Monday, June 24, 2002

Scientific American is on the ideological warpath again. Last time, it published several attacks on The Skeptical Environmentalist. This month, its editor-in-chief attacks creationism.

Bjorn Lomborg was able to rebut the attack on him, but the creationist attack is on an unreferenced straw man, so there will be no rebuttal. Most of the arguments are silly, such as saying evolution is not just a theory but also a fact. I don't think that anyone denies evolution as the textbooks define it today. Eg, one textbook says, "In the broadest sense, evolution is merely change, and so is all-pervasive; galaxies, languages, and political systems all evolve." This and other definitions can be found here.

Scientific American is particularly annoyed that evolution skeptics are willing to quote evolutionists like Stephen Jay Gould in order to punch holes in the prevailing theory. Gould was a favorite among academic leftists and has led the attack against creationists. (He just died.) So I guess critics are not supposed to quote him. At least the creationists are citing someone by name. The Sci. Am. article doesn't mention any creationists by name, except for a law professor who is attacked in the introduction for wanting to promote a discussion of God.

Just last week, the NY Times had a story about how the the peppered moth experiment has been one of the standard proofs of evolution in the biology textbooks, but much of the evidence has been faked. Creationists and other evolutionary critics have been pointing this out for years, but the faked pictures still show up in the textbooks.

I think evolution needs more critics, not fewer. If the subject is so scientific and has such overwhelming evidence, then the scientists wouldn't have to legislate against teaching alternative theories in the schools.

Here is an example of foolish arguments in the Sci. Am. article. In item no. 8 he argues that it is plausible that complex life has evolved because a computer simulation generating random phrases has reconstructed Shakespeare's Hamlet in 4.5 days. This is nonsense. No computer has reconstructed Hamlet unless it knew Hamlet in advance.

No comments: