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45987.  Mon Jan 16, 2006 11:55 am Reply with quote

A wonderful quote, which I read in Bill Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything:

Descended from the apes! My dear, let us hope that it is not true, but if it is, let us pray that it will not become generally known.

Remark attributed to the wife of the Bishop of Worcester after Darwin's theory of evolution was explained to her.

45992.  Mon Jan 16, 2006 12:08 pm Reply with quote

Contrary to popular belief, Darwin's conclusions were not inspired by noticing, during his time in the Galapagos Islands, how the beaks of finches on the different islands were adapted for exploiting local resources.

At that time, Darwin was only in his early twenties, and not an accomplished naturalist, so he didn't notice that all these varied-looking birds were of the same type. It was his friend, the ornithologist John Gould who realized that what Darwin had found was lots of finches with different talents. Darwin had not even noted which birds came from different islands, and it took years to sort out the muddle of information.

45994.  Mon Jan 16, 2006 12:09 pm Reply with quote

Before Darwin's famous voyage, his educational career had been marked by nothing very sparkling at all. His father wrote to him:

You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family.

45996.  Mon Jan 16, 2006 12:11 pm Reply with quote

Darwin sent a copy of On the Origin of Species to Whitwell Elwin, editor of the Quarterly Review. Elwin agreed that the book had merit, but thought the subject matter a little abstruse. He urged Darwin to write a book about pigeons instead, because 'everybody is interested in pigeons'.

46366.  Tue Jan 17, 2006 2:27 pm Reply with quote

Wonderful. And true.

46367.  Tue Jan 17, 2006 2:31 pm Reply with quote

I'm interested in pigeons, but only as food

46387.  Tue Jan 17, 2006 4:15 pm Reply with quote

Nice link to Dodoes here...

QI Individual
46433.  Tue Jan 17, 2006 6:40 pm Reply with quote

Gray wrote:
Nice link to Dodoes here...


46542.  Wed Jan 18, 2006 11:48 am Reply with quote

QI Individual wrote:
Gray wrote:
Nice link to Dodoes here...


post 46048 here.

47914.  Thu Jan 26, 2006 4:58 pm Reply with quote

Just a quick couple of links for anyone who watched Horizon just now on BBC2.

I very nearly didn't watch it because I thought, 'no, this is going to annoy me' but in the end I couldn't resist the opportunity to become 'incensed and outraged at this irresponsible programming'!

I'm biased of course but I thought it pretty much cut the legs off 'Irreducible Design' I'd gone straight to my books to start attacking the flagellum idea when the response came onto the TV. I laughed and cheered and then laughed some more.

Note that one of the editors of Kenneth Miller's article is William Dembski, the Intelligent Design peoples pet mathematician (the one who thinks that DNA is "too complex").

47915.  Thu Jan 26, 2006 5:06 pm Reply with quote

I had exactly the same attitude, but watched it all the same. :-D

I find it incredible that the intelligent design community is so rich that they can afford a very expensive lawyer to take their 'case' to court with no more argument than
We're amazed by this complexity, and therefore it must be supernatural.

Therefore because I find it incredible, their lawyer must have been God. He didn't look like I expected. Shiner.

47916.  Thu Jan 26, 2006 5:09 pm Reply with quote

I wish more attention would be paid to uncovering the - pretty obvious - fact that it's all just a PR stunt, and they don't give a crap about 'God' one way or another. They'll say any old thing to get people's money.

Unfortunately, this increasingly common kind of programme just fans the ember of creationism. So Dawkins won't talk to them personally. But he will go on an international TV program dealing with it.

I also think they should remove all pieces of technology from ID's lives and see how they manage with their ID technology for a while. (Hint: bang the rocks together, guys.)

47923.  Thu Jan 26, 2006 6:24 pm Reply with quote

There is the argument that Darwinian evolution (neo-Darwinism really) should be robust enough to withstand scrutiny and that if everyone just says in unison 'yes, that's right' then no progress can be made. I suppose a lawyer is as good a suggestion as any for someone to advocate an alternative but I suspect Phillip Johnson should have sought more evidence and examined it more thoroughly first. I don't so much object to people questioning current thinking as I do to people like Professor Michael Behe, who should know better in oh so many ways, doing so in such an ill-conceived and irrational manner.

That neo-Darwinism is proof to these challenges lends further strength to the arguement that ID is just hogwash.

I thought Richard Dawkins was a riot by the way, so utterly dissmissive. It was hilarious, completely brilliant.

47934.  Thu Jan 26, 2006 8:06 pm Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
I suppose a lawyer is as good a suggestion as any for someone to advocate an alternative

Not really. Lawyers (and barristers) don't know anything about anything except the law. They're just paid to say what their clients tell them to say.

47939.  Thu Jan 26, 2006 9:12 pm Reply with quote

Concerning barristers in particular but lawyers in general the nature of their occupation is that they are professional advocates in an essentially adversarial system; even if some conditions are less confrontational than others. That a certain amount of expert evidence is required in this and many other instances is implicit but not any real barrier to constructing an argument once the implications are understood. Additionally there is the point that in being detatched from what could be considered to be the dogma, they might utilise an approach which requires careful consideration in order to refute it. Obviously to say that a lawyer will be able to defeat the scientific argument is arrogant and assumes that the argument put forward has logical flaws which can be exposed, which is not the case as far as I can see. If you were seeking to sow the seeds of doubt however a respected and experienced lawyer would stand a better chance than most opponents (and as a born again Christian in the States he has motive); particularly if senior members of the biological community are unavailable to you due to their resolute support for the idea you wish to discredit.

The concept that 'there is no evidence as yet to deny this proposition' is as self-defeating in law as it is in science; 'find some!' should be anticipated as a response. The trouble the Irreducible Complexity people had was that their idea is a dead end, they reach that point and need look no further because they have achieved their goal. In science that is just the next hedge and in "The Case of the Creationist Flagellum" it was a hedge which someone had already put a style over, it's just that the IC people weren't willing to look for it because it undermined, well, destroyed actually, their argument. As a lawyer Johnson should have checked on that before proceeding with his assertion, as should any and all of his 'scientist' recruits.

The IC campaign have 450 scientists who've signed up. Imagine that, 450. To put this in some sort of perspective this board currently has ~1200 members many of whom could I'm sure be persuaded to say that eg

The development of ideas in mankinds' culture is more often a question of what seems plausable, or even just interesting at the time, than of what is accurate. Truth can, will and must stand the test of time and the scrutiny of men of learning when the tools of study exist. In contrast reactionary concepts constructed to oppose new knowledge will necessarily fall by the wayside because they brook no criticism and permit no examination. The inquisitive nature of the human mind will reject such prohibitive edicts unless examination can reveal no proof to oppose them. It is precisely because science can and does subject itself to this scrutiny that it is science that best serves and earns the trust of [sign here].

Not everyone would agree of course but I bet it wouldn't take long to get a fairly imressive and lengthy list of signatories from here and elsewhere.

Oh, and lets not forget that there was a move afoot to get Creationist ideas taught in public schools by getting around the law of church and state being separate, and for that you really do need a lawyer. Not only is it untrue, it's unconstitutional, the second point is probably officially of greater importance.

<Edit> Typos etc. "pledge" untouched

Last edited by Celebaelin on Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:59 pm; edited 1 time in total


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