Not just opponents of evolution

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We are all familiar with the spread of lies, half-truths and out of context quotes in the evolution wars. But it happens in other domains of science as well. Opponents of genetically modified foods, or stem cell research and of measured ecological research that fails to match expectations are all subject to this misrepresentation.

But it also happens when science encroaches, as opponents think, on the question of human nature. Here is a heartfelt and justifiably angry reaction by B. F. Skinner’s daughter to claims her father used her as a guinea pig.

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Via The Panda's Thumb: Behavior scientist and author BF Skinner's daughter writes a rebuke and correction to the much-repeated canard that her father used her as a test subject. His careless descriptions of the aircrib might have contributed to the... Read More


Snopes also debunks this claim here.

Skinner’s life and work was guided by the desire to apply the same laws of science to the world outside our skins and the one inside. His research was driven by the need to produce beneficial controls and minimise the incidence of many of the problems - crime, violence, hatred, destitution - that continue to plague society despite our best efforts and zillions of dollars of expenditure. Dependence on irrational doctrines of sin, faith, redemption, self-realisation, salvation, etc. have achieved much but not as much as we would like. Skinner’s work is unfinished. While there is much to question about his work he gives lie to the common assertion that rationalism, meth.nat’ism, phil.nat’ism, creates soulless people. He offers me an uplifting vision of humanity (all words that he believes belong to an earlier irrational time!) - based on science. Pity he isn’t around. I would have loved to see him take apart the phony ID/DI folks.

So what agenda is this connected to? I don’t know who Slater is or what she’s selling.

I would suspect, not having seen the book, that it is either a diatribe against behaviorism, or against science in general (i.e., it’s part of the overall rejection of science by many humanities scholars).

i object to gmos not because of whatever science might have to say about them, but because they are being forced on me without my consent. other than the usda organic label and the occasional food company that labels their foods “gmo-free,” i have no way of knowing which of my foods have gmos in them and which don’t. i am very insulted by that. i am also insulted at the insinuation that human beings should be used as unwitting guinea pigs–and that if we don’t go along with it, we’re “superstitious” and “hysterical” and “ruled by emotion.” i notice that the big shots lobbing most of these accusations at us are rich enough to buy all organic food if they want to. some of us aren’t, thank you.

never mind the cultural implications involved when you start talking about jews and muslims eating things that were modified with genes from pigs or other verboten food animals…

When this site began, I was very happy - I felt it filled a valuable role. More and more of the articles and comments, however, have that wafting under current which is the stench of people who, because they fight stupid people in one area, feel that everyone is stupid.

This post was for me, the last straw. I will no longer recommend this site to others, but will, instead, say “there is something wrong with the people who run it, too often they seem to have some other axe to grind other than the importance of defending good science against bad politics.”

I’m not sure how one goes from the topic post to the conclusion that we PT bloggers feel that “everyone is stupid”. Looks like a non sequitur to me.

In my experience, opposing ignorance does not make one popular. It’s still important to do. Complacency is not an option.

The issue with the way Deborah Skinner was treated is more to do with the way that the popular media and culture discusses science, and it was this, too, that I intended the mention of GMOs, stem cell research, and conservation. All these areas are real science, that have been systematically misrepresented, by opponents and sometimes also by proponents too, in the popular media.

I cannot honestly say that the GMO debate in the media has been fair or evenhanded. I have seen critics of anti-GMOs make false statements about introgression of genes from domestic to wild varieties on the one hand, and opponents of GMOs make false claims about the dangers posed from inserted (wild) genes on the other. A false claim is a false claim, no matter who makes it. But I do object to claims of “Frankenscience” whenever somebody’s holy cow is in danger of being slaughtered. If the science is shaky, and a good lot of corporate science is, then let us deal with the issues scientifically rather than (as Jeremy Rifkin seems to, for example) politically and rhetorically.

In any event, this comment of mine is not binding on others at this blog - it is a community effort, and we each are responsible solely for our own comments. Just avoid mine in the future and you should be all right.

I’m looking at the post (all 4 sentences of it!) and the comments, and I am totally lost. Where is the accusation or even the faintest inference that “everyone is stupid?” Having known Wilkins for some years, I can’t even imagine him thinking that.

I’m afraid that it is a fact that some people are stupid, though, and one of the ways we are going to go about “defending good science against bad politics” is to call them on it. I think that anyone who expects every participant here to be sweet and polite and respectful to every single goddamned idea any crackpot comes up with has stumbled onto the wrong website.

They probably want Pharyngula, instead.

They probably want Pharyngula, instead.

Yup. Right. Pharyngula. Uh huh. That’s the place. Sure thing.


because they fight stupid people in one area, feel that everyone is stupid.

More like people who defend science in one area, tend to defend it in many more areas. What did John say that was objectionable again?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by John S. Wilkins published on May 3, 2004 5:17 PM.

Evolutionists Don’t Care About Pandas! A New ID Meme was the previous entry in this blog.

No cubs, but pandas get A for effort is the next entry in this blog.

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