Re: [asa] The fight in Texas over evolution training in schools

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Thu Mar 26 2009 - 22:16:16 EDT

I too stand by mine. I hope my list of stupidities made it through tonight. But, If papers with assumptions lacking evidence shouldn't be published, how does science justify the publication of anything on branes or the multiverse? There is not a shred of observational evidence for the existence of the multiverse, yet science (physics in particular) gets a pass.

You are absolutely wrong that they had no data otherwise. They had lots of pre clovis C14 dates, at Meadowcroft, at Monte Verde, Cactus Hill, Topper etc. Yet all those dates were rejected by the majority for years before finally the majority of anthropologists accepted Monte Verde, and now some other pre-clovis sites.

C. Vance Haynes, mentioned in the article above, is like a young-earth creationist who, no matter what data you place before his eyes, he can find a way to doubt it. There is a famous account in James Adovasio's book

>>>"Then, suddenly and in a sense parenthetically, the talk turned to Meadowcroft, and Haynes told me and the assembled multitude that if only I would date just one seed or one nut from the deepest levels at Meadow-croft, he might be led to believe in the antiquity of the site.
"That was it, I burst out in derisive laughter. Over the years, in scientific paper after scientific paper, Haynes had asked for yet another date, yet another study, raising yet another picayune and fanciful questions about Meadowcroft, most of which had been answered long before he asked them-not just in the original excavation procedures but in report after report. Up until this time in Monte Verde, I had complied.
. . .
"Horse*%&#, I said constructively. I told Vance Haynes there and then that never would I accede to any request he made for further testing of the Meadowcroft site because if I did he would simply ask for something else in a never-ending spiral of problems. I explained that the matter of Meadowcroft's antiquity was settled as far a s most other professionals and I were concerned, and that if any remaining skeptics did not believe it, I could not care less. I then stormed out of the bar with Tom to cool off outside in the parking lot." J. M. Adovasio with Jake Page, The First Americans, (New York: Random House, 2002), p. 223-224<<<

And, Haynes, a formerly very influential person in American Anthropology voted to accept Monte Verde, he later couldn't help himself and he came up with more picayune doubts. From the NYtimes article above.

"Dr. C. Vance Haynes Jr. of the University of Arizona, one of the staunchest defenders of the Clovis orthodoxy, said that, though he had been a member of the panel of experts that authenticated Monte Verde's pre-Clovis credentials, he now had serious second thoughts. After further study of the evidence, he said, "To my surprise, I found these data to be inadequate and therefore unconvincing."

Haynes will never, ever follow the data.

As to the system working

"The Physicist Max Planck claimed that theories are never abandoned until their proponents are all dead-that science advances 'funeral by funeral'. " Martin Rees, Just Six Numbers, (New York: Basic Books, 2000), p. 10

The geologists trained in the 1930s rarely accepted continental drift.

  ----- Original Message ----- From: Randy Isaac
  Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2009 5:48 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] The fight in Texas over evolution training in schools

  I stand by my comments, Glenn. The pre-clovis habitation case is a great example, in fact. There is a very important distinction between consensus around a set of theories that have widespread, independently corroborated data and those generally accepted assumptions which have no evidence supporting them. This is particularly true in cases where assumptions are based on lack of evidence. Anthropologists assumed there was no pre-clovis habitation but largely because they had no data otherwise. This was a widely held assumption and not a scientific conclusion or data-based consensus. It is right that it is hard to get new data published. The scientific process must set the bar high enough to minimize being jerked around by unsubstantiated or uncorroborated thinking. Is it too high sometimes? sure. Is it too low sometimes? sure. No one here has argued for perfection in the process. This is not censorship but effective evaluation of new ideas by those best able to judge. Your examples are in fact excellent ones that show the process does work. Too slowly for those who had a hard time publishing it but that's part of the value of the system. Any system with too high gain in the feedback is unstable.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Glenn Morton
    To: Randy Isaac ;
    Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 9:58 PM
    Subject: Re: [asa] The fight in Texas over evolution training in schools

    Bull roar, Randy. You wrote:
>>Well said, Rich. You said "Until they get published in a peer-reviewed journal in the area of question they have not earned the right to be listened to and definitely not the right to be included in a science class at the high school level."<<<

      This is elitism at its best. Do you have any idea how hard it was for anthropologists who believed in a pre-clovis habitation of North America to be published? Yet they turned out to be correct. Science didn't used to be done via peer review. People earn the right to be heard by being human not by passing some conformance test set up by funding groups who won't allow anyone with a differing view to be published. Below is a set of peer review stupidities and places where the scientific consensus of the day was wrong. it is long, but you can read what ever of it you want to read. Scientists arrogantly think they have the right to censor other people's thoughts and ideas.

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Randy Isaac
      Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 7:20 PM
      Subject: Re: [asa] The fight in Texas over evolution training in schools

      I agree that getting published in a peer-reviewed journal is a necessary but not sufficient condition. Peer review only means that less than a handful of peers thought the paper contained some data or concepts that the broader community working in that field should consider. It doesn't mean they agreed with it or thought it was right--just worthy of note or of a response. To warrant inclusion in a high school class room means independent corroboration and acceptance by more than just a few other experts. On the other hand, I would also suggest that there are areas of frontiers in science where there is no consensus established and much of the data are not understood. These are valuable lessons in how scientific research is done and these could be included in some way in a high school classroom. What must be clear is what fields are in the frontier stage, which ones in a controversial stage, and which ones have consensus. In the right context, innovative ideas have a vital role in science education. Even here, those innovative ideas are the ones being contested in the literature.


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Received on Thu Mar 26 22:16:36 2009

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