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May 15, 2005


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Oh, *snap*!

Well done. Very well done, crispy in fact.


This has got to be a spoof, right? The bit about two apes producing a modern human had me rolling! Wow!

Nicely done. I can't believe the man thinks hominid evolution is about two apes mating to form Adam, and other two, Eve.

Well, that about does it for me.

I used to give reporters a lot more credit, beliecving that they tazke the time to learn a little about the subject on which they were reporting.

Oh well, falacy debunked!

You missed something very interesting.

McNicoll clearly believes the sun revolves around the Earth.

Either that, or he left out a sentence about Galileo's persecutors being scientists. As it is, he compares heliocentric theory directly to leeching.

Woah there, Mad House. McNicoll isn't a journalist any more than ID defenders tend to be scientists. He writes for townhall.com (one step up from the Weekly World News, really). He pretends to be a journalist, but you're right: Any good journalist will take the time to learn a little about the subject on which they were reporting.

Now as to what percentage of the modern North American media are actually good journalists, well...

McNicoll didn't even come up with that ridiculous Galileo analogy. That goes way back to uber-creationist Duane Gish, who said:

"Three or four centuries ago, the notion that the sun and other planets revolved around the earth was the dogma of the scientific establishment. Galileo faced determined opposition from fellow astronomers when he suggested otherwise."

And that's today's episode of "Gratuitous Rewriting of History."

I can't believe the man thinks hominid evolution is about two apes mating to form Adam, and other two, Eve.

Indeed. Deeply, deeply dismayed.

Oh, and putting aside the fact that his condom use example was completely wrong, what kind of moron makes the leap from "I believe this group was correct about condom use" to "Therefore they might be right about the origins of the universe"?

These people are so stupid I want to weep.

Thanks for your comments everyone. FYI, I have been exchanging several emails with McNicoll (and a big tough friend of his), regarding this article. McNicoll’s emails are, if possible, more fallacy-ridden and with less actual content than his Townhall article. For example, he defends his apes-to-humans question, and actually thinks no one “even remotely took on the question”. (His friend just throws insults and profanities.) Neither of them has the guts to post a comment here, but I may reproduce the entire exchange, if anyone thinks it might be interesting.

Btw, you can email McNicoll here, and you can email his editor here.

Well, done, though I have one comment - you don't arrest his absurb claim "that people of faith have, for the most part, lined up on one side of the issue" - that is so completely untrue that it's not even funny. Globally only the extremists faithful have lined up with Creationism and Intelligent Design Creationism. Many of the major religious doctrines fully acknowledge evolution.

"Otherwise, open your minds and admit you have not answered all the relevant questions."

Brings to mind my favourite Dawkins quote,

"Of course we must be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out."

I vote to have the correspondence published on this site.

I would also like to read the e-mail exchange betwixt yourself and the IDiots.

OK, I'm going to set up a separate section for emails from idiots, hate mail, etc. Look out for it in a day or so.

What a great read Skeptico. Thanks for the chuckles, the thought provoking words, and the beauty of logic and reason. The fact that McNicoll's is a senior writer at the Heritage Foundation should give all free thinking folks a cause for celebraton. If that's the best that the "right" has to offer-----we have won.

Here is a recent dialog between me and Brian Mcnicoll, concerning his May 5 Column. It is , of course, in reverse order since it is replies to emails....

I am a science teacher in Phoenix.
I am not sure what you mean by "the math does not add up" for either side. As far as I know, there is not any quantitative evidence for any "intelligent designer".

The tale


of the man who claims his house was burgled was actually quite on the mark, in terms of what kind of evidence, direct or otherwise, is scientific.

As for Galileo, what put him away was the "holy" office of the inquisition, not the testimony of "leading scientists" (the ones that were chosen by prosecutor). Of course the proceedings were rigged, but somehow you seem to dismiss that fact. In Galileo's time, the "leading scientists" were not even referred to as such. They were alchemists, theologians, astrologers, and the like. Those who were "scientific" did not have the benefit of training in the methods of modern science (the scientific method) which Galileo himself did much to develop. To equate those early religious scholars and superstitious dabblers in alchemy to today's scientists is illogical, and on top of that I don't know of very many specific individual examples of scientists (of the millions today and recent history) "protecting their theories to their last breath regardless of what gets thrown against them."

Indeed, without the scientific process of peer review, innumerable dubious hypotheses could get passed on to the public by journalists and columnists: "cold fusion" comes to mind.

Even great names like Einstein have admitted the deficiencies of their explanations, leaving always the door open for future investigators to expand or refute their claims.

It does not matter how hard a scientist or theologian clings to his hypothesis. That is his problem. What matters is what is generally accepted as the best explanation.

Indeed, sometimes when a scientist truly believes in an idea, in spite of contradictory evidence, it can lead to some very good science in his effort to prove his view, or disprove the opposing view. Case in point: Michaelson's refusal to accept Einstein's hypothesis about the photoelectric effect led him to conduct incredibly accurate measurements of the effect and he not only confirmed Einstein but attained perhaps the best experimental measurements of Plank's constant. Both men won the Nobel Prize: Einstein for the theory, and Michealson for the experiments.

Later, Einstein would not accept (until much later) the tenets of quantum theory, but even a giant of his scientific stature could not impede the tide of evidence (indirect!) that changed the way we view physics and the universe itself.

That is science, not journalism, superstition, or politics.

I don't know who you were referring to, but any scientist alone is a minor factor in the entire process.

Undoubtedly, in science egos and self-interest play a role in the human equation, but how much more so in journalism, superstition, and politics! And in plane of science, the influence of ego and faith will eventually be worn away by the relentless action of review and revision by the community of scientists.

Even if, as you assert, "Too often, their response to challenge is not to see what needs correcting but to ridicule the challenger" it does not change the way the scientific community sees the evidence, and besides, "sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me" still holds true. In other words, most scientists could not care less if you called them names.

Regarding what I teach, this question is not tough at all. We do not deal in the supernatural. If something has some evidence, we talk about it. If there is no evidence, it does not come up. If there is sufficient contradictory evidence, we reject the hypothesis.

The day evidence for ID is presented, is sufficient, and can be tested or contradicted (at least hypothetically) then I would be happy to discuss it in the science class.

Best wishes,
Eric Heim

From: Heim, Eric
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 11:43 AM

Subject: FW: Townhall Comment: odd choice , May 5 2005 column

From: McNicoll, Brian
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 11:10 AM
To: Heim, Eric
Subject: RE: Townhall Comment: odd choice , May 5 2005 column

I'm not an ID guy. The math doesn't any more work for that than it does for the other.
And if you read what happened to Galileo, there was a trial at which all the leading scientists of the day testified against him. Maybe it was just as rigged a trial as this thing in Kansas, but it was the scientists whose testimony put him away.
As for the self-correcting notion ... I wish I shared the faith in human nature that you have. I see scientists protecting their theories to their last breath regardless of what gets thrown against them. Too often, their response to challenge is not to see what needs correcting but to ridicule the challenger. That was the point of the Galileo thing ... those guys were scientists. Someone came along that questioned their comfortable notions. What did the church know of all this? Nothing. It asked the scientists. "He can't be right," they said. "We've measured all this. We know he's wrong. We know he's blaspheming." And off to house arrest or whatever he went.
I take it from your email address that you're a teacher. Do you teach science? What do you tell your kids about all this? Seriously, I want to know. I'm curious what happens on the front line of this debate. Teachers are in a tough spot trying not to sell religion or anti-religion, which is what drives a lot of this controversy.
But thanks for reading and responding. Really.
-----Original Message-----
From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 1:52 PM
To: McNicoll, Brian
Subject: Townhall Comment: odd choice , May 5 2005 column

It is the self-correcting nature of science that sets it apart from religion. Odd choice of examples: the fact that we don't use leeches to treat colds, because there was no evidence that it works. Even today medical practices are revised, improved or rejected based on evidence. When was the last time the bible was revised? People continue to pray even though there is no consistent evidence that it does any measurable good. Galileo was persecuted by religeous leaders, not scientists. If you new anything about science or history you would have known that! It both encourages and dismays me to see how ingnorant proponents of creationism or "I.D." are.

As requested, I paste below the email exchange I had with Brian McNicoll. I was going to post it with some further comments, but I decided it wasn’t really worth it. I think McNicoll’s posts speak for themselves.

Note: The bolded items are questions I asked McNicoll arising from his emails, that he has never answered. Unanswered questions are a pretty good sign of cluelessness and/or intellectual dishonesty.

Mr McNicoll:

I read your "A little humility please" piece. I was amazed - it was one of the most ill informed pieces, with the most fallacious reasoning, I have ever read on this subject, and that's saying something. I wrote about your article here: (with a link)

Please feel free to debate my points by leaving a comment there, if you wish.

McNicoll, Brian wrote:

I read this skeptico thing. It's absolutely hilarious. Thanks for sending it. Is this for a class or something?

To: McNicoll, Brian

I'm glad you found it amusing. It was inevitable given the hilarious material I was critiquing.

I take it you can't refute any of the points I made, then?

McNicoll, Brian wrote:

You ARE kidding now, right? You don't really want to be "refuted," do you?

To: McNicoll, Brian

Up to you.

McNicoll, Brian wrote:

I'm in the middle of a bunch of stuff, but, sure, why not. The one thing I will take the time to take on now is this business about the straw man. These guys did declare the matter closed. They did refuse to debate. They did refuse to listen to anyone. I'm sure they had their reasons and I'm sure you endorsed them, but there is no question I represented their actions accurately.

But what puzzled me about this is that if you're so down on straw men, why did you erect one yourself? You're talking about MY story, but you go on and on about intelligent design and painting me as an intelligtent design advocate. There's not a word in my piece that endorses intelligent design as I understand it. One of the top guys from the Discovery Institute, the ID think tank in Seattle, was here a few weeks ago, and I went to hear him. One of our number crunchers here crushed him over chance, which the ID people dismiss. But the argument he used ... that the more chances occur, the more likely the outcomes we can observe today are to materialize ... rubs out your guys. As the number cruncher pointed out, for that many chances to have occurred, the world would have to be much older than any serious scientist estimates today. Darwin was aware of and wrote about this problem. Of course, like you say, we know a lot more now than we did then.

Other than that, start off by reading this. You'll probably need help with a lot of the big words. I don't necessarily endorse every dot and tittle of this, but at least the guy has put some thought into it and tracked down others who have as well.

(Skeptico notes: McNicoll pasted a piece of ridiculous screed that I will paste in a separate comment. I defy anyone to read it.)

To: McNicoll, Brian

They refused to debate because there is no point debating with people who have no alternative explanation other than "we think it is too complicated to have happened like that", no evidence at all, and a conclusion they have already reached despite whatever comes up in the debate. That is nothing like saying all issues are settled. That's why it was a straw man.

Science is decided by presenting evidence to peer reviewed journals. If the ID proponents want their "theory" (which it isn't) to be accepted as science, they will have to provide the evidence. In other words, they need to do science. Science is not decided by lawyers in court. That is not a way for honest inquiry.

As for intelligent design, you are defending the ID proponents' position, and criticizing that of evolutionary scientists. Sounds to me like you're advocating ID.

I'm not sure what you mean by the likely outcomes of chance "rubbing out" my guys. I think you are saying that life could not have evolved to the level it has by chance. Of course, this is correct, but evolution is not based on chance, it is evolution through natural selection. Natural selection is not chance. So I would say this did not rub out any evolutionists.

I will read the article you attached, although I note at the start he claims evolution is not scientific (by which I think he means it can't be tested, or something). He is just hopelessly wrong on this, and so I am dubious the rest of it will be of much use. But I will read it. But if you want to refute any of my criticisms you will have to do it yourself, not just point to someone else's work and say "read this".

My site takes comments, btw. Please feel free to comment there.

McNicoll, Brian wrote:

To the "scientists" in Kansas, there's no point debating because they're never going to listen to anyone who doesn't do what your friends on your little site do and tell each other how smart they all are. They can't be bothered because there are people in that room who, gasp, are not convinced that they are the have-all and know-all on this topic. They can't stand a little disagreement, and they certainly can't refute it. All they do is lecture us on the scientific method, as if these guys would bother to show up without having had all their stuff peer-reviewed as well.

That's the deal about the thing I sent you ... all those people had their stuff peer-reviewed. All of them site other sources and findings. He's got big-time, imporanto, well-educated, non-backwoods-religiously crazed folks backing him. They looked at the evidence, and it didn't happen to lead them to thecomfortable conclusions that have been shoved down your throat ... successfully. All of them take observable phenomena, attempt to measure what's going on and present where they think the evidence leads. Ye olde scientific method.

But since they don't present what you present, you and your little friends on your little web site just sit around and say, "Ha. What an idiot. This guy doesn't even know he's supposed to realize we're brilliant and just accept what we say and pay all allegiance, always, to the always correct scientific method. (see leeches; Galileo, ec.) Read all about it in the latest peer-review journal."

Which is the sole point I was trying to make. These guys ... and your friends ... are never going to even have a clue how far off they are because all they do is sit in a circle and behold how remarkably brilliant they all are.

It's like the question I posed in there about the two apes. All you and your friends who wrote in said it was a ridiculous question. The wording of the responses is eerily similar. It's like y'all got together in a little room and worked this out. But not one of you ... not a single one ... even remotely took on the question. Today, I got one response from a woman who said she was an atheist scientist ... I didn't necessarily buy what she said, but I have to respect her because she alone took on the question. She didn't demean it. She didn't attack me personally. She just said she didn't think it had to be as I had posited and explained why.

To: McNicoll, Brian

Wow, so many words yet so little of substance.

Scientists (not “scientists”) will listen to anyone who has evidence. That’s how science works. Science is driven by disagreement – scientists try their hardest to disprove each other on the basis that what is left standing has a pretty good chance of being correct.

The ID proponents, OTOH, have NO EVIDENCE – just incredulity that it could have happened like that. (That’s argument from ignorance, btw. Another logical fallacy.) They have nothing but a series of (debunked) criticisms of evolution. ID has nothing to do with science. If IDers were really looking to do science they wouldn’t be introducing legislation or sponsoring debates with lawyers to have their theory taught along side evolution as an alternative theory. They would be making their case in science journals and working to find evidence to convince their peers of the validity of their ideas. In other words they would be doing science. But the IDers aren’t interested in science. They are interested in theology. They don’t have the evidence to convince their peers so they would rather convince ignorant or religiously motivated politicians and “journalists” (you) so they can have their pseudo scientific crap taught to school children who lack sufficient grounding in science to be able to distinguish real science from bad theology.

I’ll give you an example. When the theory of continental drift was first introduced, it was widely rejected because no one had any idea how a continent could drift. But those who supported the idea didn’t run crying to their state legislators to demand that continental drift be taught to school children as an alternative geology theory, and they did not demand “debates” where they would present their new theory in court. They did what real scientist do: they listened to their critics and sought to find answers to the objections that were raised. Eventually continental drift (in the form of plate tectonics) became widely accepted and today it is found in most high school science texts, not because some idiot journalist thought it was correct but because the weight of evidence convinced the scientific community that it was correct.

This is how science is done and if the IDers have a problem with that then they may as well stop pretending to be scientists.

Still, you say the ID people have had their stuff peer reviewed? OK, please provide the cites.

The long (un-attributed) piece of screed you cut and pasted is too absurd, too full of holes for me to even bother with. If you have any original thoughts of your own, please present them.

As for your apes giving birth to a human – it was a stupid point because scientists don’t say it happened like that. However, you asked for the missing link and I provided you with a series of 14 sculls, and a link to talk.origins. And yet you say “But not one of you ... not a single one ... even remotely took on the question”. You are either very stupid, too lazy to read what I wrote or just dishonest. So I suggest you look at that link and reply to me about it, OR stop playing crybaby victim.

Oh, and do keep up the snide “little site” etc. ad Hominems. It doesn’t bother me one bit, but every time you do this, you merely demonstrate you don’t have any real arguments to put forward. Not that we needed any more demonstrations of this.

McNicoll, Brian wrote:

More of same. Thanks, Richard. You have proven my point yet again. You and your friends will keep changing the words and the definitions until it comes out like you like and responding to ALL holes in your theory with, "it's just incredulity." Yes, you have what you must consider a coherent answer to the very narrow questions you have chosen to take on. But you have no clue what the discussion in Kansas is even about.

Skulls is not the answer to how people got here who had the capacity for higher reason. You may think so. Your link may think so. But you are missing the point, which is the root of the whole argument and why people worry about what gets taught on evolution and not continental drift. This is not about molecules. This is not about wolves adapting to their environments or plant life coming up from the primordial ooze. If it makes you feel any better, I stipulate on all that. What we're talking about here is this: Apes begat apes begat apes begat apes. Go to Africa or wherever today, and that's still going on. As your skull thing points out -- I think -- some of those apes began moving closer to what we are now. But they were APES. None of them, nor any of their desecendents, are in any way responsible for the internet, ethics, religion, diplomacy, the interstate highway system, health care, nuclear weapons, grade-school math, the scopes on rifles, the internal combustion engine or any of its likely progenitors. They couldn't be. Their descendents are still where they were going all the way back to your very first skull. And we're here. Arguing like morons over a computer.

A separate organism clearly capable of FAR MORE than the last, or I guess next-to-last skull on your list did all this.

How did this occur? I have my beliefs, but I freely acknowledge that they are just that ... beliefs. And that's all you have is beliefs. Because neither of us were there.

To: McNicoll, Brian

No, no words or definitions were being changed by me – I’ve been consistent throughout.

You, OTOH, asked for the missing link. Your exact words were:

Show me how this could’ve occurred, shoe (sic) me the “missing link,” and I’m foursquare on your side.

Are you now asking a different question? Wait, that would be “changing the words and the definitions until it comes out like you like”. Can’t be. OK then, please tell me what do you think is missing.

Also, please tell me, what is the discussion in Kansas about, if I don’t have a clue about it.

We know our DNA is 98% the same as a chimp’s. So here’s another question – what do you think is the magic barrier stopping apes from evolving into humans? Why “couldn't” (your word) this happen. It is your claim that “They couldn't be”. Why not? Please back-up your claim.

I accept evolution because of the evidence. You have a “belief” in something else (is it ID? You claim not. What do you believe?) Oh and as for the “neither of us were there” fallacy, please read this and then please tell me why you have to witness something directly for it to be more than a “belief”.

McNicoll, Brian wrote:

It's like the leeches thing ... should we have kept using leeches till we found a cure for the flu? That would've sucked ... since we still haven't found a cure for the flu. But we stopped using leeches when we discovered they were bad.

You have "accepted evolution ..." even though you don't seem to know what it means ... probably because that's about as far as you can take this. You have yet to even begin to comprehend what I'm talking about. We're not even arguing about the same things. Which sort of says to me that you're never going to get it, and I shouldn't waste any more time on it.

Enjoy the rest of your life, sir.

To: McNicoll, Brian

How quaint. You’re trying to put me down now by claiming I don’t even understand what you’re talking about – I’m “never going to get it”, etc. This latest “argument” of yours is just lame. But since you have been unable to refute any of my points, I guess that’s all you have left. It’s known as raising a red herring, btw. (Where would you be without logical fallacies to fall back on?)

Actually I get it perfectly. I understand the huge amounts of evidence there is for evolution. I also understand that evolution’s opponents can only criticize evolution using many of the discredited and debunked arguments you used. I also understand they don’t have a shred of evidence themselves. That’s because they don’t have any explanation but “we don’t know what happened so goddidit”. And I debunked your silly leeches example. We stopped using leeches because scientists examined the evidence and found there was none that leeches worked. Scientists also found evidence for germ theory. That’s why. People with your “god must have intervened” worldview would never have discovered germ theory. Your approach is a dead end.

You would know all this if you bothered to try and educate yourself on this subject before you made a fool of yourself. But you’re more interested in promoting ignorance. Since you do not have the capacity to respond to my thorough debunking of your infantile piece, I guess this exchange is probably at an end. Please note that this correspondence was in direct response to, and with full knowledge of my Skeptico article, and all these blog-related emails between us are possible material to be published in a future issue of Skeptico.

McNicoll, Brian wrote:

What point am I supposed to refute? That you're clueless. Everything you have written me has proven it. I just don't know where I'd step into that argument. You ARE clueless.

You think you "debunked" my leeches example? When? Where? Saying what? That scientists discovered leeches didn't work? This actually is not true. DOCTORS discovered it. You say all I do is criticize evolution and offer nothing in its place. Again, using the leeches example, do we just keep using leeches till we have a cure for the flu? There is still no cure for the flu. So, according to you and your little friends, we ought to still be using leeches because we haven't replaced them with a cure to the flu. Talk about your dead-end approaches.

Besides, I didn't criticize evolution. Natural selection, species adapting to their environments. As I've explained at least twice, I stipulate to that. Grab a dictionary and look up that word. Make sure you understand it. Or ask an adult. Because it's important.

That's what makes this so hard for you to understand. The big words are killing you. I criticized people who failed to stand up for their beliefs. And that's what they are whether you like it or not given that none of us were there. My criticism is of smugness ... of people who are convinced all the evidence points their way because they find in their little blogs and whatnot acceptance of their views. You can find acceptance of any view if you do enough blogging or trolling for blogs.

You continue to mischaracterize what I say because it's all you can do. You can't -- oh God, here I go -- refute what I say. So you change it, move the target, shoot at the target you erected. There is no reason to respond to your debunking because you have not made a single point that I need to respond to. Not one.

Now, leave it alone, little boy. I'm an adult. With work to do. Go back to your room and play/blog with the other little boys. You're just ignorant and angry and mad at God or something. None of that involves me.

To: McNicoll, Brian

Ooooh, which one of us is angry? Thank you for your rants btw. I love it when people go off the rails like that: you have provided me with much material.

Clearly you and your boyfriend David Benson have never played with the grown-ups before. You are both sad angry little men without a clue. Nothing but insults from both of you. Well, you both made it to my hall of fame for dickheads. The first ones there, actually. Congratulations. Please, carry on pretending to be a journalist at Townhall.com, but know you have been rumbled by numerous bloggers smarter than you (not that that’s saying much). You’re a laughing stock.

McNicoll, Brian wrote:

By the by, I finally got around to reading the guy from Canada. Dave sent me the link. that was cute. Off point, but cute.

See comment above.

The following is what Brian McNicoll pasted at the end of his first email. I gave up reading it at the point where it claimed “no basic evolutionary claim qualifies as "scientific" under this accepted criteria of "empirical" science”, followed by details of a $1,000 challenge (you read that right), made to leading evolutionary authorities.

Prepare to be amazed.

Dear Mr. Koppel, Jan. 26, 2005

Your Jan. 13, ’05 "Nightline" show on how "evolution" might best be taught in public schools (Dover, Penn.) missed a golden opportunity to shed light where light is needed. During it I couldn’t help but recall your co-commentator Chris Bury’s "closing thought" just three days prior (Jan. 10th). Here, to avoid adding further to "Journalism’s Black Eye", he reminded journalists of the importance of checking the reliability of all second-hand sources by quoting the memorable newsroom sign, "If your mother says she loves you – check it out." Good advice, and prompting this letter.

To share with you, your staff and others seeking to resolve (as opposed to merely perpetuating it) this dichotomy, we provide a bit of background apparently not considered in your analysis. For convenience of future reference, they are enumerated below:

1) Any serious (non-superficial) examination quickly reveals ALL significant conflict in the creation/evolution (C/E) controversy is traceable more to poor, careless or slippery semantics, than to any scientific disagreement. Indeed, there is no disagreement between evolutionists and non-evolutionists (creationists) over any observation or conclusion reflecting the Baconian scientific method. This proof-method, as universally taught in introductory scientific instruction for over 100 years, is the "default" criteria by which relative scientific certainty is determined. Often referenced as "empirical", "physical", "inductive" or "hard" science. (Note: "proof" in this usage refers not to an absolute truth, but to a "scientific-proof" reflecting the closest one can come to "truth" by application of the specific validity-checking criteria prescribed.)

2) You and your staff ignore (or appear unaware) that no basic evolutionary claim qualifies as "scientific" under this accepted criteria of "empirical" science. Should there be any doubt about this, do know that a $1,000 challenge made to leading evolutionary authorities (in 1969 by Dr. John J. Grebe, Dir. of Basic Research; Dow Chemical Co.) for any first such example remains open and uncollected to this day. On what basis then, can you identify "evolution" as "scientific" when not a single basic tenant of the concept has been, or can be experimentally confirmed?

3) Academically, there are two major categories of investigation: 1. PHILOSOPHICAL issues where conclusions are mentally established, and where century-long discourse is both expected and accepted. And 2. SCIENTIFIC issues where resolution is determined by an identified scientific method. Here, thanks to clearly stated precise criteria of judgment, answers are more promptly obtained – usually in less than two years, or the time it takes for a skeptic to duplicate the claim in question. (Cold-fusion being a recent typical example).

"Another aspect is insight versus verification. One may have a bright idea and develop an explanation, model, or hypothesis. If one can verify it within a year or so, it is science. If one needs 10 years and has a ‘good’ reputation, it may still be considered science even before verification. But if one needs 50 years or more to improve the methodologies needed to verify it, is it science, philosophy, or speculation?" (FRONTIER PERSPECTIVES; Fall/Winter 1991; Pg. 6)

That this controversy remains unresolved for over 100 years raises real question as to the proclaimed "scientific" status of "evolution". Is it valid "science" or questionable "philosophy"? While evolutionists cite the "default" Baconian scientific method as sufficient to censor non-evolutionary explanations from textbooks or classroom discussion, they do not (see following) subject their own interpretations to this same rigorous criteria. Indeed, if this single unjustifiable double-standard of judgment were corrected, most all controversy would be quickly resolved.

4) That this misunderstanding has festered so long is due in major part to the turning over of its consideration and resolution to well-meaning, but only minimally scientifically qualified, school board members, journalists, legislators, lawyers, judges, teachers, parents, and even TV commentators. Their inability to knowledgably differentiate science from non-science is understandable, reflecting their questionable early instruction compounded by similarly obfuscating popular media presentations. Most folks have neither the time nor interest to keep abreast of the ongoing flood of discovery, discussion and disagreement in this field over past decades. Lacking such background it is impossible for them to understand, much less make intelligent decisions, in this regard. They (you) are totally dependent upon blind acceptance of opinions and interpretations from others, who may or may not be, worthy of such trust.

5) The effective approach to resolve this question would be to apply the first step in the familiar Baconian scientific method (Empirical science). Namely, State the problem in clear and unambiguous language. This to direct attention of all to the same crucial aspects of the problem being investigated and not misled by semantic bias or deceit. This requires that all terms used convey a mutually understood meaning. Within the creation/evolution dichotomy, this is not the case (and is the cause of most all controversy). Evolutionary authors have long substituted little recognized multiple meanings for everyday words as "science", "evolution", "fact", "religion", etc. Whether carelessly or purposefully, this introducing unnecessary "unknowns" into the dialog as it forces the public to "guess" the author’s intended meaning. This being recognized by evolutionists as here illustrated.

"An important operational rule is that each word in a scientific statement must carry exactly the same meaning to all scientists, at least to all who practice in a given field or area of science. This rule requires that all words be precisely defined. Scientists must be very fussy about definitions even if that seems painful to others."… [Dr. A. N. Strahler; SCIENCE AND EARTH HISTORY; Prometheus Books; 1987; Pg. 6]

6) Next, we need to agree upon what constitutes a proper definition. We offer the following. Should you disagree, please share the alternate defining criteria you prefer.

DEFINITION (default meaning, scientific context)

An unambiguous statement of meaning for a word or phrase. This requires a precise statement of the criteria both necessary and sufficient to differentiate the term from all other words, particularly from its opposites.

The marginal quality of undergraduate science instruction now in question is well revealed by the inability of graduates, both past and present, to effectively define (or understand) basic terms. Take a moment right now -- jot down the criteria you accept as "necessary and sufficient" to so define "science", "fact", "evolution", and "religion". Most find themselves at a loss to do so – typically able to only offer imprecise (ambiguous) criteria insufficient to differentiate these terms from similar, or even opposite, words. Fortunately such problem-causing semantic vagueness can be corrected by requiring authors and publishers to spell out (in context and Glossary) the precise criteria they in defining these (and other) key terms. It appears scientific authors may have been so challenged to keep up with the rapid growth of new discovery in their specialized fields that training in basic semantics and communication skills has suffered – allowing such imprecision (and resultant misunderstanding) to regularly appear in their writings. Confirmed by the following.

"So many current evolutionary metaphors are superficial dichotomizations that come from false clarities of language. They do not beget but preclude scientific understanding." (Pg. 17)

"In short, much of the modern evolutionist’s (not the quaint darwinist’s) terminology should be abandoned. Both in popular culture and especially in the scientific ‘evolutionary biology’ subculture, the terminology is not scientific, but misleading to the point of being destructive. Honest critics of the evolutionary way of thinking who have emphasized problems with biologist’s dogma and their undefinable terms are often dismissed as if they were Christian fundamentalist zealots or racial bigots." (Pg. 18) [Dr. Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan; ACQUIRING GENOMES: A Theory of the Origins of Species; Basic Books --- 2002] --- [By a leading evolutionary theorist whom E. O. Wilson calls "one of the most successful synthetic thinkers in modern biology."]

7) When considering definitions one need recognize that nouns (most key terms) can express a number of significantly different meanings depending upon the context in which they appear. One starts with the default definition, which is the broader, universally taught, larger conceptual meaning --- and to which separate descriptive adjectives must be added (often as prefix or suffix) to unambiguously establish the specific meaning intended by the author.

Example ---SCIENCE (in its broader default meaning) typically means: "Man’s best efforts to establish the cause-and-effect relationships involved in all observable real world phenomenon, to a compelling level of certainty." It is the great respect associated with the phrase "compelling certainty" that makes authors so inclined to identify personal interpretation of evidence as "scientific" … seeking to enjoy the appearance of validity, or even "fact", which they know such association semantically implies.

But additional proof-method criteria must be specified if one is to distinguish the different degree of relative certainty actually merited within the many different methods or branches of "science" encountered in the field. Several common descriptive modifiers (adjectives) are listed below, along with the distinguishing proof-test criteria associated therewith.

--- Empirical-science (default) = requires physical duplication, demonstrability (Bacon’s scientific method).

--- Mathematical-science = physically untested; requires successful mathematical modeling.

--- Theoretical-science = physically untested mental conclusions congruent with well-tested scientific theory.

--- Hypothetico-Deductive = physically untested mental deductions based upon select axioms or precepts.

--- Historical Narrative-science = physically untested conclusions drawn from historical interpretations.

The below modifiers identify a few select fields (self-imposed limits) embraced by researchers with specialized interests. None, by name alone, convey or imply any degree of scientific certainty in their statements or conclusions. Such relative certainty can only be established by application of some identified proof-method (as above) -- with relative degree roughly in the descending order listed.

--- Mechanistic science = self-limited to consideration of undirected matter/energy interactions only.

--- Biological-science = self-limited to biological matters.

--- Evolutionary-science = self-limited to unguided evolutionary explanations for life and its diversity.

--- Creation-science = examines and considers both chance & intelligent explanations for life’s diversity.

--- Paleontology-science = Self-limited to Paleontological (fossil skeleton) studies.

--- Pseudo- or Fictional-science = Dependent only upon scientific sounding language. No test-criteria apply.

--- Etc., etc., etc.

From this, it is meaningless (deceptive) to claim that "evolution" is "scientific" without identifying the specific sub-type of "science" by which it is qualified. Where no such criteria is specified, the more rigorous "default" criteria ("Empirical science") is automatically presumed (and which, to this date, has not been successfully met by any basic evolutionary explanation.)

"Default" empirical science merits further clarification. Here, experimental/physical confirmation by the Baconian scientific method is required. This inductive approach is both rigorous and restrictive – and purposefully selected as man’s most effective way to minimize (avoid) human weaknesses as mental error, bias, emotion, omission, deceit, etc. that often creep into non-physical explanations. This is also frequently referenced as "physical", "inductive", or "hard" science and supports the view that you cannot really know something scientifically until you understand it well enough to duplicate it.

8) Years of prior classroom obfuscation makes it difficult for the trusting (or naïve) public to recognize that "evolution" is "scientific" on the basis of some proof-test criteria other than the taught and accepted "default" Baconian scientific method. These lesser methods typically being little taught Hypothetico-Deductive or Historical Narrative science or even the evolutionist’s inside joke – Just-So Stories. Though little mentioned in undergraduate classrooms or the popular media, these "methods" are freely, openly and often critically discussed in smaller circulation specialized technical journals and advanced texts. Even here however, they invariably fail to address the far lesser degree of relative certainty achievable by their vaguely defined criteria. These being often referenced as "mental", "deductive" or "soft" sciences.

"During the 50 year life of The American Biology Teacher there has been a change in the general view of method in biological science. A brief look at this change and its possible consequences for biological education may interest those who are searching for ways to improve education at the high school and college levels. The change was from descriptive biology to hypothetico-deductive (HD) biology, that is, to theoretical biology. [Dr. Ralph Lewis, Prof. Emeritus Biology; Mich. St. Univ.,; "Biology: A Hypothetico-Deductive Science; in THE AMERICAN BIOLOGY TEACHER; Vol. 50; No. 6; 1988; Pg. 362] --- [If any among your contacts are able to describe the validity-establishing proof-method applied in (HD) science – how this weeds out human "error, bias or deceit" commonly found in its conclusions – please ask where such information is available to (shared with) the public, and let me know.]

"Scientists who investigate these historical areas of knowledge need to adopt specialized views of science. Be prepared for exposure to an unfamiliar set of notions of what science is and how it works." [Dr. A. N . Strahler; SCIENCE AND EARTH HISTORY; Prometheus Books; 1987; Pg.6] --- [But with no detailed criteria or proof-method set forth.]

"…evolution is the backbone of biology and biology is thus in the peculiar position of being a science founded on unproven theory. Is it then a science or a faith? Belief in the theory of evolution is thus exactly parallel to belief in special creation. Both are concepts which the believers know to be true, but neither, up to the present, has been capable of proof."[ L.H. Matthews, in his invited "Introduction to Origin of the Species, by Charles Darwin (1971 edition), pp. x,] --- [Evolution pre-supposes the existence of some yet to be scientifically identified natural Law duplicating the capabilities of intelligence. While creation and Intelligent Design consider the possibility of some yet to be scientifically identified non-mechanistic source of intelligence as best explaining the information generating and transmitting content definitive of life.]

"We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of the failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." [Dr. Richard Lewontin; THE NEW YORK REVIEW; Jan. 1997; Pg. 31] --- [Materialism is a self-imposed metaphysical, philosophical belief-system. It has not, and cannot be, scientifically established. As such, it has no basis limiting scientific investigation in public school classrooms.]

I have come to the conclusion that Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research programme-a possible framework for testable scientific theories." [Popper K.R., "Unended Quest, 1982, p168] --- [This statement got Dr. Popper in big trouble with his evolutionary peers. He finally "recanted" to the extent that natural selection (not evolution) may be scientific -- which served to pacify his more irate critics.]

In biology, as several other people have shown, and I totally agree with them, there are no natural laws in biology corresponding to the natural laws of the physical sciences. [Ernst Mayr; Scientific American; The Evolution of Ernst: Interview with Ernst Mayr; 7/6/04] --- [Look again at the authors quoted within this letter. I urge you to read their writings to better understand that there really is a legitimate scientific controversy about how evolution is (and has been) taught in public schools. Most agree that science is NOT determined by majority vote – it is determined by independent validation -- where one experiment is worth more than 1,000 contrary opinions.]

"Science, on the other hand, demands that ideas be tested and verified by evidence. If the evidence found in nature doesn’t fit the idea, the idea is incorrect." … "Science, however, requires that all explanations be testable and may be wrong. If an explanation is not testable in this way, then it should not be taught in the science curriculum of our public schools." [National Center for Science Education – N.C.S.E.; Pamphlet EDUCATION AND CREATIONISM DON’T MIX; Undated ~1980] --- [The N.C.S.E. is an outspoken (deceptive?) supporter of evolution – They talk Baconian science to the trusting public, but $1,000 still awaits any first testable explanation, which they cannot produce.]

"Science necessarily rejects certainty and predicates acceptance of a concept on objective testing and the possibility of continual revision. The claims of the creationists are unverifiable (or unfalsifiable) and, hence, inherently unscientific." [E. Peter Volpe; SCIENCE AS A WAY OF KNOWING; "The Shame of Science Education"; American Zoologist; 1984; Pg. 434] --- [Creationists advance the "testable" claim that intelligence is able to generate, translate and transfer intricately coded information far beyond the capability of chance alone. In light of the above evolutionary position, should not their "untestable" mechanisms necessarily be categorized as "inherently unscientific"?]

9) These last two excerpts well illustrate the "trade secret of evolution". This being only one of several "double-standards" evolutionist’s apply in judging creationary explanations. They teach the rigorous criteria of "empirical science" in their textbooks, citing it as requiring non-evolutionary interpretations be excluded/censored from classroom consideration. But, conveniently substitute the less rigorous (and less well understood) criteria of Hypothetico-Deductive or Historical Narrative science (see above) to qualify their own favored positions as "scientific". Once "evolution" is more properly presented as a fascinating "hypothesis" or a "physically untested theory" worthy of further study, scientific education about evolution, rather than semantic indoctrination into evolution would expand with exciting new enthusiasm and vigor in the classroom.

"The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology – we fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very processes we profess to study." [Dr. Stephen Jay Gould; NATURAL HISTORY; MAY 1977; Pg. 14] ---[This being another interesting "trade secret" held by "true students" (self-identified) of evolution generally unshared with undergraduate or tax-paying public.]

10) Next let’s examine the word "EVOLUTION". If you have not been regularly keeping abreast of developments in this field, you will find this even more troublesome thanks to the overlapping changes and obfuscating language used in textbooks over the past 50 years. Prior to the 1950s, the best science could do to define this term were generalities as "change over time", "descent with modification", "survival of the fittest", etc. This describing (not defining) their presumed ancestral relationship between major life-forms. At this time, another term VARIATION was widely accepted in describing the smaller changes observable within species (still very loosely defined).

11) It was during this period that Dr. Crick unraveled the complex double-helix genetic code of DNA. Now, for the first time, scientists came to recognize the key role played by genetic code (DNA) in life and its development. 1) That 100% of all observable physical growth is (must be) first genetically coded within the gene pool. 2) That this information, while considerable (allowing for variation and adaptation as in the hundreds of dog breeds from initial feral canine gene pool in only a few thousand years), is limited. 3) Thus, any changes (unlimited) not pre-existent in a gene pool, as scales replacing feathers or fins by legs, NEW properly coded genetic instructions must somehow arise/appear within the gene pool.

"The gene pool is what gradually evolves." [Oram, Hummer, Smoot; BIOLOGY: LIVING SYSTEMS; Teachers edition; Merrill Publishing; 1976; Pg. 276] ---

12) VARIATION, the original term of longstanding use, described all limited changes now recognized as resulting from picking and sorting of proteins and assembly sequences already coded in the gene pool. This comparable to the "reading" (translating, applying) of pre-existing DNA coded genetic instructions. This process is physically demonstrable, and therefore empirically scientific.

13) EVOLUTION, (after Crick’s discovery) was long defined by seven (7) specific criteria:

1) A mechanistic process by which 2) random changes (mutations, etc.) in a 3) pre-existing gene pool, 4) acted upon by natural selection 5) accumulates over successive generations to 6)produce new (previously non-existing) genetic code (DNA) 7) as required for any new (evolutionary significant) organs or features measurably increasing the viability (fecundity) of the earlier gene pool.

14) As terms MICRO-EVOLUTION and MACRO-EVOLUTION were introduced and/or popularized, these replacement terms unfortunately introduced unnecessary confusion by blurring (semantically, not scientifically) the distinction between these two identified (but different) processes.

15) MACRO-EVOLUTION (formerly EVOLUTION) is still defined by the same seven (7) criteria above. This differentiated from "variation" as it requires the "writing" (beneficially changing or incrementally adding) of previously non-existent properly coded DNA instructions (by random mutations acted upon by natural selection). This is not physically testable, and therefore not empirically scientific.

MACRO-EVOLUTION (or) EVOLUTION ="Process of change with time during successive generations among living things." [Oram, Hummer, Smoot; BIOLOGY: LIVING SYSTEMS; Teacher’s Edition; Merrill; 1978; Pg. 675] --- [This is a description, NOT a definition. Fails to include new knowledge OR criteria differentiating it from "extinction", "selective breeding", "genetic engineering" or other degrading, or intelligently directed changes.]

MACRO-EVOLUTION (or) EVOLUTION is often loosely defined as "Large-scale transformation of the characteristics of organisms that take place usually over thousands or millions of years." [Prof. Robert B. Eckhardt; THE STUDY OF HUMAN EVOLUTION; McGraw-Hill; 1979; Pg. 580] ---[Ditto above. So broad as to be too imprecise to allow any meaningful "scientific" testing. Totally avoids mention of necessity of the addition of new genetic code.]

MACRO-EVOLUTION (or) EVOLUTION = "I well remember how the synthetic theory [of evolution] beguiled me with its unifying power when I was a graduate student in the mid-1960's. Since then I have been watching it slowly unravel as a universal description of evolution.....I have been reluctant to admit it--since beguiling is often forever--but if Mayr's characterization of the synthetic theory is accurate, then that theory, as a general proposition, is effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy." [Gould, Stephen J.; Paleobiology, Vol.6, 1980, Pg. 120] --- [Those championing the synthetic explanation differ just as widely with Dr. Gould’s punctuated equilibria – and for the same reasons. Neither can be demonstrated to perform as postulated.]

MACRO-EVOLUTION (or) EVOLUTION ="An increasing number of scientists, most particularly a growing number of evolutionists … argue that Darwinian evolutionary theory is no genuine scientific theory at all … Many of the critics have the highest intellectual credentials." [Michael Ruse; NEW SCIENTIST; "Darwin’s Theory: An Exercise in Science"; June 23, 1981; Pg. 828]

MACRO-EVOLUTION (or) EVOLUTION ="—as Medawar (1981) points out: The reasons that have led professionals without exception to accept the hypothesis of evolution are in the main too subtle to be grasped by laymen." [Prof. John A. Moore; SCIENCE IS A WAY OF KNOWING – EOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY; American Zoology; Vol. 24: 1984: Pg. 501-2] --- [Laymen have no trouble with evolution identified here "hypothesis"… and many professionals also find the current untestable "reasons" too subtle (unverifiable) to be accepted as scientific. Would you accept this dodge if Intelligent Designers suggested their concept was "too subtle" for Dr. Moore to grasp?]

MACRO-EVOLUTION (or) EVOLUTION ="In fact, evolution can be precisely defined as any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next." [Helena Curtis and N. Sue Barnes, Biology, 5th ed. Worth Publishers; 1989; Pg. 974 ] --- [More confusing (careless, deceptive?) semantics. Such "…change in frequency of alleles within a gene pool…" while in a bit more technical language, remains so ambiguous as to be useless in science. It is characteristic of many different terms – including both micro- and macro-evolution plus variation, extinction, genetic engineering, artificial breeding, etc. Here, some 40 years later there is little excuse for failure to include/identify evolutionist’s most frustrating problem – the need for, and source of, new previously non-existing genetic code that must be present in a gene pool before any new observable, viability enhancing physical feature or system can appear in subsequent generations.]

MACRO-EVOLUTION (or) EVOLUTION = "a change in the heredity features of a group of organisms over time." [Kasskel, Hummer, Daniel, Glencoe; BIOLOGY: AN EVERYDAY EXPERIENCE; MacMillan/McGraw-Hill; 1995; Pg. 722] --- [Again, even 50 years after Crick, evolutionists still avoid mention of the necessary differentiating criteria of adding new, viability-enhancing genetic code to the gene pool. Rather than a scientifically useful definition, this remains an obscurative description of what authors desire students to believe.]

MACRO-EVOLUTION (or) EVOLUTION ="When discussing organic evolution the only point of agreement seems to be ‘It happened’. Thereafter, there is little consensus." [Simon Conway Morris; EVOLUTION: BRINGING MOLECULES INTO THE FOLD; Cell Magazine; 1/7/2000; --- [The closer we come to today, the less confident professional evolutionists become.]

MACRO-EVOLUTION (or) EVOLUTION ="But this Darwinian claim to explain all of evolution is a popular half-truth whose lack of explicative power is compensated for only by the religious ferocity of its rhetoric."…. "No evidence in the vast literature of heredity change shows unambiguous evidence that random mutation itself, even with geographical isolation of populations, leads to speciation."[ Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan; ACQUIRING GENOMES: A Theory of the Origins of Species; Basic Books; 2002; Pg. 29] --- [Interestingly, Dr. Margulis, another of many respected evolutionary authorities, is highly critical of what she terms the "popular half-truth" of evolutionary explanations advanced in textbooks today. Though somewhat technical, reading such laboratory confirmed findings of contemporary scientists in this field is essential for anyone hoping to responsibly improve science instruction in tomorrow’s classrooms.]

16) MICRO-EVOLUTION is an inherently ambiguous (confusion-causing and semantically unjustified) term. It has NO universally understood and accepted definition. Sometimes used synonymously with "variation" (legitimately scientific) and at other times as synonymous with "evolution" (pseudo scientific).

MICRO-EVOLUTION (or) VARIATION = Here loosely defined as "Small-scale inherited characteristics that take place over a few generations." [Prof. Robert B. Eckhardt; THE STUDY OF HUMAN EVOLUTION; McGraw-Hill; 1979; Pg. 580] –[To the extent the changes here described are limited to pre-existing DNA code MICRO-EVOLUTION "can" (sometimes) be scientific – but only when the intention (clearly stated) is limited to pre-existing genetic information, which evolutionary authors seldom specify or intend.]

MICRO-EVOLUTION (formerly) VARIATION = "It is true that nobody thus far has produced a new species or genus, etc., by macromutation. It is equally true that nobody has produced even a species by the selection of micromutations." [Pg. 94]"Neither has anyone witnessed the production of a new specimen of a higher taxonomic category by selection of micromutants." [Pg. 97; Dr. R. B. Goldschmidt; AMERICAN SCIENTIST; Vol. 40; 1952; Pgs. 94 – 97] --- [True then, and equally true today.]

17) When encountering the term EVOLUTION in textbooks or the popular media, to understand what they mean it is necessary to know the scientific proof-method actually applied by the author. To clarify the confusion resulting from the above, and to describe a few of the other more specialized versions of the word, we summarize as follows: each reflecting different assumptions – none of which can be empirically confirmed.

--- macro-evolution: Presumes new viability enhancing genetic code arises in gene pool.

--- micro-evolution: Can mean, and is used to describe, either ‘macro-evolution" or "variation".

--- mega-evolution: Short-cut for microbe-to-mammal tree of life. (No mechanism described.)

--- theistic-evolution: Some as yet scientifically un-identified "Theistic influence" involved.

--- vitalistic-evolution: Vitalism, some un-identified "natural force" involved. (similar to Gaia)

--- chemical-evolution: First life arose by purely undirected matter/energy interactions.

--- punctuated-evolution: Dr. Gould’s concept. Short spurts of big change, long periods of stasis.

--- Darwinian-evolution: Now obsolete following discovery of the controlling influence of DNA.

--- neoDarwinian-evolution: Much the same as synthetic-evolution immediately below.

--- synthetic-evolution: Undemonstratable synthesis of several individually inadequate concepts.

--- symbiotic-fusion-evolution: Dr. Lynn Margulis’ 2002 laboratory-supported explanation.

--- directed-evolution: Goldschmidt’s Hopeful Monster. Similar to Gould’s Punctuated Equlibria.

--- quantum-evolution: G.G.Simpson, 1952 concept.

--- etc., etc.

18) Note, there are as many different untestable versions of "evolution" as there are untestable versions of "creation". While such numerous "hypotheses" are accepted by evolutionists, many proclaim that similar multiplicity of non-evolutionary alternatives is so complex that this alone is sufficient to exclude the common underlying evidence supporting each from classroom consideration. The "double-standards" supporting evolution again being in evidence.

19) From this not-so-brief effort to establish the multiple decades of classroom bias favoring (untestable) "evolution", we proceed to the relatively more straightforward term "FACT". Most everyone thinks (believes) they understand what "FACT" means. While this understanding is probably correct -- except when used by evolutionist’s where its meaning is surprisingly different. We let them speak for themselves:

FACT = "When biologists so say that ‘evolution is a fact’, I think they mean that they accept the following statement so firmly that they consider it to be as true as any other basic sensory fact; each species arose from another species that preceded it in time, and higher taxa arose by a continuation of the speciation processes. The term FACT as commonly applied to such statements signifies not the kind of content in the statements but, rather, the strength of our acceptance of the statements. So, if we are willing to accept a broad definition of FACT, biologists are correct in saying that ‘evolution is a fact.’" [Dr. Ralph Lewis; Prof. Emeritus Biol., Mich. St. Univ.; CREATION/EVOLUTION; Winter 87-88; Pg. 34-37] --- [Do you accept this redefinition of "fact"? Can you find it in your dictionary or textbook glossary? And will evolutionist’s allow non-evolutionists to equally identify their strongly held positions as "facts"? Hardly! If such semantic liberties come as a surprise to you, welcome to the semantic confusion encouraged (and perpetuated) by textbooks of the past and present.]

FACT = "Facts are observations that can be repeated by many people." [MOLECULES TO MAN; Houghton-Mifflin; Blue Version, 3rd Edition; 1976; Pg. 18] --- [This sounds good -- but no purported observation of evolutionary change can be so repeated. (Remember, $1,000 awaits any first example).

FACT = "Of course, scientists and philosophers of science will continue to talk freely of "facts" and their use in research. The more perceptive ones simply change the common meaning of "fact" to one that is not absolute. I discovered this dodge in the writing of a leading light in the philosophy of science, Thomas s. Kuhn, where he speaks of determining facts with "greater precision". [Dr. A. N . Strahler; SCIENCE AND EARTH HISTORY; Prometheus Books; 1987; Pg. 8] --- [Here again, one high standard presented to the student and the public (above), but a far less rigorous (and vague) requirement found acceptable for evolutionary interpretations.]

FACT = "In accepting evolution as fact, how many biologists pause to reflect that science is built upon theories that have been proved by experiment to be correct, or remember that the theory of animal evolution has never been thus proved." [L.H. Matthews, "Introduction," to Origin of Species, Charles Darwin, 1971 edition.] --- [Allowing that "scientific" theory (or hypothesis) can, it its broader explanatory sense, be helpful in directing further studies, it is hardly acceptable for an "untested" (speculative) position to constitute the basis for "fact" – particularly when more than one untested theory explaining the same result is known to exist.]

FACT = "The rub, the difficult, the cause of the soul-searching and excess verbiage, is Darwin and his followers’ assertion, or tacit assumption, or textbook ‘fact,’ that this kind of selection leads to new species. The heavy hand of selection can and does dramatically change the proportion of heavy egg-laying hens, grape-sized versus cherry-sized tomatoes, or long-beaked ground finches. But no one has ever shown that this process does more than change gene frequencies in populations. Intraspecific variation never seems to lead, by itself, to new species." [Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan; ACQUIRING GENOMES: A Theory of the Origins of Species; Basic Books; 2002; Pg. 83]

20) While there are other terms in need of similar examination ("hypothesis", "theory", "species", "creation", etc.) to reveal similar "adjustments" to commonly understood meanings, we’ll restrict ourselves to just one more. This being RELIGION, as used in its broader Constitutional context. Such definition must be equally applicable to ALL religions -- Christian, Judaism, Islam, Scientology, Unity, Secular Humanism, etc. with the Supreme Court as the final arbitrator. Such definition being:

RELIGION: (Constitutional context, default meaning) = All physically unverifiable beliefs addressing the three classic unanswered philosophical questions of all time. 1) Where did life come from? 2) What is life’s purpose (if any)? and 3) What is life’s final destiny?

Should you prefer or recommend any other all-inclusive definition for "religion", please do forward same for further consideration.

RELIGION ="Yet Popper warns of a danger: ‘A theory, even a scientific theory, may become an intellectual fashion, a substitute for religion, an entrenched dogma." This has certainly been true of evolutionary theory, …" [Dr, Colin Paterson; Head Paleontologist, British Museum of Natural History; EVOLUTION; 1978; Pg. 150]

RELIGION = "In fact [subsequent to the publication of Darwin's book, Origin of Species], evolution became, in a sense, a scientific religion; almost all scientists have accepted it and many are prepared to `bend' their observations to fit with it… To my mind, the theory does not stand up at all . . If living matter is not, then, caused by the interplay of atoms, natural forces, and radiation, how has it come into being? . . I think, however, that we must go further than this and admit that the only acceptable explanation is Creation. I know that this is anathema to physicists, as indeed it is to me, but we must not reject a theory that we do not like if the experimental evidence supports it." [H.S. Lipson, "A Physicist Looks at Evolution," Physics Bulletin, Vol. 31, Pg. 138; 1980] --- [Experimental evidence DOES support the "fact" that intelligence is capable of producing complex structures far surpassing the ability of chance, mechanistic processes. There is NO similar experimental evidence supporting any basic evolutionary conclusion based upon the latter.]

RELIGION = "Darwinism is a creed not only with scientists committed to document the all-purpose role of natural selection. It is a creed with masses of people who have at best a vague notion of the mechanism of evolution as proposed by Darwin, let alone as further complicated by his successors."[ S. Jaki, Cosmos and Creator (1982)]

RELIGION = "Teaching evidence against evolution is a back-door way of teaching creationism," says Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education. [Time Magazine article – Stealth Attack on Evolution; 1/31/2005]. --- [To the same degree – "Teaching physically untestable evolutionary "beliefs" as ‘scientific’ theory or fact (using tax-dollars) is a back-door way of supporting (or un-Constitutionally establishing) non-Theistic religions as Scientism, Buddhism, Unity, Secular Humanism, Atheism, etc. with "beliefs" compatible with untestable evolutionary explanations."]

In closing, should you be interested in learning more about this obviously confusing issue, the three below references will provide a reasonable introduction. These are but a few of the excellent resources available and know that I will be happy to provide further suggestions or discussion as you may find helpful.


---- IN THE MINDS OF MEN by Ian Taylor; TFE Publishing; 1984; ISBN 0-96911788-0-8 for philosophical background plus summary of developments.

---- THE BIOTIC MESSAGE by Walter ReMine; St. Paul Science Publishers; 1993; ISBN 0-9637999-0-8 for more technical comparisons and analysis of conflicting explanations of available evidence.

---- EVOLUTION: POSSIBLE OR IMPOSSIBLE by James F. Coppedge; Zondervan Publishing House; 1973; Library of Congress 72-95524 for nontechnical mathematical review of molecular biology and the laws of chance.


"For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is able to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries. [Robert Jastrow; God and the Astronomer; New York: W.W. Norton and Company; 1978; Pg.113]


David A. Bradbury

4009 Harbor Vista

Orchard Lake, MI 48323

[email protected]

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/print?id=415444 ---- Transcript of 1/13/05 show.

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/print?id=420085 ---- Transcript of 1/13/05 closing thought.

--- March 9, 2005 added GOOD new supplement = "The Metaphysics of Evolution"

by Fred Reed. --- http://www.lewrockwell.com/reed/reed59.html ---

--- March 26, 2005 another GOOD reference = "The Myth of the Flat Earth"

By Dr. Jeffry Burton --- http://www.id.ucsb.edu/fscf/LIBRARY/RUSSELL/FlatEarth.html

To quote McNicoll...

"What we're talking about here is this: Apes begat apes begat apes begat apes. Go to Africa or wherever today, and that's still going on. As your skull thing points out -- I think -- some of those apes began moving closer to what we are now. But they were APES"

What he's obviously forgetting here (or in all fairness, maybe he never knew) is that humans ARE in fact, apes. Apes are still begetting apes, not just in Africa, but all over the planet.

It's funny to me that in his effort to appear reasonable, he'll admit that our ancestor apes began to move closer to becoming the apes that we currently are, but then he somehow seperates that movement in his mind and stops it short of leading to the modern human ape. It's almost as if McNicoll thinks that some magical force suddenly stopped selective pressures from working, stopped the forces that HE ADMITTED were already in place and changes that were already in motion, from continuing to work. Why? Probably because he doesn't like the idea that human beings are just smart apes. That however, is just conjecture on my part.

I find that I'm more amused than offended at his snide comments and the non stop stream of fallacies. That letter to Nightline that he sent however, egads. It reads more like a manifesto than a legitimate letter or critique or whatever it's supposed to be. The guy who wrote that thing is nuttier than a squirrel turd. Wow.

Keep fighting for science and reason.

You should really edit down some of these exchanges and post them as new posts on your blog!

I initially intended to do that. Then I decided that McNicoll was such a nobody it wasn't worth the effort. I could change my mind though - what's the vote?

I vote for new posts! Maybe put them under the "humor" section? This IDiot's babbling is a comedy goldmine! BTW, I did e-mail both him and his editor requesting they comment on your post when you published their addy's. To my immense surprise I have received no response...

/anxiously awaiting the "moron mail" section

To let the uneducated man of pseudo science know this, it's not just little boys. Not only does he use straw man arguements and logic based entirely on fallacy, he's sexists. There are plenty of women, myself included, who have a grasp of science.

He would like to see human beings as a copier. Human+Human=new little human. Ape+Ape=new little Ape. Guess what, kitten? Human are classifed as apes. We are tailess (for the most part) mammalians belonging to the sapien family. Our closest genetic relatives (who happen to live in family troops similar to forest dwelling homo sapiens) are the bonobo. They carry over 98% of the same genetic material as we do. They live in organized, matriarchal societies. Hell, they've even managed to get the make love not war thing down pat.

Give us a break.

I particularly like the ID plea that we present both sides and let the children decide which one to believe. I don't recall them being this willing to "let the children decide" when it comes to other things. For instance, why don't we present both sides of another issue - abstinence vs safe sex - and "let the children decide"? Or we could present both sides of attending classes - get a high school diploma vs cut classes and have fun - and "let the children decide"?

Unfortunately for the ID proponents, even if they get their way and teach ID in high school, it is likely to backfire on them. When those same ID-indoctrinated kids end up in college science classes, they will find out how they were deceived. If they cling to their ID beliefs through college, then science careers will be closed to them.

Jim Laidler

I see this topic being discussed at length at different forums. Whether to teach students “Intelligent Design” as a possible theory for the origin of the universe, life and man as an alternative to the ‘Big-bang and Evolution’ combination.

One thing that the people who raise this topic don’t realize is that it is irrelevant as to whether the ID hypothesis is true. Asking to teach ID in a science class is like asking to teach sex-education for teenagers in the math class. Allow me to explain the analogy. Two people might have disagreements on the benefits and pitfalls of teaching teenagers about condom-usage. But both of them would agree that whether it’s right or wrong, sex-education undoubtedly does not belong in the Math class.

My point is someone choosing to believe in ID is their choice and I am not arguing with them right now. But even for them it should be obvious that it does not belong to science. Science is not about recognizing all ‘possible’ theories. Science is about identifying the one theory that has the least amount of assumptions and is consistent with all the observations made until now. This is called the Occam’s Razor (Wikipedia) and without that science cannot exist.

Any given set of experimental observations can be explained with an infinite number of equally possible theories. We cannot judge a theory as wrong until an observation is made contrary to its predictions. Take the case of gravity. There is the Newton’s theory that worked well until we could observe gravitational red-shifts and neutron stars, Einstein’s general theory that seems to be working perfectly (of course until we try to get into the quantum realm). But there could be another theory, let’s call it A2006: Tiny undetectable angels sit on each particle and pull them together. These angels will stop pulling in 2006. There is no experimental method that we can use to disprove this theory and hence it is a totally valid alternative. As you can easily see there are infinite other possibilities … A2007, A2008 and so on. Scientists use Occam’s Razor and currently concern themselves with only the theory that uses the least number of assumptions to explain the experimental observations.

If the Intelligent Design theory is to be taught in Science classes, we should be teaching all the infinite number of gravitational theories and this immediately points out the absurdity… not of ID, but of asking to teach that with science.

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