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Expelled: “Denormalizing” the Darwin thugs

If I had heard the word “denormalizing” from a sociology prof, instead of from Ezra Levant, the courageous Canadian lawyer who is working to bring down Canada’s unspeakable “human rights commissions”, I would just groan.

But, “denormalizing” is a useful term for the Expelled film’s potential impact in the United States.

Consider, for example, the following recent events:

- When Rick Sternberg published a peer-reviewed paper in his Smithsonian journal that suggested support for intelligent design, a concerted effort was made to ruin his career. he was told not to come to the press conference disavowing the article because, he told Michael Powell of the Washington Post, “they could not guarantee me that they could keep order” among the distinguished Darwinist scientists (September 2005).

- At Iowa State University, brilliant young astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez was denied tenure. All sorts of questionable grounds were cited and strenuously defended (mostly by fans of materialism and Darwin). Then the e-mail trail showed that the true cause was his sympathy for intelligent design (in this case design of the universe). Did the other faculty fear his command of the evidence that demonstrates his argument? Note: The character of Gonzalez’s opposition speaks for itself in that some continued to defend the mythical grounds even after the truth was out. (May 2007)

- At Baylor University, distinguished professor Robert Marks’s Evolutionary Informatics Lab Web site was ripped down by disapproving faculty, clearly because he wanted to run simulations of Darwinian evolution that were not artificially designed to favor it (September 2007).

Most Americans knew little or nothing about these and many other Darwin fans’ acts of thuggery and deceit. Hardly even a background hum.

But the Expelled movie is “denormalizing” the Darwin activists by showing a broad public how they disrespect American values and have no use for the academic freedom to dissent in an evidence-based and scholarly way.

The next step is legal protection for their future intended victims. That is starting to happen too, in the form of academic freedom and teachers’ rights bills.

And by the way, this denormalization period is about the worst time imaginable for Baylor to be spinning its murky tenure decisions.

But don’t think for a minute it will be easy. Wayward establishments treasure their right to protect themselves by getting rid of anyone who knows what is wrong.

Expelled is a 100-minute eye-opener. But once your eyes are opened, you are responsible for what you see.

Also, at Design of Life:

Do we really have any idea how dogs domesticated us? Not really.

The textbooks say identical twins have identical DNA. The science says otherwise.

At Overwhelming Evidence

Academic freedom and teachers’ rights bills proliferate

Expelled film spotlights Baylor controversy?

At the Post-Darwinist

Richard Dawkins, the Flying spaghetti Monster loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!

*Note: To learn more about Canada’s bizarre Human Rights Commissions (“hrc”s) and the struggle to denormalize them, visit Ezra Levant’s site. Yes, the famous columnist Mark Steyn has also been hailed before a Canadian court where absolutely everyone gets convicted because there is no presumption of innocence and no valid defence unless you do not actually exist. Canada used to be the True North Strong and Free. Not any more, I am afraid. To the extent that the Canadian government actually supports the “hrc”s you will read about at these sites, it is fast becoming North American’s North Korea. It is so bad that Mark Steyn, a Canadian citizen, cannot get a meeting with Canada’s justice minister. But resistance is mobilizing. In fact, in a recent development, the Privacy Commissioner is investigating the “hrc”s. It is the first time any agency of the government of Canada has shown concern. See also the BBC story.

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67 Responses to Expelled: “Denormalizing” the Darwin thugs

  1. 1
    irreducible_complacency

    Deynse thanks for all these links. There is some realy great information there. I like your style, especially all the links and less meta analysis so we can read for ourselves.

  2. “Wayward establishments treasure their right to protect themselves by getting rid of anyone who knows what is wrong.” — O’Leary

    But of course. That which is established can’t be changed without becoming unestablished. I think it’s got something to do with survival of the fattest. And that’s not a typo.

  3. I wish both sides would tone down their language in this debate.

    How long before some nutter shoots an innocent biologist in the name of “denormalizing Darwinism”? (or bombs the DI in the name of science).

  4. Mark Frank, when Rick Sternberg was told not to attend that meeting at the Smithsonian because they could not guaranteed that order would be kept, that’s thuggery.

    Don’t ask me to sugarcoat this stuff in order to “prevent” violence. We’re past that post now, and truth is worth some risks.

  5. I wish both sides would tone down their language in this debate.

    How long before some nutter shoots an innocent biologist in the name of “denormalizing Darwinism”?

    Mark, would you have it in yourself to post on PT or some other Darwinian blog that you think it shameful that a man wronged would be warned against appearing at a press conference because of concerns about what trained academics would do?

  6. Don’t ask me to sugarcoat this stuff in order to “prevent” violence. We’re past that post now, and truth is worth some risks.

    Denyse – why the quotation marks round “prevent”?

  7. She’s mocking it. Because like preemption in war it is always based upon other speculations. Speculations which often amount to nothing more than convenient contrivances.

  8. 8

    Denyse, the genetic differences among identical twins were only discovered in 2005. It takes a while for new information to make it into a textbook. So it’s hardly an indictment of textbooks — or of mainstream science — if textbooks contain the old understanding. Big deal.

  9. Denyse,
    I find your strident tone alarming and disconcerting. In a previous post you virtually threatened somebody who disagreed with you (Beckwith), and now this. I worry that this will detract from ID not help it. Are you letting your anger get in the way of civil discourse? I also noticed you have turned off comments on post-darwinist. Don’t you think it’s important that both sides shgould be able to civilly debate, or do you just want to have a bully pulpit from now on?

    Sure, maybe you aspire to be like Ann Coulter, but remember that in the end all she really has achieved is the distinction of being a side-show and hasn’t really helped in any constructive way.

  10. I wish both sides would tone down their language in this debate.

    How long before some nutter shoots an innocent biologist in the name of “denormalizing Darwinism”? (or bombs the DI in the name of science).

    You almost seem to be implying that there’s some kind of moral equivalence between the two sides. If words and deeds are compared, I don’t think there is.

  11. russ, moral equivalence is precisely what is happening when I denounce thuggery and people tell me to tone down my language.

    Otherwise someone might get hurt. And it’s all my fault for speaking out. So I am just as guilty as the perpetrators.

    The harsh reality is that thugs don’t stop. They get stopped.

    Sometimes people get hurt. Is stopping thugs worth a try even so?

    In my experience, people get hurt around thugs anyway. So it is usually worth a try.

  12. larry -

    It isn’t that big of a deal except this – it has been assumed by the public that scientists’ claims of idntical DNA was based on evidence instead of supposition. But it turns ou that no one had done the needed tests. It’s not problematic to have suppositions that are only theoretical, but it is problematic to act as if there were evidence when there isn’t. This is turning out to be a huge problem in a large number of sciences. The two biggest of these in my opinion are evolutionary biology and medicine. The evidence-based medicine groups are finding that only about 10% of the studies in prestigious medical journals have conclusions justified by the data they collect. Even worse is when you get into the practice of medicine, and have doctors acting like that everything they do has been handed down from God when a whole lot of it is actually hearsay/tradition with no evidentiary support whatsoever.

    As I said, it is not problematic to have information based on theory, but it is improper to treat information based on theory as if it were information derived from experiment.

    However, Denyse’s criticism is actually not on the twins per se, but on the gene-centered notion of life. This research goes to the heart of the idea of gene-centered development.

  13. 13

    johnnyb, the gene-centered notion of life has been critiqued by many in the Darwinist camp, including Harvard evolutionary geneticist Richard Lewontin, who has specifically attacked the validity of twin studies. Lewontin and his colleagues have pointed out the limitations of a gene-centered approach to evolution for thirty years. And Lewontin’s no oddball: he’s one of the preeminent evolutionary geneticists in the world.

  14. 14

    People have to speak out when wrong is being done. Should whites and African Americans just have allowed segregation and racist discrimination to continue without protest due to the fear and danger of some people on either side (KKK – Black Panthers) might commit even heinous crimes in their movement’s name?

    When there is wrong it is usually worth confronting because either the current situation is worse then the possible costs of the protest or the current situation probably “will get” worse then it already is. Hence, Nazi Germany where the protest and realization of what was happening and about to happen came far too late for many.

    Its not our side that is demanding the firing of people who wish to peruse science with a methodological materialistic philosophy. We oppose those who want to peruse science and education with a Stalinist agenda.

    With all of that said we obviously shouldn’t condone any radical and certainly not violent protest. This political war needs to be fought by demanding that the battle field is the one comprised of logic, freedoms and rights, science and evidence, and above all else the desire for capital T Truth.

  15. So it’s hardly an indictment of textbooks — or of mainstream science — if textbooks contain the old understanding.

    How badly standards have fallen.

    If a school is using textbooks a few years out of date because of its budget cycle that might be forgivable. A publisher leaving outdated information in a new textbook, however, is inexcusable.

  16. re: post 7

    Frost,

    What is are the speculations? The facts are: Sternberg was pushed out of his job, Mark’s lab was closed down and Gonzalez was denied tenure. Perhaps Gonzalez was denied tenure for reasons other than his ties to ID. However, the first two do not seem like idle speculation to me. There are other cases as well where good people have been denied a job. Many good public school teachers have been dismissed for even suggesting ID. They don’t even use the “G” word. and yet are let go.

    off topic:

    Denyse, I’m reading your book “The Spiritual Brain”. So far, I like it. I am a physicists, and am particularly interested in the relationship between quantum mechanics and the human mind.

  17. Thanks kindly, Dr. Dan, re the book.

    Re Gonzalez, there is no question that he was denied tenure due to his ties to ID.

    That came out when the public records were demanded and the pre-tenure emails were read.

    Whether there were grounds for denying him tenure is irrelevant. We know the real reason now and it was not the stated grounds.

    The Board of Regents in Iowa refused to consider the e-mails because they were not part of the original case …

    Of course they weren’t. They were never meant to see the light of day.

  18. Denyse: Regarding Spiritual Brain, can you or someone else provide a link for a brief refutation of the idea that “you are just your brain and its chemical reactions”. I was laughed at yesterday for even making the suggestion that there’s more to it than that, but I don’t have time to read a whole book just now. Thanks.

  19. 19

    tribune7, it may be worth pointing out that Denyse did not cite a single textbook to support her claim that “The textbooks say identical twins have identical DNA.” She didn’t cite one here, and she didn’t cite one at the linked blog. An entirely evidence-free claim.

  20. Russ asks, “Can… someone… provide a link for a brief refutation of the idea that you are just your brain and its chemical reactions?”.

    The traditional refutation is, “And exactly who wants to know?”

  21. Leo Stotch, it is most unlikely that the Iowa Board of Regents was qualified to evaluate Gonzalez’s dossier.

    They simply chose to believe those who were qualified, and refused to hear evidence that those persons had decided in advance to refuse Gomzalez tenure because of his ID sympathies. In that case, it did not matter what was in the dossier. Those who were qualified to evaluate it were not using it as a guide, unless they could cherrypick reasons that suited their preordained cause.

    It was a corrupt process throughout. The Regents should have ordered an independent evaluation or he should have been awarded tenure as a warning to others not to try that again – with ID advocates or any others.

    All this is crystal clear. I hope to study someday the ways that people convince themselves that nothing bad really happened.

  22. The traditional refutation is, “And exactly who wants to know?”

    That’s very funny! This friend has a way of dodging questions, sometimes retreating half(?) in jest to “reality is an illusion and my mind has created you” or some such nonsense. I almost grabbed his just-purchased cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee and tossed it in the trash the other day. Anticipating his objection, my plan was to reply “Your brain imagined me, so your missing coffee is your problem”.

  23. larrynormanfan, at ScienCentralNews, geneticist Dumanski is quoted as saying: “In medical textbooks or in popular science books, it’s very often written that identical twins are identical also in the DNA,” says Dumanski. “And that’s not true. We are challenging this dogma by finding these small subtle but clearly detectable differences in the DNA of identical twins.”

    I expect he knows.

  24. Russ -

    I think you should follow through with your coffee demonstration. Even if, in the end, your friend has to go to the trouble of imagining you buying him another cup. There’s nothing like a little reality to upset a lot of theory.

    By the way, my question works even better if you ask not only who wants to know, but why. Can a bunch of chemical reactions really care about anything?

  25. 25

    OK, so textbooks have conveyed the consensus view until it’s very recently been challenged to some degree. I thought you were saying that textbooks were continuing to say this in the face of widely known research to the contrary. My misunderstanding.

    I’m still trying to comprehend why this matters. Textbooks convey consensus understanding by virtue of being textbooks. When the understanding changes, the textbooks change, but always at a rate slower than the pace of research. So?

  26. larrynormanfan, I tend to agree with you that there is no valid argument on the “textbook” issue re identical twins’ DNA. However, there is a much bigger fish to fry with this issue. The real question is, how many functional* mutations are possible per generation within the darwinian model. Some have suggested that there is a limit of two or three. I strongly suggest that the limit is one. If my mother passed to me a fortunate mutation, but I also have a fresh unfortunate mutation, how is natural selection going to select for my mother’s fortunate mutation, but not for my unfortunate one. After all, I only die once. I know, sexual selection, but even in sexual selection, I am still passing on unfortunate and untested mutations faster than I am passing on the fortunate mutations.

    The twin-study evidence shows that we are the product of many mutations, as at least 5% of our DNA is functional, we are clearly the product of bunches of functional mutations. We, therefore, must be devolving.

    *A functional mutation is a mutation that actually affects the phenotype of myself, or of my offspring. For instance, a mutation that is truly in “junk” DNA would not be functional. A mutated nucleotide in a coding gene that results in the identical produced protein is likely to not be a functional mutation. A mutation that changes the amino pattern of a protein but does not change the protein’s characteristics would not nessessarily be functional. However, there are many opportunities for functional mutations, of the functional ones, the vast majority are deleterious.

  27. The write up about the twin study is not very clear. Are the differences due to epegentic or are the differences in actual DNA changes. It seems the latter would be unlikely.

    It says that the twins who were older were more different. As we age, each cell is subject to mutations and as such there will be divergence all over the body based on these mutations. But for this to make a difference in the twin phenotypes the same mutation would have to happen millions of times for some gene not to be expressed and this is not likely. One cell can not make a difference when there are billions of cells for each cell type.

    Now epigenetic factors may be more common as diet, environment or other things are changing the methylation of a cell type and the possible expression of a gene. I do not know how much they know at present as to how diet, environment etc affect the methylation of DNA and how wide spread it would be.

    Methylation affects the expression of a gene but there are other epigenetic processes. Another epigenetic factor is the wrapping of the DNA around the histone or chromatin. Those genes that are wrapped around the chromatin are less likely to be expressed. And I do not know if they know too much about this or if this can be affected by diet, environment etc. Or if it would be affected by age.

    This is new territory for the biology world and what is in the popular literature is next to nil. The Jablonka and Lamb book covers these topics but it can get a little bit complicated. I am sure we will be seeing a lot of studies on this topic.

  28. Jerry wrote (in #27):

    “The Jablonka and Lamb book covers these topics but it can get a little bit complicated.”

    You beat me to it! Indeed, a close reading of Jablonka & Lamb (not to mention West-Eberhard) would be an eye-opener for people on both sides of the EB-ID debate. I have argued in several threads that the reason I (along with Will Provine and a growing number of evolutionary biologists) claim that the “modern evolutionary synthesis” (aka “neo-darwinism”) is “dead” (i.e. has been superceded) is precisely because the old “one gene, one trait
    ” view of reality is dying a long, slow death at the hands of current field and lab researchers.

    Ergo, it doesn’t surprise me a bit to find out that there are genuine differences between “identical” (i.e. monozygotic) twins. As jerry and others have pointed out in this thread, such differences can be caused by a number of mechanisms:

    1) somatic genetic changes

    2) epigenetic (i.e. “acquired”) changes

    3) “natural” genetic engineering (e.g. viral transduction, especially via RNA retroviruses)

    And, of course, we are now on the threshold of “artificial” genetic engineering, both somatic and germ line.

    Someone wrote recently in one of the lists I’ve posted to that the positions of some EBers and IDers seem to be converging, especially on the topic of the failure of the “one gene, one trait” model upon which both the “modern evolutionary synthesis” and much of John Sanford and William Dembski’s work is based. I view such convergence as yet another example of Hegel’s thesis-antithesis-synthesis model of the evolution of our understanding of reality. And yes, this is of course “dialectical materialism”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s invalid a priori.

    What upsets me is to see the kind of vituperation and character assassination that takes place in both camps. I:m not naive enough to think that we can “just get along”, but I hope (along with Will Provine) that we can attack each other’s ideas while simultaneously respecting each other as people.

    Yes, I know that some evolutionary biologists do otherwise. So do some ID supporters. Should we not point at both and say “shame on you” and encourage everyone who is committed to the honest search for an understanding of the nature of reality (in all of its dimensions) to treat each other with respect?

  29. Russ:

    Regarding your request for a link refuting the idea that “you are just your brain and its chemical reactions”, you might like to try this page:

    http://www.angelfire.com/linux.....ieve2.html

    See especially sections 2.1 to 2.4.

    Happy hunting.

    I would also like to support Dr. Allen MacNeill’s call for civility in the debate over origins.

  30. Allen –Should we not point at both and say “shame on you” and encourage everyone who is committed to the honest search for an understanding of the nature of reality (in all of its dimensions) to treat each other with respect?

    Of course, but ponder this: let’s say there was an institution with a tradition of iconoclasm, and made much claim to open debate and the free exchange of ideas, and was found to be dishonestly holding those with a view that all life came from a common ancestor via random genetic changes and natural selection to an oppressive double standard.

    Would the majority of posters on this board defend it? I would venture to say no. In fact, I would say the vast majority of posters would object.

  31. 31
    sagebrush gardener

    larrynormanfan, it is interesting to do an Amazon book search for:

    “identical twins” DNA

    Amazon’s “Search Inside” feature lets you see the actual text of dozens of books that reference this subject. Here is one recent example, from DNA: Promise and Peril by Linda L. McCabe and Edward R.B. McCabe MD (Hardcover – Mar 4, 2008):

    Since identical twins start out as a single embryo, the DNA sequences of identical twins are identical, or essentially identical, with extremely rare somatic differences that occur after the separation of the two parts of the embryo to form the twins. Monozygotic twins share essentially 100 percent of their DNA sequence. They are as identical genetically as human clones would be.

    I also thought it was interesting that the majority of books that refer to this are not biology textbooks, but books about forensic interpretation of DNA evidence.

  32. Allan_MacNeill:

    Should we not … encourage everyone who is committed to the honest search for an understanding of the nature of reality (in all of its dimensions) to treat each other with respect?

    This site is pretty famous for zapping dissenting voices. I find this sad. Your voice has survived here for a long time, and I think that this is the reason why. Every time I see your name show up on the ticker, I check it out. You are a very welcome addition to this forum as far as I am conserned.

  33. tribune7 wrote (in #29):

    “Would the majority of posters on this board defend it? I would venture to say no. In fact, I would say the vast majority of posters would object.”

    Nor would I defend such an institution, and would object to such a double standard. Do you have a particular institution in mind, or is this a hypothetical example?

    In this context, I would like to point out that John Sanford is still listed as a member of the faculty at the Cornell Experimental Station in Geneva, NY. As I understand it, this is a “courtesy appointment”, as his royalties from the patents on the gene gun have made him a wealthy man who no longer needs to work at the experimental station.

    Will Provine and I have invited John to make a presentation on his work at our evolution courses, and his has done so on at least two occasions. He has been very grateful for our treatment of him, and our students have gained immensely from the opportunity to “match wits” with him directly.

    Michael Behe is also still a member of the tenured faculty at Lehigh University and, like John Sanford, has made presentations in our evolution courses at Cornell. While his department has issued some uncomplimentary statements vis-a-vis his work in ID, he seems relatively unaffected by these, and pursues his theoretical work with vigor. I disagree with his conclusions, but strongly support his right to present them and find empirical evidence to support them.

    This is precisely how I believe the debate between evolutionary biology and ID should be conducted. The ultimate standard in science is empirical results; if you’ve got them, then no one can deny them.

    I have commented elsewhere on both the Sternberg and Gonzalez cases. Sternberg was publicly attacked, but was not removed from his position at the Smithsonian. Gonzalez was denied tenure, which anyone in academics knows happens all the time. Faculties can deny tenure for any reason they wish, from professional disagreements over the value of research to petty personal dislikes. Even if his department denied him tenure on the basis of his support for ID, there were and are fully justified in doing so. That’s how tenure works; it isn’t an endorsement of one’s work, it’s a group statement of whether one wishes to spend the rest of one’s professional life working with someone. Such are the risks one takes when one accepts tenure-track appointments.

    In my opinion, most of the talk about persecution (on both sides) is intended to divert attention from the real issues: lack of empirical support for a theoretical position that is adhered to more for personal and emotional reasons, rather than on the basis of evidence.

    Personally, I would prefer for people on both sides of this issue to stop whining and issuing threats and get down to doing the basic field and laboratory science that will produce answers to the questions in which we are all deeply interested.

  34. The facts are: Sternberg was pushed out of his job,

    The facts are actually that not only was Sternberg was not pushed out of his job (at the NIH), he is still a research associate:

    STERNBERG , Richard . Collaborator . Institutional affiliation: National Institutes of Health . Education: B.S. (1987) University of South Carolina ; M.S. (1993) University of South Carolina ; Ph.D. (1995) Florida International University; Ph.D. (1998) Systems Sciences, Binghamton University . Research specialties: morphological relationships of decapod crustacea; cladistics and phenetics of eubrachyuran crabs; decapod endophragmal systems . Staff sponsor: Richard P. Vari . Appointment term: 15-Nov-06 to 14-Nov-09 . Science Unit: Vertebrate Zoology, Fishes

  35. I wish both sides would tone down their language in this debate.

    Forgive me, Mark Frank, for piling on a bit, but I went to the forum page at RichardDawkins.net and typed in the following search queries: *hit (4398 hits) *ss (2304 hits) *uck (3188 hits) (no asterisks). The same profanity search on UD returned 11, 70 and 2, repectively, and the “2″ was a result of someone quoting PZ Myers or some other Darwinist. Go to Pandas Thumb and I think you’ll see a similar level of discourse to that found at Dawkins’ site.

    I know profanity does not equal violence, but I think its one indicator of incivility. Our side seems to be showing much more self-restraint than the opposition. If you can find a profanity-laced ID or creationist blog/forum, with any significant readership I’ll be surprised.

  36. Russ

    I am not trying to defend the use of obscenity by anyone but it is pretty irrelevant. When a movement results in violence the message typically has these ingredients:

    Paranoia – there is a body (the international jewish conspiracy, the western anti-muslim hegomany, capitalist revisionists, you name it) keeping us ordinary folk down.

    Revolution – things are changing and we (the valiant followers of Mao, the Musliim brotherhood, the National Socialist party) will lead the change.

    The end justifies the means – it is unfortunate if a few people get hurt but it is worth the risk. We are here to tell the truth and it is the fault of the oppressors, not us, if they behave so badly our followers turn to violence.

    Just occasionally this message is justified and the ends do justify the means. But in this case, even if all the claims are true, we are only talking about a few academics career prospects – not apartheid (see post 13 above).

    Denyse is just plain wrong when she says these people are the victims of thuggery. Look up thug in the dictionary. It means “a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer.” She is using “thug” as a metaphor and one with clear connotations of violence.

    Remember Judge Jones received death threats after his judgement. They were probably frivolous, but they also suggest a spark of violence out there that can be fanned by this sort of language.

    If ID is science then eventually it will get academic respectability the usual way. This media hype turns it into(some might say “exposes it as”) a political social movement not a radical scientific theory.

  37. Allen_Macneil,

    “Even if his department denied him tenure on the basis of his support for ID, there were and are fully justified in doing so.”

    I’m sorry – I’d just like to be clear here. You’re saying that if someone believes in ID, it’s fully justified to deny them tenure based on that and that alone?

    When you say “fully justified”, do you mean there is no cause for complaint? No one should regard that as awful, disreputable, and the people who do it should not even be intellectually discouraged from doing such a thing?

  38. Mister MacNeill believes it’s okay to discriminate in employment due to belief in Intelligent Design. Then of course, unless he wants to be justifiably labeled a hypocrite, he should support the notion that it’s okay to discriminate in employment due to disbelief in Intelligent Design too. So say if the public starts demanding that professors at universities that receive public funding be fired if they don’t believe in Intelligent Design, Mister MacNeill supports that.

    Mister MacNeill needs to read the United States constitution and Supreme Court decisions regarding discrimination due to creed and then rethink his position.

  39. re; identical twins and identical DNA

    Eukaryote cells accumulate mutations at an approximate average rate of one per one billion nucleotides at each cell division. The somatic cells taken from identical twins are many cell generations removed from the original cell from whence they both came. If skin cells were used and the twins were adults it could be hundreds or thousands of generations.

    Due to the cost and error rate of sequencing an entire human genome I highly doubt at this point in time a definitive comparison of DNA between two identical twins has been accomplished. What method was used to support the claim of DNA differences and were the differences significantly more than can be reasonably expected after so many cell divisions?

    The cost/performance of DNA sequencing is declining over time on a curve not unlike Moore’s Law – it halves every 18 months. At most another 5-6 years of sequencer cost/performance improvements will make it feasible on a small research budget to get very low error rate full DNA sequences for human genomes. I’d recommend just waiting until then. I believe that sequencing cost/performance improvements will eventually make genomic data mining the most productive thing in biology since the invention of the microscope. We might very well find that DNA does change quite a bit during ontogenesis. We can find that out by doing a full DNA sequence in a single individual at many points during ontogenesis.

  40. Russ

    Perhaps “thug” isn’t the best metaphor. Lynn Margulis called neo-Darwinists “bullies” in her address at the 2005 Woodstock of Evolution. One definition of “bully” that appears in my dictionary is “a hired thug”. Hmmmm…

  41. Allen –Nor would I defend such an institution, and would object to such a double standard. Do you have a particular institution in mind, or is this a hypothetical example? . . . I have commented elsewhere on both the Sternberg and Gonzalez cases. Sternberg was publicly attacked, but was not removed from his position at the Smithsonian. Gonzalez was denied tenure, which anyone in academics knows happens all the time.

    Sternberg, Gonzalez and Dembski all, objectively, lost opportunities and benefits due to their positions on ID.

    That you fail to defend them and dismiss what was done to them as “which anyone in academics knows happens all the time” pretty much makes my point.

  42. Leo

    The first definition of “creed” in the Princeton University Wordnet database is:

    “Any system of principles or beliefs”

    Belief or disbelief in intelligent design are both creeds in the primary definition of the word. Often in employment anti-discrimination statutes creed and religion are separately mentioned explicitely indicating that they are not synonymous terms. This serves to protect people from job discrimination due to beliefs in such things as: gay rights, affirmative action, and so forth.

  43. Leo–Well, given that many Christian Universities have a doctrinal statements that all faculty / staff / students must

    Are you suggesting that public funded institutions be as doctrinaire as Liberty University? It sounds like you are agreeing that the Smithsonian are Iowa State are institutions with dogmas akin to those that admit they are religion based.

  44. nullasalus and Allen –”I’m sorry – I’d just like to be clear here. You’re saying that if someone believes in ID, it’s fully justified to deny them tenure based on that and that alone?”

    That’s exactly what Allen seems to be saying but he still wants to know why we can’t all just get along.

  45. 45

    There seems to be an equivocation between “Darwinian” and “neo-Darwianian.” Margulis has a beef with neo-Darwinians — that is, with a particular camp — not with Darwinism writ large. She’s certainly a “Darwinist” in the larger sense, and no supporter of ID.

  46. Trib

    Employment anti-discrimination statutes apply to both public and private employers.

  47. larrynormanfan

    I’m quite well aware that Margulis isn’t an ID supporter. In fact I often quote her BECAUSE she isn’t an ID supporter. If she was then it certainly wouldn’t have the same impact when she calls neo-Darwinists “bullies”. It also wouldn’t have the same impact when she refers to herself and others in the evolutionary biology community as Darwinists or neo-Darwinists.

  48. Leo

    From the Iowa Civil Rights commission website (my emphasis):

    http://www.iowa.gov/government.....areas.html

    Employment

    Unfair employment practices.

    It shall be an unfair or discriminatory practice for any:
    Person* to refuse to hire, accept, register, classify, or refer for employment, to discharge any employee, or to otherwise discriminate in employment against any applicant for employment or any employee because of the age, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability of such applicant or employee, unless based upon the nature of the occupation.

    Iowa Code section 216.6(1)(a).

    Is there something in the Iowa statutes that you don’t understand?

    Iowa State declared that ID was not a consideration in Gonzalez’ tenure decision. Later, courtesy of the Freedom of Information Act being used to obtain copies of faculty email, it was found that the university lied about that. The lie, to any reasonable person, was a failed attempt to cover up what could easily be judged illegal employment discrimination. If the University wants to take the position that it’s a reasonable requirement for astronomers to, in their private lives outside the classroom, profess disbelief that the universe and living things are a cosmic accident absent any design or purpose, that’s fine with me as long as they state it up front and successfully defend the position in a court of law. Obviously they didn’t want to make that statement or try defending themselves so instead of being candid with Gonzalez and the public they tried to deny they took that position.

  49. Since the offense took place in Iowa and there are both federal and state statutes applicable to employment discrimination it seems like Gonzalez can file in either or both jurisdictions. That’s a matter for Gonzalez to decide.

  50. 50

    Out of curiosity, is Gonzalez really going to file suit? I’d be interested to see how that plays out.

  51. Dave-
    Do any of the Supreme Court decisions you reference above distinguish between religious and creed-based discrimination? I am not familiar with any decisions protecting anyone from discrimination based on their creed’s supporting affirmative action or anything like that.

  52. Dave- Sorry, I should have thought again before I posted. Do any of the cases discuss creed-based discrimination in any way, not just to distinguish it from religious discrimination? Or are there some cases under the Iowa civil rights law on creed-based discrimination?

  53. If I were Gonzalez I’d wait until after Expelled comes out to make any moves. I believe he’s guaranteed continued employment for one year after being denied tenure. Depending on how the political winds are blowing after the movie has been out a while it could mean a jury would be more likely to award Gonzelez with a greater damage settlement in order to set an example to other institutions who might be considering the same type of employment discrimination.

  54. leo

    Don’t be so quick to set August 4th as the use it or lose it date. Gonzalez may decide to wait until the university dismisses him one year after tenure was denied. The firing then becomes a consideration in any damage award and the date of firing then becomes the point where the countdown begins. In that case the tenure deliberation process becomes not a cause of action but rather evidence of a history of discrimination leading to dismissal. Evidence has no expiration date. If Gonzalez finds another job within his profession with equitable salary and benefits before he’s officially terminated then it might reasonably appear to a jury the damages he suffered were not that great. That might not play out that way as the courts usually frown upon any failure of the victim to take reasonable actions to mitigate the damages they suffered. If Gonzalez doesn’t make a reasonable effort to find equitable employment elsewhere knowing he is facing dismissal it might be seen as him trying to inflate the damages.

  55. Leo

    You may be correct that Gonzalez doesn’t get the benefit of a jury decision since the alleged perpetrator is a public entity. Even so it would still be worth considering how the political winds might be blowing in the future. If there’s something happening that might increase public awareness, including the awareness of any ALJ, in a manner that would be positive for Gonzalez’ complaint then it might be wise to wait for the winds of change to blow for a while.

  56. Allen MacNeill, way back at #29, said:

    I view such convergence as yet another example of Hegel’s thesis-antithesis-synthesis model of the evolution of our understanding of reality. And yes, this is of course “dialectical materialism”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s invalid a priori.

    Not that it matters all that much, but Hegel wasn’t even close to a materialist. In fact, he was an idealist, and a life-long Lutheran. (Let’s not re-write history! :-) )

  57. Thanks for brining these events to our attention. The PT-mafia (the euphemistically named “National Center for Science Education” and their cohorts at Talk Origins, and Panda’s Thumb toadies) do play for keeps.

  58. Dave,

    A religious organization can discriminate on the basis of religion. I wonder if Allen is claiming the religion exemption of behalf of Iowa State LOLOL.

  59. DaveScot:

    If Gonzalez finds another job within his profession…

    It was announced at the big Biola Expelled event that Guillermo has accepted a position at Grove City College.

  60. It was announced at the big Biola Expelled event that Guillermo has accepted a position at Grove City College.

    Pa. is becoming the center of the ID movement :-)

    Shame it’s on the other side of the state from Lehigh.

  61. tdean at 9: Yes, I have turned off comments at the Post-Darwinist and at The Mindful Hack, acting on the example and with the support of a senior blogger.

    While there were some very worthwhile posts, most were merely abuse from Darwin fans. I cannot help the fact that there is so little real evidence for Darwin’s theory. Rejecting comments with defamations like “fraud” or “liar”, or #$$%$$##$ in them is not a constructive use of my time.

    The would-be commenters can always go say whatever they like on some other blog.

  62. It is disappointing, but interesting that the the notion of Truth ( Cap T ) is honored in religious ( particularly Christian ) institutions where Science ( Cap S ) is honored in state and secular institutions that embrace “free” ( postmodern ) thinking. When does it become resolute that one holds authority over the other in these institutions? The rules about education have been changed in the last thirty or so years. Those in science ( and theology ) argue over truth, while the culture is clawing for their cultural “truths.”

    There is a sense of hope here. If science is open to the Socratic idea, so must theology. When they work in harmony, Truth ( cap T ) always seems to emerge will no catastrophes.

    We need some civil discourse in western culture. I’m afraid however, that we have given it away to politics and economics.

  63. …apologies found in paragraph 2 post 68 — WITH, not WILL.

  64. [...] of Our Fearless Leaders in Expelled The REAL Inconvenient Truth Summer Reading List from The BRITES Expelled: “Denormalizing” the Darwin thugs Nelson in São Paulo, Brazil Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection: the death [...]

  65. “How long before some nutter shoots an innocent biologist in the name of “denormalizing Darwinism”? (or bombs the DI in the name of science).”

    If the past is any indication, shouldn’t be long at all.

    But you cannot blame the person or persons who exposed the tripe and disgusting ways of the scoundrels who, in the name of St. Charles, stoop lower than any ape can to foist their flimsy theory upon all.

  66. Jerry:
    “As we age, each cell is subject to mutations and as such there will be divergence all over the body based on these mutations.”

    It seems to me that there’s a lot of confusion about this. Are people here unaware that all of your cells do not share identical DNA? One huge example is the mechanism by which the acquired immune system generates new antibodies in response to exposure to antigens.

  67. [...] Planet, Astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez has formally accepted a position at Grove City College, PA. (Informally announced on April 4 at Biola) ———————————– ISU [...]

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