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.

Name:
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

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.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The monkey business of "Monkey Girl"

"Monkey Girl" by Edward Humes, which had a release date of January 30, is one of the new books I mentioned in my post titled Books about Kitzmiller v. Dover case. The main homepage for Monkey Girl is here; another webpage of the same website has additional comments under the heading "Advance Praise for Monkey Girl." Though the homepage's synopsis and the early reviews of the book seem to present the book as objective and neutral, it appears that the book has a decided pro-Darwinist slant. It is noteworthy that the homepage's section titled "Reviews" has favorable comments from well-known Darwinists -- Judge John E. Jones III, Eugenie Scott, and Michael Shermer -- but no comments at all from well-known anti-Darwinists. The Monkey Girl FAQ says, for example,

Myth: the modern Intelligent Design movement was conceived by scientists to further human knowledge and understanding.

Fact: The modern Intelligent Design movement was conceived by a lawyer in order to overthrow evolutionary theory and bring God “back” to public school classrooms.

That is just a blatant smear of the intelligent design movement. Many prominent proponents of ID have been scientists and technologists with no religious ax to grind.

Another example from the Monkey Girl FAQ:
Myth: Evolutionary theory states that man evolved from monkeys.

Fact: Evolutionary theory states that man and monkeys share a common ancestor that was neither man nor monkey, but possessed qualities passed on to each.

Even humans are now considered to be apes. Some of the extinct alleged ancestors of humans are non-human apes. Wikipedia says of apes,

Until a handful of decades ago, humans were thought to be distinctly set apart from the other apes (even from the other great apes), so much so that many people still don't think of the term "apes" to include humans at all. However, it is not considered accurate by many biologists to think of apes in a biological sense without considering humans to be included. The terms "non-human apes" or "non-human great apes" is used with increasing frequency to show the relationship of humans to the other apes while yet talking only about the non-human species.

Also, the prologue of the book says about the Dover Area school board's ID policy,

As the board majority saw it, all this would do was improve science education in Dover -- an inclusion of new and exciting theories, a commitment to accuracy and fairness by referencing “both sides” of the evolution question, and a lesson in critical thought added to all that tired, materialistic Darwinian dogma. Who, the board majority maintained, could argue with that?

They might have had a point, too, but for two big problems: Their own in-house experts – the entire science faculty – informed them that Intelligent Design was hooey in their considered opinion, that it was creationism in all but name, and that they adamantly opposed its introduction into the curriculum. And then there were the official discussions leading up to the new policy that seemed to belie the board’s bland insistence that it had no religious agenda . . .

The fact that the teachers disapproved of the ID policy does not mean or imply that the policy was an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. Also, the religious motives of the some of the school board members arguably should not have been a factor in the Dover case but because of the infamous Lemon test unfortunately were.

Also, the prologue says of former school board member David Napierski,

Like other members of the school board, he says his support for “balance” is not based on any extensive knowledge of what Intelligent Design is all about, or evolution for that matter. Indeed, he clearly fails to grasp that evolutionary theory in no way claims that man descended from apes, but only that today’s men and today’s apes share a common ancestor in the distant, prehistoric past.

As noted above, the extinct alleged ancestors of humans are non-human apes.

The Monkey Girl homepage also lists the following unreliable sources of information:

Panda's Thumb (a group Darwinist blog)

Uncommon Descent (a group anti-Darwinist blog)

Pharyngula (personal blog of PZ Myers, who also blogs on Panda's Thumb)

The above blogs are unreliable because they arbitrarily censor comments and commenters, and as a result many of the discussion threads on these blogs are very one-sided. The same is true of the personal blogs of Panda's Thumb bloggers Ed Brayton (Dispatches from the Culture Wars) and Esley Welsberry (Austringer).

The Monkey Girl homepage also cites another unreliable source, the Fordham Foundation's report on state evolution education standards. The Fordham Foundation once threatened to drop Ohio's overall science education grade from a B to an F because of the state's former critical analysis lesson plan for evolution education (see letter posted on Jan. 21, 2006 on this webpage), even though evolution education is worth only 3 points out of a maximum possible score of 69 for overall state science education ratings in the Fordham Foundation's 2005 report on state science standards. Also, the Fordham Foundation's criteria for determining states' overall science education ratings -- e.g., "seriousness" and "quality" -- have been criticized as being arbitrary, vague, and subjective, and the ratings have been criticized as having no correlation with actual student performance (BTW, the Fordham Foundation has no connection with Fordham University).

An article in the York Dispatch, a local newspaper in Dover, says about the book,

"The central element is the (Dover) case, but it's placed in a larger context," Humes said earlier this month.

The book looks at similar controversies in Kansas and other states, as well as the history of evolution-versus-religion cases, such as the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee.

Though Dover's trial was billed as the "second coming" of the Scopes trial, Humes said the Dover case "went far beyond Scopes" because the scientific experts weren't allowed to testify in the Scopes case.

The Dover trial was considered to be "Scopes II" in terms of publicity and fame. However, so far as the content and nature of the Dover case are concerned, the true predecessors of the case are: (1) the relatively unknown McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education (1982), where there was also a lot of expert scientific testimony; and (2) Selman v. Cobb County(2005-2006) and the almost unknown but nonetheless significant Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish(2000) cases, which like the Dover case were evolution disclaimer cases.

The York Dispatch article also says,

" . . . I think that is very common. ... People doubt or outright reject the theory of evolution but they don't even know what it is they've rejected," Humes said. "They just know they don't like it."

I don't think that is true. I think that people in general are not as ignorant about evolution as Humes wants to believe.

Ultimately, the fallout for such thinking could be a national crisis; fewer young Americans are getting science degrees, and that doesn't bode well for the United States' progress against foreign competitors, Humes said.

That's hogwash -- the public's beliefs about evolution have nothing to do with technological competitiveness. No commercial product is based on macroevolution theory, and scientists can use evolution theory (as they do in cladistic taxonomy) even while believing that only part of it or none of it is true. And there is a surplus -- not a shortage -- of Americans with advanced training in science and technology.

An article in the York Daily Record, another local newspaper in the Dover, says,

For "Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion and the Battle for America's Soul," Humes interviewed several key players in the trial, such as Bill Buckingham, Judge John E. Jones III and Jeff and Casey Brown.

If Judge Jones' interview included direct comments about the case, then this is another example showing that Jones lied when he said -- through a spokesperson -- that he "has always avoided speaking about the case directly."

The York Daily Record article continues,

"When people talk about the theory of evolution, they really don't know what it is," he [Humes] said. "It's evident of how poor of a job are we doing educating kids in science."

Does the statement "[w]hen people talk about the theory of evolution, they really don't know what it is" apply to those who support evolution theory as well as those who do not? And evolution theory is only a small part of science, so how can this alleged ignorance of evolution theory be evidence that we are allegedly doing a poor job of educating kids in science? Also, as someone astutely pointed out, if there is anything wrong with American science education, then the Darwinists are to blame because they have had complete, absolute monopoly control of American science education for the last several decades.

Humes said he encourages the public to read his book with an open mind. He said he made his best effort to present all perspectives fairly.

I disagree. From what I have seen of Humes' writings about the case, he does not present all perspectives fairly.

"But it's pretty hard to find fault with the judge's findings," he said.

Ahem. Many people including myself have found plenty of fault with the judge's findings.

Also, the York Daily Record article included the following statement from Judge Jones, taken from the book's official website:

"Ed Humes' remarkable and balanced narrative has captured the essence of this complex and emotional dispute. When discussing the trial I have frequently found myself saying that to truly understand it, you had to be there. Humes' compelling book accomplishes just that, in that it explains this controversy to the reader in detail. In the face of the many inaccuracies and distortions promulgated by the punditry and others, we happily now have a definitive and thorough account of what really happened both before and during the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial."

For starters, IMO Jones' commenting about a book about the trial is -- strictly speaking -- contrary to his statement that he has always avoided speaking about the case directly.

As for his statement, "When discussing the trial I have frequently found myself saying that to truly understand it, you had to be there," that's BS. I never came anywhere near Dover or the courtroom and I did not participate in the trial in any way, but I challenge anyone to read this blog's dozens of articles connected to the case and say that I don't truly understand it. And a lot of important things connected with the case -- such as Judge Jones' infamous "true religion" speech at Dickinson College -- were not even part of the trial. Practically all that I know about the case I learned through the Internet -- some people simply don't understand the great power of the Internet as a means of gathering information and ideas.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --

The Discovery Institute's charge that the Dover opinion's ID-as-science section was virtually copied in its entirety from the plantiffs' opening post-trial brief probably came too late to be included in Monkey Girl. However, I feel that no book about the Dover case may be considered to be definitive without considering this charge.

I have often been criticized for posting reviews of books that I have not actually read in their entirety. However, though it has been often said that a book cannot be judged by its cover, I believe that it is possible to judge a book by means of such things as the book's introduction (or a "prologue" in the case of Monkey Girl), the book's website, and the comments of others.

Labels: ,

5 Comments:

Anonymous elbogz said...

I have a question to ask you. I am making two assumptions in asking you these questions. First, you are someone that supports intelligent design. Second, I am making the assumption that you also view the world and faith from a Christian perspective. If that is not correct, then my question is probably out of place. Anyways…..

You seem very learned about the teaching of Intelligent Design. What I can’t understand is how this field of study (ID) has become a part of so many Christian Churches. Religious doctrine has never been based on scientific theories or facts. In fact it would seem much of the new testament would reject the use of science to “find God” For example in 1 Timothy

1Ti 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and opposition of science falsely so called:


Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God can only be found within one’s heart.

People like Dr. Behe, who have theories of science, may be right, or they may be wrong. Time will tell. However in the mean time Sunday school classes and men’s bible studies all point to the writings of the ID world and saying “LOOK, PROOF OF GOD!!!!!”

What happens the day one or more of these theories gets disproved? Does that mean that God does not exist? How small their God must be, if a book written by Charles Darwin can knock Him off His stool. I think if God wanted proof of his existence to be known by man, He would not have hidden it so deeply inside a molecule, that it took 2000 years of scientific study to find it. He would have simply written on every rock, "Made by God".

What happens to the children, when they find out everything the church told them about science was a big lie? My guess is, they reject everything the church told them. Is that the price we pay for this debate?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007 3:37:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

elbogz said...
>>>>>>I am making two assumptions in asking you these questions. First, you are someone that supports intelligent design. <<<<<<

Well, sort of. But one of my purposes in starting this blog was to promote non-ID criticisms of evolution theory, e.g., criticisms concerning co-evolution and the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction. I feel that there has been way too much emphasis on ID. There has been so much focusing on ID that some people seem to have the idea that it is the only scientific -- or pseudoscientific, to some -- criticism of evolution theory. People even falsely conflate -- often deliberately -- ID and creationism. Whenever teaching critical analysis of evolution in the schools is proposed, the Darwinists always start shouting, "ID, ID, ID."

Even if natural genetic variation (including random mutation) were capable of producing all of the genetic variation that we see in nature, evolution theory would still be in question because of non-ID criticisms -- e.g., the ones I mentioned, co-evolution and the sexual propagation of beneficial mutations. For example, a mutant lizard with usable wings could fly immediately, but a mutant bee that suddenly appears with a feature that is co-dependent with flowers would not get any benefit from that feature unless flowers with the corresponding co-dependent feature appeared in the same place at the same time -- something that is very unlikely. Furthermore, large numbers of both co-dependent species might have to simultaneously appear in the same place at the same time because co-dependent species often can interact only in large numbers. Also, a co-dependent feature can be deleterious in the absence of the corresponding co-dependent feature in another organism, and when this is true of both organisms in a co-dependent relationship, co-evolution is virtually impossible. Evolution theory is generally considered to consist of two parts, natural genetic variation (often just called random mutation, but there are other causes of natural genetic variation) and natural selection. I view ID as a barrier to natural genetic variation and co-evolution problems as a barrier to natural selection (i.e., natural selection cannot operate where an essential corresponding co-dependent feature is not present). Sometimes, the ID issue can compound the co-evolution issue because co-evolution can involve ID features in one or both of the co-dependent organisms.

>>>>> Second, I am making the assumption that you also view the world and faith from a Christian perspective. <<<<<<

I don't know what I said here that might have given you that idea. I am no big fan of Christianity. I don't consider it to be a thinking person's religion because there is so much in it that is illogical (but that is true of a lot of other religions, too).

>>>>> If that is not correct, then my question is probably out of place. <<<<<

Nope -- not out of place.

>>>>> You seem very learned about the teaching of Intelligent Design. <<<<<

"Teaching" in what sense? This blog has only one article about intelligent design itself, but lots of articles about the controversy over teaching intelligent design.

>>>>>> What I can’t understand is how this field of study (ID) has become a part of so many Christian Churches. <<<<<<

I don't know of any Christian denomination that has officially adopted ID, but the churches have become involved because of the religious implications of ID. Ironically, the evolutionists have been far more active than the ID proponents in trying to involve the churches -- the ID movement has nothing comparable to Evolution Sunday and the Clergy Letter Project.


>>>>>> Religious doctrine has never been based on scientific theories or facts. <<<<<

That is because there was little or no science when most religions started.

>>>>>> 1Ti 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and opposition of science falsely so called: <<<<<<

I was not aware that science is mentioned in the bible.

>>>>> What happens the day one or more of these theories gets disproved? . . . What happens to the children, when they find out everything the church told them about science was a big lie? My guess is, they reject everything the church told them. <<<<<<

The bible teaches geocentrism, but the bible is still going strong despite the disproof of geocentrism. And there are many things in the bible that cannot be subjected to scientific investigation.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007 8:45:00 AM  
Anonymous elbogz said...

Thank you for your answer. I have not been able understand the ID side of the debate. I think what hurts both sides of the debate are the extremist. My concern has been those that scream from the pulpit, you can not be a Christian and believe in Evolution. It seems somewhere the definition of Christian got change, in a matter of the old Scotsman analogy. (You can not be a good Scotsman if you eat porridge). That was never a definition of a good Scotsman to begin with. Then they pull out ID and say, but you can be a good Christian and believe in ID.

The one true fault of ID, from my perspective, is that if there is a designer, we can not detect him with the tools of science. If there is a designer, we can only detect him though our heart, or perhaps our soul. We climbed to the top of the ladder at Babel, only to find Heaven was not there, we searched all the heavens with our telescopes and looked at the smallest things with our microscopes, and did not find God. If there is a intelligent designer, he is only known, by faith.

I see some real casualties of war though.

1. Children are being taught that “science is evil”. They won’t become engineers or scientists. McDonalds will be glad to hear that.
2. Scientist that fight the ID movement, or more the extremist, like the young earther’s will be so turned of by faith issues, they will miss out the wonders of the world of faith and belief.
3. The war will only grow in size, because there is no neutral ground, as long as extremist are allowed to state the rules of engagement.

Thank you again for your thoughts.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007 2:07:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

elbogz said: He would have simply written on every rock, "Made by God".

In what language? :-)

Actually, I like that comment and I appreciate your raising some of these issues, as I too was wondering what exactly motivates Larry.

As an atheist I have no problem with Darwin -- but I am also what I call a "crypto-Christian". I am not sure that I know the "true meaning" of the Christian miracles. But perhaps I do not need to know.

My guess is, they reject everything the church told them. Is that the price we pay for this debate?

That really is a problem and it's the motivation for a lot of the IDists (note that I'm not calling them IDiots, at least in this context).

For instance, Joseph Farah and Pat Boone -- both of whom I respect -- often damage their credibility by attacking evolution.

There are some very subtle issues here. The Declaration of Independence says that our rights come from God (and not from the government). I think that is the correct formulation. And yet Farah and Boone take it so literally that they cannot imagine natural processes. If a child is conceived, they believe at some level that it was "God's Will" -- even if the woman was raped, for instance, or if conception was botched by some terrible abnormality. There is a disconnect there, where they cannot say, "Hey! Wait a minute!" And yet, one is potentially on dangerous ground here regarding ethics, because human beings may not be "used" as a means to others' lives without their informed consent. The definition of what is a "human being" is not always straightforward.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007 9:13:00 PM  
Blogger Endoplasmic Messenger said...

Even though this is somewhat off topic for this blog, I am going to take advantage of Larry's no-censorship policy. :)

Thank you for your answer.

Thank you for your civil tone. As you seem to recognize, this is sometimes uncommon in these discussions.

I have not been able understand the ID side of the debate.

Looking over your posts, it looks like you may not be very familiar with the ID side of the debate. This is not hard to do because there is so much misinformation about ID floating around.

I think what hurts both sides of the debate are the extremist.

This is true. Tolerance is a great virtue in these discussions. The blessed are they who can remain cool, level-headed and charitable in the midst of vicious attacks. My personal (and fallen) experience is that this is extremely hard to do -- impossible sometimes.

My concern has been those that scream from the pulpit, you can not be a Christian and believe in Evolution.

This is a religious concern. But how is this a concern about ID?

There are certainly some people that feel that Evolutionary theory and Christianity are incompatible. There are several reasons for this. First is the fact that Evolutionary Theory (Darwinism) has very little supporting evidence. If Evolutionary Theory is false, then Christianity should not be compatible with it! Second, Evolutionary Theory is largely based on a materialist world view. Even if we grant, for the sake of argument, that Evolutionary Theory was true (and it is not), Christians would still want to be very careful to not present it in a way which supports a materialist philosophy. In practice, this is never done. In practice, Evolutionary Theory and Materialist Philosophy are often conflated in a way that can be very confusing to the Christian student. So at a minimum, Christians should care a great deal that Evolutionary Theory is presented in a way that does not lend support to Materialist Philosophy.

It seems somewhere the definition of Christian got change, in a matter of the old Scotsman analogy.

Again, this is a religious concern. It is right for you to be concerned about your fellow Christians, but what does this have to do with ID?

Then they pull out ID and say, but you can be a good Christian and believe in ID.

I'm not sure who "they" is, but it is certainly true that ID, in principle, is less hostile to religious belief than Evolutionary Theory can be. ID is not incompatible with the possibility of the existence of a Supreme Being. The Materialist version of Evolutionary Theory is incompatible with that idea.

The one true fault of ID, from my perspective, is that if there is a designer, we can not detect him with the tools of science.

The purpose of ID is not to detect the designer. The purpose it to detect design. Detecting the designer may (or may not -- depending on who the designer is) be beyond the realm of science. However, detecting design is not. It is done all the time in forensics and archeology, for example.

If there is a designer, we can only detect him though our heart, or perhaps our soul.

Stonehenge is a circle of carefully arrange rocks. To all the world, it looks like the placement of these rocks was designed with great precision. We can tell that the placement of these rocks was designed, but we know virtually nothing about the designers.

ID is about the scientific detection of design. All of the major ID proponents steer carefully clear of a discussion of the designer. There are several reasons for this. (1) It is not necessary to know any thing about the designer to detect design. (2) Although in some cases, science can lead us to knowledge of the designer, in other cases it cannot. But in either case, knowledge of the designer is unnecessary to identify design. (3) Discussion of the designer can often lead to philosophical, theological and religious discussion which have nothing to do with ID, but which can muddy the topic.

We climbed to the top of the ladder at Babel, only to find Heaven was not there, we searched all the heavens with our telescopes and looked at the smallest things with our microscopes, and did not find God.

On the contrary, many scientists find God in every square millimeter of creation.

If there is a intelligent designer, he is only known, by faith.

Not so. Archeologists constantly discover designed artifacts. But studying the artifacts themselves, and the environments in which they are found, they often can reasonable inferences about the designers.

You need to recognize that in ID:

DESIGNER is not equal to GOD

If you want make this assumption, more power to you. But do not attribute this to ID.

Other possibilities are:

DESIGNER = ANGLES
DESIGNER = ALIENS

I see some real casualties of war though.

1. Children are being taught that “science is evil”. They won’t become engineers or scientists. McDonalds will be glad to hear that.


Whatever war you are talking about, it is not ID. ID is a scientific pursuit. Why would scientists say that "science is evil"? I think you need to talk to your religious friends and give them a clearer understanding of what ID is.

2. Scientist that fight the ID movement, or more the extremist, like the young earther’s will be so turned of by faith issues, they will miss out the wonders of the world of faith and belief.

Most IDers that I know believe that the earth is 13.7 billion years old. So again, you seen to have an incorrect idea of who constitutes the ID movement, and what they actually propose.

3. The war will only grow in size, because there is no neutral ground, as long as extremist are allowed to state the rules of engagement.

There may be extremists around, but they sound like religious extremists. The proponents of ID are scientists.
Again, I recommend that you get you information about ID from the actual proponents, rather than religious "extremists" who may be using ID for their own purposes and misrepresenting it.

Thank you again for your thoughts.

And thank you for you civility. If you are interested in understanding one man's (not me) understanding of the relationship between ID and Christianity, you might want to check out this blog:

http://creationevolutiondesign.blogspot.com/

Again, I apologize for this very long off topic post.

Saturday, February 10, 2007 7:24:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home