Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Deniers Bad; Herd Followers Good???

BarryA at uncommondescent is complaining because IDists are sometimes called evolution-DENIERS. But he reckons that the ongoing "witch hunt" can be used to their own advantage. He lists quite a few examples of of people who, through the ages, have been deniers themselves and claims that without deniers there could be no progress in science. Writes BarryA:

There were a couple of doctors who were “stress deniers” in that they denied that stress caused peptic ulcers. They had the audacity to suggest that ulcers were caused by a bacterial infection. As a result, they were marginalized and scoffed at and (so I understand) heckled and laughed at during presentations. The end result: they won the 2005 Nobel Price in medicine for the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. The take home message that we should shout at every opportunity: today’s “deniers” are tomorrows heros.

Consider also the following:
Copernicus - geocentrism denier
Pasteur - spontaneous generation denier
Darwin - inheritance of acquired traits denier
Einstein - absolute reference frame denier
Gould and Margalis - Darwinian gradualism deniers
Hawking - Steady State Model denier
Conway Morris - purely random evolution denier
Woese - universal common descent denier

BarryA is hopelessly confused about something that is quite fundamental to all the examples he gives. These people didn't "deny current dogma" just for the sake of it. They came up with BETTER scientific explanations for observed phenomena. Darwin denied inheritance of acquired characteristics only in the sense that selection would be a better mechanism to explain adaptation. Copernicus denied geocentrism only in the sense that heliocentrism would better explain the apparent movement of stars and planets. I assume that BarryA included Gould because he somehow thinks that puctuated equilibrium somehow goes against "gradualism" (it doesn't) and he most certainly included Morris because his view towards evolution is highly teleological (something that is more than just slightly unaccepted [for scientific reasons]).

So, unlike the ID movement, these people didn't stick their fingers in their ears and shout "The designer did it! The designer did it!". They actually contributed to science. They were/are not deniers. IDists are.


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