spiked article

Wolfgang Wuster bss166 at clss1.bangor.ac.uk
Fri Mar 31 04:19:59 EST 1995


On Wed, 22 Mar 1995, Richard Milton wrote:

>  
> In article <9503292308.AA14532 at spider.ento.csiro.au>,
>  Thomas Boyce (thomasb at SPIDER.ENTO.CSIRO.AU) writes:
> 
> >
> >I sympathise with your objections to censorship, and I do not think
> >irrepairable harm would have been done by the publication of the article.  

The problem with publishing stuff like this is that there are people
around with a political agenda (i.e., your friendly neighbourhood
creationist group) who pounce on this kind of stuff, especially because it
is written by a non-creationist. Headline: "Leading evolution expert 
dismisses Darwinism in respected Publication".

Censorship must never get in the way of publishing new ideas or 
criticisms of old ideas IF THEY ARE BASED ON SOUND SCIENCE.

> >
> >However, I do see that much of what you say is based on misinterpretation
> >or poor understanding of the facts of biology (even the history of
> >evolutionary biology).  If I were the editor of a biological journal, I
> >would have rejected the article as misinformed and naive - perhaps more for
> >what it leaves out rather than what little is in it.

I would have failed it as a first year undergraduate essay.

> >Although I do not support censorship, it is nevertheless important to be
> >fair with the facts and to the people involved.  In those respects your
> >article fails.
> >
> >Perhaps the best remedy would have been for your article to be published
> >along with a piece by piece dissection of its errors by Dawkins, or
> >whomever.  I would perform such a dissection myself, but that it appears
> >you've already had the benefit of same from Dawkins.

I don't really think this is worth publishing at all. The same ground has
been covered again and again, ad nauseam, particularly in the
Creation/Evolution debates, as well as by a host of other persons without
political/religious motives. 

> >Could you also post Dawkins's objections?
> 
>  I'm afraid I haven't made myself sufficiently clear on this
> point.  Dawkins has not made any attempt to reply to any
> of the points in the article.  As far as I know, he has
> not even seen the article. he has simply written to the
> editor of THES falsely alleging that I am a secret
> creationist. It was following this allegation that the
> article was rejected. 

There are two possible reasons for this:

One is that many of your arguments could have come straight out of a 
creationist text, with techniques such as quotes out of context, and 
criticisms based on ignorance.
The second is that Dawkins may simply have been familiar with your 
writings, and felt that replying to the arguments is a waste of time, as 
this has had to be done far too many times before.
 
> You will probably now better appreciate my sense of
> indignation and my reason for publishing the article. 

I hope that after the comments your article has elicited from a variety of
sources, you will understand that, even if the reason given was perhaps
unsatisfactory, your article should still not have been published by the
THES. 

I hope you will also understand that those working to improve our
understanding of biology get rather irritated at constantly being
subjected to a barrage of uninformed criticism, which is used by others to
further a political agenda determined to ridicule and undermine this line
of research, and therefore has to be addressed at the expense of our time.

Wolfgang Wuster
School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor




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