PvM posted Entry 1423 on August 30, 2005 11:12 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1419

In the August 29 issue of the Scientist, Phil Skell writes in his opinion piece “Why Do We Invoke Darwin? Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology” the following:

Phil Skell wrote:

Despite this and other daculties, the modem form of Darwin’s theory has been raised to its present high status because it’s said to be the comerstone ofmodem experimental biology. But is that correct? “While
the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky‘s dictum that ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,’ most can conduct their work quite happily without
particular reference to evolutionary ideas,”

A.S. Wilkins, editor of the journal BioEssays, wrote in 2000. “Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one.”

I decided to investigate the quote. Guess what?

The same quote was mined on ARN and Grape Ape responded

Grape Ape wrote:

You forgot to post the very next passage:

Yet, the marginality of evolutionary biology may be changing. More and more issues in biology, from diverse questions about human nature to the vulnerability of ecosystems, are increasingly seen as reflecting evolutionary events. A spate of popular books on evolution testifies to the development. If we are to fully understand these matters, however, we need to understand the processes of evolution that, ultimately, underlie them.

So I did a search on Google and found the quote mined on the Discover Institute in Skell’s article. A creationist website John Mark Ministries, Answer In Genesis Feedback and a Skeptics page about an AIF debate

Is it not time to put to rest this canard?

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Comment #45831

Posted by Dave Cerutti on August 31, 2005 2:06 AM (e)

Good Lord. Do these people have no shame?

Comment #45832

Posted by jay boilswater on August 31, 2005 2:22 AM (e)

Dave wrote:
“Do these people have no shame?”
In a word; NO!
Not science, but the politics of deception, guides them.
You should get used to it, there is more to come.

.

Comment #45846

Posted by Jim Ramsey on August 31, 2005 5:34 AM (e)

Actually, “these people” are simply using the same techniques they use when quoting from the Bible.

With a narrow enough focus, you can get biblical permission for any idiocy or horror.

Comment #45853

Posted by RF on August 31, 2005 6:46 AM (e)

So what was A.S. Wilkins thinking of when he wrote (in 2000) “… at the same time, a highly superfluous one.”?

I’m not a biologist, but surely the usefulness of evolutionary-based explanations for living phenomena has been known for decades. (Since the joining of evolutionary zoology and the new science of genetics in the 1940s, I recall hearing - pardon my ignorance if I have this wrong.) If Wilkins meant that ‘bean counting’ descriptive science could go on without reference to evolutionary explanations for observed phenomena, I suppose I understand, but don’t advances in science come about when an explanation of a phenomenon is given?

I find creationist quote mining despicable, but the onus is on scientists to be accurate and clear in what they write.

Comment #45859

Posted by Red Mann on August 31, 2005 8:09 AM (e)

Over at DI, http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?id=496 I found this interesting article:

DARWINIAN EVOLUTIONARY THEORY AND THE LIFE SCIENCES IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Roland F. Hirsch
This essay was originally published in “Uncommon Dissent” (ISI Books, 2004) edited by William Dembski.

In the Conclusions section is this gem:

Life as revealed by new technologies is more complicated than the Darwinian viewpoint anticipated. Thus evolutionary theory, which was considered to be a key foundation of biology in 1959, Adam S. Wilkins, the editor of the review journal BioEssays, put it this way in introducing an issue of his journal devoted to evolution in December 2000:
The subject of evolution occupies a special, and paradoxical, place within biology as a whole. While the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky’s dictum that “nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution,” most can conduct 19 their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas. “Evolution” would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one.55

Sound familiar?

The article itself goes on about how new techniques, new discoveries in the genome, etc can’t be handled by the current theory of evolution. I don’t know enough science to analyze this. Anyone care to take this on?

I couldn’t find any reference to Hirsh in Talk Origins search.

Comment #45860

Posted by I.D. Paley on August 31, 2005 8:24 AM (e)

Maybe I’m missing something, but doesn’t Skell in his piece address the charge of quote mining and cite the second paragraph and respond to it? Here is where I read it: http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2816&program=News&callingPage=discoMainPage

If that’s true, would not that make PvM a quote miner because he left out the fact that Skell in fact quoted the passage in its fullness and addressed its charges?

Comment #45870

Posted by Miah on August 31, 2005 9:35 AM (e)

Jim Ramsey wrote:

Actually, “these people” are simply using the same techniques they use when quoting from the Bible.

Sure does sound like it to me!

It is shameful that they actually feel good about the “work” they are doing all along while not following one of their Ten Commandments, specifically:

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Red Mann wrote:

Anyone care to take this on?

I am reading it now.

The only thing so far that I have wondered on my own is the following statement taken from that article:

: the availability of complete genome sequences for two dozen microbial species led to a surprising discovery, one that previous information had only hinted at. The genome sequences revealed that for at least two microbial domains (bacteria and archaea), much of the inheritance is in a horizontal direction.

And it also seems likely that—contrary to the assertion in the National Academy of Sciences document cited above—there was no “common ancestor cell,” but rather it is now thought more likely that there was a pool of cells that changed communally over a long period of time.

Basically they are attempting to explain the LGT phenomenon, (lateral gene transfer).

I have not done a lot of independent research on this. However, I’ve often wondered if there were more than one “bowl” of primordal soups from which life could have arouse in different areas around the world. Whereas instead of one common ancestor there could be a web or a few of them.

Seems that most of the first part of this article supports this idea.

Of course, it was edited by William Dembski, so who knows how much of it is the original work of Roland F. Hirsch. Seems that Dembski’s book of Uncommon Dissent is a collection of essays from “intillectuals” who don’t agree with Darwinism.

So far from Hirsch first few pages, it looks as if he isn’t arguing evolution per say, just has a few different ideas about it. So in my mind Dembski is saying, “Lookie Here, they don’t agree with EVERYTHING, so it must ALL be WRONG.”

Which we all know that the job of scientist is to question everything when new evidence supports a different theory. Then test are conducted to see if the new theory better explains the new information obtained.

It dosen’t disprove Darwinism or evolution, it just highlights it and solidifies it with better explainations of what actually happend.

I found a little bit of a “bio” for Hirsch here:
http://www.sc.doe.gov/sc-80/esconnect/volunteer/roland%20Hirsch.htm

As I read more and more into this, I will try to investigate and let you know what my opinion based on other data as well.

Comment #45871

Posted by PvM on August 31, 2005 9:39 AM (e)

ID Paley wrote:

If that’s true, would not that make PvM a quote miner because he left out the fact that Skell in fact quoted the passage in its fullness and addressed its charges?

You are right, I had not noticed that Skell addressed his quote later on when confronted with the rest of the quote. He argues that it ‘supports his point’ and argues that Darwinian explanations are to supple.

Remember what Skell wrote

But is that correct? “While the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky’s dictum that ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,’ most can conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas,” A.S. Wilkins, editor of the journal BioEssays, wrote in 2000.1 “Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one.”

If Skell is talking about experimental biology and Wilkins is not, then why quote him?

Thanks to ID Paley for pointing out that one needs to more carefully read that to which one responds

Comment #45873

Posted by PvM on August 31, 2005 9:53 AM (e)

In Darwin-only crowd desperately rejects any competing theory Jonathan Witt, senior fellow at Discovery Institute, writes:

To shut down debate, other tactics are needed. A favorite is to assure people that Darwinism underpins all of modern biology. Many people of good will strongly believe this, but they are mistaken,

A.S. Wilkins, a leading evolutionary biologist, concedes this point. “The subject of evolution occupies a special, and paradoxical, place within biology as a whole,” he wrote. “While the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky’s dictum that ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,’ most can conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas. Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one.”

Again the same creationist quote to show that Darwinism does not underpin all of modern biology.

Comment #45876

Posted by pvm on August 31, 2005 10:07 AM (e)

Pharyngula reported on the quote mining “…in the light of evolution.”

The renown carbene chemist, Professor emeritus Dr. Philip Skell of Pennsylvania State University, did a survey of his colleagues that were “engaged in non-historical biology research, related to their ongoing research projects” and found that the “Darwinist researchers” he interviewed in answer to the question “Would you have done the work any differently if you believed Darwin’s theory was wrong?” found that the answers “for the large number” of those persons he questioned, “differing only in the amount of hemming and hawing” was “in my work it would have made no difference,” and some added they thought it would for others (2003. p. 1). Of interest is Molecular, Cell and Development Biology majors at Yale University graduate school will no longer be required to take courses on evolution (Hartman, 2003).

And our friend Salvador uses the same quote to support his claim that

Darwinian evolution (as in the origin of all species, not adaptational evolution as seen in anti-biotic resistance) is an inessential theory to biology, and arguably an impediment. Common design is a stronger, more encompassing paradigm than common descent because common design covers the issue of convergence and similarity more adequately than common descent. Common design is a more unifying concept than common descent, independent of any reference to intelligent agencies. Darwinism is thus superflous.

Comment #45877

Posted by PvM on August 31, 2005 10:13 AM (e)

On Pharyngyla, more in depth exploration of Skell’s claims

Comment #45878

Posted by T. Russ on August 31, 2005 10:20 AM (e)

I.D. Paley is exactly right. Goodness PvM, Have you no shame?

Comment #45883

Posted by Harq al-Ada on August 31, 2005 10:50 AM (e)

I love how Skell completely ignores the mention of ecological impact in the extended quote, which, we have seen, relies heavily on understanding of evolution. Not to mention combating disease and improving and sustaining agriculture.

Comment #45884

Posted by frank schmidt on August 31, 2005 10:58 AM (e)

We have gotten this same sort of nonsense from Dave Scot in times past - can’t these guys come up with something new? Skell simply shows his ignorance of modern biology, which isn’t surprising, since he doesn’t do it. And, this being science, the argument from authority (Wilkins) counts for squat. Even if Wilkins meant it in the way Snell suggests, it is merely one opinion.

Physicists working in solid-state physics don’t acknowledge gravity explicitly in their papers, either. Does that mean they don’t think it exists? What tripe.

Comment #45885

Posted by Russell on August 31, 2005 11:01 AM (e)

T.Russ: I guess PvM was a bit hasty here, wasn’t he? Well, we all make mistakes. Best we can do is own up to them. That reminds me… what’s the disposition of your accusation that DI critics had no substance - nothing but insults and rhetoric? Specifically as regards the essays by Elsberry et al? If I recall correctly, you characterized it as “sickening”. You were going to explain yourself over at antievolution.org. How’s that coming along?

Comment #45886

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on August 31, 2005 11:13 AM (e)

Mr. Russ

I.D. Paley is exactly right. Goodness PvM, Have you no shame?

If I may suggest, your own invariable practice of abandoning a thread as soon as any question becomes inconvenient for you to answer is far more shameful behavior than PvM’s occasional mistake. You will note that when the matter was brought to his attention, he apologized for it.

Your own lapses of ethical and intellectual credibility appear to be without apology of any kind.

Amusing.

Comment #45894

Posted by sanjait on August 31, 2005 12:24 PM (e)

Regarding the “common pool” theory: It seems possible that descent occured from a common pool rather than a common cell, but mostly because our picture of that far back is a bit murky. We know that we all (as in all life) have structurally similar ribosomal RNA, F1/F0 ATPases and globins, derived at one point from common ancestor genes as they have sequence similarities that can connect any life form to any other (through intermediaries). It seems a simpler explanation to guess that a common cell had these, as now we assume that organisms don’t trade ribosomal RNA. But back then, who knows?

Regarding the use of “Darwin” (I prefer evolutionary theory) in experimental biology: In my research on molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis in Mycobacteria, I think about evolution all the time. There are nonpathogenic environmental Mycobacteria, and obligate pathogen Mycobacteria (like M. tuberculosis and M. leprae), then there are environmental Mycobacteria, such as the M. avium we study, that opportunistically attack immunocompromised patients. Why do they do that? What advantage does it provide the organism, which is successful at living in soil and water, to attack animal hosts? What can comparative genomics of different Mycobacteria tell us about the mechanisms of virulence? Evolutionary theory is at the heart of these questions, and I don’t see how the quesitons or answers would make sense without them. In that way, evolutionary theory is extremely helpful in our work.

I’m sure there are many people in biology who could do the same work without knowing about evolution. I’m also sure there are many like myself for whom it is extremely helpful (I wonder how many hits the NCBI BLAST server gets each day…). Then, there are probably others, like the aforementioned ecologists, for whom it is essential.

I can excercize my right to vote without knowing anything about history, but knowledge can only help us. In any case, it would be a logical fallacy to conclude that evolution isn’t real just because some biologists don’t use it.

Comment #45896

Posted by Moses on August 31, 2005 12:52 PM (e)

I understand the quote. My wife does biology research (convergence and extension of cells in Zebra fish embryos, etc.) and says evolution is like gas for her car. She doesn’t think about it much, but she can’t get anywhere without it…

The truth is, you can conduct biological research without thinking, day and night, about evolution. I’m sure there are many facets of biological research that evolution might not even be necessary.

Comment #45897

Posted by Andy Bradbury on August 31, 2005 12:59 PM (e)

If you want some idea why people “quote mine” evolutionists, you might care to consider the way that ALL sciences are in a more or less constant state of change - *perhaps* especially evolutionist ideas.

From a pro-evolution point of view - which usually seems to start from the assumption that evolution is a fact, and all that remains is to sort out the details - the change will tend to be viewed as a kind of self-adjusting process as scientists home in on the details. In this model, changes of course are not merely acceptable but positively expected.

OK, now look at it from the point of view of someone who DOESN’T start from that same assumption (come on - you can understand a different point of view without having to agree with it!).
How does some in that situation start to argue against the claims of evolutionism? Or more precisely, WHERE do they start?
Not surprisingly, it seems to me, they tend to look for “faults in the fabric” - what you call “quote mining.”

Now, you might well argue that the anti-evolutionists pick and choose and only take as much of a quote as suits their purpose. And let’s say you’re right.
Do you honestly think that evolutionists don’t do exactly the same thing - when it suits them? You’d better believe they do.
Back in July there was a discussion going on about the Scopes Monkey Trial. If you want to see some REALLY outrageous misrepresentation, distortion and selective editing - by otherwise reputable academics - I invite you to visit this web page for a view of how “the other half” do it:

http://www3.mistral.co.uk/bradburyac/tenness3.html

Comment #45898

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on August 31, 2005 1:34 PM (e)

Mr. Bradbury,

If you want some idea why people “quote mine” evolutionists, you might care to consider the way that ALL sciences are in a more or less constant state of change - *perhaps* especially evolutionist ideas.

The term “evolutionist” is a misnomer; and yes, scientific theories are in a constant state of improvement. That’s why it’s science, as opposed to, say, religion. Scientific theories are intended to be point-in-time best explanations to fit the facts. When the facts change, then the theories need to as well.

From a pro-evolution point of view - which usually seems to start from the assumption that evolution is a fact, and all that remains is to sort out the details - the change will tend to be viewed as a kind of self-adjusting process as scientists home in on the details. In this model, changes of course are not merely acceptable but positively expected.

That’s how all science works. And evolution - considered as a continuous change in biodiversity over time is a fact. Even the most ardent creationists agree - their dispute is over how that change occured: the ‘mechanism’, if you like.

So I’m afraid that you’re wrong - both pro and anti, both sides start with the same assumption.

OK, now look at it from the point of view of someone who DOESN’T start from that same assumption (come on - you can understand a different point of view without having to agree with it!).

Sure. I can do that. Of course, such people don’t exist, but I can imagine….

How does some in that situation start to argue against the claims of evolutionism? Or more precisely, WHERE do they start?

With the scientific literature, if they are intelligent and well-educated. With pop-science if they’re not.

Not surprisingly, it seems to me, they tend to look for “faults in the fabric” - what you call “quote mining.”

The problem with this statement is that it’s wrong: “quote-mining” is NOT finding ‘faults in the fabric’: it’s deliberately misstating a claim by removing the contextual information that clarifies the meaning. It’s dishonest. It’s unChristian.

Now, you might well argue that the anti-evolutionists pick and choose and only take as much of a quote as suits their purpose. And let’s say you’re right.

No, there are unethical fanatics on both sides of this argument. But the scientific community has built-in mechanisms to remove such people - the creationist (and most of the anti-evolution groups) positively encourage such behavior.

Do you honestly think that evolutionists don’t do exactly the same thing - when it suits them? You’d better believe they do.

As I said, unethical folks can be found everywhere. Science - through peer-review and experimental duplication generally eliminates them.

Back in July there was a discussion going on about the Scopes Monkey Trial. If you want to see some REALLY outrageous misrepresentation, distortion and selective editing - by otherwise reputable academics - I invite you to visit this web page for a view of how “the other half” do it:

I did. Nothing like senstationalist representation of error.

Comment #45901

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 31, 2005 1:46 PM (e)

Were I to be fair to Jonathan Witt, the Ph.D. in creative writing, I’d have to correct his claim to be more accurate.

In shorthand, we often say that evolution underpins all of modern biology. In a stupidly strict sense, that might not be so. It would be possible to study the shapes of leaves on trees, for example, without understanding evolution.

So to be correct, we should say: Evolution underpins the understanding of all modern biology.

Sure, it’s possible to tally the shapes of the leaves without understanding evolution. But it’s impossible to understand why all poplars have certain leaf shapes, or why all firs have needles, without a crude understanding of evolution. And it’s impossible to understand modern disease fighting, modern agriculture, modern animal husbandry, modern medicine, modern paleontology, modern botany, modern genetics, etc., etc., without understanding evolution.

Evolution doesn’t underpin the mere lab procedures (the methodological naturalism that ID advocates wish to abandon). Evolution underpins the understanding of the results of the experiments.

Comment #45906

Posted by Flint on August 31, 2005 1:56 PM (e)

RGD:

I suggest that the cross-checks built into the scientific establishment – peer review, replication of methods, construction of tests so that the default result cannot ratify the hypothesis, severe punishment within the community for demonstrable misrepresentation – are there for a good deal more than weeding out the unethical.

As I see it, nobody likes to be in error, everyone is convinced that their ideas capture some essential truth which experiments properly performed will support. The history of science is, as a subtext, also a history of how scientists have constructed methodologies and architected tests to tell them what they wished to hear. A lot of eggs broke when double-blind testing became commonplace.

Yes, science tries to weed out the cheats, but these are rare. Much more often, science is correcting not errors but insufficiently rigorous processes, to which some bias can too easily creep. Inadvertently-introduced bias favors the hypothesis under test more often than can be explained by chance.

I agree with you entirely that Creationism is *in the business* of generating dishonest misrepresentations. They don’t so much “encourage” such behavior as *require* it. I have no difficulty imagining Bradbury’s “opposing view” - that evidence must flow from preconceptions which cannot be questioned. In fact, I regard this as the default human condition. As far as human psychology is concerned, investigating *anything at all* with a willingness (and ability!) to accept whatever the results might be, is a heroic achievement attainable only by a very few, and only then very occasionally.

No doubt about it, to the limited extent anyone can reach this goal the results are just fabulous - especially when the liars are biting their ankles the whole time.

Comment #45908

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on August 31, 2005 2:02 PM (e)

Flint, I agree completely. I didn’t mean to imply that this was the sole function of the ‘process’ of modern science, simply that elimination of those addicted to falsehood was a nice side benefit.

I wasn’t nearly clear enough.

Comment #45909

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 31, 2005 2:04 PM (e)

And let me just add that Skell or any other person who thinks evolution is irrelevant would make a damnably lousy farmer, a poor forester, or a crank botanist. Would it be possible to be a modern veterinarian without some understanding of common descent? Zoologist? I doubt it.

I got to thinking about tree leaves, and the clear absurdity of Skell’s claim clunked out of my thoughts. The brilliance of Darwin’s theory is that it explained well why the leaves of Populus tremuloides and Populus carolinus share so many characteristics, and at the same time why they differ.

I wager that Skell has never seriously studied botany and is not a gardener. Those who do not observe nature carefully should be estopped from criticizing the observations of those who do. They should stop themselves before they make fools.

Comment #45910

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 31, 2005 2:06 PM (e)

In the absence of evolution theory, how does Dr. Skell explain the absence of American chesnut trees? In the absence of evolution theory, how does he explain the sudden disappearance of the Mandan tribe, the tribe which kept peace along the Missouri River until after 1805?

Comment #45911

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on August 31, 2005 2:08 PM (e)

Why PvM, thank you for mentioning me, ole Pal. How’s the former YEC turned theistic Darwinist doin’ these days? Have you considered converting back to your former way?

We have an honest quote mine at ARN: Quote Mine #1

here are some gems we collected in yonder quote mines. Glad to see a National Academy Science member like Phil Skell following a fine tradition of honest quote mining.

The neo-Darwinist population-genetics tradition is reminiscent of phrenology, I think, and is a kind of science that can expect exactly the same fate. It will look ridiculous in retrospect, because it is ridiculous. I’ve always felt that way, even as a more-than-adequate student of population genetics with a superb teacher — James F. Crow, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. At the very end of the semester, the last week was spent on discussing the actual observational and experimental studies related to the models, but none of the outcomes of the experiments matched the theory.

The Third Culture - Chapter 7
Lynn Margulis

We cannot expect to explain cellular evolution if we stay locked in the classical Darwinian mode of thinking,” Woese says. “The time has come for biology to go beyond the Doctrine of Common Descent.

Carl Woese

And to Ed Darrell who advocates that the “5 points” of Ernst Mayr be taught:

I well remember how the synthetic theory beguiled me with its unifying power when I was a graduate student in the mid-1960’s. Since then I have been watching it slowly unravel as a universal description of evolution. The molecular assault came first, followed quickly by renewed attention to unorthodox theories of speciation and by challenges at the level of macroevolution itself. I have been reluctant to admit it– since beguiling is often forever– but if Mayr’s characterization of the synthetic theory is accurate, then that theory, as a general proposition, is effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy.

Stephen Gould

Comment #45912

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on August 31, 2005 2:14 PM (e)

Salvador, doesn’t it bother you to lie for Christ? You’ve never ‘honestly’ quote-mined anything in your entire life - and that collection is classic unethical misrepresentation.

Doesn’t your conscience bother you at all?

Comment #45915

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 31, 2005 2:19 PM (e)

One can do chemistry without atomic theory, too. It stops making sense, but one can do it.

Comment #45916

Posted by steve on August 31, 2005 2:33 PM (e)

Hey Sal, you’ve complained that Darwin didn’t know any Information Theory. Can you find me a single legitimate, recognized Information Theorist praising Dembski’s work? Or do they also think he’s clueless?

Comment #45917

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 31, 2005 2:41 PM (e)

Salvador Cordova gets credit for mining the tailings of of a creationist quote mine!

Here, Sal, start your re-education with a 10-second Google search result:
http://www.evowiki.org/index.php/Gould_on_synthetic_theory_being_dead

Are you really trying to argue, as your quote mine claims, that Gould said Mayr was dead wrong about evolution?

Do you even read what you cut-and-paste? Can you diagram this sentence? (I wager you can’t, but let’s see):

Since then I have been watching it slowly unravel as a universal description of evolution.

If not, get someone to diagram it for you. Do you think the word “universal” means anything there?

Can you list for us any place in the five facts of evolution where Gould differs from Mayr?

Without hot air, I fear, IDists would suffocate.

Comment #45918

Posted by minimalist on August 31, 2005 2:45 PM (e)

Andy Bradbury wrote:

Not surprisingly, it seems to me, they tend to look for “faults in the fabric” - what you call “quote mining.”

And I suppose it’s all an honest misunderstanding when they just happen to stop quoting just before the passage in question adds some crucial context that completely contradicts the quote-miner? Just a huge coincidence, yes?

Funny how creationists believe in “chance” over “intelligent design” in those cases, eh?

Salvador T. Cordova wrote:

We have an honest quote mine at ARN:

Hahaha no you don’t.

Comment #45919

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 31, 2005 2:58 PM (e)

“Quote mining” is the practice of taking a quotation from an author and using it to the opposite intent of the author.

To that end, it would be impossible to have an “honest” quote mine, since the intent is purely larcenous.

Which makes this statment from Mr. Cordova extremely ironic:

We have an honest quote mine at ARN: Quote Mine #1

George Washington Plunkitt understood the irony when he coined the term “honest graft.”

Comment #45925

Posted by Miah on August 31, 2005 3:47 PM (e)

I finished reading that paper mentioned in Comment #45859.

Seems to me that the paper starts out as an open ended objection to the single ancestral cell, and into a possible multiple ancestral cells to explain Lateral Genetic Drift. Which I have been considering asking or researching about myself.

Midway and towards the end of the paper it talks about biological “machines” that reside within cells and references to a designer by reason of examples here on earth.

As before said in my earlier post, since it was edited by Dembski for his book, I figured there would be some “mining” there too. I did a search on google for the author of the article and obtained an email address. I then requested the original article to see if there were any dissimilar content.

I still haven’t heard back from the author.

For anybody that knows:

Would the original post where the act of “Quote mining” be considered an Inductive Fallacy : Unrepresentative Sample?

http://datanation.com/fallacies/unrep.htm

I guess it could also be considered slander and outright lying.

Comment #45928

Posted by GT(N)T on August 31, 2005 4:12 PM (e)

Salvador,

Do you think Dr. Woese is an ID/C adherent?

http://unisci.com/stories/20022/0618021.htm

Carl Woese isn’t suggesting that a naturalistic explanation for biological diversity isn’t appropriate. Rather, he’s elaborating on the mechanism for that diversity.

Comment #45938

Posted by darwinfinch on August 31, 2005 5:23 PM (e)

Why have I come to assume that anyone who expresses skepticism of the basic validity of ToE, or anyone who begins talking about God/Designer/11 is a dishonest, useless fanatic who may be dismissed after the briefest examination?

Look at the Creationists on this thread and share my disgust at their “methods.”

Salvador/TRuss/ID: you are not merely wrong, or misinformed, or even stupid (all HONEST forms of error often seen in people who wish to imitate sheep) but completely unprincipled (in your definition, evil) shits.
You and your crowd of moral cowards and intellectual balloon-men have already lost everything worth having in life, however profitable it may be for the bunko artists at the top of this food chain of false religion called “Creationism”.

Comment #45940

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 31, 2005 5:44 PM (e)

Goodness PvM, Have you no shame?

Goodness, Mr Russ, have you no scientific theory of ID?

If not, why not? If so, why are you so awfully reluctant to just SHOW IT TO US ?

Comment #45941

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 31, 2005 5:47 PM (e)

If you want some idea why people “quote mine” evolutionists, you might care to consider the way that ALL sciences are in a more or less constant state of change

You mean science changes as new evidence becomes available? (shocked gasp) My goodnes,, how unreasonable of them !!!!

Would you mind pointing to the (presumably unchanged) scientific theory of ID for me? I’d sure like to see it.

Or are IDers just lying to us (unchangingly) when they claim to have one?

Comment #45943

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 31, 2005 5:50 PM (e)

Hi Sal. Nice to see you again.

Hey Sal, last time you were here (indeed, the last ten or twelve times you were here) you neglected to answer some rather simple quesitons that I asked you. I’m sure it’s just an oversight on your part, and not just an attempt to avoid things on your part. So I’ll jsut keep asking until you answer.

*ahem*

1. What is the scientific theory of intelligent design, and how do we test it using the scientific method?

2. According to this scientific theory of intelligent design, how old is the earth, and did humans descend from apelike primates or did they not?

3. what, precisely, about “evolution” is any more “materialistic” than weather forecasting, accident investigation, or medicine?

4. do you repudiate the extremist views of the primary funder of the Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture, Howard Ahmanson, and if so, why do you keep taking his money anyway? And if you, unlike most other IDers, are not sucking at Ahmanson’s teats, I’d still like to know if you repudiate his extremist views.

Time to run away again, Sal. See ya in a couple weeks.

(waving)

Comment #45962

Posted by the pro from dover on August 31, 2005 7:10 PM (e)

proving once again that the LEN is mightier than the CORD(ova).

Comment #46007

Posted by Andy Bradbury on September 1, 2005 3:43 AM (e)

Let me start by saying that “evolutionist” and “evolutionism” seem to have different, NON-perjorative meanings in the UK as compared with the US. Since we have no battles over the teaching of evolutionism or creationism we don’t need to label people in a dismissive manner - on either side.

Rilke’s Granddaughter wrote:

“That’s how all science works. And evolution - considered as a continuous change in biodiversity over time is a fact. Even the most ardent creationists agree - their dispute is over how that change occured: the ‘mechanism’, if you like.

So I’m afraid that you’re wrong - both pro and anti, both sides start with the same assumption.”

I don’t want to get into a pissing match, especially since my intention in creating the Scopes Trial site was to present as ACCURATE a view as possible rather than the highly biased view of many other resources - both pro and con - elsewhere on the web and in the literature.

I do feel it is worth addressing this one comment, however, since it so clearly illustrates the way in which some people can believe that they have an objective view - yet have nothing of the sort.

In this case, RG *seems* to be saying that “evolution” has the same meaning for both evolutionists AND creationists.

I beg to differ.

As I understand it creationists, like evolutionists, have a range of views - but none of them accept “evolution” in the sense that evolutionists mean it. Hence the use of the terms “micro” evolution and “macro” evolution. Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough, but I have yet to find a creationist who accepts “macro” evolution as a viable concept.
Those creationists who accept “micro” evolution - as far as I can tell - seem to be fairly comfortable with the notion of genetic mutation, etc. and presumably accept that there must be some governing influence (though whether they - as individuals - choose to call it “natural selection” varies from person to person, I’d guess).
However, as I also mention on my website, recent polls (about 9-10 months ago) show that in the case of human beings, at least, a very substantial number of Americans still don’t believe that Man has “evolved” at all:

http://www3.mistral.co.uk/bradburyac/tennes13.html#wabn

As to the person who asked (I presume rhetorically) if it was just co-incidence that quote-miners are apt to stop quoting at just the point where adding more would completely change the picture, I’m afraid even someone as upstanding as Edward “Summer for the Gods” Larson is not above using that ploy:

http://www3.mistral.co.uk/bradburyac/tennes14.html#dtd

The whole point of my earlier post was simply that ALL “quote-miners” “quote-mine,” with the same intention - to create a different impression than the whole quote, in context, would give. To assume that one side in the debate is more guilty, has less inteeligence or integruty,or does it differently, or is more readily policed, is IMO, naive on a grand scale.
In most cases, it seems to me, quote-miners are actually writing for those who SHARE their point of view, and are therefore less likely to check up on them, not for their opponants. And BOTH sides spot the shortcomings on the opposition, but seldom those on their own side. Or to put it another way, we (meaning ALL of us human beings) tend to see what we expect to see.

Comment #46009

Posted by Grey Wolf on September 1, 2005 4:06 AM (e)

Andy Bradbury wrote:

Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough, but I have yet to find a creationist who accepts “macro” evolution as a viable concept.

The only ID paper ever published assumes macroevolution, since they push back any action of their designer back to before the Cambrian explosion. So yes, you didn’t look hard enough. Like, in the proper literature (or closest thing thereof, given the quality of said paper).

Of course, no two IDs have been able to agree on where the designer actually acted, or how, or what she did or even if she’s acting right now, nevermind just how much of evolution is true. Most won’t even go as far as stating what ID is about. For God’s sake, some won’t even come down on just how old Earth is! Which is why ID is nothing but empty rhetoric, since it is by their actions completely empty.

Andy Bradbury wrote:

The whole point of my earlier post was simply that ALL “quote-miners” “quote-mine,” with the same intention - to create a different impression than the whole quote, in context, would give. To assume that one side in the debate is more guilty, has less inteeligence or integruty,or does it differently, or is more readily policed, is IMO, naive on a grand scale.

I challenge you to present as many examples of evolution defenders misquoting or quote mining as there are of creationists/IDers in the talkorigins quote mining site. To state that both sides are equally guilty is not only false, but also offensive. We have been through this discussion already in the last week or so. I can confidentely claim that for each “pro-evolution” engaging in unethical behaviour to defend evolution I could show you ten anti-evolutions doing the same against it. And that’s not even counting the miriad of creationists engaging in false arguments again and again, arguments that have known to be false for years, sometimes centuries, fact known to creationists and yet still used by them.

Andy, creationists are clearly unethical liers and distorters for their own gain, and they are so sistematically and by the bulk. The anecdotal examples on the science side of the debate are nowhere near enough to even compare to the actions of the creationist/ID side.

References:
Creationist claims: http://talkorigins.org/indexcc/
Quote mining: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/project.html
Last time someone came with your idea that “both sides are equally lying”:
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/08/bill_maher_rule.html
(scroll down to jamie’s comments)

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Comment #46011

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2005 4:10 AM (e)

The whole point of my earlier post was simply that ALL “quote-miners” “quote-mine,” with the same intention - to create a different impression than the whole quote, in context, would give.

Who cares about the whole “dueling quotes” thingie anyway. All I want is some testible evidence and data.

Of which IDers seem to have a distinct lack.

Comment #46012

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 1, 2005 4:13 AM (e)

Of course, no two IDs have been able to agree on where the designer actually acted, or how, or what she did or even if she’s acting right now, nevermind just how much of evolution is true. Most won’t even go as far as stating what ID is about. For God’s sake, some won’t even come down on just how old Earth is! Which is why ID is nothing but empty rhetoric, since it is by their actions completely empty.

“Intelligent design, by itself, is empty of content”.

Comment #46019

Posted by GCT on September 1, 2005 5:50 AM (e)

Grey Wolf wrote:

The only ID paper ever published assumes macroevolution, since they push back any action of their designer back to before the Cambrian explosion.

Meyer’s paper does talk about the Cambrian explosion, but Meyer is on record as saying that man is a special creation. I believe Behe has actually come the closest to endorsing macroevolution.

Also, it should be noted that the quote mining project is not a complete list of Creationist quote mines. There are others out there that are not listed.

Comment #46031

Posted by MrDarwin on September 1, 2005 8:07 AM (e)

I’m sure somebody has already pointed this out but ID proponents should b very, very careful making claims like this because the flip side is, of course, that biologists have been doing their work for well over a century with NO reference to, invocation of, or assumptions of “intelligent design” and have managed to get an awful lot of productive research done. ID proponents have yet to demonstrate or suggest how ID assumptions would lead to better or more productive research.

So which is the more “superfluous” idea?

Comment #46033

Posted by Russell on September 1, 2005 8:17 AM (e)

I think Andy Bradbury makes a point that we would all be wise to contemplate. I would be surprised if even the most correct and noble of causes does not have some overzealous supporters. And even the most fair-minded supporters of such causes, I imagine, must continuously monitor their human nature and balance accuracy and activism.

That being said, I would not draw the nihilistic conclusion that everyone lies, all positions are equally subjective, and that the only honest thing to do would be to heave a post-modern sigh of “Whatever”.

Comment #46056

Posted by Grey Wolf on September 1, 2005 10:04 AM (e)

Russell wrote:

I would be surprised if even the most correct and noble of causes does not have some overzealous supporters. And even the most fair-minded supporters of such causes, I imagine, must continuously monitor their human nature and balance accuracy and activism.

The whole point of the scientific method, in particular peer-review, is to catch anyone that is lying to promote his position. It has worked very well so far, as you probably know.

In words of Pratchett:
Science is not about building a body of known “facts”. It is a method for asking awkward questions and subjecting them to a reality-check, thus avoiding the human tendency to believe whatever makes us feel good
-Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, Jack Cohen; Science of Disworld

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Comment #46068

Posted by Miah on September 1, 2005 10:59 AM (e)

Very nice quote from Pratchett, Grey Wolf.

I think that is a great way to say it.

To some of the other poster’s in this thread:

The premise of this topic was “Quote Mining” as done by creationist/IDer’s.

Arguing by saying, “well you do it too” is an ad hominem tu quoque attack, which has nothing to do with the truth or falsity of the propsition at hand.

There is no basis for justification by this argument, in the least bit. When it does happen, more often than not, they are caught by their own peers…as well as I’ve seen (mostly here on PT) that when it happens there is an immediate retraction, apology, or restatement as to indicate the original intent of the author.

Germain to the topic at hand, I do NOT see that with “Quote Mining” from Creationist/IDer’s.

If I am wrong, I’m sure it’ll be pointed out.

Of course this is my observation so far.

Comment #46073

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 1, 2005 11:22 AM (e)

Arguing by saying, “well you do it too” is an ad hominem tu quoque attack, which has nothing to do with the truth or falsity of the propsition at hand.

I don’t think that quite adds up here, because PvM made a specific accusation of quote mining, but the accusation was inaccurate because PvM himself didn’t consider the full context of his quote, so the “you did it too” was relevant to the truth or falsity of PvM’s charge, in this one case.

There is no basis for justification by this argument, in the least bit. When it does happen, more often than not, they are caught by their own peers…as well as I’ve seen (mostly here on PT) that when it happens there is an immediate retraction, apology, or restatement as to indicate the original intent of the author.

Germain to the topic at hand, I do NOT see that with “Quote Mining” from Creationist/IDer’s.

Ok, so if we take “quote mining” to mean not just quoting out of context, but refusing to admit it or correct it when it is pointed out, then many creationists are guilty of it whereas PvM, along with most other scientists, is not.

Comment #46093

Posted by Miah on September 1, 2005 1:09 PM (e)

ts wrote:

I don’t think that quite adds up here, because PvM made a specific accusation of quote mining, but the accusation was inaccurate because PvM himself didn’t consider the full context of his quote, so the “you did it too” was relevant to the truth or falsity of PvM’s charge, in this one case.

I am a bit confused here ts. By saying that he didn’t consider the full context, do you mean that by his accusation of “quote mining” he himself may have been “quote mining”?

Maybe I used the wrong wording there. Instead of “you did it too” it should have been (as implied by the context of this thread) “they (scientist) do it too. Would then that be how I should have stated it so that it?

Comment #46096

Posted by Miah on September 1, 2005 1:28 PM (e)

I didn’t mean to imply that I was changing the meaning of the phrase “quote mining”. I guess I should have made that clearer. I was more indicating an observation.

Comment #46101

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on September 1, 2005 4:24 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'I'

Comment #46108

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on September 1, 2005 5:16 PM (e)

Well, Andy, I think we’re still not on the same page.

In this case, RG *seems* to be saying that “evolution” has the same meaning for both evolutionists AND creationists.

If this is what you thought I meant, then I apologize for being unclear - though I did point out that ‘evolution considered as changes in biodiversity over time’ is accepted by both sides. You seem to be wanting to argue about the ‘theory’ of evolution - not the fact that it occured. And even the most ardent Biblical literalist has to accept enormous evolution (changes in biodiversity) given the number of extant and extinct theories and the biological carrying capacity of the Ark.

I beg to differ.

OK.

As I understand it creationists, like evolutionists, have a range of views - but none of them accept “evolution” in the sense that evolutionists mean it.

You would be wrong on this point. Read Behe; or even Dembski; or Meyer. As has been pointed out, few creationists can agree on anything.

Hence the use of the terms “micro” evolution and “macro” evolution. Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough, but I have yet to find a creationist who accepts “macro” evolution as a viable concept.
Those creationists who accept “micro” evolution - as far as I can tell - seem to be fairly comfortable with the notion of genetic mutation, etc. and presumably accept that there must be some governing influence (though whether they - as individuals - choose to call it “natural selection” varies from person to person, I’d guess).

You need to look harder, I’m afraid.

However, as I also mention on my website, recent polls (about 9-10 months ago) show that in the case of human beings, at least, a very substantial number of Americans still don’t believe that Man has “evolved” at all:

So what? To draw any conclusion from that fact concerning the evolution of man would be to commit an argument ad populum. And that would be a logical fallacy.

As to the person who asked (I presume rhetorically) if it was just co-incidence that quote-miners are apt to stop quoting at just the point where adding more would completely change the picture, I’m afraid even someone as upstanding as Edward “Summer for the Gods” Larson is not above using that ploy:

http://www3.mistral.co.uk/bradburyac/tennes14.ht…

The whole point of my earlier post was simply that ALL “quote-miners” “quote-mine,” with the same intention - to create a different impression than the whole quote, in context, would give.

Sure. Because that’s how quote-mining is DEFINED. It is a dishonest, unethical, and nasty habit. Witness Salvador, who seems to be incapable of recognizing that he’s doing it. I used to put it down to malice, but it is just possible that he simply can’t understand what he’s doing. The jury is out.

To assume that one side in the debate is more guilty, has less inteeligence or integruty,or does it differently, or is more readily policed, is IMO, naive on a grand scale.

Unfortunately, there is a genuine difference in number and quantity - though as I say, fanatics can occur on both sides, the process of modern science tends to weed the ‘scientific’ ones out. Creationism breeds them like nematodes.

In most cases, it seems to me, quote-miners are actually writing for those who SHARE their point of view, and are therefore less likely to check up on them, not for their opponants. And BOTH sides spot the shortcomings on the opposition, but seldom those on their own side. Or to put it another way, we (meaning ALL of us human beings) tend to see what we expect to see.

I would agree. But the issue isn’t that quote-miners somehow differ from side to side, but that one side uses quote-mining as a standard technique and the other doesn’t.

And it really is that simple.

Comment #46124

Posted by Ron Okimoto on September 1, 2005 9:21 PM (e)

The sad fact about ID quote mining is that they have to do it because they can’t quote ID supporters. They know that ID supporters are worthless to quote because like the guys that would be quoting them they have nothing backing up any of their statements.

The ID pretenders wouldn’t have to quote mine if they had done any science or if they were doing any science worth quoting themselves.

Comment #46140

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 2, 2005 12:48 AM (e)

I am a bit confused here ts. By saying that he didn’t consider the full context, do you mean that by his accusation of “quote mining” he himself may have been “quote mining”?

That’s what “I.D. Paley” said in http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/08/from_the_quote_2.html#c45860,
and PvM admitted IDP was right in http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/08/from_the_quote_2.html#c45871

Comment #46173

Posted by Miah on September 2, 2005 7:42 AM (e)

Ahhhh…I see. Ok I missed that from before.

Thanks again ts.

Comment #47049

Posted by Filmdude on September 8, 2005 1:48 PM (e)

Interesting back and forth, here, but I only see a few people addressing the actual issue raised by Skell, namely, to paraphrase, “what has Darwinian Evolution done for me lately”? Not evolution, Darwinian Evolution. To ignore this very fine and very important distinction is to ignore the heart of Skell’s argument. At the heart of that argument is the idea that for all intents and purposes the fact of evolution (things change, bubba!) has been dutifully conflated with Darwin’s theory of it. In Skell’s article we encounter “Darwin’s theory of evolution”, “Darwin’s theory”, “Darwinian evolution”, “Darwinian paradigm”, and “Darwinian explanations”.

Dobzhansky’s quote, if anything, illustrates how far this conflating of concepts has come. I would actually put the emphasis on the understanding of mechanisms. And may I be struck down right here and now if the proof in the pudding is not the actual mechanisms, which are as far removed from high level supple metabiological ponderings as quantum mechanics is from the word “physics”.

Maybe the issue is not ID vs. evolution. Maybe the issue is slavish ignorance of what WAS in Darwin’s time and what IS today, for the sake of keeping the school science classes clear of praying mantises and cuckoos who think the Earth is 7000 years old. A noble goal that this is, science cannot afford worship. That’s for religious folks. Let Darwin rest in peace already. He’s done his duty and opened the door. Why not walk through it instead of being stuck there incessantly kissing the Master’s hand.

If I see this right, and I might not, I find in Skell’s article a veiled proposition that evolution is NOT the same as Darwinian evolution, though that is how the term is commonly being used nowadays. As such, Darwinian evolution has offered little in way of precise guidance when it comes to the mechanisms, of which Darwin knew very little if anything at all, (a cursory reading of Origin reveals this, quote miners need not bother) and of the details that matter in the end.

I am no ID proponent, I don’t fear the reaper and I oppose conflating religious studies with science class. I also don’t think much of Darwin being exalted for the lone reason he was exalted back in his day: providing opposition to religious fundamentalism using the weapon of science defined as “reality”.
That’s shallow and it denigrates science, it denigrates people and it denigrates those who happen to have spiritual leanings.

Long winded and possibly irrelevant this post was, my young padawans. Nonetheless, I needed to get it off my chest. Evolution is so much bigger and better than Darwin, we are only beginning to scratch the surface. We need new paradigms, those with enough detail to matter, and enough distinctiveness to possess true explanatory power. Philosophy is nice, in philosophy class. Dawkins and Dembski welcome.

Comment #47084

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 8, 2005 7:17 PM (e)

Interesting back and forth, here, but I only see a few people addressing the actual issue raised by Skell, namely, to paraphrase, “what has Darwinian Evolution done for me lately”? Not evolution, Darwinian Evolution.

Umm, in case you didn’t notice, Darwin has been dead for well over 100 years now….

What has Newtonian physics done for you lately? What has Galen’s medicine done for you lately?

Comment #47142

Posted by Filmdude on September 9, 2005 9:08 AM (e)

Umm, in case you didn’t notice, Darwin has been dead for well over 100 years now… .

What has Newtonian physics done for you lately? What has Galen’s medicine done for you lately?

Umm, thanks for rewording my point and emphasising it. To the best of my knowledge Newtonian physics is not claimed as being the foundation of all physics. When it comes to biology however, Darwinian evolution seems to occupy a rather loftier than deserved perch. Isn’t that what Skell is complaining about in his article? Again, I may be naive but that seems to be the point. Newton is not invoked every time a new physics discovery is made, and for a good reason. “Darwinian evolution” on the other hand… and where’s the substance that would make Popper proud?

And yes, I think I mentioned a few times that Darwin was dead indeed and that we should move on. Newton… excellent analogue.
Which makes one wonder why this insistence on incessantly invoking “Darwinian processes”, when we no longer invoke “Newtonian physics”. My own speculative answer may be found in my previous post.

Proper perspective and all…

Comment #47562

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on September 12, 2005 1:28 AM (e)

Is anybody else out there fed up with the ID advocates tossing around the “Darwin-only” phrase? I’ve put up a section of a CafePress shop for T-shirts, mugs, and a bumper sticker for the “Science-Only” viewpoint.

Please feel free to drop a link to these wherever appropriate online, i.e., whenever some clown spouts the ID “Darwin-only” rhetoric and there’s a means of leaving a comment.

And, of course, if there’s some design you’d like to see me implement, let me know.

Comment #47565

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 12, 2005 1:55 AM (e)

we no longer invoke “Newtonian physics”

Shows what you know.