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talk.origins #22820 (0 + 287 more) (1)--[2] From: lindsay+@cs.cmu.edu (Donald Lindsay) [2] Denton Rebuttal FAQ Keywords: denton rebuttall cyt c arguments Date: Sun Feb 09 21:03:33 CST 1992 Organization: School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon Lines: 161 Nntp-Posting-Host: gandalf.cs.cmu.edu Article 3749 of talk.origins: From: lew@ihlpa.ATT.COM (Lew Mammel, Jr.) Subject: Re: Denton's book Summary: I read it Message-ID: <8948@ihlpa.ATT.COM> Date: 15 Aug 88 22:42:03 GMT Organization: AT&T Bell Laboratories - Naperville, Illinois The main weakness I recall was a confusion between actual lines of descent and the modern representatives of the stages along these lines. This was most obvious in his discussion of cytochrome-c analysis. He declared that evolution predicted that ( say ) fish, frogs, and birds should have successively less correlation with a common ancestor in their amino acid sequences. This is not found, of course, since all these modern animals have been diverging for the same length of time from any common ancestor. Evolution predicts a hierarchy of groups, each of which is defined by a constant correlation with that group's common ancestor, and with the smaller more recently evolved subgroups having a higher correlation with their more recent common ancestor. The data fits this expectation very well, and this fit is rightly regarded as a brilliant confirmation of the phylogenies based on morphology. So if an author gets something THIS fundamental THAT wrong, where does that leave him? Out in left field, I say. Nevertheless, the book is coherent enough to make for some stimulating reading. That is, it may be challenging to discover the errors of argument in each case, but be aware of the author's predilection for unsound argument. I actually saw Denton's cytochrome-c argument repeated by a creationist ( Richard Bliss ) before I saw Denton's book. I reported this on the net several years ago. Another interesting, but spurious, argument is based on homologies of structures in the same organism. Denton states that hands obviously can not be evolved from feet, or vice versa, so that their similarities cannot be explained by descent with modification. Of course, a little consideration of the importance of segmentation in the development of individual organisms reveals the bankruptcy of this argument. ------------ Article 19567 of talk.origins: From: WHAMILTO@cmsa.gmr.com (Bill Hamilton) Subject: Comments on Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Denton) Message-ID: <67819@rphroy.ph.gmr.com> Date: 1 Nov 91 19:49:01 GMT Organization: GM Research Labs I came across the following letter in the December 1989 issue of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (The American Scientific Affiliation's Journal): " I am writing in response to the recent (December 1988) and lengthy review of Michael Denton's "Evolution: A theory in crisis". The reviewer, (T.E. Woodward) presented a very favorable account of a book whose claims to scholorship or integrity are woefully deficient. The book is praised as "an intellectual and spiritual delight," a forceful critique," and a "careful historical review." Furthermore, the impression is given that informed reviews likewise share the same positive appraisal. I take serious objection to all these points. To start in reverse order, five out of seven reviews I could obtain in my university library pointed out the serious errors of logic, synedoches, direct misquotes, gross factual mistakes, and even spelling errors in Denton's book. The only slightly positive comments came from the "Parabola" - an eastern mysticism journal - and from Stephen Rose who approved the critique of the path of avian evolution of flight even though he acknowledged the serious errors and oversimplifications in the book. Why are all these reviewers so irate? Basically, the same old creationist tactics and ill-founded objections. Consider Denton's facile explanation of why evolution - the object of critique is macroevolution - is accepted by the scientific community: the "priority paradigm." This Kuhnian notion (already problematic in Kuhn's own work) is given the sole task of founding Denton's protrayal of a theory in "crisis" which is nevertheless not abandoned. Denton's lack of precision - he conflates natural selection with chance - and expertise is also evident in his treatment of technical disputes within biology. These include the punctuationalists' attempts to decouple macroevolution from microevolution, the cladist attack on Darwinian phylogenes, Kimura's neutralism and discussions of the paths of evolution (such as avian flight). The standard creationist tactic consists of "research by exegesis" or eisogesis in this case; quotations from oponents in some minor technical dispute are judiciously chosen to make both positions seem untenable leaving agnosticism or creationism the only remaining alternatives. Denton's mishandling of these technical disputes enables him to conclude that there is no reason to believe that evolution of the higher taxa ever occurred. Denton unearths the typological perception of nature which was legitimately abandoned due to its lack of explanatory power. Denton proposes that all mammals are derived from a mammalian "archetype", fish from a fish archetype and so on. But how many archetypes will Denton need to account for the incredible diversity past and present species? Secondly how are these species "derived" and what are the limits to change since he allows for microevolution? Thirdly, how can this anachronistic typology account for the examples of species which are not rationally explainable in terms of types and constitute powerful evidence for the fact that evolution has occurred? Thus, whales with femurs, Archaebacteria, strange animals on Madagascar, marsupials, toothed birds, ..are either ignored or dismissed by some sleight of hand - see Denton's treatment of Archaeopterix. The whole discontinuous/continuous argument of Denton founders on his lack of precision and his failing to take into account significant research on the transitions between species or "types". Perhaps the best example of Denton's lack of intellectual acuity can be seen in his mishandling of molecular homologies. He confuses cousin-cousin relationships with ancestor-descendant relationships and comes up with the profound conclusion that both fish and humans are "equidistant" from lamprey. From the gross differences that both fish and mammals have from lamprey he fallaciously concludes that all vertebrate groups are equidistant from one another. The remarkable agreement of molecular data with traditional evolutionary phylogenies beggars description. There is no reason why humans need to be more closely related to chimpanzees than most other species of primates. Ironically, even Denton's diagrams of nested sets point to the hierarchical nature of taxonomy (already derived from paleontology and comparative anatomy) which is yet another line of evidence for the fact of evolution. Denton's major flaws lie in his scholarship and integrity. Firstly, his citations of leading biologists often distort and twist their intent (his discussion on taxonomy where he makes Halstead sound like a cladist!) Secondly he ignores arguments which he cannot criticize. Thus, key evidences for the fact of biological oddities and "imperfections," some of the better fossil transitions, comparative anatomy, biogeography, and the remarkable congruence of the geologic column with evolutionary hypotheses are not even addressed. On a personal note, I must confess to the surface persuasiveness of Denton's book. The selective treatment of evolutionary biology - focussed on difficult transitions and especially abiogenesis - and the impressive if fraudulent citations belie the true nature of the book's argument. On a second and more perspicacious reading I was at first disappointed and then finally infuriated by the unsustainable attacks on evolution and the even more repulsive misuse of sources. Denton rightly belongs with other misbegotten attacks on evolution such as Ian Taylor's "In the minds of men" - their popularity is inversely proportional to the biological or historical knowledge of their readers. Unfortunately the desire to see evolution refuted often grants evolution's critics a prior claim to truth. If we should go about refuting evolution it will require sound arguments and careful scholarship; nothing less is worthy of the evangelical community. Marvin Keuhn 48 Carling Street #1 Hamilton, Ontario L8S 1M9 Canada " -- Don D.C.Lindsay Carnegie Mellon Computer Science End of article 22820 (of 22844)--what next? [npq]

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