Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The irrelevancy of evolution to medicine

uncommondescent's scordova is adding on to Michael Egnor's claim that evolution is irrelevant when it comes to medicine. He claims that Catriona MacCallum, senior editor of PLoS Biology supports agrees with this sentiment. In her editorial, she wrote (emphasis added by scordova):

Charles Darwin, perhaps medicine’s most famous dropout, provided the impetus for a subject that figures so rarely in medical education. Indeed, even the iconic textbook example of evolution—antibiotic resistance—is rarely described as “evolution” in relevant papers published in medical journals. Despite potentially valid reasons for this oversight (e.g., that authors of papers in medical journals would regard the term as too general), it propagates into the popular press when those papers are reported on, feeding the wider perception of evolution’s irrelevance in general, and to medicine in particular

Writes scordova about this (emphasis added):

Darwinists claim how important Darwinism is to science, but MacCallum’s editorial makes an embarrassing admission of Darwinism’s irrelevance to medicine.

MacCallum says no such thing. She says - and you can read this in the quote that scordova supplies himself - that the term evolution is seldom used and that the gives a certain perception. What scordova didn't quote from MacCallum's writing (and probably for a rather good and obvious reason) is the sentence that follows immediately her writing above:

Yet an understanding of how natural selection shapes vulnerability to disease can provide fundamental insights into medicine and health and is no less relevant than an understanding of physiology or biochemistry.

The only thing that is embarrasing is scordova's lame attempt at quote mining.


At 3:38 AM, Blogger John Pieret said...

I was going to point out that MacCallum explains the relative lack of medical interest in evolution as the short-sightedness of people focused on the task at hand -- in the case of medicine, curing the individual in front of them. As MacCallum put it:

Crudely put, does a mechanic need to understand the origins, history, and technological advances that have gone into the modern motor vehicle in order to fix it?

I wondered if Egnor would really like being relegated to the status of a "mechanic" (or as I like to call him, a "highly skilled meat cutter").

Amazingly, the other half of Dembski's Tweedle-dumb and Tweedle-dumber, DaveScot, beat me to it, actually saying in the comments:

Doctors are mechanics who diagnose and repair problems in the most complex machine on the planet. There’s no possible way any one of them can know everything there is to know about how that machine works, the range of problems that can occur, and all the best ways to fix them.

Apparently, to DaveScot, education should be limited to what can be crammed into the least qualified student you are willing to pass.


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