Monday, July 02, 2007
Red State Rabble's Great American Quote Mine Contest Results
The contest was inspired by a Douglas H. Erwin story in The New York Times reporting "there are growing calls among some evolutionary biologists" to revise what has come to be called the modern synthesis of Darwin's theory of evolution. While Erwin noted that "none of these concerns provide a scintilla of hope for creationists," we predicted Erwin’s story would provide fertile soil for creationist and intelligent design quote mining, anyway.
"Maybe we should beat them to the punch (read: mock them) and start pulling out bits and pieces from the NYT collection to show how it's done," suggested RSR reader, Gerry L.
It was a brilliant idea, and so, the contest was born.
Early entries got off to a rocky start. We noted that RSR readers have a marked tendency to belong to the reality-based community and so had a hard time doing what comes so naturally to creationists.
It’s easy to understand why someone who looks at the Grand Canyon’s spectacular aggregation of sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rock strata as a byproduct of the Biblical Flood would have no problem seeing what they want to see in a modern scientific text, but our readers, initially, had a harder time freeing themselves from the restrictions placed on them by text they were given to work with.
John Pieret, editor of the invaluable Quote Mine Project, wrote in to give an idea just how daunting the task would be for someone constrained by the heavy burden of a sense of honesty, good judgement, and rational thought. “A good quote mine can cross dozens of paragraphs or even pages,” he noted. The most ambitious quote mine recorded by the project, Pieret adds, was cobbled together from selections more than 100 pages apart.
Let’s face it. We just didn’t have that much raw material to work with. Even so, the entries all of you sent in display remarkable inventiveness, wit, and good humor.
Here they are, the finalists in Red State Rabble’s Great American Quote Mine Contest:
From IW: Darwinist admits Darwinism is "History"
"Many scientists suffer from a kind of split personality," writes Douglas Erwin, and are too busy studying "how genes operate, and evolve" to admit that "The Achilles' heel of the modern synthesis, as noted by the philosopher Ron Amundson, is that it deals primarily with the transmission of genes from one generation to the next, but not how genes produce bodies."Reader MW asks, Is Darwin due for an upgrade?
In fact, Darwinists cannot account for what we now know of the complex relationship between genes' information and the development of species. Evolution cannot explain, for example, how "rewiring the circuitry of genes produces different arthropod appendages, or wingspots on butterflies." This is the "Achilles' heel of Darwinism, a fatal flaw that I predict will lead the rise of Intelligent Design and the overthrow of Darwinist Dogma.
One example of this is the genetic sequence of sea urchins and starfish, which have "five core genes, which form what Davidson calls a kernel, cannot be modified: change any one of them and no embryo forms at all." Darwinism claims that genes must be modified to create new life, but these genes "limit the range of possibilities on which natural selection can act." ID predicts just such an occurrence, as the designer would certainly preserve basic elements of his design for long periods of time, but Darwinists, Erwin admits, understanding of what these processes mean for evolution."
What they mean is simple: Darwinism as a mechanism of macroevolution has failed. Only ID can explain the preservation of developmental genes. Erwin, himself a Darwinists, notes that a paradigm shift" is taking place and that this demonstrates "hope for ID advocates]," who correctly understand that Darwinism is incapable of explaining developmental change, and that we must turn to the obvious features of design to explain how organisms develop and change over time.
Darwinist thought, Erwin notes, is "uniformitarian," and ignores the simple truth that while "Evolutionary theory assumes" that species cannot "modify their environment." By failing to understand the role of design in life, Darwinists fail to see that design " changes how selection affects [species]: they construct their own environment." Darwinists can not admit to design by any designer.
The implications of this cannot be ignored, even by Darwinists: Evolutionary theory," Erwin is forced to admit, is "history."
There are growing calls among biologists for just such a revision. Studies of the fossil record raise questions about the role of competition. Geneticists, paleontologists and others disagree about the efficacy of natural selection. There is certainly no consensus among evolutionary biologists. These concerns provide hope for creationists. The foundations for a paradigm shift may be in place.MW submitted two entries. Since there are no rules in the contest – that would run counter to the intent of quote mining – the judges (me) decided to allow it.
"Perhaps the most exciting area in evolution is in exploring wingspots on butterflies."Frequent commenter GO'C submitted this entry:
PF submitted this brief but beautiful quote mine:
The New York Times recently proclaimed that, "Darwin is due for an upgrade." According to the highly regarded author of the article, "In the past few years every element of this paradigm has been attacked." The basis for the upgrade is the surfeit of irrational scientists, because, "Many scientists suffer from a kind of split personality."The upgrade to Darwinism is called a "paradigm shift" (some say that only a pair of dimes is necessary to change scientists' fragmented minds). Raw Ambition drives these lying scientists. "What ambitious scientist would not want to be part of a paradigm shift?" Observed, Douglas H. Erwin, a senior scientist at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution and a research professor at the Santa Fe Institute.
Because ambition and artifice are the tools of science, the Times states, "None of these concerns provide a scintilla of hope for creationists." Quite rightly where scientists have to cloud issues to take a buck from their grants and creationists don't have, or need, grants to "fund" their knowledge of God's master plan.
In closing, Dr. Erwin opined: "As evolutionary biologists we have little understanding of what these processes mean for evolution." Dr. Erwin follows with this blockbuster, "Does all this add up to a new modern synthesis?" Answering his own question, Dr. Erwin admits that: There is certainly no consensus among evolutionary biologists."
Transitions between species documented by the fossil record seemed to be ... too abrupt to be explained by ... natural selection occurring within species...Working with just the final paragraph of the article reader Gerry L. – to whom we are deeply indebted for coming up with the idea for the contest – offers the following, although, as you can see, he wasn’t quite able to let himself go by dropping the ellipses. Honesty is a heavy load which the defenders of science must bear alone in this debate:
These concerns provide (...) hope for creationists.From the full article Gerry was able to fashion the following quote which almost had the Darwinbot in me doubting Darwin for a moment.
There is (...) no consensus among evolutionary biologists, but (...) creationists (...) are already providing (...) the foundations for a paradigm shift, (...) a truly novel perspective (...) within an expanded modern synthesis.
There is certainly (...) consensus among evolutionary biologists (...) on how (...) creationists (...) are already providing (...) the foundations for (...) a truly novel perspective (...) within an expanded modern synthesis.
Computer simulations have shown (...) transitions between species (...) to be (...) the Achilles’ heel of (...) evolution.John Pieret walks into this contest like a pool shark who carries his own cue. His vast experience as editor of the Quote Mine Project shows. Here’s his entry:
Darwin’s big idea ... holds that mutations to DNA create new variants of existing genes within a species. In the past few years every element of this paradigm has been attacked. Transitions between species seemed to be abrupt, ... too abrupt to be explained by the modern synthesis.
Doc Bill, another frequent commenter, was so taken with his own entry that he ended his note by saying what a sad day it is. Darwinism is dead.
So, who are the lucky winners of the Red State Rabble mouse pads? The judges (me again) had such a hard time deciding that we put all the names in a hat and had our youngest daughter, Molly, draw the names of the four winners.
Erwin writes, "Is Darwin due for an upgrade? There are growing calls among some evolutionary biologists for just such a revision..." of the current Darwinian paradigm which appears to be crumbling from within. Erwin continues by noting, "In the past few years every element of this paradigm has been attacked.
Concerns...like the origin of major animal groups, including vertebrates.""Does all this add up to a new modern synthesis? There is certainly no consensus among evolutionary biologists..." Furthermore the article states "...development, ecology, genetics and paleontology all provide new perspectives on how evolution operates, and how we should study it. None of these concerns provide a scintilla of hope..."
And, the winners are: IW, MW, PF, and Doc Bill.
Who says random processes can't create new information?
Congratualtions to all the winners. Thanks to everyone who entered. Winners, please e-mail me an address that I can mail your prize to.