• Quotemining

    I haven’t posted much on Darwin’s Doubt recently.  There are several reasons for that.

    The first is that other projects and work are taking it’s toll.  I’m the lead on a new bid and it will be very cool, if we get the project.

    The second is that in the last week, I have found about several papers that Meyer references and have dug them up (which was shockingly difficult in one case as his reference was… incomplete).  I have also done some research on related papers and am learning way more about early Cambrian fauna that I ever really wanted to.  I’m a vertebrate guy, I don’t really like dealing with things that pop when I step on them.

    The third is related to the second.  I’m checking everything that Meyer says and it’s somewhat surprising what he doesn’t mention.  Some if it is very minor stuff, but someone who is seriously writing about science should at least say things correctly.  Close enough really isn’t.  It’s taking time to find the books that he uses.

    There’s something else that’s odd.  Meyer quotes Gould’s Wonderful Life… a lot.  Why is that?  Why not quote primary sources?  What’s the point in quoting a casual book, written for a lay audience for the true science about anything?

    There’s a good reason for creationists to quote Gould.

    He was a good scientist and new a lot about invertebrate paleontology.  Let me quote from Kevin Padian’s testimony at the Kitzmiller trial.

     And Steve was notorious. He was a great writer, but no one could take a pen to his prose. His columns were put in there, and if you touched them he was going to have a fit. So nobody edited a word. I know this from personal experience working with Steve. He was a great man, he was a great writer, but he worked on an old typewriter, didn’t do drafts, he typed it out, and that was it, and he never used a computer in his life.

    The problem with this is Gould’s writing is such that it is terribly easy to quotemine from.  There’s a whole section of the Quotemine Project devoted to misrepresentations of Gould.  The current version has nearly 140 quotes that are being misrepresented in some way by creationists.  John Pieret is planning on adding Meyer’s quotemines to the project.

    Gould’s writing, while entertaining, was (like mine) pretty much stream of consciousness.  He probably never considered how other could maliciously edit his work.

    In the past, Gould has been quoted by creationists as saying there are no intermediate forms and that modern multicellular animals appear with a bang in the Cambrian.  But consider for a moment, why would a world renowned paleontologist and evolutionary biologist say things like this?  Because he’s being quotemined.

    I’ve been doing this kind of thing for nearly two decades.  If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that when a creationist quotes something… I’ll be willing to bet donuts to sex that the scientist is being quotemined in some way.  Sometimes it’s subtle (I’ll Meyer credit here), sometimes it’s overt.  Sometimes, it’s damn near made up.

    And a note to my creationist readers.  If you think that this is an unfair characterization.  If you think that this is wrong.  If you think I’m lying… ask yourself “why does the quotemine project exist?”  Why does any person who is familiar with creationism never trust a quote?

    I assure you, it’s not a conspiracy to put down creationism and intelligent design.  It’s not because we’re afraid of your arguments (which, for all practical purposes don’t exist).  It’s not anything, but the simple fact that creationists quotemine.

    If you don’t like, I have an excellent solution.  STOP MISREPRESENTING SCIENTISTS COMMENTS.

    I promise that a research scientist who’s been working in the field of evolution for decades and actually does paleontology and is world famous for his contributions to the understanding of modern evolutionary theory was NOT really a secret (oppressed) creationist.  Really.

    Finally, to all the creationists and ID supporters out there.  Ask yourself, “If we’re right, then why do all our books lie about what other people say?”  It’s a serious question.  It really is.  And, if you are honest with yourself, you should spend some time in serious self reflection on this.  And, if you are OK with lying to support your point of view, then fine.  At least you’re being honest enough to admit it to yourself.

    Anyway, my rant has reached the end.

    I’m still searching for a few books.  I’ve got the next part of Chapter 2 written up, but I need a few more references checked before I post it.  Sorry for the delay.

    Category: Book ReviewCreationismSkepticism


    Article by: Smilodon's Retreat