Bruce Grant reviews “Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design”

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Bruce Grant reviews “Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design”, the excellent expose by Forrest and Gross of the intelligent design movement.

I find Bruce Grant’s review particularly of interest because he provides us with some previously unknown details as to a manuscript he reviewed a while ago that ‘purported to review the literature on the evolution of melanism in peppered moths”. Bruce’s comments were scathing.

Soon thereafter the manuscript appeared on the internet and later as an op-ed piece for “The Scientist”. According to Grant this version was still “error-ridden” with many of the same errors he had pointed out as a reviewer.

Bruce Grant

“Those who cavalierly reject the Theory of Evolution, as not adequately supported by facts, seem quite to forget that their own theory is supported by no facts at all.” –Herbert Spencer, 1820-1903

ABOUT SIX YEARS AGO the editor of a national journal in the biological sciences sent me a manuscript to referee that purported to review the literature on the evolution of melanism in peppered moths. No new data were presented. The author had not published in this field previously, and had not produced any research of his own. But science is an open enterprise, and anyone who has something valid to offer should be welcomed and encouraged. So, I read it with care, and offered this commentary to the editor

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Since I am particularly interested in the peppered moth “controversy”, I would also like to point the reader to another book review by Grant, this time it was Judith Hooper’s “Of Moth and Men”.

Mark Twain once quipped that reports of his death had been exaggerated. Recent reports exaggerate the death of industrial melanism as an exemplar of natural selection. The latest is Judith Hooper’s Of Moths and Men, which promises “the untold story of science and the peppered moth.” What it delivers is a quasi-scientific assessment of the evidence for natural selection in the peppered moth (Biston betularia), much of which is cast in doubt by the author’s relentless suspicion of fraud. This is unfortunate. Hooper is a gifted writer. In places, her prose is quite enjoyable, even brilliant. But, sadly, the book is marred by numerous factual errors and by misrepresentations of concepts and controversies.

The peppered moth has been much abused by the Intelligent Design movement and it is time that we hear the full story from those scientists who actually have studied the peppered moth first hand.

18 Comments

Congrats on getting the site back up in the face of meteorological selection pressure.

Ditto to that. I’ve spent the bulk of the last two days wondering if the connectivity problems had any thing to do with out having gone to see “The Day After Tommorow” Tuesday afternoon. Welcome bacfk.

Should be “our,” “tomorrow,” and “back.” That’ll teach me to never skip Preview Post.

Folks,

I tried reading some of the original moth literature and it was hard. I made it through about ten papers and then quit. I am sure that being a molecular biologist as opposed to a population geneticist is part of it, but most of the Biston studies are very rigorous. Being someone who has looked at moths and even collected moths (at an amateur level), but never done capture and release experiments or counts of moths in the wild I am really in awe of the amount of work these people have done. Bruce Grant is right when he says that a dead guy with a knife in his back is a murder, but just because was cannot pin the murder on our favored suspect does not mean that there was no murder. How can a guy like Wells, who, like me, has never captured or released a single moth in his life even pretend to know more about the Biston story than those who have dedicated their lives to it? This is not to say that an outsider cannot have insightful things to say about a field, but the arrogance of someone who has never worked in the field to walk in and tell everyone that they have it all wrong is really stupefying.

MB

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a dead guy with a knife in his back is a murder, but just because was cannot pin the murder on our favored suspect does not mean that there was no murder.

I like that analogy! Not to stir up a hornet’s nest or nuthin’, but isn’t that similar to what IDists are saying about findin’ elements of design in nature? – just cuz’ you cain’t find the “favored designer” does not mean there was no design.

Granted, differentiating what was designed and what only mimics design is the huge problem, but it sounds similar. I could be wrong, though.

Cheers boys,

Navy Davy

Wells’ insight is that Biston data are not in accord with Unification Church doctrine. Most of us will not find this upsetting.

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until you’ve determined within 1 nanosecond when the knife pierced the skin and addressed the odds that a single knife wound entering at that particular point would result in the death of an individual.

Well, that would be an unacceptably high standard. Sounds like goal-post movin’

Well, that would be an unacceptably high standard. Sounds like goal-post movin’

Exactly. That’s why my analogy is more apt than yours. Will you concede that much, Navy Davy? Or are you still confused about what makes ID conspiracists so obnoxious to scientists?

Johnnie C,

You seem to have a penchant for strayin’. The central question of my rather, small observation is whether you can determine design, without knowing the designer, in the same way you can determine murder, without knowing the murderer.

Maybe the answer is “NO” – I have no idea.

Navy Davy, You said, “The central question of my rather, small observation is whether you can determine design, without knowing the designer, in the same way you can determine murder, without knowing the murderer.”

I think the central question should be whether you can determine intentional “intelligent” design in a biological organism, part, organelle, function, or process, period. To date, the IDers’ claims of IC and SC(?) are based on a stacked deck Explanatory Filter, suspect misuse of probability, and gaps in current scientific knowledge. So far there’s been little if any science visible in ID rhetoric, and the gaps are being filled. ID’s base of being is akin to an iceberg drifting south toward the Carribean.

Knowing the designer’s identity doesn’t enter into that equation until the agenda of the proponent is called into question. Since most of these people are creationists, with stated creationist agendas, it should be obvious to you, whether or not you’re a creationist, that the only possible answer to the question of identity is “God.” Whatever Casey Luskin’s faults may be, he’s honest and upfront on that score. JDB’s disingenuous “I don’t muse in that direction” is simply dishonest crap.

If you would be so kind as to suggest a valid scientific test to determine whether or not He (God, not JDB) exists, I daresay you could find one or two real life honest-to-god scientists who would be willing to check it out - for laughs if nothing else.

Cheers, Air Force Bob

Um - where is the Bruce Grant review? I looked through all of them and couldn’t find it. Did find a comment on the pro-ID ‘reviews’ by Norm Levitt though.

Ophelia,

Here.

RBH

Ah, thanks, Robert. (No wonder I couldn’t find it at Amazon!)

Richard, I mean, of course. [slaps self upside head]

ND:

The central question of my rather, small observation is whether you can determine design, without knowing the designer, in the same way you can determine murder, without knowing the murderer.

It’s obviously true that unpredictable behavior in the observable universe could be due to either a random event, or to an arbitrary decision-maker (designer). However, only the former viewpoint allows us to do science.

So, are creationists also porn spammers? How about some deletes and bannings.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on June 3, 2004 5:09 PM.

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