I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Casey Luskin's criticism of "Monkey Girl"

I feel that Casey Luskin's criticism of the book "Monkey Girl" and the book's author Edward Humes has both good and bad points. I am particularly disappointed by the bad points because I have generally found Luskin's writings to be astute, fair, and backed up by extensive research.

Casey wrote,

Last spring, I was contacted by Mr. Humes, who requested an interview for his book. He immediately tried to convince me he was fair and objective, which is usually a red flag that a reporter isn’t going to be fair or objective . . . . Due to my suspicions last year, I only granted Humes a short phone interview where we discussed the nature of intelligent design (ID).

IMO, an interview is an interview -- it doesn't matter whether the interviewer is biased or not. If Casey had agreed to a long interview and the book had then misrepresented or unjustifiably omitted his views, then he would at least have had good reason to complain. Casey should not have looked a gift horse in the mouth. Who knows, Casey might have muffed an opportunity to help make the book more balanced.

During our brief call last year, I got Humes to admit that he accepted evolution. That's not necessarily a big deal, but just how staunch is Humes’ support for evolution? Now we learn: Humes’ present FAQ states, “ There is more scientific evidence, laboratory testing and direct observation to support evolutionary theory than virtually any other scientific theory, including gravitational theory...” (emphasis added by Luskin)

I’ve never seen a single journalist who promised he was fair and non-partisan subsequently claim that evolution has more scientific support than gravity. In fact, I can't recall witnessing anyone anywhere ever claim that evolution has more scientific evidence than gravity.

I think that Luskin has a good point here.

BTW, Humes was not speaking of "gravity" as Luskin said but was speaking of "gravitational theory." There is a "law" of gravity -- Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation which says that gravitational force is proportional to the product of the masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them -- and then there are "theories" of gravity (or gravitation) that seek to explain it. In Humes' FAQ, "gravitational theory" in the preceding quote has an asterisk to the following footnote (this footnote might have been added after Luskin criticized the above quote) --

*There is, of course, no doubt that gravity exists, but the understanding of how and why it effects space and time is surprisingly incomplete when it comes to laboratory evidence. For instance, the existence of gravitational waves is predicted by gravitational theory, but despite determined efforts by physicists for many years, such waves have never been directly detected. Evolution, on the other hand, has been observed directly in the laboratory and in nature innumerable times. (emphasis added)

The kind of evolution that Humes describes here consists only of microevolution and does not include macroevolution. No one disputes microevolution -- the big controversy is over macroevolution. Humes is either ignorant or dishonest here -- and I think the latter because I doubt that anyone could write such an extensive review of the Dover case without becoming aware of the difference between microevolution and macroevolution.

Luskin says,

Humes’ FAQ states: “Fact: Evolution is mindless, but never random.” (emphasis added by Luskin)

Sheeesh -- then why do they call it "random" mutation?

When Humes contacted me last year, I asked him if he would provide his book proposal because that would probably show if had an agenda. He declined, stating as his given reason that he didn’t want to risk anyone stealing his book idea. That sounded fair, so I dropped my request.

What was the big secret? Interviewing people connected to the Dover case and then writing a book based on the interviews hardly seems like a novel idea.

But now that his book is published, no one can steal his ideas, so I recently re-asked him to make his book proposal public so he can prove that he had no agenda when writing Monkey Girl. But Humes still refuses to make his book proposal public! (emphasis in original)

I think that Luskin is wrong for condemning Humes for refusing to make the book proposal public. IMO people should not be expected to disclose their private tentative ideas -- ideas that they never intended to make public and ideas that they may later scrap or modify. I also think it was wrong of the Dover plaintiffs to subpoena expert witness William Dembski's draft of the book "Design of Life" -- the subpoena was approved by Judge Jones with the provision that the contents of the draft not be publicly disclosed.

Also, unless Humes is an employee of the book's publisher, I am surprised that he submitted a book proposal to the publisher. I have never heard of a publishing company accepting a book from an independent writer solely on the basis of a book proposal -- I thought that publishing companies accepted such books only on the basis of complete manuscripts.

I previously discussed "Monkey Girl" in this post.

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