Monday, October 20, 2008

The Lone Palaeontologist on the "A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism" List

The Discovery Institute is publishing and pushing a list of scientists who dissent from "Darwinism." The tag line reads:

“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

Aside from the fact that that is a poor definition of evolution, leaving out genetic drift, adaptive peaks and valleys, allopatric and sympatric speciation, evo-devo and many other areas of study, who populates the list? Well, I found 13 physicists, 1 plasma physicist, 10 biochemists, 24 chemists, 8 engineers, 7 mathematicians, 2 psychologists, 13 geneticists, and 5 medical doctors. I found one palaeontologist. Who is he? He is Omer Faruk Noyan, from the Celal Bayar University in Turkey. Its page can be found here. A trip to the English version found many out of date or dead links. The publication list is three years old. So, I went to Web of Science. He does publish, sporadically (like yours, truly), mostly in the Triassic on conodonts. I found four articles in the last eighteen years. He has recently produced something in Nature Precedings, a paper on the emergence of modern humans and their relationship to the preceding Neandertals. It is oddly constructed and oddly formatted but I have not had a chance to review it yet. It is here. It does not appear that he is a creationist in the YEC mold, but rather an ID sympathizer.

7 comments:

  1. I get your point about the absence of paleontologists signing on. Seems to be a shortage of biologists as well. But on one level, wouldn't any good scientist sign on to that statement? Science is driven by healthy skepticism, and everyone wants the evidence for Darwinian theory to be carefully examined. I should think it would be more difficult to get signers to a contrary statement such as, "We are absolutely convinced of the claims of Darwinian theory, and all critical examination of this theory should be discouraged."

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  2. Once again, all I want to know is whether he denies common descent? And if so, does he actually address any of the evidence?

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  3. Pete, I just fired off an email to him asking him just that. We will see if we get an answer.

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  4. Steve, good point. It is sort of like what Kenneth Miller says in complaint of the "academic freedom" legislation. Shouldn't we examine all science?

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  5. Pete, the letter just came back as undeliverable. I will try another route.

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  6. Sorry, Cliff. Not paying attention to who I was writing to. Brain too scattered.

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  7. Cliff wrote

    But on one level, wouldn't any good scientist sign on to that statement? Science is driven by healthy skepticism, and everyone wants the evidence for Darwinian theory to be carefully examined.

    Sure, and I myself could almost sign that statement were it not for the fact that it is advertised by the Disco 'Tute as A Scientific Dissent from Darwin. It doesn't even represent Darwin accurately. I'm teaching the history of the evolution controversies this semester and have just had the students reading Origin and it's fresh in my mind. Darwin simply did not claim that random mutation and natural selection were alone responsible for the complexity of life, nor does any contemporary evolutionary biologist. DArwin surely thought that natural selection was the main variable, but not the only one. The statement is a pure propaganda ploy.

    Cliff went on

    I should think it would be more difficult to get signers to a contrary statement such as, "We are absolutely convinced of the claims of Darwinian theory, and all critical examination of this theory should be discouraged."

    Compare the Project Steve Statement:

    Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to "intelligent design," to be introduced into the science curricula of our nation's public schools.

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