Shattering “Shattering the Myths of Darwinism” – Preface

I picked up Richard Milton’s Shattering the Myths of Darwinism with such (I admit naively) high hopes. Several creationist acquaintances of mine had told me of the thorough and scientific nature of this text. I resolved to go into this with an open(ish) mind. However, I also went into this with a long history of reading books that popularize science, in the nature of Miller, Dawkins, Hawking, Greene, Bryson, Gould, so on and so forth. There are a few general trends of the books that do a service to their subject matter. Thus far, this book fails on all those counts.

In any non-fiction book that wishes to be taken seriously, proper citation is key. If you claim a fact, you back that up with a source. When you cite said source, you make damn sure that you do so in a way that anyone looking for it could find it with the proper access to Amazon, journals and/or a library. You make goddamned sure it can’t be confused with anything else, and your reader doesn’t have to spend an hour going through a stack of newspapers or an entire textbook. And you sure as fuck don’t quote somebody, especially someone who is critical of you or you are critical of, without giving the exact, specific spot you can find that quote and the exact context. Milton is a sorry sack when it comes to providing his sources. For instance, one of his citations simply reads: “Nature 8.27, 1992.” For those of you that don’t know, issues of Nature typically ring in just shy of 200 pages and features 10-20 separate articles on a myriad of topics by dozens of authors. Citing the entire magazine is akin to someone asking what you’re listening to and you point to your iPod. I assume you all have nanos which can only hold a few dozen songs. Half of that if they’re by Led Zeppelin. Or just one live rendition of Stairway to Heaven.

Image

Robert Plant was 26 when they started this song.

Simply put, this man wouldn’t have passed a freshman science course with this shit. It makes it harder than Mel Gibson in a Holocaust museum to take this man seriously as an academic who is going to tear down all the work of thousands of real scientists. And yes, I’m sorry for putting that image in your brain.

On a personal, nitpicky note (because so far I’ve been so gracious, right?), I hate when authors use endnotes. As Al Franken pointed out in Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, authors often use endnotes to hide away the fact that they aren’t using their sources correctly. Normally by the tenth citation or so, you’re too lazy to flip to the back of the book to check it out. If you want to show people you’re being absolutely open about your use of other people’s work, footnotes show the maximum transparency. If you feel the need to use endnotes, put them at the end of each chapter.

On further reading, we see that Milton calls Nature “the most respected scientific magazine in the world,” which apparently takes his complete disregard for neo-Darwinian thought to be… what, a teenage anti-parent angst phase? By calling a source an absolute authority on a subject, then making an entire book on the subject that one of the most core principles that the source you claim to respect is based upon seems hypocritical in the least, functionally retarded in the more on-the-nose vernacular.

Then we come to the crux of the argument, which has since been voiced by Ben Stein by those who care about the plight of creationists in academic discourse while eschewing reading in his “documentary” Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (a title I found fitting for a film in which almost no true intellectual thought was allowed to seep through to the actual movie): anti-Darwinian voices are muted by the “establishment,” thereby propagating the cult of neo-Darwinism and shunning anybody who may even slightly disagree with this established status quo (p. x). I mean, sure, forget the fact that the peer-review process kicks tens of thousands of neo-Darwinian scientific papers from being published in journals as high as Nature to as low as, say, the Journal of Hymenopterology (to which I once submitted a paper discussing the evolutionary aspects of phenotypic plasticity in pavement ants, but was rejected, which I can only assume is due to anti-Semitic tendencies in the scientific establishment… or maybe my research didn’t meet their standards, but that wouldn’t paint me as the victim of the established scientific foothold).

As Milton points out (p. x), “it is not just outsiders who cannot be heard, it is dissenting members of the scientific professions themselves.” See!? That’s why my paper wasn’t published. It wasn’t lack of scientific rigor, or a complete dearth of any true findings that others in the field would find interesting and/or applicable. I was discriminated against! This also explains why my thesis on how the editor-in-chief is a doody-head that I wrote in crayon on the back of a woman’s sanitary napkin also was not published. DISCRIMINATION! See, just like the scientists whose plight Milton discusses, my controversial views weren’t published because they were “anti-Darwinian in implications and hence counter to the ruling ideology in the life sciences.” I mean, fuck the fact that biology isn’t a monarchistic institution. We don’t have a king or queen.

magic

We do, however, have a Joker.

Science doesn’t work that way. The whole reason we have the peer-review process is to fight against the personal biases that we, as people, hold on to. The scientific method does everything it can to fight prejudices like that. That’s the whole reason we have the peer-review process. And the reason these anti-evolution “theses” were rejected from reputable journals is the same reason that flat-earth posts are rejected, or why you don’t see “the Holocaust was a lie” chapters in our history books. Sometimes “I BELIEVE THIS SO HARD HOW CAN YOU DENY IT!?” just isn’t enough to make it science. Now suck it up and bring your A-game (I truly hope you haven’t been bringing it thus far) for the rest of the book.

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~ by kriskodisko on February 6, 2013.

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