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Brett J. Vickers Colin Patterson quote misuse (ftqz's quoting) Not long ago, Gene Newman (ftqz) posted the following quotes by British paleontologist Colin Patterson, trying to give the impression that he had dumped the notions of evolution and common descent. 'In fact, evolution became in a sense a scientific religion; almost all scientists have accepted it and many are prepared to 'bend' their observations 'It is easy enough to make up stories of how one form gave rise to another, and to find reasons why the stages should be favored by natural selection. But such stories are not part of science, for there is no way of putting them to the test.' Personal letter (written April 10, 1979) from Dr. Colin Patterson, Senior Paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History in London, to Luther D. Sunderland; as quoted in DARWIN'S ENIGMA by Luther D. Sunderland, Master Books, San Diego, 1984. p. 89. And: 'One of the reasons I started taking the anti-evolutionary view, or lets call it a non-evolutionary view, was last year I had a sudden realization that for over twenty years I had though I was working on evolution in some way. One morning I woke up and something had happened in the night, and it struck me that I had been working on this stuff for twenty years and there was not one thing I knew about it. That's quite a shock to learn that one can be misled for so long. Either there was something wrong with me or there was something wrong with evolutionary theory. Naturally, I know there is nothing wrong with me, so for the last few weeks I've been putting a simple question to various people and groups of people. Question is: Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing that is true? I tried that question on the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History and the only answer I got was silence. I tried it on the members of the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar in the University of Chicago, a very prestigious body of evolutionists, and all I got there was silence for a long time and eventually one person said, "I do know one thing -- it ought not to be taught in high school".' Dr. Colin Patterson (Senior Paleontologist, British Museum of Natural History, London). Keynote address at the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, November 5, 1981. As someone else recently mentioned, the winter '92 issue of _NCSE Reports_ covers the misuse of Patterson's quotes by creationists. The following are quotes of Patterson's referring to the disingenuous behavior of creationists. "I was too naive and foolish to guess what might happen: the talk was taped by a creationist who passed the tape to Luther Sunderland... Since, in my view, the tape was obtained unethically, I asked Sunderland to stop circulating the transcipt, but of course to no effect. There is not much point in my going through the article point by point. I was putting a case for discussion, as I thought off the record, and was speaking only about systematics, a specialized field. I do not support the creationist movement in any way, and in particular I am opposed to their efforts to modify school curricula. In short the article does not fairly represent my views. But even if it did, so what? The issue should be resolved by rational discussion, and not by quoting 'authorities,' which seems to be the creationists' principal mode of argument." (Letter from Colin Patterson to Steven W. Binkley, June 17, 1982). Patterson's absolutely right. Creationists like ftqz use appeals to authority, rather than their brains, to make their weak cases. Also: "Chelvam asserts that 'we are drowning' in evidence against darwinism. He cites nothing beyond the remarks attributed to me. It seems possible that he confuses two theories under the name of darwinism, the general theory of common ancestry or descent with modification, and Darwin's special theory of mechanism, natural selection. If he knows of evidence inconsistent with the general theory of common descent, he should tell us what it is. I know of none." (Colin Patterson in a letter to the editor, _Nature_ 332:580, 1988). So Patterson is no ally of the creationists, nor does he doubt the veracity of common descent. Eugenie Scott, the author of the article in _NCSE Reports_, concluded: "The 'Patterson story' illustrates two common creationist enthusiasms: taking statements out of context, and refusing to recognize corrections when made." She's absolutely on the mark, and the creationists are completely off it. --- Squish v1.01 * Origin: Universal Electronics Inc [714 939-6401] HST/DS (1:103/208)

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