Tuesday, August 26, 2008

10 Questions, and Answers, About Evolution

Terrific article in the New York Times, I know not one of my usual sources, but I really liked this article. Take a read 10 Questions, and Answers, About Evolution

It takes an article by one of the Discovery Institute's favorite mouthpieces, Jonathan Wells, and his 10 questions he says highlights the weaknesses in Evolution and teams them up with how those questions are actually addressed in evolutionary biology. The answers are written by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). Yes! This is an example of responsible journalism! Rather than offer Wells a chance to air his views completely one-sided, the NY Times gave space to the NCSE to address them and put them all together in one article. I would suggest this technique to Ann Coulter, but we all know she's not a journalist and therefor doesn't have to comply with minor details like ethical behavior. -- Yes, off topic, but please remember that her book "Godless . . ." spent a lot of time on Intelligent Design and she apparently only spoke with ID proponents (From her book "I couldn't have written about evolution without the generous tutoring of Michael Behe, David Berlinski, and William Dembski") She certainly wouldn't think of talking to someone of an opposing view.

OK, back to the subject of this post: Read the article for yourself and you will see the Discovery Institute's usual pattern of misdirection and ambiguity in trying to weaken something they haven't been able to touch in any other ways. I hope Biology teachers across the country read this and take note so if a student raises these issues they can address them appropriately.

Now the fun part was waiting for something that I knew was coming . . . the reaction of the DI, in typical knee-jerk style! It took three whole days and they didn't disappoint!


You gotta read this. They claim the NCSE was lying when they said "hardly any textbooks feature Haeckel’s drawings, as claimed".

Next go to http://www.discovery.org/a/3935 and read their actual whining. They claim that the drawings in the textbooks are derived from Haeckel’s earliest embryo stages. Please notice the word 'derived'! They also use the phrase "patterned after Haeckel". In fact nearly any drawing of early embryo's will show similarities to Haeckel's work. The DI is so reaching! I was pretty surprised they limited themselves to just one of the 10 questions, but I bet in the coming days they will jerk their knees of some more.

They do claim the drawings are not as detailed as the DI thinks they should be. Gee, they are DRAWINGS! They are used to illustrate the point made by . . . guess who . . . the NCSE . . . when they said "Twentieth-century and current embryological research confirms that early stages (if not the earliest) of vertebrate embryos are more similar than later ones; the more recently species shared a common ancestor, the more similar their embryological development. Thus cows and rabbits - mammals - are more similar in their embryological development than either is to alligators. Cows and antelopes are more similar in their embryology than either is to rabbits, and so on. The union of evolution and developmental biology — “evo-devo” — is one of the most rapidly growing biological fields."

So there we have it, the DI doing what the DI does best -- obfuscation, misdirection, and whining!

If you want to know a little more about Jonathan Wells, a senior fellow at the DI, a Moonie, and an Aids denier in addition to his being an anti-evolutionist. You can read more here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Wells_%28intelligent_design_advocate%29

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