Happy Darwin/Lincoln Day!

…the Emancipator and the Evolutionizer, together again!!!

Happy Darwin/Lincoln Day everyone!!!

Happy Darwin/Lincoln Day!

A day to celebrate science and freedom!

New acquisitions for the Britain Research Library

Thanks in part to an anonymous donor the Britain Research Library has recently made a number of new acquisitions in its science, pseudoscience, and political collections.


Arthur, Wallace (1997) The Origin of Animal Body Plans: A study in evolutionary developmental biology, Cambridge University Press, XII + 338

Ayala, Francisco J. (2010) Am I A Monkey?: Six big questions about evolution, John Hopkins University Press, XIII + 83

Keynes, Randal (2009) Creation: The true story of Charles Darwin, Riverhead Books, XVII + 430

Kurtén, Björn (1972) Not From The Apes, Pantheon Books, New York, NY, VIII + 183

Levinton, Jeffrey S. (2001) Genetics, Paleontology, and Macroevolution (2nd edition), Cambridge University Press, XV + 617

Newman, Horatio Hackett (1926) The Gist of Evolution, The MacMillan Company, IX + 154


Gibbons, William J. & Hovind, Kent (1999) Claws, Jaws, & Dinosaurs, CSE Publications, 72

Walsh, Robert E. (editor) (1994) Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism, Creation Life Fellowship, Inc. VII + 645


Hayek, F. A. (Caldwell, Bruce – Editor) (2007) The Road To Serfdom: Text and documents, The University of Chicago Press XI + 283

Thanks to whomever it was!



Classic Badass Quote

Stealing a concept from my friend Ed Brayton, the following is a quote from George Orwell which I recently ran across and thought was brilliant:

Political languageand with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchistsis designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. – George Orwell

This is from Orwell’s essay: Politics and the English Language (1946), do give it a read.

[Hat tip to Jerry Coyne for the reading suggestion.]

Theocratic talking points smackdown

Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion foundation gives a Faux News talking head (who was spouting right-wing,  revisionist history, talking points) a spot on concise U.S. history and Constitutional law lesson regarding the 1st Amendment separation of church and state, check it out:

[Via Why Evolution is True]

We need creationists lecturing us on evolution like we need another fenestra in the head

The Institute for Creation Research has presented the world with another taxonomic turd from the cat box of creationist wisdom. This time it comes from ICR’s “Senior Science Lecturer” Frank Sherwin. However before I get to the main event, I want to take a closer look at the litter in which Mr. Sherwin’s little jewel is nestled.

In the February (2010) issue of ICR’s monthly Acts & Facts Mr. Sherwin (whose background is in parasitology) graced us with an article titled “Darwinism’s Rubber Ruler” in which he argues that descent with modification is untestable and that “any and all scientific evidence” can be “stretched to fit” the theory.

The first thing that comes to my mind when reading this is to ask: if this is so, then how is it that I could have in my personal collection literally hundreds of books and pamphlets, many of them originating from Mr. Sherwin’s organization, that purport to contain absolutely scads of evidence that contradict evolutionary theory?

How about Dr. Duane Gish’s (the emeritus vice president of ICR) books Evolution the Fossils Say NO! (1978) and the update Evolution: the fossils STILL say NO! (1995)? How can the fossils say “no” to evolution if any scientific evidence (in this case fossils) can be “stretched to fit” the theory?

Read on»

Happy Darwin/Lincoln day!

Happy Darwin/Lincoln day everyone!


Wilkins on Darwin and race

John Wilkins, philosopher from down under, has written a nice blog post on Darwin and race, “Myth 7: Darwin thought that Australian aborigines were closer to apes than to Europeans“:

Actually, this one is better called “Darwin was a racist”, but as the text concerned is from the same source as those claims, I thought it might be easier to evaluate a single claim and generalise from that.

Our gospel for today is chapters V and VI of The Descent of Man, published in 1871.

If you read Darwin sloppily, or to find evidence that he really was a Very Bad Man for rhetorical – usually religious – purposes, you soon come across this statement. In fact, you can find paraphrases of it in literally hundreds of creationist documents and sites. Here is the offending passage, from towards the end of chapter VI of the Descent:

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla. [p201]

Many folk read this to be making the following claims:

1. It is right that civilised races should exterminate the savage races

2. It is right that the great apes (which Darwin calls “anthropomorphous” or “humanlike”) will be made extinct.

3. When this happens the gap between humans and apes will be wider because the intermediates, apes and negroes or Australian aborigines, will be gone.

Hence: Aborigines and negroes are more apelike than Caucasians.

Let’s look at a bit of context here. I do not propose to defend Darwin from his biases, but let’s be quite clear on what they are first (and note, if Darwin turned out to be a baby eating white supremacist, it no more makes evolution false than the fact that most baby eating white supremacists are Christians discredits Christianity).

Check out the rest over on Evolving Thoughts.

It’s Playing Chess with Pigeons 1st Birthday!

It was one year ago today (March 1st 2008) that I posted my first blog entry. Thank you to all my readers who have given this blog over 67,000 views so far.

I would also like to thank my friends and colleagues who have helped me with research and all those who were kind enough to link to my offerings. I’d like to think that it hasn’t been a bad first year and I hope to do even better in the next.

Once again thanks everyone!

Intelligent design creationism playing the racism card… again

Andrew Sibley, who I recently used as an example of the two faces of intelligent design creationism, has gone on another ‘Darwin was a racist/evolution leads to racism’, tear over on Uncommon Descent, basing his comments this time largely on an article (“What’s wrong with Darwinism?“) by another character by the name of Tony Campolo on a site called Christian Today. I was going to rip into Campolo’s piece given it contains outright falsehoods about Darwin, but my colleague Jason Rosenhouse has done an excellent job of doing so already over on Evolutionblog, so time saved.

However since Mr. Sibley has my attention once again I want to address his contribution to this steaming pile:

Campolo acknowledges that Darwin was a product of his time, and clearly Darwin did not invent racism with some of his relations for instance taking an interest in abolishing the slave trade. Darwin too in his early life questioned slavery, but what happened to lead him to embrace ideas where Africans and Aborigines were considered closer to apes than Caucasians? Instead, a plain reading of the Bible teaches that all mankind are related and are of common ancestry.

Darwin “questioned slavery”, “in his early life”, really? Well, now that we’ve had the ‘good facts‘ version let’s look at the actual facts.

Read on»