Recently in Cambrian Explosion Category

(edited to add a point on Aegirocassis and Parapeytoia)

This week, the Discovery Institute Press put out another book called Debating Darwin’s Doubt. I took one for the team and bought it, in part because a a decent chunk of the book is responding to me. I’m pretty sure I’ve never been mentioned so much in a book!

Sadly, though, looking through it, almost all of it is material re-hashed from the DI “Evolution News and Views” blog and is no better than it was the first time. There is, however, a new chapter (I think it is new) by Casey Luskin, chapter 9, “Cladistics to the Rescue?” responding to me. If you don’t want to buy the book, there is a free podcast at ID the Future (heh), “Debating Darwin’s Doubt: Casey Luskin on Classification of Organisms” that interviews Luskin (although I think he wrote the questions). It has mostly the same material.

Unfortunately, I do not have time at the moment to write the introductory-level-tutorial-from-square-one that would be required to really explain the basics of cladistics and phylogenetics to Luskin et al. I have literally just moved to Australia to start as a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) Fellow in the Division of Ecology, Evolution, and Genetics, Research School of Biology, at The Australian National University in Canberra. Once I have a bed and a computer in my office I may be in better shape to do things more thoroughly – I have a bit of a fantasy about writing an R vignette or R package called something like BasicPhylogeneticsForCreationistsEspeciallyLuskin (I’ll take suggestions on a better name/acronym).

However, below, I can briefly hit the high points on the small bit of Luskin’s chapter that was new.

The paperback edition of Stephen Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design has just been published. It has a new chapter responding to critics of the book – Donald Prothero, Charles Marshall, and yours truly, the blogger the ID guys were dismissing for a year based on the fact that I wrote the review quickly. The largest section of the new chapter responds to me.

The response shows Meyer is finally improving on a few issues like crown/stem group thinking, but rather like a student who flunked the midterm of a phylogenetics course and decided to finally start paying attention, Meyer still makes huge, amateur mistakes. I’ll highlight a few.

Robert Asher is a Cambridge mammal paleontologist, zoologist, phylogeneticist, author of Evolution and Belief, and generally really smart guy. He has just published a commentary at HuffPo on one aspect of Stephen Meyer’s arguments, namely, Meyer’s argument about “uniformitarianism.”

A Very Darwinian Halloween

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It’s Halloween, so it’s time for a roundup of the SCARIEST October stories in the evolution versus creationism wars!

So, Stephen Meyer is allegedly going to “respond” to critics of Darwin’s Doubt this afternoon on the Medved show (Medved is a DI fellow, this particular show is being broadcast from inside the Discovery Institute). They are even inviting critics to call in – it’s your very own chance to rebut Meyer’s dozens of overlapping errors and admissions with a single question or statement, and with the Discovery Institute controlling the microphone! What a deal!

Over here in real science, we mostly try to address complex scientific topics through writing and analysis. And the critics have done quite a bit of that, although you’d never know it from reading the Discovery Institute blog, where David “spin til it hurts” Klinghoffer has pushed the rhetoric-to-truth ratio to heights not seen since the Kitzmiller days.

Klinghoffer’s constant refrain is that the critics aren’t addressing Meyer’s arguments. Well, let’s make a little list, shall we? It will be convenient as a checklist for anyone who listens to the Medved show today.

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