Monday, March 08, 2010

Anti-Evolution/Anti-Global Warming: Connection:The Discovery Institute Weighs In...

John West of the Discovery Institute has a comment on the recent anti-global warming/anti-evolution nexus. It is, of course, phrased in a very different fashion than that of The Moderate Voice (not to mention P.Z. Myers of Pharyngula, who is downright giddy with derision). He writes:
The nationwide effort to protect the freedom of teachers to hold balanced classroom discussions of evolution, global warming, and other scientific issues is highlighted on the front page of today’s New York Times. The article, “Darwin Foes Add Warming to Targets,” contains the usual errors and mischaracterizations one expects from the establishment media.
This is a bit of a smokescreen because, when it comes right down to it, most folks at the DI don't think that evolution ought to be taught at all, as evidenced by their promotion of the abysmal text Of Pandas and People. Casey Luskin, notably, does not seem to feel this way. Of course, West states that the report contains errors and mischaracterizations but then proceeds to outline not one of them. One can only guess to what he is referring. He then writes:
People want genuine education about scientific topics, and that includes being able to study all of the evidence, not just a few data points cherry-picked for their propaganda value. Of course, the Times’ article parrots the standard refrain that there are no legitimate scientific criticisms of things like Darwinian evolution or man-made global warming. Tell that to the more than 800 doctoral scientists who have signed the Dissent from Darwin statement, or to anyone who has read the “Climate Gate” emails
Once again, there is a startling lack of detail in this response. As far as the Times parroting the refrain that there are no valid criticisms of "Darwinian evolution" (at least he didn't call it "Darwinism"), the Discovery Institute has yet to counter that claim. In twenty years, they have produced no scientific papers that have successfully rebutted the claims of evolutionary theory. Not one. If there are criticisms against evolutionary theory, show us what they are in such a way that the papers stand up to scrutiny.

The other problem here is this blinkin' Dissent from Darwin list. I have blogged about this list several times, here, here and here. It is populated primarily by physicists, medical doctors,and engineers. There is one palaeontologist and nine geologists, none of who publish regularly and none in biogeography or biostratigraphy. As one of my faithful readers points out, they can't even get the name right. They claim it to be a dissent from "Darwin" as if Charles Darwin were alive and well and living among us. This neglects 150 years of evolutionary theory and research, of which the vast majority of the people on that list would be ignorant. It is not that they do not do wonders in their own fields, it is just they they don't know anything about evolution.

Since the DI doesn't welcome comments and won't publish their researchers' email addresses (a practice I find very peculiar and not academic in the least bit), I have no way of addressing their points about the list. I would challenge them to compile a list of biologists and palaeontologists that dissent from "evolutionary theory." I would be willing to bet it won't get north of 30 names.

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