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Author Topic:   Transitional fossils and quote mining
greyseal
Member (Idle past 2000 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Not just the "words taken out of context" type, but the "outdated knowledge" type and the "argument from authority" type.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.


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Coragyps, posted 09-12-2009 9:29 AM greyseal has responded
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greyseal
Member (Idle past 2000 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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greyseal
Member (Idle past 2000 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 2000 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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greyseal
Member (Idle past 2000 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 16 of 210 (524139)
09-14-2009 3:22 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Granny Magda
09-13-2009 9:17 AM


granny magda, I bow to your ability to better state what I mean than I myself can.

bravo.


This message is a reply to:
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greyseal
Member (Idle past 2000 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 17 of 210 (524141)
09-14-2009 3:34 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Arphy
09-14-2009 6:41 AM


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.

So, let's look at the evidence, and please - don't wave it away:

1) found with other dinosaurs
2) dated to the same era as other dinosaurs
3) multiple specimens, not a hoax
4) features which are "avian"
5) features which are "dinosaur"

So you can take a look at ALL that and say... "feh, scientists, what do those schmucks know?"

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

Arphy...that's EXACTLY what gets me riled up.

It's a bird AND a dinosaur AT THE SAME TIME.

Sorry for caps, but you're saying, and I'm going to stress the point, that it's just a bird because the majority said "it was a bird".

"just a bird" and "a bird" are ENTIRELY different. Yes, really. Yes, really really. No, this is not a cop out. Yes, really really 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.

Yes, if you want to believe in a special creation by a supernatural power, that doesn't change the facts that led Darwin to the theory of evolution and natural selection. Yes, really really (ad nausaeum).

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

Great! Case closed! Glad that's over wi-

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

now hang on a darned minute!

That is not what we're talking about at all! Get thee to that thread if you want to debate that absurd IDiot maxim.


This message is a reply to:
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greyseal
Member (Idle past 2000 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 18 of 210 (524144)
09-14-2009 3:40 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Granny Magda
09-14-2009 3:13 PM


Re: Lies, Damn Lies and Creationist Quote Mines
granny magda writes:

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?

That sort of thing makes me boiling mad - if the saying "there are no atheists in foxholes" can be banded about, then there are no theists in hospitals.

What makes me even more boiling mad is when it's true - anti-vaxxers, kids with diabetes dying, with treatable conditions suffering, all because their parents believe that god will personally heal their children.

If that's not bad enough, it causes innocent kids with well-meaning parents to suffer and die (whooping cough? In the 21st century, in the western world? really?).

But I digress.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Granny Magda, posted 09-14-2009 3:13 PM Granny Magda has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 19 by Granny Magda, posted 09-14-2009 3:52 PM greyseal has responded

    
greyseal
Member (Idle past 2000 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 20 of 210 (524155)
09-14-2009 4:08 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by Granny Magda
09-14-2009 3:52 PM


Re: Lies, Damn Lies and Creationist Quote Mines
I mean it too!

and yeah, that made me laugh

I'm trying to find the one I found recently about the words of scientists being taken to mean something more than what they said...

it starts with a scientist curing 20% of cancer cells in a rat's tail, which gets full-blown as "scientists cure cancer!!!1111eleven", or thereabouts.


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Replies to this message:
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greyseal
Member (Idle past 2000 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 23 of 210 (524222)
09-15-2009 3:18 AM
Reply to: Message 21 by Wounded King
09-14-2009 4:25 PM


Re: Lies, Damn Lies and Creationist Quote Mines
that's the kitty!
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greyseal
Member (Idle past 2000 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 27 of 210 (524255)
09-15-2009 11:14 AM
Reply to: Message 26 by Augray
09-15-2009 10:34 AM


wow, that brings us right back to square one and the quote from Feduccia which Arphy is parroting.

And Arphy IS parroting - that quote is dredged up from the quote mines of AiG where many a twisted scholar spends his days sifting through the words of wiser men looking for something, no matter how badly quoted and inaccurate when taken deliberately out of context, to agree with their viewpoint for, apparently, nothing more than a ludicrous argument from authority.

Even Feduccia knows that his quote will be misused, and deliberately so.

Why, then, is it still on ICR's, AiG's and every other IDiot and creotard's website as gold-standard anti-evolution propaganda?

Arphy, as I and every other durned libral atheist hate-monger is very obviously going to hell and as such obviously evil people, we don't need to be listened to by folks so enlightened as they, can you ask AiG and ICR why they have a known bad quote on their books?

surely, in the christian way, they'd prefer to admit their mistakes and remove it.


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greyseal
Member (Idle past 2000 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 41 of 210 (524500)
09-17-2009 8:09 AM
Reply to: Message 33 by Arphy
09-16-2009 7:32 AM


Re: Lies, Damn Lies and Creationist Quote Mines
When a biologist tells me that natural selection works and then shows me a study where it shows that this mechanism is occuring, I will believe the biologist. However when that biologists makes up imaginative stories about how this process can over millions of years completly change the descendents of the creature studied into something that no longer even remotely looks like the original creature. Then no there is no need for me to accept his speculations.

I think you've been shown those studies, BUT you don't like the answers, perhaps because their conclusions are, to you, too amazing.

Arphy, you aren't a biologist, but you're trying to say you know better than one. It is exactly like you wandering into open heart surgery and seeing a doctor on top of a patient punching him/her in the ribs...why do you think your automatic assumption of depraved battery is correct over the doctor's insistence that s/he had to do this to restart a heart?

arphy writes:

granny magda writes:

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.


Then why did he say the things he did? He knew that creationists would pounce on them (message 26).

I have to sheepishly appologize here - my original understanding of the situation was lacking.

Archaeopteryx, it appears, is a bird.

If, as you say, the majority of the conference (experts in their fields, every one) say it was a bird, then it was a bird.

but...it was not JUST a bird.

It is a transitional fossil, showing non-avian traits that it shared in common with other dinosaurs.

So it is a marvellous example confirming the theory of evolution.

And it's a dinosaur.

All of the previous is true - and yet you would say they contradict each other.

If you understand why they do not, you will understand better what Feduccia said and why.

derived traits over shared traits are, as Granny Magda said, entirely different. Please stay (haha) in context.

It also seems you are unaware that AiG, CRI and every other website of that ilk quote Darwin as saying that (and I'm paraphrasing from the parts they print) it is fantastic to assume the eye could have evolved by chance.

The problem is, as you should see if you read the whole quote in context he says "...but it isn't" - and then gives a thorough explanation of why.

How could that cut NOT be deliberate when it changes the entire meaning of the paragraph?


This message is a reply to:
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greyseal
Member (Idle past 2000 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 42 of 210 (524503)
09-17-2009 8:18 AM
Reply to: Message 39 by Arphy
09-17-2009 6:11 AM


Re: Lies, Damn Lies and Creationist Quote Mines
Arphy writes:

Of course he may be of the opinion that birds did not evolve from dinosaurs but some other reptile, which i guess might accomadate the two quotes but that doesn't help you guys because you seem to suggest that you believe that birds did evolve from dinos.

Your point is meaningless - if Archaeopteryx evolved from dinosaurs, grew feathers and learned to fly, so much so that it lived in the air rather than ran on the ground, then dinosaurs could evolve into birds.

Whether Archaeopteryx evolved into all modern birds, one species or none, is irrelevant.

The fact is, one creature was caught between two worlds - why could it not happen again, especially since dinosaurs then and birds now share so much in common?

If Archy evolved from reptiles back when we think it did, then it must have been from dinosaurs - because they were ALL dinosaurs.

Edited by greyseal, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 39 by Arphy, posted 09-17-2009 6:11 AM Arphy has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
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greyseal
Member (Idle past 2000 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 43 of 210 (524508)
09-17-2009 8:28 AM
Reply to: Message 39 by Arphy
09-17-2009 6:11 AM


Re: Lies, Damn Lies and Creationist Quote Mines
Arphy (regarding Darwin's eye quote) writes:

there was no reason to. putting it in woludn't have added or taken away anything. again, we are not questioning that darwin believed it evolved, but rather that most people tend to think that our eyes are a very useful, and quite incredibly tool that we posess. If you happen to be of the opinion that eyes are a compltely useless feature then whatever, be my guest.

Ok, this is the quote from AiG and the like:

quote:

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.

You know what that says to me, and to everyone else who reads it? That Darwin thought his own theory was "absurd in the highest possible degree".

The reason it is a quote mine, is because they deliberately omit the following:

quote:

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. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound.

So tell me again, why is the quote in it's massively foreshortened, clipped form correct, when it means precisely the opposite of what Darwin meant?

that quote is also excellent for dismissing the "evolution demands abiogenesis" bunk:

quote:
How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated

Edited by greyseal, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 39 by Arphy, posted 09-17-2009 6:11 AM Arphy has not yet responded

    
greyseal
Member (Idle past 2000 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 45 of 210 (524516)
09-17-2009 9:15 AM
Reply to: Message 39 by Arphy
09-17-2009 6:11 AM


Re: Lies, Damn Lies and Creationist Quote Mines
Colin Patterson
So you think that any of these quotes:

(quote from here )

from his lecture will say the complete opposite when heard in full context. Good luck with that.

actually, yes, it does reverse the opinion that your selected quotes give.

I would say it is obvious (especially when in concert with other letters he has written such as this one) that he is not a creationist.

For the sake of argument, specifically when addressing systematics, he played one in a lecture.

Bzzzt! Sorry, try again.

Edited by greyseal, : fixed the darn links.


This message is a reply to:
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greyseal
Member (Idle past 2000 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 46 of 210 (524517)
09-17-2009 9:17 AM
Reply to: Message 44 by NosyNed
09-17-2009 8:57 AM


Re: All dinosaurs
not all the reptiles (at least of the sort that COULD have evolved into Archy) were dinosaurs, way back then when Archy was around?
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