Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Jan 16, 2014 in Book Review, Evolution, Science | 23 comments

Book Preview – The Monkey’s Voyage

I I became aware of this recently published book, again, through the National Center for Science Education.  The book is called The Monkey’s Voyage: How Improbable Journeys Shaped the History of Life by Alan de Queiroz.

My first impression is that this is a gorgeous book.  The cover slip is very heavy paper, not the thin flaky stuff.  The cover art is great.

Then I read the included letter and press release about the book.  I’ve never heard of Dr. de Queiroz, which is fine. Except for a few big names, whose papers I read regularly, I’m not “in the circles” of evolutionary biologists. Just doing some basic searches shows that he publishes quite a bit (which is normal) and several of his publications are cited quite a bit (several hundred).

Here’s my concern… and I hope that it will be answered in the book.

He is proposing a rather radical revision of how we view biogeography.  Basically, biogeography is the science of the distribution and diversity of organisms on Earth. More specifically, it generally means how very similar organisms are on widely different continents.  For example, closely related flightless birds exist in Africa, South America, and Australia/New Zealand.

His suggestion is that travel of organisms across oceans is more important than the rifting of continents and ocean spread in plate tectonics.

I just go the book today and it’s a hefty tome. There are 360 pages (with small type and not a lot of pictures) with an index, bibliography, and endnotes.  I’ll be reading it over the next few weeks. I doubt it will be as interesting (and it’s certainly not as short) as The Accidental Species.

**************
I’d also like to make a brief comment on my review of Darwin’s Doubt. I am mired in other, more interesting projects now. I’m sorry. Yes, Meyer burned me out.  Hunting down multiple quotemines per page was a taxing requirement.

I hope, by now, everyone realizes just how sad Meyer’s book actually is.  Even if Meyer manages to talk about the evidence that he claims elsewhere, I can’t see how anyone could consider his book to be useful… even if his notions are correct.

Anyone who makes that many mistakes (and it’s being charitable to call these mistakes, I really think that they are deliberate lies) in just a few chapters has some serious problems with scholarship.

If anyone has a specific page (or short range of pages) that they would like me to specifically comment on, then I think I’m done with that monstrosity.

 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Pieret/100000023960330 John Pieret

    I’m sorry. Yes, Meyer burned me out. Hunting down multiple quotemines per page was a taxing requirement.

    Now you know how Sisyphus felt. ;-)

  • L Zoltan

    It’s not really a surprize. Meyer’s book’s central argument is demonstrating the inadequacy of darwinian evolutionary mechanisms to account for the diversity of life. No reviewer addressed that as if all tacitly admiting the arguments.

    To disprove the book one has to do two things : show the fossils and demonstrate the adequacy of the darwinian process. Why nobody can do that?

    I still don’t understand who did you the review for.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Pieret/100000023960330 John Pieret

      Meyer’s book’s central argument is demonstrating the inadequacy of darwinian evolutionary mechanisms to account for the diversity of life.

      Which he “attempted” to do with dishonest “arguments” based largely on quote mines. The scare quotes are because, based on the totality of the evidence over the years, I doubt even Meyer believes his arguments are scientific rather than theological. No one would give a rat’s ass about his theological arguments if he was honest about it.

      To disprove the book one has to do two things : show the fossils and demonstrate the adequacy of the darwinian process. Why nobody can do that?

      Nobody (among scientists) has to “disprove the book,” anymore than they have to “disprove” Velikovsky or the modern geocenterists. Evolutionary science has already defeated Meyer’s arguments within science’s purvue.The only reason to even address it is because it is part of a dishonest attempt to pervert the American Constitution by pretending that theological arguments are in fact scientific and, thus, to teach sectarian religion in public schools at taxpayer expense.

      I still don’t understand who did you the review for.

      I won’t speak for Smilodon but I suspect he did it for those who haven’t swallowed all the Kool Aid yet.

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      John already said most of it, but you are wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.
      There is no “disprove” the book. There are thousands, if not millions, of papers out there that disprove the book. Meyer is a liar. It’s that simple. In every single on of the 18+ posts I’ve done on this book, Meyer has been shown to be a liar… or the absolutely worst researcher on the entire planet.
      If you think the book is still worthwhile, then I want you to do what I asked for.
      Tell me the page number where Meyer provides evidence that Intelligent Design is a viable alternative to explain the diversity of life.
      Zoltan, I want you to read all the reviews and all the comments of those reviews. I have asked this question MULTIPLE times… and no creationist has ever said anything. They have tried to tell me that Meyer’s chapters disprove epigenetics or evolution or paleontology.
      So what. Even if Meyer does disprove all of that (which he doesn’t as has been demonstrated), that does not mean that creationism is, by default, correct.
      The creationist movement absolutely must provide positive evidence that supports their view. They have never done so, at least with evidence that wasn’t fraudulent.
      I did the review to show that Meyer was a liar.

  • azportsider

    “I’ve never heard of Dr. de Queiroz…” Nor have I, but I wonder if he’s perhaps related to Kevin de Queiroz. That’s not a particularly common surname in the US, and both are evolutionary biologists. In any case, biogeography is a natural partner to evolutionary theory because it gives us a physical context for the evolutionary history, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading this book. Maybe it’ll give me some rational scenario for the occurrence of Verdins where I live, so I can finally sleep at night again.

    • Nicholas J. Matzke

      Yeah, they are brothers. Strangely, not even the only case of brothers both in evolutionary biology! And they may both be Berkeley grads, not sure…

      • azportsider

        Thanks, Nick (Dr Nick, that is). I’ve read your first impressions of this book at Panda’s Thumb, and I’m interested in Smilodon’s too, but I’ve already determined that I need to read it. I’ve also bookmarked Dr de Queiroz’ website, and begun some discussion with him.

  • Seth R. Massine

    This is an unrelated comment, but I believe the blog in question will permit it. I’ve been studying evolution for several years now, have gone through Coyne’s Why Evolution is True, Dawkin’s Greatest Show on Earth. I’m trying to find someone who knows a great deal about evolution to have online discussions with. If anyone is game, please reply to my comment and perhaps we could exchange emails. I’m living in a small, hyper conservative town in northern Wyoming, so finding an individual who’s knowledge of evolution exceeds that of a 5th grader is….well, do I even need to say it? Much appreciated

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      There’s a ton of useful websites online. You can always ask me anything. There are several biologists who read my blog and I’m no slouch.

      You can also look at the talk.origins archive (talkorigins.org) and panda’s thumb.

      • Seth R. Massine

        Thanks, I frequent TalkOrigins. I just really want a “pen pal”, so to say, whom I can discuss these things with. I’m stranded in Mormon land :(

        • sstar

          Hi if you want you can contact me: martinadelfiore@live.it

          Martina,

          • Seth R. Massine

            Hey Martina, thanks :) I will do just that

  • L Zoltan

    “Even if Meyer does disprove all of that (which he doesn’t as has been demonstrated), that does not mean that creationism is, by default, correct.”

    True that does not mean creationism is true by default. But it’s not my point. I don’t care what you think about ID or creationisms. What I want to see is evidence that supposed darwinian mechanisms can do the job.

    Why is it that every time evolutionists are stressed on providing the evidence for the adequacy of supposed mechanisms the argument always is “just because there are issues with the theory dosn’t mean ID is true”

    Thank you very much admiting the lack of the evidence.Given the amount of propaganda and funding evolutionary theory is supported with these supposed evidence sould be all over the place. Is it so hard for the reviewers of Meyer’s book to point to the evidence that Darwinian mechanisms can do the job?

    None of the supposed lye of Meyer you’ve shown is relevant to the darwinian mechanisms (random mutations + natural selection + whatever) adequacy issue.

    I would like scientists wouldn’t claim things they haven’t prooven. Is it so much to wish for?

    Something like this: Evolutionary biochemist Franklin Harold :“We must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzwHqqMMSaU

    here’s a debate on this very issue. This is embaressing for evoultionists. They couldn’t provide the evidence that darwinian process is adequate. Their argument was what I’ve told earlier “just because there are issues with the theory dosn’t mean ID is true”

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      Do WHAT job? Change things? That’s the definition of evolution in it’s most basic form. Change over time. You want evidence that new species can come from prior species? Fine, I can give you over 70 examples from the literature (and that’s nothing more recent that 2006 or so).

      Do you want evidence that higher taxonomic orders can be generated from evolution? That’s the same evidence as new species. It just shows that you don’t understand evolution OR taxonomy. Here’s something that might help: http://www.skepticink.com/smilodonsretreat/2013/09/16/where-higher-orders-of-life-come-from/

      The point isn’t that evolution “can’t explain it”, which is simply not true. Maybe what you THINK evolution is can’t explain it, but I assure you any reasonably good book on the subject will provide plenty of evidence.

      No, the point is that ID can’t do anything at all. Therefore it is an utter and complete waste of everyone’s time and that the attempts to put ID in classrooms is really an attempt to inject Christian religion into science class.

      About the Harold quote. Jason Rousenhouse had this to say.

      This is a rare example of Behe quoting someone accurately, though it should be mentioned that Harold specifically describes the Darwinian mechanism as plausible and argues that it is very difficult to recreate isolated events that happened long ago. That notwithstanding, I would argue that Harold was simply wrong to say this. Evolutionists can do considerably better than wishful speculations for a variety of biochemical systems.

      More to the pointt, however, is that it is absurd to describe this as representative of the typical reaction to Behe’s books. Most critics emphasized the logical errors in Behe’s argument (irreducible complexity in the present does not preclude gradual formation in the past), used specific examples to illustrate that in some cases we do have strong evidence for how things evolved, and pointed out the numerous instances of Behe presenting caricatures of evolution or of misquoting people.

      In a discussion about ID, then the only point is whether ID is true, useful, or even valid. It’s not.

      If you ask a specific question, then I will try to answer it, but there is something I need you to read first: http://www.skepticink.com/smilodonsretreat/2013/12/17/a-detailed-process/

      Now, if you ask a specific question, then I will try to answer it. But you have yet to even ask a question. Just asking “can evolution do it” isn’t a good question.

      Do you even understand the vast amount of literature that is published on a yearly basis on examples, experiments, and observations of evolution? Do you understand that evolution has supporting evidence from dozens of disparate areas of science (including geology)? Do you understand that the principles of evolution are used in thousands of businesses which produce real things and processes that result in real things every single day?

      So again, what will convince you that evolution is correct? Why?

      • L Zoltan

        I don’t question that evolution happened. You should know M Behe and S. Meyer don’t question evolution or common descent , but neo darwinian evolution. They say mutations exists and natural selection works , but what they can do is modest.

        My question is what is the evidence that random mutation + natural selection + whatever else can do the evolution that happened?

        Reading Darwin’s Doubt chapters 8-14 I realized that there are no such thing. Every single article written by supporters of evolution I read on this issue convinces me more and more that what evolutionists have is close to nothing.

        Here’s a sample of what I am referring.
        Chapter 12. I have kindle version locations 4654-

        “Behe showed that the problem of coordinated mutations was particularly acute for longer lived organisms with small population sizes – organisms such as ..human beings and their presumed prehuman ancestors. Behe estimated ..the time required for two coordinated mutations to occur in hominid line… producing even such a modest evolutionary change would require many hundreds of millions of years.”

        • SmilodonsRetreat

          Sigh. Did you read the link I posted?

          What’s the difference between one organism and a sibling? Answer, a few alleles… maybe one with a mutation.

          What’s the difference between an organism and a distant cousin? Answer, many alleles… probably a few mutations.

          What’s the difference between an organism and another species?
          Answer, many, many alleles… definitely a few major differences in genetic code, caused by mutation.

          What’s the difference between an organism and one from another genus?
          Answer, many, many, many alleles. Cause by (you guessed it) mutations and chromosomal rearrangment.

          Creationists think of things like families, orders, classes, and kingdoms as having these major differences. What they don’t understand is that major differences start out as minor differences. We created taxonomy based on one instant in time out of four billion years of life. Now, we try to fit everything in the taxonomic system that only works for the things alive today.

          The Last Common Ancestor of humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas? What was it? It wasn’t human, chimpanzee, or gorilla. It may not even have been homidiae.

          Modern taxonomy just doesn’t work as well when looking at historical creatures. If you read Meyer’s book, he CONSTANTLY makes this mistake. If you try and take an organism from 350 million years ago and try to determine where it fits into the modern system, then you will definitely determine that it doesn’t fit.

          It shouldn’t fit. It’s 350 million years old. Again, our modern taxonomy is based on organisms that exist now.

          BTW: Unlike Behe, scientists have actually taken organisms, put them into evolutionary situations, and done the research that shows that Behe is wrong. In one experiment, 4 CLUSTERS of mutations occurred causing an RNA’s efficiency to increase 90 fold in a mere 72 hours. Lenski’s bacteria developed the ability to utilize citrate in less than 20 years.

          So Behe is wrong and it’s a lie to say that he is right.

  • L Zoltan

    what is the evidence that random mutation + natural selection + whatever else can do the evolution that happened?

    http://www.skepticink.com/smilodonsretreat/2013/08/01/darwins-doubt-prologue-part-vi/

    Why are many evolutionary scientists rejecting the neo-darwinian theory declaring it dead , the modern synthesis of gradualism outdated? Why are there many of them working on alternative theories and why are they all critisize each other? All these prooves one thing none of them have solid evidence, just whishfull speculations.

    If they have evidence why don’t they present them to the public?

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      1) The Neodarwinian synthesis has some detractors to SPECIFIC POINTS IN THE PARADIGM. No one, I mean no publishing evolutionary biologist suggests that evolution doesn’t work just because they disagree with one small point which may or may not be an issue. This is roughly the equivalent of suggesting that gravity is wrong because people can throw a ball up into the air.

      2) The claims that evolution is wrong by evolutionary biologists is, in every case of which I am aware, is a deliberate lie by creationists. As noted, in this very blog when Meyer lied about the statements made by Charles Marshall, Stephen J Gould, and others are deliberate misrepresentations of what those people actually said. The evidence of this is clear and multitudinous.

      Let me ask this. What evidence would you accept that evolution is a successful explanation of the diversity of life on this planet?

      • L Zoltan

        “No one, I mean no publishing evolutionary biologist suggests that
        evolution doesn’t work just because they disagree with one small point
        which may or may not be an issue.”

        No one claimed that evolutionary biologists suggest evolution doesn’t work. The supposed mechanisms are in question. What evolutionary biologists disagree on is no small point , but the very mechanism which supposed to drive evolution.

        Meyer didn’t lie, he quoted S. Gould saying neo darwinism is dead.

        Here are some quotes to see that ID dosn’t question common descent.

        “The first point one has to get
        straight in discussions like this, is that ID is not the opposite of
        evolution. Rather, it is the opposite of Darwinism, which says life
        evolved by an utterly unguided, undirected mechanism. If god directed
        the process of evolution, or rigged the universe to produce complex
        life, then that is not Darwinism – it is intelligent design.”

        ~ Michael Behe, Good News, January 2011

        “I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common
        ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt
        it.”

        ~ Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, 1996

        “I accept [the land mammal to whale]
        transition. I’m not arguing that, ‘Where are the transitional forms?’
        [...] My question isn’t, ‘Where’s the Ambulocetus?’ or ‘Where’s the
        Pakicetus?’ or ‘Where’s the Georgiacetus?’, No. My question is, ‘Where’s
        the mechanism?!'”

        ~ Richard Sternberg,

        S. Meyer
        Specifically the idea that natural
        selection acting on various forms of mutations is sufficient to produce
        the form and function that we see around us and the appearance of
        design. Now when we use the term ‘Neo-Darwinism’, we do so because we
        want to be clear about what we’re challenging and what we’re not. The
        theory of intelligent design does not challenge the first two meanings
        of evolution – change over time or the idea of common ancestry.

        My question again do you know of solid evidence that Random mutations could generate the diversity of life forms?

        • SmilodonsRetreat

          Yes. I’ve already provided you with two examples. Lenski and Joyce.

          Both show that mutation alone is sufficient to radically alter the nucleotide sequences, resulting in new massively increased ability or abilities that weren’t present.

          Further, if you bother to actually look at molecular biology studies (many of which have been provided on this very blog), you can see analyses of exactly what changed and when.

          All the people you quoted are creationists. Using creationists to support the claims of other creationists doesn’t work. Look, I know that this is hard to swallow, but I’ve spoken with Charles Marshall who Meyer quotemined in Darwin’s Doubt. Meyer did not tell the truth.

          It’s really funny when a creationist takes a quote from a biologist and says that quote is the only thing that matters, all the while ignoring everything else that biologist says.

          FInally, let’s cut to the chase here. You are demanding a MECHANISM that can develop the diversity of life. You say that evolution isn’t sufficient. Fine, then what MECHANISM is sufficient in your eyes. Remember, Intelligent Design, is not a mechanism. Indeed, Michael Behe himself said that ID has no mechanism.

          So, what notion do you have of how the diversity of life is on this planet? How can we test your notion? What differences are their between your notion and those of evolutionary principles?

          I further note that you have not answered the question about what evidence you would accept. I’ve provided two pieces, you are free to study them at length (I’ve written several commentaries on both).

          • L Zoltan

            “Yes. I’ve already provided you with two examples. Lenski and Joyce.”

            I can’t find the Joyce one. I don’t think Lenski’s experiment can account as evidence for mutations creating macro evolution. I doubt that any scientist consider it as evidence for macroevolution.

            “All the people you quoted are creationists. Using creationists to support the claims of other creationists doesn’t work.”

            1. They are evolutionists. I posted the quotes to show you that they don’t question evolution , but the claimed mechanisms.

            2. Sternberg is not even IDst he is a structuralist.

            “Look, I know that this is hard to swallow, but I’ve spoken with Charles Marshall who Meyer quotemined in Darwin’s Doubt. Meyer did not tell the truth.”

            What did Marshall say that supposed to prove that darwinian mechanisms can account for the diversity of life. There is a debate between Marshall and Meyer on youtube, he didn’t excell in defending his arguments.

            “FInally, let’s cut to the chase here. You are demanding a MECHANISM that can develop the diversity of life. You say that evolution isn’t sufficient. Fine, then what MECHANISM is sufficient in your eyes. Remember, Intelligent Design, is not a mechanism. Indeed, Michael Behe himself said that ID has no mechanism.”

            I am not a scientists it’s not my job to propose mechanisms. The burden of proof is on darwinists they are promoting their theory everywhere , whithout having evidence for the mechanisms other then whishful speculation.

            ID is not about a mechanism. For me ID without a mechanism is more compelling then evolution by random mechanisms. If you claim that random processes can account for something you are required to show what those processes can do.

            “I further note that you have not answered the question about what evidence you would accept. I’ve provided two pieces, you are free to study them at length (I’ve written several commentaries on both).”

            Not sure I am just curious about what are the best evidence scientists have for the darwinian mechanisms. So far I haven’t seen much.

            If observing a bacterial flagellum evolving would convince Behe he is wrong I think it would be a good start.

            Another one:
            “We are well aware of the many experimental studies that attempt to draw some conclusion about protein evolution, but we also know that very few of these studies take the critical approach of asking whether the presumed evolutionary mechanism really works. It’s as though most scientists are unwilling to put these fundamental ideas to a serious test. I can make this point most clearly with a concrete example. We can go into the lab and modify bacterial cells by deleting the entire set of genes dedicated to the synthesis of tryptophan, one of the essential building blocks of proteins. When we observe what happens when these modified cells are given just enough tryptophan to grow and reproduce, we will see lots of things happening, but none that can be expected to reinvent a set of genes for making tryptophan, even in a large population over billions of years. I know of many processes that people talk about as though they can do the job of inventing new proteins (and of many papers that have resulted from such talk), but when these ideas are pushed to the point of demonstration, they all seem to retreat into the realm of the theoretical – See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/01/on_protein_orig055471.html#sthash.Jxp6Zb8n.dpuf

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            And here it is. If there is one thing that has caused more trouble for biologists, it’s the idea that macroevolution is somehow different than microevolution. It’s not. It’s that simple.

            Behe, Sternberg, and Meyer are not evolutionists. They are creationists. They promote Intelligent Design and Behe and Meyer have both stated that the designer is the JudeoChristian God. That’s creationist.

            You keep goal post shifting. It would be funny if it wasn’t so bloody annoying… and that you think it’s a valid tactic.

            Meyer LIED about what Marshall said. Meyer combined two quotes that are 15 pages apart in Marshall’s paper into one quote. One quote that was disputed by what was said by Marshall in the sentence immediately after the second part of the quote. Look it up, it’s been commented on by several people. If you choose not to believe that Meyer lied, that’s your problem. Believe him if you like, but you will be wrong.

            ID Is not about a mechanism… that’s interesting when you DEMAND that evolution produce a mechanism that does something you claim that it doesn’t do. Talk about hypocrisy. You can’t even name a single point of unambiguous evidence that ID even exists, much less that it does something useful.

            So, let me get this straight. You have no idea what evidence would convince you of something. You just know that the evidence you’ve seen (which, so far, all comes from creationist liars) isn’t compelling.
            You know, Michael Behe got his foot in hot water when the same thing happened to him in the Kitzmiller trial. “No, I haven’t read all those books and paper about the evolution of the immune system, but they don’t answer my question about how the immune system evolved anyway.”

            Typical creationist. Just out to discredit evolution and hope that it means their pet notion is valid. Sadly, it’s worse than that. It’s been almost 20 years since ID was first promoted as ID (previously known for the last 200 as Paley’s Watchmaker). And in that 16 years, nothing has been discovered or done that promotes it. Yet because of the religious implications of ID and the hatred of evolution among fundamentalists (and lack of proper education among most of the US population), ID is still considered a challenger to evolution by a large number of misguided people.

            ID has never been a challenger to evolution. ID never will be a challenger to evolution until ID people actually start making predictions, doing lab work, publishing, and quit hiding their heads in the sand when it comes to mechanisms and the designer itself.

          • Doc Bill

            If ID doesn’t have a mechanism, then ID can’t do anything. Therefore, ID is as useless as discussing how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

            Zoltar doesn’t like random mutation and natural selection. Fine, nobody cares what Zoltar thinks, likes or doesn’t like.

            Put your hot air to good use, Zoltran and inflate some balloons.

  • Pingback: Mutations Do Create New Abilties | Smilodon's Retreat