spiked article

Richard Milton richard at milton.win-uk.net
Thu Mar 23 21:28:29 EST 1995


 
In article <3lghfv$ffm at mserv1.dl.ac.uk>, Wolfgang Wuster (bss166 at clss1.bangor.ac.uk) writes:
>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.

I cannot help wondering if you have really thought about
what you are saying here.  You have (I assume unconsciously)
stated the censorship rationale of every totalitarian regime
this century. 

Of course, it is _you_ who decide what is "sound" and what
is "unsound" -- and by an astonishing coincidence all that
you disagree with, you also happen to find "unsound" and
hence censorship can be allowed to "get in the way of" it. 
I do hope, Wolfgang, that if you ever find yourself
in disagreement with someone in authority, that he doesn't
think like you.
 
>> >
>> >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.

Given your unreflecting, authoritarian aversion to open
debate on subjects that you consider not to be "sound", then
I would not employ you to teach first year students.

>> >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.

There is also a third possible reason.  That Dawkins shares
the views you have expressed earlier and believes that
scientific arguments that are disagreeable or which might
aid creationists should be suppressed, regardless of their
merits.  There is a word for this kind of thinking and
behaviour. 

 
>> 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.


Whether you are irritated or not by rational discourse is
not a matter that merits discussion.  If I have undermined
neo-Darwinism (and I sincerely hope that I have) it is
because the scientific facts are on my side. If I have not
undermined the theory it is because I am wrong. Either way,
science does not need fundamentalists to sniff out and
condemn heretics.  The decision to spend your time responding
to my article was yours -- to complain to me about it is a
clear indication of how confused your perception of this
issue is. 

--
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Richard Milton               | 
10 Pembury Road              | "Perfectly exact physics is not
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United Kingdom               |      are not so very holy."
Tel/Fax: 0732 353427         |
richard at milton.win-uk.net    |             Wilhelm Reich
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