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Corante Blogs examine, through the eyes of leading observers, analysts, thinkers, and doers, critical themes and memes in technology, business, law, science, and culture.

The Press Will Be Outsourced Before Stopped

Vin Crosbie, on the challenges, financial and otherwise, that newspaper publishers are facing: "The real problem, Mr. Newspaperman, isn't that your content isn't online or isn't online with multimedia. It's your content. Specifically, it's what you report, which stories you publish, and how you publish them to people, who, by the way, have very different individual interests. The problem is the content you're giving them, stupid; not the platform its on."
by Vin Crosbie in Rebuilding Media

Travels In Numerica Deserta

There's a problem in the drug industry that people have recognized for some years, but we're not that much closer to dealing with it than we were then. We keep coming up with these technologies and techniques which seem as if they might be able to help us with some of our nastiest problems - I'm talking about genomics in all its guises, and metabolic profiling, and naturally the various high-throughput screening platforms, and others. But whether these are helping or not (and opinions sure do vary), one thing that they all have in common is that they generate enormous heaps of data.
by Derek Lowe in In the Pipeline

Disrobing the Emperor: The online “user experience” isn't much of one

Now that the Web labor market is saturated and Web design a static profession, it's not surprising that 'user experience' designers and researchers who've spent their careers online are looking for new worlds to conquer. Some are returning to the “old media” as directors and producers. More are now doing offline consulting (service experience design, social policy design, exhibition design, and so on) under the 'user experience' aegis. They argue that the lessons they've learned on the Web can be applied to phenomena in the physical and social worlds. But there are enormous differences...
by Bob Jacobson in Total Experience

Second Life: What are the real numbers?

Clay Shirky, in deconstructing Second Life hype: "Second Life is heading towards two million users. Except it isn’t, really... I suspect Second Life is largely a 'Try Me' virus, where reports of a strange and wonderful new thing draw the masses to log in and try it, but whose ability to retain anything but a fraction of those users is limited. The pattern of a Try Me virus is a rapid spread of first time users, most of whom drop out quickly, with most of the dropouts becoming immune to later use."
by Clay Shirky in Many-to-Many

The democratisation of everything

Over the last few years we've seen old barriers to creativity coming down, one after the other. New technologies and services makes it trivial to publish text, whether by blog or by print-on-demand. Digital photography has democratised a previously expensive hobby. And we're seeing the barriers to movie-making crumble, with affordable high-quality cameras and video hosting provided by YouTube or Google Video and their ilk... Music making has long been easy for anyone to engage in, but technology has made high-quality recording possible without specialised equipment, and the internet has revolutionised distribution, drastically disintermediating the music industry... What's left? Software maybe? Or maybe not."
by Suw Charman in Strange Attractor

RNA Interference: Film at Eleven

Derek Lowe on the news that the Nobel Prize for medicine has gone to Craig Mello and Andrew Fire for their breakthrough work: "RNA interference is probably going to have a long climb before it starts curing many diseases, because many of those problems are even tougher than usual in its case. That doesn't take away from the discovery, though, any more than the complications of off-target effects take away from it when you talk about RNAi's research uses in cell culture. The fact that RNA interference is trickier than it first looked, in vivo or in vitro, is only to be expected. What breakthrough isn't?"
by Derek Lowe in In the Pipeline

PVP and the Honorable Enemy

Andrew Phelps: "Recently my WoW guild has been having a bit of a debate on the merits of Player-vs.-Player (PvP) within Azeroth. My personal opinion on this is that PvP has its merits, and can be incredible fun, but the system within WoW is horridly, horribly broken. It takes into account the concept of the battle, but battle without consequence, without emotive context, and most importantly, without honor..."

From later in the piece: "When I talk about this with people (thus far anyway) I typically get one of two responses, either 'yeah, right on!' or 'hey, it’s war, and war isn’t honorable – grow the hell up'. There is a lot to be said for that argument – but the problem is that war in the real historical world has very different constraints that are utterly absent from fantasized worlds..."
by Andrew Phelps in Got Game

Rats Rule, Right?

Derek Lowe: "So, you're developing a drug candidate. You've settled on what looks like a good compound - it has the activity you want in your mouse model of the disease, it's not too hard to make, and it's not toxic. Everything looks fine. Except. . .one slight problem. Although the compound has good blood levels in the mouse and in the dog, in rats it's terrible. For some reason, it just doesn't get up there. Probably some foul metabolic pathway peculiar to rats (whose innards are adapted, after all, for dealing with every kind of garbage that comes along). So, is this a problem?.."
by Derek Lowe in In the Pipeline

Really BAD customer experience at Albertsons Market

Bob Jacobson, on shopping at his local Albertsons supermarket where he had "one of the worst customer experiences" of his life: "Say what you will about the Safeway chain or the Birkenstock billionaires who charge through the roof for Whole Foods' organic fare, they know how to create shopping environments that create a more pleasurable experience, at its best (as at Whole Foods) quite enjoyable. Even the warehouses like Costco and its smaller counterpart, Smart & Final, do just fine: they have no pretentions, but neither do they dump virtual garbage on the consumer merely to create another trivial revenue stream, all for the sake of promotions in the marketing department..."
by Strange Attractor in Total Experience

The Guardian's "Comment is Free"

Kevin Anderson: "First off, I want to say that I really admire the ambition of the Guardian Unlimited’s Comment is Free. It is one of the boldest statements made by any media company that participation needs to be central to a radical revamp of traditional content strategies... It is, therfore, not hugely surprising to find that Comment is Free is having a few teething troubles..."
by Kevin Anderson in strange
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

The Loom

« Whose Brain Is It Anyway? (The Further Hobbit Adventures) | Main | What's A Gene For? »

October 15, 2005

Of zoos and polls

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Posted by Carl Zimmer

My post on the cognitive dissonance in Florida about evolution brought a lot of comments, including one from David. Although he seems to be attacking other commenters rather than post itself as far as I can tell, he makes three points that are worth addressing.

1. "...most of you have no clue as to what ID/Creationists really believe."

"ID/Creationists" is an interesting phrase, given how Intelligent Design advocates keep telling us over and over again that ID is not creationism. Are these ID folks lying?

2. According to David, "ID/creationists" see a difference "between mirco-evolution [sic] (natural selection) and macro-evolution (goo to you by way of the zoo). Therefore you are arguing against a point of view from a position of ignorance."

This supposed distinction between microevolution and macroevolution made by creationists is an old one. It's certainly no secret to me. But acknowledging that "ID/creationists" see this difference doesn't change the thrust of my argument, nor those of the commenters who agreed with it.

Some of the cutting-edge research carried out at Scripps is based on "microevolution"--if you define that as evolutionary change that occurs within a species. Some research on evolution of antibiotic resistance would fit that definition. On the other hand, much of it is based on "macroevolution"--if you define it as evolutionary changes above the scale of microevolution. For example, the research of Claes Wahlestedt which I described identifies crucial bits of DNA by finding similar sequences in humans and mice. This research relies on the well-established fact that humans and mice share a common ancestor, which, over millions of years, gave rise to thousands of species--including us and mice. You by way of the zoo, in other words.

If ID/creationists reject macroevolution, then it logically follows that they reject work done at Scripps, not to mention the medical discoveries they may make. Simple as that.

3. Finally, David asks, "If evolution is the answer that unequivocally explains it all, from abiogenesis to modern man, then why do over 60% of our people believe that we were created? They have all studied the same evolutionist textbooks for the last 50-60 years. Here comes some elitist remark about the ignorant masses not having the intellegence to understand the true science behind it, so they have to fall back to religion!"

The majority of Americans think that electrons are larger than atoms and that lasers work by focusing sound. Does this change the fact that both statements are untrue?

Comments (71) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Evolution


1. Jeremy W. on October 15, 2005 04:44 PM writes...

Carl, I don't believe there's a necessity for you to refute such extraordinarily dimwitted points. Your outstanding journalistic and analytical talents are more gainfully employed elsewhere :)

I suspect that the presence of many an ID advocate here is actually due to a legitimate desire to investigate the other side (although it may be masked in their own minds, in the guise of some Intelligent-Designer-ordained blog-post crusade).
In this, we should be grateful:
Invariably, the desire to attune a fair treatment of the evidence with fundamentalism gives way either to reason or zealotry; regardless of the outcome, at least the visitor will know where they stand in the end.

Creationists visiting this website are often near bursting with the convoluted schema required to reconcile fundamentalism and the overwhelming body of peer-reviewed evidence for what has been one of the most fruitful, elegant theories of the modern age.

I only hope that we can ease their burden.

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2. Rich T. on October 15, 2005 07:38 PM writes...

The points that David made didn't seem dimwitted to him; he probably picked them up in church or at some fundamentalist website.

I run into creationists all the time and it's just not possible for one person to keep up with all their arguments. Having their talking points at hand along with polite, factual refutations is very useful to me and I want to thank Carl for making the effort.

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3. daen on October 15, 2005 07:45 PM writes...

The majority of Americans think that electrons are larger than atoms and that lasers work by focusing sound. Does this change the fact that both statements are untrue?
Europeans score even worse on those two questions. So scientific ignorance alone isn't responsible for the rise of "ID/Creationism", because otherwise it would be just prevalent a view in Europe. What's going on in the US to make "ID/Creationism" so attractive to people?

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4. Juke Moran on October 15, 2005 08:05 PM writes...

A lifetime's immersion in the right-and-wrong universe of academia, where "the answer" is held to standards of truth and verifiability regardless of its utility, makes most of the science team pretty smug. They have the right answer, obviously, and their opponents are failing to get it, just as obviously.
As long as the test is given in the classroom - within the safe and secure perimeter of the academy.
In the real world truth and falsity have a more convoluted relationship, and dishonesty can be just as much an evolutionary leg up as honesty.
I've watched sensible folk deride fundamentalists for over two decades, as they've steadily gained political and social power in the US in spite of the handicap of their wrong answers.
Never once has anyone come forward with a reason for their delusions and "dimwitted" beliefs that explains them in terms of that political and social power.
So what if they're wrong? They're running a big chunk of the world, now. Which means their genes are being given a survival advantage.
Which is the point isn't it?
The polynesian legends of the menehune seem to have been borne out as fact, or at least strongly corroborated as possible. It's only the post-colonial nature of the scientific community that's gotten them called "hobbits".
Point being there's validity in the unverifiable, too often to have it just tossed aside as tangential and unimportant until proven otherwise.
Someone needs to explain publicly, clearly and completely, why those figures - "60% of our people believe that we were created" - exist at all.
There's more going on with this than just stupidity and docile acceptance.

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5. Michael Hopkins on October 15, 2005 08:08 PM writes...

Gee, it is very rare to find a creationist with the tiniest clue of what mainstream scientists actually believe about evolution. The vast majority of them only get their "information" mostly from creationist sources and bit of bad "pop" science.

As for the creationists, there just so many varieties of them and their positions are so flexable, it is hard to make too many generalizations about their "science" positions. But I will take this creationists accidental admission that ID is creationism. I guess he did not get the memo.

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6. DrJon on October 15, 2005 08:26 PM writes...

'...Intelligent Design advocates keep telling us over and over again that ID is not creationism.'

Issue 202 of Fortean Times has a report by Brian Regal on his visit to a recent "Creation Mega Conference", and apparently 'they see ID as improper because it allows for a Universe billions of years old and, because ID supporters refuse to say who the "designer" is, they feel it rejects Jesus'.

So it seems that neither side is that keen on the other.

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7. Tree on October 15, 2005 10:17 PM writes...

I am inclined to agree with Jeremy W. that your journalistic talents are more gainfully employed elsewhere, but since David’s questions interested you enough to write about them, let’s investigate.

1. "...most of you have no clue as to what ID/Creationists really believe."

David might have a point. Most of the Biblical versus Scientific discussions I’ve seen here and in other science blogs center on facts, on evidence. Of course, you’re thinking, science is based on gathering evidence, formulating hypotheses, re-evaluating based on newer evidence. Scientists are accustomed to abandoning old ideas in favor of ones that better fit the evidence. Do many geologists reject tectonic plate theory? Do microbiologists still advocate miasma over germ theory? Naturally a scientist will assume that anyone to whom evidence is presented will rationally and logically evaluate the hypothesis because it is central to the scientific worldview to do so. So every time some advocate of supernatural origin complains about gaps in the fossil record or irreducible complexity, scientists respond with Even More whale fossils or the latest interesting biochemical analysis of bacterial flagellum. However, this sort of evidence doesn’t carry much meaning for those for whom the insistence in the literal interpretation of particular texts is part of part of their identity, part of their world view. (If you’re interested to know why this particular worldview is attractive, may I suggest Jurgensmeyer’s “Terror in the Mind of God”? Believing that one is part of special group persecuted by secularists is attractive to religious extremists of many different faiths.)

2. According to David, "ID/creationists" see a difference "between mirco-evolution [sic] (natural selection) and macro-evolution (goo to you by way of the zoo). Therefore you are arguing against a point of view from a position of ignorance."
I’ll agree with you and add that most of us who consider evolution have noticed that those insisting on supernatural origins will sometimes admit to microevolution and that this point doesn’t change the thrust of your argument. However, I wonder if granting the small picture is an attempt to gain some credibility, or if gender identity (men are rational, girly-men go for that sissy irrational angel story stuff) overrules the religious identity, generating a cognitive dissonance that results in …Intelligent Design.
3. Finally, David asks, "If evolution is the answer that unequivocally explains it all, from abiogenesis to modern man, then why do over 60% of our people believe that we were created? They have all studied the same evolutionist textbooks for the last 50-60 years. Here comes some elitist remark about the ignorant masses not having the intellegence to understand the true science behind it, so they have to fall back to religion!"
I’ll also agree that Americans believe many things that aren’t true (William Wallace as depicted in Braveheart comes to mind), but I strongly disagree with David that we have all studied the same evolutionist textbooks. Even though I took the full ‘honors’ curriculum in an US public school system, not once did we discuss evolution. In fact, my freshman biology teacher (who attended college on a basketball scholarship) was rather unsettled when I told him that there are more than just the plant and animal kingdoms. In Texas the senior biology textbooks were stamped with a statement that the information on evolution was presented as a theory. We never studied the chapters on evolution in either biology class. If I had to rely on my public education (rather than my parent’s library), I would be completely ignorant of evolutionary theory. Are most US students even required to take biology as part of their curriculum? Are they required to study evolution? One wonders.

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8. Gerry L on October 15, 2005 10:19 PM writes...

David wrote "...most of you have no clue as to what ID/Creationists really believe."

Two points: I roll my eyes when I see comments and letters claiming that the critics of ID/creationism don't understand it. Many science defenders probably know A LOT more about ID/creationism than the letter writers.

But we don't really care what ID/creationist BELIEVE. We're discussing knowledge, not belief.

PS Carl, I'm finally getting around to reading your book Evolution: Triumph of an Idea. Very easy to digest for a non-scientist.

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9. George on October 15, 2005 11:44 PM writes...

There is no real distinction between micro evolution and macroevolution except in the mind of the observer. The salamanders of california show a grandual change from one species to another over the range around the valley. Here is a living example to two species that evolved and the intermediates.

ID must be creationism - all designed things are created. Thus ID is creationsim.

However, ID is not a theory. It is no more than a weak minded inference. The inference that life is designed. A theory for ID would by necessity be the explanation for how the design occurred. Of course there is no such theory with any supporting evidence.

There is another inference that all life is related and decended from a common ancestor. The theory that explains this inference is evolution - and it does so well. All the evidence fits this model - so much so that evolution is more like a "law" just as there is the "law" of gravity.

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10. Tim Makinson on October 16, 2005 12:11 AM writes...

A strong link has been established between level of belief in evolution and both level of education and income ( ). Whether this is due to richer/better-educated people being better informed on the issues, or simply being more willing to accept what the majority of scientists tell them, I don't know.

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11. -R on October 16, 2005 01:21 AM writes...

Intelligent Design 101: Short on science, long on snake oil
The Minnesota Daily

...While you’re at PubMed, try searching for “bacterial flagella secretion.” One of the resulting papers, by SI Aizawa (2001), reports that some nasty bacteria possess a molecular pump, called a type III secretion system, or TTSS, that injects toxins across cell membranes.

Much to Dr. Behe’s distress, the TTSS is a subset of the bacterial flagellum. That’s right, a part of the supposedly irreducible bacterial “outboard motor” has a biological function!

When I asked Dr. Behe about this at lunch he got a bit testy, but acknowledged that the claim is correct (I have witnesses). He added that the bacterial flagellum is still irreducibly complex in the sense that the subset does not function as a flagellum.

His response might seem like a minor concession, but is very significant. The old meaning of irreducible complexity was, “It doesn’t have any function when a part is removed.” Evidently, the new meaning of irreducible complexity is “It doesn’t have the same function when a part is removed.”

The new definition renders irreducible complexity irrelevant to evolution, because complex adaptations are widely thought to have evolved through natural selection co-opting existing structures for new functions, in opportunistic fashion...

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12. Doug Rebok on October 16, 2005 03:17 AM writes...

1. "...most of you have no clue as to what ID/Creationists really believe."

"ID/Creationists" is an interesting phrase, given how Intelligent Design advocates keep telling us over and over again that ID is not creationism. Are these ID folks lying?

ID is to creationist as theist is to Greek Orthodox Christian. That is to say, creationists are ID'ers but all ID'ers are not necessarily creationists. Just as all Greek Orthodox Christians (presumably) believe there is a god, however not all who believe in a god are Greek Orthodox. ID proponents have widely varying visions about the universe and the origin and diversity of life. At one extreme are those that believe almost fully in evolution, excluding only that the original life form was too complex, and therefore statistically impossible, to have simply come into existence through some random process. From what I've read, Behe is a great example of one who is an ID'er but believes almost fully in evolution. Towards the other end of the spectrum are the young-earth biblical creationists. It is their position that about 6000 years ago, God created each "kind" of organism with enough genetic diversity available to adapt to many and changing environments. These disparate veiws are one (of several) reasons that major groups (AIG, ICR, Disc Inst, etc.) advocate teaching the contoversy of evolution and not the competing explanations.

ID is often accused of being creationism in a (adjective) suit, but this is similar to the oft argued point that evolutionism is equal to atheism. When its implied in posts, a number of people have replied that they are evolutionists with a strong faith in God. I think its ridiculous to come to the conclusion that if someone has doubts about evolution they must believe that the universe was created according to the first chapter of Genesis. Equally wrong is to conclude that if someone doubts a six day creation they can't be a Christian. To me its an obvious debate tactic to try to discredit the opponents of evolution and distract focus from the proposed flaws in the theory of evolution. The discussion usually ends with the tired fable about Christians believing in the flat earth.

This supposed distinction between microevolution and macroevolution made by creationists is an old one.

Creationists frequently use the terms micro and macro with the qualification that they wish there existed a more descriptive commonly accepted term. Macro and micro imply that there is some line that can be drawn where one can say "this change is big and we call it macro, this change is small we call it micro." When discussing in these terms evolutionists simply claim that if you add up enough micro's you'll get a macro. This seems pretty logical. The clarification that creationists attempt to get across, is that of the "direction" of the change. This gets back to the whole information argument that will get me attacked by Malloy. Creationists want the distinction to be whether information is added or simply shuffled (through selection or some more complicated acquisition like Carl blogged about a couple months back) or deleted, where a mutation effectively eliminates a function or trait.

On the other hand, much of it is based on "macroevolution"--if you define it as evolutionary changes above the scale of microevolution. For example, the research of Claes Wahlestedt which I described identifies crucial bits of DNA by finding similar sequences in humans and mice. This research relies on the well-established fact that humans and mice share a common ancestor, which, over millions of years, gave rise to thousands of species--including us and mice. You by way of the zoo, in other words.

This well-established "fact" is really a well-established interpretation. If one operated from some sort of creationist worldview they would also expect that similar functions were produced by similar parts, any other expectation would be illogical. Take a look at the engine from a Ford truck, an Explorer and an Exhibition. I bet you won't be surprised at the amazing similarities and identical parts. Now look at a Taurus. Still some identical parts, some similar parts but also some completely different parts. Why would one expect any different results in the biological world when viewing it as designed.

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13. fro lician on October 16, 2005 05:16 AM writes...

This claim has been made above: "The majority of Americans think that electrons are larger than atoms and that lasers work by focusing sound." Be careful. The study linked to does not quite support that assertion.

Although a minority of those polled gave the correct answer to the true/false question "Electrons are smaller than atoms", it doesn't necessarily follow that the majority believed the wrong answer to be correct. I was able to find the raw data online for the European version of the survey, and it turned out that many people simply answered "I don't know". (It's still a disappointing result, but not as bad as if most folks really asserted that electrons were larger than atoms.) I was not able to find more useful data online from the USA version of the survey.

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14. John A. Davison on October 16, 2005 06:10 AM writes...

I speak as a committed creationist although not of the fundamentalist or sectarian variety. A past evolution is undeniable and a present evolution is not demonstrable beyond the formation of varieties or in some instances subspecies. The Darwinian hypothesis had nothing to do with creative evolution and neither did sexually mediated (Mendelian) genetics. Obligatory sexual reproduction is much too conservative to be involved in true speciation not to mention the formation of any of the higher taxonomic categories.

With the invaluable assistance of several brilliant evolutionists of the past I have recently formally presented a new hypothesis for organic change. "A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis." Rivista di Biologia / Biology Forum. 98(1), 155-166 (2005). I am currently defending it at ISCID's "brainstorms" forum. I invite all to enter that discussion. I await its recognition in the professional literature. Until that occurs I will have to settle for the ephemeral medium of the internet.

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15. Ed Flaherty on October 16, 2005 08:31 AM writes...

One factor that may help explain Americans' disproportionate likelyhood to buy creationism is anti-intellectualism. There has always been an undercurrent of this in American history, going back even to colonial times, but it seems fairly acute these days. Why the anti-intellectualism? I can't explain that. However, when a pastor advises his scientifically ill-inclined flock that evolution is bunk, then the chances are good they will trust him. A pastor would never lie, right?

This is more or less what happened to two relatives of mine, a nephew and an ex-brother-in-law. One completed only high school, the other not even that. Neither showed any interest in evolution or science in general until about 6 months after they began attending their new fundamentalist church. The church had been holding "evolution seminars." I didn't attend but they did, and it is evident what had been taught there. Every silly piece of anti-evolution misinformation spewed from my nephew's mouth when I asked him what he learned from the seminars.

So, one specific reason I can offer for the anti-evolution trend in America is this: America is a religious country which trusts its clergy, and many of those clergy are engaged in a deliberate anti-evolution propaganda campaign. A fantastic documentary like PBS's "Evolution" cannot compete with preachers because the former is from intellectuals with all that fancy book learnin', while the latter are God's servants.

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16. david on October 16, 2005 09:24 AM writes...

Congratulations, only a few ad hominem attacks! First, I didn't mean to imply that IDer's and Creationists are the same, only that each groups theories are not fully understood by many evolutionists. I think Doug clarified the differences quite well.
Secondly, George makes my point even clearer when discussing salamanders in California. When studying taxonomy in school there were lumpers and there were splitters. The splitters were more interested in naming some new species or variety for the notoriety that came along with it. The lumpers were more pragmatic in their classification of species.
For example Odocoileus virginianus clavium is still a white tail deer albeit a somewhat smaller animal. Through the years of land bridges and isolation in the Florida Keys it didn't evolve into a different kind of animal(macro-evolution). Or some form of intermediate that has webbed hooves to use in swimming long distances from key to key. It is still a deer that through natural selection reduced its size to exist on the low nutrient native vegetation. Lumpers call it a deer, splitters call it a new species of deer(key deer).

The salamander that is referred to above is still a salamander, although the splitters would like to consider it a whole new species. Now if it had evolved into a different class such as reptilia or mammilia that would add the needed weight to evolutionary theory.

A salamander is still a salamander just as a deer is still a deer. Natural selection works, but it does not equate to a deer evolving into a higher form of life without an infusion of new and more complex genetic material not a loss of the genetic material it currently has.

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17. John A. Davison on October 16, 2005 10:24 AM writes...

There is no evidence that macroevolution (speciation and the formation of any of the higher taxa) is currently in progress. That these all took place in the past is undeniable. NeoDarwinism never had anthing to do with that past evolution and all it can do now is produce varieties and perhaps subspecies. There was no need for fresh infusions of genetic information, only for the derepression of existing information, a process apparently no longer occurring. Macroevolution is finished according to Robert Broom, Pierre Grasse and, of all people, Julian Huxley, the author of "Evolution: The Modern Synthesis."

It's hard to believe isn't it?

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18. Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry on October 16, 2005 03:04 PM writes...

> There is no evidence that macroevolution (speciation and the formation of any of the higher taxa) is currently in progress

I suggest you have a look at the literature. A great example is the sea snakes. These animals are a fairly recently colonisation of the ocean and the morphological specialisation is tremendous, vastly outstripping what has happened in land snakes in the same time period. The punctuated evolution is so profound that the taxonomy (even at genus level) is a complete mess. These snakes are the result of Australian land elapid snakes taking advantage of empty niches. New adaptations include the ability exchange gases through their skin, such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen out (nitrogen is actually removed at such a rate that it is physiologicallly impossible for these snakes to get the bends) and the ability to gain 20% of their oxygen through their skin (thus greatly increasing dive times). Other adaptations include valvular nostrils and greatly elongated lungs (including changing the structure of the trachea so that oxygen is gained through it, not just the lung proper). Morphologically, these snakes have changed into radical new forms, with some of the weirdest body plans every seen in a reptile. The venom has also changed radically in relation to related land snakes, being streamlined to the point of being the simplest venoms out there. This is because the snakes feed on a single order of animal (fish) in contrast to land snakes which have much more diverse diets and therefore have much more complex venom. On-going evolution is very much apparent and it is 'macroevolution' in action.


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19. Peter Mason on October 16, 2005 07:33 PM writes...

Dr. Bryan Fry
You have highlighted one of the problems of evolutionary theory as I understand it. As it is currently taught it is a result of random (ie undirected) mutations at the base-pair level in DNA resulting in changes to the behaviour and expression of the affected genes. These changes at the genetic level, filtered by natural selection, accumulate or add up until significant differentiation on the order of that you mention has occured.

What I have problems with is the speed such major changes can evolve. In your example of the sea snakes I expect less than 5x10^5 generations have resulted in discernable physical differences involving numerous genes.

Do not misunderstand - I accept evolution - In my mind it is not theory but close enough to fact, just as I accept gravity. Now we know Newton's theory of gravity is not correct on a cosmic scale; that doesn't change that gravity exists. I suspect our current theory of evolution is NOT correct either - and in about as much the same degree Newton is wrong.

The problem as I see it is that, in the simple view, the mutations are always random, and the whole process is based on chance - yet major change in species occur rapidly given the probabilities of random chance.

Has anyone actually been able to determine the number and probability of the mutations needed to cause the sort of physical changes you described, and reconciled that with the rate of random mutation and resulting natural selection?

My prediction is that such studies would show a major issue with the simplistic model of evolution.

Now I am not about to call in an Intelligent Designer, but I expect there is a whole bunch of molecular biology we don't yet know.

I could envision that there MAY be mechanisms for repair of point mutations that are able to distinguish serious(fatal)flaws and repair them while less serious flaws are allowed to pass. What would be required would be some molecular means of biasing which mutations are repaired in relation to the potential consequences of the repair - "repair selection" if you will. The existence of such mechanisms would provide an evolutionary advantage to organisms living in fluctuating environments, hence are likely to have evolved if "selective repair" could be acheived.

Another example a the microbe level would be some mechanism where the sharing of genetic material with other microbes is biased so that it occurs more when the organism is under some environmental stress. In other words the organism actively attempts to acquire new genes - ie "evolve" when faced with increased environmental stress. Mixing and matching of existing genetic material would be much faster than waiting for random chance mutation.

I can imagine other means evolution could progress beyond random mutation and Darwinian natural selection (as meaning the selection of whole viable organisms). Such ideas could be examined and tested and perhaps have been, in any case would be part of a scientific approach.

To my mind evolution theory as it is taught has big glaring holes, is over simplified, and the limits of our understanding are not questioned. This is of course a direct result of the attacks from the ID and Creationist camps, which if nothing else have made dicussing the limitations of our evolutionary theory antitheama within the scientific community.

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20. John A. Davison on October 16, 2005 08:19 PM writes...

Has the recent colonization of the sea occurred within historical times or is it simply surmised to be recent? Just exactly when and from what sources did this colonization take place? Which land species are ancestral to those now inhabiting the sea? What is the evidence that they are reproductively isolated from their ancestors? Surely all of this must be known before anyone should make such claims. Where may I find that information?

I also propose that the most recent mammalian species is Homo sapiens suggesting that the evolutionary scenario has run its course. Please direct me to the literature that would prove otherwise.

It all really depends on what you mean by "fairly recent." Until I see concrete evidence to the contrary I will stick with the independent opinions of Julian Huxley and Robert Broom that a new genus has not appeared in the past 2 million years. I have extended that to suggest that a new mammalian species has not appeared in historical times. Incidentally I realize that snakes are not mammals but nevertheless I remain sceptical that the snakes you mention violate the opinions expressed by Broom, Huxley and myself. The discovery of a new form in nature is no guarantee that it has recently evolved. The physiological criterion of species is the proof that the hybrid between the presumed ancestor And its presumed product is sterile. Has that been tested as well?

I still maintain that obligatory sexual reproduction is impotent as a macroevolutionary mechanism. Accordingly, even if your marine snakes could be shown to be of recent origin, I am confident that they were not produced through the Mendelian means of the accumulation of micromutations. Such means cannot, in my opinion, transcend the species barrier. If they could it would have been routinely demonstrated long ago under controlled laboratory conditions.

I must persist in stateing without reservation that absolutely nothing in the Mendelian/Darwinian sexual model ever had anything whatsoever to do with progressive evolution beyond the formation of varieties. Many life forms cannot even manage that.

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21. Wayne E Francis on October 17, 2005 12:52 AM writes...

*sigh* JAD....
How many times does a former associate professor of biology need to be told that speciation does not require sterile offspring. As George points out there are ring species where the species transition is gradual. Neighbouring species can produce more fertile offspring then species further down the ring. The species at either end have the lowest fertility/viability.

Here is one of MANY times that John A. Davison has been shown that his definition of “speciation” is not the standard definition and this most likely because it would be another problem with his P.E.H.

David from comment #16 uses the "Its still a bacteria" argument. David does not understand that while a lion and tiger are still "cats" they are still different species. Species, in fact, is an arbitrary classification I'll agree.

A good example is in the order of bacteria. There is an abundance of evidence that different species of bacteria change enough to be classified as a new species. The genetic differences between strains of Streptococcus agalactiae is much more then the differences between chimps and humans. Yet those that don't understand or don't want to understand will claim that they are "still bacteria" and chimpanzees and humans are different species despite the fact that the genetic differences show a different story.

As it has been stated many times speciation does not occur in 1 generation to 1 organism. Speciation occurs on a population over many generations. When significant changes have occurred a new species may be classified. We have shown this in the lab not only in many species of bacteria but other species like Drosophila paulistorum and others.

Speciation occurs, only people who don’t want to believe will deny this in the face of the evidence. You just have to decide if you are willing to believe the truth or are you willing to be wilfully ignorant. I guess there is a 3rd possibility. You could prove that thousands upon thousands of scientists they are wrong and the definition of “Speciation” should be changed but just keep in mind the whole bacteria/chimpanzee/human issue. This means you have to change speciation to exclude any use of genetic information. Good luck with that task.

Wayne E Francis

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22. bcpmoon on October 17, 2005 05:15 AM writes...

David: "The salamander that is referred to above is still a salamander, although the splitters would like to consider it a whole new species."

I always considered this argument a bit odd, because then (just as Wayne E Francis pointed out), a human is still an ape. Which is of course correct, but I guess not the intended consequence.
In german, the great apes are termed "Menschenaffen" ("human apes") which makes the point quite clear.

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23. John A. Davison on October 17, 2005 05:43 AM writes...

Wayne Francis from Panda's Thumb I presume?

I do not regard Panda's Thumb as an authoritative source on matters dealing with speciation or any other aspect of the great mystery of organic evolution for that matter. I also do not care for your condescending tone. The PEH is founded on a base supplied by some of the finest minds of two centuries and nothing you say can change any of that. Ring species are trivial tail ends of a phenomenon now largely finished.

I am confident that tens of thousands of scientists are indeed wrong if they insist that Darwinian gradualism ever had anything to do with creative evolution. Yes indeed.

As for population genetics it is only that. It is the study of how alleles are distributed in interbreeding groups which has and had absolutely nothing to do with creative evolution beyond subspeciation. Many organisms cannot even demonstrate that.

What we are dealing with here is a "groupthink" which is genetically incapable of accepting the uncomfortable reality that its membership has dedicated itself to a myth, a fiction, a thoroughly tested and failed hypothesis which can never be reconciled with centuries of human experience, countless futile experimental attempts and, above all, the realities of the fossil record all of which point to an emergent evolution now finished in which the environment played no role beyond acting as a stimulus for an endogenous predetermined capacity to evolve. The vast majority of all organisms past and present have lost that potential until today there is every reason to believe that macroevolution is quite impossible.

If it should occur I am convinced that it will not do so through the much too conservative constraints which limit the sexual reproductive reproductive mode.

"Any system that purports to account for evolution must invoke a mechanism not mutational and aleatory."
Pierre Grasse, "The Evolution of Living Organisms," page 245

That is exactly what the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis does. There is absolutely nothing in neo-Darwinism that ever had anything to do with creative evolution. It remains today what it was at its inception, an invention of the human imagination. Selection, like the Phlogiston of Chemisry and the Ether of Physics has proven to be an illusion. It is entirely fitting that the initial letters of these three fantasies can be arranged as ESP, extrasensory perception indeed.

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24. Ed Flaherty on October 17, 2005 07:36 AM writes...

Post 23 brings up another good reason why America is home to more than its fair share of anti-evolutionists: Americans love conspiracy theories. The Grassy Knoll, the Moon Landing Hoax, the UFO coverup, and of course, the Evolution Conspiracy. What these conspiracy tales have in common is that they are sexy. Certain people enjoy being the part of a small group who is privileged to know The Truth, a truth that would prevail if only the Souless Minions of Orthodoxy were not so powerful.

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25. John Timmer on October 17, 2005 08:51 AM writes...

The macro/micro evolution issue was always a specious one (pardon the pun) because nobody could ever enunciate a biological mechanism by which an accumulation of micro changes was prevented from separating species. In the age of genomes, the argument has essential become laughable. We have the human and chimp genomes in complete form now. The majority of the differences between them are caused by duplications and deletions of genetic material; the remainder are single base changes. Changes of these sorts have been observed in both in wild and lab populations - they occur though known mechanisms with known causes. So, either humans and chimps are the same species, or species can arise though an accumulation of genomic changes with known causes.

(for Peter Mason - this happened over 6 million years, and most base changes appear to be neutral, so the actual rate of significant changes over that time span appears to be much lower than the 1.5% or so of total differences between human and chimp).

This doesn't even get into more sophisticated data, such as evidence for selective sweeps of some genes that are different between humans and chimps, indicating that there's been a strong selection for a number of genetic changes within the human lineage. I haven't heard any C/ID proponent come up with an explanation of why genomic evidence for selective sweeps is consistent with anything but evolution.

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26. Kai-Mikael Jää-Aro on October 17, 2005 09:43 AM writes...

John A Davidson wrote:
> I also propose that the most recent mammalian species is Homo
> sapiens suggesting that the evolutionary scenario has run its
> course. Please direct me to the literature that would prove
> otherwise.

I believe it is fairly uncontroversial that both domestic cats and dogs are more recent in origin than humans, but see e g "Unequal contribution of sexes in the origin of dog breeds" by Sundqvist AK, Bjornerfeldt S, Leonard J, Hailer F, Hedhammar A, Ellegren H & Vila C. in Genetics. 2005 Oct 11, and "The evolution of domestic pets and companion animals" by Young MS in Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 1985 Mar;15(2):297-309.

Why do you restrict yourself to mammals anyway? There are plenty of organisms that are more recent in origins than humans, not least domestic plants. You could with equal logic say that evolution has stopped now that modern wheat exists.

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27. John A. Davison on October 17, 2005 10:24 AM writes...

Dogs are wolves or if you prefer wolves are dogs. That they are the same species is proved by the fertility of their hybrid. I eagerly await a younger mammalian species than Homo sapiens. Dogs and cats don't qualify. Sorry. You will have to do better than that. As for evolution being finished, I'll make it easy for you. Name a genus younger than 2 million years. Robert Broom and Julian Huxley couldn't do it. Now name a species know to have emerged in historical times. I can't do it and so far neither can anyone else.

As for the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis:

"All great truths begin as blasphemies."
George Bernard Shaw

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28. Kai-Mikael Jää-Aro on October 17, 2005 10:42 AM writes...

So, will gerbils do?

"Recent radiation in West African Taterillus (Rodentia, Gerbillinae): the concerted role of chromosome and climatic changes" Dobigny G, Aniskin V, Granjon L, Cornette R, Volobouev V, in Heredity. 2005 Aug 17

Quote: "They [West-African gerbils] display radically rearranged karyotypes despite low genic divergence and a very recent differentiation, that is, within the last 0.4 Myr for the six most derived species."

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29. Kai-Mikael Jää-Aro on October 17, 2005 11:00 AM writes...

OK, so is this evidence for a new species in historic time?

"It is evident that speciation is an ongoing process in the genus [Microtus] and that the molecular data provides a vital insight into current species limits as well as cladogenic events of the past."

"Molecular phylogeny of the speciose vole genus Microtus (Arvicolinae, Rodentia) inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences" by Jaarola M, Martinkova N, Gunduz I, Brunhoff C, Zima J, Nadachowski A, Amori G, Bulatova NS, Chondropoulos B, Fraguedakis-Tsolis S, Gonzalez-Esteban J, Jose Lopez-Fuster M, Kandaurov AS, Kefelioglu H, da Luz Mathias M, Villate I, Searle JB in Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2004 Dec;33(3):647-63.

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30. John Timmer on October 17, 2005 11:01 AM writes...

RE: John Davison

This doesn't necessarily affect your primary argument, but your claim that development proceeds through the ordered de-repression of pre-existing information is simply wrong. A significant role of many developmental regulators is to repress inappropriate gene expression. For just one example, see REST/NRSF - knockouts of this gene in mice result in lethality due to embryo-wide activation of genes normally restricted to mature neural cell types. You might want to incorporate data such as this into your thinking.

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31. Wayne E Francis on October 17, 2005 12:19 PM writes...

JAD the definitions of speciation is not from PT. That is just where I first pointed you to the definitions. BTW JAD PT is going better then ever since you left. What was it you said? Oh yea that without you PT would die.

For those that don't know JAD he says all genetic information was front loaded in the first life and only loss of information has occured. He ignores any evidence that shows his hypothesis to be faulty and if you get on his bad side he'll report you to the FBI for being a darwinist

quote from John A. Davison
"You better keep your traps shut about my sources or I’ll turn you all in to the FBI as security risks."
look here
for the complete post

He doesn't do research anymore so he can't prove his hypothesis that is well over 20 years old. He only got it published in a journal that will take any paper, no matter how bad, as long as it is agianst evolution.

His warping the definition of "Species" is just one example. The Przewalski Horse is a different species from the Common Horse, 66 and 64 chromosomes respectufully, but they can interbreed with normal fertility. Lions and Tigers are different species and when they breed the females are most often fertile. Males hybrids can also be fertile. Pheasents, 82 chromosomes, and chickens, 78 chromosomes, can produce offspring that are occasionally fertile. Buffalo, 50 chromosomes, and cows, 60 chromosomes, can produce offspring. Donkey's and horses, 64 and 62 chromosomes respectfully, can interbreed and there are female mules that have been fertile. The same goes for Grevy zebras and horses, 46 and 64, with still the occasionaly firtile offspring.

So according to JAD
*numbers in ()s are the chromosomes count*
Grevy Zebra (46), Plain Zebra (44), Mountain Zebra (32), Common Horse (64), Donkey (62), Przewalski (66) are ALL the same species.

ALL the big cats are also the same Species, Lepards, Tigers, Lions, etc

Many birds are the same species.
Buffalo and Cows are the same species.

Anything that disagrees with his hypothesis is "the same species"

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32. Anonymous on October 17, 2005 02:49 PM writes...

My oh my, such a response but with no specifics. My challenge on speciation was within "historical times" and from know ancestral sources with tests for hybrid fertility. Even partial sterility of the hybrid is proof of different species. The Darwinians seem to forget that it was a devout Darwinian that came up with this sound, testable and physiological definition - Theodosius Dobzhansky. It was another declared Darwinian, Julian Huxley, who claimed that evolution was finished without a new genus in two million years. If you want verification of these claims I refer you to my unpublished Manifesto. Or bettter yet, get out Huxley's magnus opus, "Evolution: The Modern Synthesis" and turn to page 571 and realize that, on that page, he destroyed virtually everything about Darwinian evolution that had preceded it. And there was yet another Darwinian named Alfred Russel Wallace who had the good sense to abandon the whole silly hypothesis which he helped cofound. Another devout Darwinian, Dobzhansky proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the most intensive selection cannot exceed the species barrier in the most intensively studied evolutionary model of all time, Drosophila.

It has been the Darwinians themselves that have destroyed their own hypothesis. Yet they refuse to recognize it and I know why. They CANNOT recognize it without being forced to admit that they have been chasing a phantom, that they have dedicated their life to something that never existed, that Darwinism has proven to be a hoax, perpetuated by ideologues who are blind to the order and purpose that is so obvious to those not so afflicted.

One of several reasons I have so much admiration for Willima Bateson was his willingness to do that which the Darwinians will probably never do.

"In 1924, shortly before his death, William Bateson, the father of modern genetics, confided to his son Gregory, 'that it was a mistake to have committed his life to Mendelism, that it was a blind alley which would not throw any light on the differentiation of species, nor on evolution in general.'" Davison, J.A. "Is evolution finished?", Rivista di Biologia, 97: 111-116, 2004.

If you want to cling to the flotsam and jetsam of H.M.S. Darwin there is nothing I can do for you. Mivart sank it in 1871 when he asked - how can Natural Selection influence a structure that has not yet appeared?

It is hard to believe isn't it?

With Albert Einstein I am a convinced determinist.

"Everything is determined... by forces over which we have no control...Our actions should be based on the ever-present awareness that human beings in their thinking, feeling, and acting are not free but are just as causally bound as the stars in their motion."

If any one doubts that, they should just look at what transpires on this as on every other internet forum where one has challenged the Darwinian fairy tale. We are all victims of our "prescribed" fates. Trust me but of course you can't as I have already explained. As for myself, in the words of another predestinationist:

"War, God help me, I love it so."
General George S. Patton

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33. Paul on October 17, 2005 03:10 PM writes...

Nice debunking. However, the mere argument that the fact that 60% of Americans believing in "creation" is so telling that this chimp should have been ignored.

First of all, the popular opinion does not matter in science. Thus "david" exposes his utter ignorance of science in general.

Second, one can believe both in evolution and creation - that's called theistic evolution. So "david's" number is really irrelevant. Though if one assumes that "david" meant that 60% of Americans reject evolution in favor of creation, well, he has just proven that 60% of Americans are either deluded or ignorant, or both. (But I'm skeptical about "david"'s statistics).

Finally, it is a well-known fact that the theory of evolution does not account for abiogenesis by definition. So "david" is nothing but an ignoramus. Why should anybody take his silliness seriously?

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34. Ed Flaherty on October 17, 2005 03:23 PM writes...

"If you want to cling to the flotsam and jetsam of H.M.S. Darwin there is nothing I can do for you."

Here we see David demonstrate the trait of the conspiracy theorist which I mentioned earlier. He identifies himself as belonging to the small group who is in possession of The Truth, as opposed to being a Souless Minion of Orthodoxy.

"With Albert Einstein I am a convinced determinist."

Here we see David self-identify with a real scientific genius so as to enhance his own credibility. Interestingly, David could have chosen a better bedfellow because on this point the confounding indeterminancy of quantum mechanics proves Einstein wrong.

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35. Kai-Mikael Jää-Aro on October 17, 2005 04:28 PM writes...

John A Davidson (presumably) writes:
> My challenge on speciation was within "historical times" and
> from know ancestral sources with tests for hybrid fertility.

Umm, no. You wrote in comment 20: "I also propose that the most recent mammalian species is Homo sapiens suggesting that the evolutionary scenario has run its course. Please direct me to the literature that would prove otherwise."

I directed you to literature that listed several mammal species more recent than Homo sapiens, to which your response has been raising the bar, in comment 27 demanding "Now name a species know[n] to have emerged in historical times." and when I gave a literature reference for that, even that wasn't good enough, but now you in comment 32 require "from know[n] ancestral sources with tests for hybrid fertility". Since I know that Jaarola's group are in fact testing the hybrid fertility of the voles in question, what will you demand next, come the confirmation of infertility?

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36. John A. Davison on October 17, 2005 07:07 PM writes...

If the voles prove to produce infertile hybrids and can be documented to have evolved in historical times I will of course have been proven wrong and will freely accept that. I doubt that criterion can be met. Let's assume the worst, that I am dead wrong about speciation no longer occurring which is certainly conceivable. Does that mean that the formation of genera, families, orders, classes and phyla is still in progress? Will such a result in any way rescue Darwinism from the total failure it has always been? If the PEH proves to be a dismal failure will it in any way serve to sustain the Darwinian myth? I have never published a paper which I had to retract in any way and I am confident I am not about to start. I have offered a new hypothesis because there was an intellectual vacuum which needed to be filled and I have presented an hypothesis completely consistent with the facts. Whether anyone likes it or not means absolutely nothing to me.

The reason I have referred to the investigators of the past is because the Darwinians have so terrorized their own students that they are afraid to question their professors. I know from personal experience as I have had one of my own students turn against my views because of the pressures he felt from others. pressures to which he unfortunately responded. The other reason I have relied so heavily on the six in particular to which i have dedicated one of my papers is because one of my stated objectives is to resurrect these fine minds from the oblivion to which the materialist Darwinian zealots have relegated them. It has been a "vast left wing conspiracy," a conspiracy of silence and denial that the atheist Darwinian ideology ever had any critics. I am happy to join forces with Berg, Broom, Goldschmidt, Grasse, Bateson and Schindewolf. There was not a Darwinian in the lot and not a religious fanatic either. Both the fundamentalists and the Darwinians are ideological mystics, believing in forces that cannot be demonstrated because they do not exist and never have. When these two camps, both dead wrong, get through butchering one another, I have every intention of, along with my predecessors to whom I owe so much, being able to proudly proclaim - we told you so. It is not our fault that you refused to listen. In any event Darwinism is about to become a footnote right along with the Ether and Phlogiston and nothing anyone says can change that. It is nothing but the only conceivable refuge for those can't hear Einstein's "music of the spheres." They are not only blind but deaf as well. All in all I am quite content, even gleeful with the way things are progressing.

"Everything is determined... by forces over which we have no conrol."

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37. david on October 17, 2005 07:42 PM writes...

Oh Lordy! heps me? Protects me from dem intellectools wifs der fancy book lernin. Dat Paul an ED deys just too smart fo me!

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38. John Timmer on October 17, 2005 10:21 PM writes...

Okay, David, no personal attacks and no sarcasm, but a few questions:

Are humans and chimps the same species?
Are the differences between them be sufficient to be an example of macroevolution?
Which genomic differences between them could not have arisen through known mechanisms that produce genetic variations, such as replication defects and random mutation?

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39. John A. Davison on October 17, 2005 11:11 PM writes...

Who is this David or would he rather not say? My name is John A. Davison and has been since 1928. I too would be interested in what others think might have caused our differences from the chimpanzee, especially since we are virtually identical at the DNA level and, after all, they are our closest living relative. Surely we are in complete agreement on that aren't we?

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40. anon on October 18, 2005 04:22 AM writes...

Don't care if Davison is right or wrong, I love him anyway.

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41. John Timmer on October 18, 2005 07:53 AM writes...

Personally, i blame most of the human/chimp divergence on the rapid diversification of transcription factors:

"Although the statistical signals are relatively weak, a few classes of genes appear to be evolving more rapidly in humans than in chimps. The single strongest outlier involves genes that code for transcription factors, which are molecules that regulate the activity of other genes and that play key roles in embryonic development."

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42. John A. Davison on October 18, 2005 10:15 AM writes...

John Timmer

Genes do not evolve, they only mutate. Chromosomes have always been the units of evolution just as Goldschmidt claimed 65 years ago. I see no evidence that humans are undergoing any progressive evolutionary changes and plenty of evidence that we are undergoing a great deal of genetic (evolutionary) degeneration due largely to the relaxation of natural selection, especially in civilized society. As I have said many times a past evolution is undeniable and a present evolution is undemonstrable. I concur with Perre Grasse, Robert Broom and, of all people, Julian Huxley that evolution is no longer occurring. Unfortunately none of us exist. We must not.

For the reasons I have reached this conclusion I refer you to Davison, J.A. 1998, "Evolution as a self-limiting process." Rivista di Biologia 91: 199-220. It is also available at my old, now frozen, home page.

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43. Anonymous on October 18, 2005 10:36 AM writes...

John Davison says: "Genes do not evolve, they only mutate. Chromosomes have always been the units of evolution just as Goldschmidt claimed 65 years ago."

So you claim. I read both of those links, and i find your claims to be supported primarily by quote mining, and an attempt to extrapolate exceptions and rarities into rules, rather than recognizing them for what they are. Your claim above also ignores extensive evidence of how subtle changes in transcription factors can bring about dramatic changes in organism-wide gene expression, and how this can result in correspondingly dramatic developmental changes. It is also ignorant of the extensive phylogenetic comparisons of gene families that are now available to us via the many genomes that have been sequenced.

This is not to say that chromosome rearrangements and whole genome duplications do not play a significant role in speciation - it's clear that they are a significant driving force. It's just that it's the genes that are involved in these rearrangements, and how they diversify afterwards via smaller-scale changes that are most important. Rearrangements simply provide the raw material for small evolutionary changes.

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44. Wayne E Francis on October 18, 2005 02:34 PM writes...

"Who is this David or would he rather not say? My name is John A. Davison and has been since 1928"

Ummm JAD despite your thinking the world does not revolve around you. David is another poster. Sheessh

As you can see JAD has a few issues. Any proof he askes for and you provide will be ignored and he'll repeat the same nonsense. There are plenty of species that have been used in the labs that over the last 40 years have undergone speciation. Drosophila paulistorum has indeed undergone speciation as JAD requests. The new species, well 40 years ago, has enough genetic changes that it now produces sterile hybrids.

Cichlids are another good example of speciation with hundreds of different species with speciation going back 24mya with 5 known speciation events in the past 4 millenium. This is supported not only by DNA sequensing but parasitic organism that can be used to build the phylogentic tree of this fish.

So one more time. While there is proof of what JAD asks for regarding speciation his definition of speciation is not the normally used definition of speciation.

Speciation does occur. Speciation does not require an inability to mate or even sterile offspring. These are just 2 rough indications on how far 2 species have diverged when compaired to others in the same genus.

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45. Paul on October 18, 2005 02:59 PM writes...

> Dat Paul an ED deys just too smart fo me!

That's true. You seem to be an example of "devolution".


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46. John A. Davison on October 18, 2005 04:54 PM writes...

Anonymous illustrates precisely why anonymity should not be permitted on internet blogs. He contributes nothing of substance but simply denigrates the opinions of some of the finest evolutionary minds of the past and by so doing accuses me of "quote mining." That old ploy won't wash any more. The simple truth is that Darwinism is an experimental disaster which will never be reconciled with the undeniable facts proving a past evolution. All the available evidence remains in concert with the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis. If that should prove to be in error I will abandon it but not until. All this bluster means nothing to me. My papers are, like those of my many distinguished sources, now on the library shelves of the world. What happens on the ephemeral internet is meaningless and will remain so until anonymity is abolished. Why such a barbaric practice was ever adopted in the first place escapes me.

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47. Carl Zimmer on October 18, 2005 05:08 PM writes...

Fascinating. John Davison tells us that "What happens on the ephemeral internet is meaningless." And yet he writes several comments every day on my ephemeral blog.

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48. John Timmer on October 18, 2005 05:46 PM writes...

Er, Anonymous was me. I must have accidentally forgotten to fill in the form part of posting. I've published a few papers myself (there's two John Timmers you'll pull up on medline; you can probably figure out which is me), so if you view that as the ultimate credibility test, be my guest. I'd also like to make it clear that i'm not denigrating previous contributions - we just know more now due to the productivity of the recent years and improved technology, so our conclusions can be more sophisticated and based on more accurate data.

As for my accusation of quote mining, in your own writings you express surprise that a small phrase you admire from Huxley seems to contradict the vast majority of the volume that preceded it. Instead of taking this as a hint that the quote didn't represent Huxley's conclusions or that you had misinterpreted it, you use it separated from its context so that you can interpret in a manner that supports what you've concluded. That's quote mining. I assume since you did it there, you're prone to doing it elsewhere.

As for the rest of your diatribe, i didn't realize that posting based a grasp of the recent literature on genomics, structure/function of transcription factors, and developmental gene regulation was "contributing nothing of substance". In an attempt to both indicate you're wrong and provide something of substance, i'd like to point out that articles came out recently in Science magazine that showed that alleles of a couple of genes involved in human brain development are in severe disequilibrium, which is indicative of them being under current selective pressure. You can check out the summary (, which includes links to the articles. Of course, you may also view that as nothing of substance.

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49. John Mashey on October 18, 2005 07:52 PM writes...

I'd second John Timmer's pointer to the Sept 9 issue of Science. One of the articles describes a human genetic variant that arose about 37,000 years ago, and another a variant only ~5800 years old.

Note: access to all the info on that website requires AAAS membership, although partial versions are also available. A Professional membership in AAAS costs $135/year, although students get it cheaper.

For one's general education, it can be well worth joining a technical society for a year or two, if only to see what's going on. In Science, the first 50 pages or so are typically accessible to a more general audience, i.e., not too different from the level in Scientific American.

The rest of the magazine has original research contributions, and the details in get incomprehensible unless you are a practitioner. Still, perusing these (and the letters to the editor) is useful in understanding the process of real science. In particular, one doesn't see theories claiming to explain everything, and one often sees caveats and confidence levels and weighing of possibly-contradictory data. that's real science for you...

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50. John A. Davison on October 18, 2005 10:57 PM writes...

I have misrepresented no one but invariably quoted them directly and verbatim as anyone would know if they had read any of my publications which obviously they have not. That is a cheap shot and typical of blog behavior.

As for Zimmers comment, I proclaim on the internet because the professionals are afraid to mention my name or the names of my distinguuished predecessors all of whom have exposed the Darwinian model as a hoax. My work, like theirs, is now preserved on the shelves of the world's libraries. Where may I find the reasoned critiques of our collective devastations of their mythology? The only place I see any response whatsoever is on internet blogs like this one and that from amateurs most of whom insist on the anonymity which renders their denigrations utterly meaningless. The internet will remain impotent as a meaningful organ until it abolishes anonymity. You may write that down. Publication in refereed journals is really all that matters. I have gotten to the point where I actually enjoy the kind of response I am able to elicit. It is music to my ears and further evidence for a prescribed evolution. We are all victims. Some of us have been more fortunate than others. I am one of the lucky ones. The others don't matter.

"Davison is the Darwinian's worst nightmare."
Terry Trainor

"Everything is determined... by forces over which we have no control."
Albert Einstein

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51. Wayne E Francis on October 19, 2005 10:17 AM writes...

"I have misrepresented no one but invariably quoted them directly and verbatim as anyone would know if they had read any of my publications which obviously they have not."

JAD Quote mining is quoting just leave out the contex of the quote.

"That is a cheap shot and typical of blog behavior."

You've been shown many time that the quotes you use are out of context. The Einstein quotes especially. You just choose to ignore it when people show you that you took the quote out of context.

"As for Zimmers comment, I proclaim on the internet because the professionals are afraid to mention my name or the names of my distinguuished predecessors all of whom have exposed the Darwinian model as a hoax."

Get over yourself JAD, they are not afriad. They either don't know you or if they do they wouldn't bother bebunking your hypothesis when layman can poke holes all through it.

"My work, like theirs, is now preserved on the shelves of the world's libraries."

Yup .0000001% of the journal articles out there.

"Where may I find the reasoned critiques of our collective devastations of their mythology?"

Well their critiques where done a half century or more. Yours won't be coming because no one is going to spend good money providing a something so blatently wrong.

"The only place I see any response whatsoever is on internet blogs like this one and that from amateurs most of whom insist on the anonymity which renders their denigrations utterly meaningless."

Yes you threatened me with the FBI saying I was hiding....Yes I'm hiding .... behind my real name and I see to remember I gave you my work place, bosses name etc. I'm still waiting to be deported from Australia into the cuffs of the FBI.

"The internet will remain impotent as a meaningful organ until it abolishes anonymity."

Sorry but many of your critics don't hind behind anonymity even on the internet and once agian the world does not revolve around you or did you not get that through your head when you lost the run for govenor?

"You may write that down. Publication in refereed journals is really all that matters."

You have 1 publication in a refereed journal about your crazy hypothesis and that is in a journal that is far from respected because its editor takes anything that is anti-darwinian. I could write a paper bagging darwin with nothing true in it and get it published in that rag. Your other papers from my memory have nothing to do with your PEH.

"I have gotten to the point where I actually enjoy the kind of response I am able to elicit."

Yes you are a self proclaimed toll and you enjoy it, like all trolls. That is not something to be proud of. Its a sign of an underdeveloped frontal cortex in those over 30.

"It is music to my ears and further evidence for a prescribed evolution."

How you think people getting frustrated with your trolling supports your PEH only you can figure out.

"We are all victims. Some of us have been more fortunate than others. I am one of the lucky ones. The others don't matter"

Agian you think the world revolves around doesn't.

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52. Cameron Peters on October 19, 2005 10:07 PM writes...

Mr. Davison, did you attempt to submit your PEH to a more respected journal, such as Nature, Science, PNAS, or Evolution? If so, did they provide specfic criticisms of your hypothesis and would you be willing to share them?

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53. John A. Davison on October 19, 2005 11:30 PM writes...

Wayne Francis

My but you are upset. That is a good sign. I hope that Carl lets your tirade stand as that has become standard where anything I have ever offered is concerned.

In the interest of accuracy I have published 8 papers all in refereed journals and all dealing one way or another with what has become the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis. There has been to my knowledge only one response to my papers which was published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology where I had published the first of my evolutionary papers. I responded to that critique in the same journal. That same journal rejected my next paper at which time I turned to the Rivista di Biologia / Biology Forum which published my next 6 papers and is currently considering a seventh. That single rejection coincided with a change in the editor of J. Theor. Biol. I also have summarized much of my earlier work in "An Evolutionary Manifesto: A New Hypothesis for Organic Change" which I have made no attempt to publish but has been widely discussed on internet forums much to my delight.

I have turned to the internet for one reason only. The professional evolutionists have refused to recognize my existence just as they always have refused to recognize their critics. I am simply a recent example of the many who have exposed the inadequacy of the Darwinian model, a veritable honor roll of some of the finest biologists of two centuries. I am honored to identify with them. None of us are allowed to exist because if we were allowed to exist it would prove fatal to the most tested and failed hypothesis in the history of science. It is only on the ephemeral internet that I am vilified, ridiculed and denigrated with gay abandon. It is wonderfully revealing and I am delighted with the way things are progressing. Please keep up the good work Wayne.

"War, God help me , I love it so."
General George S. Patton

"Meine Zeit wird schon kommen!
Gregor Mendel

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54. John A. Davison on October 20, 2005 10:01 PM writes...

Wayne E. Francis, whoever that really is:

Why, now that I can no longer proclaim my heresies at your home base, Panda's Thumb, have you found it necessary to pursue me to other blogs? And why does Carl Zimmer permit this flagrant demonstration of ad hominem vitriol? These are the questions that should be answered.

My sin and it is apparently a venal one has been to offer an alternative hypothesis for the mechanism for organic evolution, a phenomenon for which virtually nothing is known with certainty. Is there really so much known about this great mystery as to exclude any alternative explanations for its past occurrence? Is there no longer any virtue in asking questions and, having asked them, promoting new interpretations of undeniable facts which are amenable to more than one such interpretation?

As a journalist, it seems to me that Carl Zimmer has a responsibility to investigate the suggestions I have presented in the form of the PEH and, after having thorougly digested them, present a reasoned judgdement as to their potential validity or lack of same. It is not appropriate for Carl Zimmer, as the manager of this forum, to allow ad hominem attacks to stand without comment. To do so is to join with those that practice such ethically and intellectually despicable devices. If that is his posture let the record demonstrate exactly that. The ball is now in Zimmer's court.

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55. JW Tan on October 21, 2005 02:39 AM writes...

Mr Davison

Why do you post your comments on another blog, instead of starting one of your own? If you feel confident enough of your hypothesis to argue it on other people's blogs in the face of established theory, it seems to me that you should feel confident enough to set it out in your own blog.

Someone else's blog is like someone else's house - it's up to him what he allows in it, and you can't take him to task for it. As a Republican, this should sound familiar to you. If you want to disseminate your hypothesis, posting acerbic comments on other people's work is one of the worst ways of teaching around.

Of course, you could be working to another agenda, in which case my assumption that you are a teacher and a scientist is wrong.

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56. John A. Davison on October 21, 2005 07:36 AM writes...

I have no interest in having my "own" blog. I do not want a fan club either. I prefer attack to defence when it comes to intellectual matters. There is no need for me to defend my hypothesis as my contributions have been published. They should be attacked which they are not except on the ephemeral internet. I have not checked Citation Index lately but the last time I did I discovered that the only references to John A. Davison had been made by John A. Davison. He also seems to be about the only one referring to Leo Berg, Otto Schindewolf, Pierre Grasse, Robert Broom, William Bateson, Henry Fairfield Osborn, St George Jackson Mivart, Reginald C. Punnett and Richard B. Goldschmidt, antiDarwinians all. As I have said before, we critics of the Darwinian evolutionary scheme simply do not exist. We are not allowed to exist by the establishment because if that should happen Darwinism would collapse in a heartbeat. It is happening anyway so that no longer troubles me. I am looking forward to the time when we critics will be able to say that we told you so but you wouldn't listen. I am delighted to be the spokesperson for those no longer with us, some of the most penetrating and brilliant minds of the past. I remain confident that the PEH is the only available hypothesis to explain an evolution which is no longer in progress. I know of nothing which it cannot accommodate and a great deal which it can.

"A cluster of facts makes it very plain that Mendelian, allelomorphic mutation plays no part in creative evolution. It is, as it were, a more or less pathological fluctuation in the genetic code. It is an ACCIDENT on the 'magnetic tape' on which THE PRIMARY INFORMATION FOR THE SPECIES IS RECORDED."
Pierre Grasse, The Evolution of Living Organisms, page 243 (my emphasis)

"If you tell the truth, you can be certain, sooner or later, to be found out."
Oscar Wilde

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57. Anne Elk on October 21, 2005 04:52 PM writes...

The brontosaurus is very thin at one end, much much thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the other end.

There! I've run rings 'round you, logically.

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58. John A. Davison on October 21, 2005 06:43 PM writes...

Of course you have Anne.

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59. John Timmer on October 22, 2005 05:11 PM writes...

RE: John A. Davison

Just out of curiosity, how do you account for the rapid success of other heretical ideas, such as the prion hypothesis and the suggestion that ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection? Both of these went from heretical to nobel prizes in around 10 years. But somehow, the anti-establishment ideas that you favor have been around much longer, and yet have gained absolutely no traction?

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60. Anonymous on October 22, 2005 07:19 PM writes...

John Timmer

That is amn excellent question and I have answered it. The atheist Darwinian model cannot and will not have it's premise questioned because if it should do so it would be tantamount to intellectual suicide. You must recognice that we are not dealing here with matters over which we have control. There is mounting evidence that the way we interpret the world and our role in it has a firm genetic basis. Just as it has been established that child molestation cannot be cured so cannot liberalism, in all its many forms, be cured. That is why these matters will never be resolved through debate. The debate beteen nature and nurture has been won hands down by nature and until that is accepted as a given there is no hope for rational communication on a subject as mysterious as organic evolution.

I cannot communicate with those who cannot hear Einstein's "music of the spheres." I can only repeat what he claimed.

"Our actions sgould be based on the ever-present awareness that human beings in their thing, feeling, and acting are not free but are just as causally bound as the stars in their motion."

I can only be delighted that he anticipated every aspect of the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis which I happen to believe is the only reasonable explanation for organic evolution. Only the mechanism remains unknown and that for not much longer. Of that I am convinced. Most certainly, chance plays no role now as in the past. Furthermore, it is finished and has been for a very long time.

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61. Jon H on October 22, 2005 07:52 PM writes...

JAD writes: ""In 1924, shortly before his death, William Bateson, the father of modern genetics, confided to his son Gregory, 'that it was a mistake to have committed his life to Mendelism, that it was a blind alley which would not throw any light on the differentiation of species, nor on evolution in general.'" Davison, J.A. "Is evolution finished?", Rivista di Biologia, 97: 111-116, 2004."

Eventually, evolutionist wags will be able to concoct stories of JAD's deathbed conversion to Darwinism.

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62. John A. davison on October 23, 2005 05:15 AM writes...

I have no idea how that post became duplicated so many times. It certainly was not of my doing.

As for my "death bed conversion to Darwinism," I can imagine no more telling demonstration that Darwinism is a congenital intellectual disease for which there is no conceivable cure.

"Marx, Darwin and Freud are the three most crashing boors of the Western World."
William Golding

"First make yourself unpopular, then people will take you seriously."
Konrad Adenauer

Not yet Konrad!

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63. John A. Davison on October 24, 2005 07:31 AM writes...

This is for John Timmer who accuses me of "Quote mining."

I ask him to get a copy of Julian Huxley's "Evolution: The Modern Synthesis," and turn to page 571 where he will find the long paragraph which I have quoted to indicate that Huxley believes that evolution is finished. If Timmer does this then I want Timmer to explain to me and anyone else how I could possibly have misrepresented his meaning. If Timmer is not willing to do this, then it becomes a commentary om Timmer, not me. You see if I were to reproduce this paragraph here it would mean nothing because it has become obvious that Timmer has no respect for me and has assumed that I routinely misrepresent the words and meaning of my sources. I submit that I cannot misrepresent the views of any author when I present them in their entirely and identify exactly where they may be found. That I have always done. That includes Albert Einstein. This "out of context" nonsense is just that.

I would, of course, accept an apology.

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64. John A. Davison on October 24, 2005 10:04 AM writes...

Here is the infamous admission by Julian Huxley which I have quoted. I have only highlighted the most critical parts.

"Evolution is thus seen as a series of BLIND ALLEYS. Some are extremely short - those leading to new genera and species that either REMAIN STABLE OR BECOME EXTINCT. Others are longer - the lines of adaptive radiation within a group such as a class or subclass, which run for tens of millions of years before coming up against their TERMINAL BLANK WALL. Others are still longer - the lines that have in the past led to the development of the major phyla and their highest representatives; their course is to be reckoned not in tens but in hundreds of millions of years. But ALL in the long run have TERMINATED BLINDLY. That of the echinoderms, for instance, reached its climax before the end of the Mesozoic. For the arthropods, represented by their highest group, the insects, the FULL STOP seems to have come in thre early Cenozoic: even the ants and bees have made NO ADVANCE since the mesozoic. For the birds, the Miocene MARKED THE END; for the mammals, the PLIOCENE."

I took the liberty of incorporating one of Huxley's terms in the title of my paper, "The 'Blind Alley'. Its significance for evolutionary theory," Rivista di Biologia / Biology Forum 86: 101-111, 1993.

I'll let others judge if I have taken anything out of context or if that is even conceivable.

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65. John Timmer on October 24, 2005 11:27 AM writes...

I was basing my interpretation on your own words regarding the use of the quote, which you prefaced with: "Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the text is the revealing and totally contradictory summary that Huxley offers on page 571, seven pages from the end."

If it is "totally contradictory" to the remaining 500+ pages, then its use out of the context of those pages in order to claim that Huxley supports your view is questionable, at best. I'd consider it quote mining; you may not.

Regardless, I'll check if one of the libraries here has a copy when i get some free time later in the week; i'm at a med school, though, so i'm not entirely optimistic.

Incidentally, if i've failed to gain any respect for you since i became aware of you via your posts here, it's because you've dismissed peer reviewed evidence provided by myself and others that speciation is ongoing, that individual genes can be units of selection and that such selection is currently in operation in humans, and (as demonstrated in post 60 above) you conflate social issues with biological data and theory. Given that we clearly have different standards for what constitutes valid science, i don't see much point in continuing to communicate - we're just wasting disk space on the Corante server while talking past each other.

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66. Wayne E Francis on October 24, 2005 01:10 PM writes...

"My but you are upset. That is a good sign"

No ... I am not upset. Finding you annoying != upset.

"Wayne E. Francis, whoever that really is:"

Wayne E Francis = Wayne Edward Francis Born August 28th 1970 South Weymouth MA. Grew up in Stoughton MA. Joined the USMC in 29 Sept 1987 1988 and went into active duty on 10 July 1988. Stationed at Quantico VA, Albany GA, and Camp Smith Hawaii. Currently living in Adelaide South Australia....but you knew that having threatened me.

All I do is point out examples of your self centered posts where you assume it is all about you. Note that I've provided links to all the posts where I have quoted you so others can view your posts in the proper context and see that I am not quote mining you.

People have a right to know you go off the handle and say things like
"You jerks don’t phase me with these infantile attacks on my competence and character. You are just a huge collection of unfulfilled sociopathic nobodies with nothing else in your empty lives but the autogratification you get from denigrating your intellectual superiors. You better keep your traps shut about my sources or I’ll turn you all in to the FBI as security risks. Of course you have made that quite impossible haven’t you with your cowardly anonymity. What a collection of losers."
found at

or this one
"That arrogant snot bag Gould not only would not respond to my reprints and letters, he wouldn’t even let me come down to Harvard at my expense and present a seminar. He was obviously scared fecesless or he would have loved the opportunity to expose some trash bag from the Vermont hills as a damn fool."

found at

There are many examples of you flying off the handle because people don't focus on you. The scientific community doesn't ignore you because they are afraid of you. They ignore you either because they have no reason to know your or if they do know you they know you are a joke and won't waste their time.

BTW have you called the FBI, as you can see above, to get my deportation process started yet because I'm a "Darwimpian mystic"
found here at

Fact you say the following
"I still stick to the physiological definition offered by Theodosius Dobzhansky. Two forms will be considered to be separate species if their hybrid is sterile."
found at
and say it has never been proven in the lab. Even with tht strick definition you where shown many cases where it has been proven in the lab.

"Two strains of Drosophila paulistorum developed hybrid sterility of male offspring between 1958 and 1963. Artificial selection induced strong intra-strain mating preferences.
(Test for speciation: sterile offspring and lack of interbreeding affinity.)

Dobzhansky, Th., and O. Pavlovsky, 1971. “An experimentally created incipient species of Drosophila”, Nature 23:289-292."

Would you care to tell everyone about the conspiracy that happened when you lost your run for the Governor of Vermont?

In the end JAD you should thank me. You obviously love attention being on you. But remember I'm not paying attention to you for your benifit but for the benifit of the general reader that are not farmiliar with you fits of anger at anyone that dares not to accept you unfounded hypothesis without question.

Others see you for the quote miner you are and see your lack of credibility for making statements and continually being showed that the statements are flawed only to either shift the goal post or completely ignore the evidence.

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67. John A. Davison on October 24, 2005 01:43 PM writes...

You run a great blog here Carl. It reminds me of Pharyngula, EvC, Fringe Sciences, Uncommon Descent, CreationEvolutionDesign, Panda's Thumb and a few more I can't recall right now, all of which blogs found it necessary to ban me for life. Nearly all of the abuse heaped on me has come from anonymous sources with the notable exception of P.Z. Meyers who described me with "your stench has preceded you." Isn't that classy? In a word, SOCKITTOME and please don't stop. I have come to relish it.

"War, God help me, I love it so!"
General George S. Patton

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68. John A. Davison on October 25, 2005 07:37 AM writes...

John Timmer

Since you have lost all respect for me with respect to my insistence that creative evolution (true speciation and the formation of any of the higher categories) is no longer in progress, I can only conclude that you have also lost all respect for Julian Huxley, Robert Broom and Pierre Grasse, all of whom reached exactly the same conclusion.

I still await any comment on my published claims in any professional journal, refereed or not. Until that happens I will just have to be treated as a "troll" on internet blogs such as this one.
I couldn't ask for a more perfect demonstration of the insecurity of the mutation/selection Darwinian faction.

Surely I am worthy of exposure in hard copy somewhere.

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69. Wayne E Francis on October 25, 2005 08:11 AM writes...

JAD says
"Nearly all of the abuse heaped on me has come from anonymous sources with the notable exception of P.Z. "

Once agian you are shown to be a liar. You know from the Panda's Thumb when you threatened that you would turn us into the FBI for being security risks for believing in evolution that I am FAR from anonymous. I post using my real name. I've posted pretty much my life history and even where I lived, 490 Park Street Stoughton MA, as a child. But like everything else if you are presented with facts that go agianst what you claim you completely ignore said fact. It goes a long way to showing the type of person you are.

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70. Carl Zimmer on October 25, 2005 09:28 AM writes...

This is getting pretty repetitive. Spirited debate is welcome in these comments, but a spam-like stream of nearly identical self-promoting posts are not. I think a few dozen comments about one person's hypothesis about evolution is quite enough for one blog. I decline to publish any more.

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71. Zachriel on October 25, 2005 01:35 PM writes...

John A. Davison: "Let's assume the worst, that I am dead wrong about speciation no longer occurring which is certainly conceivable. Does that mean that the formation of genera, families, orders, classes and phyla is still in progress?"

There is nothing within the Theory of Evolution which requires that new orders or families will be constantly created. Generally, once an organism has adapted to its environment, it will tend to crowd out competitors. Genetic changes may often be marginal, gradual, or merely optimizing. However, when a particular ecosystem undergoes severe stress such orders or families may go extinct; or when a new habitat opens up, new species will tend to radiate and diversify to fill the available niches. This is what is observed.

Your entire thesis is based on an incorrect statement of the Theory of Evolution. Populations are always in flux. However, the rate of observed evolutionary change, morphological and genetic, must be greater than that which is observed in the fossil record of the past. This is what is observed.

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