Re: Talk Origins has an ax to grind

From: Pim van Meurs <>
Date: Tue Aug 02 2005 - 12:49:55 EDT

James Mahaffy wrote:

>In response to Hunter on a post of Mon, 01 Aug 2005 21:10:14 -0700 Pim
>pulls all his refernces from Talk origins Faqs. Talk Origins is hardly
>an unbiased source.
I have found Talkorigins well supported by references to original
research. The 29+ evidences for instance is extremely well supported
with actual references.

> I wish we could go more to the primary literature
>or good secondary literature. This raises a red flag in my mind as much
>as someone who sources his arguments all from Answers in Genesis. I
>frankly don't trust arguments that only use talk origins as their
>sources. If the arguments are good they can be found in peer reviewed
>literature or in texts that survive the scrutiny of the college market.

They can be found in primary research as they are based on primary

>I am not saying that good people and good arguments are not found on
>Talk Origins. I am just saying their bias is strong enough to NOT
>always show both sides or the messiness of the arguments. I just don't
>think it is a balanced enough source.
It's all a matter of degrees of balance. TO is far more balanced than
any creationist source I have encountered.

>I know in the past, one of the faqs written about algal evolution in
>Talk Origins was very sloppy in using wrong names for algae. Notice I
>said sloppy. The example might have been valid but anyone who had
>phycology (study of algae) would have noticed the wrong nomenclature.
Wow, that shows a good example of bias.....

>To give another example, I just relooked briefly at TO (talk origins)
>and they have a whole faq on poor credentials of Creationists. While
>they do admit that the degrees of Steve Austin and Kurt Wise are good,
>they are definitely trying to paint the creationists crowd as poorly
>credentialed. I don't like that type of argument that attempts to paint
>guilt by association. While the bad apples have not helped the movement,
>YEC's have been much more careful with credentials in the recent past.
>Besides in my area of paleontology some of the best paleontologists have
>been layfolks without degrees.
The argument is not about credentials and quality but rather about how
credentials are being used.

>I did not look at Pim's recent TO faq's but I did a bit of digging on
>Pim's source in another Post. Pim said:
>>extensive data supporting common descent as documented by Douglas
>>Convergence is also not necessarily a problem for common descent. Nor
>>are ORFans for instance. We should not let our ignorance lead us astray
>>from the solid evidence in favor of common descent.
>Doug theobalt's web page and professional bibliography at
>show that he has no journal articles on common descent. He studies
>proteins and yes is interested in their origin. His faq has a lot of
>sources and may be valid, but we would be better to work from the
>secondary or primary sources he cites. He is a young scientist writing
>to less informed layity.
I encourage you to extend his FAQ with additional research. That Douglas
has no journal articles on common descent seems irrelevant unless you
want to make this into a war of credentials. I surely hope not.

>Perhaps we shuld read and respond to a standard test on evolution like
>another one would be a better source.
WHy would a 1983 source be a better example when science moves so quickly?
If ASA wants to submit the FAQ to peer review, perhaps this would help
resolve some of the issues raised with 'credibility'. If creationists
are worried about biases from sources outside their walled garden, then
perhaps it would help move these FAQ's inside.
As a final note, check resources and double check, especially if the
arguments come from friendly sources. I try to find the original work
and papers for much of anything. In the case of my discussion with
Hunter, the original resources provided me with the relevant data to
show that people like WOese, Doolittle or Valentine hold opinions not
necessarily in line with creationist arguments. And yet they are often
quoted as if they were to support these arguments. Valentine is an
excellent example whose comments in the early 90's are used to argue
that there are problems with the Cambrian period. Yet his 2004
statements are somehow overlooked when he concludes that the data and
additional research have shown that the Cambrian explosion very well can
be explained in common evolutionary mechanisms (read Darwinian)

Perhaps you are right, TO has an axe to grind, The axe is to correct the
record and present an indepth and well supported argument. If people
feel that TO may appear to be too biased, why not host the FAQ on ASA
sites after they have been reviewed?
Received on Tue Aug 2 12:51:13 2005

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