PZ Myers continued to misrepresent Wells, has finally stopped
PZ has finally stopped claiming that Wells misrepresented Ballard and I don't like to beat a dead horse, but I do want to set the record straight. Also, PZ and his supporters never admitted that Wells was misrepresented but they just moved on (PZ's latest post on Wells is here}.
After it was pointed out that PZ misrepresented Wells' book by ignoring the text on pages 30-31, PZ tried to defend himself by falsely claiming that pages 30-31 also misrepresented Ballard:
I'm afraid my quote [of the call-out of page 35] was accurate. Wells did distort the quote to suit his ends. He quotes Ballard elsewhere in the article [pages 30-31], too, but it's more of the same: he's trying to twist Ballard's words into some kind of refutation of the facts, to lie about what a distinguished dead (and therefore unable to rebut him) biologist had to say about the similarities of embryos. The point of Ballard's paper was to argue for the diversity of gastrulation mechanisms, but right there in the paper, in the paragraph above the one Wells' selectively quoted, he affirms that "the pharyngula stage…is remarkably uniform throughout the subphylum." -- from Pharyngula blog.
PZ's above claim that Wells' discussion on pages 30-31 ignores the similarity of vertebrate embryos at the pharyngula stage is false. Here is what Wells said on page 31 --
So vertebrate embryos start out looking very different, then they become somewhat similar midway through development (though not as similar as Haeckel made them out to be) before diverging again. Embryologists call this pattern the "developmental hourglass." (Figure 4) (my emphasis)
-- from image of page 31 posted on the Pharyngula blog.
The statement that "they become somewhat similar midway through development" is of course a reference to the pharyngula stages. All Wells did was substitute the words "somewhat similar" for Ballard's "remarkably uniform." This is not a serious misrepresentation of Ballard. And Tim McGrew has pointed out that another publication of Ballard supports Wells' statement that the vertebrate embryos are only "somewhat similar" at the pharyngula stage:
Some of these actual pharyngulas have a tailfin and some do not. Those which are tetrapods have lung buds, the fish pharyngulas lack them. They all have a liver, to mention an organ at random, but the livers of fishes, birds and mammals are interestingly different in detail even at the pharyngula stage. Arteries can be compared easily but there is little uniformity in the veins. Most conspicuously, the circumstances and needs for respiration, nutrition, and excretion at this stage have been met by a good many structures of a temporary nature, aptly referred to as scaffolding tissues, which are in bold contrast in the different classes of vertebrates. -- – from William Ballard, Comparative Anatomy and Embryology (Ronald Press, 1964), p. 69
-- from comment in thread following this blog article (I tried to create a direct link to the comment but it didn't work, and no date is given but only the time, 6:13 PM. It is one of the last comments in the thread).
Labels: PZ Myers