition of science provides greater insight into the natural world why not conduct some supernatural science on your own with some of that PR funding and really show up naturalistic science? These are legitimate questions.

In this thread a lot of effort has gone into denigrating and vilifying PZ Myers, but why not put that effort into forcing an answer out of the ID supporters? If Mr. Myers has misquoted someone, intentionally or not, how does that compare morally to a group of people promoting the public acceptance of a supernatural concept and passing it off as science? Perhaps a more moral approach would be to ask Mr. Myers to explain himself if a question about his review exists.

If morality is the issue, what are the moral implications of saying to the public ID is science but, unlike other science, you are expected to accept ID with no evidence whatsoever? How morally corrupt are people who literally change the word "creationism" to the phrase "intelligent design" in a textbook and, then, try to pass it off as science? How morally flawed does one have to be to defend those who do?

When Mr. Wells takes money from the religious public, isn't it fraud since he knows he will never produce anything? Isn't Mr. Wells accountable at all to those same religious people who gave him the money? From Wells' own religious standpoint, how immoral is it to turn the public's lack of understanding to his own purposes? Wells and his ID cohorts are clearly not honorable, moral people. While they prey on public misunderstanding, they debase science as well as themselves.

If Mr. Wells wants to occupy the moral high ground, he could, right now, do something quite honorable: he could explain to the public through one of his high-profile public relations channels that ID is and always has been a religious pipedream, conceived - by Wells himself, Johnson, Behe, Dembski and company - solely to mislead an uninformed general public about the well-supported science of evolution?

Donald M said...

Smokey: "Look at Behe--he has a laboratory, but completely stopped producing data (computer simulations don't count) when he embraced ID. There's no better longitudinal experiment out there.

Why don't computer simulations count, Smokey? They certainly counted -- big time -- when Lenski et.al. reported their findings in the Avida study that supposedly showed how specified complexity could arise through evolutionary means. They counted more recently when a new study in PNAS by Soyer and Bonhoeffer discussed the Evolution of Complexity in Signaling Pathways.

Perhaps you are suggesting that computer simulations are fine as long as they are used to support an evolutionary hypothesis, but can't be counted when used to support ID?
That looks like a double standard to me!

ts said...

So...have you actually looked on page 35?

Of course he didn't. He looked at pp. 30-31, saw similar words, and concluded that you had changed the words and gotten the page number wrong. It's a fine illustration of ideology, limited imagination, and general mental feebleness. If I were he, I would give up on intellectual pursuits and take up gardening.

ts said...

he is absolved of the crime of actually fabricating the quotation.

What an arrogant prick. There was no sin for you to absolve.

ts said...

Call-outs –- which I personally find annoying and cluttering –- are usually created by an editor rather than by the author of the text.

The call-out is Wells's own words, which he has used in other publications; try googling it.

I'm still waiting for clarification from Myers on where Wells -- not the call-out editor, who clearly simplified Wells's words, but Wells himself -- "stripped out" the reference to the gastrula stage.

Myers said that Wells "stripped out the specific referents" -- your quote mining here is much like Wells's, as "specific referents" includes Ballard's references to the similarities in the pharyngula stage, which is crucial to understanding how Wells misrepresents Ballard as supporting a position he explicitly contradicts.

ts said...

It's amazing how quickly the idea that the call-out was written by someone other than Wells went from 'maybe this is what happed' speculation to a hard and fast fact that 'PZ really ought to have known from the beginning, doncha know'.

It's a common ploy by the intellectually corrupt. And in this case the speculation is demonstrably false; Wells himself has used the "early stages" language in other papers that he has written and are googleable.

Larry Fafarman said...

PZ's failure to check the text to see whether it modified or clarified the "call-out" statement in the box is inexcusable.

Tim said...

Larry,

You write:

PZ's failure to check the text to see whether it modified or clarified the "call-out" statement in the box is inexcusable.

That's the way it's looking to me at this point.

Incidentally, I emailed Wells and he confirmed that the call-out boxes were the work of an editor.

Ed Darrell said...

One more key difference between science and public relations: Science papers don't have call-out boxes.

Where is the paper that backs Wells' press release? Clearly, if Wells isn't controlling the call-out boxes, it's his PR people doing the stuff. Where's the science?

William Bradford said...

One more key difference between science and public relations: Science papers don't have call-out boxes.

Public relations? When was the last time you went through a library or a bookstore? They are loaded with books by authors sympathetic to mainstream theories. The public relations is in the marketing for the dollars they gross.

Smokey said...

DonaldM asked:
"Why don't computer simulations count, Smokey?"

For starters, Behe's sophomoric simulation doesn't count because it didn't tell us something we didn't already know--existing populations of bacteria can easily evolve protein features that Behe defines as IC in short amounts of time.

Secondly, Behe's sophomoric simulation doesn't count as a test of ID because--read carefully, Donald--he wasn't testing an ID hypothesis at all.

"They certainly counted -- big time -- when Lenski et.al. reported their findings in the Avida study that supposedly showed how specified complexity could arise through evolutionary means. They counted more recently when a new study in PNAS by Soyer and Bonhoeffer discussed the Evolution of Complexity in Signaling Pathways."

Neither counted as data. Computer simulations are very important in formulating models. Behe's didn't test his model.

"Perhaps you are suggesting that computer simulations are fine as long as they are used to support an evolutionary hypothesis, but can't be counted when used to support ID?
That looks like a double standard to me!"

That's because your eyes are closed! Computer simulations are fine, they just don't count as data.

Now, would you mind explaining, in detail, just how you determined that Behe's computer simulation supported ID? Remember, I'm pointing out the universal lack of faith in any ID hypothesis, because no one, including Behe, has the courage to test one. What hypothesis was Behe testing, Donald?

Smokey said...

Billy Bradford wrote:
"This has all the appearance of deliberate deception. I'll give PZ credit for chutzpah though. He points the finger at Wells while doing the same things he accuses others of- and worse."

At least Tim apologized, Bill. Time for your integrity check. Got any?

Later, Billy wrote:
"Incidentally, I emailed Wells and he confirmed that the call-out boxes were the work of an editor.

9:28 PM

Ed Darrell said...
One more key difference between science and public relations: Science papers don't have call-out boxes.

Where is the paper that backs Wells' press release? Clearly, if Wells isn't controlling the call-out boxes, it's his PR people doing the stuff. Where's the science?

9:41 PM

William Bradford said...
"When was the last time you went through a library or a bookstore?"

A couple of days ago. And you?

"They are loaded with books by authors sympathetic to mainstream theories."

Of course they are, Billy. You see, the term "theory" is only applied to hypotheses that have a substantial record of accurate predictions. Therefore, as soon as something becomes a theory, it's already mainstream. ID is not a theory, as everyone who claims to have so much faith in it has absolutely zero faith when it comes to making and testing predictions. For example, Stan Prusiner, who is not known for his modesty, offered the "Prion Hypothesis" in 1982, and few people thought he was correct. Literally (note the correct use of the word, Tim) hundreds of papers full of actual data from tests of the hypothesis later, it's now a theory and in the mainstream.

Tim wrote:
"Incidentally, I emailed Wells and he confirmed that the call-out boxes were the work of an editor."

So what? Wells has used identical language himself, and his selective quotations in both cases are deliberately misleading because they don't address the greatly increased similarity found at the pharyngula stage. Therefore, Wells's position that Ballard somehow argues against common descent is simply dishonest.

You see, Tim, science is about the evidence. It's not literary criticism in which one only looks at texts.

William Bradford said...

"This has all the appearance of deliberate deception. I'll give PZ credit for chutzpah though. He points the finger at Wells while doing the same things he accuses others of- and worse."

At least Tim apologized, Bill. Time for your integrity check. Got any?

Later, Billy wrote:
"Incidentally, I emailed Wells and he confirmed that the call-out boxes were the work of an editor.


No, Smokey I did not write that. This is what I wrote:

"So how can someone use the word gastrulation 3 times and still be accused of omitting the word gastrula and pretend it is “pharyngula”?"

Time for your integrity check Smokey. Got any?

William Bradford said...

Of course they are, Billy. You see, the term "theory" is only applied to hypotheses that have a substantial record of accurate predictions.

Yes, that explains why it is not applied to mainstream beliefs about life's origins. You see Smokey, abiogenesis has become mainstream and attracts defenders like you who show great faith in it. It's not about predictions as to how life arises either. Back to the drawing boards Smokey.

aka...Forthekids said...

I actually called Myers on this quote-mining incident back in August. At that time, his article at the Panda’s Thumb had pages 30-31 with the quote he used from the call-out box on page 35.

I called him on quote mining just as Tim did, and he directed me to the call-out box on pg. 35. I told him pgs. 30 and 31 did not have the quote that he used, and at that point he agreed and changed the page number from pgs. 30-31 to pg. 35.

He blamed the numbering problem on someone else.

Basically, PZ just took advantage of the call-out editor’s shorting of the quote to fit the box.

Guaranteed you’ll never hear an apology from him.

Here are the links of our previous discussion on this matter:

here

here

here

here

Larry Fafarman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Larry Fafarman said...

aka...Forthekids said,

>>>>>> I called him on quote mining just as Tim did, and he directed me to the call-out box on pg. 35. I told him pgs. 30 and 31 did not have the quote that he used, and at that point he agreed and changed the page number from pgs. 30-31 to pg. 35.

Basically, PZ just took advantage of the call-out editor’s shorting of the quote to fit the box. <<<<<<

Thanks for the info, aka...Forthekids! That is the smoking gun. It can no longer be argued that possibly PZ merely overlooked the text on pages 30-31. That argument was a very weak defense to begin with.

Ed Darrell said...

Okay, so the call-out box on page 35 was a non-scientific falsehood created by an editor at Regnery. That's what one gets with an often-disreputable publisher.

But that doesn't excuse the academic sins of quote butchery on pages 30 and 31, where Dr. Wells slices up the words of Dr. Ballard to make Ballard appear to say something almost exactly contrary to what Ballard said.

It's a common tactic for Dr. Wells. Since he did it in one of his earlier books in an amazingly fictional account of research on moths, and since every living scientist he quoted repudiated his claims, Dr. Wells seems to have retreated to doing this work on dead scientists.

But living scientists sprang to the keyboard to correct the errors.

I still wonder: At what point should an ethical person admit that the tactics of a polemicist are in error, even if one sincerely wishes the polemicist to be correct? Dr. Wells' work on Ballard is an academic sin of highest order. Dr. Ballard did not say what Dr. Wells claims he said.

How can a defense be made of the Wells claim, by ethical people?

Tim said...

aka...forthekids,

Wow. That is really interesting -- thanks for posting that.

Because there has been some misunderstanding already in this thread, I want to make sure I'm getting this right. What you're telling us is that Myers has known for some time that Wells gives the more explicit statement on pp. 30-31. When you drew it to his attention months ago he did not withdraw the criticism but simply shifted the page reference (incompletely, which is why it still had "pp." instead of "p.") and continued to say that what Wells had done was to

omit the word "gastrula", and pretend it applies to the pharyngula stage.

Am I understanding this correctly?

Folks, this places me in a quandary. I assumed, when PZ Myers pointed out that he was quoting the call-out box, that he had simply made an honest mistake, overlooking the more explicit wording in the passage from which the call-out was condensed. But now it appears that Myers has been aware of the sentence on pp. 30-31 for some time but knowingly suppressed that fact, changing the reference but not his criticism.

PZ, is this true?

Oolon Colluphid said...

Incidentally, I emailed Wells and he confirmed that the call-out boxes were the work of an editor.

Did he also take the opportunity to explain why he used virtually identical quote mining as the call out box on pg. 35 in his article anthologized in Mere Creation or his 2000 American Spectator article?

Furthermore, if Wells weren't trying to mislead the readers, why did he approve it when he read the galleys? Or did he not read the galleys, as any minimally competent writer would be expected to do?

Larry Fafarman said...

Some time ago I wrote a review of PZ Myers' review of Chapter 3 of Wells' book, before this controversy over whether PZ misquoted or misrepresented the book arose. I did not have my own copy of the book and was entirely dependent on PZ's description, and my review therefore has some serious errors. My review is at --
http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2006/08/review-of-pz-myers-review-of-chapter-3.html

Here are two excerpts from my review --

. . . .because the structures of the adult forms and early embryo forms of organisms are radically different, statements that the early embryos of two species are "more alike than their parents" or "less alike than their parents" are often meaningless. I assert that Ballard created tremendous confusion here by speaking in those terms.

. . .according to Wikipedia, the main deciding factor in development at this stage is the amount of yolk in the egg and not -- as Ballard claimed -- the taxonomic class of the species.

Russ said...

Early in this thread, Tim says,
"Let me put that more bluntly: Myers is lying through his teeth. Literally. He is actually that dishonest."

Clearly, Tim considers himself sufficiently well-informed to render quite a strong assessment.

Then, much later Tim says,
"Folks, this places me in a quandary. I assumed, when PZ Myers pointed out that he was quoting the call-out box, that he had simply made an honest mistake."

Only NOW, with the new information is Tim in a quandry due to the "honest mistake" which earlier was "Myers is lying through his teeth"?

This is laughable.

Of course, Tim, Wells could shut up not only PZ Myers, but the entire worldwide science community, if he provided EVIDENCE for ID - any. He would be as revered as Darwin. Perhaps, he could put some public relations money toward research and make a true contribution to science. Then, nobody would be quibbling about call-out boxes by mysterious editors.

If the information in "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design" was a scientifically useful critique, why did Wells not have the content published in a peer review journal? Why not expose the material to a throrough going over by well-informed professionals familiar with the topic area? This again highlights the moral corruption of those in the ID movment. ID is termed in language sounding like science expressly because the ID movement is desperate for respectibility. If ID were a real phenomenon, the language used would be of little consequence. Without a doubt, if Wells could have had this material published through the peer-review process, he would have. However, the intent is not to perform good science, it is to fabricate non-sense for its public relations audience who IDers know full well can't distinguish science from pseudo-science. Deceit is immoral.

Like Wells, Dembski has nothing to offer science. "The Design Inference" assumes the flawed premise that "sufficiently improbable" is proof of "designed by some intelligent entity." The "explanatory filter" performs no objective function whatsoever. If the user of the filter has no understanding of a phenomenon, he can't associate his own subjective probabilities, so the filter can't be used. If the user does understand a phenomenon then he does assign subjective probability assessments that is, he makes them up. So, the user either can't use it or he makes up the data. It is not a usable tool. Just like Wells, Dembski does not attempt peer review, but he still tries to pass ID off as science. Dishonest to the core.

So, Tim, if you want to be up in arms about someone "lying through his teeth," Wells or Dembski are much better targets of wrath or moral outrage.

Smokey said...

Larry wrote:
"I assert that Ballard created tremendous confusion here by speaking in those terms."

So what? Ballard didn't use the terms you falsely attributed to him, Larry. He used much more specific terms like blastula, pre-gastrula, gastrula, and pharyngula. How can you make such a patently dishonest assertion?

". . .according to Wikipedia,..."

So, you wrote a review of a review, without reading the paper that was quote-mined, and you cite Wikipedia, and you think that's scientific?

Science is about producing new knowledge about our world, not quote mining texts. ID has produced zero new knowledge about our world, because each and every one of its adherents lack the faith to put it to a single observational or experimental test.

Given their cowardice and lack of faith, they resort to distorting the words of others and pretending that this distortion has scientific validity. Look at the dishonesty you engaged in, Larry--you accused Ballard of causing confusion by using vague terms, when in fact, he used much more specific terms that aren't confusing, and railed against the generalizations that you falsely attributed to him.

If you had the slightest amount of faith in ID, you'd argue the evidence, but that would involve explaining WHY the remarkable similarity of pharyngulas is predicted from intelligent design.

Smokey said...

ftk wrote:
"Basically, PZ just took advantage of the call-out editor’s shorting of the quote to fit the box."

No, he pointed out that both quotes of Ballard were equally dishonest.

"Guaranteed you’ll never hear an apology from him."

Since both quotes were equally misrepresentative of Ballard's views, he doesn't owe anyone an apology.

"Here are the links of our previous discussion on this matter:"

Yes, Les summed up Wells's (and your) dishonesty beautifully:

Wells argues that evolutionary scientists rely on early stage similarities to support evolution; and cites Ballard for the proposition that he and other admit to trickery for that support. In fact, Ballard (and evolutionary biologists) acknowledge the early diversity, and Ballard goes on to discuss greater similarities in later stages of development. In short: Wells lies about what biologists believe, sets up a straw man about what supports evolution, and misinterprets Ballard to support his lie and attack his straw man. Nobody ever said Wells was stupid, just dishonest.

You see, Tim, the passage Wells quoted is only relevant to your false accusation. Wells's dishonesty is about portraying Ballard as sharing his position that the evidence from embryology doesn't support common descent. He does this by selectively quoting Ballard about gastrulas and blastulas, but ignoring the evidence (and what Ballard wrote) about the remarkable similarity of pharyngulas between very diverse lineages. If you have trouble wrapping your pseudoscientific brains around this, let me reduce it to text-proofing terms: Wells avoids discussing pharyngulas, and this avoidance is dishonest.

Tim, let me remind you that Wells used the language in the call-out box on other occasions, so it makes zero difference whether he says the editor did it or not. You still haven't apologized to all the PT commenters whom you falsely accused of intellectual negligence, either.

Boo said...

Just so we're clear:

Your defense of your claim that PZ lied about Wells' lie on p 35 of his book is to point out that Wells told a slightly different lie on pp 30-31.

That's your defense.

Wow. Just, wow.

Both lies are quote mining. Both lies try to paint Ballard's view as the opposite of what it actually was. The only difference is that Wells said gastrula on 30-31 and not on 35. He still tried to pretend that Ballard's views on embryo development similarity applied to all stages, which includes the pharyngula stage, when clearly they did not.

In addition to the advice about actually producing some research if it wants to be taken seriously, there's one other thing the ID movement needs to do, and this is pretty important: STOP LYING AND DEFENDING LIARS!

Larry Fafarman said...

Smokey wrote ( 9:25 AM ) --
>>>>> Ballard didn't use the terms you falsely attributed to him, Larry. <<<<<

According to PZ Myers' review of chapter 3 of Wells' book, "more alike than their parents" were the exact words used by Ballard.

>>>>> So, you wrote a review of a review, without reading the paper that was quote-mined, and you cite Wikipedia, and you think that's scientific? <<<<<<

PZ gave no link to Ballard's paper and it doesn't matter whether or not I read it, because saying that early-stage embryos of different species are "more alike than their parents" (or less alike than their parents) is a vague statement because the early-stage embryo and adult forms of a particular species are often radically different.

Wikipedia is supposed to be a good reference in science. A study showed that Wikipedia is about as accurate in science as the online version of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

>>>>> Science is about producing new knowledge about our world, not quote mining texts. <<<<<

It appears that PZ Myers is one of the biggest quote miners here.

>>>> If you had the slightest amount of faith in ID, you'd argue the evidence, but that would involve explaining WHY the remarkable similarity of pharyngulas is predicted from intelligent design. <<<<<

How is the vertebrates' "developmental hourglass" -- the dissimilarity of the earliest embryos followed by the similarity of pharyngulas followed by dissimilarity again -- explained by Darwinism?

Torbjörn Larsson said...

"Also, apparently Scienceblogs, the blog service of PZ Myers' blog Pharyngula, has at PZ's request blocked my comments on all of Scienceblogs' approximately 50 blogs, and I want to take this opportunity to protest that gross act of censorship."

I don't think so. Myers started to disemwovel your comments in this exchange:
"

Ichthyic said ( October 21, 2006 06:51 AM ) --

...Don't make me post that thread where your brother exposes your condition, Larry. you wouldn't like that.

Don't start a flame war here, Ichthyic. PZ Myers wouldn't like that. Because I can post comments here by means of anonymous proxies (this comment is posted by anonymous proxy), he can delete my comments but he cannot block them except by enabling universal comment moderation, which would be a great inconvenience to himself and to the readers. Without comment moderation, my nasty comments -- as well as yours -- could sit on this blog for some time before he finds and deletes them.

Posted by: Larry Fafarman | October 21, 2006 12:35 PM

Making threats to inconvenience me or my readers means you're gone, bozo.

Posted by: PZ Myers | October 21, 2006 01:02 PM" ( http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/10/gogonasus_andrewsae.php )

Now, as far as I understand you have been repeatedly abusive and IIRC are blocked from Panda's Thumb.

You have also expressed feelings of being victimized. Let me suggest that abusive behaviour engenders consequences.

More to the point, there is no proof that Myers has requested the above action, since he should merely be concerned with his own blog and already have a non-censorship solution for abusers. It is most likely an action due to abuse on several scienceblogs.

PS. Let me, again, note that I don't think Ichthyic, who otherwise is a sensible commenter, was entirely in the right even if the information he gave is useful. And, again, don't interpret my comments as following you around - I came here by way of Pharyngula, and as for Panda's Thumb you can see my repeated visits there. DS

Torbjörn Larsson said...

Umm. Of course I should have checked other scienceblogs on my hypotheses first.

But already Dispathes from the Culture Wars is supportive:
"A few weeks ago I stopped replying to Larry Fafarman and his constant screeds against me at his blog, mostly because with that whole impersonating his brother things it became clear that the man really is mentally ill and needs serious help." ( http://www.scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/08/smirk_i_dont_smirk.php )

So I wasn't guessing wildly. (Well, yes, I was, but it seems to have been an informed guess.)

Torbjörn Larsson said...

Erkh! "his blog"

Well, then, at least this:
http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/05/wont_the_real_dave_fafarman_pl.php

(I wont post any more content, it is too abusive.)

Douglas Groothuis said...

Russ said:

"Evidence demonstrating ID could make this whole thread completely mute. If the ID guys actually pumped millions of dollars into research instead of public relations, then perhaps ID would be embraced by the Royal Academy, the National Academy of Science or the AAAS."

This statement is absurd. There is absolutely no state funding available (they falsely deem it religious) and almost no funding available outside what The Discovery Institute gets, which is less than a drop in the bucket compared to the Darwinists, who control the pursestrings of biology.

Ironically, the Darwinists also attack the Discovery Institute for getting money for ID research.

Boo said...

This statement is absurd. There is absolutely no state funding available (they falsely deem it religious) and almost no funding available outside what The Discovery Institute gets, which is less than a drop in the bucket compared to the Darwinists, who control the pursestrings of biology.

Two words: Templeton Foundation.

Grants available. Proposals asked for. No takers. Meanwhile the DI spends ten million on press releases.

Larry Fafarman said...

Torbjörn Larsson wrote ( 11:28 AM ) --

>>>>>"Also, apparently Scienceblogs, the blog service of PZ Myers' blog Pharyngula, has at PZ's request blocked my comments on all of Scienceblogs' approximately 50 blogs, and I want to take this opportunity to protest that gross act of censorship."

I don't think so. <<<<<<

You don't think so, but I know so.

I apologize for bringing up this off-topic subject here, but I thought that it was the only way to get the word out. Shortly after my run-in with PZ on Pharyngula, I noticed that I was being blocked on all Scienceblogs blogs. I picked seven Scienceblogs blogs at random and found that I was blocked at the comment-preview stage on all of them. Scienceblogs told me that they found no technical reason for the blockage. So I put two and two together and figured that Scienceblogs was at PZ's request blocking me on all Scienceblogs blogs.

Now I find that I am no longer blocked on most Scienceblogs blogs. Who knows, maybe the folks at Scienceblogs changed their minds, fearing possible damage to their reputation.

>>>>>Now, as far as I understand you have been repeatedly abusive and IIRC are blocked from Panda's Thumb. <<<<<<

Wrong.

>>>>>>Let me, again, note that I don't think Ichthyic, who otherwise is a sensible commenter, was entirely in the right even if the information he gave is useful. <<<<<

Ichthyic was entirely in the wrong and the information he gave -- or threatened to give -- was not useful.

The cause of the problem here is that Pharyngula commenters who are on PZ's side figure that they can make all the uncalled-for insults and ad hominem attacks they want whereas their targets are sitting ducks.

Russ said...

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. posted
--->
Russ said:

"Evidence demonstrating ID could make this whole thread completely mute. If the ID guys actually pumped millions of dollars into research instead of public relations, then perhaps ID would be embraced by the Royal Academy, the National Academy of Science or the AAAS."

This statement is absurd. There is absolutely no state funding available (they falsely deem it religious) and almost no funding available outside what The Discovery Institute gets, which is less than a drop in the bucket compared to the Darwinists, who control the pursestrings of biology.

Ironically, the Darwinists also attack the Discovery Institute for getting money for ID research.
--->

The statement is far from absurd. One Charles Darwin revolutionized the way we see the world and our place in it with no state funding. Galileo proved we're not the focal point of the universe with no state funding. Isaac Newton served us full courses of gravitation, optics, calculus, physical mechanics with no state funding. Einstein had no state funding when he gave the world special relativity, the photoelectric effect, and Brownian motion. Obviously, Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.(Ph.D.!, Ph.D.!!) state funding is not a necessity for making developments in science.

Closer to the point, the DI has spent millions on public relations which, if the tale of ID needed money to be told, could have gone to research. These people aren't even applying for grants to fund research. If ID research requires lots of money, what does the research consist of and how will you know when you've succeeded?

Michael Behe wrote "Darwin's Black Box" while being paid by Lehigh, but instead of doing ID research his only work was the usual blow of those who define their professional worth in terms of Darwin. In fact, Behe took his idea for his book from the object of his envy, Charles "No-State-Funding-No-Paid-Academic-Position" Darwin. Most people don't know this but Darwin never spent one penny trying to force his idea on anyone. He was not compelled to coerce his idea on the young like the deceitful Dover board members. If the idea had no merit, it would have been chucked into wastebin of countless tried-but-failed-to-pass-muster other ideas.

Mr. Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.(Ph.D.!, Ph.D.!!) when you state "(they falsely deem it religious)" you make yourself look like a complete idiot. Did you not read the Dover transcript? Under oath in a court of law it was testified that the ID textbook "Of Pandas and People" was created by simply changing the creationism references to ID references. How much more obvious could it be that ID is a religious concept? Mr. Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.(Ph.D.!, Ph.D.!!) you exemplify how a contemporary degree and a job in academia is no indicator of intellectual skill.

Mr. Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.(Ph.D.!, Ph.D.!!), your comment, "Ironically, the Darwinists also attack the Discovery Institute for getting money for ID research" at least requires proof of the DI getting research money. Demonstrate this. Demonstrate how this research money has been used besides PR. You've made a statement of fact; demonstrate it. Demonstrate that ID research is in progress. Under oath in Dover no one contended that ID research was in progress. If you have new information since Dover - detailed account information - share it. Mr. Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.(Ph.D.!, Ph.D.!!) this is not a classroom of undergraduates who know you can victimize them for disagreeing with you. If your statement is not true or you cannot prove your statement of fact, then you are being as immoral as the rest of the ID bunch.

Mr. Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.(Ph.D.!, Ph.D.!!) do you not understand that if any hope of an actual result existed, the money would be there? The Templeton Foundation would love to fund ID research if proof of a designer could demonstrated. Do you not understand that not one of the people associated with ID has any idea what scientific proof of a designer would look like?

So, answer this riddle for the world: if IDers were given a billion dollars how would it be spent?

Exactly what does ID research look like? If they want money to do something besides public relations, what will they do with it? What would proof of a designer look like? Mr. Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.(Ph.D.!, Ph.D.!!) your statements suggest that you at least think you know this ID stuff quite well. Please clear this up for the world.

Mr. Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.(Ph.D.!, Ph.D.!!), if you were any kind of reputable philosopher, skilled the areas of argument, formal logic, and ethics, you would possess the tools necessary to see that ID is religious public relations and religious public relations only, it is not science, and the pretension of being science is a vacuous deceit perpetrated against a scientifically unsophisticated public.

Jeremy said...

Forthekids wrote:
"I actually called Myers on this quote-mining incident back in August. At that time, his article at the Panda’s Thumb had pages 30-31 with the quote he used from the call-out box on page 35.

I called him on quote mining just as Tim did, and he directed me to the call-out box on pg. 35. I told him pgs. 30 and 31 did not have the quote that he used, and at that point he agreed and changed the page number from pgs. 30-31 to pg. 35.

He blamed the numbering problem on someone else.

Basically, PZ just took advantage of the call-out editor’s shorting of the quote to fit the box."


Unfortunately, that's not an entirely accurate description of what happened back in August. I took part in that discussion, and I distinctly remember some details that Forthekids failed to mention.

First of all, in this post on Sept. 1, PZ Myers wrote:

"FtK is right in one thing: the PT article has the wrong pages. The page numbers were added after I'd written the thing by Reed Cartwright, and he used the wrong ones. It's been fixed now."

So Myers specifically attributed the page number mix-up to Reed Cartwright, not merely "someone else." Reed Cartwright is clearly listed as the editor of the PT series. The suggestion that it was Reed Cartwright’s mistake is consistent with the fact that Myers originally posted the review on his blog without any page numbers listed for any of the quotes he used.

I also don't know if it is necessary to assume that it was a Regnery editor that shortened the quote in the call-out box. As it turns out, the last sentence of this 1998 essay by Wells is almost identical to the text of the call-out box.

In both instances, Wells used the words "early stages" in place of Ballards reference to "gastrulas." Wells very well could have done the same thing in his book.

Douglas Groothuis said...

Dear Russ:

Thank you for being so impressed with my doctorate.

My claim was not that Darwin was state-supported, but that the entire Darwinian establishment today is state-funded and that no such funds are available for ID.

We'll have to see if ID ends up toppling all the money in the end. I hope the truth will win out.

Yes, ID spends money to promote itself outside of scientific circles. So do the Darwinists. Remember the "Evolution" PBS special a few years ago or "Cosmos" 25 years ago? If you are largely shut out of scientific publications (but not entirely), it makes sense to move elsewhere. Brilliant ideas are not limited to peer review journals.

Behe worked for a university while writing his book. So what? That doesn't mean the university sponsored the book. I write books while working at my school, but the school does not sponsor my books. I write them and get them published; they are not published by my school. There is no direct connection.

PZ Myers said...

To respond to Fafarman's accusation:

He was banned from my blog. He was banned from the Panda's Thumb. A few other scienceblogs also independently banned him. I did not call for a global ban on scienceblogs; it's hardly necessary. Fafarman gets himself expelled from the conversation everywhere he goes.

However, someone on scienceblogs did forward his complaint that he was not able to comment (a most disingenuous complaint, since he knows full well why he can't) to our administrator, so that he could fix the problem if it was a technical glitch. Our administrator asked if there was a reason Fafarman was banned on our blogs, and I said, "Why, yes." And then I forwarded this comment that Fafarman made.

I not only have a mind to spam your lousy ass, but I may start spamming Panda's Thumb again too, something I haven't done in months.

One of my favorite tactics is posting flames late at night so they are not found and deleted for several hours.


Our administrator decided that this guy was a dead loss, and he wasn't going to lift a finger to help him.

So, yeah, Fafarman is not welcome at scienceblogs. Is anyone surprised?

Unsympathetic reader said...

Regarding ID research funding...
I am not certain funding is currently the limiting factor in ID research. I think having a research program or viable research proposals are what is initially required. For example, Behe might consider identifying the simplest, most recently emerged IC system and studying the relationships with any of its components to other components that may have preceded the system. Why choose a recently emerged system? Well, those would be the most likely to retain the most 'signal' -- Time tends to destroy biochemical evidence. Why simple? Because simple systems are easier to manipulated and more open to evaluation. I would also look to a system in which there are a good number of living sister species for comparison. These are all criteria that most research biochemists like to see in model systems when doing hypothesis testing. Has this been attempted? No.

Why not? Good question...

But until then, I think it would be beneficial for the ID community to come to a consensus about key areas like: the age of the earth, the relationships between organisms & the timing of their appearances, which organisms (if any) are linked by common descent, which organisms or groups would not be related, and which are the most recent cases where a design 'intervention' is likely to have happened. These are just some of the key, foundational areas that really need to be established near the start of the process. Also, it is clear that there are numerous, incompatible formulations of ID hypotheses still at large. For example, Behe's and Denton's ideas about common descent are not terribly compatible with Wells. Baraminology anyone? Further, Denton and Behe are at odds about the location and timing of 'design events'.

Missing from ID currently is the necessary, vigorous internal debate and the rapid turnover & pruning of ideas that are normally signs of healthy scientific research programs.

RBH said...

Attempting to rebut Russ's urging that IDists do some actual ID research, Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said

"This statement is absurd. There is absolutely no state funding available (they falsely deem it religious) and almost no funding available outside what The Discovery Institute gets, which is less than a drop in the bucket compared to the Darwinists, who control the pursestrings of biology."

For the record, let us recall the remarks of the Templeton Foundation official who said "They [ID research proposals] never came in," said Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president at the Templeton Foundation, who said that while he was skeptical from the beginning, other foundation officials were initially intrigued and later grew disillusioned. "From the point of view of rigor and intellectual seriousness, the intelligent design people don't come out very well in our world of scientific review," he said. (Italics added).

RBH, Ph.D.

Larry Fafarman said...

PZ Myers said ( 9:31 PM ) --

>>>>> He was banned from my blog. <<<<<

That's obvious.

>>>>> He was banned from the Panda's Thumb. <<<<<

I was initially banned from Panda's Thumb because I happened to share an IP address with someone suspected of posting under multiple names ( just one of those pitfalls of IP-address bans ).

>>>>> A few other scienceblogs also independently banned him. <<<<<<

A "few" other Scienceblogs? Only on Ed Brayton's Dispatches from the Culture Wars blog because Ed did not like my literal interpretation of a federal court rule. I have done a lot of commenting on Scienceblogs' Evolution Blog and Thoughts from Kansas -- as well as on many other blogs on the Internet -- with no problems.

>>>>> I forwarded this comment that Fafarman made. <<<<<<

I made that comment only after you said, "you're gone, bozo."

It is not the business of a blog service to take sides in disputes between bloggers and visitors. The blog service had no idea what may have triggered my abusive comment.

Ichthyic started it. His threat to start a disruptive flame war by posting a link to an unrelated quarrel that I had on another blog was uncalled-for. He figured he could get away with it because he figured that you would go after me instead of him. He was right!

A Scienceblogs staffer lied to me. He said that he "noticed" that I was blocked from commenting on a "few" blogs, but I found that I was blocked on all the blogs. Anyway, as I said, I have now been unblocked -- I presume that I am now able to comment again on all Scienceblogs blogs except yours and Ed Brayton's.

All of this banning crap is undermining one of the great potential advances of the Internet -- a potential quantum leap in people's ability to disseminate their opinions.

Torbjörn Larsson said...

Larry:
"Scienceblogs told me that they found no technical reason for the blockage."
PZ's has explained how the banning come about.

"Ichthyic was entirely in the wrong and the information he gave -- or threatened to give -- was not useful."
It is useful in the sense that bloggers understand what is going on and how to behave. (Ie firmly point out when you express feelings of being victimized without having any reason to do so. Such as here.)

"Pharyngula commenters who are on PZ's side"
The only side I am on is my own. (I'm a devout cat person. ;-)

PZ write a good blog, and I share much of his general views, is all.

For example, before he posted more material on the controversy in this thread it looked to me that he had made a mistake. But before I had the opportunity to say so, his rebuttal was posted and it was excellent.

Torbjörn Larsson, PhD.

Torbjörn Larsson said...

"But before I had the opportunity to say so, his rebuttal was posted and it was excellent."

Actually, I think the rebuttal was the one I saw first. But I probably read this thread as background first.

Either way, for some reason I didn't comment before I read the rebuttal and I distinctly remember that it seemed like a mistake before reading that.

Larry Fafarman said...

Torbjörn Larsson said ( 12:35 AM ) --
>>>>> "Scienceblogs told me that they found no technical reason for the blockage."
PZ's has explained how the banning come about. <<<<<<

Wrong. PZ did not explain how I was blocked on all approx. 50 Scienceblogs blogs for several days. I had every reason to suspect that Scienceblogs was to blame.

>>>>> Ie firmly point out when you express feelings of being victimized without having any reason to do so. <<<<<<

Wrong. I have been victimized. See my response to PZ.

>>>>>> "Ichthyic was entirely in the wrong and the information he gave -- or threatened to give -- was not useful."
It is useful in the sense that bloggers understand what is going on and how to behave. <<<<<<

No, it is not useful to bloggers or to visitors to start a disruptive flame war by telling them about unrelated quarrels that I have had on other blogs. I brought up here my quarrel with PZ and Scienceblogs only because I was desperate because I was blocked on all Scienceblogs blogs. Anyway, though my quarrel with PZ may seem to be off-topic, I think that it helps show what kind of character PZ is.

>>>>> "Pharyngula commenters who are on PZ's side"
The only side I am on is my own. <<<<<<

All PZ cares about is who is on his side. That is why he went after me instead of going after the real culprit, Ichthyic. PZ is encouraging others to do what Ichthyic did.

>>>>>PZ write a good blog, and I share much of his general views, is all.

For example, before he posted more material on the controversy in this thread it looked to me that he had made a mistake. But before I had the opportunity to say so, his rebuttal was posted and it was excellent. <<<<<

PZ's quote mining of Wells' book is inexcusable. PZ's review of chapter 3 should have been mainly based on the text and he could then have added as a side issue that the "call-out" statement in the box could be considered to be ambiguous and potentially misleading. PZ claims that even the text is wrong, so he could have done his job of writing a negative review of chapter 3 without resorting to quote mining.

Larry Fafarman said...

Again, here is the boxed "call-out" that PZ quote-mined while ignoring what the text actually said:

It is "only by semantic tricks and subjective selection of evidence," by "bending the facts of nature," that one can argue that the early embryo stages of vertebrates "are more alike than their adults." -- William Ballard, Bioscience, 1976

The above statement should not even have been a call-out in the first place because to most people that statement has significance only in the context of the text whereas call-outs are supposed to have some significance as stand-alone statements. The only reason why PZ noticed that this call-out statement is ambiguous and possibly misleading is that he is a specialist in the field of evolutionary developmental biology.

Anyway, IMO the whole statement is bad whether presented in context or not. As I previously noted on my blog,
. . . .because the structures of the adult forms and early embryo forms of organisms are radically different, statements that the early embryos of two species are "more alike than their parents" or "less alike than their parents" are often meaningless. I assert that Ballard created tremendous confusion here by speaking in those terms.

Russ said...

Dear Preacher Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.,

Where is your "willingness to sniff out the truth and expose lies and spin as best one can in humility"? Reverend, you are not sniffing out truth or exposing lies, but are instead simply perpetuating both lies and spin. I openly mock your PhD since it does not seem to imply that you possess the intellectual wherewithal to distinguish between the completely empty wishfulness of supernaturalistic ID, and the continuously-produced very real practical benefit to mankind that is all-natural science.

Parson, do you not see from your perch atop your PhD, that mankind labored, until only the past few hundred years, under the mentally-oppressive dictates of a supernaturalistic view of the world. In the thousands of years preceding the advent of modern science - principally because the great powers of the human mind were violently constrained by those, like yourself, who occupied the clergy - mankind made almost no progress in understanding his greatest threat, the natural world. Explaining the natural world in supernaturalistic terms has never benefitted mankind and the supernaturalistic ID version of Christian creationism promises the same non-benefit.

Now, clergyman, if thousands of years of supernaturalistic explanations yielded no basic understanding of the natural world, like disease processes and volcanoes, and, thus, no fundamental benefit to mankind, while only a few hundred years of sticking exclusively to naturalistic explanations have led to a vast body of real-world understanding which benefits mankind directly, wherein lies the hope that another supernaturalistic explanation, ID, will be any different.

Pastor, you are clearly betraying your own ethics training. How can you in good moral conscience suggest to persons that supernatural ID holds greater promise to explain the diversity of life than all-natural evolution, when supernatural explanations of the natural world have never born fruit? From a supernatural standpoint, eliminating disease using bloodletting made great sense. Throughout history millions who might have otherwise survived their maladies if simply left alone, were quite literally murdered with the ignorance of supernaturalism. This is not conjecture; you know this to be true. How could this supernatural idea supported for centuries by innumerable men of God have been so wrong?

Of course, minister, ignorance in and of itself is not deplorable if that ignorance can steer its possessor to enlightenment. However, ignorance unable to learn from its mistakes; ignorance given life through demonstrably impotent supernaturalism is deplorable. Ignorance shielded from the light of truth by those protecting that same demonstrably impotent supernaturalism, is just a tool of the immoral. The ID movement is at its heart a tool of truly morally corrupt people since it encourages relying on supernaturalism - something shown never to have worked in explaining the natural world, and, what's more, if we turn a blind eye to all its horrors except bloodletting, supernaturalism has still been the cause of untold human suffering. Yet, you, man of God, stand arm in arm with the ID bunch in defense of this inhumane supernaturalism.

In your response to me, your evasion of the questions I asked spotlights your acute awareness of the vacuity of ID. Again, thousands of years of supernaturalism produced nothing to benefit mankind, while mere centuries of naturalistic science produced staggering amounts of knowledge directly benefitting all people. Supernaturalistic ID is hopeless. Science journals publish articles based on what has proven to be of great benefit to mankind, that is, naturalism not supernaturalism. Those arguing for ID are promoting a proven detriment to mankind. How is that moral?

Again, you lament the lack of state funding, as if state funding is the magic fertilizer that will cause ID to bloom. Please for the world to know, what does success in ID research actually look like, and how would that very special highly-lamented "state funding" be used to get that result? ID is, of course, religious, so, won't God tell you what the result should look? Darwin told us what the result would look like. Darwin told us how to disprove his idea. In fact, Behe took the idea from Darwin, and, Behe now uses it to deceive people with his books and lectures, and make lots of money for himself in the process. Great minds know what proof and disproof of their ideas look like. Knowing what constitutes success costs next to nothing. Being moral enough to admit no one knows what success in ID looks like, now that the deceit has been pressed for so long, will be quite costly. So, we can be sure that no one associated with ID will be that moral.

When you say, "We'll have to see if ID ends up toppling all the money in the end. I hope the truth will win out." you place yourself at the bottom of the barrel with the lowest of the moral low. You are not searching for truth. You are admitting that you have decided for yourself what the truth is. Further, you are admitting that money is the sole arbiter of the outcome - truth, predetermined or not, is irrelevant - even if the Christian God - oops, I mean the non-religious supernatural designer - is on the side of ID.

You also said, "Yes, ID spends money to promote itself outside of scientific circles." Padre, are you moral enough to admit that ID spends money to promote itself ONLY outside scientific circles? Not inside.

"Evolution" and "Cosmos" were about great science which benefits mankind, not supernaturalism which never has been a friend to man.

"Brilliant ideas are not limited to peer review journals," is true enough, but it must be pointed out that brilliant ideas are the product of the prepared human mind. Brilliant ideas don't need state funding to outline what success looks like. If ID were a brilliant idea with the potential to benefit mankind, and stand as monuments to human creative potential alongside the ideas of Darwin, Newton, Einstein, or Euclid, the requirements for ID success could be outlined on a napkin over coffee.

Preacher, when you say "There is no direct connection" between Behe's books and Lehigh University(or your books and the Denver Seminary, for that matter), you completely evade addressing the clearly made point that Behe - who would know how to prove ID if anyone would - consciously chose not to show how ID could be proven or disproven, like the honorable Charles Darwin did with evolution, electing instead to dedicate his valuable time creating a public relations manual called "Darwin's Black Box." If ID were science, Behe, a knowledgeable experienced experimentalist, would already have the experimental protocols all polished up and would know how to prove or disprove ID. But, Michael Behe chose to author a deceit. Morally, it is useful to note that under oath at Dover, Behe was forced to admit that the claimed peer review of his book was, in fact, a lie. Oh, what great ethics are required to defend the demonstrably inhuman supernaturalism that leads to ID and bloodletting.

Russ said...

Questions about credibility arise before Douglas Groothuis even starts his book review in the Denver Post. Notably absent from his byline are "PhD", "preacher" and "Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Denver Seminary," or more properly, "Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary." When one sees "Ethics", as part of his title at the Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary, one has to question the ethics of his omitting this information. At Dover, last year, the deeply corrupt ethical nature of "believers" of ID was repeatedly brought to light, so such bias is important to know at the onset. The judge in his legal ruling highlighted the immorality of the "believers" of ID, going so far as to call them liers.

This lack of ethical standing is repeated throughout the review by Groothuis himself. For instance, he says at one point, "Creationism insists on a literal view of Genesis." Notice that Groothuis banks on readers thinking that there is only one creation myth when, in fact, there are thousands of creation myths the world over, of which the Biblical accounts - there is more than one in Genesis - are but a few.

Groothuis' moral footing falls even farther when he continues, "This requires divine creation in six literal days and a young Earth and universe." From the Christian perspective alone, this is a lie, perhaps a lie told from an inexcusable ignorance of the tremendous variation represented in the thousands of versions of Christianity worldwide, but a lie, nonetheless. Exceptions might be made for a layman, but slapping on the PhD, means that one should be held to a much higher intellectual and moral standard, especially for an Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary.

The Christian creation myths, which contrary to Groothuis do indeed include ID - even according to the conservative Christian Bush-appointed judge at Dover who listened to six weeks worth of the very best testimony that ID had to offer as as evidence of its being anything but a creation myth - come in many forms: variations on Young Earth, Old Earth, Gap Creationism, Day Age Creationism, Progressive Creationism, Evolutionary Creationism. The good reverend, Douglas Groothuis, PhD, Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary, conspicuously leaves these out all but his own despite their being part of the worldwide panoply of Christian creationism doctrines. These many Christianities read the same Genesis creation myths and divine very different interpretations, which the ethics professor chooses to conveniently neglect, no doubt hoping that the deception will bolster his preferred one-myth interpretation. There is a humorous irony in his intentionally trying to hide the truth about other variations of the Christian creation myths.

The students of Douglas Groothuis, PhD, Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion and ETHICS at Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary have the chance to see their professor's willingness to throw ethics - especially that paraphrased commandment "Don't lie, don't deceive, don't mislead, don't let others lack of understanding be your basis for dictating your version of the truth to them" - out the window in order to advance dogma when he says, "Intelligent design makes no appeal to Genesis for its arguments and avoids questions of the age of the Earth." This is an example of a factually true statement which is intended to deceive because it relies on a lack of understanding by the reader. The reader is expected not to know, for instance, that at the Dover trial, under legal and moral oath in a court of law, testimony proved that the ID textbook "Of Pandas and People" was created simply by changing the "creationism" references to ID references. Douglas Groothuis, PhD, moralist, ethicist, by omission and by intentionally exploiting the ignorance - the innocent ignorance which rely on moral exemplars to provide them with informed accurate depictions of topics - of his assumed audience, perfectly models moral betrayal. Perhaps, Douglas Groothuis, PhD, Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion and ETHICS at Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary has read one of the many versions of the Bible and intuited an eleventh commandment: Truth is irrelevant; exploit the ignorance of others for your own ends.

Smokey said...

Bradford wrote:
"No, Smokey I did not write that."

You are correct. Tim wrote that. My mistake.

"Time for your integrity check Smokey. Got any?"

Yep. Where's yours?

I said...
"Of course they are, Billy. You see, the term "theory" is only applied to hypotheses that have a substantial record of accurate predictions."

"Yes, that explains why it is not applied to mainstream beliefs about life's origins."

Exactly. That's why the RNA World is a hypothesis.

"You see Smokey, abiogenesis has become mainstream and attracts defenders like you who show great faith in it."

Abiogenesis has ALWAYS been mainstream, Bill. That's why the Bible has two different stories to explain it. Which one is more consistent with the evidence?

"It's not about predictions as to how life arises either."

It's about explanations that would provide mechanisms of abiogenesis. Those explanations make predictions about the "molecular fossils" that we have found to date and those that will be found in the future.

You're incoherent, Billy. You conflate abiogenesis with hypotheses about mechanisms of abiogenesis, and you conflate predictions with explanations.

Smokey said...

Larry wrote:
"I assert that Ballard created tremendous confusion here by speaking in those terms."

Smokey:
So what? Ballard didn't use the terms you falsely attributed to him, Larry. He used much more specific terms like blastula, pre-gastrula, gastrula, and pharyngula. How can you make such a patently dishonest assertion?


Larry Fafarman then cunningly quoted only part of what I wrote...
Smokey wrote ( 9:25 AM ) --
>>>>> Ballard didn't use the terms you falsely attributed to him, Larry. <<<<<

Larry:
According to PZ Myers' review of chapter 3 of Wells' book, "more alike than their parents" were the exact words used by Ballard.

Those weren't the words you dishonestly changed, and your partial quote demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that you know it. I'm challenging your claim that Ballard was simply referring to early stages, because he didn't. He discussed individual stages.

Smokey: >>>>> So, you wrote a review of a review, without reading the paper that was quote-mined, and you cite Wikipedia, and you think that's scientific? <<<<<<

Larry:
"PZ gave no link to Ballard's paper..."

He doesn't have to. He cited it. Moreover, he cited some of the same primary literature that Ballard cited. If Wells was making an honest scientific argument, he would have cited the primary literature, not quote-mined Ballard's review of the primary literature.

"... and it doesn't matter whether or not I read it, ..."

Well, that sums up ID scholarship in a nutshell!

"...because saying that early-stage embryos of different species are "more alike than their parents" (or less alike than their parents) is a vague statement because the early-stage embryo and adult forms of a particular species are often radically different."

Ballard didn't use the term "early-stage embryos," because they aren't all the same in this respect. This is the very essence of Wells's deception.

"Wikipedia is supposed to be a good reference in science."

No, it isn't.

"A study showed that Wikipedia is about as accurate in science as the online version of the Encyclopedia Britannica."

So what? The EB isn't very accurate, either. Scientific arguments cite the actual data. Pseudoscientific arguments are largely made up of quote mines.

Smokey:
>>>> If you had the slightest amount of faith in ID, you'd argue the evidence, but that would involve explaining WHY the remarkable similarity of pharyngulas is predicted from intelligent design. <<<<


Larry: "How is the vertebrates' "developmental hourglass" -- the dissimilarity of the earliest embryos followed by the similarity of pharyngulas followed by dissimilarity again -- explained by Darwinism?"

It's explained by a combination of MET ***AND*** experimental embryology. The stages before pharyngula are incredibly plastic and can regulate after amazingly drastic interventions. Therefore, there's no reason to presume that they must remain constant throughout natural history.

Larry: "As I previously noted on my blog,
. . . .because the structures of the adult forms and early embryo forms of organisms are radically different, statements that the early embryos of two species are "more alike than their parents" or "less alike than their parents" are often meaningless. I assert that Ballard created tremendous confusion here by speaking in those terms."

As I previously noted above, Ballard didn't use the vague term "early embryos."

Tim said...

Smokey,

Regarding the quotation:

"This has all the appearance of deliberate deception. I'll give PZ credit for chutzpah though. He points the finger at Wells while doing the same things he accuses others of- and worse."

you write:

Tim wrote that.

Actually, if you'll look above, I didn't.

We all seem to be having a ball figuring out who said what, and I take no offense. But I thought I should set the record straight here.

Smokey said...

Tim, I didn't claim that you wrote that one. I was referring to my incorrect attribution of what you wrote:

"Incidentally, I emailed Wells and he confirmed that the call-out boxes were the work of an editor."

to Bradford.

BTW, you also wrote this:

"And not a single commentator on Panda's Thumb for the past two months could be bothered to check Myers's quotation against Wells's actual words to see whether Myers was telling the truth."

You owe them an apology for falsely accusing them of intellectual negligence.

Tim said...

Smokey,

Oops! My fault -- I see the context in Bradford's initial response now. Sorry 'bout that.

Obviously the PT crowd can't be blamed for failing to catch something that PZ didn't do; I think that was sufficiently obvious not to need saying, and at this point the request for some independent corporate apology strikes me as disingenuous.

I'm trying to be somewhat restrained here since I initially jumped the gun, but I must say that the behavior of several of the commentators in this thread has done nothing to elevate my opinion of the ID critics.

It does appear that the commentators -- and I make an exception here for FtK, who did check, but I take it FtK is not exactly a PT regular -- did not notice that PZ had quoted from the call-out box on p. 35 rather from the text on pp. 30-31, did not notice the difference it makes, and did not notice the significance of this for PZ's accusation. Recall PZ's description of what Wells did:

... pluck out a statement about the diversity at the gastrula stage, omit the word “gastrula”, and pretend it applies to the pharyngula stage.

The omission of reference to the gastrula stage in the call-out quotation is, in the review, the foundation for PZ's accusation that Wells is wildly dishonest and deceptive. A comparison with pp. 30-31 shows this accusation to be unfounded, since Wells explicitly refers to gastrulation there in the original sentence from which the call-out was condensed. I'm glad that someone caught it. But it wasn't a PT commentator.

I'm still waiting to see whether PZ can shed some light on how the apparently mistaken criticism survived the fixing of Reed Cartwright's initial goof with the page numbers.

Torbjörn Larsson said...

Larry:
Fortunately I hadn't time to post here for a while. I see that we have entered the "he said, but I said" stage. I have presented my arguments and their support, and you dismiss the later out of hand. That is not a basis for discussion.

Smokey said...

Tim wrote:
"Obviously the PT crowd can't be blamed for failing to catch something that PZ didn't do; I think that was sufficiently obvious not to need saying, and at this point the request for some independent corporate apology strikes me as disingenuous."

It wasn't a request--it was a challenge to your ethical sensibility.

"I'm trying to be somewhat restrained here since I initially jumped the gun, but I must say that the behavior of several of the commentators in this thread has done nothing to elevate my opinion of the ID critics."

Your pretension that the only unethical part of Wells's chapter was the omission of "gastrula" is ludicrous.

"Recall PZ's description of what Wells did:..."

I did. That was a single sentence from many pages describing Wells's dishonesty. You have no hope in hell of addressing any of those points, because you are too lazy to look at the evidence.

"... pluck out a statement about the diversity at the gastrula stage, omit the word “gastrula”, and pretend it applies to the pharyngula stage."

And when he included the word "gastrula," he STILL PRETENDED that the statement applied to the pharyngula stage.

"The omission of reference to the gastrula stage in the call-out quotation is, in the review, the foundation for PZ's accusation that Wells is wildly dishonest and deceptive."

The falsehood of that statement has been pointed out to you, and you have never responded, a sure sign that you don't really believe that.

Sophist put it better than I did:
----
It's odd that you should mention context, seeing as you're apparantly blind to it. Lets look at the context of the quote on pp. 30-31 that PZ has provided, shall we?

'...a species is distinct and distinguishable from its allies from the very earliest stages all through the development." Then Wells says, "Modern embryologists confirm this," and uses the Bill Ballard quote.'

Hey, look at that. Wells is using the ballard quote to claim that all earlier stages are clearly different, just as in the call out box. Fancy that.

You're pathetic.

-----

I agree.

Robert O'Brien said...

I think that was sufficiently obvious not to need saying, and at this point the request for some independent corporate apology strikes me as disingenuous.

I would characterize it as an absurd request.

I'm trying to be somewhat restrained here since I initially jumped the gun, but I must say that the behavior of several of the commentators in this thread has done nothing to elevate my opinion of the ID critics.

Peezee attracts the worse sort of low-grade "intelligences" to his blog. (Like flies to a trash heap.)

Unfortunately, now Douglas Groothuis has to deal with them tracking atheist-droppings all over his blog berber.

Russ said...

In Pastor Groothuis' Denver Post review, he states, "Thinking people should be apprised of both sides and judge accordingly, because two very different and exceedingly important visions of reality are at stake." The "both sides" that the good reverend refers to are naturalism and supernaturalism, and, he's correct in saying thinking people should be apprised and judge accordingly. Throughout the review, it is clear that the preacher supports supernaturalism while decrying naturalism.

This position is hypocritical at best, if not abjectly immoral, considering that Groothuis, along with all other of his believers ilk, constantly demonstrates complete reliance on naturalism, and no reliance at all on supernaturalism. The enormous discrepancy between Groothuis' public endorsement of supernaturalism and the obvious reality of his instant-by-instant completely naturalistic existence, no doubt allowed him to write "Truth Decay" from direct personal experience. Like a disturbed mind with a deathwish, Groothuis fervently suckles at the breast of naturalism while lusting after its destruction.

Naturalism explains how oxygen sustains Groothuis through each and every breath, why twenty minutes of oxygen deprivation would kill him, why non-fatal severe material damage to the physical brain can result from less severe oxygen shortfalls, why material damage directly causes loss of personality, loss of memory and with it loss of religiosity, loss of cognitive and motor skills, and blindness, among other impairments, and why receiving naturalistic medical attention one minute sooner could be all the difference. Supernaturalism explains none of it.

Without a doubt, if the supernaturalism of the Groothuis dichotomy, say in the form of prayer, actually worked, we could rely on it, and even we atheists could see it in action. But, also without a doubt, if the ostensibly pious pastor Groothuis, or his wife had a life-threatening medical emergency, the very first action taken would be to seek out completely naturalistic medical attention. Notice even true believers don't rely on the supernatural in a real emergency. Action does indeed speak louder than words, and no more glowing endorsement of naturalism could be had than the millions of "believers" who daily reject the impotence of supernaturalism while embracing the continually-demonstrated power of naturalistic medicine. Since a great deal of modern medicine has been developed by non-believers using 100 percent naturalistic science as their only tool, many believers literally owe their lives to atheists and naturalism.

As they hurry toward the hospital, ambulance crews, regardless of religious bent, intentionally ignore church after church, knowing full well that the only hope for their patient is speedy access to the completely naturalistic accrued body of life-saving science that is modern medicine. Nothing supernatural is necessary to attend to patient's needs, and as the recently released Benson study at Harvard demonstrates, supernaturalism through intercessory prayer simply would not work. Naturalistic medicine works on atheists and believers alike whether administered by atheists or believers. Nothing supernatural is needed on either side.

Supernaturalism exists in concept only and believers bear witness to this since when a life depends on it, they immediately discard their religious supernaturalism and hold tight to the proven effectiveness of naturalism. If a doctor denied a patient naturalistic medicine and used some supernaturally-derived remedy - be it prayer, homeopathy, faith healing - believer families, believer attorneys, and believer juries would all denounce it as malpractice. Realize that believers would reject out of hand the supernatural notion of "God's plan" if naturalistic medicine were available.

Real belief in the supernatural is useful for establishing social groups, like religions, which need a coercive psychological tool to sustain conformity. Denver Seminary, for instance, requires its students and faculty to affirm, "We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God." With such a statement they completely abandon any search for personal spiritual truth, even among the thousands of Christianities worldwide and the thousands of extant incarnations of the Bible: Mormon Bibles, Catholic Bibles, King James Bibles, and on and on. Their required affirmation necessitates that they reject recently discovered Gospels, like those of Thomas and Judas, and it does not recognize that the books of the King James Bible were simply selected by very real, very human committee members voting for the ones they liked best. Even atheist Christianities exist, see www.harrytcook.com for one example. Their claimed belief in the supernatural may heighten their sense of group unity but it does not lead to greater understanding of anything - not their own Christianity and especially, not the natural world.

So, yes, Douglas Groothuis, PhD, "Thinking people should be apprised of both sides and judge accordingly, because two very different and exceedingly important visions of reality are at stake." The supernatural vision unifies the group to bravely shut out dissent and confront the imaginary on their knees with heads bowed and eyes closed. And, at the same time, the naturalistic vision, constantly, reliably supplies all their real world needs. Naturalism provides all of the run of the mill things like food, clothing, housing, transportation, entertainment, education, and technology to conduct church operations like computers, sound systems, publishing, marketing, promotions, credit cards, among others. Then, too, when an emergency response is required and the desire to preserve life speaks louder than the psychological need for group unity, supernaturalism is simply rejected, eyes are opened, heads are lifted, and believers run with open arms to medical science, produced with naturalism by those relying only on naturalism for guidance.

Yes, Douglas Groothuis, PhD, thinking people should be apprised, but then so should everyone else.

Robert O'Brien said...

Since a great deal of modern medicine has been developed by non-believers using 100 percent naturalistic science as their only tool, many believers literally owe their lives to atheists and naturalism.

Nonsense.

Robert O'Brien said...

This position is hypocritical at best, if not abjectly immoral, considering that Groothuis, along with all other of his believers ilk, constantly demonstrates complete reliance on naturalism, and no reliance at all on supernaturalism.

That's just nonsense. Are you trying to make some sense?

Tim said...

Russ,

Get your own blog.

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tim said...

Smokey,

You write:

Your pretension that the only unethical part of Wells's chapter was the omission of "gastrula" is ludicrous.

There’s some miscommunication here. I’m still waiting for PZ to explain where Wells has omitted reference to the gastrula stage in an attempt to make it sound like Ballard was talking about the pharyngula stage. What aroused my ire and set off this firestorm initially was that the charge PZ made against Wells didn’t match the quotation I found on pp. 30-31. I was wrong to say that PZ fabricated the quotation, but as far as I can see it still remains the case that he has misrepresented Wells quite seriously. Wells did not omit the reference to the gastrula stage; probably – this is the best explanation I can come up with at present – PZ didn’t notice originally that the call-out sentence was condensed from a sentence that mentioned gastrulation, and when FtK called the page number goof to PZ’s attention, PZ didn’t realize that the difference in the two sentences required a retraction of that criticism.

I have taken no position on the rest of Wells’s chapter. I didn’t take any position on it initially. The correctness or incorrectness of Wells’s biology, history, and semantics is simply a different topic. No doubt it’s of burning interest to you. But I want to get an answer to the question that originally interested me. And instead of offering an answer to that, you’re raising other subjects.

You write:

And when he included the word "gastrula," he STILL PRETENDED that the statement applied to the pharyngula stage.

This is the sort of uncharitable misreading that gives Wells’s critics a bad name. But you are apparently moved to say this because you are persuaded by what Sophist has to say:

It's odd that you should mention context, seeing as you're apparantly blind to it. Lets look at the context of the quote on pp. 30-31 that PZ has provided, shall we?

'...a species is distinct and distinguishable from its allies from the very earliest stages all through the development." Then Wells says, "Modern embryologists confirm this," and uses the Bill Ballard quote.'

Hey, look at that. Wells is using the ballard quote to claim that all earlier stages are clearly different, just as in the call out box. Fancy that.

You’re pathetic.


I passed this over without comment when it first appeared because the misreading is so severe that it reveals either colossal intellectual incompetence or else active and malicious distortion. Wells has been making a big deal on pp. 29-30 about two things: gastrulation and cleavage are prior to the pharyngula stage – the stage that Haeckel labeled as the first – and at cleavage mammals are radically different from bony fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds.

Sophist clips Wells’s paragraph in a way that disguises this fact. Here’s the whole two-paragraph sequence:

Like Haeckel’s fakery, the dissimilarity of early vertebrate embryos was well known in the nineteenth century. Embryologist Adam Sedgwick pointed out in 1894 that the doctrine of early similarity and later difference is “not in accordance with the facts of development.” Comparing a dogfish with a chicken, Sedgwick wrote: “There is no stage of development in which the unaided eye would fail to distinguish between them with ease.” It is “not necessary to emphasize further these embryonic differences,” Sedgwick continued, because “every embryologist knows that they exist and could bring forward innumerable instances of them. I need only say with regard to them that a species is distinct and distinguishable from its allies from the very earliest stages all through the development.”

Modern embryologists confirm this. Dartmouth College biologist William Ballard wrote in 1976 that it is “only by semantic tricks and subjective selection of evidence,” by “bending the facts of nature,” that one can argue that the cleavage and gastrulation stages of vertebrates “are more alike than their adults.” And in 1987 embryologist Richard P. Elinson emphasized that the early developmental stages of frogs, chicks, and mice “are radically different.”


The suggestion that Wells is using the Ballard quotation to claim that all early stages – including the pharyngula stage – are clearly different is absurd. Wells is very explicit in saying which stages Ballard is talking about. And he has been beating the drum for two pages regarding the significance and temporal priority of the gastrula stage. It is the organizing theme of Figure 3 on p. 29.

Perhaps what Sophist is dimly grasping is the fact that Wells does not provide a quotation from a modern biologist to support the latter half of Sedgwick’s claim – that a species is “distinct and distinguishable from its allies from the very earliest stages all through the development.” But this is not controversial and is perfectly compatible with Wells’s own description of the developmental hourglass. In a subsequent edition, perhaps he will include such a quotation. If he does, it wouldn’t surprise me if he used this one – from William Ballard, Comparative Anatomy and Embryology (Ronald Press, 1964), p. 69:

Some of these actual pharyngulas have a tailfin and some do not. Those which are tetrapods have lung buds, the fish pharyngulas lack them. They all have a liver, to mention an organ at random, but the livers of fishes, birds and mammals are interestingly different in detail even at the pharyngula stage. Arteries can be compared easily but there is little uniformity in the veins. Most conspicuously, the circumstances and needs for respiration, nutrition, and excretion at this stage have been met by a good many structures of a temporary nature, aptly referred to as scaffolding tissues, which are in bold contrast in the different classes of vertebrates.

This is perfectly compatible with Ballard’s claim that “the pharyngula stage ... is remarkably uniform throughout the phylum.” And it does support the claim Wells quotes from Sedgwick.

The bottom line here is that in the frenzied attempt to show that Wells is incompetent, some of the PT’ers are making criticisms so bad that honest people who go and read the book come away thinking better of Wells and less of the PT crowd. I don’t care if you think Wells is nuttier than a fruitcake; I don’t care if you think he should have applied for a Templeton grant; I don’t care if you think his book is giving aid and comfort to an army of the night who will come marching into our classrooms with their Bibles held high. Get over the culture war mentality for a moment and recognize that you are doing damage to your own cause by insisting that if Wells says something it must be false, and if he quotes someone it must be dishonest, even when a plain reading of the text shows this charge to be – I’m searching for the right word here – pathetic.

Smokey said...

Tim wrote:
"There’s some miscommunication here. I’m still waiting for PZ to explain where Wells has omitted reference to the gastrula stage in an attempt to make it sound like Ballard was talking about the pharyngula stage."

You're missing the point. The point is that Wells omitted the reference to the pharyngula stage to make it sound like when Ballard was talking about differences, it included the pharyngula stage.

Your defense of Wells does not include the slightest reference to the actual evidence, Tim. There's a valid reason why hearsay is only rarely admitted as legal evidence; why would any rational person think that an argument entirely based on hearsay would somehow be superior to one based on evidence?

"...as far as I can see it still remains the case that he [Myers] has misrepresented Wells quite seriously."

But "as far as you can see" doesn't include seeing any actual embryological evidence. That's why Wells is a fraud.

"Wells did not omit the reference to the gastrula stage;..."

He omitted the reference to the remarkable similarities of the pharyngula stages, which is the essence of his quote-mining deception.

The differences before pharyngula are easily explained in the context of common descent by their plasticity in experimental embryology, which you continue to ignore. The question you're avoiding like the plague is, "Is the EVIDENCE from comparative embryology consistent with common descent?" The answer to this question is a resounding yes. Wells says that his quote-mining supports a conclusion of no. Wells is trying to deceive his audience.

"I have taken no position on the rest of Wells’s chapter. I didn’t take any position on it initially. The correctness or incorrectness of Wells’s biology, history, and semantics is simply a different topic."

No, it's the same topic.

"Wells has been making a big deal on pp. 29-30 about two things: gastrulation and cleavage are prior to the pharyngula stage – the stage that Haeckel labeled as the first – and at cleavage mammals are radically different from bony fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds."

But it's not a big deal, Tim. That's why Wells is dishonest. We know, from EXPERIMENTAL embryology, that we can make huge alteration in those stages, and we still get a normal animal in the end. Therefore, it is simply idiotic to pretend that the morphologies of those stages would need to be conserved through evolution.

"The suggestion that Wells is using the Ballard quotation to claim that all early stages – including the pharyngula stage – are clearly different is absurd."

What's absurd is that you think that quotations trump evidence, Tim.

"And he has been beating the drum for two pages regarding the significance and temporal priority of the gastrula stage. It is the organizing theme of Figure 3 on p. 29."

And why, dear Tim, would similarity of blastulas and gastrulas be necessary for consistency with common descent, given all the evidence for morphological plasticity and regulation from experimental embryology?

"Perhaps what Sophist is dimly grasping is the fact that Wells does not provide a quotation from a modern biologist to support the latter half of Sedgwick’s claim..."

Tim, what you are too dim to grasp is that scientific arguments aren't about quotations. They are about evidence. Read Ballard's review--does he quote anyone? Read Wells's paltry 2 papers in the primary literature--do they quote anyone?

Tim, resorting to quotes and failing to present or cite actual evidence is, by itself, prima facie evidence of intent to deceive.

"...If he does, it wouldn’t surprise me if he used this one – from William Ballard, Comparative Anatomy and Embryology (Ronald Press, 1964), p. 69:

Some of these actual pharyngulas have a tailfin and some do not. Those which are tetrapods have lung buds, the fish pharyngulas lack them. They all have a liver, to mention an organ at random, but the livers of fishes, birds and mammals are interestingly different in detail even at the pharyngula stage. Arteries can be compared easily but there is little uniformity in the veins....

That's a good one that you can address by observation. Look at the backs of your hands, Tim. Is the pattern of veins identical? Even similar? Yet, designed or not, your hands have common descent from a single cell. Ballard's point is simple--the details can be different, but the big picture is remarkably similar at the first stage at which morphogenetic plasticity is reduced.

"This is perfectly compatible with Ballard’s claim that “the pharyngula stage ... is remarkably uniform throughout the phylum.”"

It is, but so what?

"And it does support the claim Wells quotes from Sedgwick."

But that does nothing to support Wells's conclusion that common descent is false. The bottom line is that Wells is falsely, deliberately, and deceptively attributing a position to modern biologists that was discredited in 1935.

"...I don’t care if you think Wells is nuttier than a fruitcake; I don’t care if you think he should have applied for a Templeton grant; I don’t care if you think his book is giving aid and comfort to an army of the night who will come marching into our classrooms with their Bibles held high."

The point is that neither you nor Wells care about the EVIDENCE, Tim. That's why you avoid appeals to evidence in scientific matters, choosing quote-mining instead.

"Get over the culture war mentality for a moment and recognize that you are doing damage to your own cause by insisting that if Wells says something it must be false,..."

We don't. Wells claims that common descent is false, and he is wrong. The fact that he quotes out of context instead of citing and presenting actual evidence is simply dishonest.

The fact that he has stopped doing lab work in favor of writing deceptive books aimed at lay people is conclusive evidence that somewhere, deep in his soul, he KNOWS that he is wrong, too.

"... and if he quotes someone it must be dishonest,..."

If he chops up quotes instead of citing evidence, it is dishonest. Full stop.

"... even when a plain reading of the text shows this charge to be – I’m searching for the right word here – pathetic."

But you haven't looked at a single datum, Tim, and you aren't doing a plain reading of the text if you can't be bothered to do so in the context of the evidence.

But I suppose that's lost on someone who uses the adverb "literally" to modify a metaphor about lying through one's teeth while applying that metaphor to the written word.

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tim said...

Smokey,

You write:

The point is that Wells omitted the reference to the pharyngula stage to make it sound like when Ballard was talking about differences, it included the pharyngula stage.

This is too funny. You're claiming:

1. Ballard was talking about gastrulation.

2. Wells says that Ballard was talking about gastrulation.

Therefore,

3. Wells really meant that Ballard was talking about the pharyngula stage.

Therefore,

4. Wells was lying -- because Ballard was talking about gastrulation, not about the pharyngula stage.

Are you actually unable to see how absurd this claim is?

You go on:

Your defense of Wells does not include the slightest reference to the actual evidence

Since the question at issue has to do entirely with the text of Wells's chapter -- particularly the sentence spanning pp. 30-31 and the condensation of that sentence in the call-out box on p. 35 -- and the claims of PZ and others about that text, citing the actual text is citing the pertinent evidence.

After quoting part of the passage from Ballard's Comparative Anatomy and Embryology, you write:

Look at the backs of your hands, Tim. Is the pattern of veins identical?

Ballard isn't talking about the bilateral symmetry or lack thereof in the veins in a single organism. He's pointing out that, at the pharyngula stage, there are significant differences across classes of vertebrates. This is why he winds up, in the part of the paragraph you omitted, by saying that the scaffolding tissues "are in bold contrast in the different classes of vertebrates."

You go on, after acknowledging that the Ballard quotation does indeed support the claim Wells quotes from Sedgwick:

But that does nothing to support Wells's conclusion that common descent is false.

It tends to undermine one (bad) argument for common descent. It doesn't follow that there aren't other, better ones.

You continue:

The bottom line is that Wells is falsely, deliberately, and deceptively attributing a position to modern biologists that was discredited in 1935.

This is a different charge, albeit an interesting one in its own right. A lot depends on what people mean when they speak about "early" stages. Unfortunately for your criticism, Wells has documented pretty thoroughly the fact that up into the 1990's this discredited claim was still being advanced in biology textbooks -- which are, presumably, written by modern biologists.

I realize that you don't like the conclusion Wells draws from this fact. But try to muster a little objectivity and see that you are just making him look better by your hysterical insistence that Wells must be wrong, and deceptive, and lying, about more or less everything. So far, you've struck out. That doesn't make him right. But at a certain point, if you keep this up, reasonable people who bother to check up on your claims about him will conclude that you are just nuts.

Larry Fafarman said...

Smokey said ( 10:51 AM ) --

>>>>> He [i.e., Wells] omitted the reference to the remarkable similarities of the pharyngula stages, which is the essence of his quote-mining deception. <<<<<<

Smokey, you couldn't be more wrong if you tried. Here is what Wells said on page 31 of his book --

So vertebrate embryos start out looking very different, then they become somewhat similar midway through development (though not as similar as Haeckel made them out to be) before diverging again. Embryologists call this pattern the "developmental hourglass." (Figure 4) (my emphasis) -- from image of page 31 on the Pharyngula blog

The statement that "they become somewhat similar midway through development" is of course a reference to the pharyngula stages. This statement that they become "somewhat similar" is supported by Tim McGrew's following quote of William Ballard, Comparative Anatomy and Embryology (Ronald Press, 1964), p. 69:

Some of these actual pharyngulas have a tailfin and some do not. Those which are tetrapods have lung buds, the fish pharyngulas lack them. They all have a liver, to mention an organ at random, but the livers of fishes, birds and mammals are interestingly different in detail even at the pharyngula stage. Arteries can be compared easily but there is little uniformity in the veins. Most conspicuously, the circumstances and needs for respiration, nutrition, and excretion at this stage have been met by a good many structures of a temporary nature, aptly referred to as scaffolding tissues, which are in bold contrast in the different classes of vertebrates.

So on pages 30-31 of Wells' book, everything is there and Wells in no way misrepresents Ballard, though I think that Wells' discussion might be considered a little confusing.

Smokey said...

Tim wrote:
"This is too funny. You're claiming:..."

No, I'm not. Have you considered responding to what I actually wrote?

"Are you actually unable to see how absurd this claim is?"

I am, which is why you falsely attributed it to me.

My position is:
1) The evidence (concentrating on Ballard's writing is evidence that your, and Wells's, goal is deception) shows that despite major differences between blastulas and gastrulas, pharyngulas are remarkably similar. If Wells's goal was truth, he would simply show the evidence (photos) to his readers instead of quoting Ballard and ranting about Haeckel.

2) Ballard wrote about the contrast between gastrulas/blastulas (differences) vs. pharyngulas (similarities).

3) Wells quotes Ballard out of context so that he seems to support Wells's position.

4) This is dishonest, because if the evidence supported Wells, he would simply present the evidence (photos) instead of quote-mining a review.

I wrote: Your defense of Wells does not include the slightest reference to the actual evidence.

"Since the question at issue has to do entirely with the text of Wells's chapter..."

No. PZ's whole point is that the evidence does not support Wells's position, so Wells tried to make it look like a famous embryologist supports him, instead of simply presenting photos.

"Ballard isn't talking about the bilateral symmetry or lack thereof in the veins in a single organism. He's pointing out that, at the pharyngula stage, there are significant differences across classes of vertebrates."

No, Tim, now you're just lying. He's pointing out minor details, not huge differences.

"This is why he winds up, in the part of the paragraph you omitted, by saying that the scaffolding tissues "are in bold contrast in the different classes of vertebrates.""

He's only talking about temporary scaffolding. The body plans do not contrast at all. If you really think Wells is right, why not point your readers to some actual evidence?

"You go on, after acknowledging that the Ballard quotation does indeed support the claim Wells quotes from Sedgwick:"

Do you see how lame this is, Tim? You're avoiding the evidence at all costs. Science isn't about quoting people; it's about interpreting evidence and testing the hypotheses that arise. Wells is REinterpreting quotes and ignoring the evidence.

"It tends to undermine one (bad) argument for common descent."

Not really. It misrepresents a discredited one.

"It doesn't follow that there aren't other, better ones."

And where does Wells address those, Tim?

"A lot depends on what people mean when they speak about "early" stages."

Yes, which Wells exploits to deceive his audience.

"Unfortunately for your criticism, Wells has documented pretty thoroughly the fact that up into the 1990's this discredited claim was still being advanced in biology textbooks -- which are, presumably, written by modern biologists."

How many biology textbooks, Tim, and why would you presume that they are written by practicing biologists? Isn't reality the relevant metric here?

"But try to muster a little objectivity and see that you are just making him look better by your hysterical insistence that Wells must be wrong, and deceptive, and lying, about more or less everything."

Wells avoids presenting actual evidence and uses quotes to misrepresent the evidence. That, by itself, shows intent to deceive.

Smokey said ( 10:51 AM ) --
>>>>> He [i.e., Wells] omitted the reference to the remarkable similarities of the pharyngula stages, which is the essence of his quote-mining deception. <<<<<<

"Smokey, you couldn't be more wrong if you tried."

You'd have to examine the evidence to know, Larry.

"The statement that "they become somewhat similar midway through development" is of course a reference to the pharyngula stages."

Of course it is. And it's a misrepresentation. They aren't "somewhat similar," they are remarkably similar.

"This statement that they become "somewhat similar" is supported by Tim McGrew's following quote of William Ballard, Comparative Anatomy and Embryology (Ronald Press, 1964), p. 69:"

That quote is about differences in detail. The only thing you should be producing to support your conclusion is evidence, and both you and Tim are allergic to it.

Go here:
http://www.ana.ed.ac.uk/anatomy/database/humat/MouseComp.html

We're talking about the TS15-16 stages of the mouse and CS12-13 of human. Now, find pictures of those stages and tell me if they are merely "somewhat" similar or if they are remarkably similar.

Since you're afraid to search for evidence before coming to a conclusion, here's the human:
http://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/wwwhuman/Stages/stage12.htm

and here's a mouse:
http://genex.hgu.mrc.ac.uk/Atlas/SBFrames.html?15

Are they somewhat similar, or are they so remarkably similar that you couldn't possibly tell which one is mouse and which one is human looking at the photos?

"So on pages 30-31 of Wells' book, everything is there..."

Why is there no evidence presented, Larry?

"... and Wells in no way misrepresents Ballard, though I think that Wells' discussion might be considered a little confusing."

Wells blatantly misrepresents Ballard, as anyone can see from the evidence--the embryos themselves.

Tim said...

Larry,

After reading this last one, I've concluded that Smokey's hopeless. He thinks that pretentious posturing about evidence and repeated accusations of dishonesty can make up for a complete disregard of the evidence when it comes to the actual charge of dishonesty.

There's no point in trying to argue with someone who has thus put himself beyond the reach of argument. Nothing in his marginally coherent litany of unargued grievances against you, me, or Wells merits a response.

Larry Fafarman said...

Tim said...
>>>>>Larry,
After reading this last one, I've concluded that Smokey's hopeless . . . . . Nothing in his marginally coherent litany of unargued grievances against you, me, or Wells merits a response. <<<<<<

I tend to agree, Tim, but I want to make one last response before quitting.

Smokey said,
>>>>>"The statement that "they become somewhat similar midway through development" is of course a reference to the pharyngula stages."

Of course it is. And it's a misrepresentation. They aren't "somewhat similar," they are remarkably similar. <<<<<

If the adult forms are greatly different, as is the case with vertebrates, then the pharyngula stage embryos can be both somewhat similar and remarkably similar.

Smokey said,
>>>>>here's the human and here's a mouse. Are they somewhat similar, or are they so remarkably similar that you couldn't possibly tell which one is mouse and which one is human looking at the photos? <<<<<<

This is a comparison of two mammal species -- Ballard and Wells were comparing all vertebrate species. As noted above, Ballard pointed out significant differences in the pharyngula embryos of vertebrates --

Some of these actual pharyngulas have a tailfin and some do not. Those which are tetrapods have lung buds, the fish pharyngulas lack them. They all have a liver, to mention an organ at random, but the livers of fishes, birds and mammals are interestingly different in detail even at the pharyngula stage.

Smokey said,
>>>>"So on pages 30-31 of Wells' book, everything is there..."

Why is there no evidence presented, Larry? <<<<<<

Showing detailed photos of embryos is well beyond the scope of Wells' book. Wells' book does show some simple drawings of embryos in the "developmental hourglass" shown in Fig. 4 on page 31 ( an image of page 31 is here, at the bottom of the opening post).

Apparently even PZ Myers has stopped claiming that Wells misrepresented Ballard -- Myers' latest response to Wells is here.

Smokey said...

Tim wrote:
"After reading this last one, I've concluded that Smokey's hopeless. He thinks that pretentious posturing about evidence..."

Posturing? No, Tim, I'm citing evidence, which is how scientific arguments are made. Wells is quote-mining, which is how pseudoscientific arguments are constructed.

But I'd expect no less from someone who claims, "Myers is lying through his teeth. Literally." over something he typed with his fingers. I'm still trying to figure out how, in your mind, he did that.

"... and repeated accusations of dishonesty can make up for a complete disregard of the evidence when it comes to the actual charge of dishonesty."

The charge is that Wells is using quote-mining to disregard the evidence, Tim. The actual, physical evidence is highly relevant. Literally!

----
Larry Fafarman said...
"I tend to agree, Tim, but I want to make one last response before quitting."

Then you clearly don't agree. Literally.

"If the adult forms are greatly different, as is the case with vertebrates, then the pharyngula stage embryos can be both somewhat similar and remarkably similar."

No, they can't. Not literally, anyway.

"This is a comparison of two mammal species -- Ballard and Wells were comparing all vertebrate species."

But doesn't Wells deny that mice and men share a common ancestor? Do you, Larry?

Ballard was comparing them. Wells was downplaying the comparison. You are claiming there's contrast.

"As noted above, Ballard pointed out significant differences in the pharyngula embryos of vertebrates --"

Larry, why introduce a new adjective? He pointed out DETAILS. In the grand scheme of things, they are still remarkably similar.

"Showing detailed photos of embryos is well beyond the scope of Wells' book."

Larry, why "detailed"? I didn't demand detailed. I merely asked why there was no actual evidence. I realize that showing evidence in general is beyond the scope of his book, as his intent is deception.

"Wells' book does show some simple drawings of embryos in the "developmental hourglass" shown in Fig. 4 on page 31 ( an image of page 31 is here, at the bottom of the opening post)."

So what? Does he identify the drawings? After all, if he's still trying to pin Haeckel on modern biologists, why use drawings when photographs are readily available?

"Apparently even PZ Myers has stopped claiming that Wells misrepresented Ballard -- Myers' latest response to Wells is here."

Myers was responding to Wells's essay, in which he did nothing to defend his representation of Ballard, choosing instead to misrepresent Darwin. If stopping is an admission that one's opponent is right, Wells is the one who stopped arguing Ballard.

Tim said...

Smokey,

You have yet to present one shred of evidence that Wells is misusing Ballard. At this point no one still reading this thread has any reasonable choice but to conclude that you don't have such evidence. Every time you stridently insist that you're still right about this you simply embarrass yourself further.

You seem unable to disentangle the question of whether Wells misused Ballard from the larger question of whether Wells is wrong about various broader issues or even about the wider conclusions he draws from what Ballard says. The mere fact that Ballard would disagree with Wells's conclusions does not entail that Wells is misusing Ballard, your continued insinuations to the contrary notwithstanding.

If Wells had extracted a sentence from a call-out box without checking the wording of the text, made a charge that couldn't be supported from the wording of the text, and then refused to retract the charge when the mistake was pointed out, you would be braying ceaselessly about the dishonesty and deceptiveness of the act. Instead you're in full spin mode on the other side, trying to insist that somehow the original charge has merit, that somehow Wells was still making it look like Ballard was referring to the pharyngula stage. This claim is ridiculous and insupportable.

If your point was to persuade us that a complete lack of objectivity is correlated with fanatic loyalty to what's written on PT, you've succeeded -- spectacularly.

Larry Fafarman said...

Smokey said,
>>>>>>"This is a comparison of two mammal species -- Ballard and Wells were comparing all vertebrate species."

But doesn't Wells deny that mice and men share a common ancestor? Do you, Larry? <<<<<<

I was only addressing the issue of whether Wells misrepresented the evidence described by Ballard -- I was not talking about what conclusions Wells drew from that evidence.

>>>>>"Apparently even PZ Myers has stopped claiming that Wells misrepresented Ballard -- Myers' latest response to Wells is here." <

Myers was responding to Wells's essay, in which he did nothing to defend his representation of Ballard, choosing instead to misrepresent Darwin. <<<<<<

Wells' essay does not mention Ballard by name but basically repeats the summary (shown in bold) on page 31 of the book:

But early vertebrate embryos do not look alike. They become somewhat similar (though not as similar as Haeckel made them out to be) midway through development, then they diverge again. This is illustrated by the “developmental hourglass” drawing on page 31 of my Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design. Developmental biologists (including P.Z. Myers, to judge from his Panda’s Thumb review of my chapter) are well aware of this pattern, which has been described repeatedly in the developmental biology literature.

Your claim that Wells misrepresented Ballard by using the term "somewhat similar" instead of "different in details" or "remarkably similar" is absurd.

As for PZ, his response to Wells' essay argued against what Wells' book actually said instead of arguing against a misrepresentation of what Wells' book said.

Smokey said...

Tim wrote:
Smokey,

Excuse me? Were you lying when you wrote that nothing I wrote merits a response?

You have yet to present one shred of evidence that Wells is misusing Ballard.

False, Tim. For example, there's this evidence:

Go here:
http://www.ana.ed.ac.uk/anatomy/database/humat/MouseComp.html

We're talking about the TS15-16 stages of the mouse and CS12-13 of human. Now, find pictures of those stages and tell me if they are merely "somewhat" similar or if they are remarkably similar.

Since you're afraid to search for evidence before coming to a conclusion, here's the human:
http://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/wwwhuman/Stages/stage12.htm

and here's a mouse:
http://genex.hgu.mrc.ac.uk/Atlas/SBFrames.html?15

Are they somewhat similar, or are they so remarkably similar that you couldn't possibly tell which one is mouse and which one is human looking at the photos?


There's evidence, and you didn't attempt to rebut it.

At this point no one still reading this thread has any reasonable choice but to conclude that you don't have such evidence.

And yet I posted evidence. And I pointed out that Wells avoids evidence.

Every time you stridently insist that you're still right about this you simply embarrass yourself further.

That's rich.

You seem unable to disentangle the question of whether Wells misused Ballard from the larger question of whether Wells is wrong about various broader issues or even about the wider conclusions he draws from what Ballard says.

You seem unable to address the most meaningful questions: does the evidence support Wells? If so, why does he quote mine instead of presenting actual evidence?

Instead you're in full spin mode on the other side, trying to insist that somehow the original charge has merit, that somehow Wells was still making it look like Ballard was referring to the pharyngula stage. This claim is ridiculous and insupportable.

This is just one of many pieces of evidence that make it clear that Wells's goal is obfuscation and deception, as is the simple fact that he resorted to quote-mining a review instead of presenting evidence (pictures in this case). You highlighted this particular piece of deception with your false accusation. I've supported my position with evidence, and you've denied that I've offered evidence. Answer a simple question, if you dare, Tim: if the evidence supports Wells's position that there isn't common descent, why quote-mine a review instead of citing or presenting the evidence? Photomicrographs would be so much more persuasive. What evidence persuaded YOU that Wells is right about common descent?

If your point was to persuade us that a complete lack of objectivity is correlated with fanatic loyalty to what's written on PT, you've succeeded -- spectacularly.

Where is a shred of evidence that I exhibit "fanatic loyalty to what's written on PT," Tim? You're projecting, because I'm not the one pretending that texts are more important than actual data.

My only loyalty is to evidence. Anyone who knows anything about the philosophy of science should understand that.

----

Larry Fafarman said...
I was only addressing the issue of whether Wells misrepresented the evidence described by Ballard -- I was not talking about what conclusions Wells drew from that evidence.

You're missing the point--the fact that Wells chose to quote a review instead of either citing or presenting the actual evidence says it all.

Wells' essay does not mention Ballard by name but basically repeats the summary (shown in bold) on page 31 of the book:

So it was simply dishonest of you to pretend that Myers was yielding because he didn't mention Ballard, wasn't it?

Your claim that Wells misrepresented Ballard by using the term "somewhat similar" instead of "different in details" or "remarkably similar" is absurd.

If they are merely somewhat similar, it should be easy to distinguish between mouse and human at such stages, should it not?

As for PZ, his response to Wells' essay argued against what Wells' book actually said instead of arguing against a misrepresentation of what Wells' book said.

I agree. And apparently you agree too, or you'd be citing embryological evidence that trashes the idea of common descent instead of trying to limit the discussion to your pedantic defense of Wells's quote-mining.

Tim said...

Hey Smokey,

No, I sure wasn't lying. I wasn't saying anything false either. But a mixture of pity and awe at your ability to miss the point keeps me coming back. I'm honestly curious to see just how many times you'll keep fumbling this one.

Remember your endorsement of Sophist's accusation, Smokey? It's this one, with Sophist's words in bold and yours, following, in italics:

It's odd that you should mention context, seeing as you're apparantly blind to it. Lets look at the context of the quote on pp. 30-31 that PZ has provided, shall we?

'...a species is distinct and distinguishable from its allies from the very earliest stages all through the development." Then Wells says, "Modern embryologists confirm this," and uses the Bill Ballard quote.'

Hey, look at that. Wells is using the ballard quote to claim that all earlier stages are clearly different, just as in the call out box. Fancy that.

You're pathetic.


I agree.

Remember this claim by PZ Myers?

No, Wells did not accurately quote Ballard on pages 30-31. He was trying to falsely imply that Ballard agreed with Sedgwick, that all stages of early development were fully distinct.

And remember these claims of yours?

Todd wrote:
"Did Wells accurately quote on pp.30-31?"

No. He misrepresented Ballard by selectively quoting.

"If the pp.30-31 quote is wrong, what makes it wrong or misleading?"

It completely misrepresents Ballard's position and ignores the evidence in Ballard's paper, which contradicts Wells's position.


This is all completely silly. I showed above, with a full quotation, what is really going on. Sophist has clipped the end off of Wells's paragraph, which disguises the fact that the paragraph includes several claims. Wells is using the quotation from Ballard to support one part of what is claimed in the last full paragraph on p. 30, and his use is completely correct.

I conjectured that Sophist is upset over the fact that Wells doesn't provide a quotation from a modern biologist to support the rest of that paragraph, and I pointed out two simple facts: the rest of what Wells says isn't controversial, and if he wanted to he could support it by a quotation – from Ballard. I gave that quotation above.

PZ's complaint arises from a simple misreading of Wells. There is no justification for attributing to Wells the attempt to make it sound like Ballard, in the bit quoted, is endorsing Sedgwick's claim tout court. Wells explicitly says that Ballard is referring to cleavage and gastrulation.

So what do you have to offer as evidence that Wells is misusing the quotation from Ballard?

You've pointed to pictures of embryos at the pharyngula stage. (You need to do these as links, but since they're irrelevant to the point at issue, never mind.) "There's evidence," you write, "and you don't attempt to rebut it."

There's nothing to rebut; this is a complete red herring. Nobody from Myers to Wells is denying that at the pharyngula stage embryos are in various respects more similar than they were in earlier stages. Wells says this explicitly. This doesn't say spit about cleavage and gastrulation. That's what Ballard is talking about, and that's what Wells says Ballard is talking about.

Remember this claim of yours?

2) Ballard wrote about the contrast between gastrulas/blastulas (differences) vs. pharyngulas (similarities).

3) Wells quotes Ballard out of context so that he seems to support Wells's position.


Wells quotes Ballard regarding the dissimilarities of the earliest stages, cleavage and gastrulation, because Wells wants to establish, inter alia, that embryos of different animals are very different at these stages. (See pp. 29-30 of Wells.) And Ballard is saying exactly that. There's nothing out of context about this.

You seem hung up about the fact that Wells doesn't quote what Ballard says about the pharyngula stage. But Wells isn't trying to establish anything about the pharyngula stage by quoting Ballard. He's actually trying to establish that the developmental hourglass is wider at the top than in the middle. And of course this is completely correct.

There is nothing dishonest in using what Ballard says about the cleavage and gastrulation stages to support a claim about the cleavage and gastrulation stages. The only thing that's "pathetic" here is that this point even has to be made.

No, Smokey, what you've presented isn't evidence that Wells is misusing Ballard. You've claimed that he is – repeatedly. But you haven't backed it up. You've just dodged around making other claims with a pompous and condescending air as if you were saying something relevant.

The fact that you haven't given it up despite your complete inability to provide evidence for it is the evidence that you're fanatically loyal to what's written on PT.

Larry Fafarman said...

Smokey said,
>>>>>>Your claim that Wells misrepresented Ballard by using the term "somewhat similar" instead of "different in details" or "remarkably similar" is absurd.

If they are merely somewhat similar, it should be easy to distinguish between mouse and human at such stages, should it not? <<<<<<<

I've already pointed out that Ballard was talking about all vertebrates and not just mammals. Sheeeesh.

You would find fault with Wells' statements no matter what he said. If Wells had said that the pharyngula-stage embryos are "remarkably similar," you would be carping that he ignored significant differences in pharyngula-stage embryos among the vertebrates.

Tim said,
>>>>>There is nothing dishonest in using what Ballard says about the cleavage and gastrulation stages to support a claim about the cleavage and gastrulation stages. The only thing that's "pathetic" here is that this point even has to be made. <<<<<

Hokey Smokey is nuttier than the mad hatter at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party.