Thursday, January 13, 2005

Dover Dimwits.

PZ Myers at Pharyngula comments on an OpEd in the York Daily Record that is absolutely, staggeringly, ridiculously (and the adverbs keep rolling in) misinformed. Two alleged scientists (a husband and wife team that is the ID doppelganger of Peter and Rosemary Grant) support ID and come to the conclusion that evolution is just a theory and not worthy of the status of scientific law. I try to break down their horrible argument below.
We, as two trained, field experienced scientists, wish to clarify these issues.
James Bogart is an adjunct faculty member at York College studying mechanical engineering. And Cheri Bogart has a bachelors degree in biology (scroll to the bottom). Now if that doesn't make them authorities on evolutionary biology, I don't know what does.

They go on to poorly define theories and laws, which Pharyngula tackles quite well, so I won't get into here. The gist being they make up their own definitions, then say that gravity, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, etc are all laws, but evolution is just a mildly supported theory. Yeah, and phylogenetics doesn't tell us anything -- I'll get to that later.

But here's one of the gems of their argument:
There have been several famous theories that were agreed upon by most of the world’s scientists and philosophers that were later proven to be false. A very prominent example of these is the theory that the earth is flat. The scientists could stand on a boat and see for long distances in every direction so of course the world had to be flat — their observations proved it! We all know that this is not true yet people several hundred years ago were ridiculed for believing otherwise.
Guess what also fits this definition: CREATIONISM!!! Yes, two hundred years ago most Europeans believed that God created the earth and all life on it in the past few millennia. Then, over the past couple of centuries, we have accumulated enough evidence to determine that life on Earth has evolved over billions of years. Charles Darwin came up with the theory of Natural Selection to explain how that life evolved and other scientists have updated Darwin's theory and added new theories, but they all explain how evolution happened without the aid of supernatural powers.
[E]volution and intelligent design, rely upon a considerable amount of wishful thinking to back up their claims.
I would love to see the wishful thinking that goes into understanding evolution. In fact, evolution and ID are not even competing views, as the authors try to argue. Rather, ID is another explanation for how evolution occurs. It's a bad (make that, terrible) theory, but it's a theory of the HOW. What happened (evolution over billions of years) is hardly debatable. IDist try to argue that God did it, but real biologists try to come up with more scientific explanations.
If humans evolved from the lower primates (chimps, monkeys and gorillas), then where are the “in-between” specimens? Where are the chimps that can use verbal language? Where are the chimps that can reason well enough to negotiate the price of an item? Where is the chimp that understands sarcasm and jokes? All of these intermediate specimens are missing from the evidence. Yes, we can find fossils of something that looks similar to both humans and the lower primates, but if they were superior to the chimps, then why are they gone while the chimps remain?
Humans did evolve from monkeys, but so did chimps and gorillas. These idiots need a lesson in primate systematics, and I'm hardly the one to give it them, but I'll try. Apes (e.g., chimps, gorillas, orangs, and even humans) evolved from old world monkeys. Then, the apes began to diverge, and over millions of years resulted in what we see today. We did not evolve from chimpanzees -- instead we evolved from our common ancestor with chimps, which may have been chimp-like, but it still wasn't a chimp. Those "missing links" that they describe, they're in the fossil record and no, we cannot study behavior directly from the fossil record, morons. Also, when we use DNA data to reconstruct phylogenies (some of the best stuff for this purpose when it's available), we can see the relatedness of primates in the trees (this works for all life on earth, not just primates). We're related at the genetic level, and the percent identity of the DNA sequence reflects our relatedness.

They argue that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics, which has been shown to be fallacy here. Of course, they also think ID is reasonable:
However, because of the significant gaps in the pure evolutionary theory, the concepts [ID] are as reasonable as any offered by the proponents of evolutionary theory.
Aside from the fact that most evolutionary theory (aside from ID) is scientifically testable and is presented by real biologists and published in peer review journals, yes ID is reasonable. WTF?? ID is not reasonable, it's the greatest Just So Story of them all.
We are both scientists and we both are Christians who lean toward the ID theory as being more plausible because there are just too many flaws in the data used to support evolutionary theory.
Flaws in the data??? When is data ever perfect? What you must look at is flaws in the interpretation of the data, and all evolutionary theory (aside from ID) offers scientifically testable claims. ID is not scientifically testable, therefore it is not science.

You are Christians who are interweaving their faith and their science. It's fine if you want to believe in God (or Gods), but keep those beliefs separate when you try to make objective, logical decisions. Look at the data, and see that biological evolution is as strongly supported as gravity among scientists, and see that among the theories to explain evolution, ID is an infant (and one born with severe birth defects at that). Hey, I kind of like that: ID is a retarded baby. Maybe it's a bit too mean, and not fair to all people with major birth defects.


At 11:16 PM, Blogger roger said...

The idiocy of the two "scientists" isn't surprising. This is a low grade version (very low grade) of the usual ID crap - except even the Discovery institute has quietly shelved the missing link argument, as if hominids "evolved" from chimpanzees, or as if we don't know the meaning of the chromosonal similarities that, if anything, should have put a nail in the coffin of any theory of separate acts of speciation long ago.

What is more disturbing is the propaganda work being carried out by the York paper that carries this rubbish. Pity the poor people of York.


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