Killing off Darwin?

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Book Review:

The End of Darwinism by Eugene G. Windchy
US$14.39
ISBN-10: 1436383684

Published May 12, 2009
Xlibris Corporation

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YoS2009 is an important year for science. It is the Year of Science, the International Year of Astronomy and the Darwin year. The latter because both the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth (February 12) and the 150th year of publication  of his major book The Origin of Species (November 24) occurs.

So there has been a whole host of events and publications devoted to Darwin, his life, his writings and his science. There has been discussion on how his ideas fit into society and philosophy, the affects on society, politics and religion, and their relevance to modern society. There are some great articles and videos accessible on the internet. And then there are the books on Darwin and evolutionary science which have been, or will be, published this year.

But, of course, there are also the naysayers. Those hostile to science in general or just evolutionary science in particular. Almost always religiously motivated, these people have also been mobilising this year. Although the results have been comparatively negligible.

Misrepresentation from the first page

This book is one from the naysayers. The author, Eugene G. Windchy, has been “researching evolution” for 16 years – and this slim self-published book is the result.

Windchy reveals his approach in the first page – in the first paragraph! Here he refers to Olivia Judson’s New York Times article Let’s get rid of Darwinism. This was part of a series celebrating the life of Darwin. Judson’s criticism was not of Darwin or his work, but of the term Darwinism which she described as misleading. She says: “I’d like to abolish the insidious terms Darwinism, Darwinist and Darwinian. They suggest a false narrowness to the field of modern evolutionary biology.” I might add my own objection to these terms. Enemies of science often use these terms in their attacks, to imply a dogma, even a religion (akin to a political or ideological -ism) which should not prevail in science.

However, Windchy’s spin is that Judson was tired “of defending a nineteenth century theory that still is under attack.” That she “herself entertains some doubt about the theory.” And that “the outspokenness of Olivia Judson might presage an era of change.” Simple reference to Judson’s article will demonstrate how misleading this spin is. Windchy tries to push that approach throughout his book, claiming supporters of evolutionary science don’t “really believe” evolutionary theory. The science is “deeply flawed” and there is big change about to happen. If only the scientific establishment would remove their control. The old “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” story all over again!

The root of all evil?

Worse still, Windchy heavily promotes the lie that “Darwinism” is responsible for wars and genocide, if not all the evils of the world. And specifically communism, the First World War and fascism. Obvious from the cover where Darwin’s image shares prominence with those of Marx and Hitler. Another strong theme is the claim the theory of natural selection was stolen from Wallace. There’s plenty written on the genesis of Darwin’s theory and how Wallace’s independent discovery lead to the joint presentation of both men’s ideas to the Linnean Society on July 1858. The papers by, Wallace and Darwin respectively, were entitled On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection. This also precipitated publication of The Origin of Species. Reference to any major source of this history will show how Windchy has distorted the facts.

Well, what are facts when you want to promote a book with a subtitle: “And how a flawed and disastrous theory was stolen and sold?” And who “sold” this disastrous theory? Why the men of the “X club”. Men around Darwin who set out to impose the theory on the world – even though they didn’t believe it themselves. And their motives – why antitheism of course. As Windchy says: “Nineteenth Century thinkers launched a powerful, three-pronged attack on the concepts of God and free will.”

Misrepresenting science

The book also gives a one-sided history of the Piltdown hoax and misrepresents other  events in the history of evolutionary science – such as Nebraska Man and the Haeckel drawings of embryos. These to put the message across that evil scientist distort evidence in their efforts to “sell” evolutionary theory and proclaim the atheist message. Ed Brayton (see Buchanan Blathers About Evolution and Fisking Eugene Windchy), PZ Myers (see Old fossil “disproves” Darwin!) and Gary S. Hurd (see “The End of Darwinism”) have posted detailed rebuttals of these and other claims in Mindchy’s book. Brayton points out that rather than being examples of scientific deception the history of these events show how science works to correct false claims and mistaken ideas.

And finally, the last three chapters try to push the story that evolutionary science is founded on claims which are easily refuted and that most mathematicians and many, if not most, biologists disagree with that science. All done with the tired old creationist tactic of quote mining. (Why, oh why, do they think that quoting a palaeontologist like Gould out of context can be used to disprove palaeontological evidence?) Then there is the other trick of interpreting any new discovery, any development of theory, any finding contradicting previous interpretations, as evidence that evolutionary science is deeply flawed. And there is a conspiracy within science to keep this information from the public.

With friends like these

Hurd states the obvious when he says this book “would have disappeared as another self-published creationist screed had not Pat Buchanan puffed it on WingNutDaily.He is referring to American Conservative Pat Buchanan’s review Making a Monkey out of Darwin. This is the only positive review I could find of Windchy’s book – although an Amazon Review by Gen. JC Christian, Patriot has been heavily promoted on the internet. This character seems to be a member of the Christian Militia Network. He wouldn’t give the book 5 stars “because it could have been so much more if he’d gone that extra step and exposed the evolutionists for the purveyors of sexual perversion they are.” With friends like that …

There is a strong trend among theists unhappy with evolutionary science and its findings to “shoot the messenger”. To blame Darwin, other scientists, or science in general, for finding a world which doesn’t support their own mythology or wishes. Unfortunately, there are people who cynically use this thinking to spread lies and distortions. People like Windchy. They recognise such an attitude makes this section of the population gullible.

However, these people will often push their story too far. They can end up repelling a large section of the religious population that may have been receptive. I suggest this book falls into the later class. If you enjoyed the deeply dishonest documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” you probably have the mind-set to accept, if not enjoy, Mindchy’s book.

Mind you – if you are one of those people more open to evidence but still feeling unsure about evolutionary science perhaps you should read this book. This may well show you the nature of the forces ranged against science these days and the lengths to which they will go to misrepresent its findings.

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21 responses to “Killing off Darwin?

  1. The General is a satirist 1st class.

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  2. Yes, General JC Christian (an 11 on the manly scale of absolute gender) is very much a character

    <a href="http://patriotboy.blogspot.com/"Call him for free lessons in Spartan wrestling rites.

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  3. Looks like I’ve been caught out by a spoof.

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  4. Pingback: The fossil record has yet to prove Darwin right :: Girl Pundit

  5. Gen. JC Christian? Very funny.
    The Spartan thing was very…cheeky.

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist) ;)

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  6. Poe’s Law stated that there is no satirical presentation of creationism so ridiculous that it will not be confused for the real thing.

    Gen. JC Christian’s “review” of Windchy’s creatocrap is an excellent example.

    It is a very strange world we live in, where people will publish the most obvious and outlandish lies to support what the insist are the most obvious and infinite truths.

    Creationists fail review based on the centuries old observation of Thomas Aquinas (c.a. 1225 – 1274), “In discussing questions of this kind two rules are to be observed, as Augustine teaches. The first is, to hold to the truth of Scripture without wavering. The second is that since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it if it be proved with certainty to be false, lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing.” – Summa Theologica, Prima Pars, Q68. Art 1. (1273).

    Young Earth Creationists have been shown “with certainty to be false.” Here endith the lesson.

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  7. The reviewer assumes all my comments about Judson refer to the article referenced in the book’s Preface. Had he read the book, he would have found another article referenced in Chapter 6. That article expressed a non-Darwinian view excoriated as “silly” and “irresponsible” by Judson’s colleague Jerry Coyne. Concerning Wallace, I again suggest the reviewer read the book. I did not say Darwin stole natural selection from Wallace. He did steal from Wallace some other ideas. I also said Wallace would have published first if he had not sent his mss to Darwin for forwarding.

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  8. Eugene – I of course accept the right of an author to dispute a reviewers conclusions about their book.

    However, I resent you suggestion that I did not read the book. How else could I have honestly reviewed it?

    It’s not a hard book to read, relatively short and takes little effort – unless the reader wishes to check the many unreferenced quotes, which would entail some work in hunting them down. Olivia Judson’s article was not new to me.

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  9. Had you read the book carefully you would not have given it as my contention that Darwin stole natural selection from Wallace. As I said in the book, two men published on natural selection ahead of Darwin and a third [Wallace] would have done so if he had not sent his paper to Darwin for forwarding.

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  10. To my mind using the subtitle which includes “how a flawed and disastrous theory was stolen and sold” show a complete misunderstanding of how scientific ideas evolve. And to present science in that manner reveals a malicious intent.

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  11. Pingback: They’ve made a movie about Darwin with an ironic title, “Creation” « My agnostic views & images I like

  12. Hey Ken, why hasn’t Eugene tried to defend himself after you put out the idea that he had malicious intent in his manner to present science? Not to mention it’s been over a year since the last post on here.

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  13. Stephen Phillips

    Hi Rob, just been reading the discussion here after having read Eugene’s book through, much of it twice, these last several days. Yes, there’s been a considerable time gap since the last correspondence. What do you imagine Ken can offer on the subject of Eugene’s motive(s) for failing “to defend himself”? Would not the question be more properly (and productively) put to Eugene? Considering the vast array of unanswered, deeply disturbing matters covered in the “slim, self-published” book, you might better ask, in questions directed to Ken, why he has taken refuge in bald assertion (which, as history amply demonstrates and Windchy’s book catalogues, is part of a monotonously consistent pattern) and clairvoyant discernment of the author’s attitude and motives. Interesting. Judging by the dismissive, self-satisfied stance of this post and the overwhelming trend of the comments, it is evident that this forum is about as objective as many of the characters treated in the work under consideration. That’s OK, I guess – it’s a free world etc. And the last thing I desire is to ‘have a go’ at anyone. Would it not be a good thing, though, for starters, to revisit the actual definition of the Scientific Method? That is not a trick question. It is entirely central to what has gone wrong in the distinguished and dignified pursuit of knowledge and truth, about which much of the book is concerned. In that vein, I wonder on what basis Ben Stein’s “Expelled” (with which I am more than a little familiar) is classed as “deeply dishonest”? The (successful) attempts at career-ruining of dissident colleagues? That bit? Tough sell. Unbelievably lame explanations for biogenesis by evolutionists? Whose dishonesty are we concerning ourselves with? What, then, exactly? I suppose, really, I ought to be asking Ken… if you are reading, Ken: it is clear to me, judging from your reaction to and comments on the book under review, that you are so deeply invested in the ‘system’ critiqued in this slender volume that you are incapable of perceiving the genuine, and glaring, weaknesses of that ‘system’. But I would by no means characterise your position as “malicious”. You are a true patriot. Any other interpretation would suggest deep cynicism on your part, and I (for one) do not see that. There’s truly no need to attempt to personally belittle an opponent, nor is it particularly productive. If the facts had been stuck to, way back, we would not be in this absurd mess, now. A pity Windchy’s book did not stimulate more (appropriate) curiosity, even if coupled with some understandable indignant zeal. Instead, we have mud-slinging, and no serious effort to consider the ‘lay of the land’ which – let’s face it – does not by any means fall all the evolutionists way. Whatever way, precisely, that is supposed to be…

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  14. Nothing specific then, Stephen?

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  15. Is Steven doing a Poe?

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  16. Could be, Cedric. Really didn’t think of that. Just seem to be angry about something to me.

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  17. Stephen Phillips

    It’s generally best to ask the relevant person him/herself, if the search for answers is genuine. Ken, thanks for your direct question. I am not sure of what your question means or wishes to ask of me. Of course I understand what ‘specific’ might refer to. I made a number of observations together with associated questions in my original post. Since the collective purpose of this effort was to highlight the extraordinarily patronising and dismissive approach you had taken, not just to Windchy’s well-researched (if not well-referenced) work, but to all those who harbour similar (and, I would argue, reasonable) objections, in a review laced with undefended accusations and a good deal of soap-boxing, I wonder at your challenging me for more specifics. Windchy piles up a picture, both in its general character and in its many specifics, that you cannot answer, short of impugning his motives and ridiculing him as a naysayer – about the level of treatment I’ve experienced myself in your oblique remark above that I “just seem to be angry about something”. You would do well to investigate the concept of the axiom, with a view to personally applying it to your own intellectual processes. That’s a serious, and respectful, recommendation. Meanwhile, if cute asides to fellow self-congratulaters is to be the tenor of this ‘scientific’ forum, I may just be wasting my time. To be as clear as I can be: intellectual indignation, I would regard as a very different thing from anger; anyone who knows me (or has read me, I would have thought, assuming their motives are pure) would make that distinction with no effort. Less sensitive, or sometimes less witty types (no-one’s fault) often fail to make the distinction between deliberate irony and deliberate rudeness – something that causes me occasional grief, but that has not deterred me in my pleasure and pursuit of the fun to be had by these means. But truth and integrity in prosecuting the scientific method is a big deal, not to be made a political football, and whenever it is betrayed there are very far-reaching consequences. The degree to which this has occurred, and is still occurring, is to a very adequate extent a matter of sorry record, and something to greatly lament, not defend. The great many specific, scandalous, unforgivable lapses tabled in Windchy’s work, somehow, get a pass here. That, to me, is pretty darn strange. But I’m not angry!

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  18. Ah yes, the Tonkin Gulf. I’m with you there.

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