The Wall Street Journal’s Weird Embrace of Pseudo Science and the War on Real Science

By William K. Black

The Wall Street Journal published a self-revealing news article on Tennessee’s recently adopted law (modeled on a template created by the Discovery Institute – a Christian group whose ultimate goal is preventing the teaching of the core principles of biology) encouraging science teachers to teach their opposition to “controversial” scientific findings.  The Discovery Institute opposes the scientific consensus on evolution – the central pillar of biology.  One would never understand that fact, however, if one relied on the WSJ article.

The wording of the bill comes from a template created by the Discovery Institute, a think tank in Seattle that questions evolution and promotes the concept of “intelligent design.”

Evolution is the theory that generations of animal and plant species alter and transform over time in response to changes in their environment and circumstances, a process known as natural selection.

“Intelligent Design” is the proposition that scientific evidence exists to show that life in its multitudinous forms was caused by the direction of a higher intelligence.

What is that “scientific evidence”?

“Natural selection and descent does not explain the degree of complexity that exists out there,” [the head of the religious group promoting the bill] said.

See, there are two rival views of biology, a “theory” v. a “proposition.”  The rival views represent different opinions on biology by respectable biologists embracing the same scientific method and differing only in their interpretation of the “scientific evidence” emerging from their scientific studies.  Remember, this is a WSJ news article, not a screed by their “three bubbles off plumb” editorial staff.  What a difference a Murdoch makes to what was once a superb news organization.

Biology and “intelligent design” are not rival scientific theories.  Biology’s central proposition is evolution.  Intelligent design does not rest on the scientific method or scientific evidence.  The Discovery Institute is not a “think tank.”  It does not engage in hypothesis testing.  It does not make testable predictions of “intelligent design.”  It does not employ biologists if they commit what the Institute’s leaders consider the unbiblical heresy of believing in the standard biological canon about evolution.  The only example of “scientific evidence” the article cites as supporting “intelligent design” is the observation that life is “complex.”  Evolution cannot produce “complexity” because….  No evidence is needed to support this ipse dixit (it is because I assert it is).  The assertion is testable through modeling and through studies of the fossil and genetic record, both of which falsify the assertion.  There is no theory of “intelligent design.”  The brilliant satirical response to this thinly disguised evangelical theology is Bobby Henderson’s creation of the mock religion worshiping the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” as an alternative explanation of the origin of species.  Tennessee biology teachers should stage a mass Flying Spaghetti Monster teach-in to respond to the Tennessee law.

The WSJ news article on the Tennessee law is bizarre on another level.  The WSJ concentrates on business news and we have tens of thousands of businesses that make money (hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenues) by practicing real biology.  Every one of these businesses practices real biology and most of them could not succeed but for the fact that DNA and RNA exist, sometimes express the ability to code for proteins, mutate, and admix during sexual reproduction.  We have dozens of TV shows based on some variant of CSI (crime labs) – each of which celebrates real biology and the use of DNA.  DNA identification means that we no longer inter the remains of our servicemen and women as “unknowns.”  The predictive strength of evolutionary theory is superb and the practical applications of genetics that the theory made possible are extraordinary.  No business anywhere it the world makes money by using the (nonexistent) insights provided by “intelligent design.”  WSJ reporters know all this because their jobs require them to study and understand businesses.  It is delusional to present biology and “intelligent design” as equivalent, rival scientific views.

Thinking about WSJ reporters’ business expertise caused me to ask a question about Tennessee’s law (similar to laws adopted in six other infra-red states) and the WSJ’s reporters approach to a faith-based series of “propositions” advanced by another discipline that calls itself a “science.”  If Tennessee wants to protect its students from “controversial” theories why doesn’t it ban the study of neoclassical economics?  Economics is the only field pretending to science whose predictive ability has fallen dramatically over the last 75 years.  It is a field that clings to dogma that has been repeatedly falsified by reality.  Neoclassical economics is not “controversial” – it is has been repeatedly falsified.  Sciences are supposed to abandon theories that are falsified.  Neoclasscial economics is not “controversial.”  Its most important theories are false and the financial policies it recommends cause widespread elite financial fraud and unprecedented harm.  The consequences of its errors have been catastrophic for much of the world.

There are alternative economic views and alternative fields (e.g., criminology) that are scientific, that advance testable hypotheses, and demonstrate far superior predictive strength and successful praxis. White-collar criminologists, for example, falsified the efficient market hypothesis two decades before the hypothesis was created.  The EU is busy throwing the Eurozone back into recession through faith-based austerity dogma.  Neoclassical economists praised the worst frauds and urged other nations to use Iceland and Ireland as their models.  Neoclassical economics is so criminogenic that it produces the recurrent, intensifying epidemics of “green slime” (fraudulent loans and investments) that hyper-inflate financial bubbles and drive our financial crises.  WSJ reporters must know this, they just witnessed the greatest plague of green slime in history bring the global financial system to the brink of collapse.

We all know why Tennessee attacks the scientific theory (evolution) that has demonstrated the greatest predictive strength and provided the most important changes in the life sciences with the greatest potential to add to the length and quality of life while expressing no concern about the faith-based economics and finance nostrums that have a horrific record of failures of prediction and praxis.  Conventional economics is not simply weak – it is criminogenic.  It is so criminogenic that it is the ideal medium for culturing the green slime that drives our crises.  Tennessee is being consistent – it wants its students to believe faith-based fables about dinosaurs and people simultaneously hiking the same trails and financial markets that are so efficient that they automatically self-correct and exclude all bubbles and frauds.  The thing these dogmas share in common is that they cannot survive the rigors of scientific inquiry.

The WSJ reporters who report endlessly and uncritically the theoclassical economic claims that they know to be false and disastrous can do the world (and the paper) a great service by simply playing it straight as journalists.  They can present the predictive failures of conventional economics and finance and interview and quote the views of heterodox scholars and practitioners and note their far superior predictive records.  They can quote views from other disciplines.  Few economists, for example, have any expertise regarding elite white-collar crime.  White-collar criminologists are the experts on dysfunctional financial markets that generate epidemics of green slime.

The UMKC economics blog (New Economic Perspective) is an excellent source of alternative, highly interdisciplinary theories that have repeatedly demonstrated superior predictive abilities and praxis.  My colleagues’ work on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and job guarantees are two examples.  My work on financial regulation, fraud, corruption, and financial crises is also useful to any reporter willing to present an alternative perspective that actually is scientific.  As Jim Sturgeon, the outgoing chair of our UMKC economics department says:  “UMKC economics – the folks who got it right; and probably will do so again.”  I love his use of “probably.”  It is very mid-Western, and very appropriate.

Considering Tennessee’s nostalgia for creationism led me to think about President Obama’s competitiveness council that developed the atrocity recently enacted as the JOBS Act.  That law is premised on one of those long falsified neoclassical dogmas, the theory that the nation that “wins” the regulatory “race to the bottom” gains a competitive advantage over other nations.  The reality is that regulatory races to the bottom hurt every nation that engages in the race, honest businesses, and consumers.  These races create the criminogenic environments that produce the epidemics of green slime.

If we really wanted to increase U.S. competiveness we could stop teaching our students economic “laws” that were falsified decades ago and stop taking policy advice from failed neoclassical theories and scholars.  In short, the single best thing we could do to increase our competitiveness is stop listening to the businessmen who dominate the President’s council on competitiveness.  They are firm believers in theoclassical economics dogma because it endorses the greatest desire of CEOs – immunity from regulation and the resultant de facto immunity from prosecution.

The other factor that would make the U.S. far more competitive is if we educated our children to develop a superior understanding of economics and two issues the Tennessee legislation identifies as “controversial” – evolution and global warming.  Those fields are two of the areas in which superior education is most essential and could provide the U.S. with the greatest competitive advantage.  So why doesn’t American business come out full force against the politicians in Tennessee and similar states that are giving the greatest possible aid and comfort to American businesses’ foreign rivals?  Why is the Chamber of Commerce leading the global climate change denial movement?  Put aside for a moment the tragic damage to the world and Americans that this unholy war on science will cause if it succeeds.  Focus instead on the fact that the Chamber’s efforts to prevent America from making countering climate change a priority will put American businesses at an immense competitive disadvantage in the development of cleaner energy products.  It should not surprise us that those leading the attacks on science act in a self-destructive manner.  Our economics and anti-science dogmas are imposing costs on our nation of staggering dimensions.  It is long past time for our society to put aside childish things and rejoin the reality-based world.

47 responses to “The Wall Street Journal’s Weird Embrace of Pseudo Science and the War on Real Science

  1. what bothers me most if even considering a FAITH BASED hypothesis in a science class. Might as well just put a religion class in the schools. Science is evidence based and is not faith based…..I cannot argue with your faith, but I can argue with your facts…..

  2. May the FSM use his noodly appendages to smite those that fail to understand Dr. Bartlett’s proposition that “the greatest failing of the human race is its failure to understand the exponential function”. Both in evolution and finance, the Discovery Institute and neoclassical economists fail to accept reality and harm mankind with their denials.

  3. Pingback: The Wall Street Journal’s Weird Embrace of Pseudo Science and the War on Real Science | The Wall Street Examiner

  4. No evidence available that inert physical materials can spontaneously create the algorithms life depends on so jury still out on intelligent design. “First Gene” David L. Abel.

    • Re: Schofield

      Actually, extensive, peer reviewed work has gone on for decades establishing that RNA molecules are produced in abiotic conditions akin to those of Earth’s Archaen era, and that some RNA chains will spontaneously fold to produce catalytic “enzymes” which accelerate the assembly of RNA chains. The central role of RNA in both DNA transcription and translation (the ribosomes are translations machines made primarily from RNA) provides strong evidence that early self-replicators may have used autocatalytic RNA as both genetic material and metabolic enzyme. See Wikipedia’s “RNA world hypothesis” page for more detail.

      My comment is that neither evolution by natural selection nor the ability (in principle) to model the earth’s atmosphere from physical constants were controversial among elites during the era in which American’s were the best educated nation on the planet (1950s-70s). The fact that modern politicians can gain from feigning ignorance says much about the state of basic education these days.

  5. The WSJ embrace of dogmatic lies…..this shouldn’t be a surprise as Rupert Murdoch owns the WSJ. The most Humblest man ever to lie before the British Parliament. Just saying: “This is the most humblest day of my life”
    And then lies thru his teeth playing a man afflicted with Old-timers memory loss.
    If you want the best impression to date of R. Murdoch youtube maxkeiser his Financial War reports are also a good source on anything to do with Fraud & Money.

  6. isn’t the moniker Theoclassical economics even more fitting in this situation?

  7. I always agree with you as regards economics and your field of expertise. But here, you drift into the realm of philosophy and even outright emotional bias. Of course intelligent design is not science, but then neither is evolution, which well accounts for very observable and never contested phenomena of micro-evolution and natural selection, but hardly for macro-evolution and the “origin of the species” and the “descent of man.” These are philosophical/metaphysical positions, which precisely cannot be the subject of an empirical inquiry, hence not of scientific hypothesis. There is not a single observable instance of macro-evolution, and with good reason. Evolution, like many “theories” during their day, becomes ideology and is adhered to with “religious” fervor and arouses the most intense passions–indirectly showing its non-scientific nature. One sees the same sort of biased mentality in economics among neo-liberals and austrians, and in the way the former have dominated academic discourse and professional positions and ostracize all others. By the way, intelligent design, as a philosophical position, has more intelligent adherents that the caricatures you pillory, and includes respectable mathematicians and physicists.
    =====================
    From the preface of Anthony Flew’s “There is a God.”

    When asked by the Edge Foundation, “What do you believe is true even though
    you cannot prove it?” Dawkins replied: “I believe that all
    life, all intelligence, all creativity and all ‘design’ anywhere
    in the universe, is the direct or indirect product of Darwin-
    ian natural selection. It follows that design comes late in
    the universe, after a period of Darwinian evolution.It follows that design comes late in
    the universe, after a period of Darwinian evolution. Design
    cannot precede evolution and therefore cannot underlie
    the universe.” At bottom, then, Dawkins’s rejection of an
    ultimate Intelligence is a matter of belief without proof.
    And like many whose beliefs are based on blind faith, he
    cannot tolerate dissent or defection. With regard to Dawkins’s approach to the rational-
    ity underlying the universe, the physicist John Barrow
    observed in a discussion: “You have a problem with these
    ideas, Richard, because you’re not really a scientist. You’re
    a biologist.” Julia Vitullo-Martin notes that for Barrow biol-
    ogy is little more than a branch of natural history. “Biolo-
    gists,” says Barrow, “have a limited, intuitive understanding
    of complexity. They’re stuck with an inherited conflict from
    the nineteenth century, and are only interested in out-
    comes, in what wins out over others. But outcomes tell you
    almost nothing about the laws that govern the universe.”

    More recently, when asked on a visit to Jerusalem if he
    believed in the existence of God, the famous theoretical
    physicist Stephen Hawking is reported to have replied that
    he did “believe in the existence of God, but that this Divine
    force established the laws of nature and physics and after
    that does not enter to control the world.” Of course, many
    other great scientists of modern times such as Heisenberg
    and Planck believed in a divine Mind on rational grounds.
    But this too is whitewashed out of Dawkins’s account of
    scientific history…Einstein in fact said, “I am not a positivist. Positivism states that what
    cannot be observed does not exist. This conception is sci-
    entifically indefensible, for it is impossible to make valid
    affirmations of what people ‘can’ or ‘cannot’ observe. One
    would have to say ‘only what we observe exists,’ which is
    obviously false.”

    If they want to discourage belief in God, the populariz-
    ers must furnish arguments in support of their own atheis-
    tic views. Today’s atheist evangelists hardly even try to argue
    their case in this regard. Instead, they train their guns on
    well-known abuses in the history of the major world reli-
    gions. But the excesses and atrocities of organized religion
    have no bearing whatsoever on the existence of God…

    • I don’t especially care about the theology herein, though asserting that the author has descended into emotional bias, then pasting several paragraphs in accordance to your own theology seems is thoroughly disingenuous.
      Not liking the results of scientific inquiry does nothing to change their accuracy; but it does a lot to change your credibility.

  8. Jonathan Gwinn

    Is there a method to this madness?? The Washington consensus has used Politcal Islam as a battering rod to destroy secular/nonscientific thought in the Middle East to control the population and extract natural resources. So why not here in the USA? Dumbed down masses are relegated nonsensical anti-critical thinking curriculum while a technocratic elite run the show. Without the tools to think critically , education becomes nothing more than indoctrination to follow the party line.

  9. It would be helpful to all of science if other banches of science stood up and in solidarity with evolutionary biology. The situation should be threatening to these other branches because if this line of thinking can reject evolutionary biology, then all science will be rejected.

    Perhaps that will be Armageddon–ironic, right? Imagine if we stop using science when we build buildings and roads, develop pharmaceuticals, calculate how much fuel and airplane needs on its trip over the Pacific, and set pollution limits. I can just see it as we lapse into a new Dark Ages; only then will there be a call for science . . . or I guess the ones that fit your beliefs.

    But, I must contend that if you are willing to be a scientist, then you much reject R. Dawkins’ belief that evolution is solely by natural selection. That was the thinking when he was in graduate school in the 1960s. Mutation is the ultimate source of variation of which natural selection is predicated upon, giving it half the role in the evolutionary process. Further marginalizing it, non-deterministic processes, namely genetic drift, are more strongly shaping genetic pools most of the time. Meaning, if you give lip service to evolution, mutation, then drift, then selection should proportionally have attention placed on them. Also, please don’t deify Darwin. It is no wonder that non-scientists interpret our worship of Darwin in the same way that they worship their Gods.

  10. Re: “It would be helpful to all of science if other branches of science stood up and in solidarity with evolutionary biology. The situation should be threatening to these other branches because if this line of thinking can reject evolutionary biology, then all science will be rejected.”

    This is not a biology blog, so I’ll be brief.

    I think you just demonstrated the point that macro-evolution is pseudo-science and relies on support of an ideological nature. Do you need “other branches of science” to “stand up” and support biochemistry, or solid state physics, and the like? Of course not. Those are science. If evolution were science, it would not need this spurious support.

    Again, no one disputes the phenomenon of natural selection, and there is no doubt that biology can with increasing exactitude increasingly the mechanisms of it at a cellular level. These are reproducible and predictable results. They are science. Science is based on the observable, whether this observation is direct with our senses, or indirect, by way of instrumentation. If something is not observable and if experimentation in reference to it cannot yield predicable results, no scientific hypothesis can be formulated concerning it, and therefore there is no ground for an eventual formulation of a scientific theory.

    • You are right, this is not a biology blog, but rather about the idea of “uncertainty” comparing different scientific fields.

      Two things for you to mull over: (1) only the most reductionistic sciences (e.g., biochemistry) are somewhat incontrovertible and (2) very few phenomena can be understood from the smallest scales and extrapolated to larger ones (including biochemistry, unless you can tell me what biology would be like if sucrose rather than glucose was the main outcome of photosynthesis). Evolutionary biology deals with BOTH of these conditions, which is it is inherently difficult to study. It took physics centuries to come up with a generalizable theory, and, because it is a scientific principle, it too is under scrutiny. Does that mean we should throw out relativity? No. Does that mean it should not be taught in classrooms? No. What does it mean then? It is the best explanation thus far, nothing more or less. That is the scientific process. Evolutionary biology is only 1.5 centuries old and is n-times more complex than physics. As we understand macro-evolution, yes, it is probably not even close to how we will understand it in the next decade.

      Natural selection as a mechanism is a mathematical formalism that is incontrovertible. Evolution by natural selection is entirely different and is not worked out amongst evolutionary biologists. Does it exist? Certainly. The question then becomes: When and how has natural selection been important in shaping biological diversity as we know it? That is still being explored. If you have a cogent, concise answer, you, my friend will be a Nobel Laureate soon enough.

      And, for your information, the more we learn about cellular and molecular biology, the more we realize our understanding of evolutionary biology goes out of whack. Transposable elements, horizontal gene transfer, and epigenetic mechanisms are all processes that are newly described and have grave implications for how we understand simple Mendelian-Darwinian evolution.

  11. Sorry, that should read: “… there is no doubt that biology can with increasing exactitude increasingly describe the mechanisms of it at a cellular level.

  12. Hmm. Too hasty. ” …there is no doubt that biology can with increasing exactitude describe…”

    It would be nice if this blog had an editing function. Lots of them do.

  13. Wow. Two posts defending intelligent design, and not a single reply to them either mocking or at least trying to show them where they go wrong. Ok, here we go.

    First of all @Schofield, the hypothesis of an intelligent designer is not scientific. By invoking this possibility as an explanation, you make the process of abiogenesis more mysterious, not less. You still have to determine the exact way the “intelligent designer” arranged non-living matter to make it living, and then you have to determine the origin, parts, roles and other features of this intelligent designer. If this intelligent designer is hypothesized to be God, then the entire question of abiogenesis becomes unknowable, because the nature of God is unknowable, both because He is supposed to exist beyond any possibility of being experienced, and because the rationally derived definitions of the concept of God imply contradictions. In other words, in principle, you can’t learn about God from doing experiments on anything, nor can you learn anything about Him from thinking through the nature of the concepts that are supposed to be attached to Him. But since abiogenesis physically happened at some point, and presumably, given the right conditions, can happen again, it is possible in principle to do experiments about abiogenesis. Since God is supposed to be responsible for abiogenesis in the ID account, this would amount to doing experiments about God, which is impossible. Therefore, the introduction of God as an explanation for any physical occurrence that is in principle repeatable and thus open to experiment cannot be scientific. It adds nothing to the knowledge of what’s going on, and doesn’t help further predictability or utility in any way.

    @James- You’re making the classic error of most IDers in assuming that such things as species are real. There are no species living in the world. There are merely many individual organisms, some of which more strongly resemble other organisms, and some of which who live in groups with such self-similar organisms. The theory of evolution states that all of these organisms are more or less closely related to one another. If you select two organisms at random, say a bit of duckweed and a Mongolian hamster, and you follow back their individual ancestries far enough, you will eventually come to a single organism or a single pair of sexually reproducing organisms that is/are the common ancestor(s) to both organisms. In the case of the duckweed and the hamster, this common ancestor would be some form of prokareoyte living at least a billion years ago.

    The fact of sexual reproduction is what’s usually behind this mistake. Sexual reproduction almost always involves two fairly similar, though of course sexually different organisms, and doesn’t work with organisms that are not similar enough. But the methods of reproduction are almost entirely irrelevant for the process of evolution. All that’s required are a bunch of things that can reproduce (it doesn’t matter how), that are all at least slightly different from one another, and that those differences make some difference in how successful the replicator is in replicating itself. That human beings group together organisms that are similar to each other, that sexually reproduce together, and that live together, and call them all by the same name, has nothing whatever to do with the ancestry of the individual organisms.

    Finally, @Chris Moore, Drift is a form of selection.

    • The burden of proof is upon you to differentiate drift from selection considering text books and most evolutionary literature present them as two entities. And to be a bit less formal, I just want to hear your proposition. I can see in some senses how they can be different and the same. Thanks.

      • Because selection is selection, whether the gene or trait possessed by the organism that was selected to reproduce or not was relevant to that selection or not. Genetic drift occurs in geneotypes or phenotypes that don’t provide a selective advantage or disadvantage over other types. But simply because those types aren’t relevant to the selection, does not mean that selection does not occur. The expansion or deletion of geneotypes in genetic drift is due to a type of selection relevant to those genotypes, namely, a random selection.

  14. I think I would like further elaboration because I am not sure I see your connection.

    Genetic drift as a probabilistic process that describes the mechanism and observed patterns of changes of allele frequencies by random sampling in populations and acts at the level of alleles and not genotypes or phenotypes. Drift generally refers to random sampling at any level of biological organization. Drift is NOT specific to neutral units at different levels of biological organization. There are rich bodies of literature in evolutionary texts and peer-reviewed scientific literature describing the relationship between drift and selection, as they are competing forces at the most reduced levels (alleles) and acting jointly at higher levels of organization. I never stated that natural selection does not occur, but virtually all evidence supports that evolution at the molecular level is overwhelmingly determined by genetic drift. All higher levels of organization have been influenced differently by selection and drift, and evolutionary biologists are trying to figure that out right now.

  15. @ Nathan

    Actually, Nathan, I am not a proponent of intelligent design. My point was simply that both evolution and intelligent design pertain to the domain of philosophy not science. I stand by that, even in the face of your theoretical assumptions and distinguos. You’re arguing as a theologist not as a scientist. I am not interested in the conceptual scheme of the evolutionists. You guys are all a priorists. Evolution is accepted as self-evident and defended like a lioness defends her cubs. As I said before, show something like solid state physics, like organic chemistry, in the domain of experimental results, and the corresponding theory which yields predictable and observable and measurable outcomes. You guys also remind of economists that MMT critiques, with their completely conjectural mathematical models, which supposedly indicate the presence of science.

    @ Chris
    “The more we learn about cellular and molecular biology, the more we realize our understanding of evolutionary biology goes out of whack.” Precisely, Chris. It’s not bad science, it is bad philosophy.

    I said natural selection is incontrovertible. As for macro-evolution, the notion itself is already an a priori.

    • No, James. It is not bad philosophy. If you applied your “philosophy” to all fields of science, you will surely end up at the end of not ever being able to know anything via science. This is exemplified with my caricatures of eliminating scientific thinking in applied and theoretical ways (e.g., pollution guidelines, medication doses). Further, you put forth no better way of knowing. If you have one, well, there is another Nobel for you. If you are not clear, please elaborate on a better philosophy for answering the questions that science asks.

  16. “There are no species living in the world. There are merely many individual organisms, some of which more strongly resemble other organisms, and some of which who live in groups with such self-similar organisms.”

    This is what passes today for intelligent conceptualization. Very bluntly, it is sheer charlatanism, sheer bunk, presented like ten year would present something nonsensical as a grand discovery. I’ll say it again, evolution is pseudo-science and, frankly, also pseudo-metaphysics. You all need a church, not a laboratory.

  17. Greg Bickley

    The idea of macro or micro evolution is a made up distinction. There is no such thing as macro evolution. Your supposed distinction doesnt exist James. Can I be any clearer?

    Agreeing that evolution happens at the cellular or DNA level but then somehow denying it at the organism level is just…………. insane. No organism becomes anything other than what their DNA allows them to become, and this DNA can be influenced to express itself in many different ways by many different forces. Radiation will affect how a DNA molecule gets transcribed or expressed. Certain chemicals affect transcription and other environmental factors do too.

    To make the false distinction that you have you would have to demonstrate that something other than genotype affects phenotype. Until you have a scientific reason to believe that something other than what is in your DNA is what actually determines what the end organism actually looks like, your just being a religious zealot.

  18. Wade Riddick

    1. Evolution produces “complexity.” Complexity is an ergodic property that can be formally, mathematically defined. Essentially, it’s a measure of the amount of information in a system and how much that information can be compressed, like a computer file. Quite simple systems can and do produce very complex data. The Lorenz Attractor is a good example, though the Mandelbröt set is far more famous.

    2. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t actually care about creationism. It’s running articles like this more as a sop to its coalition partner in right-wing crime, the (mostly Southern) Pharisees, who continue to remain illiterate literalists where _The Bible_ is concerned. The truth about evolution matters to the WSJ about as much as Obama’s birth certificate. It’s a simple tribal exercise in us vs. them. Just as they pile outsider labels on Obama – Communist, Fascist, crazy Baptist, Islamofascist, Mau-Mau anti-colonial – without regard for consistency, so too here are they trying to adopt a series of beliefs to distinguish them from outsiders. Literal truth has absolutely nothing to do with their war with evolution. It’s a bunch of lost, post-segregationists adrift in a world where black people not only vote, but one now sits in the White House and this progress, like that of the computer and the chromosome, panics them to no end. They huddle around and imagine a perfect past to which they want to return, totally baffled when blacks fail to share their nostalgia for the antebellum South. They’re drawing a line in the sand and recruiting people into their camp. You might as well be talking about how crazy it is that Arkansas fans are “razorbacks” and UT-Austin fans are “longhorns.” It’s about totems and taboos and passing out “shibboleths.” This is why they can lump an atheist like Ayn Rand together with pseudo-Christian writers. Imagine the WSJ writer in a skirt and pom-poms leading a cheer. I have to do that now whenever I see Larry Kudlow or Rick Santelli simply to keep my head from exploding. (Where’s that hyperinflation, boys? Ron Paul is bringing it from 1981 real soon now?)

    If these people had to live with their beliefs like the Amish do, they’d abandon them pretty quickly. To wit,

    3. Science is a rational, consistent enterprise. If something’s discovered in a biology experiment, it has to be universally true no matter who repeats the experiment. That’s a democratic model of universal truth that plenty of Christians came to America to embrace – and it’s totally alien to the kind of authoritarian personality type fraudsters have to recruit and bamboozle.

    These guys haven’t thought through the logical consequences of “evolution” being a “hoax” – and they likely never will.

    Ask them these questions.

    Has an anticancer agent been designed in the last twenty years without using some aspect of molecular genetics?

    No.

    Do you plan on jailing the biotech officers behinds these cancer drugs for fraud?

    Why not? They’re clearly engaged in defrauding their shareholders if evolution is “wrong.” Do you support corporate fraud or something? Are you one of those Corporate Communists who believes billionaires have private property rights but the rest of us don’t? A publicly trade company can’t invest shareholder funds in a “theory” that’s wrong. People can and do go to prison trying to fund perpetual motion machines.

    Do you plan on foregoing modern medicine if you’re ever sick since modern treatments have to be consistent with theories of genetics and evolution?

    Do you plan to jail all the individuals conducting research on genetics using public grant money?

    Why not?

    Do you plan on arresting chip suppliers to the cell phone industry for using genetic algorithms to optimize chip layouts? These algorithms use the process of evolution to solve very difficult engineering problems. Will you outlaw their use?

    This reality-based approach is also remarkably effective on other topics. Republicans love to “believe” things that only cost other people money. Winning an argument with a hypocrite is as simple as getting the hypocrite to follow his own advice.

    Oil and gas companies pay weather-forecasters for predictions about hurricane season in the gulf. These same supercomputer models, when rolled forward a century instead of a year, forecast devastating global warming. These oil and gas companies then use shareholder money to claim these models are frauds or hoaxes. Why are they spending shareholder money on these models in the first place if they “know” they are a hoax? I think there’s a shareholder lawsuit somewhere in there.

    Don’t even get me started on getting the duke of diabetes, Herman Caine, to spend a year subsisting only on random samples of the food served in his restaurants.

    And don’t forget the D.C. judge who ruled we had to kill all the cultures of embryonic stem cells because culturing embryonic stem cells was killing “embryos.” Embryonic stem cells don’t come out of embryos; they’re harvested from blastocysts, which you can cut in half without killing them. This guy Lamberth is still on the bench…

    4. God makes universal claims, by the way. Turning Him into a political rallying cry for secular gain is blasphemy. Jesus makes this point repeatedly. Of course, you’d actually have to have read _The Bible_ to know this.

    None of this is about consistency or enlightenment. It’s about keeping people stumbling around in the dark banging their shins.

    Lying about observable reality is not a central tenant of Christian doctrine:

    “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.” – Luke 11:33 (King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.))

    “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” – Matthew 5:15 (King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.))

    Since my life has literally been saved by modern insights into the genetics of immunity, I take this topic seriously. While I would never equate the behavior of the medical-industrial complex with real science, neither would I equate this creationist assault on the healing arts with serving the sick and the poor as Christ exhorts.

  19. Greg, the posited non-distinction between the two is also a concept or a “made-up distinction.” You are simply making an assertion. That couldn’t be clearer indeed.

    Also, I never said evolution happens at the cellular level; I agreed that natural selection probably operates at that level. I also agreed that the more is known about cellular biology the more the current ideas regarding evolution are confounded.

    I’ll repeat. Evolution is non-science; it is fake metaphysics and bad philosophy. If you want to call “evolution” what human beings have always observed, and which modern science makes more explicit in its findings, namely natural selection, or what could be termed “micro-evolution”, fine. But don’t convert that into entirely scientifically unsupported metaphysical claims regarding the origins of things or, for that matter, tell me that species don’t exist. And how does my insistence on experiment and scientific method in biology as distinct from engaging in philosophical fantasy and theological diatribe amount to being a religious zealot? Talk about turning things on their head!

    By the way, you seem unaware that “facts are theory laden.” Hence the need for good philosophy when trying to interpret the significance of the results of scientific inquiry. Evolution, however, is an a priori superimposition of everything whatsoever. De facto, it is nothing less than a substitute for religion. Now science–the scientific method–can, in all honesty, say nothing about religious claims, for the very simple reason that it deals with observable phenomena, and thus the investigation of such claims are beyond its competence. Of course, there are always people who want to examine the eyeball to see if there really is such a thing as sight.

    If the results of scientific inquiry turn you into an atheist, an agnostic, a theist, an intelligent designer, or an evolutionist, a saint or a madman, that is an affair of your philosophy. Reason doesn’t operate in a void and man is a thinking being; reason always requires data–ex nihil nihil fit. It goes without saying that religions claim possession of supra-phenomenal data. So, actually, should evolutionists, only they refuse to acknowledge this, because evolution refuses all “teleology,” and starts from the notion that there is no such thing or such a thing as supra-phenomenal reality. Fine. That is an affair of their philosophy. Of course, even some religious people now “believe” that theism is compatible with evolution. That topic, again, pertains to philosophy or theology, not to science.

  20. I should add that the scientific method is also largely restricted by the fact that its findings are supposed to be measurable, hence quantifiable. Now there are realities which are resistant to quantification, and cannot be entirely–and sometimes not at all–represented by numbers or geometrical relationships (which indeed also require qualitative distinctions that are refractory to number). Hence science deals only with a very limited slice of the real, however spectacular its applications. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio…” Philosophical interpretations of scientific phenomena are still largely encased in unconscious Cartesianism.

  21. That should be : “…superimposition on everything…”

  22. Oy, guys. Lighten up. My personal theory is Stupid Design. I think that when all the facts are in, people will see that blind random natural selection evolution should have made us invent warp drive back in the Cretaceous period. Intelligent Design is just the reverse: We can prove we are so smart that it is impossible for the great us to evolve in a few billion years.

    Stupid Design hypothesizes a Stupid Designer, called Homoron Symplesun, that says to us, every few million years – “OH, so you think you are so smart. Smarter than this thunderbolt, flood, plague or giant donut asteroid, huh!!!”
    Any of the three, Intelligent Design, Evolution, Stupid Design, could be true. There could be evidence that would strongly point to any of the three.
    My money is on Stupid Design. (OK, really on evolution).

  23. “My money is on Stupid Design…”

    Not me. I haven’t the faintest idea, but I do know I’d like a cup of good cup of coffee about now, laced with a bit of you know what. In any case, whether it’s Stupid or Intelligent or Whatever, we ain’t going to solve it, and it sure ain’t been solved, by science. Thank (God? Evolution?, Whatever?, Stupid?) I’m an engineer. Pretty obvious to me it’s all about philosophy and not science.

  24. But this has been occurring for quite some time: all those private equity LBO firms (including that one the present clown running for prez, Romney, used to be affiliated with) dissolved the R&D divisions, all the offshoring of both corporate and academic R&D research, as well as the lack of any real investment by the private sector in American R&D, and American employees.

    A definite pattern: they, the economic elites, believe the future of science should be decided in totalitarian states like China, hence, their investment in that direction……

  25. “Evolution is the theory that generations of animal and plant species alter and transform over time in response to changes in their environment and circumstances, a process known as natural selection.”

    I don’t think this is true (I think it is called Lamarkism after a contemporary of Darwin who advanced the theory). I believe Darwinism claims that “Evolution is the theory that generations of animal and plant species alter and transform over time. Species with RANDOM VARIATIONS in their physiology more attuned to their environment tend to reproduce more and those that lack these beneficial randomly generated features tend to be less successful in producing surviving progeny. This process is known as natural selection.”

  26. Right, but natural selection is not all the theory claims to explain. It also attempts to account for the origin of life. Natural mechanisms of things is one thing, investigating the very origin of things is quite another. I think James is right here. Science is one thing, and metaphysical inquiry is another. I think it is the only dichotomy between science and scientism. The latter is just ideology or myth, in which a lot of emotion gets invested. I don’t think the religion vs. science theme would ever have gotten involved if the biologists had just stuck with investigating the various mechanisms of selection. Talking about origins clearly gets you out of the sphere of the observable–whether by the senses or indirectly through instrumentation. Some people even believe life was imported by aliens from other galaxies!–clearly a non-verifiable assertion, and yet some adhere to this notion vehemently, and clearly it is a substitute for a religious view of the matter. It all comes down to the question of whether the cosmos is the result of a supra-cosmic cause, however conceived (creation, emanation, etc.), or whether it is self-existent, and capable of “evolving.” Clearly a philosophical issue. If the cosmos is self-existent, its potentials must in some sense be permanent possibilities, hence the evolution is simply a passage from potency to act, as Aristotle would have said; but this implies a “Prime Mover.” In other words, permanent possibilities are necessarily intrinsic or non-different from the real, and this degree of reality transcends the degree of the cosmos. The one is absolutely real, the other is relatively real. So we are back to traditional metaphysics. Take it or leave it. Evolution, from this angle, would seem to be inherently contradictory if it claims metaphysical truth.

  27. Correction: I think it is the familiar dichotomy between science and scientism.

  28. “Natural selection is not all the theory claims to explain. It also attempts to account for the origin of life.” Sorry, but that is unacceptable reasoning. Darwin’s “Origin of Species” refers to how new species arise from earlier species by “natural selection”, the process by which some random genetic variations fit some species better for survival by propagation in changing physical environments. I don’t believe that Darwin ever argued that the principle could be applied to the explanation for any originating first instances of life. Nor did he attempt to explain the origin of the physical universe by these means, ie stars, rocks, gases etc.

    The Aristotelian idea of a “Prime Mover” is a poor metaphysical argument for the existence of God. It assumes, amongst other things, that time is linear, when this might not be the case when dealing with the early stages of the universe. Physicists are constantly finding that the basic development of matter is highly contingent on poorly understand laws of order relations and geometry. This is not to argue that the universe sprang spontaneously into existence from non-existence, but it well might have. It is also to say that complex matters such as the space-time continuum, the “warping” of space producing “events” and the role of superstrings and branes figure prominently in the development of the universe. Of course, such models are incomplete, as is to be expected. But please, Darwin never intended his theory to be a Theory of Everything. And the Prime Mover argument has some minor appeal, but not much, from a logical point of view. It’s used by people who want to push a God concept into the world of scientific debate. It’s a tired approach with very little merit in science even if a God entity does exist.

  29. “Evolution, however, is an a priori superimposition of everything whatsoever. De facto, it is nothing less than a substitute for religion. ”

    Nonsense! Biologists every day are using variations in DNA and genome sequences — evolution — to treat diseases. That’s not religion, that’s science. Your argument, shorn of the hand waving distractions, runs as follows:

    1. Evolution is a “theory”.
    2. “Theories” are just one person’s account of the facts.
    3. In a world of incomplete explanations of facts (ie incomplete theories) all theories have equal validity.
    4. Accordingly, I choose to believe in a religious explanation of the facts.

    It’s dodgy reasoning, run regularly by religionists. The reality is that some theories explain more of the facts than others and are hence more to be believed in by society . Me personally? I believe the world is created by a Great White Rabbit that hides behind the planet Mars. Go on, prove me wrong!

  30. I don’t think you read the posts very carefully. I thought I clearly made the point that I was neither for nor against intelligent design or evolution in the macro sense, as I consider both philosophical positions–good or bad is another question, and not a scientific issue. I clearly made the point, on the other hand, that biology plausibly uses evolutionary theory in the sense of “selection” in a scientific manner–that is, capable of measurable and reproducible experimental results.

    I never even hinted that all theories are equal, and in fact said the exact opposite regarding possible interpretations of scientific facts in the context of scientific investigation.

    I never even hinted that I chose a religious explanation of facts (what facts you have in mind I don’t know, since you don’t mention them), and on the contrary, replying to a similar remark, told the person he was standing things on their head, since I was insisting on experimental results in science.

    What I did say is that the notion of evolution as an explanation of origins–and as transformationism– is simply bad philosophy and fake metaphysics and pseudo science, and is purely conjectural. In its claim for universality, for a causal explanation of the origin of life, etc., it is indeed a substitute for religion in this sense and falls outside the competence of scientific inquiry and has no scientific foundation whatever. It is obviously not science. It is scientism.

    However, as a good philosophical rejoinder, I found “Robert’s” remarks to be quite intelligent.

    By the way, the idea that the hypothesis of evolutionary origins is a kind of substitute for religion is hardly original with me. At least to some minds, it is pretty obvious. However, even the most rational arguments tend not to convince people of things they don’t want to believe. It common to ask if people “believe” in evolution. No one asks you to believe in organic chemistry results or in quantum physics. Even modestly endowed minds see the difference.

  31. “The Aristotelian idea of a “Prime Mover” is a poor metaphysical argument for the existence of God. It assumes, amongst other things, that time is linear,”

    Darien, I’m afraid that you haven’t understood Aristotle’s argument at all. It has nothing whatsoever to do with “linear time.” It is a purely principial argument, which of course you are free to reject. In any case, metaphysical demonstrations do not attempt to prove anything in the sense either of an empirical demonstration or in the sense of a purely logical or mathematical demonstration. They all imply the working of what the Scholastics call the “active intellect,” which is something completely disbelieved in modern philosophy.

    This has been a very interesting thread, and I find it fascinating that evolution continues to inspire such passionate defenses–it is indeed something that acts on the modern mind much like religion used to act in previous times.

    I think, by the way, that you are quite mistaken when you assert, “Sorry, but that is unacceptable reasoning.” In the first place, as I read the post, it is not a question of a “reasoning,” but a statement of fact, whether accurate or not. In the second place, the post never mentions Darwin. In the third place, Darwin’s book is titled “The Origin of the Species.” In the fourth place, evolutionists are all over the board in how much they extrapolate. Teilhard de Chardin pretty much made even God evolve. Fifthly you should be more disciplined in your speech. Both James and Robert are obviously valid interlocutors, and don’t deserve your silly sarcasms or accusations of “hand waving” and “dodgy reasoning.” The emotionalism is all from your side.

    Darwin’s theory rests on natural selection, but does not rest content with this scientific hypothesis (anyone who has bred animals has observed this, and animals have been selected for millenia) as it applies to
    species variation, but goes much further and postulates it as the mechanism of the very origin of species. This, precisely has never been demonstrated conclusively, and it is possible that it is not even a coherent hypothesis, scientifically speaking, that is, capable of being observed in any sense other than pure extrapolation. His theory was a very clear challenge to the religious view of the creation of the species, and that is why it continues to elicit such emotional reactions.

  32. CHARLES: “I’m afraid that you haven’t understood Aristotle’s argument at all. It has nothing whatsoever to do with “linear time.” It is a purely principial argument, which of course you are free to reject.”

    DAMIEN: Untrue. The idea of a Prime Mover or First Cause rests on a linear model. If you wish to postulate it as something else, say a “Universal and Simultaneous Cause”, a kind of background causality, then you are free to do so but it is not Aristotle’s argument.

    CHARLES: In any case, metaphysical demonstrations do not attempt to prove anything in the sense either of an empirical demonstration or in the sense of a purely logical or mathematical demonstration. They all imply the working of what the Scholastics call the “active intellect,” which is something completely disbelieved in modern philosophy.

    DAMIEN: So why put these arguments if they are not intended to prove anything? “Active intellect” is just a poor substitute for “private imaginings” and excuses for every kind of intellectual nonsense.
    CHARLES: This has been a very interesting thread, and I find it fascinating that evolution continues to inspire such passionate defenses–it is indeed something that acts on the modern mind much like religion used to act in previous times.

    DAMIEN: I am passionate about this because I am tired of dealing with people who believe nonsense, like a bank manager co-worker of mine who believes as fact that the world was created 10,000 years ago and that Noah’s Ark was real. A nut job.

    CHARLES: In the first place, as I read the post, it is not a question of a “reasoning,” but a statement of fact, whether accurate or not.

    DAMIEN: Untrue. Your “reasoning” about how theories arise and what weight can be given to them is as I previously outlined in my 4 points. Also, statements don’t become “facts” merely by your assertion of them.
    CHARLES: In the second place, the post never mentions Darwin.

    DAMIEN: So what? We are discussing the theory of evolution. That was Darwin’s work (along with Wallace). That’s what we are discussing.

    CHARLES: In the third place, Darwin’s book is titled “The Origin of the Species.”

    DAMIEN: No it isn’t. This from Wikipedia:

    “Charles Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’, published on 24 November 1859, is a work of scientific literature which is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. Its full title was ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life’. For the sixth edition of 1872, the short title was changed to ‘The Origin of Species’.”

    Your words here are used to misrepresent the nature of Darwin’s claims by alleging that he was speaking about the origin of life itself. He wasn’t. He restricted himself to how species evolve over time to generate distinct new species.

    CHARLES: In the fourth place, evolutionists are all over the board in how much they extrapolate. Teilhard de Chardin pretty much made even God evolve.

    DAMIEN: What has a French theologian (with a nonsense theology and a vivid imagination) got in common with modern molecular biologists? Nothing, as far as I can tell.

    CHARLES: Fifthly you should be more disciplined in your speech. Both James and Robert are obviously valid interlocutors, and don’t deserve your silly sarcasms or accusations of “hand waving” and “dodgy reasoning.” The emotionalism is all from your side.

    DAMIEN: Sorry about that. You’re right of course. Tell me, how did Noah get the whales on the Ark?

    CHARLES: Darwin’s theory rests on natural selection, but does not rest content with this scientific hypothesis (anyone who has bred animals has observed this, and animals have been selected for millenia) as it applies to species variation, but goes much further and postulates it as the mechanism of the very origin of species.

    DAMIEN: This is breeding within species and amongst closely related species such as donkeys and horses. Darwin’s claim was that species fairly removed from each other biologically (sufficient not to mate, such as gorillas and humans) were at some stage part of the same specie (and that gorillas and humans derived from a common ancestor). This was far beyond the accepted scientific wisdom of his age where species were seen as distinct and created by a God being.

    Darwin does NOT advance any explanation for the origin of life itself, or, as you put it, “the very origin of species”.

    CHARLES: This, precisely has never been demonstrated conclusively, and it is possible that it is not even a coherent hypothesis, scientifically speaking, that is, capable of being observed in any sense other than pure extrapolation.

    DAMIEN: If you are talking about the claim you attribute to him that he never made (that evolution accounts for the original origin of life forms) then yes, it has never been demonstrated conclusively because of the lack of testable evidence going back so far. If you are talking about how new species emerge – even in very short time frame such as the finches observed by Darwin on different islands in the Galapagos – then the theory of evolution is very much capable of being observed. Modern scientists can observe the evolutionary mutation of flu viruses under the microscope in real time. They can see it before their eyes. Their presence is explained by a “coherent hypothesis” called evolutionary theory.

    CHARLES: His theory was a very clear challenge to the religious view of the creation of the species, and that is why it continues to elicit such emotional reactions.

    DAMIEN: Exactly. And that’s why I find religionists dressed up in drag as scientists or intellectuals so offensive. (Not you, of course).

  33. Well, Damien is there anything you don’t know or understand? As I said and repeat, you understand nothing of the argument. But of course you know better.

  34. heteconomist

    Charles and James, let it ride. Damien is the kind of guy you find all over the bloviatingsphere. Litigious personality, big mouth know-it-all, incapable of civilized discourse and genuine intellectual interchange. Basically an ideologue but the last to be aware of it. You can go to the Austrian econ. sites and find whole groups of them–people like Karl Denninger or Peter Schiff are good examples of the breed. They are crude types, zero subtlety and depth, beyond hope and unteachable.

  35. The specifics seem to be entirely beyond you. You can’t even be relied upon to quote the title of Darwin’s book correctly. When the debate came down to the details you guys ran. To be expected.

  36. Yes, you silly pedant, the whole world knows it is “On the Origin…” With your usual unintelligent and flat literalness you overlook, with your magnanimous spirit, that he undoubtedly knew that–he is clearly an educated person–and that the point was to underscore the word “origin.” Sheesh! To be expected indeed! You guys really clutter the web with yourselves–way too much social space.

  37. Pedant, my eye! It was you who misquoted the title, explicitly drawing it to my attention in order to argue a case that Darwin never made. People can be their own judge of your remarks and my responses.

  38. What’s also unsatisfactory here arguments about the role and use of theories. Theories are only useful insofar as they explain the facts currently known and where possible reliably predict future events. There is not a theory around that is complete, providing a full account of the facts it seeks to explain. Newton’s theory of gravity was supplanted by Einstein’s theory of relativity, which in time will be replaced by a broader theory. So what? They are all fully serviceable in explaining, in their own limited way, events in the world. Real and complex numbers were overtaken by quaternions and octonions. So what? We still calculate effectively with all of them. Evolutionary theory as initially developed by Darwin and Wallace are like all theories narratives about the world with inherent limitations. To reject their merit and utility because they don’t explain some theory-of-everything ontological standard is juvenile. I don’t see Evolutionary theory as being junked anytime soon. You could apply the same unsatisfactory arguments posted here to reject all of geology and the theory of tectonic plate movements. Who cares? See how far your Prime Mover argument gets you in explaining the real world. It’s about as relevant as discussing the number of angels that can fit on a pin head. The social problem with all of this is that people like my bank manager friend would like nothing better than to stuff the head of our school children with ontological rubbish that puts Intelligent Design (and Noah’s Ark) in the same category as the theory of Evolution as we know and use it. No respect for this junk at all.

  39. “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery — even if mixed with fear — that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man… I am satisfied with the mystery of life’s eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence — as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.”

    “One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality…” –Albert Einstein

  40. See also:
    John Bell and the most profound discovery of science

    “Quantum theory is the most successful scientific theory of all time. Many of the great names of physics are associated with quantum theory. Heisenberg and Schrödinger established the mathematical form of the theory while Einstein and Bohr analysed many of its important features. However, it was John Bell who investigated quantum theory in the greatest depth and established what the theory can tell us about the fundamental nature of the physical world. Moreover, by stimulating experimental tests of the deepest and most profound aspects of quantum theory, Bell’s work led to the possibility of exploring seemingly philosophical questions, such as the nature of reality, directly through experiments.”

    http://physicsworldarchive.iop.org/index.cfm?action=summary&doc=11%2F12%2Fphwv11i12a24%40pwa-xml&qt=

  41. Great stuff, Sven. Such a contrast in attitudes with Damien’s doctrinaire and sneering style of argument. Just not cool at all. Critical thought is one thing, but sneering, jeering, and generally being disrespectful of others is just a sign of “bad breeding,”–since biology is the theme. These great minds were mindful of the mystery of life and the cosmos, and totally lack the cocksure attitude of small minds who know it all. Bell was famous for his extremely modest and unassuming manner, as well as for his great generosity–all signs of a superior human being.