Rising ranks of scientists doubt Darwin’s Theory

Does this sound familiar?

Ranks of Scientists Doubting Darwin’s Theory on the Rise

Another 100 scientists have joined the ranks of scientists from around the world publicly stating their doubts about the adequacy of Darwin’s theory of evolution.

“Darwinism is a trivial idea that has been elevated to the status of the scientific theory that governs modern biology,” says dissent list signer Dr. Michael Egnor. Egnor is a professor of neurosurgery and pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook and an award-winning brain surgeon named one of New York’s best doctors by New York Magazine.

Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture today announced that over 700 scientists from around the world have now signed a statement expressing their skepticism about the contemporary theory of Darwinian evolution. The statement, located online at www.dissentfromdarwin.org, reads: “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

More scientists than ever before are now standing up and saying that it is time to rethink Darwin’s theory of evolution in light of new scientific evidence that shows the theory is inadequate,” said John West, associate director of the Center for Science & Culture.

That was from the Discovery Institute in 2007. This was also from the Discovery Institute in 2010.

What Do Darwinism and ‘Climate Change’ Have in Common?

Leslie Kaufman in the New York Times reports on budding initiatives in state legislatures and boards of education to encourage or require balance in classroom discussions of global warming. The point of the piece, though, is to connect the teaching of evolution to the climate change debate:

Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools.

Some things they want to accomplish with this piece:

(1) Divide and conquer skeptics of global warming orthodoxy and Darwinism, by painting the latter as ignorant religious zealots, in hopes of starting a fight among conservatives. No doubt they’re hoping that, say, Richard Lindzen will have to explain why he agrees with those nefarious creationists on the global warming issue, and that he’ll have to spend his time issuing statements of agreement with evolution.

Funny. Opponents of evolution and climate change and tobacco control use very similar tactics – try to divide and conquer science by spreading unscientific doubts

(2) Make it harder for official bodies to encourage critical thinking on global warming, since attempts to do the same with regard to evolution have, in recent years, met with fierce resistance and only modest success.

That’s not funny. Opponents of evolution and climate change try to discredit critical thinking.

Is the debate over “evolution” the same as the debate over “climate change”?

Well, I think they’re both alike and different. First, the similarities, which I think are mostly sociological:

*Both issues suffer from “semantic creep,” which tends to prevent rational discussion.

So a vague word like “evolution” can range in meaning from the trivial and tautological—change over time and survival of the fittest—to the uncontroversial—certain organisms share common ancestors and natural selection explains some things—to the questionable and ideological—everything is the result of a purely impersonal process, we don’t exist for a purpose, we’re just carriers for selfish genes, natural selection and random genetic mutations explain everything interesting, and so forth. If you doubt the latter, you get lumped in with doubting the former.

‘Evolution’ is not a vague term. It is a widely accepted theory based on a massive amount of science.

*With both issues, dissenters, especially in science, are severely punished, and if possible, ostracized and denied tenure.

*Both issues have broad metaphysical implications, which are recognized, if not quite admitted, on all sides.

*Skeptics of both issues are customarily accused of bad faith, bias, religious bigotry, and the like.

*With both issues, the chaff of ideological assumptions has a way of contaminating the wheat of empirical evidence, and in the process, damaging public trust in science.

*If you doubt either idea, you’re accused, not of doubting that one idea, but of doubting science itself.

*With both issues, we hear a lot about consensus.

*Both have a way of surviving at the theoretical level even when individual pieces of evidence bite the dust.

*They’re both deeply embedded in the worldview of what David Brooks, perhaps with tongue-in-cheek, has called the “educated class.”

Another similarity – the Discovery Institute been a major player in trying to discredit both the science of evolution and the science of climate change.

Evolutionary theory, Neo-Darwinian or otherwise, attempts to reconstruct the past in very broad terms, and so can’t make detailed predictions about the future. Orthodox global warming theory does try to predict the future. So it’s much easier to qualify or decisively refute than is Neo-Darwinism.

A bizarre claim. They are trying to say that predictions about the future can be decisively refuted. How? By making counter predictions?

On the Discovery Institute:

The Discovery Institute (DI) is a non-profit public policy think tank based in Seattle, Washington, best known for its advocacy of the pseudoscientific principle of intelligent design (ID). Its “Teach the Controversy” campaign aims to permit teaching of anti-evolution, intelligent-design beliefs in United States public high school science courses alongside accepted scientific theories, positing that a scientific controversy exists over these subjects.

From ‘Teach the Controversy’ Comes to Climate Science

A spokesperson for the Discovery Institute said that although it takes no position on climate change, “we definitely have a position on whether or not there should be investigation in schools on that subject,” and claimed that the legislation it favors would “give teachers the right to teach both sides of a scientific controversy,” providing legal protection for educators who might want to introduce “other sides of the topic” to students.

There’s no doubt that climate change science is controversial, but it needs to be challenged with science, not pseudoscience and anti-science.

Same with the science of evolution. In the US it seems to be the same people opposing evolution science and climate science.

Perhaps the weather is Intelligently Designed too.

Doubting climate change science

It’s not just mainstream science that suggests that climate change is a problem of major importance, mainstream media tends to agree.

The Press has an editorial on Doubting climate change science is no joke

There are times when the Donald Trump presidency seems comical or even fun, an absurdist exercise in postmodern political theatre.

But in other ways the Trump administration is too potentially dangerous to joke about. Its approach to climate change is one of them.

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s appointee as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has broken with global scientific consensus and argued that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming. He told that a US news programme that “measuring with precision human activity on the climate is … very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact”.

Doubting science by claiming that a theory is just a theory without broad consensus behind it is a favoured technique of tobacco industry lobbyists and others who try to confuse or dissemble. They pretend disagreement exists where it does not or they attempt to turn very small differences into polar oppositions.

It’s not just a big business tactic, it is also a religious tactic, like on evolution.

Does this sound familiar? Discovery Institute (which also opposes climate change science)  – Ranks of Scientists Doubting Darwin’s Theory on the Rise – “Another 100 scientists have joined the ranks of scientists from around the world publicly stating their doubts about the adequacy of Darwin’s theory of evolution.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US have all been clear that rising temperatures have been “driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere,” as a report from the latter two bodies put it in January.

As noted in US media reports, Pruitt’s statement even contradicted the position held by the EPA itself and conflicts with the laws and regulations the EPA is expected to enforce. The EPA’s own website says that “carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change”.

Most observers of US politics expected that Trump would follow through on the anti-environmental rhetoric of his campaign. They expected a retreat from positions taken by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama. As a Trump insider explained last week, his campaign commitment was to undo Obama’s “entire climate edifice”.

Pruitt was known to be an advocate for the energy industry before his appointment by Trump. The New York Times reports that “in his previous job as the attorney general of Oklahoma, he sought to use legal tools to fight environmental regulations on the oil and gas companies that are a major part of the state’s economy”. He drafted letters to send to the EPA and other bodies pleading economic hardship if environmental rules were not relaxed and reportedly sued the EPA 14 times.

Pruitt is now expected to preside over funding cuts and a review of his agency’s role in monitoring emissions and protecting waterways. The implications of a wholesale attack on an environmental agency are enormous, and not just for the United States. There is nothing remotely funny about any of it.

Climate science is complex and evolving as more is found out about it. Claims should certainly be challenged claims are scientifically questionable, but cannot just be dismissed, just as tobacco harm could not just be dismissed because companies might lose some money and just as evolution cannot just be dismissed because some religious groups might lose some faith.

It is quite possible that the effects of climate change are a much bigger threat to the world, and to many more people in the world, than extreme Muslims and Islamic terrorism.

Many more New Zealanders are likely to be affected by increasingly severe weather events than they are by terrorism.

Doubting some climate science is healthy, if based on science.

Doubting the possible severity of climate change is understandable – but this doubt works both ways, it may turn out to be not as bad as generally predicted, but it could just as easily turn out to be worse than predicted.

Those who doubt the accuracy of current climate change science can’t have it that it is just inaccurate in a way that suits their ideology.

There is far less climate science that suggests we won’t have any problems with climate change than otherwise.

Doubting all climate science is not based on science, it is based on denial.

There must be some degree of climate change, there always has been. Science will help us learn more about it, it will help us limit our effects on it, and it will help us deal with whatever changes end up happening.

We should aim for better climate science, and not just dismiss it with claims of doubts.