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How Evolutionary Myths Unravel: Explaining the Big Picture to Our Darwinist Friends


The Darwinist group blog Panda’s Thumb assigns an Australian chap, Jack Scanlan, as its specially devoted critic of what we report here at ENV. It’s a tough beat because there’s so little to legitimately criticize, if we do say so ourselves. But Scanlan’s a tough customer and, this week, even dings us (with a sic) for spelling “imperiled” with one “l” as Americans spell it rather than with two “l”s as Brits and Australians do.
He then proceeds to call us “desperate.” How so? Because we are “desperately” pushing a “hodge-podge approach to ‘dissenting from Darwin,'” where we “embrace anything that vaguely challenges the primacy of Darwinian evolutionary mechanisms, even if evolutionary biologists accepted them decades ago or they contradict the ID movement’s own ideas.” Noting articles here on “thermodynamics, the origin of language, and epigenetics,” he complains “The pattern isn’t so much a pattern as it is a hodge-podge of shots fired randomly and sometimes unthinkingly.”
Scanlan concludes with this advice to PT readers:

So next time you hear them claim that “Darwinism” is being overturned, it’s probably best to just look the other way and read up on your current journal subscriptions.

But when confronted with evidence against them, most Darwin defenders already know to look away and plug their ears. Let’s explain something to Scanlan and other evolutionary apologists that they may find more useful. Here is the big picture they’re missing.
This is a news and commentary site, not a catechism of intelligent design. Enforcing a sclerotic orthodoxy is what Darwinists do, not ID advocates. At ENV, we point out news that catches our interest. Like the way that, despite being presented to the docile public as all settled and clear and in need only of a few light finishing touches at most on the eternal magnificent edifice, evolutionary theory is in increasing turmoil.
Questions, challenges and contradictions multiply, posed from inside and outside the academic establishment. They are not diminishing, quite the opposite.
This quality of being increasingly unsettled is the most striking feature in evolutionary thinking today, and it sets the field apart from other departments of science. It’s not only intelligent design theorists who are pulling apart the myth of Darwinism as smoothly settled “fact” but others with no known sympathy for ID — biologists like James Shapiro and Didier Raoult — who openly reject the theory and propose alternatives.
This is how myths typically unravel, like the Myth of Junk DNA, the Myth of No Peer-Reviewed Pro-ID Publications, the Myth of Observed Large-Scale Evolutionary Change. The trajectory of information coming out becomes too obvious to deny any longer. At some point, Darwin loyalists stop talking about a particular myth or pretend they never believed in it to begin with or find some way to move the goalposts.
Tame Darwinists “just look the other way” and pretend it’s not happening. The enforcers in their community are aware of the situation and do everything they can to keep the ferment sequestered from public and scientific awareness.
Meanwhile school children are drilled on their adherence to the smooth lie of a serene, unruffled evolutionary theory. Educators and lawmakers who want to expose a bit of the reality to students are attacked as “creationists” and “fundamentalists.” A culture of intimidation and guilt by association seeks to keep workers in scientific institutions in line. And Wikipedia joins the liberal media in chanting the same mindless untruths over and over again.
When will intelligent design, or another post-Darwinian paradigm, step in and take the place of a threadbare theory? Of course, it’s too soon to say.
Which is all very interesting indeed. Jack Scanlan, does this help you out at all?
Photo credit: Sarah Macmillan/Flickr.

Evolution News

Evolution News & Science Today (EN) provides original reporting and analysis about evolution, neuroscience, bioethics, intelligent design and other science-related issues, including breaking news about scientific research. It also covers the impact of science on culture and conflicts over free speech and academic freedom in science. Finally, it fact-checks and critiques media coverage of scientific issues.



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