Clueless creationist testifies for Kansas BoE

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Interestingly for a group that says they are not promoting intelligent design or creationism, the Kansas Kangaroo Court today called Charles Thaxton, the creationist who had the bright idea to rename creationism as “intelligent design” back in 1988.

According to Red State Rabble:

During cross examination, Thaxton admitted that he does not believe that humans – homo sapiens – evolved from hominid ancestors.

According to MSNBC:

During the hearing, Irigonegaray asked Thaxton whether he accepted the theory that humans and apes had a common ancestor.

“Personally, I do not,” Thaxton said. “I’m not an expert on this. I don’t study this.”

What’s that? A chemistry professor testifying against evolution says that he is not an expert on human evolution, but defies the scientific consensus despite unfamiliarity with the evidence? Makes perfect sense to me. If listeners are supposed to disregard all of the antievolution testimony before the Kansas Kangaroo Court whenever the antievolution witnesses speak on topics outside of their professional expertise, then there wasn’t much point in these hearings.

Let’s review some of the evidence on the somewhat important question of human evolution. It is not as if it is hard to find.

One: Hominid skull sizes for the last several million years

Two: Hominid skull photos

Three: Comparison of human and ape chromosomes

Four: Embryology. Yep, that’s right Dr. Wells, the real embryos support evolution. See also here.

Five: Shared retrovirus leftovers at identical places in human and ape genomes

Six: Human babies with actual atavistic tails

Seven: Sequence similarities

If any of the “witnesses” at the Kangaroo Court actually deal with this kind of evidence, someone let us know.

2 TrackBacks

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63 Comments

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Cretionist: But you are using Haeckles ideas that were disproved. Actual photos of human and animal embryos are not relevant!! Who would think that actual photos would prove anything, because Haeckle was wrong that makes all comparative embryology wrong!

Nice post, Nick.

The internet shows that Thaxton is an apologist, not a chemist. None of this is the sort of evidence an apologist would pay attention to since it’s inconsistent with beliefs.

If listeners are supposed to disregard all of the antievolution testimony before the Kansas Kangaroo Court whenever the antievolution witnesses speak on topics outside of their professional expertise, then there wasn’t much point in these hearings.

To be fair, I think it’s a bit harsh to criticize them for talking on topics outside their expertise given that they’re responding to questions we’re asking them. (By all means show up their scientific ignorance though; this should be very entertaining)

It is interesting that a Russian TV channel has reacted to the Kansas travesty with a sound bite: “The teaching of Darwin’s evolution theory may be forbidden in the USA.”

Wells today (yesterday now, I guess) cited sequence differences between the 18s subunit of the ribosome and aberancies between it and the phylogenetic tree produced by other means. No word yet on how he thinks it is possible to construct such a tree in the first place.

My favorite Wells moment would have to be when Irigonegaray asked him if he believes in common descent. Wells answered, “Within a species? Yes.”

Just for the records, Jonathan Wells believes in geneology.

Glad we got that cleared up.

BCH

C’mon! Sheriously you guys! Can’t you see evolution is false. God himself told me. He came and sang “Dredle dredle dredle, I made you out of clay.

C’mon! Sheriously you guys! Can’t you see evolution is false. God himself told me. He came and sang “Dredle dredle dredle, I made you out of clay.”

C’mon! Sheriously you guys! Can’t you see evolution is false. God himself told me. He came and sang “Dredle dredle dredle, I made you out of clay.”

Hey, where’s the original of that poster at the top of this thread? Can I buy a copy somewhere?

Jim Foley Wrote:

To be fair, I think it’s a bit harsh to criticize them for talking on topics outside their expertise given that they’re responding to questions we’re asking them. (By all means show up their scientific ignorance though; this should be very entertaining)

Then why are the Kansas taxpayers paying for this? Why not just put the students on the stand…they’re probably just as expert as these Bozos.

As you’re probably aware, there’s a fascinating and controversial process playing out in Topeka, Kansas. A subcommittee of the state Board of Education is holding hearings on whether to add the teaching of intelligent design/creationism to the science curriculum.

As a public service, Audible.com is offering free audio downloads of the complete hearings [May 5-7, with an additional session scheduled for May 12]. Short registration is required [name & email address].

We would welcome a link to www.audible.com/kansashearings The audio from Day 1 is already up; we’ll be adding each session day by day.

Thanks!

Steve Feldberg Programming Director – Audible, Inc. www.audible.com

Come on Panda’s thumb. Is this the best you can do? Charles Thaxton is a CHEMIST, not a biologist, or paleontologist. His expertise is on the origins of first lifes- from a chemists perspective. If Richard Dawkins were to testify, and admitted in testimony that he wasn’t familiar with cosmological parameters that yield to a finely tuned universe, I seriously doubt that any of the ID theorists would be ranting ‘Dawkins doesn’t know anything about cosmology (b/c he’s a philosopher of biology) therefore the whole naturalist/evolutionist movement is a fraud!

Matzke:

… Charles Thaxton, the creationist who had the bright idea to rename creationism as “intelligent design” back in 1988.

But that link, an article by Paul Nelson, doesn’t specify who came up with the term “ID”. Thaxton is credited only as organizer of a “June 1988 conference on the origin of information content in DNA” at which an early manuscript of Darwin on Trial was circulated, and as co-author of a 1984 book, The Mystery of Life’s Origin.

Nelson mentions another conference in June 1993 organized by Philip Johnson “at the California beach town of Pajaro Dunes” representing a variety of creationist viewpoints: “Pajaro Dunes thus became a model for what has come to be known as the intelligent design movement.” (Implying the name was coined afterwards.)

There’s a pattern here - watch out for creationist conferences in June!

Jim

To be fair, I think it’s a bit harsh to criticize them for talking on topics outside their expertise given that they’re responding to questions we’re asking them.

But that’s one of the important points to be made, I think.

Thaxton admits he’s not an expert. He knows that essentially all of the world’s experts agree that apes and humans shared a common ancestor.

Asked if accepts the opinion of these experts: no.

Arguably, this sort of behavior is the heart of the case.

The reality is that there is no controversy about evolution among scientists. All we have is a bunch of loud-mouthed well-funded cranks who exploit people’s religious prejudices.

Imagine we’re in Washington in some white supremacists part of the state. A majority of white supremacists manage to get themselves elected to a public school board. They want to teach that blacks are inherently stupider than whites. So what do they do? They hold a “hearing” where they get 100 “well-credentialed” “experts” in various fields to testify that the belief that whites and blanks are insignificantly different with respect to IQ is just “dogma” among the “scientific community” but the “paradigm is shifting” and we need to “think critically” about the issues and “we shouldn’t be prejudiced” against “controversial” ideas.

There is no principaled difference between this hypothetical and what is going on in Kansas right now.

Moreoever, if these extremists were to succeed in Kansas (which they won’t) and if the Supreme Court said “no problem” (which they wont), I guarantee you that anti-gay bigotry will be taught in health and science classes in Kansas school’s shortly thereafter. Why? The correct question is : why not?

skinnyd

If Richard Dawkins were to testify, and admitted in testimony that he wasn’t familiar with cosmological parameters that yield to a finely tuned universe, I seriously doubt that any of the ID theorists would be ranting ‘Dawkins doesn’t know anything about cosmology (b/c he’s a philosopher of biology) therefore the whole naturalist/evolutionist movement is a fraud!

I am not a particular fan of Dawkins, but I think it is not controversial to point out that Charles Thaxton’s entire lifetime of thought amounts to less than a zit on the ass of Dawkin’s intellect.

Thanks, Steve, that is a very valuable service for those of us unable to be at the hearings in person.

*******

Meanwhile, Jim Foley writes,

To be fair, I think it’s a bit harsh to criticize them for talking on topics outside their expertise given that they’re responding to questions we’re asking them.

Thank you, Jim. You’re being extremely charitable there in your assessment, by the way. Totally so.

But, here in T-town, everybody knows that Pedro Irigonegaray is one smart lawyer. He’s no dummy. He ~knows~ that Dr. Thaxton, along with Drs. Walter Bradley and Roger Olsen, produced the well-received, well-written book The Mystery of Life’s Origin. Mr. Irigon ~knows~ he’s dealing with a professional PhD scientist whose expertise is chemistry, on the witness stand.

(Les, whenever you get around to reading Thaxton et al’s book at your local library, do check out the back pages. That’s the part where it says straight-up that Thaxton is a PhD chemist, unlike you and me. Let us give credit where credit is due…already.)

Anyway, Mr. Irigon is WAY too smart to ask Dr. Thaxton any questions relevant to Thaxton’s own scientific speciality and published works; way too smart to ask any questions of Thaxton regarding the life-evolved-from-nonliving-chemicals-in-primordial-soup claims that are even now taught in Kansas public school biology textbooks; way too smart to even ask any Thaxton any questions relating to the actual merits or demerits of the proposed 2005 Science Standard Modification that directly mentions and deals with origin-of-life. (You’ve read it already, haven’t you?) At any rate, Mr. Irigon knows that Dr. Thaxton, if asked such questions, would immediately offer up a professional tutorial that would, quite honestly, put Mr. Irigon’s evolutionist fanny (not to mention Nick’s and Mark’s, for that matter) to pure public shame. A hickory-smoked disaster for the First Church of Darwin, right in front of the media that Mr. Irigon wants so desperately to play to.

So, to avoid gettin’ what’s comin’ to him, what does Mr. Irigon do, smart attorney that he is? But of course, mon ami! He asks Thaxton about human evolution instead, as if Thaxton’s a paleontologist or something. So very clever, he is!

To Dr. Thaxton’s credit, he replied with complete straight-up honesty. “Personally, I do not. I’m not an expert on this. I don’t study this.”

Let me close where I began, then, with Jim’s quote.

To be fair, I think it’s a bit harsh to criticize them for talking on topics outside their expertise given that they’re responding to questions we’re asking them.

Such a charitable assessment. But at least somebody on the evo-side recognized the problem. That’s a start.

FL

Btw, I don’t yet have a transcript of everything yet. So if by chance Mr. Irigon did correctly ask Dr. Thaxton questions appropriate to Thaxton’s specialty and the relevent Sci-Standard proposal (origin of life), I will stand corrected. Just show where he did, that’s all.

But if not, then I stand by my comments. I’ll check back after work to see.

FL

At any rate, Mr. Irigon knows that Dr. Thaxton, if asked such questions, would immediately offer up a professional tutorial that would, quite honestly, put Mr. Irigon’s evolutionist fanny (not to mention Nick’s and Mark’s, for that matter) to pure public shame. A hickory-smoked disaster for the First Church of Darwin, right in front of the media that Mr. Irigon wants so desperately to play to.

Speaking of smoke, FL, what are you smoking right now?

I am not a particular fan of Dawkins, but I think it is not controversial to point out that Charles Thaxton’s entire lifetime of thought amounts to less than a zit on the ass of Dawkin’s intellect.

My only point is that there are better things to critique- such as what Thaxton did promote during the trials. This entire article is based on the fallacy of ignorance. Thaxton is ignorant of some aspects of some disciplines outside his respective field, but that doesn’t entail that his positions on them are in any way invalid. I guess that isn’t a fallacy on the Panda’s thumb board though. From what i’ve read over the past few weeks, there are many fallacies that aren’t considered fallacies here :)

skinnyd http://tuquoque.blogspot.com

GWW Wrote:

I am not a particular fan of Dawkins, but I think it is not controversial to point out that Charles Thaxton’s entire lifetime of thought amounts to less than a zit on the ass of Dawkin’s intellect.

You’re classy if you’re anything.

This new Kansas Trial may be historical. The outcome does not seem to me guaranteed, PZ may have been right a month ago - he wrote we may be losing. It has to be recognized that bringing in a Muslim was master stroke. Nick´s article is the best summary I have ever seen on evolution, could it be used in the trial?

Bringing in a Muslim from a fundamentalist Holocaust-denying organization, however, may well backfire on the Kansas creationists.

“Nick´s article is the best summary I have ever seen on evolution, could it be used in the trial?”

I agree it’s a great summary of solid empirical evidence. One issue (a vacuous one, in my opinion) that the opposing side would likely raise is that all of the evidence Nick has summarized is comparative in nature. Of course, comparative data are entirely fair game for scientific inference and are widely used in various scientific disciplines. But, that won’t stop the deniers from trying to discount it.

>So, to avoid gettin’ what’s comin’ to >him, what does Mr. Irigon do, smart >attorney that he is? But of course, mon >ami! >He asks Thaxton about human evolution >instead, as if Thaxton’s a >paleontologist or something. So very >clever, he is!

Gee, a clever lawyer not asking “relevant” questions in order to avoid the evidence. Not that a lawyer with the initials PJ would ever try to do that.

I liked, the NY times title, “Darwinism Goes on Trial”, it originally was, “Hearings on Diluting Evolution” or something like that, until the media mastermind of the DI, Rob Crowther, protested on his blog around midnight Pacific Time. Several hours later, the AP, NY Times title was renamed to:”In Kansas, Darwinism Goes on Trial Once More”. DARWIN ON TRIAL! Do I hear echoes of Phil Johnson book in the headlines? I continue to be impressed that the DI is able to get the press to finally get closer to telling the story straight.

Regarding Human Evolution, by someone who is biologist, at the hearing,

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansa[…]11575585.htm

Giuseppe Sermonti, a retired genetics professor from the University of Perugia, Italy, said evolution can lead groups to discriminate against “lesser” cultures. He called the idea that man and apes share a common ancestor “very questionable.”

Also, between species, similarity does not automatically imply common descent as demonstrated by the problem of convergence. Further, population genetics puts speed limits on evolution. Doubt of the efficacy of evolutionary mechanisms to evolve humans has been demonstrated by Walter ReMine, despite the fierce detraction of his critics. Haldane’s Dilemma was never solved by the selectionists. Neither do the neutralist approaches offer plausible solutions to Haldane’s dilemma.

Therefore the human evolution has theoretical considerations which call the theory’s plausibitily into question.

In addition we have the adequacy of the fossil record:

“The fossil record pertaining to man is still so sparsely known that those who insist on positive declarations

can do nothing more than jump from one hazardous surmise to another and hope that the next dramatic discovery

does not make them utter fools… Clearly, some people refuse to learn from this. As we have seen, there are

numerous scientists and popularizers today who have the temerity to tell us that there is ‘no doubt’ how man

originated. If only they had the evidence…”

Fix, William R. (1984) The Bone Peddlers p.150

When we consider the remote past, before the origin of the actual species Homo sapiens, we are faced with a fragmentary and disconnected fossil record. Despite the excited and optimistic claims that have been made by some paleontologists, no fossil hominid species can be established as our direct ancestor.…

Richard Lewontin (1995) Human Diversity p. 163

To be fair, I’m sure Lewontin believes, humans evolved, but he was commenting on the state of empirical evidence. Is that an accurate representation of affairs?

Further, the hiearchical pattern of sequence similarity is problematic for selectionist and neutralist theories. The hierarchies are a powerful evidence of a pre-meditated organic design which is consistent with creationist platonic essentialism. If the hierarchical pattern is evidence of common design, then common descent is superflous rather than foundational as an explanation for the positioning of humans in the molecular hierarchy. Common design is a better explanation for the hierarchy than common descent. In light of these theoretical and empirical considerations, Thaxton could be right.

Besides, Thaxton was presumambly called into testify on his field of expertise which is the origin of life. Someone disbelieving human evolution does not imply they are ignorant about their field of expertise.

Thaxton’s book was by the same publisher of eight Nobel Laureates. No one here at PandasThumb has been able to successfully refute the major premises of Thaxton’s book, The Mystery of Life’s Origin.

Thaxton is a big reason why intelligent design is marching ahead. His book in 1984, is viewed by Dembski as the beginning of intelligent design movement. It was what helped convert Dembski. Darwinists have never refuted the major points of his book.

If Nick Matzke wants to be calling Thaxton clueless, perhaps he should try refuting the major points of Thaxton book.

Salvador

I liked, the NY times title, “Darwinism Goes on Trial”, it originally was, “Hearings on Diluting Evolution” or something like that, until the media mastermind of the DI, Rob Crowther, protested on his blog around midnight Pacific Time. Several hours later, the AP, NY Times title was renamed to:”In Kansas, Darwinism Goes on Trial Once More”. DARWIN ON TRIAL!

Nothing is less attractive than a gloating fundamentalist.

Are you ready to explain to the scientific theory of “intelligent design” Salvador?

Someone disbelieving human evolution does not imply they are ignorant about their field of expertise.

No, but when someone who is sort of a half-assed twit in any field says that they don’t believe humans and apes shared a common ancestor, that does imply ignorance. Also arrogance.

Of course, we know that Cordova suffers from an inability to recognize either in a fellow extremist nitwit.

No one here at PandasThumb has been able to successfully refute the major premises of Thaxton’s book, The Mystery of Life’s Origin.

The question is so obvious I won’t bother asking.

Oooh!! Thaxton’s a scientist?!? Hmm, the Pubmed search that I did on him had his last paper (in JCB) in 1979, on freeze-fracture EM studies in myelin. And now he’s working as a visiting professor in Charles University in the Czech Republic. So, as a P Chem PhD, who has published studies on muscle fibers, this makes him at all relevant to the evolution discussion how? Not only that, not publishing for over 30 years and working on a visiting basis for a university in Prague (sorry to offend any Czech Republicans!) is not exactly an impressive scientific resume. My guess is he fudged some data a while back (we went through this in my lab - the guy who did it is now blacklisted for life) and now CAN’T work in science any more. So he publishes his little irrelevant books. Really, to be a qualified creation scientist and contribute to the public discourse on evolution, apparently all you need to have done is looked at a test tube or something.

Let’s take this hypothesis and put it through the scientific method, shall we? (If you don’t like this particular hypothesis, feel free to substitute ANY super-natural or non-materialist hypothesis that you DO like).

1. Observe some aspect of the universe.

OK, so we observe that humans and chimps share unique genetic markers, including a broken vitamin C gene and, in humans, a fused chromosome that is identical to two of the chimp chromosomes (with all the appropriate doubled centromeres and telomeres).

2. Invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what you have observed.

OK, the proposed ID hypothesis is “an intelligent designer used a common design to produce both chimps and humans, and that common design included placing the signs of a fused chromosome and a broken vitamin C gene in both products.”

3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.

Here is ID’s chance to shine. What predictions can we make from ID’s hypothesis. If an Intelligent Designer used a common design to produce both chimps and humans, then we would also expect to see . … . … . … ?

Fill in the blank.

Oh, I know, I know! Call on me!!! Let me answer for that: Here’s the hypothesis (and the obvious means of testing it): “Gawd works in mysterious ways!”

ROFLMAO. Why does Salvador even show his pathetic face around here?

Cheers,

Salvador T. Cordova Wrote:

The convergence was placed there to confound naturalistic interpretations.

In other words, Salvador, you are claiming that the designer designs to deceive?

That the designer is a liar?

I just want that clarified.  Yes or no will do.

The hearings have already borne fruit as we’ve enlightened one young mind. May the hearings lead to enlightenment of many more.

Yes, they’ve managed to confuse someone with their blithering bullshit.

Something to be really proud of I’m certain.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on May 5, 2005 9:49 PM.

Kansas Kangaroo Court Commences was the previous entry in this blog.

Setting the Record Straight at Stanford is the next entry in this blog.

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