Message 4

Up
Previous Next

To: Steve Rudd
Subject: Re: Patton Quotes 
Date: Tue, 08 Feb 2000 02:52:08 -0500
From: Andrew Arensburger

On Tue, 08 Feb 2000 00:02:33 EST, Steve Rudd wrote:
> [Omitted at author's request]

	Quoting a sentence that summarizes an entire passage is not a
problem, as you say. However, what Patton does is to omit context in
such a way that the meaning _does_ change. If you don't believe me,
just reread the passages in question.

> [Omitted at author's request]

	"[Omitted at author's request]"? Do you even know what you're talking
about?

> [Omitted at author's request]

	Cool. Thanks.

> [Omitted at author's request]

	Okay, let's recap:

	Patton quotes from ``The Origin of Species,'' ch. 6:

: innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find
: them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?

Darwin continues:

: It will be much more convenient to discuss this question in the
: chapter on the Imperfection of the geological record; and I will
: here only state that I believe the answer mainly lies in the record
: being incomparably less perfect than is generally supposed; the
: imperfection of the record being chiefly due to organic beings not
: inhabiting profound depths of the sea, and to their remains being
: embedded and preserved to a future age only in masses of sediment
: sufficiently thick and extensive to withstand an enormous amount of
: future degradation; and such fossiliferous masses can be accumulated
: only where much sediment is deposited on the shallow bed of the sea,
: whilst it slowly subsides. These contingencies will concur only
: rarely, and after enormously long intervals. Whilst the bed of the
: sea is stationary or is rising, or when very little sediment is
: being deposited, there will be blanks in our geological history. The
: crust of the earth is a vast museum; but the natural collections
: have been made only at intervals of time immensely remote.

	Now, Darwin may have been wrong, but he did have some possible
answers. Yet Patton makes Darwin sound as if he were utterly baffled
by the question.

	Likewise, in chapter 9, Patton quotes:

: Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of
: such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such
: finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most
: obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.

but omits

: The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of
: the geological record.

> [Omitted at author's request]

	You're making a much bigger deal out of this than you should.
Nobody said ``The Origin of Species'' was 100% correct. It is not
dogma. It did not spring, Athena-like, fully-formed from a demigod's
brow.
	Darwin said many things in ``The Origin of Species.'' One
thing he said was that species were constantly evolving at a glacial
pace, tentatively adding a limb here, discarding a prehensile toe
there. At the time, there weren't all that many fossils for him to
work from, kind of like having a hundred or so frames from a
full-length motion picture. He figured that with time, more of these
"frames" would be discovered and that they'd flow into each other like
a long morphing sequence.
	In this, he was wrong. More and more fossils ("frames") were
discovered, but most of them don't morph into each other. Rather, it
turns out that most species remain static for a long time, then are
suddenly and very quickly replaced by one or more other species, which
then remain static for a long time. Sort of like a movie that shows a
static image for a full minute, then suddenly morphs into a different
image in a tenth of a second.

	Yes, puncuated equilibrium was introduced to explain why the
fossil record looks the way it does. But this is much less of a big
deal than you seem to think it is. These days, nobody disputes that
evolution happened; the debate concerns which precise mechanisms are
involved (genetic drift, the founder effect, yadda yadda) and how
important each one is.

> [Omitted at author's request]

	Okay, I'm going to be lazy and use someone else's list:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional/part2c.html#refs
Granted, a lot of these are individual speciation events, so you might
have to slog through a number of articles that don't directly answer
the precise question you asked.

	Let me turn the question around, though, and ask you for
evidence of creation. By this, I mean:
	- Evidence that creation happened. Not evidence that evolution
	  didn't happen (logically, they could both be wrong).
	- Evidence that will convince a skeptic. A skeptic is someone
	  who hasn't made up his mind one way or another, but whose
	  attitude is "show me."
	- Quoting from the Bible doesn't count, unless you have hard
	  evidence to back up your claims, in which case you can just
	  skip the Biblical reference and proceed to the hard
	  evidence.
	- Proof by disbelief doesn't count. ``I don't see how X could
	  have happened'' does not mean that X didn't happen.
	- Refereed articles from peer-reviewed journals preferred.

> [Omitted at author's request]

	Yup. The two most likely explanations for this, IMHO, are:
	1) He figured you wouldn't change anything, and decided not to
	   bother responding.
	2) He did respond, but you didn't do anything about it.

Feel free to link to my page from this one. In fact, it would probably
be a good idea to let people read the full context and decide whether
these quotations were, indeed, ``lifted from their original context
and then perversely recontextualized.''

> [Omitted at author's request]

	Hold it! I never said he was stupid. Dishonest, yes, but not
stupid.
	Or it could be that he got those quotations from some third
party and didn't bother to check them, which would make him neither
stupid nor dishonest, just a sloppy researcher.

> [Omitted at author's request]

	Cool. Could you let me know when and if you do anything about
this?

	By the way, you never responded to my claim about Mr. Patton's
calculations of the population of the Earth. Do you think he's right?
If so, why? If not, why not? Do you think I'm wrong? If so, why?

	Oh, and what doctoral degree(s) does Patton hold? From which
institution(s)? Has he published anything in any peer-reviewed
journals?

-- 
Andrew Arensburger, Systems guy		Center for Automation Research
arensb@cfar.umd.edu			University of Maryland
	Five out of four people have problems with fractions.
Previous Next