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Author Topic:   Transitional fossils and quote mining
greyseal
Member (Idle past 1970 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 1 of 210 (523713)
09-12-2009 6:38 AM


I don't know the best way to put this, and it's probably been covered before, but I think we need to cover why Creationists and IDists think quote mining is acceptable.

Not just the "words taken out of context" type, but the "outdated knowledge" type and the "argument from authority" type.

I'll give an example that Arphy came up with:

Dr Alan Feduccia, an expert on birds, said this about Archaeopteryx:

quote:
"Paleontologists have tried to turn Archaeopteryx into an earth-bound, feathered dinosaur. But it's not. It is a bird, a perching bird. And no amount of 'paleobabble' is going to change that."

On the surface, that looks like a damning retort to evolutionists - but the simple fact is that Feduccia is one scientists amongst many, and scientists often disagree and by definition there must be some on the "fringe".

Feduccia is one of these - he is of the opinion that Archaeopteryx is a bird when the majority think otherwise. This isn't a problem in science.

The facts are that Archaeopteryx has:
* a long bony tail
* teeth
* claws
and other non-avian traits.

the fact that it was covered in feathers and flew isn't enough reason, in the minds of the overwhelming majority of scientists, to call it a bird (is a bat a bird? It flies!)

It is accepted for what it is, a transitional fossil.

So, why do IDists and creationists quote Dr Feduccia?

I am of the opinion that it is because he believes in a viewpoint that, whilst they do not agree with him is useful to them as ammunition - namely that with this single argument from authority (which is a poor argument to make) they hope to relegate archaeopteryx to "bird" status, and thus say "look, scientists think it's a bird, therefore it's a bird, therefore evolution doesn't happen".

Dr Alan Feduccia, and this is the kicker, is an authority on birds, and whilst he holds a very, very minority view with respect to that one fossil, believes wholeheartedly in evolution.

Why should Feduccia be right about Archaeopteryx, but incorrect about evolution? If his view is so powerful and persuasive, is he not also an authority on evolution itself otherwise?

The point isn't what he said that one time, it's that Feduccia said it once, and THAT is the quote they use.

Why not use this one from the very same man?

quote:
...The creature thus memorialized was Archaeopteryx lithographica, and, though indisputably birdlike, it could with equal truth be called reptilian.... The Archaeopteryx fossil is, in fact, the most superb example of a specimen perfectly intermediate between two higher groups of living organisms--what has come to be called a "missing link," a Rosetta stone of evolution....

I'm not ragging on Arphy, I feel he is quoting information given to him which he took in good faith, I am ragging on the mindset - why should single quotes be taken at anything more than face value?

They are the opinion of one person, easily taken out of context, easily recanted, easily twisted deliberately, and most assuredly not the sum of all that one person's knowledge, let alone the scientific body as a whole.

They are useful as a tool, but why do creationists and IDists feel that using quotes like this are accurate, let alone fair?

Edited by greyseal, : No reason given.


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AdminNosy
Administrator
Posts: 4754
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Joined: 11-11-2003


Message 2 of 210 (523736)
09-12-2009 8:47 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Transitional fossils and quote mining thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
Coragyps
Member
Posts: 5381
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002
Member Rating: 8.4


Message 3 of 210 (523737)
09-12-2009 9:29 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by greyseal
09-12-2009 6:38 AM


This topic has been batted around before, here and elsewhere, and the most persuasive explanation I've seen for the popularity of quote-mining is as you say - an appeal to authority. An odd thing about these appeals is that the typical creationist users/generators of them (Kent Hovind, The Evolution Cruncher, etc.) don't seem to care much if the Authority appealed to is terribly relevant: they'll pull up Sir Solly Zuckermann from 1948 on ape morphology or Wernher von Braun on cosmology if they find a line that appeals to them.

I think, with no proof at all, that the practice grew out of the Sunday School teaching method of memorizing selected Bible verses. Lots of fundamentalist groups seem to practice this - students learn verses to apply to particular situations, and frequently even refer to them by citation rather than even quoting them. (John 3:16 seems to be a lot more popular than Joshua 5:3, though.) Context is pretty much ignored in this little game, though the citation-quoters are quick to point out that you must read things like Joshua 5:3 in context if you start ragging them about it.


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greyseal
Member (Idle past 1970 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 4 of 210 (523751)
09-12-2009 11:35 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Coragyps
09-12-2009 9:29 AM


I think, with no proof at all, that the practice grew out of the Sunday School teaching method of memorizing selected Bible verses.

That kinda makes sense - if you believe that (and there may be a better way of putting this) everything written down (or inspired) by god is true, then I guess it's logical to assume that everything said by a scientist is equally always true.

Without beating up on theists, they like to take selected bible verses and treat them as authoritative (is that something that a theist would deny?) - the trouble a lot of "us" have is that there are plenty of verses saying different things (even ignoring the whole "literal" versus "parable" issue).

I guess they think if all their contrasting things can be true at once, that all scientists' proclamations can be true at once?

I think the other aspect is that the bible proclaims to be The Truth (capital letters), and theists treat scientists' deductions as if they were The Truth (at least when it suits them), whereas scientists' themselves don't think this.


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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19816
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
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Message 5 of 210 (523754)
09-12-2009 11:53 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Coragyps
09-12-2009 9:29 AM


not just fundamentalists though ...
Hi Coragyps, greyseal,

... and the most persuasive explanation I've seen for the popularity of quote-mining is as you say - an appeal to authority. An odd thing about these appeals is that the typical creationist ... don't seem to care much if the Authority appealed to is terribly relevant: ...

It is used because it agrees with the worldview of the quoter, not so much as an appeal to authority, but as confirmation of one's views. Most users of such quotes mines don't see this as a logical fallacy for this reason.

It's confirmation bias, and it doesn't matter if the author also contradicts it, the point is made that is in agreement with the worldview.

I think, with no proof at all, that the practice grew out of the Sunday School teaching method of memorizing selected Bible verses.

I think its more pervasive that that. It has to do with how people are taught things in general, with the well known parent phrase "because I said so" establishing behavior based on authority.

We could also point out that kids are also taught to ignore contradictory information by the same process, so cognitive dissonance is dealt with by using authority to overwhelm the contradictions.

We could also point out that rote learning is frequently taught in public schools (in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue...), rather than understanding and logical analysis.

In other words, the fundamentalists don't necessarily come to this behavior due to their faiths, they've been taught this behavior independently, and have trouble understanding that this is a false approach to learning. I've seen atheists make similar arguments.

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : fixed number


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Arphy
Member (Idle past 2541 days)
Posts: 185
From: New Zealand
Joined: 08-23-2009


Message 6 of 210 (523891)
09-13-2009 7:14 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by greyseal
09-12-2009 6:38 AM


hi greyseal
The reason why I used that quote was because evolutionists like to use the authority game. I personally don't much like throwing round quotes from expert scientists simply for the reason that they are expert scientists (it doesn't mean they are right). However, as a creationist my arguments are often waved away with a "you're not an expert on that, therefore you don't have a clue as to what you're talking about". Therefore, we do use quotes by evolutionists who disagree with other evolutionists just to show that we are not alone on a particular issue such as Archaeopteryx and to turn an argument often used by evolutionists back at them.
As I said in my post about Feduccia, the opinion that Archaeopteryx is a bird was also the consensus opinion at the International Archaeopteryx Conference. So I don't think that it is a minority view.
Then at this conference it was "kind of interesting that they found it necessary to draft the following statement. ‘Conferees did agree unanimously to the declaration that organic evolution is a fundamental process of biology and we recognize the importance of the Archaeopteryx contribution to that problem.’ So you can see they were acutely aware that their deliberations might lead some to wonder whether, in fact, Archaeopteryx had anything to say about evolution, so they all did sign this. If, of course, it’s a true bird, it is not the half-way, half-reptile, half-bird like we've often heard." (http://creation.com/bird-evolution-flies-out-the-window)
This is the problem with evolutionists, the underlying dogma is never challenged when these things turn up. Evolutionists simply say that obviously they need to just keep looking more and then things will clear up eventually. However this doesn't mean that they remove previous examples of transitional fossils from science textbooks. They keep them there until they think they have found a better example.
Another thing about belief in evolution is that it sort of reminds me of the Israeli 6-day war where the opposing forces were all boasting to each other that they were doing great, whilst secretly knowing that things were not going so great for the army that they were leading but boasted anyway not wanting to be seen as the one who was "letting the team down".

The facts are that Archaeopteryx has:
* a long bony tail
* teeth
* claws
and other non-avian traits.

Even so, why should this mean that birds evolved from dinosaurs? You first assume evolution and then see if you can make it fit.

namely that with this single argument from authority (which is a poor argument to make) they hope to relegate archaeopteryx to "bird" status, and thus say "look, scientists think it's a bird, therefore it's a bird, therefore evolution doesn't happen".

Sure just because archaeopteryx may not be a transitional fossil it doesn't logically follow that therefore we should throw out evolution. However, if this sort of thing continues to happen with transitional fossils (which it has) then yes i think it is time that evolution went under review. The problem is however that nobody has come up with a better naturalistic (a necessity it seems) explanation. I do think that at first glance evolution does sound at least somewhat logical (animals change over generations, therefore this changes could grow quite large), however to say that therefore all animals orginated from a single celled organism is a very large imaginative jump.
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Granny Magda
Member
Posts: 2380
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 7 of 210 (523910)
09-13-2009 9:17 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Arphy
09-13-2009 7:14 AM


Hello again Arphy,

The reason why I used that quote was because evolutionists like to use the authority game. I personally don't much like throwing round quotes from expert scientists simply for the reason that they are expert scientists (it doesn't mean they are right).

If you regard the "authority game" as dishonest or irrelevant, then you shouldn't engage in it yourself. Nonetheless, you have been happy to cite lists of creationist scientists yourself.

However, as a creationist my arguments are often waved away with a "you're not an expert on that, therefore you don't have a clue as to what you're talking about".

It's not so much that. It's more that you seem to be happy to hand wave away the opinions of genuine experts who do know what they are talking about.

Therefore, we do use quotes by evolutionists who disagree with other evolutionists just to show that we are not alone on a particular issue such as Archaeopteryx and to turn an argument often used by evolutionists back at them.

The problem is that you are alone though, or at least, Feduccia is not one of your allies. Let me illustrate what I mean.

As I said in my post about Feduccia, the opinion that Archaeopteryx is a bird was also the consensus opinion at the International Archaeopteryx Conference. So I don't think that it is a minority view.

"Arcaeopteryx is a bird" seems like a reasonable statement to me. I doubt that many scientists would completely disagree with it. However the statement "archaeopteryx is a dinosaur" is equally correct.

The problem arises when this kind of statement is brought up by creationists who are trying to imply that "archaeopteryx is just a bird". Now that is something that almost no scientist would agree with and Feduccia certainly does not agree with it.

Trying to use Feduccia's comments to imply that he does not regard archaeopteryx as a transitional fossil is what most of us on the evolution side of the debate regard as dishonest. Unfortunately, using comments like these out of context, to give a misleading impression that a particular scientist sympathises with creationist views (when in fact they do not) is an all too common creationist tactic.

(I would like to note that I do not believe that the majority of creationists using these quotes are being deliberately dishonest. I think that once a quote has been cherry-picked, it subsequently gets picked up on by many other creationists, who are unaware of the original context or the quoted person's real opinions. They are using the quote in good faith.)

Just to be clear, let's look at another example of a quote mine.

Kent Hovind writes:

Even Charles Darwin said in his book right here on page 217, Charlie said, “To suppose that the eye could have been formed by natural selection seems, I freely confess, absurd.” Charlie very much was confused about the human eyeball because it is so complex. He said, “How could this thing have evolved by chance?” Good question Charlie! How can blind chance make a seeing eye? Explain that to me please!

Darwin did indeed say that, but let's take a look at the original context;

Charles Darwin writes:

To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real.

I don't think that quote means what Hovind wants you to think it means.

It is this kind of misleading use of quotes that people are concerned about. Sadly, I think your use of Feduccia is an example of this.

‘Conferees did agree unanimously to the declaration that organic evolution is a fundamental process of biology and we recognize the importance of the Archaeopteryx contribution to that problem.’ So you can see they were acutely aware that their deliberations might lead some to wonder whether, in fact, Archaeopteryx had anything to say about evolution, so they all did sign this.

Or perhaps they too were aware of the quote mining habits of certain creationists and didn't want their comments to be taken out of context and abused.

If, of course, it’s a true bird, it is not the half-way, half-reptile, half-bird like we've often heard.

Interestingly, not a single scientist at the conference said this, including Feduccia. You even have a quote from Feduccia making it clear that he considers archaeopteryx to combine bird and reptile features. you are taking these comments and running with them in a direction they were never intended for.

Even so, why should this mean that birds evolved from dinosaurs? You first assume evolution and then see if you can make it fit.

Huh? Nobody made this fit. The Origin was published in 1859. A. lithographica was discovered in 1861. Nobody had to force archaeopteryx to fit the theory. It was simply discovered and it fitted with the general theory of evolution. On that basis, when a fossil was discovered that combined bird and dinosaur elements so clearly, what else were they supposed to think? Moreover, when we now have a wide range of dinosaur/bird fossils, all with combinations of bird-like and dino-like traits, all arranged in a neat chronological progression and with no fossils that falsify this progression, what are we supposed to think?

Sure just because archaeopteryx may not be a transitional fossil it doesn't logically follow that therefore we should throw out evolution. However, if this sort of thing continues to happen with transitional fossils (which it has) then yes i think it is time that evolution went under review.

But you have not demonstrated that archaeopteryx's status as a transitional fossil is at risk. Nor have you demonstrated that any other transitional is at risk of losing its status. There's a reason for this; you are wrong.

I do think that at first glance evolution does sound at least somewhat logical (animals change over generations, therefore this changes could grow quite large), however to say that therefore all animals orginated from a single celled organism is a very large imaginative jump.

Well good, because it is in fact not necessary to believe in a single origin of life to accept the general principles of evolution. The evidence is very much behind a single origin, but if you want to believe that some groups of organisms were created separately,
there is nothing in that belief that would stop them from being subject to random mutation and natural selection.

Mutate and Survive


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jacortina
Member (Idle past 3192 days)
Posts: 64
Joined: 08-07-2009


Message 8 of 210 (523915)
09-13-2009 9:34 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Arphy
09-13-2009 7:14 AM


Why do you think that being a bird somehow eliminates Archy from consideration from being transitional? Aside from the strawman view of transitionals made clear by the moronic 'half and half' description.

You first assume evolution and then see if you can make it fit.

Testing a hypothesis means using that hypothesis to make predictions. If descent with modification is true, then there has to have been species with features of both ancestral forms and later derived forms, some of which which should be found. Note 'half-and-half' is not what is predicted nor is it required. Whether it's considered a bird with many saurian features or a birdlike dinosaur, Archy is clearly an example of what that part of the theory of evolution predicts should be found.


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Arphy
Member (Idle past 2541 days)
Posts: 185
From: New Zealand
Joined: 08-23-2009


Message 9 of 210 (524015)
09-14-2009 6:41 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Granny Magda
09-13-2009 9:17 AM


If you regard the "authority game" as dishonest or irrelevant,
It is neither dishonest nor irrelevant, however just because you happen to be an expert it means that you have more knowledge of the field that you are studying not necessarily that you are correct in what you espouse.
It's more that you seem to be happy to hand wave away the opinions of genuine experts who do know what they are talking about.
Yes, opinions I am quite happy to wave away if i feel that these are not adequate, but evidence (the actual observations made by scientists) I don't wave away.
Feduccia is not one of your allies.

That's right he is an evolutionist. But this doesn't mean we have to disagree about everything.
However the statement "archaeopteryx is a dinosaur" is equally correct.

hmmm...note that at the Archy conference only a very small minority voted for Archy being a small, lightly built coelurosaurian dinosaur.
archaeopteryx to combine bird and reptile features.

Yes it may have reptile features however this doesn't prove evolution. It just means that it is an unusual bird. A platypus has features from mammals, reptiles, and birds!
me writes:

You first assume evolution and then see if you can make it fit.

Sorry not the best argument as creationists also have a presupposition yet it is "important to note that all reasoning really starts with presuppositions (axioms, i.e. certain things that are taken for granted without being able to prove them). And there’s nothing inappropriately “biased” about that, it’s inevitable, but the question is then whether the presupposition leads to conclusions which support it sufficiently to justify trusting it further, and so on." (http://creation.com/who-is-the-creator)

As your example of quote mining you had to use Kent Hovind. I don't really know too much about him and don't think I've read any of his articles. It seems from a quick search, that Kent doesn't necessarily have the same views on a number of topics as groups like CMI or ICR.

Probably the most used evolutionist quotes against transitional fossils are from Colin Patterson who was the senior paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History. His story from evolutionist to a "non-evolutionary" viewpoint is very interesting. Again, many evolutionists said that creationists were somehow misquoting him, however, as this article(http://c.../that-quoteabout-the-missing-transitional-fossils) shows, this is not the case.

Well good, because it is in fact not necessary to believe in a single origin of life to accept the general principles of evolution. The evidence is very much behind a single origin, but if you want to believe that some groups of organisms were created separately,
there is nothing in that belief that would stop them from being subject to random mutation and natural selection.

Hmm... really? So you are giving me the option of believeing that some organisms were created in what you believe to be a progression that has no need for a divine creation to intervene. Thanks, how accommodating. as you hopeful know by now, at least from this forum, creationists fully accept mutations and natural selection. However that these mechanisms can cause an increase in information (from simple to complex life forms) is the real issue.
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AdminNosy
Administrator
Posts: 4754
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Joined: 11-11-2003


Message 10 of 210 (524040)
09-14-2009 9:05 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Arphy
09-14-2009 6:41 AM


Platypus
A platypus has features from mammals, reptiles, and birds!

It has no bird features (a bit like perhaps but not those of a bird).


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Perdition
Member (Idle past 1346 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 11 of 210 (524124)
09-14-2009 2:47 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by RAZD
09-12-2009 11:53 AM


Re: not just fundamentalists though ...
Good post, except, the rote learning must not have worked very well on you...

(in 1776 Columbus sailed the ocean blue...)

If he did, he was definitely in no shape to actually be the captain. And he wouldn't have discovered anything, though he may have been able to be the courier of a little, well-known document...


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Granny Magda
Member
Posts: 2380
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 12 of 210 (524132)
09-14-2009 3:13 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Arphy
09-14-2009 6:41 AM


Lies, Damn Lies and Creationist Quote Mines
just because you happen to be an expert it means that you have more knowledge of the field that you are studying not necessarily that you are correct in what you espouse.

Do you not think that the wider store of knowledge increases the possibility of an expert being right? Do you think that experts have more or less chance of being correct about their own field of study than laymen? Do you think that expertise has absolutely no value in forming conclusions? If you were ill, would you get the opinion of a trained doctor? Or a florist or plumber? And if 99 doctors all told you the same thing, but one plumber told you something else, would you be tempted to believe the plumber?

Yes, opinions I am quite happy to wave away if i feel that these are not adequate,

If a weather forecaster told you that it was probably going to rain tomorrow, would you demand evidence? Or would you simply assume that he probably knew what he was talking about? Do you demand evidence for everything you are told? Or only the things which contradict the Bible?

but evidence (the actual observations made by scientists) I don't wave away.

That's nice to know. Let me know if you're planning to bring any evidence up.

That's right he is an evolutionist. But this doesn't mean we have to disagree about everything.

Arphy, you haven't demonstrated that he agrees with you about anything except that archaeopteryx was a bird. This is non-controversial. This is trivially true. It is a bird. It is also a dinosaur. Birds are a clade of dinosaurs.

What you have not demonstrated is that Feduccia believes archaeopteryx to be anything other than an important transitional fossil. His opinions are of no aid to creationist arguments unless taken out of context.

hmmm...note that at the Archy conference only a very small minority voted for Archy being a small, lightly built coelurosaurian dinosaur.

Perhaps this is because it is also a bird. Did any of them say that archaeopteryx is not a transitional form? Because then you might have something...

Yes it may have reptile features however this doesn't prove evolution. It just means that it is an unusual bird. A platypus has features from mammals, reptiles, and birds!

No it doesn't. The platypus contains no derived features of avians. I presume you are referring to the "bill"? The snout of a platypus is only superficially similar to a bird's beak. It is a sensory organ. It is not homologous to a bird's beak. The two are very different.

Now, a little more of the expertise you are so eager to shun would have prevented you from saying something so silly.

For the record, if the discovery of a fossil, from exactly the right time period, which combines bird and dinosaur features isn't evidence for evolution, what is it evidence for exactly?

As your example of quote mining you had to use Kent Hovind.

I didn't have to use Hovind. The quote mine is extremely common. There are examples of it here, here, here and here. I just mention Hovind since, as a convicted fraudster, his dishonesty is less ambiguous.

I don't really know too much about him and don't think I've read any of his articles. It seems from a quick search, that Kent doesn't necessarily have the same views on a number of topics as groups like CMI or ICR.

You mean this CMI?

Tom wagner, at Creation.com writes:

Charles Darwin himself realized that it seemed incredible that evolutionary processes had to explain human vision. He said:

‘To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.’

Yet, later on in the same chapter of his book, he explained how he believed it evolved anyway and that the ‘absurdity’ was illusory. Had Darwin had the knowledge about the eye and its associated systems that man has today (which is a great deal more than what it was in his time), he may have given up his naturalistic theory on the origin of living things.

Now he does acknowledge that Darwin still believed the eye evolved, but presenting the clipped quote in this context is clearly designed to send a single message; Darwin said eye evolution was absurd. Darwin did not explain his belief that the eye did indeed evolve "later on in the same chapter of his book", he explained immediately, in the very next line! This subtle difference is a clear attempt to disguise the rhetorical nature of the initial quote.(The same text can be found at AiG)

You also mention ICR. Did you mean this ICR Arphy?

Gary parker, at icr.org writes:

No wonder Darwin wrote: "To suppose that the eye, … could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree."

There is absolutely no attempt to place this into context. (Source)

The clear implication of all these quote mines is that Darwin thought that the evolution of the eye was absurd. He didn't.

This kind of behaviour is dishonest. It is a form of lying. It is, in fact, the bearing of false witness.

Probably the most used evolutionist quotes against transitional fossils are from Colin Patterson...

Ahem!

Lionel Theunissen writes:

Patterson goes on to acknowledge that there are gaps in the fossil record, but points out that this is possibly due to the limitations of what fossils can tell us. He finishes the paragraph with:

". . .Fossils may tell us many things, but one thing they can never disclose is whether they were ancestors of anything else."

It is actually this statement which is the key to interpreting the Sunderland quote correctly; it is not possible to say for certain whether a fossil is in the direct ancestral line of a species group. Archaeopteryx, for example, is not necessarily directly ancestral to birds. It may have been a species on a side-branch. However, that in no way disqualifies it as a transitional form, or as evidence for evolution. Evolution predicts that such fossils will exist, and if there was no link between reptiles and birds then Archaeopteryx would not exist, whether it is directly ancestral or not. What Patterson was saying to Sunderland was that, of the transitional forms that are known, he could not make a watertight argument for any being directly ancestral to living species groups.

Colin Patterson writes:

Dear Mr Theunissen,

Sorry to have taken so long to answer your letter of July 9th. I was away for a while, and then infernally busy. I seem fated continually to make a fool of myself with creationists. The specific quote you mention, from a letter to Sunderland dated 10th April 1979, is accurate as far as it goes. The passage quoted continues "... a watertight argument. The reason is that statements about ancestry and descent are not applicable in the fossil record. Is Archaeopteryx the ancestor of all birds? Perhaps yes, perhaps no: there is no way of answering the question. It is easy enough to make up stories of how one form gave rise to another, and to find reasons why the stages should be favoured by natural selection. But such stories are not part of science, for there is no way to put them to the test."

I think the continuation of the passage shows clearly that your interpretation (at the end of your letter) is correct, and the creationists' is false.

That brush with Sunderland (I had never heard of him before) was my first experience of creationists. The famous "keynote address" at the American Museum of Natural History in 1981 was nothing of the sort. It was a talk to the "Systematics Discussion Group" in the Museum, an (extremely) informal group. I had been asked to talk to them on "Evolutionism and creationism"; fired up by a paper by Ernst Mayr published in Science just the week before. I gave a fairly rumbustious talk, arguing that the theory of evolution had done more harm than good to biological systematics (classification). Unknown to me, there was a creationist in the audience with a hidden tape recorder. So much the worse for me. But my talk was addressed to professional systematists, and concerned systematics, nothing else.

I hope that by now I have learned to be more circumspect in dealing with creationists, cryptic or overt. But I still maintain that scepticism is the scientist's duty, however much the stance may expose us to ridicule.

Yours Sincerely,

Colin Patterson

source

So basically, your link is an attempt to explain that when Colin Patterson says that the creationists are wrong, he means that he's saying they are right. How dishonest can you get?

Hmm... really? So you are giving me the option of believeing that some organisms were created in what you believe to be a progression that has no need for a divine creation to intervene. Thanks, how accommodating.

It's nothing to do with me. There is nothing about the ToE that demands common ancestry for all life on Earth. That is simply a strawman.

as you hopeful know by now, at least from this forum, creationists fully accept mutations and natural selection.

Not all creationists.

However that these mechanisms can cause an increase in information (from simple to complex life forms) is the real issue.

Well, if that's the real issue, you'd better get over to this thread (Evolving New Information) and start making your case.

Mutate and Survive


"A curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks he understands it." - Jacques Monod
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Theodoric
Member
Posts: 6039
From: Northwest, WI, USA
Joined: 08-15-2005
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 13 of 210 (524133)
09-14-2009 3:16 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by RAZD
09-12-2009 11:53 AM


Re: not just fundamentalists though ...
in 1776 Columbus sailed the ocean blue...

You are off by a few centuries. I do believe it was 1492.

But the point is still valid.

ABE

Oops. Just saw Perditions post.

Edited by Theodoric, : No reason given.


Facts don't lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts
This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by RAZD, posted 09-12-2009 11:53 AM RAZD has acknowledged this reply

    
greyseal
Member (Idle past 1970 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 14 of 210 (524136)
09-14-2009 3:17 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Arphy
09-13-2009 7:14 AM


quote mines and paraphrasing
hi Arphy,

I'm playing catchup, so I may not touch everything here.

The reason why I used that quote was because evolutionists like to use the authority game.

I don't think I've been using arguments from authority like that - it does get done but it should be avoided because it's not convincing. Call me on it if you think I do!

As a logical fallacy (and I will probably get this wrong) the reasoning goes like this:

quote:
Dr Feduccia said Archaeopteryx is a bird and he's a doctor, therefore it's true.

Or in other words, X is true because A and B are true - but X isn't actually related to the truth of A and B.

Which is what organizations like ICR do. It's a handy quote which they can take as-is and use it to deny any other viewpoint is held or valid (falsely, I add).

In light of his second quote (which, unlike the one you gave IS an actual quote - what you gave is apparently paraphrased from a magazine article penned by somebody else) what I think was meant (if he said it at all) is that it was more like a bird than a dinosaur - it flew, lived in the trees and was far from being a earthbound lizard.

Taken in concert with his later statements, that actually makes sense - otherwise you are saying that he held two diametrically opposing viewpoints at once.

Then at this conference it was "kind of interesting that they found it necessary to draft the following statement. ‘Conferees did agree unanimously to the declaration that organic evolution is a fundamental process of biology and we recognize the importance of the Archaeopteryx contribution to that problem.’

I don't disagree with you there - the sad fact is that even after 150 years there are still people who don't agree with or understand evolution.

The facts are that Archaeopteryx is one of the most famous species to have been found - I think it highly likely and not at all surprising that scientists understand the importance of their work.

If you're a cynic, you'll say that they had to come up with the right answer and there's nothing I can say against that sort of viewpoint except to wholeheartedly disagree.

The easier, more likely explanation (in that it doesn't call on there being a massive conspiracy) is that all the scientists agreed unanimously that biological evolution is a fundamental part of biology (I think that's, well, obvious, and I'm not even a scientists) and that Archaeopteryx is an important piece of proof - it is, after all, a seminal example which confirms the theory, and well and truly found AFTER the fact, confirming what had been merely conjecture.

This is the problem with evolutionists, the underlying dogma is never challenged when these things turn up. Evolutionists simply say that obviously they need to just keep looking more and then things will clear up eventually. However this doesn't mean that they remove previous examples of transitional fossils from science textbooks. They keep them there until they think they have found a better example.

Dogma has no place in science. It creeps in, yes, but you'll have heard that old adage that "whenever an elderly and well-respected scientist says something is impossible, he is almost certainly incorrect" - it's a half-joke, but there is truth there - science is not static. It changes, daily. People, being the fallible people they are, often say things that are not warranted - THIS is why the scientific method is so important, because without the PROOF then it is very hard to convince anyone of anything.

Archaeopteryx is still in the science books, I would say, NOT because we've not go anything better, but because it's a well-known, easily-accessible example which is well-researched.

Bad, old, incorrect science books are the bane of everybody, especially scientists - but you must understand that many things are kept because they provide a stepping stone to greater knowledge.

Newton's theories are incorrect, they're useless...at a certain level. For 99% of everybody else's uses, they're perfectly accurate. Should we teach, immediately, Einsteins field equations, just because they are more correct, though hideously difficult to 10-year-olds?

that is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

The facts are that Archaeopteryx has:
* a long bony tail
* teeth
* claws
and other non-avian traits.

Even so, why should this mean that birds evolved from dinosaurs? You first assume evolution and then see if you can make it fit.

Nope, you first test to see if it's a real skeleton, find out all the facts you can (and it's not a hoax, when I googled for the conference you spoke of, the first 30 links were almost entirely creationist, and almost universally wrong, and most of them were still of the opinion that the fossil is a fake - it's not. Interestingly enough, the only place I can find so far that says anything like "archaeopteryx was a bird" is on creationist websites, but I digress) and then you'd seek to classify it.

the features it has make that difficult - if I were a scientist, I'd probably invite a load of other scientists, hash it all out, have some fisticuffs and then come up with a reasoned set of criteria why it fit in one branch rather than the other. Maybe I'd even put it in with the birds...it wouldn't change the fact that it looks like a dinosaur with wings and feathers.

Why do we think it evolved from dinosaurs?

dude, have you looked at that thing? It's like saying you don't think whales evolved from land-animals because they live in the sea! I've given you a list - a short one, yes - of all the reasons it tells us that it evolved from dinosaurs, mainly because it's a friggin' transitional fossil showing aspects of both lineages. The whole nature of Archaeopteryx says what it is.

Part of your last paragraph was foolish - whether it is classed as a bird or a dinosaur, or as something else, entirley new, does NOTHING to change it's transitionary nature. Whether it actually gave us birds or died a death as an evolutionary dead end does NOTHING to change it's transitionary nature - it is what it is.

Evolution has been "under review" since it's inception, Darwin himself came out with several editions of his own work, expanding on certain sections in part because of creationist lies and other scientific objections on parts he had intentionally left out because he wrote his book for the layman and thought nobody would seriously read it.

all these "darwin was WRONG!" headlines are from well-meaning scientists whose words get jumped on - almost universally by creationists, and twisted - because they've overturned some part of his theory...but the overall picture? It's a part of history. We're sure. It's ready. Done. there is NO part of it that is disputed by almost the entirety of mainstream scientists.

I really will say, and I'm going to stick to it, that the only people who don't agree with it either have ulterior motives or don't understand it, whether they are scientists or not.

I'm glad you think that (and I'm going to trot out a creationist invention here) "microevolution" might be true - it does make a lot of sense, yes, that's why Darwin came up with the idea following the facts he had to go by.

We just took it to it's logical conclusion, that of a single-celled ancestor at some remote point in history - I'm not sure if Darwin thought that.

As several people here can attest, if god created everything way-back-whenever, and from then on things evolved, that wouldn't change the teaching of evolution - "abiogenesis" isn't necessary for evolution to be true. As far as I can tell, there's no reason to disbelieve that god could create everything and allow it to evolve.

The main problem most fundamental christians have with it is that they think it's a slippery slope, and easy to go from "god created everything, which then began to evolve" to "god created everything...but a lot longer ago than 6000 years" to "hmm, maybe most of this bible thing is just a story" to "well, a lot works without calling on the bible..." to "we don't need god" - and most christians really do believe that not believing in god sends you to hell, which they believe is a really bad place.

Of course they don't want those awful atheists sending their kids to hell...


This message is a reply to:
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greyseal
Member (Idle past 1970 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 15 of 210 (524138)
09-14-2009 3:20 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by AdminNosy
09-14-2009 9:05 AM


Re: Platypus
isn't laying eggs kind of bird-y?

the only reason I know so much about platypuses...platypii..platypeople..uh...them...is because of Perry )

they're semi-aquatic egg-laying mammals of action!


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