Monday, October 6, 2014

Questions about Flock of Dodos and Jonathan Wells

Olson essentially took off the gloves in response to an “attack” that was “launched” by Discovery Institute.  Olson’s use of one interviewee’s positive response about this seems as selective as his choice of “Icons” (i.e. Haeckel’s embryos) and his choice of interviewees with which to debate evolutionary “truths.”   Having talked personally (not an interview) with John Calvert, I can say you will not hear such a glowing review about fair representation.  Calvert says that Olson edited his interview with Calvert to tell a very different story about the search for Haeckel’s embryos than what actually took place.  In Flock there is a time lapse with Olson’s narration filling in the gap implying that Calvert was searching for the most recent textbook using Haeckel’s embryos and could only find it in a very old textbook, though Calvert intimates that it was a convenient source to show the pictures. Upon watching Flock  I was sure that I had seen Haeckel’s embryos twice (two different books by evo-devo biologists) just that month, but even in relatively short books I had a hard time finding the exact locations of the pictures, even while consulting the indices.  Illustrations recently viewed were hard to find even when I knew exactly which books to look in. Calvert thinks Olson was both unfair and disingenuous. 

Of course, the obvious question would be to next ask: “So just to clarify, you are saying that there are people around that remember George Washington?”  You have to wonder why Olson doesn’t ask for clarity on that point.   

Is Jonathan Wells in fact a "biologist"? Science Citation Index cites two abstracts (1995) which he coauthored. Ironically one is Molecular Biology of the Cell 6, 666. Clearly he's not currently an active research biologist. His educational goals were apologetic, not scientific. He's a minister in the Unification Church (a "Moonie" in popular culture, see home page). His goal in obtaining a biology Ph. D. was to discredit Darwinism rather than to understand biology. This is hardly scientific objectivity.

More motive-mongering.  Wells can’t be a biologist because he has the wrong motives.  I wonder how many of the 94% of bio PhDs who are atheists and/or agnostics consider “understanding biology” and “discrediting” intelligent design to not only be non-conflicting, but to be nearly synonymous.  How many consider “understanding biology” and “discrediting” theism to not only be non-conflicting but mutually reinforcing?  How many actively tell their students this?   They are a dime a dozen.   “Moonie” is not quite so neutral a term as “Mormon”— I doubt that any Unification follower would generally accept “Moonie”.  In their heyday, the Moonies were seen as yet another weird thing in the cultural upheaval of the 70s, and the heirs of positivism take delight in associating Wells with that epithet.  Wells can’t be a scientist: he’s a religious minister after all, and in one of them weird cults to boot. 

None of these champions for truth can take the man on his own terms. 

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