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News, views and reviews measured against professional literature in peer reviewed journals (adjusted for design flaws and bias), well researched books, authoritative encyclopedias (not the bowdlerized Wiki entries on controversial topics) and the investigative reporting and skeptical studies of courageous original thinkers among academics, philosophers, researchers, scholars, authors, filmmakers and journalists.

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Halton C. Arp wki/obit/txt/vds/txt/txt/bk/bk, Henry Bauer txt/blg/ blg/bks/bk/txt/bk/vd, John Beard bk, Harvey Bialy bk/bk/txt/txt/rdo/vd, John Bockris bio/txt/ltr/bk, Donald W. Braben, Peter Breggin ste/fb/col/bks, Darin Brown txt/txt/txt/txt/txt/vd, Giordano Bruno bk/bio/bio, Frank R. Buianouckas, Stanislav Burzynski mov, Erwin Chargaff bio/bk/bio/prs, James Chin bk/vd, Nicolaus Copernicus bk, Mark Craddock, Francis Crick vd, Paul Crutzen, Marie Curie, Rebecca Culshaw txt/bk, Roger Cunningham, Charles Darwin txts/bk, Erasmus Darwin txt//bk/txt/hse/bks, Peter Duesberg ste/ste/bk/txt/vd/vd, Freeman Dyson, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman bio, John Fewster, Rosalind Franklin, Bernard Forscher tx, Galileo Galilei, Walter Gilbert vd, Goethe bio/bk/bio, Nicolas Gonzalez tlk/rec/stetxt/txt, Patricia Goodson txt/bk/bk, Alec Gordon, James Hansen, Etienne de Harven bk/txt/vd, Alfred Hassig intw/txt, Robert G. Houston txt, Steven Jonas vd, Edward Jenner txt, Benjamin Jesty, Adrian Kent vd, Thomas Kuhn, Fred Kummerow, Stefan Lanka txt/txt/vd, Serge Lang, John Lauritsen vd, Paul Lauterbur vd, Mark Leggett, Richard Lindzen, James Lovelock, Andrew Maniotis, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, Christi Meyer vd, George Miklos, Marco Mamone Capria, Peter Medawar, Luc Montagnier txt/txt/vd, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling prs/vd/vd, Eric Penrose, Roger Penrose vd, Max Planck, Rainer Plaga, David Rasnick bio/vd/bk, Robert Root-Bernstein vd, Sherwood Rowland, Otto Rossler, Harry Rubin, Marco Ruggiero txt/txt/intw/vd, Bertrand Russell Carl Sagan vd, Erwin Schrodinger, Fred Singer, Barbara Starfield txt, Gordon Stewart txt/txt, Richard Strohman, Thomas Szasz, Nicola Tesla bio/bio, Charles Thomas intw/vd, Frank Tipler, James Watson vd/vd, Alfred Wegener vd, Edward O. Wilson vd.


Jad Adams bk, Marci Angell bk/txt/txt/txt, Clark Baker ste/txt/rdo/vd, James Blodgett, Tony Brown vd, Hiram Caton txt/txt/txt/bk/ste, Jonathan Collin ste , Marcus Cohen, David Crowe vd, Margaret Cuomo, Stephen Davis BK/BK,/rdo, Michael Ellner vd, Elizabeth Ely txt/txt/ste, Epicurus, Dean Esmay, Celia Farber bio/txt/txt/txt/vd, Jonathan Fishbein txt/txt/wk, T.C.Fry, Michael Fumento, Max Gerson txt, Charles Geshekter vd, Michael Geiger, Roberto Giraldo, David Healy txt, Bob Herbert, Mike Hersee ste/rdo, Neville Hodgkinson txt /vd, James P. Hogan, Richard Horton bio/vd/vd, Christopher Hitchens, Eric Johnson, Claus Jensen vd, Phillip Johnson, Coleman Jones vds, William Donald Kelley, Ernst T. Krebs Sr txt, Ernst T. Krebs Jr. txt,/bio/txt/txt/ltr, Paul Krugman, Brett Leung MOV/ste/txt/txt/tx+vd/txt, Katie Leishman, Anthony Liversidge blg/intv/intv/txt/txts/txt/intv/txt/vd/vd, Bruce Livesey txt, James W. Loewen, Frank Lusardi, Nathaniel Lehrman vd, Christine Maggiore bk/ste/rec/rdo/vd, Rouben Mamoulian txt/txt/txt/txt/txt/doc/flm/flm, Noreen Martin vd, Robert Maver txt/itw, Eric Merola MOV, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Michael Moore bio/MOV/MOV/MOV, Gordon Moran, Ralph Nader bk, Ralph Moss txt/blg/ste/bks, Gary Null /txt/rdo/vd, Dan Olmsted wki, Toby Ord vd, Charles Ortleb bk/txt/bk/intw/flm, Neenyah Ostrom bk, Dennis Overbye, Mehmet Dr Oz vd, Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos ste/vd, Maria Papagiannidou bk, Thomas Piketty bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk, Robert Pollin txt/vd/bk, Jon Rappoport bio/bk/bk/ste/bk/bk/vd, Janine Roberts bk/bk, Luis Sancho vd, Liam Scheff ste/txt/bk/bk/rdio/vd, John Scythes, Casper Schmidt txt/txt, Joan Shenton vd/vd, Joseph Sonnabend vd, John Stauber, David Steele, Joseph Stiglitz bk/txt, Will Storr rdo Wolfgang Streeck, James P. Tankersley ste, Gary Taubes vd, Mwizenge S. Tembo, John Tierney vd, Michael Tracey, Valendar Turner rec, Jesse Ventura bk, Michael Verney-Elliott bio/vds/vd, Voltaire, Walter Wagner, Andrew Weil vd, David Weinberger bio/bk/blg/blg/BK/bk/pds, Robert Willner bk/txt/txt/vd, Howard Zinn.

I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing that ever interfered with my learning was my education. I am Freeman Dyson, and I approve of this blog, but would warn the author that life as a heretic is a hard one, since the ignorant and the half informed, let alone those who should know better, will automatically trash their betters who try to enlighten them with independent thinking, as I have found to my sorrow in commenting on "global warming" and its cures.
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Pew Survey measures the vast public ignorance that scientists can exploit

August 31st, 2005

Today (Wed Aug 31) the Times (page A9) has a predictable story by Laurie Goldstein retailing the results of a poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Center for the People and the Press, where the familiar and depressing result was to expose the grand level of public ignorance about one of the simplest and most easily appreciated scientific theories, the idea that life forms evolve naturally and without any help from supernatural intervention.

Fully 42 per cent held strict creationist views, believing that “living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” Of the 48 per cent who have somehow cottoned on to the probability that humans evolved over time, one out of five (18 per cent) thought that this was helped along by some all-powerful entity pulling strings from behind the scenes – “guided by a supreme being.”

In line with this about two thirds – 64 per cent – thought along with the No Child Left Behind president that it would be fine to teach creationism alongside evolution in schools, while nearly two out of five Americans favored replacing the teaching of evolution with creationism.

(Here is Laurie Goodstein’s story in the Times:)

Teaching of Creationism Is Endorsed in New Survey


In a finding that is likely to intensify the debate over what to teach students about the origins of life, a poll released yesterday found that nearly two-thirds of Americans say that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public schools.

The poll found that 42 percent of respondents held strict creationist views, agreeing that “living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”

In contrast, 48 percent said they believed that humans had evolved over time. But of those, 18 percent said that evolution was “guided by a supreme being,” and 26 percent said that evolution occurred through natural selection. In all, 64 percent said they were open to the idea of teaching creationism in addition to evolution, while 38 percent favored replacing evolution with creationism.

The poll was conducted July 7-17 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The questions about evolution were asked of 2,000 people. The margin of error was 2.5 percentage points.

John C. Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum, said he was surprised to see that teaching both evolution and creationism was favored not only by conservative Christians, but also by majorities of secular respondents, liberal Democrats and those who accept the theory of natural selection. Mr. Green called it a reflection of “American pragmatism.”

“It’s like they’re saying, ‘Some people see it this way, some see it that way, so just teach it all and let the kids figure it out.’ It seems like a nice compromise, but it infuriates both the creationists and the scientists,” said Mr. Green, who is also a professor at the University of Akron in Ohio.

Eugenie C. Scott, the director of the National Center for Science Education and a prominent defender of evolution, said the findings were not surprising because “Americans react very positively to the fairness or equal time kind of argument.”

“In fact, it’s the strongest thing that creationists have got going for them because their science is dismal,” Ms. Scott said. “But they do have American culture on their side.”

This year, the National Center for Science Education has tracked 70 new controversies over evolution in 26 states, some in school districts, others in the state legislatures.

President Bush joined the debate on Aug. 2, telling reporters that both evolution and the theory of intelligent design should be taught in schools “so people can understand what the debate is about.”

Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican leader, took the same position a few weeks later.

Intelligent design, a descendant of creationism, is the belief that life is so intricate that only a supreme being could have designed it.

The poll showed 41 percent of respondents wanted parents to have the primary say over how evolution is taught, compared with 28 percent who said teachers and scientists should decide and 21 percent who said school boards should. Asked whether they believed creationism should be taught instead of evolution, 38 percent were in favor, and 49 percent were opposed.

More of those who believe in creationism said they were “very certain” of their views (63 percent), compared with those who believe in evolution (32 percent).

The poll also asked about religion and politics, government financing of religious charities, and gay men and lesbians in the military. Most of these questions were asked of a smaller pool of 1,000 respondents, and the margin of error was 2.5 percentage points, Pew researchers said.

The public’s impression of the Democratic Party has changed in the last year, the survey found. Only 29 percent of respondents said they viewed Democrats as being “friendly toward religion,” down from 40 percent in August of 2004. Meanwhile, 55 percent said the Republican Party was friendly toward religion.

Luis E. Lugo, the director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, said: “I think this is a continuation of the Republican Party’s very successful use of the values issue in the 2004 election, and the Democrats not being able up until now to answer that successfully. Some of the more visible leaders, such as Howard Dean and others, have reinforced that image of a secular party. Of course, if you look at the Democratic Party, there’s a large religious constituency there.”

Survey respondents agreed in nearly equal numbers that nonreligious liberals had “too much control” over the Democratic Party (44 percent), and that religious conservatives had too much control over the Republican Party (45 percent).

On religion-based charities, two-thirds of respondents favored allowing churches and houses of worship to apply for government financing to provide social services. But support for such financing declined from 75 percent in early 2001, when Mr. Bush rolled out his religion-based initiative.

On gay men and lesbians in the military, 58 percent of those polled said they should be allowed to serve openly, a modest increase from 1994, when 52 percent agreed. Strong opposition has fallen in that time, to 15 percent from 26 percent in 1994.

That latter figure – 38 percent favored replacing evolution with creationism – is the mind boggling one.

Except, perhaps, if one watches the “Jay walking” sergment of Jay Leno’s nightly talk show on NBC, where the amiably reassuring host confronts passers by on the streets of Los Angeles with questions of childish simplicity, of the order of “Which country is to the North of the US?” or “Where is France?” As Leno shows time after time, the average youngish inhabitant of Los Angeles that he picks is completely stumped.

In principle this might be a classless democracy but it is sadly clear that those who expect the average American to know what scientists are talking about are unaware of how extraordinarily disadvantaged educationally two thirds of the population are.

Fooling all the people all the time

The chances of a public outcry when scientists in for example AIDS or cancer are exposed as pulling the wool over the public’s eyes for twenty years or more seem low to zero, for this basic level of ignorance is only the lower half of the pyramid of ignorance about science which stretches up to the top levels of power in Washington.

Small wonder that the scientists who perpetrate these unproductive paradigms on the basis of literature the most tested of which long ago showed that they were money wasting dead ends seem entirely unworried that they will ever be held to account for their actions.

It is not just the general public who are defenceless in the face of any scientists who want to engage them in the scientific equivalent of three card monte, it is the media editors and reporters, the senators and congressmen, and government officials who are in theory those who are meant to guard the public purse from any such scams.

They must depend on skilled advisors they trust, who must be able to comprehend such fields to the level where they can distinguish between viable and ill founded ideas in science, and have no political prejudice in making such assessments, even if their bosses do.

This is a tall order, as the present state of scientific policy under the hand of the Bush administration shows. There’s both left and right bias in the scientific claims that are made in the political realm, and the supply of impeccably objective and uncompromised advisors is very slim.

Yet this is a problem which must be surmounted if society is to be protected from being fooled into funding paradigms which are already exploded in the peer reviewed literature. In AIDS and cancer, in particular, it seems unlikely that the scientists who lead those fields and thus the public and governments round the world into funding the themes they sound will ever be held to account for their suppressing discussion of the difficulties that result, which according to the critiques that have survived the most hostile peer review to be published in the leading journals are inevitable because their theories do not make scientific sense.

For the only investigation which will make any difference at this stage would be either a sudden improvement in the alertness and objectivity of the coverage of these fields in the New York Times, and a long and comprehensive investigative report in that paper or just possibly a similar awakening in the pages of Harpers or the Atlantic; or a Congressional investigation with testimony from leading scientists of both stripes, that is to say, the human pillars of these two paradigms and their critical reviewers.

Perhaps this might be achieved by a pubic spirited patron willing to deliver copies to the major media, Senate and Congress of the book by Harvey Bialy, “Aneuploidy, Oncogenes and AIDS: The Life and Scientific Times of Peter H. Duesberg” (North Atlantic Books, 2004).

This invaluable survey, already a classic in the minds of many informed readers, is as we have noted earlier currently the definitive evisceration of the theory and practice of the purported sciences of AIDS and cancer as now perpetrated by the scientists who lead the field, and an account of how they managed to bamboozle even the editors of Nature and Science into helping them sideline the critiques of both paradigms by Berkeley’s Peter Duesberg, even though his rejecting reviews had been published in the very best journals after the most severe and hostile (and thus validating) peer reviewing in the recent history of either field.

The big problem here, however, is that Bialy’s book may be of great interest and satisfaction, even entertainment only to those intelligent readers with some acquaintance of the science involved in his classically precise and intellectually lively and often amusing work.

To the average reader, however, even the intelligent reader with some idea of what he is talking about, the book is a hard read, and not one which any editor, reporter, Senator, Congressman, or staff member will be able to fathom without devoting an unusual amount of time to studying its explanations of why Duesberg’s critique is irresistible even if the accumulated mass of theory and practice it takes apart has so far proved immovable.

On the other hand, the politics and behavior of the stars of science who play leading roles, and their essential corruption and evasion is dealing with Duesberg’s review of their stock-in-trade, is clear enough in Bialy’s book. It is the abundant, precise and rather technical science that he elegantly purveys throughout the book that stops most readers, unfortunately, even those who are already sympathtic to his theme.

Even for these sympathizers its difficult science – accurate and invaluable though it is to anybody seriously researching the issues it deals with, and utterly persuasive because of this precision – as a promoter of change in public policy and public opinion the book is likely to fail because it is simply not an easy enough read. With the science included at every relevant point without additional explanation for the layman it becomes at those points, as even one lay journalist actively supporting free speech and debate in these fields put it to us, “unreadable.”

For this reason we say that what the world is waiting for is a vivid journalistic expose of the politics and behavior of the scientists rather than yet another analysis of where they have gone wrong in science, a topic which has already seen fourteen very good books in AIDS which have gone nowhere, even though more than half of them do also expose very well the politics and behavior of the scientists involved.

A tipping point may be approaching

It is the focus on the politics and behavior without too much science which seems to be the crucial approach which might lead to the long awaited (by the AIDS heretics and the much smaller group of cancer theory skeptics) tipping point in these fields, such that a reexamination of the paradigms by a Congressional committee and/or the Times will be provoked.

Interestingly enough there is just such a piece in the works from a journalist of great talent who has achieved, according to the draft we read, the magical goal of reporting the politics and behavior of the scientists, drug companies, officials and activists in AIDS and their manipulation of the media, other scientists, and the data and the studies on which all depend in such clearly honest, accurate and readable terms that we expect almost all readers to smell a global-sized rat in the science of AIDS even though the discussion of the science of AIDS in the piece is minimal.

It will be interesting to see what the effect of this piece when published will be. We confidently expect its moral outrage to be shared by almost every impartial reader who encounters it, and thus that it will be influential in provoking the media and Wahsington at long last to look at the picture it draws with new eyes.

If that is so, it might be, after more than two decades of effectively complete suppression of free speech and alternative views in AIDS, a tipping point.

Cholera indexes how bad conditions can be in Africa

August 28th, 2005

Presumably cholera acts too quickly to be misdiagnosed as AIDS, but its outbreaks surely indicate how rough conditions are on the ground in many places. A little item in the Times from Reuters at the bottom of the second page on Sunday salutes this perennial threat.

The New York Times

August 28, 2005

Cholera Kills Hundreds in West Africa


DAKAR, Senegal, Aug. 27 (Reuters) – Cholera outbreaks caused partly by heavy rains battering West Africa have killed hundreds of people in the last few months, prompting appeals for medicine to help thousands of sufferers, United Nations officials said this week.


The New York Times

August 28, 2005

Cholera Kills Hundreds in West Africa


DAKAR, Senegal, Aug. 27 (Reuters) – Cholera outbreaks caused partly by heavy rains battering West Africa have killed hundreds of people in the last few months, prompting appeals for medicine to help thousands of sufferers, United Nations officials said this week.

The number of recorded cholera cases in West Africa this year is 24,621, with at least 401 deaths in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, according to United Nations data.

In Guinea-Bissau, the hardest hit, cholera deaths have more than doubled since Aug. 9, rising to 188 from 84. An official in the Health Ministry in Bissau, the capital, which has borne the brunt of the epidemic, said more than 9,000 cases had been recorded and that the disease was spreading rapidly in the provinces.

In Congo, a cholera outbreak in a convoy of about 3,000 soldiers traveling with their families in the east killed at least 16 people and infected hundreds, aid officials said Friday. Relief workers said the convoy, had dropped off hundreds of infected people in villages along the way, spreading exposure to local residents.

Cholera can kill victims within 24 hours by inducing vomiting and diarrhea that cause severe dehydration, but it is treatable using a simple mixture of water and rehydration salts.

Often associated with heavy rains that flood latrines or contaminate wells, cholera usually kills people who are so poor they cannot afford basic health care.

Several countries have sent aid, including France, China and Portugal, but United Nations officials said more was needed.

Career advice to AIDS heretics from Kit

August 27th, 2005

“Try to keep an open mind and understand the viewpoints of others. Consider the minority opinion. But try to get along with the majority of opinion once it is accepted.”

(Martin Sheen as the trigger happy killer Kit in Terrence Malick’s Badlands, trying out the dictaphone in the rich man’s mansion).

Career advice for scientists from Kit

August 25th, 2005

“Try to keep an open mind and understand the viewpoints of others. Consider the minority opinion. But try to get along with the majority of opinion once it is accepted.”

(Martin Sheen as the trigger happy killer Kit in Terrence Malick’s Badlands, trying out the dictaphone in the rich man’s mansion).

The Times surveys the ID vs Darwin scene with equanimity

August 22nd, 2005

Perhaps inspired by George W’s suggestion for schools, the New York Times yesterday had on the front page for Hampton’s beach reading a nicely balanced, typically non-combative survey of the science, politics and funding of Intelligent Design and its bid to elbow aside evolution to share the center of the stage in the schools and in the media.

It is interesting to note the Harvard student roots of this phenomenon, and the fact that some of the original boosters have fallen by the way side, put off by the streaks of archconservatism and religious fundamentalism they found under the surface layer of open minded reason and speculation.

From our scientific perspective we can only ask both sides again why the gaps in evolutionary explanation need to be denied, and why God is needed to fill them.

See Politicized Scholars Put Evolution on the Defensive, by Jodi Wilgoren

The New York Times

August 21, 2005

Politicized Scholars Put Evolution on the Defensive


SEATTLE – When President Bush plunged into the debate over the teaching of evolution this month, saying, “both sides ought to be properly taught,” he seemed to be reading from the playbook of the Discovery Institute, the conservative think tank here that is at the helm of this newly volatile frontier in the nation’s culture wars.

After toiling in obscurity for nearly a decade, the institute’s Center for Science and Culture has emerged in recent months as the ideological and strategic backbone behind the eruption of skirmishes over science in school districts and state capitals across the country. Pushing a “teach the controversy” approach to evolution, the institute has in many ways transformed the debate into an issue of academic freedom rather than a confrontation between biology and religion.

Mainstream scientists reject the notion that any controversy over evolution even exists. But Mr. Bush embraced the institute’s talking points by suggesting that alternative theories and criticism should be included in biology curriculums “so people can understand what the debate is about.”

Financed by some of the same Christian conservatives who helped Mr. Bush win the White House, the organization’s intellectual core is a scattered group of scholars who for nearly a decade have explored the unorthodox explanation of life’s origins known as intelligent design.

Together, they have mounted a politically savvy challenge to evolution as the bedrock of modern biology, propelling a fringe academic movement onto the front pages and putting Darwin’s defenders firmly on the defensive.

Like a well-tooled electoral campaign, the Discovery Institute has a carefully crafted, poll-tested message, lively Web logs – and millions of dollars from foundations run by prominent conservatives like Howard and Roberta Ahmanson, Philip F. Anschutz and Richard Mellon Scaife. The institute opened an office in Washington last fall and in January hired the same Beltway public relations firm that promoted the Contract With America in 1994.

“We are in the very initial stages of a scientific revolution,” said the center’s director, Stephen C. Meyer, 47, a historian and philosopher of science recruited by Discovery after he protested a professor’s being punished for criticizing Darwin in class. “We want to have an effect on the dominant view of our culture.”

For the institute’s president, Bruce K. Chapman, a Rockefeller Republican turned Reagan conservative, intelligent design appealed to his contrarian, futuristic sensibilities – and attracted wealthy, religious philanthropists like the Ahmansons at a time when his organization was surviving on a shoestring. More student of politics than science geek, Mr. Chapman embraced the evolution controversy as the institute’s signature issue precisely because of its unpopularity in the establishment.

“When someone says there’s one thing you can’t talk about, that’s what I want to talk about,” said Mr. Chapman, 64.

As much philosophical worldview as scientific hypothesis, intelligent design challenges Darwin’s theory of natural selection by arguing that some organisms are too complex to be explained by evolution alone, pointing to the possibility of supernatural influences. While mutual acceptance of evolution and the existence of God appeals instinctively to a faithful public, intelligent design is shunned as heresy in mainstream universities and science societies as untestable in laboratories.

Entering the Public Policy Sphere

From its nondescript office suites here, the institute has provided an institutional home for the dissident thinkers, pumping $3.6 million in fellowships of $5,000 to $60,000 per year to 50 researchers since the science center’s founding in 1996. Among the fruits are 50 books on intelligent design, many published by religious presses like InterVarsity or Crossway, and two documentaries that were broadcast briefly on public television. But even as the institute spearheads the intellectual development of intelligent design, it has staked out safer turf in the public policy sphere, urging states and school boards simply to include criticism in evolution lessons rather than actually teach intelligent design.

Since the presidential election last fall, the movement has made inroads and evolution has emerged as one of the country’s fiercest cultural battlefronts, with the National Center for Science Education tracking 78 clashes in 31 states, more than twice the typical number of incidents. Discovery leaders have been at the heart of the highest-profile developments: helping a Roman Catholic cardinal place an opinion article in The New York Times in which he sought to distance the church from evolution; showing its film promoting design and purpose in the universe at the Smithsonian; and lobbying the Kansas Board of Education in May to require criticism of evolution.

These successes follow a path laid in a 1999 Discovery manifesto known as the Wedge Document, which sought “nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies” in favor of a “broadly theistic understanding of nature.”

President Bush’s signature education law, known as No Child Left Behind, also helped, as mandatory testing prompted states to rewrite curriculum standards. Ohio, New Mexico and Minnesota have embraced the institute’s “teach the controversy” approach; Kansas is expected to follow suit in the fall.

Detractors dismiss Discovery as a fundamentalist front and intelligent design as a clever rhetorical detour around the 1987 Supreme Court ruling banning creationism from curriculums. But the institute’s approach is more nuanced, scholarly and politically adept than its Bible-based predecessors in the century-long battle over biology.

A closer look shows a multidimensional organization, financed by missionary and mainstream groups – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provides $1 million a year, including $50,000 of Mr. Chapman’s $141,000 annual salary – and asserting itself on questions on issues as varied as local transportation and foreign affairs.

Many of the research fellows, employees and board members are, indeed, devout and determinedly conservative; pictures of William J. Bennett, the moral crusader and former drug czar, are fixtures on office walls, and some leaders have ties to movement mainstays like Focus on the Family. All but a few in the organization are Republicans, though these include moderates drawn by the institute’s pragmatic, iconoclastic approach on nonideological topics like technology.

But even as intelligent design has helped raise Discovery’s profile, the institute is starting to suffer from its success. Lately, it has tried to distance itself from lawsuits and legislation that seek to force schools to add intelligent design to curriculums, placing it in the awkward spot of trying to promote intelligent design as a robust frontier for scientists but not yet ripe for students.

The group is also fending off attacks from the left, as critics liken it to Holocaust deniers or the Taliban. Concerned about the criticism, Discovery’s Cascadia project, which focuses on regional transportation and is the recipient of the large grant from the Gates Foundation, created its own Web site to ensure an individual identity.

“All ideas go through three stages – first they’re ignored, then they’re attacked, then they’re accepted,” said Jay W. Richards, a philosopher and the institute’s vice president. “We’re kind of beyond the ignored stage. We’re somewhere in the attack.”

Origins of an Institute

Founded in 1990 as a branch of the Hudson Institute, based in Indianapolis, the institute was named for the H.M.S. Discovery, which explored Puget Sound in 1792. Mr. Chapman, a co-author of a 1966 critique of Barry M. Goldwater’s anti-civil-rights campaign, “The Party That Lost Its Head,” had been a liberal Republican on the Seattle City Council and candidate for governor, but moved to the right in the Reagan administration, where he served as director of the Census Bureau and worked for Edwin Meese III.

In late 1993, Mr. Chapman clipped an essay in The Wall Street Journal by Dr. Meyer, who was teaching at a Christian college in Spokane, Wash., concerning a biologist yanked from a lecture hall for discussing intelligent design. About a year later, over dinner at the Sorrento Hotel here, Dr. Meyer and George Gilder, Mr. Chapman’s long-ago Harvard roommate and his writing partner, discovered parallel theories of mind over materialism in their separate studies of biology and economics.

“Bruce kind of perked up and said, ‘This is what makes a think tank,’ ” Dr. Meyer recalled. “There was kind of an ‘Aha!’ moment in the conversation, there was a common metaphysic in these two ideas.”

That summer of 1995, Mr. Chapman and Dr. Meyer had dinner with a representative of the Ahmansons, the banking billionaires from Orange County, Calif., who had previously given a small grant to the institute and underwritten an early conclave of intelligent design scholars. Dr. Meyer, who had grown friendly enough with the Ahmansons to tutor their young son in science, recalled being asked, “What could you do if you had some financial backing?”

So in 1996, with the promise of $750,000 over three years from the Ahmansons and a smaller grant from the MacLellan Foundation, which supports organizations “committed to furthering the Kingdom of Christ,” according to its Web site, the institute’s Center for Science and Culture was born.

“Bruce is a contrarian, and this was a contrarian idea,” said Edward J. Larson, the historian and author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on the Scopes Monkey Trial, who was an early fellow at the institute, but left in part because of its drift to the right. “The institute was living hand-to-mouth. Here was an academic, credible activity that involved funders. It interested conservatives. It brought in money.”

Support From Religious Groups

The institute would not provide details about its backers “because they get harassed,” Mr. Chapman said. But a review of tax documents on, a Web site that collects data on foundations, showed its grants and gifts jumped to $4.1 million in 2003 from $1.4 million in 1997, the most recent and oldest years available. The records show financial support from 22 foundations, at least two-thirds of them with explicitly religious missions.

There is the Henry P. and Susan C. Crowell Trust of Colorado Springs, whose Web site describes its mission as “the teaching and active extension of the doctrines of evangelical Christianity.” There is also the AMDG Foundation in Virginia, run by Mark Ryland, a Microsoft executive turned Discovery vice president: the initials stand for Ad Majorem Dei Glorium, Latin for “To the greater glory of God,” which Pope John Paul II etched in the corner of all his papers.

And the Stewardship Foundation, based in Tacoma, Wash., whose Web site says it was created “to contribute to the propagation of the Christian Gospel by evangelical and missionary work,” gave the group more than $1 million between 1999 and 2003.

By far the biggest backers of the intelligent design efforts are the Ahmansons, who have provided 35 percent of the science center’s $9.3 million since its inception and now underwrite a quarter of its $1.3 million annual operations. Mr. Ahmanson also sits on Discovery’s board.

The Ahmansons’ founding gift was joined by $450,000 from the MacLellan Foundation, based in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“We give for religious purposes,” said Thomas H. McCallie III, its executive director. “This is not about science, and Darwin wasn’t about science. Darwin was about a metaphysical view of the world.”

The institute also has support from secular groups like the Verizon Foundation and the Gates Foundation, which gave $1 million in 2000 and pledged $9.35 million over 10 years in 2003. Greg Shaw, a grant maker at the Gates Foundation, said the money was “exclusive to the Cascadia project” on regional transportation.

But the evolution controversy has cost it the support of the Bullitt Foundation, based here, which gave $10,000 in 2001 for transportation, as well as the John Templeton Foundation in Pennsylvania, whose Web site defines it as devoted to pursuing “new insights between theology and science.”

Denis Hayes, director of the Bullitt Foundation, described Discovery in an e-mail message as “the institutional love child of Ayn Rand and Jerry Falwell,” saying, “I can think of no circumstances in which the Bullitt Foundation would fund anything at Discovery today.”

Charles L. Harper Jr., the senior vice president of the Templeton Foundation, said he had rejected the institute’s entreaties since providing $75,000 in 1999 for a conference in which intelligent design proponents confronted critics. “They’re political – that for us is problematic,” Mr. Harper said. While Discovery has “always claimed to be focused on the science,” he added, “what I see is much more focused on public policy, on public persuasion, on educational advocacy and so forth.”

For three years after completing graduate school in 1996, William A. Dembski could not find a university job, but he nonetheless received what he called “a standard academic salary” of $40,000 a year.

“I was one of the early beneficiaries of Discovery largess,” said Dr. Dembski, whose degrees include a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Chicago, one in philosophy from the University of Illinois and a master’s of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Money for Teachers and Students

Since its founding in 1996, the science center has spent 39 percent of its $9.3 million on research, Dr. Meyer said, underwriting books or papers, or often just paying universities to release professors from some teaching responsibilities so that they can ponder intelligent design. Over those nine years, $792,585 financed laboratory or field research in biology, paleontology or biophysics, while $93,828 helped graduate students in paleontology, linguistics, history and philosophy.

The 40 fellows affiliated with the science center are an eclectic group, including David Berlinski, an expatriate mathematician living in Paris who described his only religion to be “having a good time all the time,” and Jonathan Wells, a member of the Unification Church, led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who once wrote in an essay, “My prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism.”

Their credentials – advanced degrees from Stanford, Columbia, Yale, the University of Texas, the University of California – are impressive, but their ideas are often ridiculed in the academic world.

“They’re interested in the same things I’m interested in – no one else is,” Guillermo Gonzalez, 41, an astronomer at the University of Iowa, said of his colleagues at Discovery. “What I’m doing, frankly, is frowned upon by most of my colleagues. It’s not something a ‘scientist’ is supposed to do.” Other than Dr. Berlinski, most fellows, like their financiers, are fundamentalist Christians, though they insist their work is serious science, not closet creationism.

“I believe that God created the universe,” Dr. Gonzalez said. “What I don’t know is whether that evidence can be tested objectively. I ask myself the tough questions.”

Discovery sees the focus on its fellows and financial backers as a diversionary tactic by its opponents. “We’re talking about evidence, and they want to talk about us,” Dr. Meyer said.

But Philip Gold, a former fellow who left in 2002, said the institute had grown increasingly religious. “It evolved from a policy institute that had a religious focus to an organization whose primary mission is Christian conservatism,” he said.

That was certainly how many people read the Wedge Document, a five-page outline of a five-year plan for the science center that originated as a fund-raising pitch but was soon posted on the Internet by critics.

“Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions,” the document says. Among its promises are seminars “to encourage and equip believers with new scientific evidence that support the faith, as well as to ‘popularize’ our ideas in the broader culture.”

One sign of any political movement’s advancement is when adherents begin to act on their own, often without the awareness of the leadership. That, according to institute officials, is what happened in 1999, when a new conservative majority on the Kansas Board of Education shocked the nation – and their potential allies here at the institute – by dropping all references to evolution from the state’s science standards.

“When there are all these legitimate scientific controversies, this was silly, outlandish, counterproductive,” said John G. West, associate director of the science center, who said he and his colleagues learned of that 1999 move in Kansas from newspaper accounts. “We began to think, ‘Look, we’re going to be stigmatized with what everyone does if we don’t make our position clear.’ “

Out of this developed Discovery’s “teach the controversy” approach, which endorses evolution as a staple of any biology curriculum – so long as criticism of Darwin is also in the lesson plan. This satisfied Christian conservatives but also appealed to Republican moderates and, under the First Amendment banner, much of the public (71 percent in a Discovery-commissioned Zogby poll in 2001 whose results were mirrored in newspaper polls).

“They have packaged their message much more cleverly than the creation science people have,” said Eugenie C. Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, the leading defender of evolution. “They present themselves as being more mainstream. I prefer to think of that as creationism light.”

A watershed moment came with the adoption in 2001 of the No Child Left Behind Act, whose legislative history includes a passage that comes straight from the institute’s talking points. “Where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy,” was language that Senator Rick Santorum, Republican of Pennsylvania, tried to include.

Pointing to that principle, institute fellows in 2002 played important roles in pushing the Ohio Board of Education to adopt a “teach the controversy” approach and helped devise a curriculum to support it. The following year, they successfully urged changes to textbooks in Texas to weaken the argument for evolution, and they have been consulted in numerous other cases as school districts or states consider changing their approach to biology.

But this spring, at the hearings in Kansas, Mr. Chapman grew visibly frustrated as his supposed allies began talking more and more about intelligent design.

John Calvert, the managing director of the Intelligent Design Network, based in Kansas, said the institute had the intellectual and financial resources to “lead the movement” but was “more cautious” than he would like. “They want to avoid the discussion of religion because that detracts from the focus on the science,” he said.

Dr. West, who leads the science center’s public policy efforts, said it did not support mandating the teaching of intelligent design because the theory was not yet developed enough and there was no appropriate curriculum. So the institute has opposed legislation in Pennsylvania and Utah that pushes intelligent design, instead urging lawmakers to follow Ohio’s lead.

“A lot of people are trying to hijack the issue on both the left and the right,” Dr. West said.

Dr. Chapman, for his part, sees even these rough spots as signs of success.

“All ideas that achieve a sort of uniform acceptance ultimately fall apart whether it’s in the sciences or philosophy or politics after a few people keep knocking away at it,” he said. “It’s wise for society not to punish those people.”

Jack Begg, David Bernstein and Alain Delaquérière contributed reporting for this article.

Now this morning we have another informative Times piece by Kenneth Chang, a science reporter with a wide perspective and a mathematical objecticity, on exactly what evidence in evolution the ID promoters are saying has to be explained by divine intervention. In Explaining Life’s Complexity, Darwinists and Doubters Clash, by Kenneth Chang

The New York Times

August 22, 2005

In Explaining Life’s Complexity, Darwinists and Doubters Clash


At the heart of the debate over intelligent design is this question: Can a scientific explanation of the history of life include the actions of an unseen higher being?

The proponents of intelligent design, a school of thought that some have argued should be taught alongside evolution in the nation’s schools, say that the complexity and diversity of life go beyond what evolution can explain.

Biological marvels like the optical precision of an eye, the little spinning motors that propel bacteria and the cascade of proteins that cause blood to clot, they say, point to the hand of a higher being at work in the world.

In one often-cited argument, Michael J. Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University and a leading design theorist, compares complex biological phenomena like blood clotting to a mousetrap: Take away any one piece – the spring, the baseboard, the metal piece that snags the mouse – and the mousetrap stops being able to catch mice.

Similarly, Dr. Behe argues, if any one of the more than 20 proteins involved in blood clotting is missing or deficient, as happens in hemophilia, for instance, clots will not form properly.

Such all-or-none systems, Dr. Behe and other design proponents say, could not have arisen through the incremental changes that evolution says allowed life to progress to the big brains and the sophisticated abilities of humans from primitive bacteria.

These complex systems are “always associated with design,” Dr. Behe, the author of the 1996 book “Darwin’s Black Box,” said in an interview. “We find such systems in biology, and since we know of no other way that these things can be produced, Darwinian claims notwithstanding, then we are rational to conclude they were indeed designed.”

It is an argument that appeals to many Americans of faith.

But mainstream scientists say that the claims of intelligent design run counter to a century of research supporting the explanatory and predictive power of Darwinian evolution, and that the design approach suffers from fundamental problems that place it outside the realm of science. For one thing, these scientists say, invoking a higher being as an explanation is unscientific.

“One of the rules of science is, no miracles allowed,” said Douglas H. Erwin, a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian Institution. “That’s a fundamental presumption of what we do.”

That does not mean that scientists do not believe in God. Many do. But they see science as an effort to find out how the material world works, with nothing to say about why we are here or how we should live.

And in that quest, they say, there is no need to resort to otherworldly explanations. So much evidence has been provided by evolutionary studies that biologists are able to explain even the most complex natural phenomena and to fill in whatever blanks remain with solid theories.

This is possible, in large part, because evolution leaves tracks like the fossil remains of early animals or the chemical footprints in DNA that have been revealed by genetic research.

For example, while Dr. Behe and other leading design proponents see the blood clotting system as a product of design, mainstream scientists see it as a result of a coherent sequence of evolutionary events.

Early vertebrates like jawless fish had a simple clotting system, scientists believe, involving a few proteins that made blood stick together, said Russell F. Doolittle, a professor of molecular biology at the University of California, San Diego.

Scientists hypothesize that at some point, a mistake during the copying of DNA resulted in the duplication of a gene, increasing the amount of protein produced by cells.

Most often, such a change would be useless. But in this case the extra protein helped blood clot, and animals with the extra protein were more likely to survive and reproduce. Over time, as higher-order species evolved, other proteins joined the clotting system. For instance, several proteins involved in the clotting of blood appear to have started as digestive enzymes.

By studying the evolutionary tree and the genetics and biochemistry of living organisms, Dr. Doolittle said, scientists have largely been able to determine the order in which different proteins became involved in helping blood clot, eventually producing the sophisticated clotting mechanisms of humans and other higher animals. The sequencing of animal genomes has provided evidence to support this view.

For example, scientists had predicted that more primitive animals such as fish would be missing certain blood-clotting proteins. In fact, the recent sequencing of the fish genome has shown just this.

“The evidence is rock solid,” Dr. Doolittle said.

Intelligent design proponents have advanced their views in books for popular audiences and in a few scientific articles. Some have developed mathematical formulas intended to tell whether something was designed or formed by natural processes.

Mainstream scientists say that intelligent design represents a more sophisticated – and thus more seductive – attack on evolution. Unlike creationists, design proponents accept many of the conclusions of modern science. They agree with cosmologists that the age of the universe is 13.6 billion years, not fewer than 10,000 years, as a literal reading of the Bible would suggest. They accept that mutation and natural selection, the central mechanisms of evolution, have acted on the natural world in small ways, for example, leading to the decay of eyes in certain salamanders that live underground.

Some intelligent design advocates even accept common descent, the notion that all species came from a common ancestor, a central tenet of evolution.

Although a vast majority of scientists accept evolution, the Discovery Institute, a research group in Seattle that has emerged as a clearinghouse for the intelligent design movement, says that 404 scientists, including 70 biologists, have signed a petition saying they are skeptical of Darwinism.

Nonetheless, many scientists regard intelligent design as little more than creationism dressed up in pseudoscientific clothing. Despite its use of scientific language and the fact that some design advocates are scientists, they say, the design approach has so far offered only philosophical objections to evolution, not any positive evidence for the intervention of a designer.

‘Truncated View of Reality’

If Dr. Behe’s mousetrap is one of the most familiar arguments for design, another is the idea that intelligence is obvious in what it creates. Read a novel by Hemingway, gaze at the pyramids, and a designer’s hand is manifest, design proponents say.

But mainstream scientists, design proponents say, are unwilling to look beyond the material world when it comes to explaining things like the construction of an eye or the spinning motors that propel bacteria. What is wrong, they ask, with entertaining the idea that what looks like it was designed was actually designed?

“If we’ve defined science such that it cannot get to the true answer, we’ve got a pretty lame definition of science,” said Douglas D. Axe, a molecular biologist and the director of research at the Biologic Institute, a new research center in Seattle that looks at the organization of biological systems, including intelligent design issues. Dr. Axe said he had received “significant” financing from the Discovery Institute, but he declined to give any other details about the institute or its financing.

Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, compares the design approach to the work of archaeologists investigating an ancient civilization.

“Imagine you’re an archaeologist and you’re looking at an inscription, and you say, ‘Well, sorry, that looks like it’s intelligent but we can’t invoke an intelligent cause because, as a matter of method, we have to limit ourselves to materialistic processes,’ ” Dr. Meyer said. “That would be nuts.”

He added, “Call it miracle, call it some other pejorative term, but the fact remains that the materialistic view is a truncated view of reality.”

William Paley, an Anglican priest, made a similar argument in the early 19th century. Someone who finds a rock can easily imagine how wind and rain shaped it, he reasoned. But someone who finds a pocket watch lying on the ground instantly knows that it was not formed by natural processes.

With living organisms so much more complicated than watches, he wrote, “The marks of design are too strong to be got over.”

Mainstream scientists say that the scientific method is indeed restricted to the material world, because it is trying to find out how it works. Simply saying, “it must have been designed,” they say, is simply a way of not tackling the hardest problems.

They say they have no disagreement with studying phenomena for which there are, as yet, no explanations.

It is the presumption of a designer that mainstream scientists dispute, because there are no artifacts or biological signs – no scientific evidence, in other words – to suggest a designer’s presence.

Darwin’s theory, in contrast, has over the last century yielded so many solid findings that no mainstream biologist today doubts its basic tenets, though they may argue about particulars.

The theory has unlocked many of the mysteries of the natural world. For example, by studying the skeletons of whales, evolutionary scientists have been able to trace the history of their descent from small-hoofed land mammals. They made predictions about what the earliest water-dwelling whales might look like. And, in 1994, paleontologists reported discovering two such species, with many of the anatomical features that scientists had predicted.

Darwin’s Finches

Nowhere has evolution been more powerful than in its prediction that there must be a means to pass on information from one generation to another. Darwin did not know the biological mechanism of inheritance, but the theory of evolution required one.

The discovery of DNA, the sequencing of the human genome, the pinpointing of genetic diseases and the discovery that a continuum of life from a single cell to a human brain can be detected in DNA are all a result of evolutionary theory.

Darwin may have been the classic scientific observer. He observed that individuals in a given species varied considerably, variations now known to be caused by mutations in their genetic code. He also realized that constraints of food and habitat sharply limited population growth; not every individual could survive and reproduce.

This competition, he hypothesized, meant that those individuals with helpful traits multiplied, passing on those traits to their numerous offspring. Negative or useless traits did not help individuals reproduce, and those traits faded away, a process that Darwin called natural selection.

The finches that Darwin observed in the Galápagos Islands provide the most famous example of this process. The species of finch that originally found its way to the Galápagos from South America had a beak shaped in a way that was ideal for eating seeds. But once arrived on the islands, that finch eventually diversified into 13 species. The various Galápagos finches have differently shaped beaks, each fine-tuned to take advantage of a particular food, like fruit, grubs, buds or seeds.

Such small adaptations can arise within a few generations. Darwin surmised that over millions of years, these small changes would accumulate, giving rise to the myriad of species seen today.

The number of organisms that, in those long periods, ended up being preserved as fossils is infinitesimal. As a result, the evolutionary record – the fossils of long-extinct organisms found preserved in rock – is necessarily incomplete, and some species appear to burst out of nowhere.

Some supporters of intelligent design have argued that such gaps undermine the evidence for evolution.

For instance, during the Cambrian explosion a half a billion years ago, life diversified to shapes with limbs and shells from jellyfish-like blobs, over a geologically brief span of 30 million years.

Dr. Meyer sees design at work in these large leaps, which signified the appearance of most modern forms of life. He argues that genetic mutations do not have the power to create new shapes of animals.

But molecular biologists have found genes that control the function of other genes, switching them on and off. Small mutations in these controller genes could produce new species. In addition, new fossils are being found and scientists now know that many changes occurred in the era before the Cambrian – a period that may have lasted 100 million years – providing more time for change.

The Cambrian explosion, said David J. Bottjer, a professor of earth sciences at the University of Southern California and president of the Paleontological Society, is “a wonderful mystery in that we don’t know everything yet.”

“I think it will be just a matter of time before smart people will be able to figure a lot more of this out,” Dr. Bottjer said. “Like any good scientific problem.”

Purposeful Patterns

Intelligent design proponents have been stung by claims that, in contrast to mainstream scientists, they do not form their own theories or conduct original research. They say they are doing the mathematical work and biological experiments needed to put their ideas on firm scientific ground.

For example, William A. Dembski, a mathematician who drew attention when he headed a short-lived intelligent design institute at Baylor University, has worked on mathematical algorithms that purport to tell the difference between objects that were designed and those that occurred naturally.

Dr. Dembski says designed objects, like Mount Rushmore, show complex, purposeful patterns that evince the existence of intelligence. Mathematical calculations like those he has developed, he argues, could detect those patterns, for example, distinguishing Mount Rushmore from Mount St. Helens.

But other mathematicians have said that Dr. Dembski’s calculations do not work and cannot be applied in the real world.

Other studies that intelligent design theorists cite in support of their views have been done by Dr. Axe of the Biologic Institute.

In one such study, Dr. Axe looked at a protein, called penicillinase, that gives bacteria the ability to survive treatment with the antibiotic penicillin. Dr. Meyer, of the Discovery Institute, has referred to Dr. Axe’s work in arguing that working proteins are so rare that evolution cannot by chance discover them.

What was the probability, Dr. Axe asked in his study, of a protein with this ability existing in the universe of all possible proteins?

Penicillinase is made up of a strand of chemicals called amino acids folded into a shape that binds to penicillin and thus disables it. Whether the protein folds up in the right way determines whether it works or not.

Dr. Axe calculated that of the plausible amino acid sequences, only one in 100,000 trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion – a number written as 1 followed by 77 zeroes – would provide resistance to penicillin.

In other words, the probability was essentially zero.

Dr. Axe’s research appeared last year in The Journal of Molecular Biology, a peer-reviewed scientific publication.

Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, a professor of biology at Brown University and a frequent sparring partner of design proponents, said that in his study, Dr. Axe did not look at penicillinase “the way evolution looks at the protein.”

Natural selection, he said, is not random. A small number of mutations, sometimes just one, can change the function of a protein, allowing it to diverge along new evolutionary paths and eventually form a new shape or fold.

One Shot or a Continual Act

Intelligent design proponents are careful to say that they cannot identify the designer at work in the world, although most readily concede that God is the most likely possibility. And they offer varied opinions on when and how often a designer intervened.

Dr. Behe, for example, said he could imagine that, like an elaborate billiards shot, the design was set up when the Big Bang occurred 13.6 billion years ago. “It could have all been programmed into the universe as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

But it was also possible, Dr. Behe added, that a designer acted continually throughout the history of life.

Mainstream scientists say this fuzziness about when and how design supposedly occurred makes the claims impossible to disprove. It is unreasonable, they say, for design advocates to demand that every detail of evolution be filled in.

Dr. Behe, however, said he might find it compelling if scientists were to observe evolutionary leaps in the laboratory. He pointed to an experiment by Richard E. Lenski, a professor of microbial ecology at Michigan State University, who has been observing the evolution of E. coli bacteria for more than 15 years. “If anything cool came out of that,” Dr. Behe said, “that would be one way to convince me.”

Dr. Behe said that if he was correct, then the E. coli in Dr. Lenski’s lab would evolve in small ways but never change in such a way that the bacteria would develop entirely new abilities.

In fact, such an ability seems to have developed. Dr. Lenski said his experiment was not intended to explore this aspect of evolution, but nonetheless, “We have recently discovered a pretty dramatic exception, one where a new and surprising function has evolved,” he said.

Dr. Lenski declined to give any details until the research is published. But, he said, “If anyone is resting his or her faith in God on the outcome that our experiment will not produce some major biological innovation, then I humbly suggest they should rethink the distinction between science and religion.”

Dr. Behe said, “I’ll wait and see.”

While there are certainly baffling mysteries in the all-or-none leaps that evolution seems to have achieved in a number of instances, why is it that “God” is a better explanation than “we don’t know”?

If anything it seems to us that there is a paradox here, in that such seekers of truth lack the humility that all religions teach, and in saying that human understanding having not yet found an explanation of the mechanics of such leaps, therefore the explanation is supernatural, are close to the kind of hubris which has always made humanity ridiculous, especially in the early days of Darwinism when many were outraged at the idea that man could share the same ancestors as apes.

Now we have the likes of William Dembski arguing that what is not explained is therefore a sign of an unseen guiding hand. Well, maybe it is, but we would bet it isn’t a supernatural one.

Oscar Wilde advises AIDS heretics

August 20th, 2005

“One should never take sides in anything—taking sides is the beginning of sincerity, and earnestness follows shortly after, and the human being becomes a bore.”

16 mainstream papers say that the AIDS ‘pandemic’ does not exist

August 16th, 2005

Here as promised are the mainstream papers which say HIV is effectively non infectious, heterosexually, and thus any idea of HIV/AIDS being an infectious global pandemic is null and void.

That is to say, the global pandemic to which the much prized Laurie Garrett just devoted two years of her hard working career recording, analyzing and writing up in a splendidly glossy report for the Council of Foreign Relations is, as we have noted, an entirely dead parrot of an idea–quite impossible according to the very mainstream AIDS literature that it claims supports it, and which it appears the inimitable Garrett failed adequately to consult.

In short, in writing the report she has in effect constructed a gilded cage for a bird which is already dead.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. The first paper is a kind of meta-study, looking at all the studies available by 2001.

Let’s look at it and see what it can tell us about the nature of the Great Global AIDS/HIV pandemic. First we notice….

Great Heavens! How can this be?! The authors have come up with the following stunning finding: all the studies it reviews together produce the conclusion that the chance of transmitting HIV-1 from man to woman during one bout of lovemaking is…

one in a thousand!!

Analysis of data from North American and European studies of heterosexual couples provide estimates of per-sex-act HIV-1 transmission of approximately 1 in 1000

This of course immediately raises the question, how on earth can a raging global AIDS/HIV pandemic arise from an agent that is transmitted at the rate of once every thousand copulations?! Even the group of clearly pious, mainstream-ideology authors of the paper are evidently taken aback. Seeing the problem, they are reduced to saying rather feebly, in the next sentence, “the magnitude of the HIV-1 epidemic would argue that these estimates might be unreasonably low.”

Low indeed. Impossibly low, in fact. In itself, it disproves the existence of any heterosexual AIDS pandemic in the world.

That is why it is worth parsing in detail. Contemplate what would have to take place for an epidemic to emerge from a rate of transference of one in a thousand bouts. A man with HIV would have to fornicate with his woman or women one thousand times, on average, to transmit the virus once. Even if he had sex once every night, three years wouldn’t be enough to ensure a single transmission.

For any kind of epidemic to transpire, enough sex for transmission has to take place in a relatively short time, far shorter than the average time heterosexual men take to provoke and consummate one thousand sexual engagements. Cohabiting couples are generally assumed to engage in sex twice a week. One thousand bouts would take them ten years.

No infection is going to spread if it takes ten years for the agent to jump ship to ship. This rate rules out any pandemic. Even love making once a day wouldn’t be enough to support a spreading infection, let alone an epidemic. A pandemic? Fugeddabahtit!!

In fact, if there really is the sexually driven glohal pandemic everyone led by the UNAID, WHO and Laurie Garrett and the Council of Foreign Relations credits as gospel the supermen of the AIDS pandemic must get a lot busier than that. Even ten copulations a day wouldn’t do it. That would “only” be 100 days of Olympic ten-times-a-day sex per transfer.

A virus that took 100 days to infect another body is too slow. That is just too long a delay to get any kind of epidemic under way. It would have to be five times that rate, or 50 copulations a day to do it in twenty days. This is the rough minimum, we would guess, to support any kind of epidemic spread.

To repeat, if the couples went at it at the rate of 50 bouts of sex a day it would take on average twenty days for the virus to hop from gent to lady. Maybe that would sustain an epidemic. But how many men do you know–or women for that matter–who are interested in let alone capable of fifty bouts of sex a day?

But that is what the finding of this mainstream paper–which collates the findings of 15 other orthodox research papers on the topic–implies.

Perhaps the African and Asian males who have engendered the AIDS pandemic, the one that the Council of Foreign Relations report has recently warned us may plunge the world into wars, famine and devastation, are a Godlike breed, who have Olympian sexual powers far beyond the norm or even the imagination of their counterparts in the USA.

More likely, however, is that quite simply, the global AIDS pandemic is a fantasy and a chimera, an impossible narrative construct of such a gargantuan level of absurdity that science and politics have not to date ever seen the like.

This, at least, is what the papers on the (non) infectiousness of HIV tell us, as summarized so helpfully by this paper. They may be found any time on your computer at Pub Med. Here they are for the record, the meta-paper and a list of the papers it summarizes:

The meta-paper

1. Viral burden in genital secretions determines male-to-female sexual transmission of HIV-1: a probabilistic empiric model

by Hrishikesh Chakraborty et al AIDS 2001 15:621-627 From the Department of Biostatistics, Rollin School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia etc. Reprint requests to Myron Cohen, Department of Medicine, 3003 Old Clinic Building CB7005, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7005.

On page 2, this paper says that

“The probability of per-partner sexual transmission has been examined in 11 different studies (6) whereas the per-sex-act probability of transmission has been reported in 13 studies (7-19). The probability of transmission of HIV-1 from male to female during an episode of intercourse has been examined in seven of these studies (7,14-19). Analysis of data from North American and European studies of heterosexual couples provide estimates of per-sex-act HIV-1 transmission of approximately 1 in 1000 (0.0001, ranging from 0.0008 to 0.0002) (6), although the magnitude of the HIV-1 epidemic would argue that these estimates might be unreasonably low.” .

The references in the footnotes for this statement are


6. Mastro TD, Kitayaporn (sic) D. HIV-1 Type 1 transmission probabilities, estimates from epidemiological studies. AIDS Research Human Retroviruses 1998 14:223-227

7. Peterman TA, Stonebumer RL, Allen JR, Jaffe HW, Curran JW. Risk of human immunodeficiency virus transmission from heterosexual adults with transfusion-associated infections. JAMA 1988 259.55-58.

8.Fuschl MA et al Evaluation of heterosexual partners, children, and household contacts of adults with AIDS. JAMA 1987, 257:640-644.

9. Longini IM Jr et al The stages of HIV-1 infection, waiting times and infection transmission probabilities. In Lecture Notes in Biomathematics, Vol. 83 Mathematical and Statistical Approaches to AIDS Epidemiology. Edited by Castillo-Chavez, C. Berlin: Springer-Verlag; 1989: 111-136.

10. Cameron DW et al. Female to male transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1: risk factors for seroconversion in men. Lancet 1989, 2: 403-407.

11. DeGruttola V et al Infectiousness of HIV-1 between male homosexual partners J. Clin Epidemiology 1989 42:849-856

12. Mastro TD et al Probability of female-male transmission of HIV-1 in Thailand. Lancet 1994 343:204-207

13. Sateen GA et val Modelling the female-to-male per-act HIV-1 transmission probability in an emerging epidemic in Asia. Stat Med 1994 13:2097-2106

14. Padian N et al Male-to-female transmission of human immunodeficiency virus. JAMA 1987 258:788-790.

15. Wiley JA et al Heterogeneity in the probability of HIV-1 transmission per sexual contact: the case of male-to-female transmission in penile-vaginal intercourse Stat Med 1989 8:93-102

16. Duerr A et al Probability of male-female HIV-1 transmission among married couples in Chiang Mai, Thailand Tenth International Conference on AIDS, Yokohama, August 1994 (Abstract 105C). 17. Downs MA et al Probability of heterosexial transmission of HIV-1:relationship to the number of unprotected sexual contacts. J. Acquired Immune Defic Sindr Hyum Retrovirol 1996 11: 388-395.

18. Leynaert B. Et al Heterosexual transmission of Human immunodeficiency virus: variability of infectivity throughout the course of infection. Am J Epidemiol 1998 148:88-96

19. Shiboski SC et al Epidemiological evidence for time variation in HIV-1 infectivity J Acquir Immun Defic Syndr Hu Retrovirol 1998 19: 527-535.

These are not all, by the way. There have been quite a few other papers since, saying the same thing. Here’s one from 2002, a year later:

Stephane Hugonnet et al Incidence of HIV Infection in Stable Sexual Partnerships: A Retrospective Cohort Study of 1802 Couples in Mwanza Region, Tanzania. JAIDS Journal of nAcquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome 30: 73-80 2002

This paper concludes in its abstract:

“HIV negative individuals in discordant partnerships are at high risk of infection, and preventive interventions targeted at such individuals are urgently needed……Individuals living in discordant couples (that means one HIV positive one negative) were at greatly increased risk of infection compared with individuals in concordant-negative couples.”

In its introduction it states that

“the majority of infections worldwide are attributable to heterosexual transmission. In sub-Saharan Africa, the worst afflicted region, heterosexual transmission accounts for at least 90 per cent of adult infections.”

All in all, what sounds like a dangerous state of affairs illuminated by the sterling work of these researchers on data from 1802 couples in Mwanza. For after all, if “HIV negative individuals in discordant partnerships are at high risk of infection”, then indeed heterosexual transmission could account for 90 per cent of adult infections.

But when we look closer, we discover the same problem, this time also being neatly brushed under the carpet. There is in fact little or no danger, as indicated by the authors’ very own result. The “high risk” of a heterosexual coupling changing a discordant couple into a concordant couple—these musical sounding technical terms refer to whether couples share the same HIV status or not—turns out to be exactly the same as in the collection of papers before 2000: 1 in 1000.

Buried in the pile of comforting statistical jargon, which is mostly less than meets the eye (py means person-year, RR means rate ratio, etc), is this simple statement: Seroincidence rates in discordant couples were 10 per 100 person-years (py) and 5 per 100 py for women and men respectively (rate ratio RR = 2.0 CI (confidence interval = 0.28-22.1.)

What does this mean in plain English? That in any of these Mwanza couples with the man HIV+ and woman HIV-, the chances of the woman being converted to HIV+ are so low that on average it takes ten years to happen. For the man to be infected the other direction would take twice as long, twenty years.

The standard assumption in such work is that couples make love twice a week, so that is 100 times a year. So ten years is 1000 times. The chances of a woman converting in a single bout are therefore 1 in 1000, with the chances of the man converting from a HIV+ woman partner 1 in 2000.

Exactly the chances which are found in every other paper on this topic. The figure is marvelously consistent: 1 in a thousand.

The Mwanza study researchers thus find themselves in a great difficulty and as a result have to contradict themselves as they state what is certainly a paradigm buster of a finding.

At such a low rate of conversion, not only is it NOT true that “HIV negative individuals in discordant partnerships are at high risk of infection” (unless you call a 1 in 10 chance over a year of 100 bouts ‘high risk’), but it is also not true that “preventive interventions targeted at such individuals are urgently needed”.

Far from it. For their very own finding proves that any AIDS epidemic through mainstream sex is quite impossible. The rate of transfer of HIV is just too low, far too low. According to these mainstream, orthodox researchers HIV is realistically not an infectious virus at all, at least between heteroexuals in Africa. It simply could not support any epidemic.

In fact, the paper indicates a simple conclusion, which the authors for whatever reason are either blind to or do not wish to speak out loud. That finding is that there is no HIV/AIDS epidemic in Mwanza or anywhere else.

Clearly the infectivity of HIV is far too low to spread through heterosexual sex in the US and Europe, and that is why such an epidemic has never been seen here or there in the two decades the AIDS alarm has been noised so loudly in headlines and homilies from the press to the pulpit. By the same logic it is also too low to support any heterosexual AIDS epidemic anywhere in the rest of the world.

In other words, as we have said before, the AIDS pandemic is a non starter, a nag that expires even before it is even able to take its position at the starting gate. It is utterly non-viable, at least in the real, external world of health and science.

How far this kite may fly on the wings of obtuse venality, incompetence, officiousness, powerseeking, self-importance, conformity, credulity and billion dollar funding in the fantasy world of political, social and medical culture is of course another matter entirely.

Apparently, it can stay up without a drop of real fuel for twenty one years simply on the cross currents and updrafts of hot air generated by the major writers and players of the ongoing drama “World AIDS Pandemic” and is capable of flying high for many more years unless and until it is shot down by anti-paradigm guns more powerful than those of simple logic and common sense, not to mention its own research.

By the way, there are more papers to list, papers from the orthodox mainstream research factory, and we will append them here later today.

But the main point is already established. HIV is effectively not infectious between man and woman, and the AIDS heterosexual global pandemic cannot and therefore does not exist.

This is the conclusion of the orthodoxy itself, reached in its own papers. Verily the right hand knoweth not what the left hand doeth.

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