Quammen gets award

| 66 Comments

Scientific American‘s John Rennie has definitely discovered the joy – perhaps “grim pleasure” would be a better word – of blogging about evolution and the silliness of creationists. Today, he announced that the American Society of Magazine Editors just gave science journalist David Quammen and National Geographic‘s editor, William L. Allen, the 2005 National Magazine Award in Essays for the November 2004 National Geographic article that asked and answered the question, “Was Darwin Wrong?

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66 Comments

wow, what a coincidence! i just read this article 2 days ago, and have been quoting from it here on PT.

It really is a pretty well written article, and does a thorough, if not specifically in depth (not the point of the article), cross-sectional look at the influence of evolutionary theory across multiple disciplines and schools of thought.

worth a glance in case you haven’t read it yet.

glad to see it got a nod from an awards comittee.

cheers

p.s. for anyone interested who can’t get access to it, for whatever reason, I’d be happy to check on any questions anybody might have about the content. I’ll quote the relevant passages, if needed. I have already quoted the relevant statistics from the 2001 gallup poll discussed in the article here:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archi[…].html#c24470

for obvious reasons, i can’t post the whole thing anywhere.

cheers

it also does an excellent job of reviewing the evidence for evolution, from a disciplinary standpoint.

that the American Society of Magazine Editors just gave science journalist David Quammen and National Geographic’s editor, William L. Allen, the 2005 National Magazine Award in Essays for the November 2004 National Geographic article that asked and answered the question, “Was Darwin Wrong?”

I suppose this event will be chalked up to the liberal media which just loves to dump on Christians, as we all know.

http://www.everythingiknowiswrong.c[…]in_wron.html

http://www.answersingenesis.org/doc[…]7time_nw.asp

http://www.trueorigin.org/ng_ap01.asp

Really the article hand nothing more than re-hashed Darwinist arguments. There was some quote in their about how religious people are often unable to accept common descent even though “the evidence is overwhelming”. What the article did show the American public is that Darwinist are truly getting desperate with the ID movement’s growing acceptance.

I’d cancel my subscription to National Geographic if it weren’t for the scholarly merit of most their other articles.

cheers

Be sure to see Denyse O’Leary’s latest bit of silliness on Quammen?

http://cruxmag.typepad.com/sci_phi/[…]_geogra.html

“I suppose this event will be chalked up to the liberal media which just loves to dump on Christians, as we all know.

http://www.everythingiknowiswrong.c[…]in_wron.html

*sigh*

it really is like trying to break cinder blocks with a pencil, isn’t it?

I keep wondering, if the IDers got what they wanted most, would they really like the end result?

@EA:

“What the article did show the American public is that Darwinist are truly getting desperate with the ID movement’s growing acceptance”

it did NOT show that, in fact, just above your post, I provided a link to the very statistic that shows that the ID movement (as extrapolated from those who think “god created man”) has NOT gained any more acceptance than it did over 20 years ago.

those that believe that essentially “god created man” has stayed constant at arounnd 45% for more than the last 20 years.

It is YOU who are in desperation mode, not us, in trying to justify to yourself why your movement in fact has not gained more support.

the only change has been substantive, not quantitative, in that IDers currently have more political support from the right-leaning congress and administration, and i bet it’s mostly based on pure grassroots powerbase, than any agreement ideologically.

do you really think that these folks truly believe in ID? I seem to recall ‘ol GW saying he supports evolution.

really.

From Denyse O’Leary’s account of her “frustration” with the award-winning article:

But Darwin’s theory is not distinguished by its ability to come up with an explanation for these effects; it is distinguished by its insistence that all life forms, with all their complexity, arose without any design whatsoever, as an outcome purely of chance mutations, acted on by natural law.

I’ve been laughing recently watching the immortal Bill Hicks Live DVD which you really must see if you like hearing stupid people mocked mercilessly by a champion of free thinking.

One of the classic bits is where he mimics an atheist having sex and shrieking orgasmically, “Chemical chance! Chemical chance!”

sir toejam,

I support evolution as any scientist does. Let’s just not play the semantics game ok. Whether you like it or not their is a large segment of the population that accepts antimicrobial resistence via evolution, but does not accept their own existence via evolution.

The first can be observed, reproduced, and falsified. The latter can’t. Its really that simple. Few other fields of science except perhaps astronomy get away with such poor science to support their claims. Of course since time machines and faster than light space travel are unlikely to exist anytime soon we turn to “its the best we can do” mentality. Keeping macroevolution as a hypothesis with recognized uncertainty would be much more honest.

Evolution is a mechanism. We can agree on that. But Darwinists have made it into a religion.

ID proponents should ALL check out Bill Hicks.

And may the great intelligent fairy-goat designer in the sky bless his dear soul.

Dear Evolving Ape-Savior:

If I’m thinking like a typical ID fundie, then of course evolution can be falsified. If the great intelligent goat-fairy so willed it, he (dare I assign IT a gender) could make manifest a brand new species POOF before the very eyes of the great atheist hordes.

But he/she/it doesn’t will it, eh?

“I support evolution as any scientist does. Let’s just not play the semantics game ok”

?huh? can anyone else make sense of this statement?

“The first can be observed, reproduced, and falsified. The latter can’t”

correctly and realistically worded, the last statement should read:

“the first can be observed, reproduced, and further tested. the latter can as well, I just choose to ignore any studies that suggest so because i can’t understand them.”

it’s really that simple.

“One of the classic bits is where he mimics an atheist having sex and shrieking orgasmically, “Chemical chance! Chemical chance!””

ROFLMAO!

you’ve convinced me; sounds like a hoot!

correctly and realistically worded, the last statement should read:

“the first can be observed, reproduced, and further tested. the latter can as well, I just choose to ignore any studies that suggest so because i can’t understand them.”

I disagree. It should read:

“the latter can as well, but I ignore this because I don’t like it.”

it’s really that simple

no, that implies EA actually has some coherent grasp of evolutionary theory to begin with, and is able to make a choice based on personal preferences.

Has EA demonstrated a legitimate grasp of evolutionary theory in any way shape or form?

not that i have seen.

Why does anyone need to understand something to realize they don’t like it? All you have to understand is that evolutionary theory claims that people were not created by god in the image of their creator, but instead had ancestors who were very different. In most creationists, it’s this basic notion that triggers all of the rationalized rejection. You don’t need the slightest understanding of how this change may be supposed to have happened. All you need is the sure knowledge that it did not, COULD not happen.

is realization not based on understanding?

I’d say what you are describing is more based on denial.

I’d say what you are describing is more based on denial.

Yes, quite so. That’s why I disagreed with you. You seemed to be saying that EA had made an effort to understand, but had failed. I said he was simply denying. He ignores that part of evolution that leads to conclusions he refuses to credit. He doesn’t like them, therefore they are wrong. It’s that simple.

ah. i see your point actually even goes a level under mine.

hmm.

what do you think is closer to a correct description, EA?

EA,

Do you agree that it is a scientific fact that the Grand Canyon was carved by erosion?

Sir toejam,

I came here with an open mind. Honest to goodness I did. I simultaneously researched the arguments on both sides of the debate. Despite my best efforts as a well-educated and published scientist, the arguments for common descent are quite underwhelming.

In fact, the thing that impresses me most is how atheists:

If I’m thinking like a typical ID fundie, then of course evolution can be falsified. If the great intelligent goat-fairy so willed it, he (dare I assign IT a gender) could make manifest a brand new species POOF before the very eyes of the great atheist hordes.

They hide behind “evolution” as the anti-theory to explain their existence. They mock faith in a deity, as if their belief in abiogenesis and common descent by random mutations is based on hard evidence.

Others claim to believe in morality and transcendence, but give no explaination as to how this coincides with the evolution of human behavior and its logical conclusion of nihilism.

Do you agree that it is a scientific fact that the Grand Canyon was carved by erosion?

Yeah, I’ve seen the Grand Canyon. Its one of the most beautiful places in the world. Yes it is currently being carved by erosion. It is a reasonable assumption to believe it was being carved by erosion 1000’s of years ago. The rate of erosion now may not be constant for all time though. What is your point?

I came here with an open mind. Honest to goodness I did. I simultaneously researched the arguments on both sides of the debate.

Unfortunately, nobody who had done as EA claims could any longer maintain that there ARE two scientific sides to this debate. One side says life started pretty much as-is by magic (gussied up with the trappings of religious doctrine, but magic nonetheless) and the other side presents the best current explanation of all known evidence. So the claim of open-mindedness is difficult to model. If you believe in magical creation, then mere evidence will never be sufficient, permanently underwhelming. If you do not believe in magic, then we have the single best-support, most robust, most successful theory in the history of science.

The notion that the evidence for common descent has anything to do with morality, human behavior or nihilism is peculiar, to say the least. Either EA doesn’t know what his topic is, or he is changing the subject in an effort to confuse and distract. I get the impression EA is approaching evolution not as he might approach, say, chemistry, and more as he would approach his religion – as a source of meaning and direction, as a moral anchor or beacon. But evolution is not a religion, and it cannot possibly supply these needs. Faulting evolution for being a poor religion implies a truly mind boggling misunderstanding of the topic. Most emphatically not the sort of misunderstanding an open mind could possibly have fallen into.

Since EA seems to be willing to answer questions about ID, I think I’ll give him the chance to prove he’s not a troll (so far, he hasn’t looked so to me).

Please state: - Age of the Universe - Age of the Earth - Your views of the factual truth of the universal deluge - Date of the appearence of the first humans

Depending on your answers, I might ask you for further things, but at this point it’ll do if you give me short answers (they better be clear: “before yesterday” is not clear enough, for example).

Alternatively, you could tell me if you feel that the evidence supports evolution more or less than it supports ID - in which case, I’d like you to include an example of evidence which supports ID but does not support evolution.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

EA,

Was that a yes or no answer to my question about the Grand Canyon?

I like Bill Hicks’ response to the fundamentalist who insists to him that the earth is only 6,000 years old, based on adding up the ages of people in the Hebrew Bible (“Can’t argue with that F-ing research…”): “I just have a question for you. It’s a one-word question. Dinosaurs.”

Hicks then goes on to tell a little story about Jesus and his disciples walking along and discovering a “brontosaurus with a thorn in its paw” who became their friend. “I’m going to write about that in my book,” says John. “I’m not sure what I saw,” says Thomas. That’s not a word-for-word transcript, but you get the idea. The crucial fact is that another simple way for the Judeo-Christian god to have falsified evolution would have been to include a few detailed descriptions of living dinosaurs in the Book of Genesis. Well. “Falsified” might be too strong of a word, but made it appear far more plausible that humans and dinosaurs were part of the same “special creation,” at least.

Please state: - Age of the Universe - Age of the Earth - Your views of the factual truth of the universal deluge - Date of the appearence of the first humans

1. Age of the Universe. I’m not sure what you mean by Universe and to have an age we need two time points. When did time begin? Can science answer that question? No it can’t. So from a scientific standpoint the age of the universe is unknowable. 2. Age of the Earth, indirect evidence suggests 4.5 billion years. I find the evidence underwhelming. Our ability as scientists to study physical properties on a geological time scale is limited. We can only extrapolate by analogy things observed over years. 3. Universal deluge - found in the folklore every culture across the world. I would put it on par with evidence for the age of the earth. 4. First humans - Clearly there were prehistorical creatures that are now extinct. My understanding is that homo sapien fossils by carbon dating are about 80,000 years old. Other creatures such as homo erectus date about 200,000 years old. The key word being other creatures. The assumption of common descent is not proven but based on “evolution, the anti-theory of the gaps”

I’m not a young earth proponent, I’m a scientist with rigorous standards, calling my colleagues on their tendency to call an untestable hypothesis a fact without confirmatory data.

Ralph,

I answered your question. Don’t play games with me, you’ll lose.

Bill Hicks offers simultaneously the funniest and most efficient critique of Christianity ever given:

Bill Hicks Wrote:

“If I thought the Jews killed God, I’d worship the Jews.”

Don’t play games with me, you’ll lose.

Interesting statement from an arrogant weasel who would also utter phrases such:

When did time begin? Can science answer that question? No it can’t. So from a scientific standpoint the age of the universe is unknowable.

Our ability as scientists to study physical properties on a geological time scale is limited.

I would put (folklore) on par with evidence for the age of the earth.

The assumption of common descent is not proven but based on “evolution, the anti-theory of the gaps”

Wow. Superstitious stupidity with a healthy dose of falsehood, distortion, and micharacterization. You’re a gem. I hope you debate a real scientist someday.

“Despite my best efforts as a well-educated and published scientist, the arguments for common descent are quite underwhelming”

not that it matters, based on your responses to date, but exactly what does well-educated mean? what field did you specialize in?

again not that it matters, but i’ll go first:

BA Aquatic Biology University of California, Santa Barbara MA Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley

only one publication (er, in peer reviewed scientific journals, anyway) on ontogenetic color change in damselfishes. exact cite on request.

note, I don’t have a PhD, yet the evidence convinced me a long time before i even received my Masters. I studied under scientists who actually showed me speciation events in the field, and were able to actually quantify the selective agents involved, and get their articles published in scientific peer reviewed journals.

In all my time as an undergraduate or graduate student, I never met ONE student of biology who did not understand the value of evolutionary theory as a predictive theory, or as an underlying context for just about any “functional” question that could be asked in biology. Nor did i meet any who thought it insufficient to explain speciation events. I know these folks i met ran the whole gamut of religious belief as well.

what were the percentages of students where you were “well educated” that agreed with your assesment of the insufficiency of evolutionary theory?

EA,

Since you claim that you answered my question and your response was generally postitive, then I will assume that you agree that it is a scientific fact that the Grand Canyon was carved by erosion. Was this massive erosion observed?

“4.3 million years (the oldest rocks found on earth). “

er, something’s wrong with that statement, yes?

The limit on carbon dating is not hardfast, it depends on the sample size. The half-life of Carbon 14 is 5,715 years, so after 80,000 years (14 half-lives) you have only 0.00006 of the original Carbon 14.

The general rule of thumb is that a method is reliable to six half lives, or only about 35,000 years for Carbon 14. After that, the error bars get big.

Glad I don’t have to work tomorrow – what a find.

What happened to Ploink Ploink from the opening thread? Did “John” ever visit the Paypal shrine? I am still ROTFLMAO about those posts.

Keep up the great work!!!

Btw: My 1st Ph.D. advisor was one of those fundamentalist types. He kept a can of “primordial soup” in his office and was a “Promise Keeper” (Maybe it should read ex/former Promise Keeper since he knocked up a 20 y/o student and left his wife and 3 kids for her)

“What happened to Ploink Ploink from the opening thread?”

shhh! Ploink is still there… in the background… waiting…

@hedley

what the hell are you responding to? if it was my post, i was simply pointing out a typo (millions should be billions).

Comment # 25745

Sir_Toejam Wrote:

Comment #25745 Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 19, 2005 01:14 PM (e) (s) “4.3 million years (the oldest rocks found on earth). “ er, something’s wrong with that statement, yes?

WOOOOPS yes 4.3 Billion years. My bad.

D. Heddle - I don’t disagree with you but from what I’ve read the upper limit on C14 dating is 50,000 years. Not 80,000 like EA claims and the the test they used was not C14 but K-Ar dating. That is the point of my post.

Agian thanks STJ for correcting my error.

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