Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Let's Play Creationist Whispers

Smilodon's Retreat has an excellent post taking apart some Creationist fibs.  Early on he gives us this amazing sequence of Creationist quotes showing how they gradually distorted a particular paper;

Of course, Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box (1996) seems to have started it all
University of Georgia geneticist John McDonald notes a conundrum: 
[ed note: the following is quoted from McDonald] “The results of the last 20 years of research on the genetic basis of adaptation has led us to a great Darwinian paradox.  Those [genes[ that are obviously variable within  natural populations do not seem to lie at the basis of many major adaptive changes, while those [genes] that seemingly do constitute the foundation of many, if not most, major adaptive changes apparently are not variable within natural populations.” 
In Darwinism Defeated (1999), Jonathon Wells says 
Second, in order for natural selection to produce evolution, a population must include suitable variation.  No one doubts that natural populations include variations, but are those variations the kind that can lead to large-scale evolution?  Modern research on the genetic basis of adaptation suggests that they are not.  Geneticist John McDonald considers this “a great Darwinian paradox,” since those genes “that are obviously variable within populations do not seem to lie at the basis of many major adaptive changes,” while those that “seemingly do constitute the foundation of many, if not more, major adaptive changes apparently are not variable within natural populations. 
In Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA, Volume 10 (2004), Stephen Meyer (same author of Darwin’s Doubt) says 
The problem has led to what the geneticist John F. McDonald has called “a great Darwinian paradox”.  He notes that genes that vary within natural populations affect only minor aspects of form and function, while genes that govern major changes – the very stuff of macro evolution – apparently do not vary, or vary only to the detriment of the organism.  As he puts it, “those [genetic] loci that are obviously variable within natural populations do not seem to lie at the basis of many major adaptive changes, while those loci that seemingly do constitute the foundation of many if not most major adaptive changes are not variable…”  (all emphasis in original) 
In Darwin’s Nemesis: Philip Johnson and the Intelligent Design Movement (2006), William Dembski says… well… the same thing. 
This problem has led to what J.F. McDonald has called “a great Darwinian paradox”.  He notes that genes that observed to vary within natural populations do not lead to major adaptive changes, while genes that could cause major changes – the very stuff of macroevolution – apparently do not vary. 
Note the loss of the quoted material and that words like “many major” and “seemingly” and “apparently” have been replaced with “do not lead to” and “do not vary” 
And, finally, we have Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt  (in both chapters 13 and 16) 
[Chapter 13] This problem has led to what Georgia Tech geneticist John F. McDonald has called a “great Darwinian paradox”.  He notes that the that are obviously variable within natural populations seem to only minor aspects of form and function – while those genes that govern major changes, the very stuff of macroevolution, apparently do not vary or vary only to the detriment of the organism. 
Looking at this, we see something interesting.  Behe went from just a straight up quotation.  It’s been modified using almost the exact same language and continue to add interpretations to the work.  We also see that Meyer is copying his own work from previous years.
Its almost as if the message was evolving under a selective pressure to support the Creationists cause.

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