Last Update: 15 May 00
Return to "Evolution vs. Creationism" essay
REPLY #67 TO
"EVOLUTION VS. CREATIONISM"
Sorry, but I have to laugh when, in the same breath, a Creationist upholds a finding published by someone he labels as an "evolutionist" and then goes on to differentiate between "evolution" and "science"....
(R) Is that what I was doing?
(MB) Yep. If not, what was the point in declaring Chatterjee to be an "evolutionist" and following that up with a statement which implied that you don't consider evolution to be scientific?
Is Chatterjee's information reliable because he is an "evolutionist", or is his information unreliable because "evolution" is not a "science"? You can't have it both ways, you know.
(R) What am I trying to have both ways?
(MB) Just exactly what I said. You supported Chatterjee because he is an "evolutionist" while, in almost the same breath, separating evolution from science. Now, if evolution is unreliable because it is "not science", then the arguments of an "evolutionist", by extension, are also not reliable. In which case, you should have found fault with Chatterjee instead of supporting him.
(R) I was only trying to emphasize the point that in many minds today, evolution and science are one and the same.
(MB) Is there any reason why this should not be the case? (Of course, evolution is only a wholly-contained subset of science).
(R) Often, it gets even worse than that, in that only the STANDARD evolutionary interpretation is allowed, with minority or new positions with evolutionary basis being shouted down (as is the case for birds).
(MB) Positions are only disputed when they are shown to contain fallacious reasoning or faulty evidence -- as has been the case with Chatterjee. There are no problems with sensational new discoveries since the goal of science is to arrive at the truth with no theory being a sacred cow.
In any case, don't you think you're jumping the gun just a bit here in advancing this as a "problem"?
(R) Did I say it was a problem? I am asking YOU if YOU think its a problem?
(MB) So, I take it that my "No" answer is the end of the discussion? Given your anti-evolutionary slant, isn't it reasonable to believe that you wouldn't advance this case (or any other such case) if you didn't consider it to be a problem for evolution?
Chatterjee's original discovery was in 1983, but don't you think it a bit unusual that he didn't publish until 14 years later and refused to allow anyone else to examine his specimens in the interim? Potential reasons for this have come to light since the publication of his book.
(R) Two points:
1. Chaterjee has had publications on this find going back to 1991 (Encarta)
(MB) If so, this is still eight years after his initial find and the problem of no other examination of the evidence in the interim still remains.
(R) 2. He has indeed allowed other scientists to see the find. I have read articles published by them.
(MB) This is not in accordance with what I've read about the case. If you disagree, please let me know where I can find the articles you refer to so I can read them, as well.
For example, from http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/diapsids/birds/birdfr.html
Is Chatterjee right? One problem with Protoavis is that the bones were not found in an articulated skeleton, and had to be pieced together. In this situation, there is always the possibility of mixing up bones from different organisms. This has happened often enough in the past to make many paleontologists wary when discussing Protoavis. Dr. Kevin Padian of the UC Museum of Paleontology believes that Protoavis is probably a mixture of two or more different skeletons, and several other paleontologists concur in this interpretation.(R) This is a point, but isn't this the general case with fossils? Chaterjee found 31 pieces of the skeleton. This is substantially more than other fossil finds accepted by the scientific community (often a jaw bone and/or a few teeth).
(MB) Chatterjee found 31 pieces over a wide area. Whether or not they are from the same creature is the main point of contention.
(R) If only articulated skeletons were the general standard, wouldn't the human lineage consist only of Lucy, the Turkyana boy, the neanderthals and modern man for instance? Shouldn't this standard then be consistently applied?
(MB) It *is*. Let's not forget that most of the stories of hominid fossil mixing are Creationist inventions which still overlook the fact that no such hominid bones should even exist if Creationist scenarios are right.
(R) As far as the mixing of the skeletons, that was a real important concern for National Geographic recently wasn't it?
(MB) That's why their story was so quickly corrected. Science *is* a self-correcting discipline, you know.
Creationists have argued that Archaeopteryx can't be transitional because true birds existed several million years before Archaeopteryx. It is possible that true birds existed before Archaeopteryx. Sankar Chatterjee of Texas claims that he has a specimen he named Protoavis that predates Archeopteryx by 75 million years. This can't be confirmed because Chatterjee refuses to let other paleontologists examine his specimen, and even he has not been able to find evidence for feathers. Finally, even if Protoavis is a "bird" rather than a small dinosaur, then it would simply assume the title of the earliest reptile-bird transition!(R) What has any of this to do with my question?
(MB) Seems to me that it *addresses* your question, doesn't it? I've referenced and quoted three sources of further information on the issue under discussion. Is this a problem?
(R) Also as I have stated before, Chaterjee, HAS allowed other paleontologists to see the specimen.
(MB) So, you have stated. Unfortunately, my quoted sources dispute that claim. Where and when did Chatterjee allow his specimens to be examined and what source documents this?
(R) As far as Protoavis simply assuming the title of the earliest reptile-bird transition, so what? My question regarded the treatment of this fossil find vis a via other fossil finds more palatable to the current bird from dinosaur consensus.
(MB) Creationists are fond of pointing out disputes between scientists and using them to discredit the entirety of evolution. This is just another example, is it not?
And, from http://coldfusion.discover.com/output.cfm?ID=44
During the early 1980s, as Gauthier and Padian grew trees in their computers, Chatterjee was pulling bones out of Texas bluffs. The fossils he found dated back 225 million years, to a time when the area around Lubbock was a lush floodplain crisscrossed by rivers flowing west to a 300-mile-long inland lake. Animals living upstream would occasionally be overwhelmed by flash floods and carried for miles before they were dumped. Today they have become great piles of bones for paleontologists like Chatterjee to pick through.(R) Okay.
(MB) I think we can both agree that this supports the suspicion that Protoavis might be a composite fossil.
How "thoroughly" could the investigation have been conducted prior to Chatterjee's publication since nobody was allowed to see the specimens?
(R) Once again, not true.
(MB) Once again, I've provided source references for this.
The Chinese fake fossil was Archaeoraptor liaoningensis and it should be noted that National Geographic, despite its popular reputation, is not a peer-reviewed science publication and, as such, is not a primary source for the latest and greatest in accurate information.
(R) Okay. But, I didn't read a lot of howls of protest from peer reviewed journals at the time regarding this publication. Why play games here tho?
(MB) Because the process of getting a submission through the peer-review process takes much longer than getting something published in National Geographic. The fake fossil was discovered long before any peer-reviewed article could finish the approval process.
(R) You and I both know publications like the National Geographic are far likier to achieve a wide audience than peer review journals with readership in the hundreds or at best a few thousand.
(MB) Absolutely. This is no different from what happens with popular vs. technical publications in *any* field.
Is there something wrong with science correcting an initial error upon further examination of the evidence? Speaking of Chinese early dino/bird fossils, what do you have to say about such examples as Confuciusornis sanctus, Liaoningornis, and/or Sinosauropteryx?
(R) Not at all to your first point. As far as your Chinese examples, they all come after Archaeopteryx so the answer is not much, since they are well after the bird-reptile split, assuming there was one. Assuming Protavis, they are not even REMOTELY important, because they come over 100 million years after the split. Or are you saying that birds evolved more than once from reptiles? Was it two times? Three? How about four?
(MB) Are you saying that it could only have happened once (or, more likely, that it never happened at all)? There is abundant evidence for multiple taxonomic lines diverging from a single ancestry. Homo sapiens sapiens is one such divergent line.
What "bias" is there in being skeptical of dubious extraordinary claims and correcting errors?
(R) What was being referred to was the inconsistent application of the publication and correction process. Fast, for favored finds, slow or nonexistant for those not favored. An error correction process is very important to the scientific process.
(MB) Understanding the difference between the National Geographic and Nature should put any thoughts of "inconsistent application" to rest.
(R) By the way, when you talk about dubious extraordinary claims do you include making fossil transitions up from a part of a jaw and a teeth (a la Talk Origins Heidelberg Man)? You do apply the standard applied to Protoavis to this find right? After all, it wasn't part of an articulated skeleton. I'm sure you will be getting back to the Talk Origins people and have them correct this based on the standard being applied to the Protoavis find. I'll be waiting to read your protest.
(MB) No such protest is necessary. Heidelberg Man is not a composite collected from over a wide area. The jaw and teeth are hominid but are sufficiently different from any other known specimen to warrant the separate designation. Also, this find does not require a complete reevaluation of the descent of man as Protoavis would require for birds. Therefore, finds like Protoavis are rightfully subject to much more intense scrutiny. Wouldn't you agree that this is a proper standard to apply?
Created with Allaire HomeSite 4.5 .......... Last Update: 15 May 00