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Darwinism Must Die So Evolution Can Live

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the not-all-isms-created-equal dept.

Education 951

Pickens writes "MacArthur fellow Carl Safina, an adjunct professor at Stony Brook University, has an interesting essay in the NYTimes that says that equating evolution with Charles Darwin opened the door for creationism by ignoring 150 years of discoveries, including most of what scientists understand about evolution — Gregor Mendel's patterns of heredity, the discovery of DNA, developmental biology, studies documenting evolution in nature, and evolution's role in medicine and disease. Darwinism implies an ideology adhering to one man's dictates, like Marxism, says Safina. He adds that nobody talks about Newtonism or Einsteinism, and that by making Darwin 'into a sacred fetish misses the essence of his teaching.' By turning Darwin into an 'ism,' scientists created the opening for creationism, with the 'isms' implying equivalence. 'By propounding "Darwinism," even scientists and science writers perpetuate an impression that evolution is about one man, one book, one theory,' writes Safina. '"Darwinism" implies that biological scientists "believe in" Darwin's "theory." It's as if, since 1860, scientists have just ditto-headed Darwin rather than challenging and testing his ideas, or adding vast new knowledge.'"

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neodarwinism (5, Informative)

tomtomtom777 (1148633) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794773)

This is why most biologist refer to Darwins theory plus all the addition thoughts of the last 150 year as neodarwinism

Darwins basic idea still stands so it doesn't seem illogical to use his name for the theory

How to Falsify Evolution (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26795017)

Any theory that does not provide a method to falsify and validate its claims is a useless theory.

Example; if someone said a watermelon is blue on the inside, but turns red when you cut it open, how could you prove them wrong? How could they prove they're right?

You couldn't and they can't. There is no method available to confirm or disprove what was said about the watermelon. Therefore we can dismiss the theory of the blue interior of watermelons as being pure speculation and guess work, not science. You can not say something is true without demonstrating how it is not false, and you can not say something is not true without demonstrating how it is false. Any theory that can not explain how to both validate and falsify its claims in this manner can not be taken seriously. If one could demonstrate clearly that the watermelon appears to indeed be blue inside, without being able to demonstrate what colors it is not, we still have no absolute confirmation of its color. That is to say asserting something is the way it is, without being able to assert what it is not, is a useless claim. Therefore, in order for any theory to be confirmed to be true, it must be shown how to both validate and falsify its claims. It is circular reasoning to be able to validate something, without saying how to falsify it, or vice versa. This is the nature of verification and falsification. Both must be clearly demonstrated in order for a theory to be confirmed to be true or false. Something can not be proven to be true without showing that it is not false, and something can not be proven to be not true, unless it can be proven to be false.

Unfortunately, Darwin never properly demonstrated how to falsify his theory, which means evolution has not properly been proven, since it has never been demonstrated what the evidence does not suggest. In the event that evolution is not true, there should be a clear and defined method of reasoning to prove such by demonstrating through evidence that one could not possibly make any alternative conclussions based on said evidence. It is for this reason we must be extremely skeptical of how the evidence has been used to support evolution for lack of proper method of falsification, especially when the actual evidence directly contradicts the theory. If it can be demonstrated how to properly falsify evolution, regardless if evolution is true or not, only then can evolution ever be proven or disproved.

It will now be demonstrated that Darwin never told us how to properly falsify evolution, which will also show why no one can claim to have disproved or proven the theory, until now. It must be able to be demonstrated that if evolution were false, how to go about proving that, and while Darwin indeed made a few statements on this issue, his statements were not adequate or honest. In order to show Darwin's own falsification ideas are inadequate, rather than discussing them and disproving them individually, all that needs to be done is demonstrate a proper falsification argument for evolution theory. That is to say if the following falsification is valid, and can not show evolution to be false, then evolution theory would be proven true by way of deductive reasoning. That is the essence of falsification; if it can be shown that something is not false, it must therefore be true.

So the following falsification method must be the perfect counter to Darwin's validation method, and would therefore prove evolution to be true in the event this falsification method can not show evolution to be false. As said before; if something is not false, it must therefore be true. This would confirm the accuracy of this falsification method, which all theories must have, and show that Darwin did not properly show how evolution could be falsified, in the event that evolution was not true. In order to show evolution is not false (thereby proving it to be true), we must be able to show how it would be false, if it were. Without being able to falsify evolution in this manner, you can not validate it either. If something can not be shown to be false, yet it is said to be true, this is circular reasoning, since you have no way of confirming this conclusion. Example; If we told a blind person our car is red, and they agreed we were telling the truth, the blind person could not tell another blind person accurate information regarding the true color of the car. While he has evidence that the car is red by way of personal testimony, he has no way of confirming if this is true or false, since he might have been lied to, regardless if he was or not.

So one must demonstrate a method to prove beyond any doubt that in the event that evolution is not true, it can be shown to be such. To say evolution is true, without a way to show it is false, means evolution has never been proven to be true. If evolution be true, and this method of falsification be valid, then by demonstrating the falsification method to be unable to disprove evolution, we would confirm evolution to be right. Alternatively, if the falsification method is valid and demonstrates that Darwin's validation method does not prove evolution, then evolution is false indeed.

Firstly, the hypothesis. If evolution is incorrect, then it can be demonstrated to be so by using both living and dead plants and animals. The following is the way to do so and the logical alternative to the theory. The fossil record can be used as well, but not as evolution theory would have us believe. In order to properly falsify something, all biases must be removed, since assuming something is correct without knowing how to prove its false is akin to the blind person who can not confirm the color of someones car. Since evolution has not correctly been shown how to be falsified, as will be demonstrated, we must be open to other possibilities by way of logic, and ultimately reject evolution by way of evidence, should the evidence lead us in such a direction.

If evolution be not true, the only explanation for the appearance of varied life on the planet is intelligent design. This would predict that all life since the initial creation has been in a state of entropy since their initial creation, which is the opposite of evolution. If this be true, then animals and plants are not increasing in genetic complexity or new traits as evolution theory would have us believe, but are in fact losing information. This would explain why humans no longer have room for their wisdom teeth and why the human appendix is decreasing in functionality. The only objection to this claim that evolution theory would propose is that evolution does not always increase the genetic complexity and traits of an organism, but rather, sometimes decreases them as well. This objection is only made because we have only ever actually observed entropy in living creatures, which suits the creation model far better than evolution, which shall be demonstrated.

If the creation model is true, we can make verifiable predictions that disprove evolution. For example; the creation model states that life was created diversified to begin with, with distinct "kinds" of animals, by a supernatural Creator that did not evolve Himself, but rather always existed. Without going into the debate on how such a being is possible to exist, it must be said that either everything came from nothing, or something always existed. To those who say the universe always existed; the claim of this hypothesis is that the Creator always existed, which is equally as viable for the previous logic.

In order to demonstrate that the Creator is responsible for life and created life diversified to begin with, the word "kind" must be defined. A kind is the original prototype of any ancestral line; that is to say if God created two lions, and two cheetahs, these are distinct kinds. In this scenario, these two cats do not share a common ancestor, as they were created separately, and therefore are not the same kind despite similar appearance and design. If this is the case, evolution theory is guilty of using homogeneous structures as evidence of common ancestry, and then using homogeneous structures to prove common ancestry; this is circular reasoning!

The idea of kinds is in direct contrast to evolution theory which says all cats share a common ancestor, which the creation model does not hold to be true. If evolution theory is true, the word kind is a superficial label that does not exist, because beyond our classifications, there would be no clear identifiable division among animals or plants, since all plants and animals would therefore share a common ancestor. The word kind can only be applied in the context of the creation model, but can not be dismissed as impossible due to the evolutionary bias, simply because evolution has not been properly validated nor can it be held to be true until it can correctly be shown to be impossible to falsify.

One must look at the evidence without bias and conclude based on contemporary evidence (not speculation) if indeed evolution is the cause of the diversity of species, or not. It must also been demonstrated if the clear and distinct species do or do not share a common ancestor with each other, regardless that they may appear to be of the same family or design. In order to verify this, all that needs to be done is to demonstrate that a lion and cheetah do or do not have a common ancestor; if it can be demonstrated that any animal or plant within a family (cats in this case) do not share a common ancestor with each other, this would disprove evolution immediately and prove supernatural creation of kinds.

However, since lions and cheetahs are both clearly of the same family or design, and can potentially interbreed, we must be careful not to overlook the possibility of a very recent common ancestor If such is the case, this does not exclude the possibility that the two are originally from two separate kinds that do not share a common ancestor previous to them having one. It is therefore necessary to build an ancestral history based on verifiable evidence (not homogeneous structures in the fossil record) that can clearly demonstrate where exactly the cheetah and the lion had a common ancestor. If no such common ancestor can be found and confirmed without bias, and this test is performed between two or more of any plant or animal life without ever finding anything to the contrary, we can confirm with certainty evolution did not happen, and that kinds do exist.

In the event that fossils are too elusive (compounded with the fact that they can not be used as evidence of common descent due to circular reasoning e.g. homogeneous structures), then there is a superior and far more effective way to falsify evolution. Evolution states by addition of new traits (new organs, new anatomy) that the first lifeforms increased in complexity and size by introduction of new traits, slowly increasing step by step to more complex life forms. Notice that the addition of such traits can not be attributed to the alteration of old ones, for obvious reasons, since detrimental or beneficial mutations are only alterations of already existing traits, and can not account for an increase in the number of traits any given life form possesses.

That means a bacteria becoming able to digest nylon is a mere mutation of already existing digestive capabilities, and can not be classified as an increase in traits. Evolution theory would predict that the process of gradual change and increase in traits is an ongoing process, and therefore should be observable in todays living animals and plants through new emerging traits that any given plant or animal did not possess in its ancestry. Those who say such changes take millions of years and can not be observed today only say so because no such trait has ever been observed to emerge or be in the process of emerging in contemporary history, which is what the creation model predicts. If evolution theory be true, we would expect that at least one animal or plant would contain a new trait or be in the process of growing such a triat over its known common ancestors (that is not simply a multiplication or alteration of a trait it already had).

At this point, the fossil record can not be used as evidence to prove that evolution can produce new traits due to the fact that two animals that appear to be of the same family (T-rex and Brontosaurus, dinosaurs), while they do indeed exhibit distinct trait differences, may not have a common ancestor, but rather were created differently with all their different traits. It is therefore of paramount importance to show a single instance of such an increase of traits exists within a provable ancestry (stress provable) in contemporary times, and not assume anything concerning where the traits in the fossil record owe their origin. If it can not be shown that any animal or plant living today (or very recently deceased) exhibits any trait variance that can clearly and thoroughly be proven to be a new addition over its (stress) provable ancestors, compounded with the reasoning that two similar animals (such as a penguin and a woodpecker) do not necessarily or provably share a common ancestor, then evolution is clearly absent entirely, and supernatural intelligent design and creation is thereby proven beyond all reasonable doubt.

In conclusion, should any two animals or plants within a family (a palm tree and a coconut tree) be proven to not share a common ancestor, or if no provable increase of traits can be demonstrated to be in its beginnings or actively present in the animals and plants living today over their provable ancestry, then The Bible is correct when it says God created all the animals and plants as distinct kinds with their traits to begin with. This is the only way to falsify evolution, and it is amazing (and convenient) that Darwin never encouraged people to attempt to falsify his theory in this manner.

Re:How to Falsify Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26795083)

What he said.

Re:How to Falsify Evolution (5, Informative)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795153)

on falsification and the bacteria test. they indeed proved on a 40000 generation of bacteria in a 20 yr experiment that bacteria evolved to metabolize one of the constituent of the substrate which where supplemented in large quantity and which the bacteria where not able to digest at the start of the experiment.

it also passed on slashdot some time ago.

Re:How to Falsify Evolution (4, Interesting)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795225)

Also, other, bigger scale "experiments" over evolution have been made and passed: astronomers at the time rejected the idea of evolution because the earth couldn't possibly have been around for long enough to allow the process to take as long as suggested. Of course, that statement was based on the idea that the sun was a ball of fire (ie, combustion) and there wasn't enough fuel in there to make the fire burn that long. When the two scientific theories were put against each other, astronomy lost: they eventually figured out that stars work with nuclear processes and, therefore, last that much longer.

Re:How to Falsify Evolution (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26795257)

oh, and for the others, be aware that the grand grand parent post start pro Darwinism and become pro ID the more it goes on, pulling a trick directly from Orwell's 1984. take your time to read it and mod it -1 fuckwit accordingly

Re:How to Falsify Evolution (2, Insightful)

Dracil (732975) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795157)

Nice copy paste. Then again, that's typical Creationist behavior. No wonder you had to AC this.

Re:How to Falsify Evolution (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26795163)

That's a lot of words to say "I'm a religious nutball".

Nice try, I guess. Problem is, you base the entire tirade on "a theory must provide a way to be falsified, and evolution does not". That's a made-up requirement. A theory makes predictions. The method of falsification is when one of its predictions is shown inaccurate. Take survival of the fittest, for example. It's a bit of a chore to do tests, but go buy yourself a fruit fly farm and get to it. You have your method of falsification right there. Of course, creationists do generally not actually understand the completely random element in evolution. They cannot seem to fathom it. So odds are you'll make all the wrong requirements and assumptions there as well. Probably expecting a brand new species to pop out of it or something.

On a lighter note, I find it hilarious that you manage to say this "While he has evidence that the car is red by way of personal testimony, he has no way of confirming if this is true or false, since he might have been lied to, regardless if he was or not", then finish off with swearing loyalty to a thousands of years old book full of hearsay.

Popper (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795247)

Any definition of "theory" is made up, because English is a human construct. Falsifiability is a key part of Popper's philosophy of science. Popper's own views on Darwinism appear to have changed over time.

Re:How to Falsify Evolution (1, Insightful)

AlphaFreak (646767) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795239)

Please go to your church to pay your tribute to your undead superhero and let the rest of us talk about science.

BTW, Darwin was dead before Popper wrote about "falsifying" anything. You are not only a religious nut, but also an ignorant.

Re:How to Falsify Evolution (3, Informative)

mirkob (660121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795279)

unfortunately i can't muster enough stamina to read all the statement form this AC, but if he whant an example of evolution he should read this

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14094-bacteria-make-major-evolutionary-shift-in-the-lab.html [newscientist.com]

an article about an evolution of a new genetic trait in bacteria, and it is a reproducible experiment!

that perhaps prove evolution?

Re:neodarwinism (4, Informative)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795243)

Duh, it's still an -ism.

That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (5, Insightful)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794783)

That is, as the Brits say, bollocks.

The issue is that this ignorant view may be perpetuated in America. I have never heard anyone in Europe utter such crap.

Let us pray that Obama can wipe public references to deities into oblivion.

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (5, Insightful)

MadMidnightBomber (894759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794825)

You beat me to it.

No-one in science calls themselves a Darwinist anyway, they'd say they were an evolutionary biologist. They do believe in natural selection obviously, since you can't make predictions (hence, do any science at all) from ID. I have appeared as co-author on a paper in Molecular Biology and Evolution, so I know whereof I speak.

OK, it wouldn't hurt to stop calling it Darwinism, in the same way that we don't talk about Feynmannism (QED), or Einsteinism (relativity). But that's just a name.

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794945)

Yes. It's a pretty silly argument anyway - calling it something else doesn't change what it is, and if you believe it does then I know of some creatolutionary biologists who would like a word with you...

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (3, Insightful)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795057)

It's a pretty silly argument anyway - calling it something else doesn't change what it is

Change your name to Mr Fuckwit. It won't change who you are.

It will however change how people receive you, how they think about you and, in all likely hood, your chances of success in life.

This isn't about changing what evolution is, it's about framing it in a way that gives a more correct impression of what it is.

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (1)

amirulbahr (1216502) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795093)

The argument has nothing to do with what an evolutionary biologist calls herself. Darwinism vs Creationism sounds, to a lay-person, like a reasonable dichotomy. Main-stream media would do well to kill the term "Darwinism".

*Believing* isn't the correct verb (4, Insightful)

DrYak (748999) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795203)

They do believe in natural selection obviously, since you can't make predictions (hence, do any science at all) from ID.

From a strict technical, linguistic-nazi, point of view : they don't *believe in* natural selection, they *believe that natural selection is an useful model they can use*.

Usually the phrase *believe in* implies some form of faith.
Whereas scientist *just pick up* a model they consider the best for the situation, based on how much usable it is for making accurate predictions.
No faith required.

But apart from the nit-picking about words, I agree with you : ID is useless because its principle simply contradict the way science work - it's not a model you can use to make any useful prediction at all.

Sometimes deprecated model are used because they are accurate enough in a simpler subset of problems : Newton's physic is simpler to use than Einstein's, yet still good enough at low energy/speed/mass.

In the case of evolution and natural selection, the model is currently still the best one, considering the tons of additional material that has been added to it.
And considering the fact that each time a completely brand new branch of biology appears (like genetics), the data produced results still in accordance to what would expect when using the evolution and natural selection models.

Currently that's the best model we have and a better one has yet to come.

ID is no possible contender, as its fundamental principle aren't scientific : scientific model are made to be used to make prediction, and to model the world in order to understand it better. ID tells us that everything is done on the will of some higher being (and thus nothing could be predicted) and some things are just too complex to be explainable (and thus you can't model the world).

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (2, Funny)

alpayerturkmen (981639) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794881)

So help me god...

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26794895)

Then listen better. Even here in Europe there's people spewing this crap.
At the moment, here in the Netherlands there's a huge discussion going on on Dutch TV between a broadcasting organization (EO, Evangelical Broadcasting org, lit.) and 'the rest'
Though a lot of the people even working for said EO are quite intelligent and don't spew crap at all, quite a few (chaired by their former director) are even MORE insane than the US creationists like Kent Hovind and the people from Answers in Genesis

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (1)

TeXMaster (593524) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795027)

Then listen better. Even here in Europe there's people spewing this crap.

Who would have thought, there are idiots everywhere.

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (5, Insightful)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795069)

Yes but not every where in the world, do these idiots get powers bestowed upon them to meddle in science. That phenomenon seems to be very unique to USA.

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (5, Funny)

whitehatnetizen (997645) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794923)

"Let us pray that Obama can wipe public references to deities into oblivion." Oh the irony.....

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (5, Insightful)

Stroot (223139) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794957)

Don't count on it. There is no US politician yet who can publicly state he is an atheist, or he can forget his further career. Obama did a lot for emancipation of black people, let's just hope that after him there will be female, gay and an atheist presidents too.

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (-1, Flamebait)

tatermonkey (1199435) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795039)

Uh how about NO............ Female president is fine. But not gay or atheist, that will be the day I become Canadian. Gays queer the place up and atheists are bitter angry people.

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (4, Insightful)

Aris Katsaris (939578) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795129)

If you want a place that's less gay-friendly and less atheist-friendly, that's the day you'll become an IRANIAN, you idiot, not Canadian.

Why the hell would Canada want you?? Why the hell do you think it would be a better place for you than America?

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26794965)

Bollocks. Yes, it is, but it hasn't stopped the Creationists (Jesus-ists? Paul-ists?) from continuously getting legislation and policy accepted in various locations in the States that forces educators to call "Intelligent Design" an "alternative theory" to evolution. Maybe, maybe, there should be a course in divinity in high school; I'm not entirely closed to the notion, especially if it approaches religion as a cultural phenomenon and religious texts as literature. The problem is that the fundamentalists tend to strike where they don't belong, like the science classroom. Or, they insist that other material NOT be taught in humanities courses.

Yes, it's bollocks, rubbish, pish-tosh, and a few other more earthy things, and it's something we ARE having to deal with in these United States. The Flying Spaghetti Monster, after all, was originally a response to an intelligent design initiative that PASSED in Kansas...

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795037)

The Brit Richard Dawkins seems to waste a fair bit of time fighting something which doesn't concern him, then. Fact is, there are a whole bunch of creationist nutjobs in England as well, and they use pretty much the same tools as their American counterparts, just not as vocally -- perhaps due to the stronger democratic traditions in the U.S.

The fact that you haven't heard something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. In fact, just a couple of days ago, there was an article in a Norwegian newspaper [dagbladet.no] making the exact same point as this one, against the term "Darwinism" (or "darwinisme" in Norwegian), and for the same reasons.

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26795213)

stronger democratic traditions in the US... is as we brits say "bollocks"

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (4, Insightful)

Rewind (138843) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795135)

As an American I have never heard anyone in the US call themselves a "a Darwinist" so I don't see what your point proves.

As for the wipe public references to deities into oblivion, why bother? I think it would be better if the world at large stopped trying to feel better about themselves because they are "right". Forcing science on someone for no reason isn't any better than forcing religion on someone imo.

If you want to believe in creationism, go crazy. I don't care. You are free to have that opinion. If you want to accept evolution, likewise, have a field day. I, again, don't care about your personal thoughts. It has no impact on me and you are free to disagree with my own.

What does impact me is the annoying ongoing battle, with minimal relevance to society as a whole, is this idea that 'everyone must think what I think'. It is stupid, let it go. I mean if people are breaking the law with violence or forcing ideas on someone then sure, go after them for that. Otherwise? Let people think what they want on issues of religion vs science. Fighting that battle is just an exhaustive waste for no fathomable reason that has yet to ever achieve any measurable goal. Trying to do so again for the 100,000,000th time is unlikely to change that outcome.

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795209)

The massive public education system means that the entire next generation IS going to have ideas forced on them. They will be indoctrinated into either a world view of science or magic.

Re:That is, as the Brits say, bollocks (2, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795171)

It's bollocks because if it wasn't an "ism" Creationists would still find something official sounding.

Looking at Scientology, it's a play on Science and the various "ology" fields out there- phsycology, sociology etc. when the reality is it has nothing to do with either. Should we all stop calling Science Science because it's giving Scientology an air of being an authentic set of ideas?

These movements play on this for a reason and a sudden change of wording isn't going to vanish their ability to come up with official sounding names for the bullshit they peddle.

Also, I believe that the reason texts say things such as "they believe in Darwin's theory" is because there is no absolute proof for it and it is just that, a theory. It's a theory with enough evidence to be worth believing in however as opposed to creationism which still yields zero evidence and that's the difference here.

The author misses the point, it's stupid to run from things like Creationism by changing names and attitudes of scientists, what needs to change is the attitudes and understanding of the general public so they can understand what the difference is between believing a scientific theory and believing a story from the best-selling fiction books of all time (Bible, Koran).

From what I understand, the use of the word "believe" in terms of a theory is actually correct, and to remove it and state a theory as fact would actually be cheating real science, if we could trust it with 100% certainty rather than say 99.999999999999999% certainty then it'd surely be classed as fact not a theory no?

Exactly (4, Insightful)

Fungii (153063) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795211)

He adds that nobody talks about Newtonism or Einsteinism

No one talks about "Darwinism" except the creationists. The reasons he gives are exactly the reasons they invented the term - it's far easier to discredit a dead guy from 100 years ago than it is a scientific concept.

By making it seem like the work of one man with millions of blind followers it appears more fallible.

Their tactics are pretty ironic really.

Re:Exactly (2, Insightful)

Ersatz Chickenweed (868568) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795287)

+1 Insightful

The creationists are doing their best to do to the word "Darwin" what the right-wingers successfully did to the term "liberal" in America: turn it into nothing but an off-the-cuff epithet for their bovine followers.

Of course, by doing this the word loses pretty much any real meaning to anyone else, but that's beside the point (or maybe that IS the point).

Bull. Did Newton have to die for Einstein? (5, Insightful)

VShael (62735) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794795)

I'm sick of pandering to the ill-educated buffoons who want to drag civilisation kicking and screaming back into the dark ages.

Darwin wasn't utterly and completely right first time out of the bag. So what?
His discoveries have been validated, refined, added-to, improved in ways he could never have predicted.
Again, so what?

Darwin laid the bedrock, the foundation, upon which stands much of modern science, let alone biology.

And until you can give me a reason why we should metaphorically bury the giants upon who's shoulders we collectively stand, I will resist this utterly foolish idea.

Re:Bull. Did Newton have to die for Einstein? (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794943)

I'm sick of pandering to the ill-educated buffoons

I'd suggest that by using the term "Darwinism" they are exactly the people you are pandering to.

Re:Bull. Did Newton have to die for Einstein? (4, Insightful)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795237)

I'd suggest that by using the term "Darwinism" they are exactly the people you are pandering to.

By using the term "Darwinism" you link the scientific idea to its originator. We do this for many other phenomena that require words for description. We say "Mendelian" genetics/inheritance, "Newtonian" mechanics, "Darwinian" evolution, "Cartesian" space. The presence of an "ism" at the end is little more than a verbal twist. If you look up "Darwinism" in the dictionary, it mentions "theory". A theory, like a hypothesis, is a conceptual framework to test systematically by experiment. One such experiment might be to C14 date a fossil. This type of experimentation is not applicable to creationism, so creationism is not a science. It is religion.

To be perfectly symmetrical with "creationism", we would have to say "evolutionism", which connotes a system of belief. To actually acknowledge creationism as an opposing "theory" is pandering. Even worse than acknowledging creationism through argumentation is modifying our perfectly good vocabulary for describing scientific theories.

Re:Bull. Did Newton have to die for Einstein? (2, Insightful)

dnwq (910646) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794975)

Damn it, he's not saying "we should bury Darwin's theory of evolution altogether to hide from the mad fundie hordes!", he's proposing a change in terminology that seems entirely appropriate, to be honest.

And the reason, quite rightly, is this: "We don't call astronomy Copernicism, nor gravity Newtonism." The theory of biological evolution has changed since Darwin introduced it.

To continue to label modern evolutionary theory as 'Darwinism' walks into a creationist trap to paint evolution as some sort of Darwin-worshipping religion. And I only wish I were kidding [google.com] .

Re:Bull. Did Newton have to die for Einstein? (5, Insightful)

VShael (62735) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795035)

We don't call astronomy Copernicism, nor gravity Newtonism.

And we don't call evolution "Darwinism". It seems only the creationists do that, and they are deliberately obfuscating matters anyway.

However we DO call Newtonian Dynamics by its name, and rightly so. "Darwinian evolution" also has it's place, even if it has been supplanted in our understanding.

What I object to is changing the terminology to suit the prejudices of ignorant people, when they will neither appreciate the gesture nor cease their complaints.

If we were to start modifying any language, (which we shouldn't) a better place to start would be the word "theory" which seems to come under perpetual attack by virtue of the fact that its scientific meaning differs from its everyday meaning. Yet another distinction creationists are all too willing to overlook and exploit for their benefit.

Re:Bull. Did Newton have to die for Einstein? (1)

Artichoke (34549) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795051)

Given the current crop of hagiographies splurging everywhere for the he-who-must-not-be-named's 200 birthday, this call is too little, too late :P

Re:Bull. Did Newton have to die for Einstein? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26795193)

Darwin laid the bedrock, the foundation, upon which stands much of modern science, let alone biology.

I think you need to learn more about history of science and what is exactly the tiny role of Darwin in there.
Darwin is known because of the intense criticism of his ideas, the same way Galileo is known for being judged by the church but no one ever remembers that he still believed in circular orbits that were already proven wrong by Kepler.
In a way Darwin just extended the concepts of evolution already present in Lamarck and even in Aristotle.

I sit here in a cafe (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794801)

I sit here in this cafe, drinking a latte and typing on my laptop computer. Both the latte and the PC are hot, one from being prepared that way, the other as a result of internal processes. Both are hot as I have defined them.

Does the fact that one requires an external entity to prepare it make it any less hot than the one that becomes hot of its own accord?

Re:I sit here in a cafe (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26794875)

You sure live up to your name.

Re:I sit here in a cafe (3, Funny)

srussia (884021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795079)

I think he did better than that. Dude deserves a nick upgrade to "BadKoanGuy".

Re:I sit here in a cafe (0, Offtopic)

pacificleo (850029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795081)

True! But his analogy is funny . and to certain extent makes sense for someone who don't want to focus on "where-we-are going now" and don't care much about "where- we-came-from".
"where-we-are going now" crowd's leader is Al Gore and Green is their latest mantra.
now feel free to choose your brand of BS

He didn't propose a "theory" in the strict sense (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26794807)

Darwin was an observer. He made a logical conclusion from what he saw.

Darwin didn't have a true theory because the idea he had had no predictive power and little explanatory power, therefore was inherently untestable and not able to be used to answer questions. He wasn't aware of DNA, genes or chromosomes.

Evolution was just an observation and was only considered radical because no one had raised the question.

Re:He didn't propose a "theory" in the strict sens (4, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794855)

Darwin didn't have a true theory because the idea he had had no predictive power and little explanatory power, therefore was inherently untestable and not able to be used to answer questions. He wasn't aware of DNA, genes or chromosomes.

Arguably his hypotheseses were quite testable - just not by the science and technology of the time.

Also, not understanding the underlying mechanics of a system does not automatically invalidate a theory explaining them. Exhibit A: Gravity.

Re:He didn't propose a "theory" in the strict sens (2, Interesting)

pacificleo (850029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795107)

Also, not understanding the underlying mechanics of a system does not automatically invalidate a theory explaining them. Exhibit A: Gravity.

Valid point . but that doesen't give any one a free ride to prepetuate any bullshit theory too. you might notice that by this standard ID also has a strong case.

Actually, strictly speaking it wasn't (3, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795169)

Actually, it _still_ isn't testable, since it has idiocies like "sexual selection" tacked on to it as a catch-all for everything it couldn't actually explain. (Why did the peacock evolve such a big and handicapping tail? Hur-hur-hur, to impress women, Beavis.)

The problem is that no matter how you slice it, it proposes that an organism can also evolve towards _less_ fit, i.e., that sometimes natural selection works against the logical direction or in some random direction. You can't falsify something with such a catch-all clause. It predicts that something will get more fit for the environment... except in the unpredictable cases where it actually evolves to be less fit.

It's like saying that gravity makes bodies attract each other... except when they repulse each other, or make each other move in a random direction. That's not falsifiable, i.e., plain old not science.

Why do I call it idiotic?

A) Because it handwaves away half the problem. Ok, so male peacocks evolved so to impress the females. But why did females evolve that trait then? Going strictly natural selection, if that tail were indeed a disadvantage, some females would be randomly born with a preferrence for smaller tails and mate with males with smaller tails, their children would have less of a disadvantage, repeat. So natural selection would guide things towards removing that handicap anyway.

Just because sex is involved in selecting that, it doesn't mean it is the only factor or evolutionary pressure. If it were a disadvantage for males, then natural selection among _females_ would phase it out.

B) Because it doesn't even try to see if there's another advantage to that. It's a catch-all "I don't know why it's like that, so it must be about sex." And I mean other disadvantages like:

- disruptive camouflage. Just because for the advanced image recognition circuitry of a primate something stands out like a sore thumb, it doesn't mean it's like that for other species too. E.g., an orange tabby tomcat is actually very well camouflaged for its prey, because its many lines prevent a mouse's simple circuitry from figuring out the shape of the cat. E.g., the lines of the zebras are a nightmare for lions.

A peacock's tail's patterns would be a right nightmare for many species of predators.

- apparent size. Most animals don't have the circuitry to really figure out the real size of an opponent, so a bigger total shape means a bigger animal. E.g., there's a reason why your cat puffs up and turns sideways when it tries to scare off a potential enemy. For your advanced brain it's the same cat, but for another cat it's "whoa, it just got a lot larger." E.g., just putting a tophat on a kid makes him/her look like a less tempting prey to a hyena, because it looks bigger.

A peacock's tail makes it look freaking big. A lot of the smaller predators would be a lot less inclined to mess with it.

- protecting one's young and females. Many species essentially take a personal risk to try to lure a predator away from their children. Even a personal disadvantage can be an evolutionary advantage if it helps save your kids.

- aposematism. Sometimes you want to make yourself visible as an easily recognizable warning. E.g., see ladibugs being that brightly coloured. It was actually an evolutionary advantage to make sure that whatever bird tasted a ladybug once, can easily recognize and avoid others.

But here's the fun part: sometimes it's an evolutionary advantage to imitate such a species. If the predators already are "trained" to avoid species X, it can be an advantage to look like species X although you don't have the same defenses.

So the peacock could have simply evolved to look like _something_ that the predators would rather avoid. E.g., to show a bigger version of a pattern of a more dangerous predator, or of a toxic/stinging plant that everybody avoids, etc.

- changing conditions. Just because something looks like a pure disadvantage to you now, it could have been an advantage against the predators that existed 20,000 years ago. Or it just could have had no predators that mattered in that aspect, back when it evolved. Or see above it could have imitated some species that no longer exists.

Etc.

But Darwinism still doesn't even try much to see which of them is right, if any. It just lumped it under the untestable catch-all "sexual selection" and acts as if it explains it fully.

But the fact remains that as long as theory has such a generic catch-all for all cases that don't go as it would normally predict, it is inherently not falsifiable. If you predict that a species would, for example, evolve to be faster to avoid predators, but instead it grows a huge tail... hey, whoda thunkkit, your prediction still isn't falsified because you have that catch-all safety net. Hur-hur-hur, it must have been about sex, Beavis.

But at any rate, as it is, it's no more falsifiable than ID. No, I don't advocate teaching ID, I advocate fixing Darwinism to actually be science. I.e., fully falsifiable.

Re:He didn't propose a "theory" in the strict sens (5, Interesting)

Crookdotter (1297179) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794967)

Darwin did make predictions based on his observations. He observed a flower with an extremely long distance to it's store of nectar, up to a metre if I recall. He predicted a wierd kind of insect (maybe a moth) that must have a massive, metre long tongue to drink the nectar as an example of the two organisms evolving together. The moth was observed and catalogued about 20 years later if I remember right.

Re:He didn't propose a "theory" in the strict sens (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795077)

I'm not sure about his theory being untestable. Although it couldn't make predictions about the future, evolution was quite specific about what the past should look like.

One of the early problems with evolution was that the fossil record did not appear to fit the theory, the earliest fossils known were of relatively complex creatures which all appeared in a certain era. These fossils were discovered later.

Last time I checked (2, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794819)

Newtonian physics/mechanics is in common usage and although there's no 'Einstienian", there is the term 'relativistic' applied to the branch of physics he's most famous for

Re:Last time I checked (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795001)

-ian and -isms are different though. "-Ism" tends to imply a religious following. "-ian" tends to imply something that's simply derived from a person or place.

Re:Last time I checked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26795047)

Check again.

"Spooky Twins Survive Einsteinian Torture" - Charles Seife, Science 294:1265.
"Solar systems tests of Einsteinian and post-Einsteinian gravity" - L. Iorio, 36th COSPAR Scientific Assembly.

We also have Rutherfordian atoms, Batesian mimickry, Baldwinian evolution, Aristotelian logic, Keynesian economics, etc.

Stuff traditionally gets named after its discoverers, and that fact that a bunch of agenda-laden morons misuse the term is not a reason to surrender the word to them. Creationists lie about everything in evolution, even the meaning of the word itself, not using Darwin's name won't stop them.

scientist laments religion in science, film at 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26794821)

Too bad buddy, I think it's too late for science, just like it is for computers I'm sorry to say. Man needs religion evidently, even the atheists need it so they make one up out of whatever is their daily work.

What ? (5, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794837)

The only people who go on and on ad nauseum about "Darwinism", as if it were the be-all and end-all of Evolutionary Theory, are the Creationists.

The reason no-one talks about "Newtonism" or "Eisteinism" is because neither of those things threaten the basis behind the belief systems of a significant chunk of the planet (and therefore the power weilded by the people behind them). Why waste time attacking something you couldn't care less about ?

Re:What ? (4, Insightful)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794897)

THIS! A hundred time THIS!

And let me add that in my experience, 99% of all people who calls the scientific theory of evolution for "Darwinism" is from the US, just like a large majority of the hardline creationists...

The rest of the western world seems happy enought to accept that the theory of evolution fits the known facts and is a valid scientific theory, just as they accept that religion - while nice - has naught to do in science class.

Blame the US education system I guess...

Re:What ? (1)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795099)

The rest of the western world...

Rational thinking is not something that is unique to the western world you know. I haven't met any single rational thinking individual, be him from the west or east who had problems with evolution.

Re:What ? (1)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795149)

Speaking from my own experiences - I should have made that clearer. Mea culpa.

Re:What ? (2, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795255)

As I said in another post elsewhere it's irrelevant anyway. If we didn't have Darwinism we'd get creationists calling it something like "Creation Theory" to give it an air of undeserved authenticity.

They'll always find something to twist to suit their goals.

Re:What ? (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794921)

The only people...are the Creationists.

Agreed. I still hear US radio broadcasters squealing about Nebraska Man. They continue to flog that long-deceased peccary.

Re:What ? (2, Interesting)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795075)

Absolutely.

Another reason creationists refer to Darwinism is that it sets them up for an Ad Hominum attack.

Darwin was a slightly flawed individual, living as he was in a time when social values were "Victorian". He would naturally had a view of the world that was somewhat tainted by a patriarchal society that was imperial, sexist and racist. And creationists are often found to be using this as evidence against his theories.

As well as this, the writing of his time, even scientific writing, was colourful and designed to compel as well as convince. We see this being used against him all the time with the popular "Darwin didn't even believe the eye could have evolved" nonsense.

Add to this his famous "death bed conversion" - no matter how much the evidence contradicts this - and you have a neatly sewn up package.

Of course, being an Ad Hominum, it would matter not a jot even if Darwin became the archbishop of Canterbury and then shagged the queen - the theory of evolution (in its current form) is the best description available for the origin of the species on this planet.

Don't forget the greedy (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795183)

The only people who go on and on ad nauseum about "Darwinism", as if it were the be-all and end-all of Evolutionary Theory, are the Creationists.

Don't forget the greedy, the exploitative, and their apologists also crow about darwinism.

Anyone who is poor is obviously lazy/inferior (always stated indirectly so they can label anyone who calls a spade a spade a cook)

do scientists actually call it Darwinism? (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794839)

I could be hanging out with the wrong scientists, but I rarely hear anyone describe what they work on as "Darwinism". There are "evolutionary biologists", who research evolution, not Darwinism. The well-accepted name for the process is evolution, and as far as I can tell nobody calls the idea Darwinism, though Darwin is widely credited as having had an important early role in its development.

We do actually speak of Newtonian mechanics, for what it's worth. Probably more than anyone in science actually speaks of Darwinian evolution. So we've sort of already done what this guy is asking for, it seems?

Re:do scientists actually call it Darwinism? (3, Insightful)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794865)

I've only ever heard evolution described as evolution. The only people I've heard talking about 'Darwinism' are:
-Scientists talking about the historical theory
-Creationists
-The occasional truly ignorant journalist.

I beg your pardon? (5, Interesting)

Schiphol (1168667) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794853)

I don't think many popular science writers, or whoever it is that shapes the public understanding of scientific issues, have read, let alone endorse, The Origin of Species. It is truer that most of them do endorse the so-called Modern Synthesis [wikipedia.org] , a synthesis between evolution-theoretic ideas and genetics, which cristallised around the mid-40s and is, arguably, not the last word in the theory of evolution. But I don't see how having Darwin's name associated -in all justice- to the Modern Synthesis cluster is any more harmful to the theory than having Einstein's name associated -in all justice- to the theory of relativity.

On the other hand, from TFA:

"Using phrases like "Darwinian selection" or "Darwinian evolution" implies there must be another kind of evolution at work, a process that can be described with another adjective. For instance, "Newtonian physics" distinguishes the mechanical physics Newton explored from subatomic quantum physics. So "Darwinian evolution" raises a question: What's the other evolution?

Into the breach: intelligent design."

Of course. This is just as it should be. Intelligent design is a powerful source of evolution. Or how does the writer think Airbuses emerged from the Wright brothers' prototype? The passage I just quoted implies that there is no legitimate evolution that is not Darwinian. This is plain silly.

Re:I beg your pardon? (2, Informative)

SirClicksalot (962033) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795025)

So "Darwinian evolution" raises a question: What's the other evolution?

Other evolutionary systems have been proposed. Before Darwin came along Lamarck formulated his own theory of evolution. The main difference with Darwinian evolution is that Lamarckian evolution supposes inheritance of characteristics acquired during the life time of the organisms. See wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

Re:I beg your pardon? (2, Informative)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795031)

Or how does the writer think Airbuses emerged from the Wright brothers' prototype?

I'm pretty sure we're talking about biology here, not aeronautical engineering.

The passage I just quoted implies that there is no legitimate evolution that is not Darwinian.

What it implies is that there isn't a distinct alternative to "Darwinian evolution". Evolution as it's understood today is an improvement on Evolution as posited by Darwin rather than a distinct theory (as in the Newtonian/Quantum example).

Semantics (4, Funny)

Now15 (9715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794859)

This is an issue of semantics, and of marketing strategy. A rose by any other name ... still evolved from its Rosoideae anscestors in the wild fields of Asia.

Re:Semantics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26795133)

Well yes of course it is. Are you trying to say that the meaning of words isn't important?

Re:Semantics (1)

Dr. Hellno (1159307) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795187)

very, very well said.

"Darwinism" != "Darwin's theory of evolution". (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794863)

That's the main mistake here.

Basicly (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794867)

Basicly this says that we must stop treating evolution as a theory and instead embrace it as truth. Once again Sherlock is stunned silent.

Re:Basicly (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795073)

Basicly this says that we must stop treating evolution as a theory and instead embrace it as truth

That's not even CLOSE to what it says, but, even if it were, the two are not mutually exclusive. The are dozens of scientific theories which we treat as truth. Hell, most people still look at Newtonian physics as being true even though we know that they're not a true description of the physical reality. Scientific theories would be useless if we could never accept them as true. Considering that we currently have more evidence to confirm Evolutionary Theory than we do to back Gravitational Theory, it would be just plain silly to suggest that evolution be treated as some half-baked hypothesis (which is what statements like yours are usually designed to advocate).

Re:Basicly (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795151)

The are dozens of scientific theories which we treat as truth.

What the hell are you talking about? There are no multiple truths for the same subject in science, that's why the word theory exists, as in "probable explanation". And what the fuck is up with your last sentence? Of course evolution is true, fucking read what I write before you answer my post.

Re:Basically (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795087)

Basicly this says that we must stop treating evolution as a theory and instead embrace it as truth.

Well, one of the wedges that Creationists use in debate and in writings is the duality of the word "Evolution". It can mean both the fact of evolution - that populations change over time, AND to refer to the Theory of Evolution based on Natural Selection. Fruitcakes like Kent Hovind even extend it to encompass the evolution of the universe since the Big Bang, which is obviously completely unrelated to the biological evolution of life on Earth.

We have to be vigilant at all times over the way Creationists play with words like "Theory" and "Evolution" and pick them up on it, tie them down to which particular meaning they are using at the time. Of course, they can in turn use this to advantage in debates by accusing scientists of being pernickety fusspots, or even underhand and rhetorical themselves. It's a tightrope, Spud ! A f***ing tightrope !

These guys put it better than me [talkorigins.org] .

Huh? (4, Insightful)

glwtta (532858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794871)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but these days the term "Darwinism" refers to a 19th century understanding of evolution, specifically to distinguish it from modern evolutionary theory.

The only people who use "Darwinism" to mean "theory of evolution" are creationists.

Re:Huh? (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794917)

The only people who use "Darwinism" to mean "theory of evolution" are creationists.

The problem is that simply isn't true [smh.com.au] . People use language lazily. There's nothing unreasonable about that per se, but it is a mistake if the ideas your are trying to get are important.

Re:Huh? (1)

professionalfurryele (877225) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795043)

The entries on that page relate to responses to creationists. The mistake there is mirroring their incorrect language in an effort to both answer and appear to answer the question.

The problem there was that scientists think like the anti-politician. Say I phrased a question in which I talked about excess cash when it was clear from the context that I meant marginal revenue. If you were a scientists arguing with me you might consciously use the same term, especially if it was near synonymous with the actual term one should use.

The problem is creationists are dictating the debate. The frame all the questions and because they are willing to lie, cheat and generally be dishonest they control the discussion.

Creationists are at war with rational thought. If we are going to beat them with have to stop caring what they think and how they feel and start caring about how to utterly crush them. We should frame the debate our way. We have been arguing with these people with an ever increasing set of facts on our side for generations now. We aren't going to convince them, our objective should be to minimise their influence.

Scientists are fighting this war like they are negotiating with rational and sensible people. Not monsters who consciously choose lies and deception. Creationists are part of a traitorous movement who are using creationism as 'the thin end of the wedge' their term. They are trying to force religion into every aspect of public life. They are traitors and their ring leaders deserve the same treatment we give domestic spies who collude with enemy governments.

No rational individual should ever allow a creationist to serve in a position of power if they can prevent it. The debate should be framed in terms of should we be allowing creationists to abuse their children by brainwashing them in the same nasty ideology they were abused into believing by their parents. The debate shouldn't be on the facts any more, it should be on what fraction of the detractors of evolution belong in mental hospitals and what fraction belong in the judicial system.

Re:Huh? (1)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795123)

Those letters were written in response to a creationist opinion piece [smh.com.au] that used the term first. Just for good measure, here's a choice quote from something that I presume was printed in a prominent newspaper:

A dedicated Darwinian would welcome imperialism, genocide, mass deportation, ethnic cleansing, eugenics, euthanasia, forced sterilisations and infanticide.

Re:Huh? (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795205)

Yes, it's from one of the two major Australian broadsheets.

To be fair to the respondents the opinion piece is so ludicrous it's almost impossible to compose a short letter in response to it so reusing the "Darwinism" term is understandable.

I began writing a letter myself but didn't have time to work my thoughts down to something that could possibly be printed.

By and large those letter writers did a good job of picking up a particular fault and addressing it. They weren't using language 'lazily' but it was nevertheless and example of how non-creationists can end up using a term that helps has pro-creationist connotations.

Re:Huh? (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795271)

That quote shows one of the things I hate most about some creationists. There is a failure to distinguish between the description of nature and the completely separate moral question of whether we should act on it.

Re:Huh? (1)

vojtech (565680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794983)

Indeed, the term Darwinism is mainly used by Creationists, the same way that Allopathy is a term coined by practitioners of Homeopathic medicine.

And the reason for that is because creating such a duality makes it seem that both approaches are equally valid. I'm sure there are many more examples ...

Re:Ditto-Heads (2, Informative)

dammy (131759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795019)

I'm awfully amused of the misuse of the term, "Ditto-Head" in a Darwinism piece to bash non-compliant thought. The term came from Rush Limbaugh Show that shorted air time of people saying how much they loved the show and it had nothing to do with following in lock step, mind numbed robots, like the faithful followers of Darwinism do today. Now if this overview of the article has a fatally flawed description, what is a good Darwinist to do?

RTFA without an account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26794887)

Try this Google search [google.com] , and click the result to read the story in a single page without registering.

Or, since registration requirements are lame, read it here:

Darwinism Must Die So That Evolution May Live
By CARL SAFINA
Published: February 9, 2009

"You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching," Robert Darwin told his son, "and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family." Yet the feckless boy is everywhere. Charles Darwin gets so much credit, we can't distinguish evolution from him.

Equating evolution with Charles Darwin ignores 150 years of discoveries, including most of what scientists understand about evolution. Such as: Gregor Mendel's patterns of heredity (which gave Darwin's idea of natural selection a mechanism -- genetics -- by which it could work); the discovery of DNA (which gave genetics a mechanism and lets us see evolutionary lineages); developmental biology (which gives DNA a mechanism); studies documenting evolution in nature (which converted the hypothetical to observable fact); evolution's role in medicine and disease (bringing immediate relevance to the topic); and more.

By propounding "Darwinism," even scientists and science writers perpetuate an impression that evolution is about one man, one book, one "theory." The ninth-century Buddhist master Lin Chi said, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." The point is that making a master teacher into a sacred fetish misses the essence of his teaching. So let us now kill Darwin.

That all life is related by common ancestry, and that populations change form over time, are the broad strokes and fine brushwork of evolution. But Darwin was late to the party. His grandfather, and others, believed new species evolved. Farmers and fanciers continually created new plant and animal varieties by selecting who survived to breed, thus handing Charles Darwin an idea. All Darwin perceived was that selection must work in nature, too.

In 1859, Darwin's perception and evidence became "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life." Few realize he published 8 books before and 10 books after "Origin." He wrote seminal books on orchids, insects, barnacles and corals. He figured out how atolls form, and why they're tropical.

Credit Darwin's towering genius. No mind ran so freely, so widely or so freshly over the hills and vales of existence. But there's a limit to how much credit is reasonable. Parking evolution with Charles Darwin overlooks the limits of his time and all subsequent progress.

Science was primitive in Darwin's day. Ships had no engines. Not until 1842, six years after Darwin's Beagle voyage, did Richard Owen coin the term "dinosaur." Darwin was an adult before scientists began debating whether germs caused disease and whether physicians should clean their instruments. In 1850s London, John Snow fought cholera unaware that bacteria caused it. Not until 1857 did Johann Carl Fuhlrott and Hermann Schaaffhausen announce that unusual bones from the Neander Valley in Germany were perhaps remains of a very old human race. In 1860 Louis Pasteur performed experiments that eventually disproved "spontaneous generation," the idea that life continually arose from nonliving things.

Science has marched on. But evolution can seem uniquely stuck on its founder. We don't call astronomy Copernicism, nor gravity Newtonism. "Darwinism" implies an ideology adhering to one man's dictates, like Marxism. And "isms" (capitalism, Catholicism, racism) are not science. "Darwinism" implies that biological scientists "believe in" Darwin's "theory." It's as if, since 1860, scientists have just ditto-headed Darwin rather than challenging and testing his ideas, or adding vast new knowledge.

Using phrases like "Darwinian selection" or "Darwinian evolution" implies there must be another kind of evolution at work, a process that can be described with another adjective. For instance, "Newtonian physics" distinguishes the mechanical physics Newton explored from subatomic quantum physics. So "Darwinian evolution" raises a question: What's the other evolution?

Into the breach: intelligent design. I am not quite saying Darwinism gave rise to creationism, though the "isms" imply equivalence. But the term "Darwinian" built a stage upon which "intelligent" could share the spotlight.

Charles Darwin didn't invent a belief system. He had an idea, not an ideology. The idea spawned a discipline, not disciples. He spent 20-plus years amassing and assessing the evidence and implications of similar, yet differing, creatures separated in time (fossils) or in space (islands). That's science.

That's why Darwin must go.

Almost everything we understand about evolution came after Darwin, not from him. He knew nothing of heredity or genetics, both crucial to evolution. Evolution wasn't even Darwin's idea.

Darwin's grandfather Erasmus believed life evolved from a single ancestor. "Shall we conjecture that one and the same kind of living filaments is and has been the cause of all organic life?" he wrote in "Zoonomia" in 1794. He just couldn't figure out how.

Charles Darwin was after the how. Thinking about farmers' selective breeding, considering the high mortality of seeds and wild animals, he surmised that natural conditions acted as a filter determining which individuals survived to breed more individuals like themselves. He called this filter "natural selection." What Darwin had to say about evolution basically begins and ends right there. Darwin took the tiniest step beyond common knowledge. Yet because he perceived -- correctly -- a mechanism by which life diversifies, his insight packed sweeping power.

But he wasn't alone. Darwin had been incubating his thesis for two decades when Alfred Russel Wallace wrote to him from Southeast Asia, independently outlining the same idea. Fearing a scoop, Darwin's colleagues arranged a public presentation crediting both men. It was an idea whose time had come, with or without Darwin.

Darwin penned the magnum opus. Yet there were weaknesses. Individual variation underpinned the idea, but what created variants? Worse, people thought traits of both parents blended in the offspring, so wouldn't a successful trait be diluted out of existence in a few generations? Because Darwin and colleagues were ignorant of genes and the mechanics of inheritance, they couldn't fully understand evolution.

Gregor Mendel, an Austrian monk, discovered that in pea plants inheritance of individual traits followed patterns. Superiors burned his papers posthumously in 1884. Not until Mendel's rediscovered "genetics" met Darwin's natural selection in the "modern synthesis" of the 1920s did science take a giant step toward understanding evolutionary mechanics. Rosalind Franklin, James Watson and Francis Crick bestowed the next leap: DNA, the structure and mechanism of variation and inheritance.

Darwin's intellect, humility ("It is always advisable to perceive clearly our ignorance") and prescience astonish more as scientists clarify, in detail he never imagined, how much he got right.

But our understanding of how life works since Darwin won't swim in the public pool of ideas until we kill the cult of Darwinism. Only when we fully acknowledge the subsequent century and a half of value added can we really appreciate both Darwin's genius and the fact that evolution is life's driving force, with or without Darwin.

Carl Safina is a MacArthur fellow, an adjunct professor at Stony Brook University and the president of the Blue Ocean Institute. His books include "Song for the Blue Ocean," "Eye of the Albatross" and "Voyage of the Turtle."

Education must improve rather. (3, Insightful)

Daemonax (1204296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794891)

A quite skim over the article. It's rubbish. That Darwin distracts from all the others who have helped strengthen our understanding of how the variety of life on the planet came to be, I'll accept that.
That 'Darwinism' must die so people can understand evolution? That's just bollocks.
Education must simply improve, and ignorance should never be tolerated.

Changing the name of something to make it palpable (5, Funny)

XahXhaX (730306) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794899)

This is a good idea. Just ask any proponent of creati...err...intelligent design.

Not that I condone Darwinism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26794901)

... Or any -ism for that matter. -Ism's in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me." Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I'd still have to bum rides off people.

Darwin deserves his credit. (2, Informative)

Yuuki Dasu (1416345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794949)

A lot of other people have torn to pieces the idea that we really call it "Darwinism" in meaningful discourse. They're pretty right. Our understanding of evolution has, err, evolved, over the years since he first propounded his theory.

That said, he laid the foundations for evolutionary biology, and deserves to leave his name in history a bit. If you've never read The Origin of Species, give it a shot. It's a solid work, and quite accessible. His application of the scientific method should be a case study for all scientists.

For any interested, there's a pretty good article about him [iht.com] over at the International Herald Tribune at the moment.

Wait, I'm confused... (1)

MongerKing (1459733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794981)

I thought 'Darwinism' was the term you used when playing 'Darwinia'? Maybe that's why I failed biology 101...

TFA is "popular" science Crap (1)

pacificleo (850029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26794991)

Drawanism has same relationship with Evolution what Dawkinism has got with Atheism. Idea is far older than these two people . their contribution is that they bring the debate to mainstream audience . No small achievement by any yardstick.Problem is that some people identify more with the champion than the cause . does that hurt the cause and prevent us from having a healthy debate ? Yes . but does it give others to discredit the champion . NO .
TFA is another popular science article .Popular yes but scientific ? Not completely

Creationists morons must die so science can live (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26795033)

'nuff said.

Don't buy into the argument (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795041)

By joining into the debate anywhere but on the legislative and judicial level (where it actually matters), you're only strengthening the argument for creationism, if just on the subconsious level. Ignore them in public debate and their argument will die. Why must we keep dredging this up every time the religious zealots start to let this slide? If the zealots are losing their battle(s) in Texas, you can be sure they're not winning anywhere else.

Who is typing this, oh yeah its me. HI! (1)

Neptunes_Trident (1452997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795091)

This is great subject matter, whilst smoking a bowl with pals. So many directions we could go with this. (takes another hit) Huh, WHAT!?....who said that?!.... (checks pulse, looks in mirror) shit what was I doing now?... *It was funny to me when I wrote this!* *So F off!*

Doh... (5, Insightful)

Genda (560240) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795127)

I'm really sorry anyone is comparing any scientific idea to "Creationism" or the current flavor of the month "Intelligent Design" which from every angle I can see is neither. Evolution as a general study covers everything from punctuated equilibrium, to impact of ionizing radiation on nucleotides. There must be dozens, maybe hundreds of different disciplines, technologies, framed of reference, scientific venues, and interrelated studies. This would be like comparing a sequoia to a blade of astro-turf, and arguing they are equal because they are both green.

Creationism is a belief system in search of evidence to justify it's validity. This someone opening a box of puzzle pieces, cutting all the none conforming bits off the pieces, and forcing them into some semblance of a presupposed picture. In short this is a mental illness. It is someone who places more importance in the way they want things to be, than the way they in fact are. This is magical thinking. Most human beings develop beyond this level of function at about the age of 10. It is no more ludicrous than Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

The nature of science is you have an idea. You test it against the world. If the data doesn't match the theory, the theory is wrong, and you need to rethink it. No handpicking data to match your theory. Scientist who do that are called frauds, and lose the respect and recognition of their peers almost instantly. This isn't to say that there isn't belief, politics, and hubris among scientists. It's hard to ignore human foibles, but at least one can account for them. Magical thinking doesn't even try. Those same foibles are point and purpose to magical thinking, and any truth that happens there is purely coincidental.

Nobody read him actually (2, Insightful)

horli (1082207) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795185)

The problem with Darwin is that nobody actually read his books but everybody is talking about him. Therefore he is one of the most misunderstood man in history.
It is the same with Slashdot, everybody comments on stories they didn't read. Including me right now :-)

Darwinism != Evolution (0, Flamebait)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795191)

You don't build a house THEN come up with the idea to build a house. The Meta-Physical Idea ALWAYS precedes the Physical implementation. Darwinism completely ignores this, and is junk science as it is completely ass-backwards.

What the (biological) Evolutionists completely fail to understand that there is ALSO Spiritual evolution. In the same manner a mind matures and is able to do basic arithmetic, and eventually calculus, a person's understanding of Morality, Ethics, and their Understanding of the All-Parent / All-That-Is / God / Goddess also becomes more complete as they get older as they understand the Spiritual Laws.

Creationism tries to fill this gap, and fails miserably because it trying to solve the _wrong_ problem.

I can't wait for First Contact when all this nonsense gets put behind us, when people finally learn the truth about the development of this planet. Bring on Homo Spiritus.

--
End Racism. Support the Human Race.

I don't see why (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 5 years ago | (#26795265)

People saying Darwinism probably do so with a specific context in mind, or because they're idiot creationists. Creationists probably think if they refer to it as Darwinism that it sounds more like some kind of philosophical following / religion with a measure of doubt rather than the cold hard fact that evolution really is.

He deserves to be credited (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26795285)

The only people who habitually use the term Darwinism are creationist asses who want to propagate the notion that we worship Darwin like some kind of demigod. But if we refrain from celebrating him as the guy who launched the theory of evolution, the terrorists win!

Rational people should carry on doing exactly what they're doing. Darwin was a visionary; I don't see the problem with acknowledging this.

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