Revisiting Those Pesky Embryo Drawings

A few years ago, former NCSE-spokesman Nick Matzke called complaints over the use of Haeckel’s embryo drawings in textbooks a “manufactured scandal.” However, a variety of leading scientific authorities — proponents of neo-Darwinian evolution — have also complained about the use of these drawings and the way that embryology is used to support evolution in biology textbooks. Are these authorities in on the big conspiracy to “manufacture” this “scandal” too? Here’s where things stand today: Despite the fact that (in 2010 at least) out-dated concepts like “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” have been almost completely removed from new textbooks and that many (though not all) new textbooks use embryo photographs instead of fudged drawings, an examination of both recent textbooks and complaints Read More ›

Matheson’s Intron Fairy Tale

The failure to recognize the importance of introns “may well go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology.” –John Mattick, Molecular biologist, University of Queensland, quoted in Scientific American On Friday, May 14, I watched as Steve Meyer faced his critics — two of them anyway, Art Hunt and Steve Matheson — at Biola University in Los Angeles. Matheson had previously claimed that Meyer misrepresented introns in his book, Signature in the Cell. (Introns are non-protein-coding sequences of DNA that occur within protein-coding regions.) In a blog post dated February 14, Matheson had accused Meyer of “some combination of ignorance, sloth, and duplicity” for stating in his book that although introns do not encode Read More ›

Is “Ardi” All Washed Up? (Updated)

In some ways, the career of a missing link mirrors the career of the celebutante. They break onto the scene with much fanfare and hype. Everyone is wowed–or at least, everyone pretends to be wowed so nobody can be accused of ruining the party. Besides, she’s useful for advancing lots of agendas. After a little while, people realize that the star doesn’t have all the talent everyone hoped for. Nobody wants to feign excitement anymore. Eventually, people are sickened of the original hype and become eager to see the celebutante fall. And then it’s the fallen celebutante that starts making headlines. Substitute the word “missing link” for “celebutante” and this is something like what we’re now seeing with “Ardi,” the Read More ›

Fossil Finds Show Cambrian Explosion Getting More Explosive

Cephalopods, which include marine mollusks like squid, octopus, and cuttlefish, are now being reported in the Cambrian explosion fossils. As a recent BBC news article reports: “We go from very simple pre-Cambrian life-forms to something as complex as a cephalopod in the geological blink of an eye, which illustrates just how quickly evolution can produce complexity,” said [evolutionary biologist Martin] Smith. Keep in mind here that “evolution” is a placeholder term for an as-of-yet uncovered mechanism that produces animals like Cephalopods in a “geological blink of an eye.” Darwin’s Dilemma is not solved by vague appeals “how quickly” evolution can operate. All this follows on the heels of recent fossil findings that push phylum Bryozoa back into the Cambrian period, Read More ›

“People don’t know polar bears can swim!”

Camille Paglia has made interesting comments about global warming in the past that have made me think she might be a (very quiet) Darwin skeptic. Not the NCSE’s Josh Rosenau. His selective quote mining of her comments meant to imply the exact opposite is Orwellian. To make matters worse he really twists things up when attempts to paint those who champion critical thinking on evolution as postmodern Marxists. “Critical thinking” sounds great. But it’s a Marxist approach to culture. It’s just slapping a liberal leftist ideology on everything you do. You just find all the ways that power has defrauded or defamed or destroyed. It’s a pat formula that’s very thin. At the primary level, what kids need is facts. Read More ›