Reed A. Cartwright posted Entry 2546 on August 25, 2006 12:00 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2541

Jonathan Wells (2006) The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design. Regnery Publishing, Inc. Washington, DC.Amazon

Read the entire series.

Jonathan Wells is one of the most notorious activists of the political ad campaign known as “intelligent design”. He is most well known for his attacks on modern biology, specifically his 2000 book, Icons of Evolution, which was panned by the scientific community for its fraudulent presentation of modern biology.

Does Jonathan Wells, aiming once again at the popular market, restore his scientific and academic reputation with his latest book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, or is it just old trash in a new bag? To find out, you will need to read our multi-part review, which begins tomorrow.

One thing is for sure, Jonathan Wells is too modest. His recently published, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, is not only politically incorrect but incorrect in most other ways as well: scientifically, logically, historically, legally, academically, and morally.

Jonathan Wells has a Masters of Religious Education from Unification Theological Seminary, a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California: Berkeley. His scientific output is nearly non-existent, consisting of a couple co-authored papers from his days as graduate student and postdoc. However, he was highly motivated to get advanced degrees, as he wrote in an article about his education:

[Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s] words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism. When Father chose me (along with about a dozen other seminary graduates) to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle….

As a graduate student at Yale, I studied the whole of Christian theology but focused my attention on the Darwinian controversies. I wanted to get to the root of the conflict between Darwinian evolution and Christian doctrine….

When I finished my Yale Ph.D., I felt confident that I understood the theological basis of the conflict between Darwinism and theism.

But Darwinism was clearly winning the ideological battle in the universities, the public schools, and the mass media, largely because it claimed to be supported by scientific evidence. I knew enough about biology to know that this claim was quite shaky, but few scientists were willing to challenge it. Those who did were often lumped together with young-earth biblical fundamentalists and thereby discredited in the eyes of most scholars.

I eventually decided to join the fray by returning to graduate school in biology. I was convinced that embryology is the Achilles’ heel of Darwinism; one cannot understand how organisms evolve unless one understands how they develop. In 1989, I entered a second Ph.D. program, this time in biology, at the University of California at Berkeley….

(Wells J. “Darwinism: Why I Went for a Second Ph.D.”)

Did You Know?

  1. Hundreds of scientific articles are published every month on evolution.
  2. There is no scientific controversy over evolution.
  3. The scientific community considers “intelligent design” to be unscientific.

Furthermore, Jonathan Wells is a Senior Fellow with the Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, a public policy think tank located in Seattle, Washington. The Discovery Institute is the epicenter of “intelligent design” activism, which took a major blow when Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District effectively declared it religiously motivated pseudoscience, unfit for public schools. Now in this first year after Dover, the “intelligent design” activists have been busy picking up the pieces, trying to hide their defeat in Dover behind a “new” marketing campaign. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, for which the Discovery Institute is holding a party, is part of this marketing campaign, and because of all this, one might reasonably argue that, in addition to the author and the publisher, the Discovery Institute bears responsibility for the poor quality of this book.

Now, an interesting thing about The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design is that it is fat with specious criticisms of modern biology but nearly emaciated when it comes to “intelligent design”. Nowhere can one find any information on when a designing agent might have designed or how a designing agent manufactured its designs in matter and energy. In fact there is not a single, clear statement of what was and wasn’t designed. So while the title is modest in some respects, it’s also incorrect in one more: there’s no guide to “intelligent design” in The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design. Ah, well. Maybe next year. Or the year after that. Or the year after … pigs fly.

That is it for this brief introduction. Be back tomorrow for the first installment of our mutli-part review of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, “Why Should Words Have Meanings? (Chapter 1)” by Burt Humburg.

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Comment #122614

Posted by H. Humbert on August 25, 2006 2:39 AM (e)

Does Jonathan Wells, aiming once again at the popular market, restore his scientific and academic reputation with his latest book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, or is it just old trash in a new bag? To find out, you will need to read our multi-part review, which begins tomorrow.

For some reason I think I can guess, but I look forward to the review nonetheless.

Now, an interesting thing about The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design is that it is fat with specious criticisms of modern biology but nearly emaciated when it comes to “intelligent design”. Nowhere can one find any information on when a designing agent might have designed or how a designing agent manufactured its designs in matter and energy. In fact there is not a single, clear statement of what was and wasn’t designed.

How many IDers do you think will return the book once they learn this? How many IDers do you think will even notice this? Do you think even one will be struck by the paucity of positive evidence?

Of course not, since their conclusions are already assumed.

Comment #122615

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 25, 2006 2:55 AM (e)

PZ does an excellent job of analyzing just one bit of the rampant quote mining littering this trash (is that redundant?) over on pharyngula as well, so between the two tag teams, this book will be nothing more than confetti in about a week I’d guess.

what’s sad is that this trash hits the shelves right on the heels of Coulter’s.

to turn Mummert’s infamous phrase on it’s head:

“Help, we’re being attacked by the lying, ignorant, irrational part of society”

Comment #122621

Posted by Turner on August 25, 2006 4:56 AM (e)

Everyone who thinks Wells will restore his “scientific and academic reputation” stand on your head….

Comment #122631

Posted by Flint on August 25, 2006 7:39 AM (e)

Wells pretty much admits he got his biology degree so that he could claim to be a scientist, which he needed to do in order to claim there’s a scientific controversy. His efforts are directed toward those who don’t know what science is, with the appearance of appropriate authority, because that’s the majority of people, and all he needs is a large enough majority for his political goals to be reached.

To the degree those goals are reached, the number of people who know what science is shrinks, and Wells’ success rate rises.

I confidently predict that the upcoming critique of the Guide will focus on the science, and be presented to a community that knows and cares about science, and thus doubly miss the point. I predict that we will read NO assessments of how successfully the Guide persuades those who don’t know any better, and thus how well Wells succeeds in his actual purpose. This is, as the title at least *tries* to get through to us, a political book written for political purposes. Any valid critique examines the book’s political success. The science is deliberate doubletalk not meant to be scientific, but to further the political agenda.

Comment #122638

Posted by Aagcobb on August 25, 2006 8:08 AM (e)

Flint wrote:

This is, as the title at least *tries* to get through to us, a political book written for political purposes. Any valid critique examines the book’s political success. The science is deliberate doubletalk not meant to be scientific, but to further the political agenda.

But is it? Politically, ID is dead in the water; even Rick Santorum is running away from it. I’m inclined to think its a cynical attempt to wring money from the gullible, much like Coulter’s book.

Comment #122640

Posted by Flint on August 25, 2006 8:33 AM (e)

Aagcobb:

Yes, I think it is political. When has defeat (political, legal, or scientific) even slowed down creationist zeal? And indirectly but just as important, IF there is money to be made selling this book, it’s made selling the book to potential votes. Corollary: IF the book bombs in the market, politics might be turning against creationism. But I note Coulter’s book has sold very very well. Where there is widespread public acceptance or approval, the political base is there. It’s just a matter of how to organize and mobilize it.

Comment #122644

Posted by Pi Guy on August 25, 2006 8:58 AM (e)

“…fat with specious criticisms of modern biology but nearly emaciated when it comes to “intelligent design”.”

This should be no surprise since that’s all that ID is in the first place. It asserts nothing in support of its own hypothesis and pretends that, by demonstrating that evolutionary theory doesn’t explain every single observed biological phenomenon, that constitutes sound reasoning for rejecting it in its entirety and conclusive proof for ID.

While we, the rational, inquiring, not-willing-to-take-the-easy-way-out people might be able to see through the BS, I fear that many (see majority of US population) don’t, can’t, or are unwilling to even consider the problem objectively in the first place.

Comment #122645

Posted by RBH on August 25, 2006 8:59 AM (e)

Flint wrote

I confidently predict that the upcoming critique of the Guide will focus on the science, and be presented to a community that knows and cares about science, and thus doubly miss the point. I predict that we will read NO assessments of how successfully the Guide persuades those who don’t know any better, and thus how well Wells succeeds in his actual purpose. This is, as the title at least *tries* to get through to us, a political book written for political purposes. Any valid critique examines the book’s political success. The science is deliberate doubletalk not meant to be scientific, but to further the political agenda.

I invite – nay, I urge Flint to write that review and submit it for consideration as a guest post on PT and/or to the SecWeb.

RBH

Comment #122647

Posted by Wing|esS on August 25, 2006 9:08 AM (e)

“Now, an interesting thing about The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design is that it is fat with specious criticisms of modern biology but nearly emaciated when it comes to “intelligent design”. Nowhere can one find any information on when a designing agent might have designed or how a designing agent manufactured its designs in matter and energy.”

I think that it is conceivable for the design of the desiging agent to be unable to conceive of the methods and presence of the designing agent. Consider a robot. Without eyes or sensors can it detect it’s maker? To assume that all that we can see is really all there is, is, although a reasonable position, not necessarily the truth.

That is not to say we should believe in the matrix http://www.newscientistspace.com/channel/astrono… , but rather that we should be open to other possibilities if the evidence suggests it. I think that’s the point that intelligent design is trying to make, and I find it a reasonable one.

Comment #122656

Posted by Andrew Lee on August 25, 2006 9:34 AM (e)

I should be “open to concepts which are inconceivable”?

I’ll get right on it, as soon as I eat this food that is impossible to swallow, draw a five-sided square, and count to the integer that is so large that 1 cannot be added to it.

Comment #122659

Posted by Ron Bear on August 25, 2006 9:39 AM (e)

>…we should be open to other possibilities if the evidence suggests it. I think >that’s the point that intelligent design is trying to make, and I find it a >reasonable one.

That is a reasonable position and reasonable people hold it. But it is not the ID position at all. The ID position is that you should ONLY be open to their position (in spite of the evidence not supporting it) and that you should NOT be open to a position that IS supported by the evidence.

Comment #122660

Posted by Tim Tesar on August 25, 2006 9:42 AM (e)

I think it would be neat if some PTer would attend the Discovery Institute’s party for Wells’ book and report back, ideally with pictures and interviews. I think Prof. Steve Steve is most qualified for this task, but undoubtedly there are others capable of doing an adequate job. The air fare would be a little steep for me, so I can’t make it.

Comment #122661

Posted by Andrew Lee on August 25, 2006 9:52 AM (e)

It’s also somewhat curious exactly how Wing|ess draws that relatively innocuous, if somewhat wishy-washy, principle of epistemic humility from anything the IDers have ever said.

To return the subject to Wells’s PIGDID: could you please explain how you move from Wells lying about the data and what scientists say about it to the conclusion that his point is “we ought to be more open-minded”?

Comment #122665

Posted by Flint on August 25, 2006 10:06 AM (e)

RBH:

Not such an easy analysis, of course. By most measures, Coulter’s book was an immense political success - it reached bestsellerhood, it elicited commentary in broadcast and print media, it was debated (and thus publicized) intensely on the internet, in a great many venues. I don’t know if it was pimped from any pulpits, but I sure wouldn’t be surprised. I don’t know how to tell if it changed any minds, but it probably ratified the suspicions of anyone with tendencies in that direction.

Whether Wells can reach the same levels of sales and publicity is doubtful. And even these measures are indirect, showing the size of the target audience without any clear indication that it increased that size. Nonetheless, it occupies somewhat different political territory. Coulter is a rightwing editorialist, clearly pushing a political agenda. Wells is trying to push the same political agenda but far less honestly - by pretending to be an objective scientist assessing the Scientific Truth. So I expect Wells can accomplish more despite lower sales - he’s much harder for the ignoranti to dismiss. Here is a “real scientist” showing that my opinion was right all along!

I’ll be most interested to read the reviews of the book, to see if some of them accept Wells’ science at face value. But hopefully we’re all aware that even the “great books of history” are problematical in terms of influence. With well over a century of hindsight, did Uncle Tom’s Cabin influence any elections, prewar federal policies, war battles, reconstruction policies, etc? Can the decline in public morals be attributed to the automobile electric starter? Hell, we can’t even agree whether morals have declined!

Comment #122669

Posted by tacitus on August 25, 2006 10:08 AM (e)

Kennedy made a 30 minute version of Sunday’s “documentary” and broadcast it on his radio show this morning. Collins and Behe are both featured – Collins at length – at about 20 minutes in (was still in bed so wasn’t keeping close track) on the usual ID talking point about the cell containing a whole library of information which is far too complex to have evolved naturally. Ann Coulter is also featured and even quotes the word “phyla” - I wonder if she knows what it means?

The audio link is at the top of this page.

http://www.truthsthattransform.org/

Comment #122670

Posted by Chris on August 25, 2006 10:11 AM (e)

I had stopped by Barnes and noble yesterday and read the first section of chapter 1 and then started reading the second section and realized that he had set up a strawman in the very first chapter of his book not even 6 paragraphs in. He went from supporting evolution to saying however he doesn’t support Darwinism and proceeded to label what darwinism is from there on and trying to debunk it. I didn’t spend much time reading it but once I saw that I just put the book back and decided that what we really need to do is start publishing small rebuttal papers for each book or for common criticisms of TOE (like 2nd law etc) and going to libraries and book stores and placing these papers inside the books.

Comment #122671

Posted by Gary on August 25, 2006 10:14 AM (e)

“I eventually decided to join the fray by returning to graduate school in biology. I was convinced that embryology is the Achilles’ heel of Darwinism; one cannot understand how organisms evolve unless one understands how they develop.”

Umm, how did that strategy work out? EvoDevo is currently about the hottest area of biology, and the insights from development into how evolution works are nothing short of stunning.

Comment #122673

Posted by Bronze Dog on August 25, 2006 10:40 AM (e)

…fat with specious criticisms of modern biology but nearly emaciated when it comes to “intelligent design”.

Quote I came up with earlier:

Evolution is composed of countless dry, media-unfriendly scientific papers.

Intelligent Design is a Powerpoint presentation.

Comment #122679

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on August 25, 2006 11:25 AM (e)

Wing|esS wrote:

That is not to say we should believe in the matrix http://www.newscientistspace.com/channel/astrono…… , but rather that we should be open to other possibilities if the evidence suggests it. I think that’s the point that intelligent design is trying to make, and I find it a reasonable one.

No, that’s the misdirection ID tries to use. IDists claim that: let’s call DNA information and say that information can only come from intelligence aka the Disco Designer. Let’s call co-adapted parts irreducible complexity and claim that IC can only come from intelligence aka the Disco Designer.

These claims are actually dumber that claiming that planet earth is only 6000 years old, but with enough marketing they can be sold as ooooh, spooky! IDists are not interested in the facts of the matter.

Comment #122682

Posted by KP on August 25, 2006 11:44 AM (e)

Anyone in the Seattle area interested in taking Wells to task in person? He is having an open-to-the-public book release party. All you have to do to attend is contact Annelise Davis at [Enable javascript to see this email address.] or call
(206) 292-0401, ext. 153.

When: September 7, 2006 4:30-6:00 p.m.
Where: Rainier Square Atrium in Seattle 1333 Fifth Avenue
Cost: Free

Hey, if you actually had to pay money for the book, you might as well get it signed by Dr. Wells, himself.

Comment #122683

Posted by KP on August 25, 2006 11:45 AM (e)

Oops, sorry I missed the link already provided in the initial post the first time I read it.

Comment #122684

Posted by Warren on August 25, 2006 11:49 AM (e)

Oh my non-god, he’s a Moonie?

Who the hell cares what he thinks? The guy’s a frickin’ cult-headed lunatic!

Are IDers so ethically bankrupt they’ll accept support from anyone, even those who don’t buy into six days in the garden? (I guess that question’s rhetorical.)

Comment #122685

Posted by Kristine on August 25, 2006 11:52 AM (e)

Wells pretty much admits he got his biology degree so that he could claim to be a scientist

I cannot tell you how it steams me that someone who is this privileged and has the intellectual ability to pursue biology at this level would choose to snow us “little people” for his own cynical purpose.

I don’t know what I resent more, the fact that these pedigreedy hucksters make a mockery of how the rest of us must wait tables, etc., just to get through college at all (because we actually want to apply what we’ve learned), or that they would do so in order to destroy what is most precious to the world out of their obvious contempt for humanity.

It is a fact that individual members of a mass movement do not love each other, no matter how heartfelt the hugs set to sappy music in the happy-clappy megachurch, but I assure you, the general populace thinks that Wells & Co. are doing what they do out of love for them! I jest not. No, it is I who “hates people.”

Comment #122686

Posted by steve s on August 25, 2006 12:01 PM (e)

Comment #122685

Posted by Kristine on August 25, 2006 11:52 AM (e) | kill

Wells pretty much admits he got his biology degree so that he could claim to be a scientist

I cannot tell you how it steams me that someone who is this privileged and has the intellectual ability to pursue biology at this level would choose to snow us “little people” for his own cynical purpose.

Wells isn’t cynical. He believes Moon is the second jesus. or the third adam. or both. or something.

He’s a cultist retard, is what I’m trying to say.

Comment #122693

Posted by shiva on August 25, 2006 12:29 PM (e)

To assume that all that we can see is really all there is, is, although a reasonable position, not necessarily the truth.

You say there is more than what we can see (or measure, sense etc.). But what earthly use is it as Carl Sagan said, if you insist that there is a fire breathing dragon in my garage that does not give off heat, light, shock waves or anything else? This is even worse that the stupid dodge pulled off by IDiots; that the ‘information’ in DNA etc., is beyond all laws of physics and chemistry and is yet natural and ‘intelligent’ but not supernatural. Bakwas I say!

Comment #122704

Posted by Terry on August 25, 2006 1:25 PM (e)

Check out Wells table of contents page at:

http://www.tparents.org/library/unification/talk…

with articles on Unification theology interspersed with ID articles. The site tparents.org is the “True Parents” organization of the Unification Church:

Darwinism: Why I Went for a Second Ph.D. (Jonathan Wells)

Evolution by Design (Jonathan Wells)

Marriage and the Family: Fall and Restoration (Jonathan Wells)

Marriage and the Family: the Unification Blessing (Jonathan Wells)

The Case For Intelligent Design In The Classroom (Jonathan Wells - October 13, 2005)

Comment #122708

Posted by RBH on August 25, 2006 1:37 PM (e)

Warren exclaimed

Oh my non-god, he’s a Moonie?

Not merely a Moonie, but a Moonie theologian. That means, among other things, that he has somehow theologically incorporated the affirmation of Moon as the second Messiah into some sort of theological system. As the document says

To take this all in, we advise you to relax and open your mind for a while.

So your brains fall right out on the floor.

Comment #122712

Posted by DragonScholar on August 25, 2006 1:56 PM (e)

What I find amusing about Well’s membership in the Unification church is how many fundamentalist Christians who would consider the UC satanic will agree with him, without even investigating his theological background.

Comment #122732

Posted by steve s on August 25, 2006 3:21 PM (e)

Now, an interesting thing about The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design is that it is fat with specious criticisms of modern biology but nearly emaciated when it comes to “intelligent design”. Nowhere can one find any information on when a designing agent might have designed or how a designing agent manufactured its designs in matter and energy. In fact there is not a single, clear statement of what was and wasn’t designed. So while the title is modest in some respects, it’s also incorrect in one more: there’s no guide to “intelligent design” in The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design. Ah, well. Maybe next year. Or the year after that. Or the year after … pigs fly.

From Judge Jones’s opinion:

ID proponents primarily argue for design through negative arguments
against evolution, as illustrated by Professor Behe’s argument that “irreducibly
complex” systems cannot be produced through Darwinian, or any natural, mechanisms. (5:38-41 (Pennock); 1:39, 2:15, 2:35-37, 3:96 (Miller); 16:72-73
(Padian); 10:148 (Forrest)). However, we believe that arguments against evolution
are not arguments for design. Expert testimony revealed that just because
scientists cannot explain today how biological systems evolved does not mean that
they cannot, and will not, be able to explain them tomorrow. (2:36-37 (Miller)).
As Dr. Padian aptly noted, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”
(17:45 (Padian)). To that end, expert testimony from Drs. Miller and Padian
provided multiple examples where Pandas asserted that no natural explanations
exist, and in some cases that none could exist, and yet natural explanations have
been identified in the intervening years. It also bears mentioning that as Dr. Miller
stated, just because scientists cannot explain every evolutionary detail does not
undermine its validity as a scientific theory as no theory in science is fully
understood. (3:102 (Miller)).

Comment #122744

Posted by Rob-ot on August 25, 2006 4:13 PM (e)

Well, he is right that a fossil record consistent with evolution doesn’t mean it happened. DNA evidence consistent with commen descent doesn’t necessarly mean it happened. Then again, is he retarded?

What annoyed me most were the lies saying slavery was justified by evolution (civil war in 1865, Origin in 1859, something else must’ve been justifying it first) Or that only Darwinism(I still use the term, I’m reclaiming it from creationists, oops, Intelligent design theorists. I so meant ID theorists, not creationists)inspired people to think that human races were of indepedendent origin (evolution from separate prehuman hominids for us, separate creations for them) He never mentions the separate creations idea. Wonder why.

Comment #122753

Posted by Keanus on August 25, 2006 4:30 PM (e)

Not to be cynical but this work of Wells, incorrect or otherwise, is written for the choir. Any propect that the choir members will visit PT and read its (that is (The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design) coming lengthy deconstruction is nil. The real danger lies in the innocent, that is folks with no knowledge of evolution other than the word, stumbling on his book in a book store and buying on the expectation of enlightenment. When on-line stores like Amazon describe it thusly:

In clear, non-technical language, Wells explains who is fighting whom, the root of the conflict, and the evidence for and against Darwinism and Intelligent Design. He also explains what is ultimately at stake for liberals and conservatives, Christians and non-Christians, educators, policymakers, and scientists.

how is the ignorant layman to know differently.

Yes, I know only too well how it takes an army to undue the damage of one misinformed zealot, but we should come up with a better vehicle. How many have ever seen an honest book written in layman’s terms at an eighth grade reading level (think Reader’s Digest) on evolution and its relationship to God and religion. Probably never. I know I’ve never seen one (Ken Miller’s book is too intellectual), although the National Geographic cover article a couple of years ago came close. Any suggestions?

Comment #122762

Posted by Coin on August 25, 2006 5:00 PM (e)

Keanus wrote:

How many have ever seen an honest book written in layman’s terms at an eighth grade reading level (think Reader’s Digest) on evolution and its relationship to God and religion.

I’d be a little surprised if at least one candidate didn’t exist already. People are writing pop science books all the time. Here’s the thing, though– pop science is not a big thing right this instant. Even if there were a A Brief History of Time of biology, how would we get people to read it?

People read books like Godless, or Wells’ periodic regurgitations, because there’s something that excites them in there. They’re excited about the opportunity to serve Jesus, or hate Liberals, or both. These are good “hooks”. It’s easy to get people excited about these things, and it’s easy to keep people excited when reading a book that makes them feel like it will make them better at doing those things.

But it seems to be awfully hard these days, maybe impossible, to get people excited about learning the truth about things. Let’s say “we” (i.e., the community of people who care about this sort of thing already) could draft somebody to write a readable, pop-science treatment of the basic facts of biological evolution, maybe with coverage of religious links like you describe. Once this book existed, how would we “sell” it to people? How would we get them to care enough to actually internalize the book’s contents? (I mentioned A Brief History of Time because that’s the best recent example I could think of of a science book getting big popular success, but maybe even that’s a bad example because I’m not sure how many of them actually read all the way to the end.)

Maybe Al Gore needs to make another movie? :P

Comment #122763

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 25, 2006 5:03 PM (e)

That is not to say we should believe in the matrix http://www.newscientistspace.com/channel/astrono…… , but rather that we should be open to other possibilities if the evidence suggests it. I think that’s the point that intelligent design is trying to make, and I find it a reasonable one.

Heck, I’m more than willing to look at any scientific evidence ID can present.

Let me know when they have any, wouldja?

Comment #122777

Posted by Kristine on August 25, 2006 5:31 PM (e)

He’s a cultist retard, is what I’m trying to say.

All right Steve S, I’ll cut Wells some slack for being an honest Moonie dingbat.

But I have to wonder where the moolah rolls in from for these characters to get three Ph.Ds. (Any sugar evo-daddies out there want to help me finance my paltry education?)

And he’s a cultist retard that just wrote an accessible book that I think is simply unconscionable, and that I’m afraid lots of people are going to read, and believe, and be damaged by.

And money isn’t any motivation for him?

Comment #122788

Posted by Dave Carlson on August 25, 2006 5:46 PM (e)

Anybody else notice that Casey Luskin’s review–hilariously titled “Is this Heaven? No, this is Science!”–over at Amazon? Here it is:

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design was a fun, quick read. I should state upfront that I work at the Discovery Institute, where the author Jonathan Wells is a Senior Fellow. I’m not getting paid extra to write this review–in fact it’s late, I’m hungry, and I want to leave the office and go home as I write this. Nonetheless, I feel it’s only fair for the sake of disclosure and honesty that I say who I am as a reviewer.

Jonathan Wells will get called a lot of names for writing this book. In fact, look at the other reviews—namecalling and personal attacks have already begun! But as Wells recounts in chapters 7, 9, 10, 11, 13 and 16, a number of pro-intelligent design faculty have been similarly persecuted because they were sympathetic to intelligent design (ID). So if you’re a curious […]browser wondering why critical reviewers engage in so much personal attack and namecalling against Jonathan Wells, you’ll understand these tactics completely after you read the documentation in Well’s book.

Wells starts off by defining the debate: the debate isn’t about whether evolution (i.e. change through time) has occurred, and it doesn’t center around the age of the earth. The debate about design in biology is over whether undirected natural selection acting upon random mutations has produced all of the complexity of life, or whether some aspects of life are best explained by intelligent causation.

So what is intelligent design? Wells explains that it isn’t an argument from ignorance, it isn’t an argument for God, it isn’t an argument for perfection, and it isn’t an argument against all forms of evolution. But it is an argument that some aspects of the universe are best explained by an intelligent cause. […]

Let’s also talk about honesty. Wells has a good discussion of the Cambrian explosion. Wells explains he believes this fossil evidence challenges Neo-Darwinism, while honestly and openly acknowledging that prominent paleontologists like James Valentine believe Neo-Darwinian theory can withstand the fossil evidence. Wells also concedes that claims from an old pro-ID textbook “Of Pandas and People” were overturned when scientists later discovered fossils cited to support the evolution of whales. Would a dishonest Darwin-critic make these concessions?

Wells does find some Darwinists making questionable claims. For example, the book recounts a fascinating incident about the documentary film Flock of Dodos. The film insinuates that Dr. Wells lied to claim that the fraudulent embryo drawings by the 19th century embryologist Ernst Haeckel still appear in modern biology textbooks. Wells writes that the film “claims Haeckel’s embryos haven’t appeared in biology textbooks since 1914.” (pg. 28) Yet Wells also writes, “Yet [the film’s producer, Randy] Olson knows that many recent textbooks do contain Haeckel’s faked drawings.” This is true, because many modern biology textbooks do contain Haeckel’s embryo drawings.

Wells also exposes some false scientific claims by Darwinists. For example, the author of one of the textbooks I showed to Randy Olson also wrote “Molecular phylogenies support many of the relationships that have long been postulated from morphological data.” Wells then recounts much data which shows otherwise, letting evolutionists speak for themselves about the contradictory data. A similar incident occurred when Darwinist scientist Gary Hurd told the Kansas State Board of Education that the terms “macroevolution” and “microevolution” “have no meaning outside of creationist polemics.” (pg. 56) What’s that again? Wells quotes numerous pro-Darwinian biologists discussing the meanings, and distinctions, between “microevolution” and “macroevolution.” Hardly “creationist polemics.”

Finally Wells turns to intelligent design. Wells explains that ID is based upon positive evidence, because “[w]e observe in the present that intelligent agents can and do generate new information.” (pg. 98) The inference to design is not an argument-from-ignorance, but an argument based upon our positive understanding of the information created when intelligent agents act. But is it science? Wells explains Darwinists criticisms “collaps[e] into a contradiction: ID isn’t science because it isn’t testable, and, besides, it has been tested and proven false.” (pg. 140)

But Wells also reports the sad truth that some of these misrepresentations have had an impact upon law and education. One federal court judge in Georgia ruled that a disclaimer encouraging students to question evolution was unconstitutional due to the alleged religious motives of Darwin-critics. Yet Wells notes that a Darwinist educator in Ohio claimed that God guided her to remove “creationism” from the Ohio science standards!

If you’re looking for a highly technical book, this isn’t it. The “PIG” series is notoriously easy-to-read, and mainstream and so I have to admit that as someone with a science background, I would have loved more detail. If you’re anyone seeking a book full of fascinating anecdotes and straight-talk about the debate over Darwinism and intelligent design, written by a credentialed biologist with enjoyable writing skills, this truly is the book for you.

Comment #122804

Posted by normdoering on August 25, 2006 6:08 PM (e)

steve s wrote:
“He’s a cultist retard, is what I’m trying to say.”

But aren’t most fundies also cultist retards too?

How many have gone to Naz–, I mean Hitler–, no I mean Christian Youth Camps?
http://movies.aol.com/movie/jesus-camp/27214/syn…

Like Pastor Becky Fischer’s “Kids on Fire” summer camp where kids as young as 6 years-old are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in “God’s army.” A camp where they hone their “prophetic gifts” and are schooled in how to “take back America for Christ.” Where recruited born-again Christian children are trained to become part of America’s political future.

Comment #122815

Posted by Greg du Pille on August 25, 2006 7:32 PM (e)

I was just wondering whether you also plan to post your review up on Amazon, in part because so few IDers will bother to read it here and also in part to counter reviews on Amazon by someone who calls himself “The Professor” (who he?), who seems to give 5 star reviews to virtually ever ID book there is ?

Comment #122821

Posted by Laser on August 25, 2006 7:53 PM (e)

Regarding Luskin’s slobbering review at Amazon, can’t people indicate that they didn’t find the review useful? Surely there are enough people here who could honestly say that and push his review into obscurity?

Comment #122825

Posted by steve s on August 25, 2006 8:12 PM (e)

The creationist reviews there, including Luskin’s, have been graded ‘not helpful’ by the majority of graders.

Comment #122857

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 25, 2006 9:30 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'i'

Comment #122860

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 25, 2006 9:33 PM (e)

If you’re anyone seeking a book full of fascinating anecdotes and straight-talk about the debate over Darwinism and intelligent design…

straight-talk?

bwahahahahah!

how could Lusikin keep a “straight face” and write that sentence?

lyin’ fer god, lawyer style.

Comment #122864

Posted by Rob-ot on August 25, 2006 9:57 PM (e)

It would be great if you collected links to specialists criticizing each chapter, if you haven’t already. I’m pretty lazy, so I didn’t look

Comment #122865

Posted by Rabbit on August 25, 2006 9:58 PM (e)

Slightly OT, but Book TV (on CSPAN2) on Saturday, August 26 at 7:00 pm will present John West and Casey Luskin discussing “Traipsing Into Evolution: Intelligent Design and the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Decision”. The venue will be the Discovery Institutes home turf, so the audience should be the choir.

Comment #122868

Posted by steve s on August 25, 2006 10:16 PM (e)

Here’s a nice review of Traipsing Into Evolution, by a lawyer:

http://brightline.typepad.com/law_evolution_scie…

So say it, so be it. The Discovery Institute has published its whine after the Dover bad beat. Entitled “Traipsing Into Evolution,” it appeals to the court of public opinion. Appeal denied. This is a wretched book.

Comment #122879

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 25, 2006 10:27 PM (e)

It would be great if you collected links to specialists criticizing each chapter, if you haven’t already. I’m pretty lazy, so I didn’t look

start here:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/08/the_p…

and stop being lazy.

Comment #122896

Posted by Robert O'Brien on August 26, 2006 1:00 AM (e)

shiva wrote:

You say there is more than what we can see (or measure, sense etc.). But what earthly use is it…

A concept does not have to have an “earthly use” for it to be true (e.g., certain abstract mathematics).

Comment #122897

Posted by Robert O'Brien on August 26, 2006 1:04 AM (e)

doering wrote:

But aren’t most fundies also cultist retards too?

No. By the way, were you one of the two clowns who once told me that what I posted to PT could adversely affect my academic career? (If so, you were in error.)

Comment #122902

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 26, 2006 1:06 AM (e)

robert.. just… go.

Comment #122988

Posted by RBH on August 26, 2006 12:23 PM (e)

Kristine wondered

But I have to wonder where the moolah rolls in from for these characters to get three Ph.Ds.

My understanding is that the Unification Church sent Wells to grad school, and presumably paid for it.

Rob-ot remarked

It would be great if you collected links to specialists criticizing each chapter, if you haven’t already. I’m pretty lazy, so I didn’t look

We plan to do that with the publication of the reviews of individual chapters by PT contributors over the coming days.

Comment #123018

Posted by Kristie on August 26, 2006 3:16 PM (e)

I’m surprised that no one has mentioned (or perhaps I’ve not yet read far enough) about the endorsement on the cover: The endorsement is by none other than our beloved Ann Coulter, who exclaims in print nearly as large as the title “Annoy a godless liberal, buy this book!” This, for me, set the entire tone and intention of the book, and for most educated individuals, would be a dead giveaway that it was not science. If it were science, some scientist would be willing to put their endorsement on the cover.

Comment #123231

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on August 27, 2006 7:11 AM (e)

Links to chapter reviews will appear here as the reviews are posted. The links will have the format

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/08/the_…
== http etc…/the_politically_n.html

for the nth chapter.

Comment #123490

Posted by Gene Goldring on August 27, 2006 10:14 PM (e)

Keep up the good work folks. I’m enjoying this turkey shoot.

Funny thing is when I read,

Furthermore, Jonathan Wells is a Senior Fellow with the Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, a public policy think tank located in Seattle, Washington.

just after the first quote in the article, I’d swear I read

Furthermore, Jonathan Wells is a Senior Fellow with the Discovery Institute’s Center for the Removal of Science and Culture, …

Comment #123541

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 28, 2006 3:45 AM (e)

I think that it is conceivable for the design of the desiging agent to be unable to conceive of the methods and presence of the designing agent.

The Lord works in mysterious ways (perhaps).

Comment #123627

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on August 28, 2006 9:53 AM (e)

Coin wrote:

Keanus wrote:

How many have ever seen an honest book written in layman’s terms at an eighth grade reading level (think Reader’s Digest) on evolution and its relationship to God and religion.

I’d be a little surprised if at least one candidate didn’t exist already. People are writing pop science books all the time. Here’s the thing, though– pop science is not a big thing right this instant. Even if there were a A Brief History of Time of biology, how would we get people to read it?

What I’ve been saying for a while is that if we want to make an impact on people we need to sneak it in, and I think the best avenue for that is through fiction. Very few people are going to pick up a pop science book and read it no matter how good it is, but an adventure story with scientific morals stuck in it could do wonders.

Comment #123641

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 28, 2006 10:40 AM (e)

Very few people are going to pick up a pop science book and read it no matter how good it is, but an adventure story with scientific morals stuck in it could do wonders.

Stargate’s the closest thing right now.

Very few people nowadays don’t even pick up a book, sci-fi or not, to read.

Very early on, they are taught, either by peer pressure and parental ignorance (especially amongst fundi parents), that “school sucks” and only the Bible is true (respectively).

The percentage of people willing to go to university is already quite low. Even lower is the percentage of people who finish undergraduate university education. And many of those would still be taken in with crappy television (good television does exist, SG for example).

If what you say is true, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would be a hit not just among nerds and geeks.

Just like that old saying: it begins with the children.

Comment #123671

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on August 28, 2006 12:39 PM (e)

Bad news, AC. The cancellation of Stargate was announced this morning.

I agree that books are, sadly, going to be ineffective, or at least less effective, than a TV program would be. I left some comments on skeptical television on a thread around here somewhere. I think something done in the CSI mode could be a hugely successful venture.

Comment #123674

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 28, 2006 12:54 PM (e)

Bad news, AC. The cancellation of Stargate was announced this morning.

I think it was on slashdot a few days ago. According to slashdot articles, Stargate Atlantis was renewed for one more season.

Comment #123678

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 28, 2006 1:01 PM (e)

I think something done in the CSI mode could be a hugely successful venture.

In the context of this mini-discussion, I’m largely pessimistic about the chances we can ever reach the public.

Mentally, I think a normal curve would be a good approximation of any human population.

Most of humanity will always reside in the bump (how many standard deviations away is the inflection anyway?). That is, given a choice of having to “work” for something versus just a minimal-effort lifestyle, the bump would choose the latter.

Those who are truly wanting to learn will be on a tail.

Many times, I hear something on TV, and because I’m on a computer at the same time, I take the chance to check out what it’s talking about. I doubt that the majority, even with the opportunity, will ever be spurred on to find out something they heard/read/seen/fed briefly.

Comment #123719

Posted by Jim Hofmann on August 28, 2006 5:10 PM (e)

From The Discovery Institute blurb:

You are invited to join Discovery Institute as we celebrate a new book by biologist and Discovery Senior Fellow Jonathan Wells, titled The Politically Correct Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design.

“Politically Correct”?
Well, maybe.

JH

Comment #123761

Posted by hereoisreal on August 28, 2006 8:09 PM (e)

Wells stated:
“I was convinced that embryology is the Achilles’ heel of Darwinism;….”

IMO, symmetry is the Achilles’ heel of Darwinism.
IMO, chaos is natural. Order is mind made.

For more of my thoughts on this, go to:

bloglines.com/blog/hereoisreal

Zero

Comment #123783

Posted by stevaroni on August 28, 2006 8:52 PM (e)

“I was convinced that embryology is the Achilles’ heel of Darwinism;….”

Wow. When I went to school, embryology came up for about 30 seconds in evolutionary biology class. Most of it was in a sentence that went something like “Once upon a time people though that embryos provided a window into evolution since it was though an embryo ‘evolved’ in time-lapse as it developed. That was a stupid idea which was quickly proven wrong”.

I should have paid more attention, turns out that there was a conspiracy brewing! Right up there with “there are no flying saucers in Area 51, now move along”.

Comment #123784

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on August 28, 2006 8:53 PM (e)

Well, forgive me for being REALLY cynical, but we don’t have to create a nation of skeptics to win the battle.

The sixties saw a very quick turnover between racism being the defacto state of affairs to it being socially unacceptable. I’m not sure how many racists were actually convinced that racism was wrong or just that it was no longer acceptable to express such emotions in public. In the aftermath, racism itself has largely been smothered. Not rendered non-existant, of course, but seriously smushed.

Science used to be strongly respected in this country. Not strongly understood, but respected. The image of the kindly elder scientist is just as unrealistic as the Dr. Frankenstein, but there you go.

If we accept that the public largely is never going to care enough to pursue an accurate view of the complexities of the world, isn’t it worthwhile to create a view where they at least respect those of us who do?

Like I said, this is me at my most cynical. Even I don’t agree with this most of the time. Today’s just a bad day for wanting to tollerate idiots.

Comment #123792

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on August 28, 2006 9:12 PM (e)

If we accept that the public largely is never going to care enough to pursue an accurate view of the complexities of the world, isn’t it worthwhile to create a view where they at least respect those of us who do?

Like I said, this is me at my most cynical. Even I don’t agree with this most of the time. Today’s just a bad day for wanting to tollerate idiots.

Let me join you in your cynicism.

The events you want would never come in a nation where sports and celebrity voyeurism is the main pastime.

Comment #123806

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 28, 2006 9:53 PM (e)

What the hell is “Darwinism”? Is it anything like “Newtonism”, “Einsteinism” or “Faradayism” … ?

Comment #124136

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on August 29, 2006 6:20 PM (e)

test

Comment #124138

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on August 29, 2006 6:21 PM (e)

test again

Comment #124166

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on August 29, 2006 8:16 PM (e)

Stop testing me!

Comment #124170

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 29, 2006 8:47 PM (e)

IMO, symmetry is the Achilles’ heel of Darwinism.
IMO, chaos is natural. Order is mind made.

For more of my thoughts on this, go to:

Why would anyone want more of yet another version of the bogus entropy argument?

Comment #124173

Posted by Darth Robo on August 29, 2006 8:58 PM (e)

From wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy

“Qualitatively, entropy is often associated with the amount of SEEMING disorder in the system. For example, solids (which are typically ordered on the molecular scale) usually have smaller entropy than liquids, and liquids smaller entropy than gases. This happens because the number different microscopic states available to an ordered system is usually much smaller than the number of states available to a system that APPEARS to be disordered given the HUMAN desire for symmetry.”

(Emphasis mine)

Remember, if it seems disorderly to us humans, then it must be disorderly, because it’s us humans who are important. God said so. ;)

Comment #124396

Posted by Popper's ghost on August 30, 2006 1:40 PM (e)

Entropy in the sense of disorder isn’t the same as thermodynamic entropy; it’s just a metaphor. A messy desk, for instance, has no more entropy than a tidy one.

Comment #126491

Posted by Jacob Silver on September 6, 2006 4:36 PM (e)

The fundamental thing to remember about all of this creationist, intelligent design, propaganda is that there is no controversy of “Darwinism” among professional biologists, among life scientists. The controversy is that some fundamentalist Christians controvert Darwinism. That does not constitute “a controversy about Darwinism.” I, as a Jew, controvert the concept of trinity in Chrisianity. Does that mean that there is a controversy about the trinity? Hardly.

Comment #127275

Posted by hereoisreal on September 8, 2006 7:51 PM (e)

Jacob Silver:
“I, as a Jew, controvert the concept of trinity in Chrisianity.
Does that mean that there is a controversy about the trinity? Hardly”
*************************************
Jacob, everything in reality (and science) is held together by triangles.
Life is (or should be) about home and family. (mother, father, and child) Rev. 12:5

I am not a christian either. A christian is someone
who thinks God permitted his son to die on a cross.
John 3:16 says nothing about that.
Blessings
Zero

Comment #135845

Posted by Ella on September 29, 2006 7:18 PM (e)

It’s good to see something like this when the creationists are gaining so much power. It angers me both as a scientist and a Christian.

1) Science is science. You don’t get to throw it out just because you don’t understand every single aspect of evolutionary theory.

2) Evolution is the amazing, beautiful “invisible hand” of God. Why would anyone want it to be different? The Creator created evolution (if he created all things), and to deny it is to deny the truth of His Creation.

3) If you need the world to be flat for your faith to be whole, the problem is not with science or God but with you. Faith is FAITH, you can’t “build your house on the sand” and tie it to science or anything else of the material, rational world. And if your faith is secure and well-reasoned, you should not have to.

Comment #135846

Posted by Ella on September 29, 2006 7:23 PM (e)

It’s good to see something like this when the creationists are gaining so much power. They seem to be winning over the students at my university, and I can only see it as a sign of the fall of western civilization. Plus, it angers me both as a scientist *and* a Christian.

1) Science is science. You don’t get to throw it out just because you don’t understand every single aspect of evolutionary theory.

2) Evolution is the amazing, beautiful “invisible hand” of God. Why would anyone want it to be different? The Creator created evolution (if he created all things), and to deny it is to deny the truth of His Creation.

3) If you need the world to be flat for your faith to be whole, the problem is not with science or God but with you. Faith is FAITH, you can’t “build your house on the sand” and tie it to science or anything else of the material, empirical world, because the nature of God is the nature of divine mystery and it’s like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. If your faith is secure and well-reasoned, you should not have to force everything to fit. I went through a similar crisis of faith regarding this myself and came out of it stronger. Don’t fight the truth- take the opportunity to come to a better understanding of God.

Comment #135852

Posted by Ella on September 29, 2006 7:30 PM (e)

sorry about the double post, I couldn’t fix it. :(

Did you know the most popular pastime in America is NOT celebrity voyeurism or sports, but *gardening?*

Whaddaya know.

Comment #135859

Posted by Caledonian on September 29, 2006 7:59 PM (e)

Well, forgive me for being REALLY cynical, but we don’t have to create a nation of skeptics to win the battle.

You’re right, we don’t need to create a nation of skeptics to win the battle. It’s what’s needed to win the war. Convincing the public to follow our lead instead of the creationists’ is only a temporary solution.

It is not that the majority of people should accept any particular position, but that they should examine all potential positions skeptically and with the use of reason - that is what is vitally necessary. And it almost certainly will never happen again in this country, if indeed it ever happened.

Comment #138182

Posted by Rob on October 9, 2006 10:26 AM (e)

Jonathan Wells’s education was wasted on him. All those years of study and searching for truth, for what? To be even further from truth than when he began. It’s sad……Not even mentioning all the trees that have died to supply the paper for his books, as well as the books of others like him.

Comment #138421

Posted by Henry J on October 10, 2006 1:18 PM (e)

Re “All those years of study and searching for truth, for what?”

As I understand it, he never was [i]searching[/i] for truth - he went in already convinced that his opinions were “Truth”. [rolls eyes]

Comment #138423

Posted by Henry J on October 10, 2006 1:27 PM (e)

Re “All those years of study and searching for truth, for what?”

As I understand it, he never was searching for truth as such - he went in already convinced that his opinions were “Truth”. [rolls eyes]

Comment #138856

Posted by Rob on October 12, 2006 2:53 PM (e)

Re “As I understand it he never was searching for truth as such”…

When he “went in” I agree with you, however I was refering to events through the course of Wells’s life, such as prior studies, the influence of Rev Moon and any other earlier influences, leading up to his perception of “truth”. Furthermore, even if one “went in” already convinced of what they ultimately perceive as the “truth”, it is likely that they are still searching for further “truths” to back up their ultimate perception of “truth”. Sorry for not being more clear.
- What’s with this? [rolls eyes]
- Are you rolling your eyes at my statement or at Wells’s conviction of “truth”?

Comment #138860

Posted by Henry J on October 12, 2006 3:14 PM (e)

Re “- Are you rolling your eyes at my statement or at Wells’s conviction of “truth”?”

At Wells.

Comment #140309

Posted by javonte jackson on October 19, 2006 9:10 AM (e)

i need help

Comment #141253

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on October 22, 2006 2:43 PM (e)

Test

Comment #143860

Posted by Marques Pierre on November 12, 2006 9:29 PM (e)

The judge who put coded messages in his Da Vinci Code plagiarism trial ruling has written another…