Monday, April 14, 2008

PZ Meyers on Expelled

PZ Meyers one of the more famed science bloggers has made a very simlpe observation about the movie "expelled" (in which he was thanked for participating in the credits, yet promptly expelled from the theater when the produce realized he was there during a public showing).

Meyers writes over at Pharyngula:

"I have to make this really, really simple for the "Hitler was an evolutionist" dimwits.
There is a central, incredibly obvious fact in Darwin's insight.

If members of a population die or are killed off, they will leave no descendants for subsequent generations.
It isn't razzle-dazzle genius. Any idiot can figure that one out — and many idiots have. Farmers have known it for millennia, when they set aside particularly fruitful seed stock or especially robust farm animals for breeding, and eat the rest. Nazis used this elementary logic when they decided to exterminate Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals. Eugenicists used it when they wanted to argue for shifting the distribution of certain properties in a population.

It ain't "Darwinism". It's self-evident, obvious, selbstverständlich, apparent, évidente, transparent. The KKK knows it, farmers know it, dog and horse breeders know it, the Nazis knew it, they didn't need Darwin to spell it out for them. Blaming that on Darwin is awesomely stupid.

Darwin's real contribution, the one that had everyone smacking themselves in the forehead and wondering why they didn't think of it first, was the realization that the natural environment does the killing — that natural selection shapes heredity. The idea of culling populations is not only so easy that a hate-mongering cretin can think of it, but that weather, bacteria, viruses, parasites, predators, etc. have been doing it for eons, with no intelligence required, and that mindless microorganisms have been far greater agents of hereditary change than the worst the Nazis ever accomplished; does Charles Darwin also get the blame for that? Darwin realized that the environment has consequences and can shape the generation-by-generation passage of hereditary traits in populations, and that examination of the natural world reveals that it has been doing exactly that. He realized that ubiquitous forces that are so simple we take them for granted have been quietly and slowly sculpting our heredity since the beginning of life on earth.
When clueless creationists argue that Darwin led to Hitler, or worse, throw away buckets of money making elaborate propaganda films arguing such nonsense, it's worse than inane. It's as if they have completely missed the point of the idea they are damning. "

Yes, these IDers have never been able to make a single valid point without distorting something, which is one of the main things that drew me away from ID. They simply can't come up with a good idea that really challenges the prevailing understanding.


Anonymous said...

Over 500 Scientists Proclaim Their Doubts About Darwin's Theory of

Over 500 doctoral scientists have now signed a statement publicly
expressing their skepticism about the contemporary theory of
Darwinian evolution.

The Scientific Dissent From Darwinism statement 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."

The list of 514 signatories includes member scientists from the
prestigious US and Russian National Academy of Sciences. Signers
include 154 biologists, the largest single scientific discipline
represented on the list, as well as 76 chemists and 63 physicists.
Signers hold doctorates in biological sciences, physics, chemistry,
mathematics, medicine, computer science, and related disciplines.
Many are professors or researchers at major universities and
research institutions such as MIT, The Smithsonian, Cambridge
University, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Princeton, the University of
Pennsylvania, the Ohio State University, the University of Georgia,
and the University of Washington.

Discovery Institute first published its Scientific Dissent From
Darwinism list in 2001 to challenge false statements about Darwinian
evolution made in promoting PBS's "Evolution" series. At the time it
was claimed that "virtually every scientist in the world believes
the theory to be true."

"Darwinists continue to claim that no serious scientists doubt the
theory and yet here are 500 scientists who are willing to make
public their skepticism about the theory," said Dr. John G. West,
associate director of Discovery Institute's Center for Science &
Culture. "Darwinist efforts to use the courts, the media and
academic tenure committees to suppress dissent and stifle discussion
are in fact fueling even more dissent and inspiring more scientists
to ask to be added to the list."

According to West, it was the fast growing number of scientific
dissenters which encouraged the Institute to launch a website -- -- to give the list a permanent home. The
website is the Institute's response to the demand for information
and access to the list both by the public, and by scientists who
want to add their name to list.

"Darwin's theory of evolution is the great white elephant of
contemporary thought," said Dr. David Berlinski, one of the original
signers, a mathematician and philosopher of science with Discovery
Institute's Center for Science and Culture (CSC). "It is large,
almost completely useless, and the object of superstitious awe."

Other prominent signatories include U.S. National Academy of
Sciences member Philip Skell; American Association for the
Advancement of Science Fellow Lyle Jensen; evolutionary biologist
and textbook author Stanley Salthe; Smithsonian Institution
evolutionary biologist and a researcher at the National Institutes
of Health's National Center for Biotechnology Information Richard
von Sternberg; Editor of Rivista di Biologia / Biology Forum --the
oldest still published biology journal in the world-- Giuseppe
Sermonti; and Russian Academy of Natural Sciences embryologist Lev

If you have a Ph.D. in engineering, mathematics, computer science,
biology, chemistry, or one of the other natural sciences, and you
agree with the following statement, "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," then please contact us at

upinVermont said...


Why anonymous?

First: The statement of dissent is weird. After all, it's not Darwinism, it's Evolution.

Second: To say that one is "skeptical" of a given theory is to say nothing whatsoever. All scientists should remain, at all times, skeptical of all and any theories. That's their job.

Third: To say that one is skeptical of a theory is not an assertion that the given theory is wrong; it means that one should remain alert to any evidence that might lead to alterations, improvements or refinements.

Fourth: Of *course* the theory of Evolution isn't open to "discussion" and of *course* it isn't open to "dissent". It's open to revisions based on evidence.

Fifth: The fact that X Number of scientists sign a "petition" has about as much relevance to a theory's truth or fallaciousness as as my dog's bark. The only thing that counts in science is evidence. Where does the evidence lead? Does the evidence confirm or deny ones "theory"? That's all that matters.

Sixth: I'm not even a scientist and I know more than you bozos.

Aaron said...

I'll be the first to admit that I am completely closed minded on this topic. Anyone who doesn't believe in Darwin's theory of evolution is ignorant, dumb, or lying to themselves. There are many debates on the details of how evolution happens. But when I read the bullshit comments by IDers they always say stuff like "I believe in microevolution but not macroevolution", or "nobody has ever seen a new species come from a different species". Statements like these betray the fact that these people absolutely do not believe in evolution. The only alternative is that Gawd magically created everything as is at some point and then magically set up the fossil record to trick everyone. It is impossible for me to take you people seriously. It's not worth a moment of my time other than the entertainment I get in trying to puzzle out whether you are serious or just joking.

Anonymous said...

I concur with the world master cell biologist and member of the National Academy of Sciences Lynn Margulis that evolution is not a theory, but a fact.

But so what?

Again and again and again and again, and again and again and again and again, and again and again and again and again, and again and again, and again, and again, you evade the only meaningful question that there is with the red herrings of evolutionary theory and neuroscience:

Do we survive death?

At the very least, I wish that you'd blog about something meaningful, such as the origins of polygyny in the United States, and what happens to the male members expelled from a community where a 3:1 female-to-male ratio is required.