Monday, July 02, 2007

Darwinism hurts - but viruses don't

IDists love to do a bit of Darwinism bashing when given, it seems like, ANY opportunity. Latest in line is PaV at uncommondescent who claims that Darwinism has been a hinder in the fight against cancer. He makes this claim based on an article written by Dr. Peter Duesberg that argues that aneuploidy rather than point mutations actually cause cancers. The illogic of Pav's claim was properly exposed in the comment section of PaV's post by Hermagoras and GeoMor so there is no need for me to say anything further on that point. Also, Orac at Respectful Insolence discusses the plausibility of Duesberg's claims.

The comments section takes a rather interesting turn when IDists DaveScot, PaV and scordova turn out to be "HIV causes AIDS denialists". This was something I only expected to happen in South Africa, but then science doesn't seem to be these guys strong point. The reason I bring this up is because PaV and nullasus argue that we should not rely so much on majority views (such as "Darwinism") but also take minority views into consideration. HIV not causing AIDS certainly qualifies as one of these. Minority views are, as these guys ocrrectly point out, sometimes correct and we ignore them at our own peril. This seems to be a popular argument for ID as well but, honestly, some views should not be given much attention - especially when they have VERY little going for them. We have to pursue avenues of research that are more likely than others to be fruitful. Some of these WILL be wrong and perhaps useless, but if we include outlandish ideas, what would the ratio for success/failure be then?

If IDists disagree with this, then perhaps they should also support Stefan Lanka - his views are certainly minority ones. In a 2001 book he claims that there is no proof of any medically relevant viruses at all. A gut reaction probably tells you that this guy is a true ignorant, but he is, in fact, a PhD-holding virologist and molecular biologist. Really, how big is the step from denying the "HIV causes AIDS" statement to the "medically relevant viruses don't exist at all" statement? How fruitful would research along these lines be?


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