Jonathan Wells knows nothing about development, part II


Yesterday, I pointed out that Jonathan Wells was grossly ignorant of basic ideas in evo-devo. This isn't too surprising; he's a creationist, he has an agenda to destroy evolutionary biology, and he's going to rail against evolution…same ol', same ol'. That's nothing, though. Wells and his fellows at the Discovery Institute have an even more radical goal of fighting natural, material explanations of many other phenomena, and his latest screed at the DI house organ is against natural explanations of development. Not evolution, not evo-devo, just plain basic developmental biology—apparently, he wants to imply that the development of the embryo requires the intervention of a Designer, or as he refers to that busy being in this essay, a postmaster.

Continue reading "Jonathan Wells knows nothing about development, part II" (on Pharyngula)


I suppose someone’s already said it, but how is Wells to come to know anything about the science, when he already knows that it’s wrong. He puts all of his efforts into “finding the flaws”?

He has more important things to do than learn the details of explanations that he has never seriously considered to be viable or permissible in the first place.

Glen D

Gosh. And Seattle is mostly such a nice city…

In his book “Unweaving the rainbow”, Richard Dawkins explains how the use of analogies and metaphors can be a useful tool to understand scientific ideas and concepts. He also describes why doing this can sometimes be bad and actually make something more difficult to understand and even make you understand things wrong. Dawkins himself refers to this as using either good poetry (when better understanding is reached) or bad poetry (when understanding is hindered) respectively. Reading through intelligent design (ID) material on the web, it strikes me that ID proponents are quite fond of bad poetry. Most importantly, they seem to think that analogies are actually a good descriptor of the way things really are. The analogies become, then, not mere analogies but virtually literal truth.

Wells’ use of “postmaster” in development is a good example of initially good poetry gone bad. As PZ points out: “…but then, typical for an IDist, decides that this implies a Postmaster and Slots and a Wall”.

The best example of bad poetry I have seen so far is from none other that William Dembski: William Dembski quotes an Ivan Amato who talks about mutations that are usually thought to be silent (i.e. have no phenotypic effect): “The more scientists study the genetic code, the more it reads like poetry. In a poem, every word, every line break, even every syllable can carry more than a literal meaning. So too can the molecular letters, syllables, and words of the genetic code carry more biologically relevant meanings than they appear to at first.” Amato’s poetry is “good” (heck, he even used poetry as an analogy) IMO, but of course Dembski has to take it literally. The reason is obvious: poets write poetry. Poets intelligently designed the poems. But it’s just an ANALOGY. Bill took a good piece of poetry and presented bad poetry to his readers.

Could it be that ID supporters are passionate poets but that they literally cannot escape the shackles of metaphors and analogies? (…now that’s REALLY bad poetry. I most humbly gravel at the base of your hind legs and beg for forgivness).

Very good. Thanks, PZ.

And I agree that the tendency of the IDists to take metaphors as reality is a telling point, and a fatal flaw, in their thinking.

necesito el correo de los qeu quieran conversar sobre el dilema de la crecion evolucion, soy cristiano y acepto la literalidad del genesisi ademas de ser exponente del diseño inteligente aunqeu ellos no esten del todo familiarizados con la tierra joven si soy un total defensor del creacionismo biblico.…

Mis reservas de argumentos se llenan y por eso los pido que se acerquen, a nadie le quiero quitar su titulo de doctor en cosas, solo humildemente exponerle el evangelio, por que ante todo en amor expongo la verdad de la salvación. Diso les bendiga

Uh - which side of the argument is this Angel Ricardo Diaz on?

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on January 25, 2007 9:59 AM.

PZ Myers: Wells knows nothing about development, part I was the previous entry in this blog.

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