Tuesday, February 09, 2010
O Tempora! O Mores!
I was going to wait until PZ Myers commented on Jerry Fodor's and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini's new book, What Darwin Got Wrong and their précis of it in New Scientist but there is an amusing ... um ... convergence that needs pointing out.
Naturally, the Undiscovery Institute was quick to jump at any hint among scientists or philosophers of science that Darwin was "wrong." Robert Crowther is at the Ministry of Misinformation ... well ... crowing that "Intelligent Design Proponents Welcome Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini to the Growing Ranks of Darwin's Critics," despite their comment at New Scientist that:
Such dissent as there is [from "neo-Darwinism"] often relies on theistic premises which Darwinists rightly say have no place in the evaluation of scientific theories.
... another materialist scientist who doubts Darwrinian evolution (and has signed the Dissent From Darwin statement to boot), to convene an e-mail discussion group that became what is now known as the Altenberg 16.
... that when he signed the petition he had no idea what the Discovery Institute was. Rather, he said, "I signed it in irritation."
Like any healthy science, evolutionary biology and philosophy is living and healthy. Research produces new information. Scientists come up with, and promote, new ideas. There is active debate about these. However, scientific debate leads to advances, not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. This active discussion and new research is not a sign that evolutionary theory is dead and needs replacing. It's not a sign of a "new evolutionary theory to replace natural selection."
But, of course, that is how many creationists, and some less ethical journalists, try to represent the science. Creationists latched on to the workshop as evidence for the death of Darwinism – much to the chagrin of the workshop participants. And Suzan Mazur effectively played this creationist ball – to the disgust of many of the scientists she had interviewed.
Almost like clockwork.