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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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, March 11, 2007

Dr. Egnor is hard to ignore

There has been a tremendous amount of controversy lately about the anti-Darwinist views of Dr. Michael Egnor, a brain surgeon. The Darwinists, who have been stereotyping Darwin doubters as a bunch of uneducated fundies, seem to be especially embarrassed that a prominent brain surgeon like Dr. Egnor is a Darwin doubter. Actually, Egnor is not unusual -- a formal opinion poll showed that surprisingly large percentages of medical doctors are Darwin doubters (the poll questions were asked in several different ways, producing different percentages). It has been noted that engineers have a strong tendency to doubt Darwin, but at least engineers can be dismissed as people who do not have above-average educations in biology. But doctors, though not considered to be experts about evolution, at least have above-average educations in biology. The Darwin-doubting tendency of engineers is attributed to their ability to detect design because of their training in design, but so far as I know there has been no explanation for the doctors' tendency to doubt Darwin.

There is even an essay contest -- with prizes -- for high school students on the subject, "Why I would want my doctor to have studied evolution." An article on Panda's Thumb attempts to answer that question. However, Dr. Egnor says that he never uses evolutionary biology in his work.

Articles about the Egnor controversy are too numerous to list here. These articles may be found on many of the sites listed here, especially on Pharyngula, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Uncommon Descent, and Evolution News & Views (and, of course, don't forget Panda's Thumb).

23 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Darwin-doubting tendency of engineers is attributed to their ability to detect design because of their training in design.

I would attribute the evolution-doubting tendency of some engineers to stupidity. This is 2007, not 1007. There's no excuse for rejecting obvious scientific facts.

Sunday, March 11, 2007 9:02:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> I would attribute the evolution-doubting tendency of some engineers to stupidity. <<<<<

So you are saying that engineers tend to be dumber than groups that have less tendency to doubt Darwinism?

Sunday, March 11, 2007 11:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Alt-Anonymous said...

< So you are saying that engineers tend to be dumber than groups that have less tendency to doubt Darwinism? >

Yikes, now that's a reach! How did you get that from what he said?

BTW: Q.E.D.

Sunday, March 11, 2007 4:28:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Alt-Anonymous said...

>>>>> So you are saying that engineers tend to be dumber than groups that have less tendency to doubt Darwinism?>

Yikes, now that's a reach! How did you get that from what he said? <<<<<<

I sort of got that meaning from what he said, but not completely. That is why my answer was in the form of a question.

>>>> BTW: Q.E.D. <<<<<

I don't get it. Q.E.D. is an abbreviation of a Latin phrase which means, "that which was to be shown." How does that apply here?

Sunday, March 11, 2007 9:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim Sherwood said...

One of the "stupid" rejecters of Darwinism was the great zoologist Pierre Grasse, in his book The Evolution of Living Organisms(1977).

Grasse held the Chair in Evolution at the Sorbonne for many years, and served as a Predident of the French Academy of Sciences.

Grasse's book discussed and rejected evolution by random genetic variations and natural selection at great length: he regarded it as "pseudoscience" and "daydreaming."

He wasn't an intelligent design theorist, and his criticisms were all of a non-ID type: he thought that mutations and natural selection cause no significant evolution, but believed in a process of evolution by unknown, non-Darwinist natural laws.

Monday, March 12, 2007 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim Sherwood said...

Sorry for the typo. I meant President of the French Academy of Sciences, for any people who hold the view that I can't spell.

Monday, March 12, 2007 12:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim Sherwood said...

Those who think that the term "Darwinism" was invented by people who wanted to suggest that "evolution" is an ideology rather than a science, or by ID-theorists, can look in the index to Richard Dawkins book The Ancestors Tale (Houghton, 2004.) (Subtitled A pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution.)

Hmm. On page 546 Dawkins writes "Why should this matter? Because Darwinism is a selfish game.Building a road that might help others will be penalised by natural selection." On p. 108 we read that "The rise of Darwinism in the nineteenth cenrury polarised attitudes toward the apes." And again on p. 546 "On the face of it these things present a challenge to Darwinism, but this is not the place to go into that."

Dawkins calls himself a believer
in "Darwinism."

Monday, March 12, 2007 1:23:00 PM  
Anonymous unanimous said...

Up to this time two comments by anonymous and five by Larry. How pathetic!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 12:22:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> Up to this time two comments by anonymous and five by Larry. How pathetic! <<<<<

You stupid worthless piece of shit, with all the places where I have not been able to use my real name because of arbitrary censorship, why would I not use my real name on my own blog?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 1:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>>>>>>>Those who think that the term "Darwinism" was invented by people who wanted to suggest that "evolution" is an ideology rather than a science, or by ID-theorists, can look...

Darwinist and Darwinism are used differently in the US and the UK. In the UK Darwinish is a neutral term, in the US it's used by fundies and otehr doubters of evolutionary theory to criticize it, probably based on the mistaken notion that Darwin's ideas are all there is to evolutionary theory (the field has surpassed Darwin's own ideas in many ways without denying his important contributions) or even to associate the theory with a single person (it's well past that too). I've seen some posters comment (elsewhere, of course) that the use of Darwin is to make it a simple rallying point for IDiots like you and Larry to more easily associate an idea with a person (a la Stalinism and whatnot).

Manuel

Wednesday, March 14, 2007 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Jim Sherwood said...

If Manuel (anonymous) does a bit more reading, he will soon find many American evolutionary biologists who call themselves "Darwinists" and believe in "Darwinism." And who have written such things quite recently.

For instance Michael R. Rose of the University of California at Irvine, in his book Darwin's Spectre, subtitled Evolutionary Biology in the Modern World.(1998).

Rose proclaims his thorough adherence to "Darwinism," although he is honest enough to admit that that doctrine has had a harmful effect on social life, in his opinion. He is prominent enough among evolutionary biologists to rate two mentions in the Encyclopedia Britannica Online article on Evolution: on p.67 and p.71 of that article. On p. 210 Rose writes:

"Through eugenics, Darwinism was a bad influence on Nazism, one of the greatest killers in world history. Darwinism probably contributed to the upsurge in racism in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and thus it helped to foment twentieth-century racism generally. Darwinism was also used to exacerbate the neglect of the poor in the nineteenth century. All things considered, Darwinism has had many regrettable, and sometimes actually vicious, effects on the social climate of the modern world."

"Evolution" can mean, in the wide sense of the word, simply descent of all species from others back to unicellular life: due to any unspecified agency or process. (I don't dispute evolution in that sense, by the way.)

But conventional American biologists habitually use the word
"evolution" to mean only their own specific version of it: such descent assumed to be due to wholly blind processes, and essentially to random genetic variations and natural selection.

So some word is needed to distinguish the latter doctrine from "evolution" in the wider sense. We speak of "Darwinism" for that reason, as do many who call themselves "Darwinists," both here and in Europe. I mean no sly attack when I speak of "Darwinism."

Larry criticizes Darwinism, but says nothing, that I've read, in favor of intelligent design theory.
I'm more favorable to the latter, but don't believe in a Creator-God.
So I don't think that God is the designer or designers:if any.

And if you call me an "IDiot", suppose I call you a "Darwinitwit" or a "Darwinut?" I'd rather try to minimize invective, which seems to contribute little to a discussion.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007 2:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's what wikipedia has to say about the term:

The term Darwinism has been used by Darwin's critics to describe the beliefs of those who promote evolutionary biology.[1] In this usage, the term has connotations of atheism. For example, in Charles Hodge's book What Is Darwinism?, Hodge answers the question posed in the book's title by concluding: "It is Atheism."[2][3][4] Likewise, modern creationists use the term Darwinism, often pejoratively. Casting evolution as a doctrine or belief bolsters religiously motivated political arguments to mandate equal time for the teaching of creationism in public schools.

However Darwinism is also used neutrally within the scientific community to distinguish modern evolutionary theories from those first proposed by Darwin, as well as by historians to differentiate it from other evolutionary theories from around the same period. For example, Darwinism may be used to refer to Darwin's proposed mechanism of natural selection, in comparison to more recent theories such as genetic drift and gene flow. It may also refer specifically to the role of Charles Darwin as opposed to others in the history of evolutionary thought — particularly contrasting Darwin's results with those of earlier theories such as Lamarckism or later ones such as the modern synthesis.[citation needed] A notable example of a scientist who uses the term in a positive sense is Richard Dawkins.[citation needed]

Use in evolutionary biology more strictly applies to a distinction between strictly Darwinian ideas "in comparison to more recent theories such as genetic drift and gene flow."

Such seems to be the use of Darwinism in the book you mentioned; it addresses Darwin's theories and their (potential or even mis-)appllication in other fields. Neither the passage you cite nor the reviews say that he defends those applications (such as eugenics) as legitimate applications of Darwin's ideas.

Manuel

Wednesday, March 14, 2007 4:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim Sherwood said...

Anonymous or Manuel: Ernst Mayr was a leading theorist of the version of evolution which you evidently embrace. A few quotes from his book What Evolution Is (2001):

"Darwinism has become so fascinating in recent years.." (form the foreword by the American physiologist and biologist Jared Diamond, p. xi).

From Mayr's text: "Such situations are not in conflict with any principles of Darwinism." (p.183)

"Is Darwinism an unalterable dogma?" (p.277)

"an understanding of the nature of genetic variation has contributed greatly to strengthening Darwinism." (p.277)

"The most prominent adherents of the Gaia hypothesis, for instance, Lynn Margulis, completely accept Darwinism."

Mayr frequently used the word "Darwinism" to describe the theory which he himself embraced. And he was an American.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007 6:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yawn! I'm tired and getting off computers for the day. I meant "from the foreword." And the last quote about Margulis is from p.279 of the late Ernst Mayr's book.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007 7:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim Sherwood said...

That was me who made the last "anonymous" comment.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007 7:22:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Jim Sherwood said (03-14-07 @ 2:52 PM) --
>>>>>>conventional American biologists habitually use the word "evolution" to mean only their own specific version of it: such descent assumed to be due to wholly blind processes, and essentially to random genetic variations and natural selection.

So some word is needed to distinguish the latter doctrine from "evolution" in the wider sense. We speak of "Darwinism" for that reason, as do many who call themselves "Darwinists," both here and in Europe. I mean no sly attack when I speak of "Darwinism." <<<<<<<<

The term "evolution theory" (or "evolution" for short) has become almost meaningless. Those who subscribe to one or more of the principles of traditional evolution theory -- e.g., changes through time, common descent, and evolution driven by natural genetic variations and natural selection -- include atheistic evolutionists, theistic evolutionists, intelligent designists, punctuated equilibriumists, front-loaded ("prescribed" to JAD) evolutionists, old-earth creationists, day-age creationists, and what-have-youists.

And while the Darwinists moan about being called Darwinists, they worship Darwin on Darwin Day. To my knowledge, the birthday of no other scientist is celebrated. The Wikipedia article on Darwin Day says,

Events may include dinner parties with special recipes for primordial soup and other inventive dishes, protests with boards of education and government bodies, workshops and syposiums, distribution of information by people in ape costumes, lectures and debates, essay and art competitions, concerts, poetry readings, reenactments of the Scopes Trial and the debate between Thomas H. Huxley and Bishop Wilberforce, library displays, museum exhibits, travel and educational tours, recreations of the journey of the HMS Beagle, church sermons, movie nights, outreach, and nature hikes.
Some celebrants also combine Darwin Day with a celebration of Abraham Lincoln, who was also born on February 12th, 1809. Still others like to celebrate the many great minds that influenced or were influenced by Darwin's work, such as Thomas H. Huxley, Charles Lyell, Alfred Russell Wallace, Carl Sagan, and Ernst Mayr . . . .

In 2003 Amanda Chesworth published a book collection of articles, entertainment, high school essays, cartoons, etc., under the title Darwin Day Collection One: The Greatest Idea Ever . . . .

Some advocates would like a public holiday declared for February 12, 2009. Robert Beeston was successful in championing this effort in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2003; progress has also been made in England and Australia.


Particularly absurd is the linking of Darwin and Lincoln because of their shared birthday. The two men had virtually nothing else in common.

The Wikipedia article gives a history of Darwin Day.


>>>>> Larry criticizes Darwinism, but says nothing, that I've read, in favor of intelligent design theory. <<<<<

My thoughts about ID are in the posts listed here. I have nothing against ID, but I prefer to focus on non-ID criticisms of Darwinism (posts about these criticisms are listed here), particularly criticisms concerning co-evolution (discussed here and here). I think that critics of Darwinism have put too many eggs in the ID basket.

Thursday, March 15, 2007 2:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>>>>>Mayr frequently used the word "Darwinism" to describe the theory which he himself embraced. And he was an American.

My point was in regards to descriptive, not prescriptive, grammar. Just because he's an American does not mean that he uses the term as per the British use or that he uses the term for other reasons.

Manuel

Thursday, March 15, 2007 8:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> with all the places where I have not been able to use my real name because of arbitrary censorship, why would I not use my real name on my own blog? <

Possibly because, as you have already proven, you are insane.

It has also been proven that you have posted under several names, the most pathetic being that of your brother Dave.

As far as arbitrary censorship, I guess you figured if you can't lick them, join them.

Thursday, March 15, 2007 4:52:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in the Wilderness, all you do here is take advantage of my no-censorship policy by cluttering up this blog with your pathetic, breathtakingly inane attempts at making wisecracks. You are just trying to sabotage this blog out of jealousy because you are too lazy and stupid to have your own blog.

Thursday, March 15, 2007 8:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> all you do here is take advantage of my no-censorship policy <

You have no such policy, only a false claim. You have been censoring posts regularly, perhaps even daily.

> pathetic, breathtakingly inane attempts at making wisecracks. <

Answering your question is making a wisecrack?

> You are just trying to sabotage this blog out of jealousy because you are too lazy and stupid to have your own blog. <

I would not try to sabotage this blog. I get a great deal of enjoyment out of it. If I wanted to sabotage it, I would stop posting. My posts and those of anonymous (who might be me) are nearly the only ones still being made here other than those of your brother Dave as various historical figures and you as "Jim Sherwood".

Thank us for keeping your pathetic blog alive.

Friday, March 16, 2007 5:21:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in the Wilderness drooled,
>>>>>> all you do here is take advantage of my no-censorship policy <

You have no such policy, only a false claim <<<<<<

If I had no such policy, your asinine comments would not remain here.

>>>>>> pathetic, breathtakingly inane attempts at making wisecracks. <

Answering your question is making a wisecrack? <<<<<<

You don't discuss the issues -- you mostly just talk negatively about me. You might make just a one-sentence assertion about an issue and then not back up that assertion with facts and/or arguments.

>>>>>> Thank us for keeping your pathetic blog alive. <<<<<<

Thanks for nothing. Your so-called "help" is not wanted here. Just get lost -- please.

Friday, March 16, 2007 5:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> If I had no such policy, your asinine comments would not remain here. <

You seem to let about every third comment of mine remain to give the false impression that you are not censoring.

> You don't discuss the issues <

Your lack of understanding, or censorship, of my discussions does not mean that they are not there.

Monday, March 19, 2007 9:33:00 AM  
Blogger Etienne said...

Darwinist and Darwinism are used differently in the US and the UK. In the UK Darwinish is a neutral term, in the US it's used by fundies and otehr doubters of evolutionary theory to criticize it, probably based on the mistaken notion that Darwin's ideas are all there is to evolutionary theory (the field has surpassed Darwin's own ideas in many ways without denying his important contributions) or even to associate the theory with a single person (it's well past that too). I've seen some posters comment (elsewhere, of course) that the use of Darwin is to make it a simple rallying point for IDiots like you and Larry to more easily associate an idea with a person (a la Stalinism and whatnot).


anonymous: The term "darwinism" is as old as Darwin's theory. For example, it was the term used by Wallace in his evolutionary work "Darwinism", to describe the theory of evolution according to darwin.

"Ism" is a common suffix used to indicate a body of ideas, attitudes or whatever.

Thus "Creationism" refers to a body of beliefs that hold together and are held by the same people. 1)A young earth 2) All evolution is micro-evolution from "Basic Kinds", etc etc.

But "Creationism" is distinct from the idea of "Creation" which is much broader and held by many people who believe in evolution and a 4.5 bil. year earth.

Marxism is a theory of socialism. But not all theories of socialism are marxist.

Thomism is a philosophical framework deriving from the thought of Thomas Aquinas.

Darwinism is a theory of evolution based on the Darwin's mechanism (Variation + Natural Selection + Ecological and Geological constraints and pressures).

It is distinct from the evolutionary views held by Gareth Nelson, or Pierre Grasse or any number of "top-drawer" biologists who are not "Darwinists". "Neo-Darwinism" is the "post-Mendelian" synthesis which substitutes "Mutation" for Darwin's vague "Variaton" (although, in practice, Mutation is an equally vague term).

Of course, all biologists (and even creationists) believe in mutation, natural selection and "bio-geographic pressures". But then, anybody believes in those rather uniteresting and unhelpful facts. You'd have to be blind not to believe that, If I have ten animals and only nine will survive, than only nine will survive. You'd have to be unreasonable to deny that if the nine that survive are consitently the ones who are faster, than it helps, in this situation, to be fast. You'd also have to be blind to deny that sometimes genes get copied incorrectly and that given 10 ^ 20 copying errors, maybe 2 would be helpful. Of course, anyone who thinks this consitutes an "explanation" of life's existence or evolution...would have to be smoking something relly good.

The truth is, you'd like it all to be very simple and not have to do math or logic or actually study animals. Life would be so much better if one could explain everything according to a few dubious "mechanisms" like Natural "Selection" and "Mutation".

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 6:16:00 PM  

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