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Dishonesty, Stephen Jones and Peppered Moths

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  • Tom Curtis
    FIRST, I apologise to those members of this forum who have no interest in Stephen Jones, CreationEvolutionDesign, or any debates there-on. As a formerly
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 26, 2002
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      FIRST, I apologise to those members of this forum who have no interest in Stephen Jones, CreationEvolutionDesign, or any debates there-on. As a formerly banned (and currently excluded) member of CEDesign, I do have some interest in all three. I have tried to not respond to those concerns through this forum, something I understand some members to desire. However, I wish to publicly respond to some claims by Stephen Jones on CEDesign, and I am not a member of any more suitable forum for such a responce than this one.

      SECOND, I am specifically responding to some false claims Stephen Jones has made about myself. In his post 3995 on CEDesign he wrote:
      This is relevant because I am being attacked on another C/E list for
      agreeing that Kettlewell probably committed fraud by in his peppered moth
      experiments.

      One of the members of that list who was a former member of CED who
      had been banned (but who I had later unbanned) has written to me
      privately complaining of him being "excluded from CED" and demanding I
      apologise for my "fraud accusations". I reminded him that it is my long-
      standing policy not get involved in private C/E discussions, but he was not
      "excluded from CED" and if he is willing to abide by CED's rules, he is free
      to rejoin CED to post a defence of Kettlewell against my fraud allegations.
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/3995

      As Daniel Edington did not object to Jones claiming that Kettlewell committed fraud, I presume I am the person who "attacked" Jones. This is odd, because I explicitly did not reffer to Jones in any way in my post. The only mention he gets is where I quote Dan in order to respond, and disagree with Dan. I excised the Jones post (quoted by Dan) from my responce, and did not use Jones in any way as a example of false accusations being made (though I easily could have). Therefore, my post was not in anyway an attack on Jones, beyond the general sense in which I condemned all creationists who accuse evolutionary biologists of fraud in the absence of evidence.

      Jones continues with more falsehoods. He says I complained of being excluded from CEDesign. I did no such thing. My opening sentence to my private email to hims read:

      > My major regret in being excluded from CED is it prevents me from directly adressing your slanders against Kettlewell.

      An expression of regret is not a complaint, so Jones has (again) misrepresented what I said. This misrepresentation is characteristic of Jones style of moderation and commentary. He has falsely accused a former member of threatening to sue him, for example; and frequently quotes people out of context. He also misrepresents my status vis-a-vis CEDesign. Particularly, he says I am "free to rejoin CEDesign". In fact, he has imposed an (in my view) unreasonable condition on my rejoining CEDesign, a requirement that I make (in my opinion) false admissions as a condition of re-entry. Rather than being free to rejoin, I AM excluded by this unreasonable condition. For my part, I have no interest in rejoining CEDesign unless Jones apologises for the false accusations he made about me when he banned me. (No doubt he thinks that is an unreasonable condition.) Regardless of my desire to rejoin or not, he has no right to falsely say I can rejoin freely when, in fact, he has imposed a significant and unusual condition on my rejoining.

      A further misrepresentation is Jones' claim that I "demanded" that he apologise for his fraud accusations. Again I quote my original email:

      > Well finally, some of the evidence on which the fraud claim is based is coming out, and it is pathetic. I reffer you to my criticism > in the email copied below. In essence the fraud claim appears to based on a supposed manipulation of figures by Kettlewell, but > Hooper herself dishonestly uses figures to make that claim; and the figures are easily explained without recourse to accusations > of fraud. I recommend you read the review of the article by Bruce Grant (which has been posted at CreationDesignUpdate) or my > analysis of the accusations below or at CDU.
      >
      > Having done so, I request that you post an admission of error and an apology on CED.

      In the english I speak (Australian english, just like Stephen Jones), a request is not a demand.

      So in the space of two paragraphs, Jones has made four false claims, all of which place me in a bad light. I do not think this represents deliberate dishonesty by Stephen Jones; rather, I think he is so biased by his views he is unable to appreciate the way he misrepresents the situation. Regardless of the cause, I did not think that in this case, the false accusations should go without an answer.

      THIRD, I will adress Jones specific defence against the more general accusation I raised. It is probably best if I respond paragraph by paragraph. He writes:

      > I wish to make it clear that I previously did not think that Kettlewell had
      > actually committed fraud (i.e. by fudging the data), but since then I have
      > been influenced by what I have read in reviews of Hooper's book. However, I
      > have not yet read the book but I intend to get it. If it turns out that
      > Hooper and/or her reviewers are wrong in their imputation of fraud against
      > Kettlewell, then I have no problem admitting it and publicly apologising
      > for my "fraud accusations".

      It is I believe, perfectly reasonable that Jones would want to read the book before responding. Why, however, has he not applied the same standard before making his accusations? It seems that Jones only needs a claim that some one has shown there is fraud to make accusations, but needs all the data before him before he can retract his claim. Let there be no doubt, by the way, that Jones has been claiming fraud by Kettlewell. I give two examples:
      The 98-year old Ernst Mayr writes below as though he knew about this
      all along. If so, why has he kept quiet about it for the best part of 50
      years? No doubt because as one of the founders of the Neo-Darwinist
      Modern Synthesis, he was a major beneficiary of Kettlewell's fraud.
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/2985

      Just more evidence that Darwinism is a pseudoscience:

      1) Darwinists produced fraudulent evidence of natural selection in action
      (otherwise in 1959, *100 years* after the Origin of Species, they still
      would have had no experimental evidence of it);

      2) Leading Darwinists like Mayr knew Kettlewell's peppered moth
      experiments were likely to be fraudulent but said nothing;

      3) Other leading Darwinists knew (or should have known) there were
      problems with Kettlewell's peppered moth evidence, because critics like
      Sargent had for a decade or more been pointing out problems with it;

      4) Darwinists finally (like Enron executives) `self-corrected' after *40*
      years, when they had no choice;

      5) Now they are involved in `damage control': a) rewriting history; b)
      excusing themselves; c) blaming others; etc.
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/3994
      In addition to direct claims, he has posted numerous reviews of "Of Moths and Men", highlighting mentions of fraud, and not posted any review critical of claims of fraud. On one occasion, he even downloaded a pre-publication version of a review, delighting in the fact that it was harsher and more critical.

      > I would however point out that the "term `scientific fraud'" does not only
      > mean "the wholesale invention of data" but also includes "Minor and
      > seemingly trivial instances of data manipulation-such as making results
      > appear just a little crisper or more definitive than they really are, or
      > selecting just the `best' data for publication and ignoring those that don't
      > fit
      > the case" and that "biology" is "a discipline in which fraud is by no means
      > rare" (see tagline).

      I cannot imagine why Jones would think that calling "Minor and trivial instances of data manipulation ... or selecting the 'best' data for publication and ignoring those that don't fit the case" fraud will help the case against Kettlewell. Evidently he has not read my critique of the fraud claims, where I made much of exhaustiveness of Kettlewell's tabulation of data; nor can he have read Kettlewell's original papers, for then he would have gained the same impression himself.

      Never-the-less, it would be interesting to see him apply this standard to Kettlewell's critiques. What does he make of Hooper who (based on Alison Motluk's review) compares the figures for just Carbonaria recaptures to the figures for total recaptures to enhance her case. If he confirms that Motluk's figures are drawn directly from Hooper's claims, will he publicly acknowledge this as an example of journalistic fraud? More tellingly, will he apply this standard to Wells, who avoids' mentioning Majerus' table of wild moths found in natural resting places when making his case that peppered moths do not rest on trees? Will he apply this standard, also to Wells, when Wells claims (on April 6th, 2002), that:
      Majerus, of course, does not claim that Table 6.1 represents an unbiased sample. In fact, he concludes from his extensive knowledge of the data that "peppered moths do not naturally rest in exposed positions on tree trunks." (p. 121)

      But Miller ignores Majerus's expert opinion and teases inflated numbers from an unrepresentative data set. Miller thereby proves not that peppered moths normally rest on tree trunks, but that Benjamin Disraeli was right: There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.
      http://www.discovery.org/viewDB/index.php3?command=view&id=1147&program=CRSC

      But Wells knows (for he responded to the post) that Majerus said of the Table 6.1:
      4) This is just wrong. Dr Wells' who gives the impression in his response
      that he has read my book, obviously has not. If he had, he would have seen
      that in Tables 6.1 and 6.2 I myself have recorded 168 peppered moths on
      tree trunks or at trunk/branch joins. If Dr Wells' wishes his views to be
      taken seriously, he should ensure that his research is thorough.

      http://www.calvin.edu/archive/evolution/199904/0103.html

      (Note the date of April 1999). "This" by the way, was Wells' claim that:

      (4) In the 1980's, several researchers showed independently that peppered
      moths do not rest on tree trunks in the wild. The moths normally fly only
      at night, and before dawn they apparently take up positions high in the
      canopy, underneath horizontal branches. In 40 years of field work, only
      one peppered moth was found resting on a tree trunk in the wild. Although
      some uncertainty remains about where the moths actually do rest during the
      day, it is absolutely clear that they do not rest on vertical tree trunks.

      http://www.calvin.edu/archive/evolution/199903/0348.html

      (Note in particular the last sentence.) So, in fact, Majerus agrees with Miller's opinion, and Well's knew it when he publicly claimed that Miller was ignoring Magerus' "expert opinion".

      Perhaps Jones will also apply this standard to Wells standard apologetic regarding Majerus' table, that:

      Padian bases his astonishing claim (which contradicts the published scientific literature) on the fact that 47 moths were found resting in the wild between 1964 and 1996, and that one quarter of these were on tree trunks. During the same period, however, many thousands of moths were caught in nighttime traps, so the 47 found in natural resting positions were less than 1 percent of the moths studied, and much less than 1 percent of all peppered moths living in the wild. Padian might as well claim that a quarter of all ocean fish are visible to predatory birds because he did statistics on the few that can be spotted from a boat.

      http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2002/005/9.11.html

      Apparently the only firm data on the natural resting places of peppered moths (however limited) is not relevant because of thousands of moths who been found AWAY FROM their natural resting place.

      > It is interesting though, that the belief that Kettlewell did commit fraud is
      > widespread and is not confined to creationists. I notice that our State
      > library catalogue of Hooper's book (which is not yet available) summarises
      > it as a "Tale of scientific fraud and deception from the 1950s":
      >
      > --------------------------------------------------------------------------
      > http://henrietta.liswa.wa.gov.au/search/t?SEARCH=Of+Moths+and+Men
      > Hooper, Judith Title Of moths and men : intrigue, tragedy and peppered
      > moth Published Fourth Estate, 2002 [...] Summary Tale of scientific fraud
      > and deception from the 1950s
      > --------------------------------------------------------------------------


      Actually, this is interesting, and part of what I was arguing about. I will lay odds, however, that this fact will not appear in any "mere" creationist's (including Jones) examples of pro-evolutionary bias in the popular media. See comments above about only reporting favourable data.


      > And even if Hooper, her reviewers, and I, are wrong, one thing *will* have been
      > shown (yet again), and that is the *unscientific* way that Darwinists overreact
      > by `shooting the messenger' to any suggestion that one of their number may have
      > been less than perfect. Once again "the bully's message is being heard: mess
      > with Darwin, and we'll mess with you"!

      So "It is interesting though, that belief that Kettlewell did commit fraud is widespread and is not confined to creationists" and yet "Darwinists overreact by 'shooting the messenger' to any suggestion that one of their number may have been less than perfect". I assume these Darwinists who overreact include Ernst Mayr, who wrote a favourable blurb for the book. Or perhaps it is limited to those few people who have criticised Hooper for accusing Kettlewell of fraud without any substantial evidence. As I did not originally attack Jones, but he did attack me; and as the unsubstantiated accusations of fraud have been directed at the Darwinist Kettlewell; there is little doubt who is shooting the messenger here. Think not? Well do you think if Kettlewell's experiments had not provided evidence for evolution the creationists would have taken any notice of Hooper's fraud claims?

      FINALLY, let's examine Jones very own fraud accusations, ie, the fraud accusations that he originated, and (so far as I know) no one else has made. He writes:
      The 98-year old Ernst Mayr writes below as though he knew about this
      all along. If so, why has he kept quiet about it for the best part of 50
      years? No doubt because as one of the founders of the Neo-Darwinist
      Modern Synthesis, he was a major beneficiary of Kettlewell's fraud.
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/2985
      and:
      Thanks to Cliff. The term "Piltdown-level hoax" is apt, since the important
      issue with Piltdown was not the original hoax, which was bad enough. It was
      the British Museum protecting the fraud from critical scientific scrutiny
      for decades, knowing it was a fake . . .

      ...
      I haven't read Hooper's book, but if: 1) it lives up to it's blurb's claims
      that
      Kettlewell was a deluded incompetent and/or fraud who, under pressure by
      his tyrannical Darwinian zealot professor to come up with a result (in time
      for Darwin's centennial in 1959?), fudged the experiments; and 2) it turns
      out that leading Darwinists like Ernst Mayr have known about this all along
      (and how could they not know?), allowing generations of students to be
      hoodwinked, then it will indeed be "a Piltdown-level hoax" (or *worse*)!
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/2996
      and:
      Just more evidence that Darwinism is a pseudoscience:

      1) Darwinists produced fraudulent evidence of natural selection in action
      (otherwise in 1959, *100 years* after the Origin of Species, they still
      would have had no experimental evidence of it);

      2) Leading Darwinists like Mayr knew Kettlewell's peppered moth
      experiments were likely to be fraudulent but said nothing;

      3) Other leading Darwinists knew (or should have known) there were
      problems with Kettlewell's peppered moth evidence, because critics like
      Sargent had for a decade or more been pointing out problems with it;

      4) Darwinists finally (like Enron executives) `self-corrected' after *40*
      years, when they had no choice;

      5) Now they are involved in `damage control': a) rewriting history; b)
      excusing themselves; c) blaming others; etc.
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/3994
      The accusation is against Ernst Mayr, that he knew Kettlewell's experiments where fraudulent, and did not let anyone know. Note the progression through time as the "as if" becomes a flat accusation. And what is this uniquely Jonesian accusation based upon. This is what Mayr had wirtten below in message 2985:
      "Of Moths and Men is a fascinating account of many, many years of
      observation and experimentation-and of traps Bernard Kettlewell and his
      associates fell into during decades of intensive work. The 'moth crowd,'
      and most of all its intellectual leader, E. B. Ford, was a colorful group, as
      described by Judith Hooper in her illuminating work. This is a story of hard
      work, brilliant insights, and human foibles...There is no other account of
      evolutionary field work in the literature like Hooper's story of Kettlewell's
      trials and tribulations."-Ernst Mayr, Alexander Agassiz Professor of
      Zoology, Emeritus, at Harvard University.
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/2985
      Read it carefully. There is no claim of prior knowledge here, nor even any implication. The passage contains just four sentences. Each sentence is qualified by a refference to Hooper's account. The qualifications are:
      Of Moths and Men is a fascinating account ...
      The 'moth crowd' ... was a colorful group, as described by Judith Hooper in her illuminating work.
      This is a story of ...
      There is no other account in the literature ... .

      Not only is no inference of prior knowledge justified; but no refference to fraud is made in the passage. The closest approach is mention of "... traps Bernard Kettlewell and his associates fell into ..." and of "human foibles". Neither of these need reffer to fraud, and by all accounts, there is much in Hooper's book they could reffer to beyond her accusations of fraud. The most generous interpretation I can make (for Jones' case) is that Mayr was aware of Hooper's accusations of fraud, and chose non-comital wording so as to avoid endorsing those claims.

      So Mayr does not suggest prior knowledge, does not make any claim of fraud, and certainly does not claim prior knowledge of fraud. Jones' accusation is based, in its entirety, on Jones' imagination. His desire to believe ill of Darwinists has lead him astray.

      He is, of course, welcome to retract and apologise for this accusation to. In this case, he need not wait to consult a book. The accusation is his own, and the entire basis of the accusation is before him already.

      Tom Curtis

      For refference, the complete text of my private email to Sephen Jones is appended below. I apologise to Shepherdmoon for my error re the name of this list.

      Steve,

      My major regret in being excluded from CED is it prevents me from directly adressing your slanders against Kettlewell. You have been very active in these slanders, both in repeating those of others, and making them in your own right. The entire basis of your accusations has been, until recently, only that someone has reported that someone else had accused Kettlewell of fraud. The fact that you personally had no evidence of fraud, nor knew the evidence that the originator of the claims adduced in favour of that claim, you have repeated that claim at every opportunity. This makes, I think, a complete mockery of your claims that CED should be a forum in which mutual respect is exhibited.

      Well finally, some of the evidence on which the fraud claim is based is coming out, and it is pathetic. I reffer you to my criticism in the email copied below. In essence the fraud claim appears to based on a supposed manipulation of figures by Kettlewell, but Hooper herself dishonestly uses figures to make that claim; and the figures are easily explained without recourse to accusations of fraud. I recommend you read the review of the article by Bruce Grant (which has been posted at CreationDesignUpdate) or my analysis of the accusations below or at CDU.

      Having done so, I request that you post an admission of error and an apology on CED.

      I think it is clear that you have no valid basis for fraud claims. Given the eagerness with which you have made them, and given your supposed commitment to truth seeking; the only honourable responce for you is to retract and apologise. You need not treat this as a responce to any debate of your list, and need make no mention of my post, either here or on CDU.

      Your failure to retract and apologise, and particularly, any continued claims of fraud by Kettlewell will be treated by me as evidence of your commitment to truth seeking; or rather your complete lack of such commitment.

      Tom Curtis








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