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Monday, March 16, 2009

Quick ... what does THIS remind you of?

According to Ron Baker's review on AccountingWeb, in Bad Medicine: Doctors Doing Harm Since Hippocrates, University of York prof David Wootten recounts,
The history of medicine begins with Hippocrates in the fifth century BC. Yet until the invention of antibiotics in the 1940s doctors, in general, did their patients more harm than good.

In other words, for 2400 years patients believed doctors were doing good; for 2300 years they were wrong.
That fact is, of course well known, but here is the interesting part:
We all assume that good ideas and theories will drive out bad ones, but that is not necessarily true, especially in medicine. Historically, bad medicine drove out good medicine.

As Wootton explains:

We know how to write histories of discovery and progress, but not how to write histories of stasis, of delay, of digression. We know how to write about the delight of discovery, but not about attachment to the old and resistance to the new.

[ ... ]

The discovery of the circulation of the blood (1628), of oxygen (1775), of the role of haemoglobin (1862) made no difference; the discoveries were adapted to the therapy [bloodletting] rather than vice versa.

...if you look at therapy, not theory, then ancient medicine survive more or less intact into the middle of the nineteenth century and beyond.

Strangely, traditional medical practices — bloodletting, purging, inducing vomiting — had continued even while people's understanding of how the body worked underwent radical alteration. The new theories were set to work to justify old practices.
The resemblance of this to much current evolution theory is uncanny. New discoveries are adapted to old claims; the claims are not reevaluated.

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose.


New Scientist pulls post for legal reasons?

A friend writes to draw my attention to New Humanist wondering what is happening at New Scientist:

Last week we had Turkey's leading science magazine being forced to spike a story on Darwin, but could we now have a similar story somewhat closer to home? The blogosphere is awash with news that the New Scientist have pulled a piece from their website entitled "How to Spot a Hidden Religious Agenda", in which their book reviews editor Amanda Gefter explains the key signs she looks out for when deciding if a "science" book is in fact a creationist tract. At the URL where the article was, all that remains is the message, "New Scientist has received a complaint about the contents of this story. It has temporarily been removed while we investigate. Apologies for any inconvenience", along with the 643 comments the article must have received before it was pulled.The Skepticism Examiner give details of what was in the article, including what must have been the opening paragraph:

The rest is" target="another">here.

Oddly, the blog post mentions me:
Some general sentiments are also red flags. Authors with religious motives make shameless appeals to common sense, from the staid - "There is nothing we can be more certain of than the reality of our sense of self" (James Le Fanu in Why Us?) - to the silly - "Yer granny was an ape!" (creationist blogger Denyse O'Leary). If common sense were a reliable guide, we wouldn't need science in the first place.

Well, I think Gefter should try a litttle common sense, and maybe she wouldn't be in this mess.

I presume that Gefter is annoyed with me for accurately describing New Scientist as the National Enquirer of pop science mags, principally based on this performance by herself.

For the record, I was not the one who complained, although I am not in fact a creationist in any meaningful sense of the word. People like Gefter typically just say whatever they want anyway; it's better not to get into it with them. I am pretty sure that, in any event, the blogosphere isn't really awash with a tsunami of news about this. These people all take themselves way too seriously.

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


But remember, there ISN'T a debate over Darwinism ...

There are some great new posts at Michael Behe's Amazon blog for Edge of Evolution, and quite recently the fourth in the series Waiting for Two Mutations, went up:
An interesting paper appeared several months ago in an issue of the journal Genetics, “Waiting for Two Mutations: With Applications to Regulatory Sequence Evolution and the Limits of Darwinian Evolution” (Durrett, R & Schmidt, D. 2008. Genetics 180: 1501-1509). This is the fourth of five posts that discusses it. Cited references will appear in the last post.

Now I’d like to turn to a couple of other points in Durrett and Schmidt’s reply which aren’t mistakes with their model, but which do reflect conceptual errors. As I quote in a previous post, they state in their reply, “This conclusion is simply wrong since it assumes that there is only one individual in the population with the first mutation.” I have shown previously that, despite their assertion, my conclusion is right. But where do they get the idea that “it assumes that there is only one individual in the population with the first mutation”? I wrote no such thing in my letter about “one individual”. Furthermore, I “assumed” nothing. I merely cited empirical results from the literature. The figure of 1 in 10^20 is a citation from the literature on chloroquine resistance of malaria. Unlike their model, it is not a calculation on my part.

Right after this, in their reply Durrett and Schmidt say that the “mistake” I made is a common one, and they go on to illustrate “my” mistake with an example about a lottery winner. Yet their own example shows they are seriously confused about what is going on.
The basic problem, as I noted here, referencing this controversy (oh, wait, there isn't a controversy, right?), is that for Darwinists, Dawinism is an omnipotent force which cannot by its very nature have limitations. So Behe, who speaks of limitations, speaks blasphemies.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


No end to the evil, I guess ...

I rarely just swatch stuff from other blogs, but I am just trying to get back to regular blogging after an absence (thanks to all who have enquired; my mother is making a good recovery,though at her age it takes time). So I am working my way through the In Box.

More from the evil Discos, with my comment below:

"Evolution: No Controversy? ? No Funding"

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor has his response to The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology's boycott of Louisiana after the passage of the Louisiana Science Education Act:

Most Americans are creationists, in the sense that they believe that God played an important role in creating human beings and they don?t accept a strictly Darwinian explanation for life. And they think that they ought to be able to ask questions about evolution in their own public schools. They don?t share your passion for ideological purity in science classes. They have a quaint notion that science depends on the freedom to ask questions, and their insistence on academic freedom is catching on. They don't want religion taught in the science classroom, but they know that students are not learning about all of the science surrounding evolution. Seventy-eight percent of Americans support
academic freedom in the teaching of evolution in schools, and that number is rising fast ? it?s up 9% in the past 3 years. People clearly resent your demand for censorship. After all, it?s their children in their schools, and they aren?t happy with a bunch of supercilious Darwinists telling them that they can?t even question Darwinism in their own classrooms. So if you?re going to boycott all the creationists who despise you, you?ll eventually have to hold all of your conventions in Madison or Ann Arbor. Keep up the arrogance and eventually you won?t have to boycott people at all. People will boycott you.

Well, no kidding. Basically, if they have had 150 years to make their point and haven't persuaded most people, maybe there is something wrong with the point they are trying to make.

Generally speaking, in science, if you can prove something, you don't need to hassle people about believing it. Most Americans believe that you can put a man on the moon because the Americans actually did it.

And if you cure somebody's cancer, trust me, he'll be happy to believe it.

It's different when people are expected to accept a belief system about the past history of life forms that is supported by little more than this kind of childishness.

Too bad for those guys, they won'tbe eating beignets, listening to the jazz.


Also from the evil Discos:

Debate Over Behe's Edge of Evolution in Genetics

The debate that isn't supposed to exist in science continues in the science
journal Genetics, where Michael Behe's book, The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, generated a response in the form of a paper by Rick Durrett and Deena Schmidt, "Waiting for two mutations: with applications to regulatory sequence evolution and the limits of Darwinian evolution."

In their effort to refute Behe's claims, Durrett and Schmidt get a few things wrong, which Behe is able to point out in a reply published in Genetics, which Durrett and Schmidt also responded to in the journal.

What we have here is a full-fledged debate over the limits of Darwinian evolution, a debate that Behe raised with his book and continues to trouble Darwinists who respond in scientific journals because it's an interesting scientific question — and one that has yet to be answered satisfactorily.

Well, the real problem is quite simple, actually: To a Darwinist, there are no limits to what Darwinian evolution can do. Darwin's God - to borrow a phrase from Catholic Darwinist Ken Miller - is Darwinism. By nature, it is omnipotent. Thus, in Edge of Evolution, Behe blasphemed by offering ... doubt based on evidence.

Here is my review of the book.


Podcasts in the intelligent design controversy

If you would rather listen than read (or must do so):

From ID the Future (yes, yes, the evil Discos)

Academic Freedom Update: Where Are We in 2009?

Click here to listen.

On this episode of ID the Future, CSC's Casey Luskin gives listeners an update on what?s going on with academic freedom legislation around America. Academic freedom bills submitted in five states already this year, including Oklahoma, Iowa, New Mexico, Missouri and Alabama. Listen in to today?s podcast as Luskin explains how Darwinist opposition to the bills is showing why academic freedom legislation is necessary to protect teachers from a climate of intimidation.
Learn more and sign the Academic Freedom Petition at , and stay tuned to ID the Future and Evolution News & Views for continuing updates.


Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased Without Intelligence

Click here to listen.

On this episode of ID the Future, CSC's Robert Crowther highlights one of the foundational books of the theory of intelligent design. No Free Lunch, the sequel to mathematician and CSC senior fellow William Dembski?s Cambridge University Press book The Design Inference, explores key questions about the origin of specified complexity. No Free Lunch demonstrates that design theory shows great promise of providing insight in the field of evolutionary computation.

I would have thought this latter an old story myself. No Free Lunch appeared in 2002. It's a good read though, if you like statistical reasoning.

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