John Maynard Smith

| 10 Comments

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 3, column 86, byte 262 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

10 Comments

I have enjoyed similar experiences with elder anthropologists. The most rewarding situations have been when I have been able to bring students and senior archaeologists together in a field site.

We need to honor the giants of biology while they’re still alive.

By the way, Ernst Mayr turns 100 in a couple of months. Who is planning the simultaneous galas in London, New York, Los Angeles and Sydney?

This is surely a tragic loss for the evolutionary biology community, as Maynard Smith had such a profound impact upon modern biology and conducted himself with such comport in modern debates over punc eq., etc.

I’m not sure if anyone notices, but in the picture posted on the Panda’s Thumb main page, there is a copy of “Darwin’s Black Box” just to the right of Dr. Smith’s head. I’m sure that was no accident, and it makes me wonder how many other ID sympathizers might be out there, afraid to come out of the closet lest they be roasted on an unintelligently designed BBQ of politically-motivated paradigm-change-resisting head hunters.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 5, column 1, byte 493 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

I have copies of virtually all the output of the various IDC proponents sitting on my office wall, along with a sizeable amount of YEC material. The claim that this makes me (or JMS) a creationist is facile beyond belief.

john m lynch wrote:

“I have copies of virtually all the output of the various IDC proponents sitting on my office wall, along with a sizeable amount of YEC material. The claim that this makes me (or JMS) a creationist is facile beyond belief.”

I never claimed owning a book therefore means you agree with it. That would be an absurd claim. I keep nearly all the major (and minor) anti-ID books close at hand, as well as a lot of the major treatises on evolution (just picked up Gould’s epic volume recently) and of course that makes me no less an IDist than you are an evolutionist. It’s the conspicuous placement of the book in the picture that caught my attention, not the irrelevant fact that he owns it. If you were having a picture taken for the public record, would you make sure to have Darwin’s Black Box right next to your head?

Tom Curtis’s response shows just how scared Darwinists get when they fear one of their own might have has skepticisms, and how quick they are to reject the design inference when it doesn’t fit with the paradigm. I get the vibes like, “Maynard Smith was an evolutionist, I believe it, and that settles it.”

I know full well who John Maynard Smith is, and of his distinguished career in evolutionary biology. But fathom, just for a moment, that even if he wasn’t a full blown IDist, perhaps he at least thought that Behe had some legitimate criticisms of evolution? This picture is a quirk in the data. If you want to explain it away, go ahead.

Even if no “secret message” was intended, Tom Curtis is still left with the inescapable conclusion that Maynard Smith kept DBB within arm’s reach right next to Darwin’s Biography. Not bad company for the heretic Behe.

Meanwhile, here’s another one who might secretly be thinking of jumping into a lifeboat:

http://magazine.uchicago.edu/0106/features/#3

I own a copies of some of Hopson’s articles on the evolution of mammalian hearing, but I have no reason to ensure they are in plain conspicuous view, next to my favorite skulls, on top of a huge mess of papers, when comes to take a photograph of my office.

Ran,

I believe your comments might be fairly construed as showing the desperation of IDists to claim dead scientists to their cause; as when they claim live scientists, the scientists tend to disabuse them with explicit rebutals.

It might be construed as showing the desperation to find justification for your belief, given that that justification is not to be found in the evidence. We might wonder why you construe the presence of one ID book amongst around 100 within easy reach as evidence Smith was a closet IDist.

We might, on the other hand, construe from my comments that I truly find it offensive that some people will take advantage of the death of a great man for purposes of propaganda. Your comments were out of order.

Tom Curtis

Dear Tom,

I am genuinely sorry if I upset you with my comments. In all honesty, your accusations against me are puzzling and seem unsupported by my actions:

I didn’t try to take advantage of this situation by capitalizing on John Maynard Smith’s death, as if I were waiting until he died so I could claim he was a closet IDist. I would have made my comment whether he was alive or not as soon as I came across the picture–it was the picture (not his death) that made me genuinely think he might have had some skepticism of Darwin, and it just so happens that I stumbled upon it in the news release of his death. I’m sorry if the coincidence of timing leads you to believe I’m just capitalizing on his tragic death, but I would encourage you to evaluate the evidence as a whole and not set such a low standard for inferring “evil design.” It might lead to false positives.

Additionally, your point that I am using some odd desparation tactic of claiming dead scientists were closet IDists (ID has good scientists in its movement, so I have no need to do that anyway) is refuted by the fact that in my last post, I also suggested that a living scientist might also be a closet skeptic of Darwin (see my comment suggesting evidence that perhaps James Hopson might have doubts about Darwin). If you were right about me, I would have waited until Dr. Hopson died to tell you about his picture.

I’m sorry if you think I am dishonoring Maynard Smith by suggesting he may have at least had some form of skepticism about evolution. In your mind, you might think that suggesting he might have been skeptical of Darwin is dishonoring, but in my mind, it’s not. That’s just your opinion. It’s a morally neutral discussion about the scientific views of a great human being, as far as I am concerned.

Regardless, I made my best efforts to make it clear that Smith was a distinguished and honorable evolutionary biologist, and I did my best to honor him. That’s why I began my very first post trying to pay some respects to Dr. John Maynard Smith:

“This is surely a tragic loss for the evolutionary biology community, as Maynard Smith had such a profound impact upon modern biology and conducted himself with such comport in modern debates over punc eq., etc.” (my first post)

In my second post, I again tried to honor him:

“I know full well who John Maynard Smith is, and of his distinguished career in evolutionary biology.” (my 2nd post)

It is tragic when any great scientist dies. As a long-time fan of Stephen Jay Gould, I was genuinely saddened and went through my own personal form of mourning when I heard of his death last year. I am not trying to slander this great scientist John Maynard Smith. If you think that suggesting that someone dead had doubts about Darwin is a slander against them, then the judgment is your own opinion, not a sign of a lack of respect on their part. Again, I see this as a morally neutral discussion about the scientific beliefs of a great person.

Again, I am genuinely sorry if I offended you, but let’s allow emotions to cool and reason together about this morally neutral issue. Thanks.

Sincerely,

Ran

Ran,

I do not believe that you have got it. Your comments directly implied that Smith acted dishonourably, not in accepting ID, but in being to scared to acknowledge it if he did. A man of character in Smith’s position, had he become convinced of ID, would have said so openly. By speculating that he had accepted ID, but was “afraid to come out of the closet”, you thereby suggest that he also lacked character.

Further, your comments continue the ID tradition of not letting their opponents speak for themselves. ID began with Johnson telling the Christian world what scientists really thought - except he got it wrong. This is a repeated pattern amongst IDists.

In the space of two posts you have speculated about the “secret” beliefs of two scientists, and wrongly attributed motives to me.

The only relevant comments about a persons beliefs are those they make publicly. Speculation about their secret beliefs, or supposed motives does nothing except avoid the impact of those views they considered worth being put before the public. It is tawdry.

If you suspect Hopson is an IDist, send him an email and ask him. However he responds, accept his comments at face value. If he does not respond, then accept his known public comments at face value. Anything less is disrespectful. Anything less puts you in the company of Lady Hope - and that is a tawdry company indeed.

These comments apply in general, and at all times. The doubly apply in responces to the obituary of a great man.

Finally, and my final word. This IS a moral issue.

Tom Curtis

Dear Tom and all,

Firstly, Tom, you misunderstood me. I didn’t imply that Maynard Smith was dishonorable if he did have doubts about Darwin but yet didn’t speak about them publicly. If he were an ID proponent, I was only arguing that he would not have admitted it because of the tarring-and-feathering he might have feared from the mainstream biological community. That’s why I wrote that some ID proponents are “afraid to come out of the closet lest they be roasted on an unintelligently designed BBQ of politically-motivated paradigm-change-resisting head hunters.” (my first post)

If you thought that I was saying that failing to acknowledge interest in ID would be dishonorable then you misunderstood me. I was merely saying that he would have been prevented from acknowledging such because of the political climate. You can argue all day that I meant otherwise or that I implied that Maynard Smith acted dishonorably, but I was not thinking that under any scenario that Maynard Smith might have acted dishonorable when I made my posts. I’m telling you what I meant, and I should know because I’m the one who said it: I don’t now and never did have any thoughts that Maynard Smith did anything wrong. That’s consistent with what I wrote, and that’s what was in my head. You can take it or you can leave it.

I don’t know much about who Lady Hope is and I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “tawdry” in a sentence (guess now i have though). But that was a good idea from Tom to contact James Hopson. So I did. I asked permission to share his response, which he granted. He said was surveying Jonathan Wells’ treatment of Archaeopteryx, and it was evident that Hopson is an evolutionist through and through. He says the book just happened to be there for the picture. The same could be the case with John Maynard Smith, but I guess we can never really know. My suggesting the possibility of that Maynard Smith had entertained any doubt’s about Darwin does not mean that Maynard Smith was not a committed evolutionist nor that he was not a great scientist. Both of those undoubtedly he was. All I submit is that the possibility exists, and that if he did have any doubts about Darwin, it wouldn’t surprise me if the political climate would prevent even an honorable man like John Maynard Smith from being able to speak about it publicly. Oh well! I think I’ll retire from this thread now. Thanks for the fun times.

Ran

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by John M. Lynch published on April 21, 2004 8:21 PM.

Spreading the word about science: The Tangled Bank was the previous entry in this blog.

Dembski’s Explanatory Filter Delivers a False Positive is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter