• A Change to the Darwin’s Doubt Reviews

    I’m making an executive decision on Darwin’s Doubt.  I’m going to start doing chapters out of order.  There are several reasons for this.

    First, is that I’m somewhat tired of defending evolution and science to people who don’t understand it, make a concerted effort to not understand it, and if they do understand it, then they lie about it.  People like Meyer.  So far, I’ve referenced a dozen or so articles that directly contradict what Meyer has claimed.  I’ve explained, in a very detailed fashion, why the real world is not like Meyer says it is.  I’ve also pointed out several places where Meyer’s statements about some research directly contradicts the authors.

    Second, I have a number of reference books on my list to purchase and study, plus about 120 peer-reviewed research papers that are directly relevant to read, dissect, and cross-reference.  I’ve done this once before and it’s time consuming.  Indeed, what I’m doing right now, if I paid for it, would be the equivalent of earning Master’s degree in both biology and paleontology.  While I enjoy doing it, again, it takes a lot of time and cramming 2-3 years worth of graduate level coursework into a few weeks isn’t going to cut it… not here.  Not that is prevent Meyer from doing so, but I’m somewhat more serious about it than he appears to be.

    Third, I know what the science says.  What I really want to get to is what ID says about the diversity of life on this planet.  Does Meyer actually calculate some reasonable odds or does he pull a Dembski and not ever actually use the principles of Intelligent Design?  I’m very interested in finding out.

    If anyone has specific questions about specific points that Meyer brings up, then let me know and I will try to work it in.  Maybe, Nick or Janice, or Bob will come in and provide some help to everyone.

    Finally, let me explain something.  I’m doing this because I wanted to.  I’m not doing this to defend evolution.  Much better scientists than I have already looked at various pieces of Meyer’s work and pointed out major flaws.  Let’s be very clear, this book is utter rubbish.  The research is sloppy, the science is worse, and the writing is awful.

    My goal is to provide a resource to those who are not experts in science.  A tool to use when people who think that ticks prefer watermelons to oranges*.  There are dozens of slick talking creationists out there (and anti-vaxers, anti-GMO proponents, and anti-science people of thousands of varieties),  And they talk a good line.  But that’s all they do… talk.  They don’t do science, they don’t get science, they can’t accept that their beliefs may be wrong.  Some of them are even quite smart, which makes them exceedingly dangerous, because no one with a high school level of knowledge can refute them.

    When you have people like this on state school boards, they MUST be refuted or they will destroy the education of millions of kids.

    I know, for the most part, I’m preaching to the choir.  We have to share the message that creation myths are simply wrong.  Science should be the only thing taught in science classrooms and it should be good science.  Not crap science.**  Students, even in elementary school, should be taught the scientific method and critical thinking.  Because these are the only methods for learning anything that exist… well, anything real.

    Sorry for the digression there.

    More Darwin’s Doubt reviews will come… of course, that’s what they said at the end of Buckaroo Banzai too.


    * Ticks are obligate hemovores.  They only consume blood.  And there is a creationist out there, who claims to be a scientist, who has stated this.  Of course, the same guy has argued that ice is not water and that ID is not anti-evolution, but “All you have to do to disprove ID is to prove evolution.”

    ** This is one reason that I’m a strong supporter of the Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards.  I believe that about 60% of current science teachers will be unable to teach at the level required of NGSS.  We have to get people who are good science teachers back into the classroom.

    Category: Uncategorized

    Article by: Smilodon's Retreat

    • Sounds reasonable to me.

    • RexTugwell

      I have to agree with John Pieret. I think this is a very reasonable strategy. At the current pace of this review, I was afraid I’d have to wait a year or more before you got to the two main theses of the book. Now we can finally read how you address the problem of John McDonald’s “Great Darwinian Paradox” head on. Good for you.

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        I’d never heard of John McDonald’s “Great Darwinian Paradox”, so I did a bit of digging.

        The only place that phrase appears is in creationist literature. I did find the reference however (http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2096967?uid=3739640&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21102898237741)

        It’s from a 1983 article. Do you really want to base your determination of the validity of evolution on a review article made 30 years ago? Meyer seems to.

        It’s very interesting… on this very website, Nick Matzke suggested that my review of articles wasn’t very good because I used a couple of articles from 10 years ago. He told me that the state-of-the-art has changed significantly in ten years and I really should be more selective. This is great advice.

        But the creationists aren’t interested in the actual state of science. They are interested in manufacturing controversy in order to promote their (useless) idea about how the diversity of life appeared. Once I get this article (hint, hint) I will see exactly what McDonald said and see how it relates to the current state of the art science.

        What do you think?

      • Well, here is a start, from when Behe first quote mined McDonald:


        • SmilodonsRetreat

          Thanks John. I guess that takes care of that.

          My question, Rex, is do you accept what creationists say without any skepticism at all because they support your point of view?

    • RexTugwell

      What do I think? I think that if the article is too out-dated and current research has proven McDonald wrong, you should have no problem providing the proof. Think of what a blow that would be to Meyer’s central theme of the book. If 1983 is too remote for you, how about 2013? Prothero’s highly-recommended book, The Cambrian Explosion, states the problem in chapter 10 “Constructing the Cambrian: A Tractable But Unresolved Problem”. I have it right here in front of me (one of the advantages of working in a university). Pieret’s quote-mining hand waiving notwithstanding, the paradox remains.

      Are you going to address it in your meticulous review? I want to get my $10.99’s worth.

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        Again, I’ve requested the original paper from the author and I’ll see what he says. When I get the paper, then I can point to the evidence the author uses (which Meyer and Behe ignored in their quotemine).

        Rex, when a quotemine occurs, the argument using the quote mine is fundamentally flawed.

        That being said, MAYBE, they have a point. But it doesn’t matter if they do or not, because they haven’t put forth any evidence, other than a 30-year-old quote taken out of context, for their position. This is NOT how scientists make claims and defend them. If Meyer or Behe want to make a claim about how

        As far as Prothero, I take it you haven’t read HIS rebuttal to the book? Or where you the one who said, “But Prothero didn’t comment on embryology and epigenetics?” I don’t remember, but I think it was on the Amazon discussion site. Someone on there was complaining that no paleontologist had commented on Darwin’s Doubt. When Prothero did comment, there was no substantive response, only a whine that he didn’t talk about epigenetics.

        Finally, I’ll add that you are demanding that science step and disprove claims made by creationists. Claims that have no evidential support. Yet, you don’t demand the same of the creationists. Demand the actual mechanism of ID from Meyer. Demand that Dembski actually calculate the CFSI for an organism. Demand that Behe provide evidence that the immune system is irreducibly complex. None of which has ever been done.

        Again, it’s time to let science stand on it’s own. You work at a university, so you have much greater access to the files than I do. You could actually walk over to the Biology department and ask some questions. But you don’t, you demand that I do all your work for you… and if I can’t answer every single question to your satisfaction, then evolution loses and ID wins.

        That’s not how it works. We both know it. It’s time to stop pretending that it does.

        There are great, unanswered questions in biology right now. That doesn’t mean that evolution is a theory in crisis and therefore god exists.

        • SmilodonsRetreat
        • RexTugwell

          you demand that I do all your work for you… and if I can’t answer
          every single question to your satisfaction, then evolution loses and ID

          Mr. Retreat, You’re the one writing the death-by-a-thousand-cuts review. All I’m asking is that you be as thorough with chapters 13 & 14 as you have been with 1 & 2. You took this on. You’re the one who said you “want to crush every single point Meyer makes.” Now’s your chance to shine.

          Good grief, I haven’t seen this much backpedaling since your “Setting the Record Straight” post. That was worth the price of the book right there. As for your change in review sequence? Like the Emperor, “everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.” Have a great weekend.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            And like, the emperor, you lost.

          • Very good. I haven’t seen such smug empty bluster since my talk.origins days. You come here with nothing more than a demand that Smilodon does what you you want him to do and if he doesn’t do so immediately he’s “backpedaling” or “retreating”? You haven’t given a single reason why Smilodon should take you in the least seriously.

            If I were Smilodon, I’d tell you to go get the article, give a detailed explanation of it and show how exactly it supports ID. But we all know that won’t happen since you are just a poseur.

        • Christine Janis

          SR — I can get the paper from my university network (I just checked to confirm) If you email me directly (I’m easy to find on the web) I’ll download it and send it to you. Hell, I’ll even do it with comments!

    • Doc Bill

      Chapters 13 and 14 are a snap. Here Meyer just waves his hands. Charles Marshall’s review in Science spotlighted Meyer’s dishonest portrayal of research in gene regulation calling Meyer’s work a “systematic failure of scholarship,” in other words, lying.

      It’s not surprising because it’s vintage Meyer, that he throws a Hail Mary to epigenetics, a field of study Meyer knows even less about than any other, to portray his blessed Designer as some kind of epi-Jedi, poofing body plans at will.

      The book seriously goes downhill from there culminating in a 100-page rant on how Science is so mean to creationists. This is after 300 pages of bashing Science as being wrong about everything.

      About the best Meyer can muster on the “positive” case for ID is actually a negative case. There is no ID mechanism, no ID theory, no idea how ID works, could work or what ID does or what ID did. Meyer weakly trots out that ID must be true because Science is mean or something like that then flames out around page 412 or so tossing the creation ball to God.

      The End (of ID) – we can only hope!