Darwin’s Darkest Hour

| 99 Comments

Update Tonight

That’s the title of a 2-hour NOVA program that will be shown Tuesday, October 6, on PBS. DDH is a drama presented by NOVA and National Geographic. It was written by the British screenwriter John Goldsmith and directed by John Bradshaw. It stars Henry Ian Cusick as Darwin. You may find an interview with the playwright and a wealth of other material, not least the WGBH Evolution website, linked to the website of the program. (Originally posted September 25.)

99 Comments

I am very glad that this program has been mentioned! Enough of “Expelled” type trash, Darwin was not just right about evolution, but about the potential for a misunderstanding/cariacture of his brilliant theories to take place. PBS. Two hours. Previews… http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/darwin/

I am very glad that this program has been mentioned! Enough of “Expelled” type trash, Darwin was not just right about evolution, but about the potential for a misunderstanding/caricature of his brilliant theory to take place. Hopefully this aspect will be evident in this production (and the pending movie).

Hi RBH, here’s the latest on my end of our discussion:

http://yeahokbutstill.blogspot.com/[…]ns-from.html

Am hoping to attend a public memorial service for my favorie high school teacher, memoirist Frank McCourt, but tickets are scare. If I had to miss his memorial service - and I know Frank is probably a bit peeved off that it’s being held - then seeing this would be a most worthy substitute.

It’s kinda cool that the actor they got to play Darwin plays a character named Hume on another program (LOST), both men having something to do with the refutation Paley’s structuring of the arguement for Design.

What do people here think of John Van Wyhe’s thesis that Darwin was not nearly so tormented of an evolutionist as he has come to be portrayed in films such as this one and the upcoming movie “Creation.”

To read VanWyhe’s paper go to:

http://darwin-online.org.uk/content[…]mp;pageseq=1

The Smithsonian Institute DOES NOT appear to be sponsoring this non-event, but simply renting out space to anyone who asks for it. This non-event is actually “sponsored and hosted by the American Freedom Alliance,” a right-wing anti-science, anti-government group.

But as the Dishonesty Institute is wont to do, they try to corral venues to make it look like the organization is sponsoring them when it’s not.

Be sure to click on Join the Discussion on the companion site after the show. You can bet all the fundies will be there trashing Darwin! If you miss the show, I believe it will be viewable from the web site.

Darwin’s darkest hour is yet to come…

“There must be no barriers for freedom of inquiry. There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors.” —J. Robert Oppenheimer, The Open Mind, p. 114 (1955)

“This is the story of how biology of the 20th century neglected and otherwise mishandled the study of what is arguably the most important problem in all of science: the nature of the evolutionary process. This problem has suffered the indignity of being dismissed as unimportant to a basic understanding of biology by molecular biology; it went effectively unrecognized by a microbiology still in the throes of trying to find itself; and it became the private domain of a quasi-scientific movement, who secreted it away in a morass of petty scholasticism, effectively disguising the fact that their primary concern with it was ideological, not scientific. Despite this discouraging beginning, our story will end well: the study of the microbial world at the beginning of the 21st century is liberating biology from the Procrustean bed of dogma on which it has been cast for so long, and a new understanding of evolution as a process is already beginning to form, in a manner that will eventually supersede the scientifically stultifying language-culture of the 20th century.”

Carl R. Woese, and Nigel Goldenfeld, “How the Microbial World Saved Evolution from the Scylla of Molecular Biology and the Charybdis of the Modern Synthesis” [8-page PDF], doi:10.1128/MMBR.00002-09, p14-21 v73, Microbiol. Mol. Biol. Rev., Mar 2009.

More from the paper…

“Today, we know that horizontal gene transfer is a powerful evolutionary force in the microbial world, well-documented in the phylogenetic record, and one whose ecological significance is only beginning to be fully understood.… The power of horizontal gene transfer is so great that it is a major puzzle to understand why it would be that the eukaryotic world would turn its back on such a wonderful source of genetic novelty and innovation. The exciting answer, bursting through decades of dogmatic prejudice, is that it hasn’t. There are now compelling documentations of horizontal gene transfer in eukaryotes, not only in plants, protists, and fungi, but in animals (including mammals) as well. The evolutionary implications have not yet been worked out, but we are confident that a fully worked out theory of the evolutionary process is required in order to properly meet the challenges posed initially by microbiology.” — Microbiologists/physicists Carl Woese and Nigel Goldenfeld

For those who didn’t see it tonight, please try to catch it next time PBS airs it. Very nice.

My guess is that the show will be available for viewing from the web site. And be sure to check out the discussion forum on the site– You can be sure the fundies will be flocking there!

I just finished watching it. Excellent program! If you missed it, be sure to catch it later.

I did miss it, dangit. Since I’ll be awake anyway, I’ll try to catch the re-run at 2 a.m. EST.

Charlie Wagner said:

“There must be no barriers for freedom of inquiry.” …

But that inquiry ends where the supernatural nonsense begins, doesn’t it, Charlie? I think Charlie is a fan of and is referring to the FSM, a legitimate candidate for the “Designer of the Universe” award, right Charlie?

DavidK said:

Charlie Wagner said:

“There must be no barriers for freedom of inquiry.” …

But that inquiry ends where the supernatural nonsense begins, doesn’t it, Charlie? I think Charlie is a fan of and is referring to the FSM, a legitimate candidate for the “Designer of the Universe” award, right Charlie?

There is actually a tremendous distinction between freedom of inquiry, and demanding that we treat a book of abominably mistranslated Bronze and Iron Age Jewish poetry as though it were the science/history/law textbook of the land under pain of death during the 21st Century, as well as a tremendous distinction between freedom of scientific inquiry, and demanding that scientific inquiry be stopped because we don’t yet understand in order to please God, while lying that it actually is freedom of inquiry.

PS, why is Charlie Wagner allowed to post here again? I thought he was banned forever for sockpuppeteering and trying to support his moronic, pathetic and illogical “arguments” by quoting his own sockpuppets.

In NM, they’re showing it again on Thursday night.

Whoa! Charles Darwin is Desmond from Lost!

Dave

Hey, Charlie, good to see you.

What would you recommend for an accessible first read on Woese’s work?

Bob

Hi Bob..

Read this paper first. It’s a brilliant overview of the whole problem.

“The basic understanding of evolution, considered as a process, did not advance at all under its tutelage. The presumed fundamental explanation of the evolutionary process, “natural selection,” went unchanged and unchallenged from one end of the 20th century to the other. Was this because there was nothing more to understand about the nature of the evolutionary process? Hardly! Instead, the focus was not the study of the evolutionary process so much as the care and tending of the modern synthesis. Safeguarding an old concept, protecting “truths too fragile to bear translation” is scientific anathema. (The quote here is Alfred North Whitehead’s, and it continues thus: “A science which hesitates to forget its founders is lost” [32].) What makes the treatment of evolution by biologists of the last century insufferable scientifically is not the modern synthesis per se. Rather, it is the fact that molecular biology accepted the synthesis as a complete theory unquestioningly— thereby giving the impression that evolution was essentially a solved scientific problem with its roots lying only within the molecular paradigm.”

Charlie/realpc, whoever you’re quoting is either an idiot or a liar, mindlessly spouting that tired old “the establishment accepted evolution without question as dogma” refrain, without ever specifying which questions, exactly, “the establishment” refused to address. The fact is, plenty of honest scientists have questioned evolution at every turn – and then managed to answer the questions. And all of the answers just happened to refine and reinforce what we now call “modern evolutionary theory.”

Besides, little man, you’ve explicitly admitted you accept evolution (ever since you first came here to defend Dr. Egnor, remember?); and you’ve never shown us an example of “the establishment” shielding MET from any troublesome questions or disproof.

Your “establishment” rhetoric is nothing more than a bluff to attract new-agey and pseudo-hip suckers who want to think they’re cutting-edge rebels bravely questioning establishment dogma. Every time we call your bluff, we find there’s no substance to any of it.

Charlie, could you link to some quotes where Woese and Goldenfeld talk about the vast evidence for intelligent design, and how it will soon be included in evolutionary theory? I can’t find the full paper but that sure ain’t in the abstract!

Or are we just supposed to accept that the obvious and openly-admitted fact that science and scientists aren’t always 100% correct is somehow positive evidence that goddidit?

Charlie sounds like a pseudonym for Stephen Meyer or similar IDiot.

Richard Dawkins will be in Seattle at the UW 10/8 - free lecture.

He has rightly refused to “debate” the creationist Meyer, who’s always trolling for victims on whom he can spew forth his creationist nonsense outside of the church groups he talks to.

http://www.discovery.org/a/12801

Well, yeh, PBS, says it all.

PBS’s slogan : Every issue has only one side.

Please do not feed this troll. They have already been fed on the Ardipithecus thread.

Charlie quoted some yahoo:

“The basic understanding of evolution, considered as a process, did not advance at all under its tutelage. The presumed fundamental explanation of the evolutionary process, “natural selection,” went unchanged and unchallenged from one end of the 20th century to the other.”

Right. Evolutionary biology has not advanced one bit due to Darwin or due to the sutdy of natural selection. Really? Then perhaps you can explain all of the success of population genetics models and modern molecular population genetics. Perhaps you can explain the success of all of the artificial selection experiments and the success of selective breeding in domestic varieties of dogs, livestock, horses, crops, etc. Or perhaps you can explain this:

Via (2009) Natural Selection in Action During Speciation PNAS 106:9939-9946

This is something that you claimed that there was absolutely no evidence for, remember.

Look Charlie, no one disputes that there are other processes that are important in evolution besides natural selection. However, no one really disputes the importance of natural selection in the history of life on earth. What point is it exactly that you are trying to make?

John Kwok said:

Am hoping to attend a public memorial service for my favorie high school teacher, memoirist Frank McCourt, but tickets are scare. If I had to miss his memorial service - and I know Frank is probably a bit peeved off that it’s being held - then seeing this would be a most worthy substitute.

Narcissist. Is there some reason why this is relevant?

Charlie quoted some clueless nutjob:

“Rather, it is the fact that molecular biology accepted the synthesis as a complete theory unquestioningly— thereby giving the impression that evolution was essentially a solved scientific problem with its roots lying only within the molecular paradigm.”

Really? Is that why there are no scientists working in the field anymore? Is that why there are no more papers being published in the field? Is that why there has been no revolution in the field due to the application of completely new molecualar techinques and completely new data sets, any one of which could easliy have falsified all of the previous hypootheses?

Is ther any field which the above adequately describes? Is it the field of modern evolutionary biology? Me thinks the weasel doeth protest too much.

Al said a lot of things. So what? He was a physicist and spiritual loon, with zero qualifications to criticize modern evolutionary theory. Besides, this quote of yours is from 1917.

The Dishonesty Institute has a new rant, “Did the Smithsonian Bully the California Science Center to Expel Intelligent Design Film?” - http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/1[…]f_darwi.html

Would anyone be willing to bet that they had this written days ago? I’m sure their well-oiled propaganda machine had this article composed as soon as the event was announced, hoping this “expulsion” would happen (proving that intelligent design creationism can predict something).

Matt Young said:

Intelligent design is science because it uses the scientific method to make its claims.

Actually, I think, intelligent design could be science in the same way that archaeology is science, provided that it actually used the scientific method to make its claims. When I first learned about intelligent design, I was mildly sympathetic, despite my own lack of religious belief. Unfortunately, intelligent design has not delivered the goods – has not even made a plausible case. The proper term, I think, is intelligent-design creationism, because it emphasizes the religious roots of intelligent design. Its scientific roots, if it has any, are tenuous at best.

The way I see it, the old “scientific” creationism, (YEC, OEC) could conceivably become scientific, at least in terms of attempting to support the specific hypotheses of “what happened when” they have made. But the ID scam deliberately avoids all of that in order to accommodate the big tent.

I too was willing to grant ID a bit more slack than YEC or OEC in the beginning, especially because at the time I thought ID had officially conceded Behe’s old-life-plus-common-descent position. But soon it sent my baloney detector off better than YEC or OEC ever could.

Paul Burnett said:

The Dishonesty Institute has a new rant, “Did the Smithsonian Bully the California Science Center to Expel Intelligent Design Film?” - http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/1[…]f_darwi.html

Would anyone be willing to bet that they had this written days ago? I’m sure their well-oiled propaganda machine had this article composed as soon as the event was announced, hoping this “expulsion” would happen (proving that intelligent design creationism can predict something).

Crowther, author of this referenced ID diatribe blurted out:

“This isn’t the first time a major academic or scientific institution has trampled academic freedom of scientists who are proponents of intelligent design. Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez was the victim of very shameful treatment by the faculty and board of regents at Iowa State University.

Hmm, I thought Gonzalez was given many opportunities to make his case. Shameful treatment? Hardly.

Dr. William Dembski was hounded out of Baylor University for his views on intelligent design.

No, but because of his insistance on doing things only his way?

There’s an entire film that millions (????????) of people have seen, Expelled starring Ben Stein about what happens to people who are advocates of design theory.

Millions saw this film? That’s a new one.

Even Stein was later sacked from his position at The New York Times, in part, according to him, for his having made that film.

In part, according to him of course. Rather, wasn’t it his free score advocacy ads that did him in as well as his incompetence as an “economist?”

Then again, creationists do have a way with twisting words, don’t they?

Paul Burnett said:

The Dishonesty Institute has a new rant, “Did the Smithsonian Bully the California Science Center to Expel Intelligent Design Film?” - http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/1[…]f_darwi.html

Would anyone be willing to bet that they had this written days ago? I’m sure their well-oiled propaganda machine had this article composed as soon as the event was announced, hoping this “expulsion” would happen (proving that intelligent design creationism can predict something).

Abbie’s got the goods on this one at ERV, courtesy AtBC’s Doc Bill.

Briefly, the American Freedom Alliance (on behalf of the Disco Institute, one can presume) contracts to show Cambrian creationism film at the California Science Center; the California Science Center has a strict policy requiring Center approval of “promotional materials mentioning the California Science Center”; The Discovery Institute comes out swinging with an un-approved Press Release; and the contract is cancelled, for cause.

End of story. End of Disco Whining? Not hardly. But it IS the end of the story.

Dave Thomas said: Briefly, the American Freedom Alliance (on behalf of the Disco Institute, one can presume) contracts to show Cambrian creationism film at the California Science Center; the California Science Center has a strict policy requiring Center approval of “promotional materials mentioning the California Science Center”; The Discovery Institute comes out swinging with an un-approved Press Release; and the contract is cancelled, for cause.

The Dishonesty Institute used the American Freedom Alliance as a set of tongs to remotely handle the California Science Center to give the Dishonesty Institute plausible deniability. The contract was between the American Freedom Alliance and the California Science Center; the Dishonesty Institute was not (technically) party to the contract and therefore cannot violate the contract. The American Freedom Alliance will now bleat that it has been wronged by the California Science Center because it has no control over the Dishonesty Institute’s issuance of Press Releases. Whattaya bet?

Paul– The after-show was going to be a Q&A with a troupe of DI fellows. If AFA didnt tell them the rules, thats their mistake. They should have sent a copy of the contract to everyone directly involved with the event.

And, its not as if the DI issued that comment via the EN&V blog, eg “Hey Im going to be at the California Science Center! – Meyer”. They issued an official press release that gave the impression the event was Smithsonian/CSC sponsored, exactly what CSC was trying to avoid with their policy.

And, our guess about why the event was canceled could be wrong :P

Paul Burnett said: The American Freedom Alliance will now bleat that it has been wronged by the California Science Center because it has no control over the Dishonesty Institute’s issuance of Press Releases. Whattaya bet?

It will make such noises, that is my guess. But will stop short of suing or taking any legal action. If it does, it will open itself to the discovery (ha, what a coincidence) process and CSC can legitimately go after the paper trail whether or not this AFA is just a benami(*) for DI.

========================================

benami: An Indian term for the practice of acquiring property in someone else’s name to avoid legal limits/liabilities.

It may help to be reminded of the Dover Pa, ruling on Di where a conservative Bush appointed Federal Judge called the DI people dishonest and guilt of perjury. He also ruled that DI is a religious belief and had no part of Science education. PBS has a documentary on the trial that is worth watching.

Mitchell Kent said: It may help to be reminded of the Dover Pa, ruling on Di where a conservative Bush appointed Federal Judge called the DI people dishonest and guilt of perjury.

Not exactly - Judge Jones’ ruling contained this statement about several of the sworn witnesses: “It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the (Intelligent Design) Policy.” These were dupes of the Dishonesty Institute, not “DI people” - not direct employees. They were not charged with perjury, and therefore not found guilty of perjury.

He also ruled that DI is a religious belief and had no part of Science education.

Again, no. Judge Jones ruled: “We have concluded that (intelligent design) is not [science], and moreover that (intelligent design) cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.” Intelligent design creationism is a religion-based belief system, devoid of any scientific content. Judge Jones’ ruling in no way directly addressed the Dishonesty Institute itself as a religious belief system.

Thank you for your enthusiasm and support, but please state the facts correctly.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on October 6, 2009 9:30 AM.

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