Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Liar Liar!

We were all told the story of the young lad who cried wolf too often as he ran down the hill from the sheep pen. I suggest that the anti-ID movement needs to recall the story and apply it carefully to the current debate. I think if we are to have productive debate we ought to bite our tongues on the temptation to use the “liar” word.

A liar is not someone who has made a mistake or repeated a false claim from someone else in good faith.

A liar is someone who tells a lie. A lie is an intentional false statement. In other words the liar knows that what he is saying is false but goes ahead and says it anyway seeking to give the impression that it is true.

Wesley Elsberry of the NCSE has suggested that using the “liar” label for ID supporters is a good strategy:


If you want to drive a wedge between an audience of evangelical Christians
and the professionals in the ID movement, you need a third approach: show that
the ID advocate on stage with you has been lying to his followers. Show misquote
after misquote; demonstrate error after checkable error, and make the audience
understand that if the ID advocate claims that the sky is blue, their next step
had better be to look out the window to see for themselves. Evangelicals do want
to take Christ’s message to the world, but they also have a deep loathing of
liars. (here)


I would entirely agree with him with one important condition. You had better be sure that the label fits... otherwise this strategy is going to seriously backfire!

One example of an attempt to attach the “liar" label to the writers and supporters of “Truth in Science” has been made on this blog.

The accusation was made with regard to the following quotation from this document:


“I ‘know’ that Tutt’s differential bird predation hypothesis is correct because
I ‘know’ about peppered moths… However, for those who do not ‘know’ the peppered moth, whether they are scientists, teachers or members of the public, this
should not, indeed it must not be enough."

(This quotation has apparently since been replaced by the following:


“I know the peppered moth, and I know that J.W. Tutt was essentially correct in
his explanation of the rise of carbonaria [the dark form]. However, for those
who do not ‘know’ the peppered moth, whether they are scientists, teachers or
members of the public, this should not, indeed, it must not be enough.”

[see here])

The purpose of the quote in its original context was to establish that there are real problems with the Kettlewell data which was originally presented in support of the differential predation hypothesis. The quote was to establish the point that Marjerus recognised that further data was needed to demonstrate unequivically that the differential predation hypothesis was correct.

The original quotation was made of two sections of text:

(P27)

"I ‘know’ that Tutt’s differential bird predation hypothesis is correct because
I ‘know’ about peppered moths…

The paragraphs in between deal with Marjerus’ love of moths and life time study of them. In other words they are a defence of his statement “I know about peppered moths.”

(p29)

However, for those who do not ‘know’ the peppered moth, whether they are
scientists, teachers or members of the public, this should not, indeed it must
not be enough."

The “However” of the beginning of the second part of the quotation is clearly linked to the stem of the argument which formed the first part of the quotation. It is entirely legitimate in my view to put these two parts of the argument together and indicate the deleted section with the ellipsis mark.

The quotation does not seek to mislead people it simply establishes the point that Marjerus recognises that the evidence for the differential predation hypothesis needs to be improved.

To seek to attach the label “liar” as a result of the use of this quotation is an example (in my view) of where the “liar, liar” strategy is backfiring badly.

[Apologies for the truncated appearance of the quotations... I can't seem to make the blogger do them nicely! Any free education on this would be gratefully recieved.]


35 Comments:

Anonymous Hrafn said...

Andrew, you grossly misrepresent TiS's lie by omission. In doing so you carefully sidestep points that I have made on this lie in earlier threads. I find this to be quite dishonest.

"The purpose of the quote in its original context was to establish that there are real problems with the Kettlewell data which was originally presented in support of the differential predation hypothesis."

A context that TiS is careful to omit - leaving only a vague and unqualified doubt over the hypothesis.

"The quote was to establish the point that Marjerus recognised that further data was needed to demonstrate unequivically that the differential predation hypothesis was correct."

But the quote taken, as TiS did, out of its context says nothing about the further data currently being gathered, nor about the (admittedly flawed) data already supporting the hypothesis. In fact it carefully omits EVERYTHING positive Marjerus has to say about the hypothesis. This is why they have to trawl five whole paragraphs to get sufficient fragments to construct one sentence.

"The paragraphs in between deal with Marjerus’ love of moths and life time study of them. In other words they are a defence of his statement “I know about peppered moths.”"

And you don't think that this "life time study" is important in evaluating the credibility of Marjerus' support for the hypothesis? A matter that TiS is careful to completely omit.

"It is entirely legitimate in my view to put these two parts of the argument together and indicate the deleted section with the ellipsis mark."

No Andrew it is not legitimate - not with only fragments of sentences and not with such large seperation. Using a similarly methodology, I could probably construct, out of your posts, a sentence that looked something like: "I agree with ... Darwinism."

"The quotation does not seek to mislead people it simply establishes the point that Marjerus recognises that the evidence for the differential predation hypothesis needs to be improved."

The quotation carefully omits everything positive that Marjerus says about the hypothesis. The quote-mine does not say anything AT ALL about the need for improved evidence, it merely casts vague and completely contextless doubt over the hypothesis.

IT IS LYING BY OMISSION!

This type of "quote-mining" - taking quotes out of context, stringing together fragments that distort the authors intent, distortionary paraphrasing, (and in some cases simply making the quotes up entirely) are part of the standard Creationist playbook (anti-Creationist sites have documented hundreds of examples of them).

I take it, from your dogged defense of TiS, that you support this dishonest tactic Andrew?

2:53 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Hrafn,

"I take it, from your dogged defense of TiS, that you support this dishonest tactic Andrew?"

I reject entirely the appropriateness of the "dishonest" label.

I personally think that the bird predation hypothesis is the most reasonable and that the peppered moth is a useful example of micro-evolution for teaching purposes. (It is also a good example of how difficult it is to substantiate a straightforward hypothesis!)

My point here is that the liar label like the wolf wolf cry should only be used when appropriate. I do not believe it is appropriate here.

A few points with regard to your response.

1. The section starting "The purpose of the quote in its original context..." This was intended to refer to the original context on the TiS page. The purpose of the quote was to confirm a fairly narrow point - that the kettlewell data is flawed and this is not just a creationist fantasy. I see this as an entirely legitimate exercise and I see the original quotation as an entirely legitimate means of accomplishing that purpose. It is establishing the point that Marjerus agrees that the Kettlewell data is flawed.

2. You said "they have to trawl five whole paragraphs to get sufficient fragments to construct one sentence."

There are two fragments with a clearly displayed ellipsis mark. Is it legitimate and helpful to pull these two fragments together? In my view it is. The intervening sections deal with Marjerus' background. After this aside he then comes back to the point with his "However." These are not random pieces of text joined together to indicate something entirely different from what the original author intended. The two fragments are intentionally linked by the original language used. The intervening paragraphs are really acting as a parenthesis. It was a legitimate quotation establishing a legitimate point.

3. "It is lying by omission" The writer of the TiS peppered moth piece was making a particular point and using a legitimate quotation to do this. A quoter is not obliged to include a full summary of the lecture. Does the quotation in context in the original provide the evidence for the point that the quoter is making? In my view in this case the answer is yes.

11:00 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"The purpose of the quote was to confirm a fairly narrow point - that the kettlewell data is flawed..."

No, it damn well isn't. The quote makes no mention whatsoever of the "kettlewell data" so CANNOT have a purpose of confirming that it is flawed.

THIS ISN'T AN ARGUMENT ANDREW - THIS IS JUST WISHFUL THINKING!

You really, really want these co-religionists of yours NOT to be liars, so you tie yourself into logical knots trying to pretend otherwise. Well it quite simply does not work!

"Is it legitimate and helpful to pull these two fragments together?"

No it is not! Omitting irrelevant pieces within a sentence by ellipsis is legitimate.

Linking fragments of two, widely separated, sentences is never legitimate!

Using an ellipsis to omit relevant information, which hinders your argument (which is what TiS did, by omitting all comments supportive of the hypothesis) is lying by omission!.

The original TiS quote-mine misrepresents Marjerus' position by carefully omitting all his comments supportive of the hypothesis. TiS is therefore lying by omission. End of story.

Andrew, you repeatedly tie yourself in logical knots trying to claim that Creationist statements are reasonable and/or honest. Examples:

Behe on "no answers"

Paul Nelson lying about Keith Miller not believing in the existence of thieves.

Jonathan Wells lying about his motivations for opposing evolution.

You reflexively defend Creationists, no matter how blatantly dishonest and/or unreasonable their statements. I would argue that this damages your credibility far more than I damage mine by calling a spade a spade by calling TiS liars.

2:12 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Hrafn,

You said:
*** "The purpose of the quote was to confirm a fairly narrow point - that the kettlewell data is flawed..."

No, it damn well isn't. The quote makes no mention whatsoever of the "kettlewell data" so CANNOT have a purpose of confirming that it is flawed." ***

The paragraph immediately before the quote on the TiS site is:

"The problems of Kettlewell’s experiments are so widely acknowledged that new experiments are being carried out at the moment by a scientist in Cambridge to try to come up with a less doubtful proof. This researcher, Dr Michael Majerus, said this in a lecture to the British Humanist Association on 12th February 2004 (see link in bibliography below for full context): "

Thus the purpose of the quote is to establish the fact that a reputable scientist considers the Kettlewell data sufficiently flawed to need further painstaking work to establish a demonstration of the differential predation hypothesis.

You said:
"Linking fragments of two, widely separated, sentences is never legitimate!"

I disagree. Where the author goes into an aside and then returns to his argument later it is legitimate to omit the aside and indicate this by an ellipsis. It is not a big deal here. I am sure that if Marjerus himself were commenting here he would agree with the point that the TiS author is making. The Kettlewell data is interesting and relevant but it is known and acknowledged to be flawed. I really do not see this as a great instance of dishonest quote mining.

I defend people from the charge of lying when I am not convinced that they are intending to decieve. I regard the charge of lying to be a most serious matter and believe it should be reserved for cases where it can be clearly established. I do not believe this to be such a case.

Other readers will have to come to their own conclusions looking at the evidence themselves.

5:02 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"Thus the purpose of the quote is to establish the fact that a reputable scientist considers the Kettlewell data sufficiently flawed to need further painstaking work to establish a demonstration of the differential predation hypothesis."

No Andrew! The purpose of the quote, in its proper context may discuss this, but TiS took this quote out of this context, so that the TiS quote says NOTHING WHATSOEVER about the Kettlewell data.

"Where the author goes into an aside and then returns to his argument later it is legitimate to omit the aside and indicate this by an ellipsis."

An "aside" that starts half way through a paragraph, and ends half way through another paragraph four paragraphs on? This truly bizarre claim is your worst piece of logical gymnastics to date! None of the omitted sentences in either paragraph can, in any way, be considered part of this "aside" - yet TiS omitted them - because their inclusion would undermine the false impression that the sentences they did include, taken in isolation, would make.

"I defend people from the charge of lying when I am not convinced that they are intending to decieve."

Both Wells & TiS clearly intended to deceive - Wells to pretend that his animosity towards Evolution was scientific rather than religious, TiS to pretend that the hypothesis was more doubtful than Marjerus truly thought it was.

6:12 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Wesley said: "If you want to drive a wedge between an audience of evangelical Christians and the professionals in the ID movement, you need a third approach: show that the ID advocate on stage with you has been lying to his followers."

I would agree with Andrew that someone can sincerely believe something that is not true. If they repeat the untruth, in good faith, they are not, strictly speaking, lying.

"Show misquote after misquote; demonstrate error after checkable error,..."

The key word here is "checkable".
The ID people have had their errors pointed out many times. They have had their egregious quote mining revealed many times. They have seen the evidence, piles of it, to show that their assertions are untrue. That's what makes them lies.

The Wedge Document gives the lie to much of their argument and all of their tactics. In effect the Wedge Document says "let's pretend that we are a scientific movement so that we can use political means to achieve our religious ends." It says "avoid scientific fact where you can, just "teach the (non-existent) controvesry"". "Teaching the controversy" can be summed up in one word "pretence", i.e. pretend their is a controversy where none exists. And deliberate pretence in pursuit of gain is, you got it, lying. The whole document is a structured lie.

The best you can say for most of these people is that they may be powerfully self-deluding. But as most of them are highly intelligent and can apparently operate effectively in other spheres of life, it is reasonable to assume that, in this sphere, they are telling deliberate untruths, i.e. lying.

1:36 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

The Quote-mine Project

While Andrew is being all defensive about nasty evolutionists calling creationists liars, he might wish to contemplate the Quote Mine Project, a list of over one hundred favorite creationist, quotes-out-of-context, misquotes, just-plain-made-up-quotes and other distortions.

3:23 pm  
Blogger Ed Darrell said...

Majerus' change was prompted by Jonathan Wells and others lying about what he said. As Majerus has made clear on several occasions, he was not disagreeing with Kettlewell's conclusion that the peppered moths demonstrate natural selection in action.

Are you making that claim? If so, you're misrepresenting Majerus' work.

And such a misrepresentation would be a lie.

If you are claiming that any moth scientist says Kettlewell's results do not show natural selection in action, you are presenting a false claim.

What's your claim, Andrew?

Majerus says the moths show natural selection in action. So do all the "moth men." Who claims differently? No scientist with any knowledge.

10:59 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Hrafn,
RE - quote mine project.

I looked at a few of the examples from this project.

While I agree that quoting accurately and fairly is tremendously important I tend to feel that the examples that I looked at are more examples of Talk origins contributers oversensitivity... however there is not very much of the context given in the examples I looked at.

I think in terms of a project it would have greater impact if it concentrated on a handful of the worst cases and examined them in detail showing the context of the quote usage as well as the context of the original.

(PS: I looked at a Raup quote and the Gould quote ... Darwin had trouble with the fossil record.)

12:12 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Ed,

My claim is that it is wrong to accuse the writer of the TiS article on the peppered moth of being a liar because of the two part Marjerus quote which has since been replaced with a single Marjerus quote.

2:08 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"...I tend to feel that the examples that I looked at are more examples of Talk origins contributers oversensitivity..."

What about the ones where the original authors themselves objected? Stephen Jay Gould is a classic example - he emphatically rebutted the creationist misrepresentation of his words:
"Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists—whether though design or stupidity, I do not know—as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms."

Yet even in the face of this blasting from the horse's mouth, Creationists still use quote-mines from Gould, in order to give the impression that the fossil record does not support evolution.

2:13 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Admittedly, a number of Creationist quote-mines circulate for so long, that it is unlikely that one in a thousand quote-miner who uses it has even seen the original source.

The most extreme example of this I've found to date is the following quote (still circulating in religious right circles):
"Scientists who utterly reject Evolution may be one of our fastest-growing controversial minorities...Many of the scientists supporting this position hold impressive credentials in science."

sounds impressive doesn't it?

The trouble is:
1) it dates from 1979 (so is woefully out of date);
2) it was written in Science Digest, "a monthly American magazine ... targeted at persons with a high school education level. It contained short articles about general science often excerpted from other publications in the style of Reader's Digest." Hardly an authoritative source; and
3) the article also contains the disclaimer: "most or all of the Creationists are devout fundamentalist Protestant Christians. Many of them testify that they adopted their creationist positions in childhood, long before their professional training, and have not wavered since."

Doesn't sound quite so impressive now, does it?

I wouldn't call the quote-miners who use this quote "liars" - I would however call them self-deluded fools who lack sufficient skepticism to check out the credibility of a quote before putting their name to it.

But while a self-deluded fool may be less contemptible than a liar, are they any more credible?

2:49 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"I looked at a Raup quote and the Gould quote ... Darwin had trouble with the fossil record."

Hardly surprising - the fossil record has been filled out enormously since Darwin's time. Paleontology was in its infancy back then. Just another way that 'Darwinism' is a grossly inaccurate label for modern evolutionary thought.

3:47 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Hrafn,

I think that a person should only be quoted to make a point provided that the quote in its original context can legitimately be seen to make that point. SJ Gould would probably not approve of himself being quoted in any anti-evolution works but that is not the point. It is quoting in a misleading and unfair manner which we can agree to oppose. We should take the utmost care to do this and I appreciate your concerns here.

In this case the narrow point of the flawed nature of the Kettlewell data can be confirmed fairly from the Marjerus quote in context. It is not necessary to explain all the background about Marjerus' views and thoughts on other issues in establishing this point.

2:55 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"In this case the narrow point of the flawed nature of the Kettlewell data can be confirmed fairly from the Marjerus quote in context. It is not necessary to explain all the background about Marjerus' views and thoughts on other issues in establishing this point."

As I have been saying repeatedly, the original TiS quote-mine gives no indication of the narrowness of Majerus' point (making it appear to be a vague and pervasive doubt), nor provides the context of all the positive things he says in support of the hypothesis.

3:19 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Hrafn,
You said
"As I have been saying repeatedly, the original TiS quote-mine gives no indication of the narrowness of Majerus' point"

It is quite clear to me from the context of the TiS piece that the quote from Marjerus is solely to establish the fact that the Kettlewell data is flawed. That is the purpose of that entire section. Marjerus cannot complain about his words being used to establish that narrow point. I am sure he would not disagree otherwise it would be pointless him doing his much better (but much harder) work.

I disagree that TiS people can be categorised as "lying for Jesus" on this basis. Obviously other people will have to make up their own minds. Having looked carefully at the evidence I am convinced that even the original quote is legitimate.

2:53 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"It is quite clear to me from the context of the TiS piece that the quote from Marjerus is solely to establish the fact that the Kettlewell data is flawed."

If TiS was genuinely interested in Marjerus' opinion, instead of merely attempting misrepresent him to smear the peppered moth, they would have used the following quote (which accurately reflects the very limited criticism that Marjerus considers to be valid):
"The only criticism that can be aimed at all the predation studies conducted to date is that the moths available for predation did not take up their own resting positions during the pre-dawn flight that characterizes this species. This criticism should be addressed in future predation experiments."

The quote that they actually presented (both old and new version) says nothing whatsoever (positive or negative) about the Kettlewell data, or any of the other studies. It is merely a very general statement about the need to base science on repeatable empirical results, not on personal intuition. In fact the entire section from which the quotes are taken ('A personal view from the horse’s mouth!') does not mention Kettlewell even once.

How can a quote from a section that is unrelated to Kettlewell legitimately "establish the fact that the Kettlewell data is flawed"?

How is the insertion of a quote unrelated to Kettlewell into TiS claims about "widely acknowledged" problems with Kettlewell anything other than purposeful dishonesty?

4:25 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

I have read large sections of Marjerus' lecture again and I simply say that I disagree with your assesment of this quotation.

6:23 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"I have read large sections of Marjerus' lecture again and I simply say that I disagree with your assesment of this quotation."

Then substantiate your disagreement by explaining how either the specific quotes and/or the section they are pulled from are directly related to Kettlewell's data.

As I have said before, unsubstantiated assertions are worthless.

7:14 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

The whole argument is about Kettlewells data in the Marjerus essay. The inadequacy of the kettlewell data is the only reason that Marjerus says what he says in that quotation.

9:50 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"The whole argument is about Kettlewells data in the Marjerus essay. The inadequacy of the kettlewell data is the only reason that Marjerus says what he says in that quotation."

No Andrew. The whole 'A personal view from the horse’s mouth!' section is an aside by Marjerus discussing his personal experiences with the debate. This section never mentions Kettlewell by name. It only mentions the scientific evidence in this section (which TiS omits, even though they quote the section immediately after it):
"Good science is conducted largely through observation, hypothesis formation, prediction and experimentation. Much of the work on the peppered moth has been conducted in this way. An impressive array of evidence has been accumulated. Many of the experiments, particularly those conducted in the field, are not without their flaws. Moreover, predicted outcomes have not always been realized. However, if you wade through the 200+ papers written about melanism in the peppered moth, it is difficult to come to any conclusion other than that natural selection through the agent of differential bird predation is largely responsible for the rise and fall of carbonaria.

That said, my own conviction that bird predation is largely responsible is not based purely on empirical data from experiments published in the literature."


It is then that he goes on to the "I ‘know’ that Tutt’s differential bird predation hypothesis is correct..." statement that TiS quotes.

Let's look at that again:
"That said, my own conviction that bird predation is largely responsible is not based purely on empirical data from experiments published in the literature. I ‘know’ that Tutt’s differential bird predation hypothesis is correct because I ‘know’ about peppered moths."

Marjerus is EXPLICITLY stating that his "I 'know'..." statement is based on his own intuitions as well as the empirical data (but then goes on to state that his own intuitions should not be considered evidence by others). This is not, and cannot by any reasonable reader be interpreted as, a criticism of the empirical data.

Scientists frequently focus their research programmes on the basis of their intuitions as well as the empirical data, but published results have to be based on the data not the intuitions. Marjerus EXPLICITLY states that "much of the work on the peppered moth" is "good science," that the evidence is "impressive" and that "if you wade through the 200+ papers written about melanism in the peppered moth, it is difficult to come to any conclusion other than that natural selection through the agent of differential bird predation is largely responsible for the rise and fall of carbonaria."

This is his personal assessment of the scientific evidence. But the TiS do not quote this. Instead they quote from his comments about others not being able to base their own assessment on his personal intuitions, and purposefully misrepresent this as being a doubt about the empirical evidence. This is willful dishonesty.

2:52 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Hrafn,
Your last comment was very well put!
However I still disagree.

The purpose of the quotation was as a substitute for asking Marjerus this question.
Is the kettlewell data flawed? –(Yes or No)

The quote is simply serving as making Marjerus answer – Yes.

I am sure that Marjerus would give that answer and I think you are also in agreement.

You and Marjerus would want to add lots of qualifications and additional points but a news reporter would not be being dishonest to put the headline as: “Marjerus says that Kettlewell data is flawed!” or even “Marjerus says that there is no proof of natural selection by differential bird predation from the published peppered moth data!”

Your complaint is that many of the positive things about the work that Marjerus has said are not included. The TiS point in context is simply about whether the Kettlewell Data is flawed or not. It is. Marjerus’s considered judgment is that it is flawed too.

He considers that it is by far the best hypothesis. He considers that the evidence in favour of the hypothesis is “impressive.” It falls short however of a demonstration.

It is however presently taught to school pupils as a demonstrated fact. I think that what Marjerus is also saying in this quotation is that this should not be being done.
I think he would prefer teachers to say:
Scientists are pretty sure that this is the case but the experiments to demonstrate that it is true are exceedingly difficult to do and a certain demonstration is being worked on right now.

That is how I would present it now… but that is not how I presented it in the past and I am sure that is not how it is presented in the schools. Would you be in agreement?

9:54 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"The purpose of the quotation was as a substitute for asking Marjerus this question.
Is the kettlewell data flawed? –(Yes or No)"


The problem is that Marjerus did not answer this question in the quoted section. He was answering the totally different question of "should you put your trust in other people's intuitions or rely on the empirical data?"

My answer incidentally is "yes" only to the extent that all scientific experiments are flawed, in that sooner or later someone will think up a slightly better way of performing them.

"a news reporter would not be being dishonest to put the headline as: ... “Marjerus says that there is no proof of natural selection by differential bird predation from the published peppered moth data!”"

This would be "dishonest"!

This would in fact be a lie.

This would be the EXACT OPPOSITE OF WHAT MARJERUS IN FACT SAID!


Marjerus said:
However, if you wade through the 200+ papers written about melanism in the peppered moth, it is difficult to come to any conclusion other than that natural selection through the agent of differential bird predation is largely responsible for the rise and fall of carbonaria.

How does "...difficult to come to any conclusion other than..." mean "no proof" Andrew? Does black now mean white?

"The TiS point in context is simply about whether the Kettlewell Data is flawed or not. It is. Marjerus’s considered judgment is that it is flawed too."

The TiS took a point Marjerus made about intuitions being unreliable and willfully and dishonestly misrepresented it as saying that Kettlewell's data is unreliable. How is Marjerus' intuition the same thing as Kettlewell's data Andrew? Because if they are not the same thing, then TiS putting this quote into this context is clearly and unambiguously dishonest.

Marjerus does not consider Kettlewell's data to be "flawed." He explicitly dismisses all but one of the criticisms leveled at this data. The only change he is proposing to Kettlewell's methodology is that the moths should be allowed to "take up their own resting positions" rather than be placed. He does not say that this is sufficient to discredit Kettlewell's data.

"It is however presently taught to school pupils as a demonstrated fact."

This is because it IS a demonstrated fact. The fact that the experimental process could be improved does not change this - as I said above, ALL scientific experiments are subject to later improvement. Should we also throw out the whole astronomy syllabus because next year NASA will build a better telescope? Of course not!

"I think he would prefer teachers to say:
Scientists are pretty sure that this is the case but the experiments to demonstrate that it is true are exceedingly difficult to do and a certain demonstration is being worked on right now."


I'm quite sure that you would. It would however be a dishonest thing to say. The experiments to date DO demonstrate it. Yes, next year's experiments will demonstrate it better than current ones do, but the same could be said about the year after next's experiments being better than next year's. So, if you have it your way, it never ends - for any scientific fact.

Yes, all science is provisional. However, science education cannot afford to be so. To do so would simply bury students under a mountain of qualifiers and equivocations, serving only to waste (potentially considerable amounts of) time and confuse them.

When my high school Physics teacher taught Newtonian Mechanics, he did not feel compelled to tell me that Einsteinian Relativity renders it slightly inaccurate, because he knew that I wouldn't need to know that until university, and that bringing it up then would only confuse the issue.

Until new research comes along that either conflicts with Kettlewell's data or provides a better demonstration of the hypothesis, teachers are perfectly justified in teaching what we do know now, and leaving what we might know later until we know it, or until the student reaches a post-graduate level and actually may need to know about any residual fuzziness (because they may be doing research themselves that is affected by it).

10:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hafn,

You clearly express great hatred toward creations and IDists in general that you'd rather debate on pointless topics. If you wish to resort in this childish name-calling or bashing of creationists as being liars then i am afraid that your side is not so "innocent" either.


The trouble is:
1) it dates from 1979 (so is woefully out of date);
Whether it was out of date is irrelevant. The truth of the quotations is correct.

2) it was written in Science Digest, "a monthly American magazine ... targeted at persons with a high school education level. It contained short articles about general science often excerpted from other publications in the style of Reader's Digest." Hardly an authoritative source; and

Does it have to be authoritative?

3) the article also contains the disclaimer: "most or all of the Creationists are devout fundamentalist Protestant Christians. Many of them testify that they adopted their creationist positions in childhood, long before their professional training, and have not wavered since."

This has no bearing whether they are correct. Indeed, some have been creationists since their childhood but there are people who investigate their presuppositions. It's obvious that this doesn't apply to most.

Doesn't sound quite so impressive now, does it?

Well if you want something recent and impressive then check this quote out:

"Over the years I've met a lot of outstanding scientists and science students. Some of them have been conservative Christians and even young-Earth creationists (YECs). Although I may disagree with their religious and political views, I've gladly written job recommendations for several chemistry graduate students that were creationists. Considering their backgrounds, I viewed these creationist students as greater assets to research on environmental issues and applied chemistry than threats to biological evolution education." Kevin Henke

Although the rest of the article goes on to say that AiG and ICR scientists resort to the god-of-the-gaps fallacy, the quote stands nevertheless. It's quite recent. Whether you disagree is of no concern to me.

Why do you wish to debate on pointless topics? It would seem to be of more profit on discussing something else. Calling someone a "liar" could be truth but it should be made known to others. Hopefully they are honest enough to admit error. As i said, you're side is neither innocent of this either.

11:23 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Anonymous:

Seeing you have come in fists flying, I will return the compliment.

"You clearly express great hatred toward creations and IDists in general that you'd rather debate on pointless topics."

No Anon. What I hate is:
1) Bald, unsubstantiated assertions (something that your post is chock-full of).
2) Bad logic (again you're guilty).
3) Abuse of statistics.

Given that Creationist arguments tend to include all three, it is hardly surprising that my interactions with Creationists are somewhat confrontational.

"Whether it was out of date is irrelevant."

It is entirely relevant, you blithering idiot. This article was written 27 years ago: over a generation ago, and before Edwards v. Arkansas (on top of earlier decisions) forced major changes in how evolution is taught in the US.

"The truth of the quotations is correct."

And what "truth" would this be, anon?

"Does it have to be authoritative?"

Yes, because, as the article (at least as quoted), does not explicitly cite the statistics on which it bases its opinion, we have only the (rather doubtful) authority of of the publication itself that these statistics are solid.

"This has no bearing whether they are correct."

Whether they received these beliefs at a very young and impressionable age (the age that most children would be believing in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny) has "no bearing" on whether these beliefs accurately reflect reality (especially when they are under considerable life-long social pressure to uphold these beliefs)?

Do your really expect me to take this (non-)argument seriously?

"Considering their backgrounds, I viewed these creationist students as greater assets to research on environmental issues and applied chemistry than threats to biological evolution education." Kevin Henke

I dare say that, if I was discussing "environmental issues and applied chemistry," then I would find more things to agree with creationists. However the subject of this blog is "ID in the UK" and thus the main subject of conversation is ID vs Evolution, a subject on which we vehemently disagree.

"Hopefully they are honest enough to admit error."

Generally they are not. Their general tactic is to attempt to flood the debate with sufficient falsehoods and misrepresentation to overwhelm the ability of scientific opponents to correct them all - a tactic known as the 'Gish Gallop' after its most notorious (ab)user, Duane Gish.

"As i said, you're side is neither innocent of this either."

And as I have said numerous times on this forum, I do not give a rat's arse what you (or anybody else) says - what I care about is what you can SUBSTANTIATE. Given that you have presented nothing to substantiate willful dishonesty (which is what 'Truth in Science' has been peddling) by my "side," you are simply blowing hot air.

The history of Creationists using dishonesty in their advocacy is too broadly and thoroughly established for them to deserve equal footing, or even the benefit of the doubt.

3:29 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seeing you have come in fists flying, I will return the compliment.

That's typical.

No Anon. What I hate is:
1) Bald, unsubstantiated assertions (something that your post is chock-full of).
2) Bad logic (again you're guilty).
3) Abuse of statistics.

Given that Creationist arguments tend to include all three, it is hardly surprising that my interactions with Creationists are somewhat confrontational.


Yes, you probably hate those characteristics but we don't see any evolutionists complaining about their sides IRRATIONAL arguments now do we?


It is entirely relevant, you blithering idiot. This article was written 27 years ago: over a generation ago, and before Edwards v. Arkansas (on top of earlier decisions) forced major changes in how evolution is taught in the US

Do have you anything else to do rather than calling someone names? Guess not. That still doesn't change that the person thought creationists were scientists.

And what "truth" would this be, anon?

What i meant was that the statement wasn't a misquote. It's also true with some evolutionists but you deny it.


Yes, because, as the article (at least as quoted), does not explicitly cite the statistics on which it bases its opinion, we have only the (rather doubtful) authority of of the publication itself that these statistics are solid.

I would expect anyone who disagrees that they would question their authority. True, no statistics are presented but it probably wasn't meant to be an exhaustive explanation for creationists being scientists.

Whether they received these beliefs at a very young and impressionable age (the age that most children would be believing in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny) has "no bearing" on whether these beliefs accurately reflect reality (especially when they are under considerable life-long social pressure to uphold these beliefs)?

Oh, i see so you question the christian belief correct? I wouldn't be in the least surprised that you have a misconception of faith as all other atheists/agnostics have. Yes, because evidence should be considered and creationists do consider it. Don't think there is evidence for christianity?

See here: tektonics.org

The evidence for christianity is quite substantial that we have a justification for believing in it. Whether you think people blindly believe in God DOESN'T have a bearing on the truth of that certain belief.

How many people do you know that believe in Santa claus? People do believing in Santa Claus but this is not the case for christianity. You will know people that convert at the age of 18, 27, 39, 45, 54, and even 70. Just take Antony flew for an example. Asserting that the belief in God is equated to Santa Claus is just a way to avoid the truth of whether it's true or not.

Do your really expect me to take this (non-)argument seriously?

No, i don't expect any argument that i present to be taken seriously by you. Even if it is perhaps a good argument. 70% of the discussion i have with evolutionists are pretty much pointless. Most of the objections are nothing new.

However the subject of this blog is "ID in the UK" and thus the main subject of conversation is ID vs Evolution, a subject on which we vehemently disagree.

However, you were stating that creationists were misquoting evolutionists so it wasn't entirely on ID.

And as I have said numerous times on this forum, I do not give a rat's arse what you (or anybody else) says - what I care about is what you can SUBSTANTIATE. Given that you have presented nothing to substantiate willful dishonesty (which is what 'Truth in Science' has been peddling) by my "side," you are simply blowing hot air.

Learn to take debates such as these less seriously. There's no need to have a grumpy attitude. Get some rest and tell me if you woke up on the right side of the bed.

See here for YOUR SIDE misquoting: http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/quotes/ceqevmsq.html

There is substantial evidence of misquotes by evolutionists. Give up this meaningless discussion which i doubt you'll do. Frankly, you probably don't understand the meaning of "give up".

10:29 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd also like to apologize in behalf of most honest christians who have misquoted evolutionists. To be upfront, i've done this as well but it certainly was not intentional. Whether you accept this apology is up to you.

Take note that i never said that christians were perfect. Quite frankly, those that don't want to admit a misquotation wouldn't be considered true christians unless they repent.

10:44 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"Yes, you probably hate those characteristics but we don't see any evolutionists complaining about their sides IRRATIONAL arguments now do we?"

What "irrational arguments"? Be SPECIFIC. I am sick to death of unsubstantiated "your side does it too" accusations.

"Do have you anything else to do rather than calling someone names?"

Not when the person in question has shown themselves to be wholly incapable of engaging on the substance of the issue (in this case the effect of the changing US legal landscape on teaching, and thus belief in, Creationism).

"What i meant was that the statement wasn't a misquote."

It was a quote taken grossly out of context.

"You will know people that convert at the age of 18, 27, 39, 45, 54, and even 70."

Read the quote again:
"Many of them testify that they adopted their creationist positions in childhood, long before their professional training, and have not wavered since."

The article was specifically pointing to a significant number of these Creationist scientists adopted their beliefs at an impressionable age.

"However, you were stating that creationists were misquoting evolutionists so it wasn't entirely on ID."

ID is merely a subset of Creationism. Additionally, the majority of the creationists I have been criticising are at least allies of the ID movement (e.g. distributing Discovery Institute-derived propaganda).

"Learn to take debates such as these less seriously."

1) I don't see how I can take it less seriously than "not giving a rat's arse".

2) It is clear that you don't take substantiating anything you say seriously -- thus supporting one of my earlier contentions about creationists.

"See here for YOUR SIDE misquoting: http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/quotes/ceqevmsq.html
"


MORE unsubstantiated claptrap! Very impressive.

6:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What "irrational arguments"? Be SPECIFIC. I am sick to death of unsubstantiated "your side does it too" accusations.

Richard Dawkins for one which he says that religion is the root of all evil or cause many wars so it's wrong. Or other arguments such as the god-of-the-gaps and your side complaining about creationism being "religious".

Not when the person in question has shown themselves to be wholly incapable of engaging on the substance of the issue (in this case the effect of the changing US legal landscape on teaching, and thus belief in, Creationism).

Actually, most creationists strongly hold that non-believers should NOT be teaching creationism.

It was a quote taken grossly out of context

Would you mind to quote the "real" quote?

ID is merely a subset of Creationism. Additionally, the majority of the creationists I have been criticising are at least allies of the ID movement.

Wow, i don't need to waste my time on this. Another pointless argument since creationism and ID is just a name. No one is saying that ID (at least not me) is NOT similar to creationism. I would disagree with you that is a entire subset of creationism. You also completely ignored the link i provided that actually demonstrates a lot of evidence that the Scripture as truth. Science can wave off creationism or ID as religious all they want. One reason why they call this religious is because most scientists are atheistic and have a strong naturalistic philosophy

The article was specifically pointing to a significant number of these Creationist scientists adopted their beliefs at an impressionable age.

Please back up the incredible assertion that a significant number of these creationists scientists adopt christianity at a young age. This is nothing but preposterous mud. You're arguments are pitiful. Evidence should also be demonstrated that these creationists who believe christianity at a young age don't look at the evidence while becoming more intelligent. As i said before, this is really irrelevant since you'd first have to prove that christianity is nonsense. The most popular way of course is through evolution, but that's with the assumption that naturalism is true.

2) It is clear that you don't take substantiating anything you say seriously -- thus supporting one of my earlier contentions about creationists.

Actually, all you have done so far is criticizing the creationists. I am not interested in such childish stupidity. Cry all you want. No ones going to worry about people such as yourself as they know people love to debate. You're quite anti-christian are ya??

MORE unsubstantiated claptrap! Very impressive.

Actually that doesn't prove anything. Get your head out of the toilet.

10:36 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Allygally,

Can you put in the references to your quotes of the Wedge document? Which wedge document are you talking about?

12:08 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Hrafn,

I agree that there is a clear difference between using Gould to argue that the fossil record is inconsistent with gradualism and using Gould to argue that the fossil record is inconsistent with "evolution." Would you agree that what is actually found in the fossil record is not what Darwin hoped/expected to find?

12:12 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"I agree that there is a clear difference between using Gould to argue that the fossil record is inconsistent with gradualism and using Gould to argue that the fossil record is inconsistent with "evolution." Would you agree that what is actually found in the fossil record is not what Darwin hoped/expected to find?"

Andrew:

1) I am not sufficiently well read on the writings of Darwin to know what exactly "Darwin hoped/expected to find." I have seen "gradualism" associated with early (circa 1900) Darwinian evolution, but nothing in the way of a direct quote. Therefore I cannot be certain if it was an expectation of Darwin, or one or more of his acolytes or successors.

2) I don't think the expectations of a century-dead naturalist is particularly relevant.

1:18 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Hrafn,

Incidentally I would join with you in condemning a misuse of Gould against gradualism as if it was Gould against evolution.

1:53 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Liar caught out by tape:
"LaClair said Paszkiewicz told students that if they didn't accept Jesus, "you belong in hell." He also dismissed as unscientific the theories of evolution and the "Big Bang.""
...
" At first, Paszkiewicz denied he mixed in religion with his history lesson, and the adults in the room appeared to be buying it, LaClair said. But then he reached into his backpack and produced the CDs."

2:27 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Eep: just realised that I forgot to include the URL:
http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1163571262150640.xml&coll=1

3:32 am  

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