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.

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.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Suzan Mazur's online book about the "Altenberg 16" conference

In Chapter 2 (dated March 4, 2008) of an online book, science writer Suzan Mazur made hoked up predictions about a conference of 16 biologists and philosophers in Altenberg, Austria:

It's not Yasgur's Farm, but what happens at the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Altenberg, Austria this July promises to be far more transforming for the world than Woodstock. What it amounts to is a gathering of 16 biologists and philosophers of rock star stature – let's call them "the Altenberg 16" – who recognize that the theory of evolution which most practicing biologists accept and which is taught in classrooms today, is inadequate in explaining our existence. It's pre the discovery of DNA, lacks a theory for body form and does not accomodate "other" new phenomena. So the theory Charles Darwin gave us, which was dusted off and repackaged 70 years ago, seems about to be reborn as the "Extended Evolutionary Synthesis."

. . . .despite the fact that organizers are downplaying the Altenberg meeting as a discussion about whether there should be a new theory, it already appears a done deal. Some kind of shift away from the population genetic-centered view of evolution is afoot.

Mazur has been accused of "glamorizing" and "sensationalizing" the Altenberg conference. A lot of people were misled into having false hopes for the conference. Articles about the conference are here on Evolution News & Views and here on Panda's Thumb.

In the introduction of the online book, Mazur wrote:
No one knows how life began, but so-called theories of evolution are continually being announced. This book, The Altenberg 16: Will the Real Theory of Evolution Please Stand Up? exposes the rivalry in science today surrounding attempts to discover that elusive mechanism of evolution, as rethinking evolution is pushed to the political front burner in hopes that "survival of the fittest" ideology can be replaced with a more humane explanation for our existence and stave off further wars, economic crises and destruction of the Earth.

Hey, I thought that the issue here was supposed to be science, not ideology.

The introduction continued,

Evolutionary science is as much about the posturing, salesmanship, stonewalling and bullying that goes on as it is about actual scientific theory. It is a social discourse involving hypotheses of staggering complexity with scientists, recipients of the biggest grants of any intellectuals, assuming the power of politicians while engaged in Animal House pie-throwing and name-calling: "ham-fisted", "looney Marxist hangover", "secular creationist", "philosopher" (a scientist who can’t get grants anymore), "quack", "crackpot". . . . . .

First we had "theistic evolutionist" and now we have "secular creationist." And calling someone a "philosopher" -- oooh. That is really getting nasty.

Perhaps the most egregious display of commercial dishonesty is next year’s celebration of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species – the so-called theory of evolution by natural selection, i.e., survival of the fittest, that was foisted on us almost 150 years ago. . . . .

Scientists agree that natural selection can occur. But the scientific community has known for some time that natural selection has nothing to do with evolution. . . .

Saying that "natural selection has nothing to do with evolution" is wrong -- for example, we do know that natural selection is a driving force behind microevolution. The issue is that natural genetic variation and natural selection alone might not be enough to account for the diversity of living things.

The introduction continues,

I broke the story about the Altenberg affair last March with the assistance of Alastair Thompson and the team at Scoop Media, the independent news agency based in New Zealand. ... But will the A-16 deliver? Will they help rid us of the natural selection "survival of the fittest" mentality that has plagued civilization for a century and a half, and on which Darwinism and neo-Darwinism are based, now that the cat is out of the bag that selection is politics not science? That selection cannot be measured exactly. That it is not the mechanism of evolution. That it is an abstract rusty tool left over from 19th century British imperial exploits.

Or will the A-16 tip-toe around the issue, appease the Darwin industry and protect foundation grants?

Well, you seemed pretty confident about the A-16 when you wrote Chapter 2 -- you said, "despite the fact that organizers are downplaying the Altenberg meeting as a discussion about whether there should be a new theory, it already appears a done deal."

The website of the Darwin Day Celebration organization says of Massimo Pigliucci, one of the Altenberg 16 and an organizer of the conference,

The third member of the Board was Dr. Massimo Pigliucci who, also independently, initiated an annual Darwin Day event at the University of Tennessee, in 1997. Dr. Pigliucci became the Vice President.

Ironically, Mazur said above, "Perhaps the most egregious display of commercial dishonesty is next year’s celebration of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species." Small world, isn't it? Also, Pigliucci is the author of a book titled Denying Evolution:

"Denying Evolution" aims at taking a fresh look at the evolution–creation controversy. It presents a truly “balanced” treatment, not in the sense of treating creationism as a legitimate scientific theory (it demonstrably is not), but in the sense of dividing the blame for the controversy equally between creationists and scientists—the former for subscribing to various forms of anti-intellectualism, the latter for discounting science education and presenting science as scientism to the public and the media. The central part of the book focuses on a series of creationist fallacies (aimed at showing errors of thought, not at deriding) and of mistakes by scientists and science educators. The last part of the book discusses long-term solutions to the problem, from better science teaching at all levels to the necessity of widespread understanding of how the brain works and why people have difficulties with critical thinking.

Maybe this whole affair should be called Laughingstock Nation instead of Woodstock Nation.


Blogger Kold_Kadavr_flatliner said...

When you go to my weird blog,
comment, comment, comment!!!
Whot do you think?
or bombastic?
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or bloodthirsty?
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God blessa youse -Fr. Sarducci, SNL

Saturday, July 26, 2008 2:13:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

I've heard that the "Altenberg 16" conference is already over with. Anyway, the probable aim of such endeavors is to try to dream up a wholly materialistic theory of the origin of species, which will be at least halfway credible. It's quite evident that no such theory exists today.

Susan Mazur is the one who interviewed Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini: an interview which had poor biochemist Larry Moran and many other Darwin-fans wringing their hands, on the Internet. Massimo pointed out that natural selection acting on random, inheritable genetic changes clearly isn't what brought about macroevolutionary changes.

So what did bring them about? Piattelli-Palmarini doesn't know, but of course he has got the faith that the process, whatever it was, was purely mechanistic, and didn't involve intelligence. All materialists such as Massimo have gotta keep the faith, of course.

But is anyone except the materialists going to keep it?

Saturday, July 26, 2008 3:38:00 PM  
Blogger TarBabyJim said...

How about a movie about cloned rock stars? Melanie Safka sings a song perfect for the movie.
Written by Melanie Safka Schekeryk

Old Bitch Warrior
She sleeps in the grave
People think so, but what they don't know
Is she roams the streets
In the still of the night
Ready to conquer
Up for the fight

Oh she's not afraid
The steel in her pocket
The ice in her veins
Fingers are callused
Her nails thick and black
She's made her decision
And there's no turning back

Old Bitch Warrior
A scream in the night
Look over your shoulder
Put on the light
That wind in the shadows
She's with us you pray
Someone will find her
And take her away

She's not afraid
The steel in her pocket
The ice in her veins
Oh she can't be ignored
The building is burning
With a lock on the door

Old Bitch Warrior
She sleeps in the grave
People think so, but what they don't know
She roams the streets in the still of the night
Ready to conquer
'Till they take her away

She's not afraid
The steel in her pocket
And ice in her veins
Enemies scatter
When she comes around
There's comfort in thoughts of her
Dead in the ground

Nice read,
Thank you,
My Melanie site: LetHerIn dot org

Saturday, July 26, 2008 3:43:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

It's rumored that most of the old-guard guys at the National Academy of Sciences, who are still overwhelmingly true-believers in materialism, are very disturbed by these developments:

A majority cried out at NAS,
"It's clear that Our Darwin, alas,
Was really quite wrong!
So our line must be strong,
Or the kids might discern it in class!"

Saturday, July 26, 2008 3:53:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Jim Sherwood said...

>>>>>> I've heard that the "Altenberg 16" conference is already over with. <<<<<<

Yes, but Suzan Mazur said that papers resulting from the conference will be published by MIT in 2009.

Sunday, July 27, 2008 9:22:00 PM  

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