Re: Why did progress fail?, etc

From: Stephen E. Jones (
Date: Wed Jan 05 2000 - 17:20:04 EST

  • Next message: Cliff Lundberg: "Re: Why did progress fail?, etc"


    Below are web article summaries with links for the period 20-31 December
    1999, in descending date order, with my comments in square brackets.


    ================================================== [episode 10] CNN ...
    The 20th century produced more creativity, more effort, more technical
    resourcefulness, more planning, more freedom, more power for good than
    ever before in human history. It was also the century of the most
    destructive wars, the most inhuman massacres, the most barbarous
    tyrannies, the worst extremes of wealth and poverty, the foulest
    environmental degradation, the most trash, the cruelest disillusionment. It
    promised so much and betrayed so many. The big mystery of the 20th
    century is: Why did progress fail? ... First, people say, progress failed
    because men forgot God. The century's wickedest excesses were
    perpetrated by godless movements, fascist or communist.. It's no
    coincidence ... the most secular century has been the most iniquitous.
    Without God to fear, human beings cannot be relied on to observe
    morality. ... (121/1262) [Predictably the article goes on to dismiss this out
    of hand on fallacious grounds, proving once again what it actually says at
    the end: "There are `few lessons of history,' and in any
    case people never seem to learn from them"! BTW it's not the 21st century
    Yahoo! ... December 30 ... S.Africa Apeman Is Guide to Human Origins ...
    [A]... researcher ... uncovered the apeman's fossilized left arm and hand
    embedded in rock more than 20 meters ... below the surface. "... Dr Ron
    Clarke told Reuters. ...The hand and arm belong to the same creature
    whose foot, lower leg and lower thigh bones and skull that were discovered
    earlier this decade at the same site ... the dislodging of rocks had separated
    the bones ... He is confident of finding the rest of the specimen deeper in
    the cave, including the backbone and the pelvis. ... (92/949) [There are
    fragments found in various places throughout this cave and yet Clark
    assumes they all must come from the same individual! Clark in the article
    wonders why there are no ape ancestors, only human ones. Maybe that's
    because paleoanthropologists always assume that every hominoid fossil
    they find was a human, not an ape, ancestor?] BBC
    ... 30 December, 1999 ... Scientists ... will send bacteria into space and
    back inside manmade 'meteorites' attached to the heat shield of a Russian
    space probe .... [They] included ... a manmade piece simulating a
    sedimentary rock from the Martian surface. ... Preliminary results suggest
    clear differences between the exposed side ... and the side protected by the
    heat shield. ... "The next experiment will use samples loaded with bacteria
    ... (62/625) [No doubt if some of the bacteria survive we will hear all about
    on the front page of the newspapers, e.g. "Scientific Experiment Proves we
    Came from Mars!" What is interesting in the shift of the focus of origins-
    of-life research to space, as science quietly gives up on chemical evolution
    on Earth, perhaps without ever admitting to the public they were wrong
    these last 40+ years!] December 29,
    1999. Contesting science's anti-religious bias ... The Washington Times.
    Scholars from the Seattle-based Discovery Institute promote 'intelligent
    design' ... called "the wedge" - as in the steel spike for splitting hardwood.
    ... now has expanded to 45 fellows ... "intelligent design," a term coined ...
    to say aspects of nature show design, and thus a purpose. ... is a valid
    scientific inquiry, even if it suggests a designer, such as God. ... Phillip
    Johnson, the Berkeley law professor ... got the debate going with his 1991
    book, "Darwin on Trial," ... The design idea ... suggests a cosmic order
    that defines what a human is ... Discovery founder Mr. Chapman ... said the
    opposition to "the wedge" is expected. "We're able to disagree with the
    majority culture without being disagreeable," ... (130/1301)
     [A fair article in The Washington Times explaining what the ID movement
    and "The Wedge" is. Those on the Calvin Reflector who have hinted darkly
    that the Discovery Institute has a lot of money may be disappointed to read
    that in 1999 its operating budget was only $2 million and the ID movement
    share of that was only $750,000!] The Capital-
    Journal ... 29-Dec-99 ... The Kansas State Board of Education's decision to
    de-emphasize evolution ... was the state's top story of the year ... four of
    the six board members ... stand for re-election ... [including] Chairwoman
    Linda Holloway ... the board adopted ... standards ... subjects not included
    for testing ... was "macroevolution," ... But included was "microevolution,"
    ... The new standards replaced ones that made little reference to evolution
    ... (61/612) [It will be interesting to see if Holloway and the other Board
    members who voted to not accept macroevolution and the Big Bang will be
    re-elected. Note the bit about the previous standards "that made little
    reference to evolution"! I wonder when some honest leading Darwinist
    (assuming that is not a contradiction in terms) is going to have the courage
    to point out to publicly to his colleagues that they are misrepresenting what
    *really* happened, if they continue claiming that the Board "removed"
    evolution from the State's curriculum?],opinion/37741c7d.c28,.html
    The Kansas City Star. ... 12/28/99 ... My candidate for Kansas story of the
    year is the absolutely grotesque media coverage of the Kansas State Board
    of Education's new science standards. ... "the board took evolution out of
    the state's mandatory science standards" (they didn't); ... the view of
    evolution that the high priests of Darwinism hold is compatible with the
    notion of theistic evolution ... (it's not); and ... the struggle is between
    science and religion (a convenient fantasy ...). ... (72/730) [One thing that
    convinces me that IDers are on the right track in their claim that science
    has been taken over by a materialist-naturalist philosophy is the way that
    the science establishment and the media continually claim that the Kansas
    Board *removed* evolution from that State's science standards when in
    fact they *increased* the amount of evolution to be taught compared with
    the previous standards!]
    ABCNEWS ... Dec. 28 - scientists have ... inserted genes from another
    form of bacteria into Deinoccoccus [radiodurans] ... producing a superbug
    that transforms ... compounds ... found at nuclear weapons production sites
    into less harmful forms. ... It can survive ... gamma radiation ... 3,000 times
    the lethal dose for humans ... Even when hundreds of portions of DNA are
    damaged by radiation, the microorganism can usually repair itself ... using
    redundant genetic codes ... (62/636). Also at: BBC
    ... 29 December, 1999 Microbe tucks into toxic waste ... The modified
    microbe, based on Deinococcus radiodurans ... works in the laboratory but
    has yet to be tested in the field ... Scientists believe they may be able to
    produce more superbugs, tailor-made to clean up specific waste
    products.... (46/537) [This is great for the environment. But how can these
    researchers be sure that these new superbugs won't mutate and attack other
    things, like human beings for example? Note the `design feature' of
    redundant (`junk'?) DNA!]
    Los Angeles Times ... December 28, 1999. No Limits Hinder UC
    Thinker...... Searle .. was setting out on an overarching program of
    explaining the relationship of human beings to the universe they occupy.
    "The physical world is a perfectly natural place. It consists of particles
    organized into systems, some of which have evolved consciousness and
    intentionality. "My major project has always been fitting human beings into
    that physical world." This involves in large part explaining what human
    beings are and how they work: how they think, how they manufacture
    meaning out of the nonsense vibration of vocal cords, how they experience
    and come to know the world. ... Searle remained substantially unknown
    outside the academy until 1972 ... the technology revolution was
    underway, and with it people began seeing the computer as a powerful new
    way of viewing the human mind. The mind really is just a computer, they
    said; it just happens to be located in the brain. If minds are computers, the
    thinking went, then computers are minds. We can create machines that
    think. This gave rise to a new science called artificial intelligence, a group
    of whose practitioners invited Searle to Yale to discuss their work.
    Because he knew next to nothing about artificial intelligence, Searle took a
    book on the subject along to read en route. He was shocked to learn that
    the people he was going to see believed there was virtually no distinction
    between a computer and a human thinker. He later devised and published a
    famous thought experiment that sought to refute this. It goes like this: A
    man who does not speak Chinese is put into a room with a bunch of pieces
    of paper on which are Chinese symbols. He is told people outside the room
    will pass to him other Chinese symbols and he is given a sheet of
    instructions specifying which of his Chinese symbols to pass back in
    correspondence with the ones he receives. The man does this so well that it
    seems to people outside the room he must understand Chinese. But he is
    merely manipulating the symbols according to the instructions he was
    given. He understands nothing. The man in the room, Searle said,
    corresponds to the computer, which also understands nothing and just
    manipulates symbols. To say such manipulation is thinking is silly, he said.
    In publishing the Chinese Room argument in 1980, he sought to eliminate
    artificial intelligence as a serious enterprise. It is, he said, "a major
    intellectual disgrace."... (417/4254) [That Searle has to make it his major
    project "fitting human beings into that physical world" is evidence that they
    are not wholly part of "that physical world"! But of course Searle, brilliant
    though he is, is a prisoner to his basic, unquestioned Materialistic
    assumption. AI was a corollary of Materialism. If all is matter, what else
    *could* the mind be but the brain, which in turn could only be, as Minsky's
    put it "a computer made of meat"? AI's demise is really Materialism's
    demise, except materialists (including Searle) don't yet realise it!]
    CNN ... December 28, 1999 ... (AP) -- ... A team of researchers ... was
    able to transplant the stem cells from one type of mouse into another. The
    cells then developed into sperm cells, carrying the traits of the donor male.
    ... it could have major implications for some young human cancer victims
    ... the ability ... raises the possibility of using gene therapy to correct
    genetic problems. "Ethical problems with this approach abound," ...
    (67/712) [Yet another genetic manipulation technique with great potential
    for good but also for evil. It seems a small step from preserving a child's
    own immature stem cells so that after cancer treatment they can be
    reimplanted to go on to become sperm cells, to the implanting of *someone
    else's* stem cells to ensure that only persons with those traits deemed
    `suitable' can be born?] Yahoo!
    ... December 27 ... Study Finds HIV Infection Differs in Men, Women ...
    (Reuters) - Women may be infected by the HIV virus in a different way
    than men ... suggesting it could be even harder to develop a vaccine that
    would work well on women ... most women in the study initially were
    infected by multiple variants of the HIV virus while all of the men initially
    were infected by a single variant of the HIV virus. ... Once infected by
    single or multiple variants of HIV, the virus replicates itself into even more
    genetic variants, making it difficult to develop a vaccine. ..... (97/971) [The
    claim that HIV solely and directly causes AIDS is looking weaker with
    every new ad hoc explanation!] Yahoo!
    ... December 27 ... British scientists have developed a blood test which may
    transform HIV treatment ... [and] lead to therapies that ... controlled the
    virus and ... halted its progression to AIDS. ... "The complex and toxic
    medications HIV patients receive ... can ... be monitored more effectively
    ... "The challenge now lies in understanding the nature of the reservoir in
    which the virus continues to grow despite anti-retroviral drugs." ...
    (63/639) [Maybe an alternative explanation for science's continuing failure
    to discover an effective treatment for AIDS is that: 1) the reason scientists
    are not preventing HIV progressing to AIDS is because AIDS is not
    caused solely or directly by HIV; and/or 2) many (if not most) deaths in
    HIV/AIDS patients are caused, at least in part, from "the complex and
    toxic medications HIV patients receive"?]
    Yahoo! ... December 20 ... (Reuters) - Genetically engineered mice have
    helped prove that 50 or so people with a rare brain- wasting illness caught
    it by eating beef from cattle with mad cow disease ... Michael Scott of the
    University of California, San Francisco ... said their experiment provided
    very strong evidence that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad
    cow disease) and a new form of its human cousin, Creutzfeldt-Jakob
    disease (CJD), are the same. ... (72/721) [CJD was thought to be a result
    of HIV and AIDS, but now it appears it can be the result of BSE. So
    maybe the original assumption that HIV directly and solely causes AIDS is
    also flawed?]

    PS: Please forgive the tagline below. I have been sitting on it for months and
    since it is the `silly season' it is now or never! :-)

    "In the middle sits the lone figure of Steve Jones, a man so universally
    sceptical that unless he had his birth certificate he would doubt his own
    existence." (Hurst L., "The darling of the masses", New Scientist, 6 June
    1998, p50)
    Stephen E. Jones | |

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