Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Grifters & Shills

The typical ploy of creationists is to quote mine. It even includes books that haven't been published yet.

Specifically, in the "debate" between Zack Kopplin and Casey
LumpkinLuskin on Michael Medved's radio show (where Medved repeatedly refers to "God's green Earth"), Luskin (also repeatedly) refers to the blurb for Masatoshi Nei's new book Mutation-Driven Evolution. David
KlingadingalingKlinghoffer also quote mines the blurb:
The purpose of this book is to present a new mechanistic theory of mutation-driven evolution based on recent advances in genomics and evolutionary developmental biology. The theory asserts, perhaps somewhat controversially, that the driving force behind evolution is mutation, with natural selection being of only secondary importance. The word 'mutation' is used to describe any kind of change in DNA such as nucleotide substitution, gene duplication/deletion, chromosomal change, and genome duplication. A brief history of the principal evolutionary theories (Darwinism, mutationism, neo-Darwinism, and neo-mutationism) that preceded the theory of mutation-driven evolution is also presented in the context of the last 150 years of research. However, the core of the book is concerned with recent studies of genomics and the molecular basis of phenotypic evolution, and their relevance to mutation-driven evolution. In contrast to neo-Darwinism, mutation-driven evolution is capable of explaining real examples of evolution such as the evolution of olfactory receptors, sex-determination in animals, and the general scheme of hybrid sterility. In this sense the theory proposed is more realistic than its predecessors, and gives a more logical explanation of various evolutionary events.
Strangely, Larry Moran, one of the DI's most hated opponents, doesn't seem to think that Nei's book opposes evolutionary theory. How can that be?

But the interesting thing is what the DI leaves out of the blurb:
Mutation-Driven Evolution is suitable for graduate level students as well as professional researchers (both empiricists and theoreticians) in the fields of molecular evolution and population genetics. It assumes that the readers are acquainted with basic knowledge of genetics and molecular biology.
Hmmmm ... no mention of grade school or high school science students.

This is typical. The creationists refer to "scientific dissent to "Darwinism" as if it is dissent from evolutionary theory and, what is more, they usually refer to material that is far beyond what is appropriate for ElHi education. High school, much less elementary school, kids are in no position to evaluate Nei's hypotheses. The only reason to raise such hypotheses is to confuse them, which is the aim of the DI ... confuse 'em enough ... ergo God.

Dollars to donuts, Nei's work will be no more than an attempt to refine present evolutionary theory and any publisher's hyperbole is well explained by the late, great, philosopher of science, David Hull:
Some scientists exaggerate their differences with the received view to emphasize how original their contributions are, while others exaggerate the similarities between their views and those of contemporary Darwinians in order to throw the mantle of the great Darwin around their own shoulders. Their opponents then attempt to unmask these exaggerations. ... From the beginning of their careers, scientists are presented with a dilemma. They can make their work look as conventional as possible -- just one more brick in the great edifice of science -- or as novel and controversial as possible -- declaring the foundation of a whole new theory or possibly even a whole new science. On the first strategy, their work is likely to be incorporated effortlessly into the greater body of scientific knowledge. If so, then they will get some credit, but not much. On the second strategy, the work is likely to be greeted with silence. If the author is especially lucky, perhaps an authority can be smoked out to attack these radical new views. However, if on the outside chance that these new views become accepted, the author receives considerable credit. The choice is between a safe strategy with minor payoff versus a very dangerous strategy that promises great rewards.
Scientists are human beings. Creationists are too ... it is just that too often creationists are humans who are also con artists.

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