Custom Search

Monday, October 24, 2005

News Flash!: Stephen Jay Gould would never have signed the Darwin lobby's "Steve" list, close friend says

Last night I spoke with Stuart Pivar, sponsor of the J site, which crusades for a non-Darwinian structuralist theory of evolution, under Gould's name (Gould died in 2002).

[If you were directed to this story, also see the Tuesday story for further developments. See Wednesday's as well. - Denyse]

It turns out that Pivar, a chemical engineer as well as an art collector, was indeed a friend of Gould. He writes,

steve and ronda would spend weekends at my beach house. we were close friends for years. i officiated at his funeral service.

steve lifes work was to understand evolution. His message was that natural selection was merely an eliminative force with no creative role, capable of choosing for survival among preexisting forms which are produced by other natural structural processes.

What's more, he thinks that Darwin lobbyist Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education has hijacked Gould's legacy with its Steve campaign against intelligent design theory. Steve himself would never have signed the statement, he insists, because Gould did not see natural selection as a creative force, as Darwinists do!

Steve Gould (the Ursteve of the famous Steve list of the NCSE) clearly did not believe in natural selection as the primary cause of evolutionary change.

The 600 listed scientists named Steve claim the belief that evolution happened, and that natural selection is the mechanical process which causes it. Stephen Jay Gould would not have signed this list.

(Note: You have to find this key "Steve list" page on the sidebar; I can't link directly to its name. Also, the list says that natural selection is a major mechanical process, not the mechanical process. )

If so, this is a major upset in the current intelligent design wars that will surely damage NCSE's case for teaching Darwinism only in American schools.

I will post excerpts from my conversation with Pivar when I have time to go over my notes.

(Note: My earlier treatment of Pivar was a bit negative because at the time I was not able to confirm that he really did speak for Gould, but now I have at least some evidence that he does. If he does, well then NCSE doesn't. )
If you like this blog, check out my award-winning book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Out of Africa?: How about out with the stereotypes?

By a happy coincidence, a commenter has suggested Stephen Jay Gould's The Mismeasure of Man, a book against sociobiology (evolutionary psychology). I've read it and recommend it. Precisely because it is against that sacred cow (or load of bull, depending on your preferences in gender equity), the book was unfairly neglected or attacked in Gould's lifetime. Sociobiology, as evolutionary psychology was called in the 1970s, was hot, hot, hot, both in the academy and the media. While I am here, I may as well shill another book as well: Rose, Hilary and Steven Rose, Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology (London: Random House Vintage, 2001) is a more recent, and unjustly neglected collection of essays trashing evo psycho. You can use Amazon's "look inside" feature to try before you buy.

Regular readers of this blogspot will know that I regard evo psycho as the weakest link in Darwinism - and one reason that the public enrages top science boffins by scoffing at it. It's one thing to tell me tales about population genetics in slime molds - if the tales were false, how would I know, and why would I care? But just try telling me tales about how literature or politics or religion evolved, supposedly as a result of natural selection, and guess what? You are right in the middle of the stuff I really know. If it doesn't sound plausible to me, that's because it's mostly speculation piled on speculation piled on a much weaker fact base than I am used to dealing with. But don't believe me; read the books shilled above and decide for yourself.

That said, I think that the people promoting the "out of Africa" account of human origins should have more horse sense than to rely on stereotypical pictures of modern-day Africans to make their point. Enough already about the skin pigments. If showing an Afrikaner babe mashing potatoes in downtown Jo'burg would somehow not "look right" in the context, face it, we are dealing with stereotypes. If
If you like this blog, check out my award-winning book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.
Are you looking for the following stories?

"Academic Freedom Watch : Here's the real, ugly story behind the claim that 'intelligent design isn't science'?".

Roseville, California, lawyer Larry Caldwell is suing over the use of tax money by Darwin lobby groups to promote religious views that accept Darwinian evolution (as opposed to ones that don’t). I’m pegging this one as the next big story. It will be interesting to see the line that the “separation of church and state” people take.
How to freak out your bio prof? What happened when a student bypassed the usual route of getting frogs drunk and dropping them down the chancellor’s robes, and tried questioning Darwinism instead.

Joseph, Cardinal Schonborn is not backing down from his contention that Darwinism is incompatible with Catholic faith, and Pope Benedict XVI probably thinks that’s just fine. Major US media have been trying to reach rewrite for months, with no success.

Museum tour guides to be trained to "respond" to those who question Darwinism. Read this item for an example of what at least one museum hopes to have them say.
Blog policy note: This blog does not intentionally accept fully anonymous Comments, Comments with language unsuited to an intellectual discussion, URLs posted without comment, or defamatory statements. Defamatory statement: A statement that would be actionable if anyone took the author seriously. For example, someone may say "O'Leary is a crummy journalist"; that’s a matter of opinion and I don’t know who would care. But if they say, "O'Leary was convicted of grand theft auto in 1983," well that's just plain false, and probably actionable, if the author were taken seriously. Also, due to time constraints, the moderator rarely responds to comments, and usually only about blog service issues.

Who links to me?