An Exchange on Another Blog

| 14 Comments
It was requested that I provide a pointer here on PT to a discussion I've been having on my blog, Dispatches from the Culture Wars. The subject of that discussion was a critique I wrote of an article by Robert Meyer entitled Were We Fooled by Stephen J. Gould?, on a site called intellectualconservative.com. My original critique can be found here, and the continuing discussion from emails can be found here. Mr. Meyer's article was one of the worst examples of either ignorance or rank dishonesty from creationists that I have ever encountered. He claims, for example, that Gould was "honest enough to admit" that evolution was in "grave crisis", that he denied the existence of transitional forms, and that Punctuated Equilibrium was the same thing as Goldschmidt's hopeful monster idea. All three of those statements are so blatantly false that either Meyer is utterly ignorant of the subject upon which he is pontificating, or he is flat out lying. Anyway, check out the discussion and jump in if you feel like it.

14 Comments

As I often say, it is impossible to know what a person truly believes, so I almost never use the word “liar” when it comes to anti-evolutionists. But if, after the email exchange, you are still undecided whether Meyer is “utterly ignorant” or “something else,” this may help:

http://reason.com/9707/fe.bailey.shtml

Bailey makes a good case that professional evolution misrepresenters (my term) most likely accept evolution in private.

I am not commenting on your post, per se, but I would like to ask two questions that I think are related. I’m sure I could do the research to find the answer, but I think you may have it at your finger tips.

1. At what point did gender come into being, and am I right in thinking that it a ‘hermaphroditic’ stage preceded sexual differentiation, or was it merely a move from asexual reproduction?

2. The old chicken/egg question - do we have a fossil record that indicates when egg laying began, and is there any species in existence today, that might might be representative of a presumably transitional state?

It’s obvious that both occurred. There had to be a ‘first’ species with two sexes, and a ‘first’ species to lay eggs, and I was curious when it occurred, and to what level of detail we can pin- point the events/transitions.

Rick, read The Red Queen for a good introduction to those questions, also see a summary from the PBS site.

Rick, read The Red Queen for a good introduction to those questions, also see a summary from the PBS site.

Wow, a 12 hour double post. That’s impressive.

I like Smith & Szathmary’s “The Major Transitions In Evolution,” which they rewrote for a popular audience as “The Origin Of Life.” It blasts through all the really hard questions in evolution, explaining both what’s known, what’s not known and what the alternative hypotheses are.

Actually that is Maynard Smith, not Smith.

And it’s Szathmáry, not Szathmary.

Here’s a great takedown of S.J. Gould, written by a firm believer in evolution:

http://www.nonzero.org/newyorker.htm

Here’s a great takedown of S.J. Gould, written by a firm believer in evolution:

http://www.nonzero.org/newyorker.htm

Here’s a great takedown of S.J. Gould, written by a firm believer in evolution:

http://www.nonzero.org/newyorker.htm

Here’s a great takedown of S.J. Gould, written by a firm believer in evolution:

http://www.nonzero.org/newyorker.htm

Wright is not a biologist, he’s a writer. To be a takedown, the subject has to be taken down. As this selection from New York Metro indicates, that is not the case:

“I read the article,” says Harvard evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin, a longtime ally of Gould’s. “I thought it was dumb.” Other evolutionists, even those who’ve been critical of Gould in the past, expressed shock at what they saw as Wright’s disingenuousness. “No one has explained evolution to the public better than Gould,” says Berkeley’s Padian. “It strikes me as really tragic that The New Yorker, of all publications, would devote that much space to character assassination.”

…Gould can take comfort in the fact that even some of Wright’s allies are wincing at the New Yorker attack and Nonzero’s wackier claims – among them the imminent emergence of a global “superbrain,” facilitated by the Internet and global media, as the next step in cultural and biological evolution.

Never understood the animosity of many biologists towards Gould (other than those he may have personally offended). The man was a great populiser of real science, on a par with Huxley and Feynman, and a better essayist than either. His popular writing was always entertaining [ok maybe not the structures of ET tome], thought-provoking and occasionally inspirational. Even when shooting a line his feet seemed pretty firmly on the ground [as with Hallicigenia in “Wonderful Life” . The book itself was a timely reminder, in the late 1990s, of the crucial role of opportunity, contingency, luck, in success. Not a welcome message for some.

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This page contains a single entry by Ed Brayton published on July 26, 2004 11:11 AM.

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