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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Today at Colliding Universes

Colliding Universes is my blog about theories about our universe.

Major media, imagining themselves sober, think there are many universes, not just double vision
Flatland: Helping us think about the dimensions of our universe

Science fiction mag discovers intelligent design theory

Weird news from far-off galaxies ...

Big Bang exploded? Seriously, is there room for reasonable skepticism about the Big Bang?

Big new fossil find in northern Canada

From 70 million years ago:
The fossil fields were discovered in the 1980s by Canadian geologists surveying the northern tip of Devon Island, but have only recently been excavated by paleontologists. Scientists are trying to reconstruct the prehistoric ecosystem that prevailed at a time when Arctic climes were much warmer, large trees grew north of Baffin Island and the polar sea was ruled by razor-toothed water fowl and marine reptiles called plesiosaurs.
Read more here (National Post, August 21, 2008)

Here's more about plesiosaurs from an earlier find: "The remains of a prehistoric reptile that was "as long as a bus, with teeth larger than cucumbers ... in a head that could swallow an adult human whole," Yikes. Think of that next time you get on a bus ... or maybe not ...

I wonder if this will be another Avalon peninsula? (See The Avalon explosion: The dawn of life reveals another intricate puzzle)

Aussie prof on Darwin's fibs

Regular readers will recall that agnostic retired Australian political science prof Hiram Caton has been tackling the huge industry of pious legends and ridiculous reverence around Charles Darwin single-handed - but having a fair bit of fun, I gather. Anyway, he writes to alert me to a fresh batch, "About Darwin's fibs":
There's a website that discusses the issue in detail.

Darwin did indeed come up with some whoppers, the most startling being his claim, on two occasions, that none of the many naturalists of his acquaintance doubted the permanence of species. Does he think we've forgotten a chap named Wallace? Or the Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation? It's so far off the screen that it looks a bit pathological, like his comment to Asa Gray in 1858 that he feared being "cruxified" for publishing his theory.

My guess is that Darwin suffered from a combination of Avoidant Personality Disorder and Narcissism. But that's only an approximation because it doesn't clarify his moments of amazing candor about himself and his condition.
Of course, psychodrama around Darwin won't save his theory.
Anyway, the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis is past its shelf life. I've given a precis of the new position on my other website , should you wish to have a look. One of the contributors to the new position, Wolf-Ekkehard Loennig, a botanist at a Max-Planck Institute, also states an ID position. Some years ago atheist evolutionists launched a massive attack on him that carried on for some time. The documentation is on his website, should you wish to look.
Loennig, you have lots of friends in North America.

Here are some key areas that Caton thinks have changed so much that the Darwinoids huff in vain for their old tyme Judge Jones-style "evolution":

Bacteria are social creatures, not "survival of the fittest" ones

Genes can hop from one species to another (lateral gene transfer) and life forms can merge (endosymbiosis)

Archaea (or archaebacteria), a new domain of life, challenge Darwin's notion of common descent
Oh well, tThe Darwin fans can, of course, comfort themselves with reruns of TV science specials. Or new ones, for that matter. No doubt several such films are being made as I write this, assuring the public that Darwin Spake the Truth.
Pass the popcorn.

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Steve Fuller replies to Sahotra Sarkar: Say "Cheese" and tell the baboon to quit scratching himself ...

I see where Steve Fuller has now posted his response to science historian Sahotra Sarkar (see Darwinism: Sociologist's book on ID controversy denounced by three-star Darwin bore (August 13, 2008):
The book of mine that Sarkar reviewed is entitled ‘Science vs Religion? Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution’. This simple point is worth bearing in mind, since Sarkar seems to have little interest in — or knowledge of – the question defined by the book’s title.

[ ... ]

The fact that Sarkar found so much of my discussion ‘useless’, ‘extraneous’, ‘unreliable’ and ‘vacuous’ should have made him wonder whether I had written the book he imagined he was reviewing. But no — like the horseshoe crab programmed to be in hot pursuit of edges, he carried on regardless.
But Sahotra can’t really help it, can he? Evolutionary biology has, in reality, contributed so little to the advancement of any type of knowledge (other than the construction of Darwinian fairy stories) that the field is full of third-raters who simply don’t get it - and also don’t know that there is anything to get. That was one thing I quickly learned when I first began to cover the controversy between intelligent design and Darwinian evolution. They reminded me so much of the third-rate faculty of education bores I used to grit my teeth over, who were promoting theories like “self-esteem is crucial to learning.” Like evolutionary biologists promoting Darwin's theory, the education bores believe without seeing.

For the record, self-esteem is only weakly related to achievement. A moment's reflection will demonstrate it: We all know people who are sure they did "awful" on a test because they "might have" got one answer out of twenty wrong. They feel so terrible about themselves that they will experience only momentary relief when they get a perfect score next time. They will go on doing "just awful" all their lives until they have to buy a second glass cabinet to hold all their awards. And we also know people with vastly inflated self-esteem who advertise their coolness by flunking the test or not even showing up for it.

At any rate, having cut my teeth, so to speak, on education bores, I knew exactly what I was seeing among Darwin's bores.

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