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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Darwinists concede "Flock of Dodos" wrong about Haeckel's Embryos

There is a huge controversy going on now about Jonathan Wells' charge that some recent biology textbooks use Haeckel's long-discredited embryo drawings as false supporting evidence for evolution theory. The movie "Flock of Dodos" claims that the charge is false, but now Darwinists -- including the producer of the movie, Randy Olson -- are conceding that there is truth to the charge.

In a Feb. 10 article in Evolution News & Views, John West said,

The documentary Flock of Dodos depicts biologist Jonathan Wells as a fraud for claiming in his book Icons of Evolution (2000) that Haeckel’s bogus embryo drawings were used by modern textbooks to misrepresent the evidence for Darwinian evolution. But at a screening last Wednesday night at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Olson essentially admitted that it was his film that was wrong, not Wells. In answer to an audience question about whether he still maintained that "there are no Haeckel's embryos in modern textbooks," Olson replied:

at the time of that discussion [about Haeckel's embryos in the film], I wasn’t aware that apparently there are a few textbooks that have traces of Haeckel’s embryos that they use for models of these things. (emphasis in original)

And dyed-in-the-wool Darwinist PZ Myers said,

Haeckel was wrong. His theory was invalid, some of his drawings were faked, and he willfully over-interpreted the data to prop up a false thesis. Furthermore, he was influential, both in the sciences and the popular press; his theory still gets echoed in the latter today. Wells is also correct in criticizing textbook authors for perpetuating Haeckel's infamous diagram without commenting on its inaccuracies or the way it was misused to support a falsified theory.(emphasis added)

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

But Larry leaves out the continuation of the essay, one that negates Wells' point:

Unfortunately, what Wells tries to do in this chapter is to take this invalid, discredited theory and tar modern (and even not so modern) evolutionary biology with it. The biogenetic law is not Darwinism or neo-Darwinism, however. It is not part of any modern evolutionary theory. Wells is carrying out a bait-and-switch here, marshalling the evidence and citations that properly demolish the Haeckelian dogma, and then claiming that this is part of "our best evidence for Darwin's theory."

In short, the drawings are hardly important as a site of contention. If the textbook errs in affirming this point, it has made a mistake, but not one that is relevant as far as evolution is understood: "The biogenetic law is not Darwinism or neo-Darwinism, however. It is not part of any modern evolutionary theory."

Saturday, February 17, 2007 3:45:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said...

>>>>> But Larry leaves out the continuation of the essay, one that negates Wells' point: <<<<<

That continuation of the essay does not negate Wells' point that some modern textbooks misuse the Haeckel embryo drawings. That point is the issue so far as the Flock of Dodos' criticism of Wells that I cited is concerned.

Also, here again is what PZ Myers said:

Wells is also correct in criticizing textbook authors for perpetuating Haeckel's infamous diagram without commenting on its inaccuracies or the way it was misused to support a falsified theory.

Saturday, February 17, 2007 4:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim Sherwood said...

Haeckel's bunk turns up in many places, actually.

Look up "Evolution" in The New Catholic Encyclopedia (2003, vol.5,p.492), and be greeted by a huge picture of--Haeckel's greatly distorted and apparently faked embryo drawings, heading an eminently Darwinist article.

The drawings are obviously there as advocacy for Darwinism, not about Haeckel's "biogenetic law", which isn't mentioned.

Apparently the Catholic University of America, which was responsible for the spread, was unaware of the evident fraud long after it was widely discussed by scientists, in 1997.

Yet Louis Agassiz and many other biologists were aware of Haeckel's distortions, even in Darwin's day.

Most Catholic scientists and intellectuals have long accepted Darwinism, while striving to accommodate it in a theistic framework.

But the Catholic Church itself has officially said nothing in favor of Darwinism. It has, however, seemed to favor common descent:
"evolution" in the wider sense, which need not depend upon Darwinist mechanisms. And it has added that a theistic version of Darwinism, even if true, wouldn't contradict Catholic theology.

I'm not a Catholic or even a theist: but the embarassing presence of Haeckel's distortions in a The New Catholic Encyclopedia may not be helpful to those Catholics who are resisting Cardinal Schoenborn's call to teach students about disputes over Darwinism, in science classes.

Saturday, February 17, 2007 4:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Answers said...

Modern Theory

One can explain connections between phylogeny and ontogeny if one assumes that one species changes into another by a sequence of small modifications to its developmental program (specified by the genome). Modifications that affect early steps of this program will usually require modifications in all later steps and are therefore less likely to succeed. Most of the successful changes will thus affect the latest stages of the program, and the program will retain the earlier steps. Occasionally however, a modification of an earlier step in the program does succeed: for this reason a strict correspondence between ontogeny and phylogeny, as expressed in Ernst Haeckel's discredited recapitulation law, fails.

(The rest of the article is also interesting.)

Sunday, February 18, 2007 3:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim Sherwood said...

My main point is the Haeckel's phony embryo drawings are sometimes simply used, straight-out, as if they were evidence for Darwinism.

That's the way they were used by the so-called "theistic evolutionists" (i.e., Darwinists who are also theists) who wrote the Darwinist article on "Evolution" in the New Catholic Encyclopedia (2003): which is headed by a huge picture of Haeckel's embryo drawings.

There was no mention of Haeckel in the article, so the drawings were not being used to comment on his now-disgarded "biogenetic law."

It appears that the "theistic evolutionists" themselves thought "Gosh, isn't this stuff great evidence for Darwinian evolution! It will make a great heading for our Darwinist article!"

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 2:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First Larry:

>>>>>>>>That continuation of the essay does not negate Wells' point that some modern textbooks misuse the Haeckel embryo drawings.

Then Jim:

>>>>>>>>My main point is the Haeckel's phony embryo drawings are sometimes simply used, straight-out, as if they were evidence for Darwinism.

You both (?) miss the point as you say it. Wells's point in noting that textbooks make this mistake is that it is not just textbooks making this mistake: it is a flaw in evolution and why readers should be suspicious of evolution and not just their textbooks.

However, while the textbooks in question may make this mistake (a highly debateable point, apparently, as it seems confined to a few, older textbooks, OR where it the drawings are reprints, they are printed noting that they are a mistake, they do not in any way, shape, or form bring the theory of evolution into question since, as I posted before, what the drawings represent, namely, the biogenetic law, "is not Darwinism or neo-Darwinism."

Thursday, February 22, 2007 7:00:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Reply to Anonymous's preceding comment --

I don't understand exactly what you are trying to say, but I will say this --

The only issue I was addressing in my opening post here was whether some recent textbooks have used the faked Haeckel embryo drawings in a misleading manner. Based on the statements of Wells, Olson, and Myers, the answer appears to be yes. The question of whether actual embryos support evolution theory is addressed here and here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007 9:11:00 PM  

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