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Comments on Pigliucci's rebuttal

by Walter ReMine

I debated Prof. Massimo Pigliucci (pronounced Pill-ü'-chi) at the University of Minnesota, August 2000. He later web-published his rebuttal material,1 (hereafter called his rebuttal).  My following article comments on it.

General comments

Pigliucci's rebuttal did not respond to my arguments. It was as if he were responding to some other creationist, in some other era perhaps – virtually unaware of my arguments. In this sense, his rebuttal is uninformative.

He repeatedly indicated he was rebutting my book:

Below I will show that on every occasion where he referred to my book he misrepresented it

It turns out that Pigliucci had not read my book, and had not even seen it prior to our debate.2  But he did not inform our audience of that fact.  Instead he pretended to have a reliable knowledge of my book.  Pigliucci also made rhetorical jabs at me as "people who don’t bother informing themselves before promulgating far-reaching conclusions." This gave his rebuttal a hypocritical twang the audience was unaware of at the time.

When Pigliucci rebutted my oral presentation (as opposed to my book), he misrepresented in a different way.  That is, he pretended to rebut my arguments, when he merely ignored them.  Our live audience had an opportunity to see that.  But on his web-rebuttal the avoidance is undetectable, leaving his readers with an erroneous view of what my arguments are.

For all its faults, this is how the origins debate happens to be right now.  My purpose in this article is to encourage you, dear reader, to demand more scholarship and more engagement of the issues in future origins debates.

The following analysis is in a sequence, starting with his points that I find more interesting. I do not here argue each point completely, rather, just sufficiently for you to see the origins debate is a lot more interesting than Pigliucci's so-called "rebuttal" allows.  Do not assume my following comments on a topic makes an adequate replacement for its discussion in either my book, The Biotic Message, or the debate video – that would be a mistake.

Topic
Biotic Message Theory
Haldane’s Dilemma
Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection
Sir Karl Popper's "recantation"
Survival of the Fittest – a tautology?
Can natural selection create large-scale evolution?
The "measuring stick" of biological change
Is the fossil record incomplete? Why punk-ek?
Embryology and developmental biology
Imperfect design
Description of the book
Months after the debate

Biotic Message Theory

Pigliucci's statement below is the one place in his web-rebuttal where he addressed Message Theory.  He starts with an exceedingly brief sketch (or caricature) of it. Yet his sketch was sufficiently detailed for the particular counter argument he offers, and therefore I view it as fair play.3 In my opinion, it is the one place in his web-rebuttal where he actually engages my material in a straight-on way, without veering off to the left or right.4  I also think his point is delightful. Here it is: ReMine’s main argument is that what evolutionists interpret as the obvious outcome of a messy natural process is actually the personalized way the Creator "signed" his own creation to let us know that he exists. This is indeed a clever ploy, although one could raise the question of why wouldn’t the Creator in question just simply come out of the closet and tell us he did it. What makes Massimo think the designer of life did not "come out of the closet and tell us"?

Massimo's response is remarkable for what it is notit is not biological. Message theory is biological, it explains biological patterns. The theory makes predictions about the patterns we should see, and the patterns we should not see. The theory says life was designed (in large part) to resist evolutionary explanation – and to look unlike the result of evolution. The theory is risky, and exceedingly contrary to evolution. Yet remarkably, he did not attempt any biological argument against it.5 I take that as a good sign for message theory.


Haldane’s Dilemma

I packed my debate presentation full with cutting-edge material. I made provocative claims on a range of topics, such as the systematic absence of ancestors, and the idea that life was designed to resist evolutionary explanations. Therefore, it is with satisfaction that I make the following point. Pigliucci gives as perhaps my "greatest flaw" a matter I did not present and he did not read from my book – Haldane's Dilemma. Perhaps the greatest flaw in ReMine’s argument is his use of the so-called "Haldane’s dilemma". My book gives the issue in substantial detail, which I summarize very briefly here. In 1957, the famous evolutionary geneticist, J.B.S. Haldane showed that species with low reproduction (such as the higher vertebrates) could substitute beneficial mutations no faster than one per 300 generations, on average. Modern evolutionary theory views these as almost always a point mutation, or nucleotide. A straightforward application of this shows that an ape-human-like species, given ten million years, could substitute no more than 1,667 mutations6 – nominally about 1,667 nucleotides. Is this enough to create man's unique adaptations from an ape-like ancestor of ten million years ago?

Such a figure – 1,667 mutations – is obviously important! Yet the public wasn't told about it, and that is utterly inexcusable. For over forty years, evolutionary geneticists kept this figure out of public view – indeed many well-read evolutionary students and professionals were entirely unaware of such a figure. Nothing in Pigliucci's rebuttal contradicts what I just said, rather he says most of the changes are to "regulatory genes" and therefore they have a large effect on morphology and behavior.

His argument has many shortcomings, I'll mention one here. Evolutionists do not get to assign the 1,667 mutations any way they please, say, as "regulatory genes" or as "mutations with a large effect". Nature does not work that way. Rather, the preponderance of mutations will be of the ordinary kind, with a small effect. Let me illustrate the concept with crude figures: about 1500 mutations with an ordinary small effect, 100 more for re-positioning genes on chromosomes (inversions and so forth), 60 as gene duplications, and 7 mutations to regulatory genes that have a larger effect – for a total of 1,667. [NOTE added February 2005.  It has come to my attention that evolutionists are misrepresenting me concerning the numbers in the preceding sentence.  Those numbers are artificial and solely tutorial, to convey the idea that the numbers total to 1,667.  That is already obvious from the context.] Nature, not evolutionists, must dictate how these parcel out. In this sense, Pigliucci's argument scarcely affects the core issue: Is 1,667 beneficial mutations enough to create mankind's unique adaptations? 

My book shows that Haldane's Dilemma was never solved, instead it was merely garbled and brushed aside.


Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection

In his book, ReMine explains quite a bit of modern evolutionary theory, but also demonstrated a profound lack of understanding of crucial components of the same. One example is his claim that Fisher’s fundamental theorem of natural selection is a fatal blow to the theory because, if true, it predicts that evolution should come to a halt! .... Fisher’s theorem is no threat to evolution Pigliucci strongly misrepresents my book there. He portrays my book as claiming that Fisher's theorem is a "fatal blow" to evolution. The book says no such thing, not even close!

The book shows the real meaning of Fisher's theorem, by using simple examples that everyone can understand – bank accounts. It shows the cases where the theorem is useful, and those cases never deal with large-scale evolution. The reason is two-fold:

  1. Fisher's theorem does not apply (in fact, it is generally false) when there is mutation or environmental change in the picture, and
  2. When the theorem does apply, it predicts evolution will slow to a halt.
In either case, the theorem is useless for explaining large-scale evolution.

(Note: Pigliucci admits #2. Though #1 is easy to establish. Irradiate a population with heavy doses of x-rays, thereby increasing its genetic variation. Because the population has more genetic variation, Fisher's theorem predicts its fitness will rise faster during these x-rays, when in fact its fitness decreases rapidly.)

Then my book identifies the major use of the theorem. That is, the theorem is mis-presented to add an illusion of mathematical truth and precision to natural selection theory. In other words, the theorem is hype used to sell evolution to an unwary public. Here is an example of the hype, straight from Pigliucci:

Fisher’s theorem simply states (in mathematical notation) that the efficacy of natural selection on a character is proportional to the genetic variation for that character present in a population. This is rather obvious, since if there is no variation there is nothing to select from. .... The value of Fisher’s theorem – as for most mathematical biology - is to be found in the clear expectations that it sets up when the situation is extremely simplified, and in the guidance it provides for when the reality is more complex than simple mathematical models, which is always the case. Notice how Pigliucci's statement silently assumes away the problem of error catastrophe, where harmful mutations accumulate faster than they can be eliminated. Notice how his statement also silently assumes away the problem of contour in the fitness terrain, which can prevent evolution. Evolutionary experts are aware of both problems, but especially avoid those in public presentations. Why? Because they seek to create the impression – the illusion – that evolution by natural selection is simple, obvious, and undeniable. Fisher's theorem helps create that illusion.

Lastly, notice how his statement sets up for a game of hide the ball. The unfavorable things about the theorem – the fact that it does not apply, or grinds to a halt – will be brushed aside because they are from "extremely simplified models." Yet the favorable things about the theorem – its mathematical certainty and precision, and its silently assuming-away any obstacles to evolution – will be taken as "clear expectations" and "guidance" from the theorem. These are commonplace tactics.

Pigliucci calls this a "crucial component" of macro-evolutionary theory.  I call that pure hype.


Sir Karl Popper's "recantation"

ReMine then goes on in his book with the old claim that evolution is not really a science. This was proposed by famous philosopher of science Karl Popper, who promptly retracted once it was explained to him what evolution actually means (ah, if only creationists would be so open to critical revision!). Pigliucci implies that my book is unaware of Sir Karl Popper's recantation and is not open to "critical revision" on the matter. Pigliucci misrepresented my book. The situation is quite the opposite.

My book deals specifically with the Popper issue on pages 485-487. Briefly here, it goes like this. Popper (a leading authority on testability and the philosophy of science) stated that "Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory". My book continues:

That proclamation won him [Popper] the outrage of evolutionists worldwide. Four years later Popper publicly recanted. Since then evolutionists have quoted his change of mind as the final verdict that their theory is science. Now they approvingly cite Popper's authority as the definitive answer to any criticism. (The Biotic Message, page 485) In other words, my book correctly stated the situation, and accurately predicted Pigliucci's posture on this issue.

But my book goes further, and does something no other book does. It dismantles Popper's recantation and shows precisely why it is invalid. Curiously, Popper mis-applies his testability criterion, he never does show that Darwinism is testable. (For details, see the book.) His so-called "recantation" is half-hearted and poorly argued, unlike his other work. My book even quotes a leading evolutionist philosopher of science, Michael Ruse, who (like me) believes Popper did not genuinely recant:

... but disclaimers aside, I suspect that even now he [Popper] does not really believe that Darwinism in its modern form is genuinely falsifiable. (Michael Ruse, 1982) This episode was perhaps due to the duress Popper was under. He is not the only evolutionist authority who – under duress from the evolutionary community for giving aid to their opponents – has backtracked and made a half-hearted "recantation."

In this way Pigliucci's lack of scholarship ended up portraying my book exactly backwards. He charged me as not "open to critical revision" of the Popper episode, when in fact I advance precisely that.


Survival of the Fittest – a tautology?

ReMine then goes on in his book with the old claim that evolution is not really a science. .... The basic idea is that the theory of evolution claims that selection is about the survival of the fit, but then defines the fits as those who survive. Rather circular, no? Problem is, this is not what evolutionary theory is, it is only a caricature believed by people who don’t bother informing themselves before promulgating far-reaching conclusions. Pigliucci misrepresents my book. His statement is about the tautology argument, which is indeed an "old claim" about evolution, and my book discusses it. However, my book does not promote that caricature, contrary to Pigliucci's statement.

Rather, the situation is far more interesting, and is an area where my book makes another contribution to the origins debate. The book shows that survival of the fittest, as used by evolutionists, actually falls into four different formulations, each with different faults that make it unscientific.  Evolutionists create an illusion (not maliciously, but an illusion nonetheless) that their theory is scientifically testable. This is done by shifting between the various formulations – much like a three-shell game at the carnival – to avoid any single line of criticism. This is documented with many quotations, exclusively from evolutionists. (Moreover, this is just the lowest level of problems bearing on the untestability of natural selection.)

As a current example, Pigliucci said:

[Evolutionists] then observe who actually survives and compare that with their predictions to confirm or falsify their theories. This is exactly the way Popper thought science should be. Notice his reference to "theories." It is plural. He is referring to many theories – not one theory of survival of the fittest. He is defending against the tautology objection by shifting to many distinct special definitions of fitness, in effect, one for each instance of organism and environment. You've just seen the opening shift in the shell-game. Such shifting is classic behavior, and the follow-up moves get more interesting.  My book documents all the moves and gaffs involved.

Can natural selection create large-scale evolution?

ReMine denies, as many creationists do, that natural selection is a "creative" force, by which evolutionists mean that its role is not simply in weeding out bad mutations, but in keeping and accumulating good ones. In fact, selection works rather like a ratchet (see picture): turned one way it does not lose ground (elimination of negative mutations), turned the other way it positively gains ground (accumulation of advantageous mutations). That pretends to deal with my argument, but actually omits it, or misrepresents it, utterly.  I here abbreviate my argument. I told how evolutionists – especially in their presentations to the unwary public – present evolution as a walk ever upward on a uniform fitness incline. (My prediction was later precisely fulfilled in Pigliucci's above statement, where he portrayed natural selection as an upward "ratchet".) I call it "naïve natural selection," because every academic evolutionist knows it is untrue. Instead, the fitness terrain has contour, with hills and valleys, mountains and deep crevasses. This contour can actively prevent evolution. Populations can get stuck on top of a small local fitness peak, and held there forever by survival of the fittest. The theory of natural selection itself suggests this.

The issue then is whether evolution can escape past the first local peak.  Then the next.  And the next, and so forth – all the way from molecules to man.  When these key details are filled-in, natural selection is no longer an obvious, inevitable, undeniable, or testable mechanism.  Rather, it is a structureless mess of conflicting mechanisms that serves only for free-form story-telling.  That is harder to sell to the public, and that is why evolutionists tend to slip back into the "naïve" version for public presentations. Altogether these moves create a shell-game at yet a higher level.  (If you're thinking it's a conspiracy, then you've missed my point. Focus on the moves.  Focus on how the illusion is accomplished, not on the magician or his character.)


The "measuring stick" of biological change

My presentation discussed the scientific ways to establish evolution. One way is the "measuring stick" provided by experimental demonstrations (in the lab, field, or breeding pens) - real scientific experiments.  The biological change demonstrated through experiments becomes the "measuring stick" for assessing morphological gaps in the fossil record. My slides showed how the experiments may be linked together to establish even larger degrees of biological change.  If people disagree on what is a "large" versus "small" gap, then the measuring stick (experimental demonstrations suitably linked together) offers scientific resolution of the dispute. The biological experiments can scarcely be extrapolated, the theory of natural selection itself tells us so. The fitness terrain has contour and obstacles, and the change demonstrable over one portion of the terrain cannot be reliably extrapolated to a larger portion of the same terrain. This [natural selection] can be demonstrated ... by careful analyses of the fossil record. The main diagram, for example, shows the gradual evolution of the middle ear in mammals from a jaw joint in ancient reptiles (which in turn came from similar structures in early fish). Every step can be demonstrated in the fossil record, ... Pigliucci responded (above) with the traditional mis-wording. That is, he speaks of evolution of the mammal's middle ear as "gradual" and "every step can be demonstrated." Just who is he kidding! Those so-called "gradual steps" in the fossil record are huge, not remotely matched by experiments today. In other words, Pigliucci ignored my point.

Is the fossil record incomplete?  Why punk-ek?

Classical Darwinism is contradicted by the following:
  1. The record of life shows a systematic absence of gradual change over a large-scale.
  2. The record of life shows a systematic absence of clear-cut ancestors and lineage over a large-scale.
  3. The fossil record is sufficiently complete that the above two patterns cannot be brushed aside, they must be explained more as they stand.
The punctuationists (led by paleontologists) advance all three points.  Though most students of punk-ek (punctuated equilibria) are aware of #1 & #3, they are typically unaware that #2 is responsible for most of the theory's structure. If you begin with those three observations, and insist on "explaining" them in some evolutionary way, then you could lock yourself in an armchair and eventually you'd come up with punk-ek in all its essentials, including its peculiar emphasis on speciation and species selection. This gives another provocative insight into the origins of punk-ek theory.  My book gives the details.

I say point #2 is a central issue in the modern origins debate, and is supported in the following ways:

In other words, my claim is backed by evolutionary authorities. ReMine, like many creationists, makes a big deal out of the fossil record. His twist is that Darwinists cannot hide behind the excuse that the fossil record is incomplete ... Not quite. To get it right, replace the word "ReMine" with "S.J.Gould". My twist is to rely on evolutionist authorities to support my points.. But punctuated equilibrium is NOT a problem for Darwinism, as S.J. Gould repeatedly affirmed Pigliucci's argument relies on ambiguity in the term "Darwinism". His argument falls down because it shifts that keyword to mean "natural selection" or "universal common descent". In reality, the contradictions with Darwinism are deep; are given in the above three points; and are spearheaded by Gould. Through sloppy interpretation of wording, Pigliucci has misrepresented what Gould is up to. This is easily seen by the fierce collisions between Gould and Darwinists. Clearly punk-ek is a problem for classical Darwinism. The fossil record is and will always be largely incomplete: fossilization is rare Pigliucci is simply ignoring the arguments I presented. I pointed out that even large gaps in the fossil record could potentially be bridged or spanned if a lineage is sufficiently clear-cut. The classic Darwinists expected to find lineages, and by many methods (and overzealousness) created the illusion that lineages had been found. That illusion took a hundred years to break down. Gould, and other paleontologists, correctly saw this as a system-wide problem, and they sought to "explain" it with a new theory, punk-ek. Though the fossil record will always be "incomplete", they saw it is sufficiently complete that its patterns must be taken seriously, more at face value – notably point #2 above, which gives punk-ek most of its structure. ... there are plenty of intermediate fossils to validate the theory of evolution as is. I showed that evolutionists misuse the term "intermediate form" to create the illusion that ancestors have been identified, when they haven't. It's an illusion-making word used to create lineages out of thin air. Here is what Pigliucci's website says:
 
"If there are no intermediate forms, what are these? [The picture shows living sea otters and a living Hippo] You can see lots of other intermediate evolutionary forms just by going to the zoo. Otters and sea lions, for example, are clear instances of once terrestrial animals that are evolving a more aquatic life style. So is the hippopotamus, which is a very goofy animal on both land and water, but which nevertheless makes its living pretty well." (Massimo Pigliucci, quotation accurate as of Aug 16, 2000, slide #12)

He is using living animals as "intermediate forms"!!!  (Presumably because they are 'intermediate' between land & sea?!!) That is a misleading use of the term.  He is creating intermediate forms out of thin air.

Pigliucci responded, claiming that is not what his website says, rather he claims his website shows what intermediate forms "would look like".  I cannot remotely square that with what his website actually says (above).  I mention the point here, because within months the matter may be lost in the mists of time.  That's the difficulty with quoting material from the Internet — it is transitory, and they can erase or change what they said.

The term "intermediate form" is now oftentimes useless for discussion, it is contaminated with so many mis-uses, which merely serve to hide point #2. When the term is used correctly, leading evolutionists admit that intermediate forms are rare, at best.


Embryology and developmental biology

I displayed Ernst Haeckel's famous embryo illustration, which Haeckel had fudged in order to sell recapitulation theory and evolution. Though his hoax was discovered in the late 1800s, the illustration is still used (for much the same purpose) in textbooks sold today. Indeed it is a live issue, and there is "no excuse" for it.

Moreover, my presentation (and book) identified the reason why recapitulation theory, in some form, continues to be promoted by evolutionists. That is, recapitulation theory was an attempt at explaining von Baer's Laws of embryology in a manner compatible with evolution. There is a contradiction taking place. On the one hand, recapitulation theory is "dead" for many reasons (as acknowledged by Pigliucci). On the other hand, evolutionists have no other explanation of von Baer's Laws (now called the von-Baer hour-glass). This is a live issue, and I publicly challenged evolutionists to revisit it.

In this light, Pigliucci's response (below) is bold-faced posturing.

Many creationists, and ReMine is no exception, attack an old target, usually focusing on science that is decades, if not centuries, old. But science progresses fast, and there is no excuse for not being up to date if one wants to be taken seriously as a critic. ReMine’s argument that the "law of recapitulation" proposed by Ernest Haeckel is dead would not be challenged by any biologist (Haeckel himself has been dead for quite some time…).

Imperfect design

Pigliucci's rebuttal on the issue of imperfect design was non-responsive. That is, he completely ignored what I said. Instead he gave the traditional approach to the issue. His argument was identical to Gould's, using the panda's thumb for his example.

My theory claims life was created by an un-ordinary designer, that is, a designer having un-ordinary intentions (which the theory calls out and identifies based on the evidence before us). The theory directly claims there will be designs un-expected from an ordinary designer. (Those have traditionally been interpreted as "imperfect designs".) My theory correctly predicts that these odd and curious designs should occur, and predicts the pattern in which they should and shouldn't occur. In other words, my theory approaches the issue in a dramatic new way that sweeps aside this classic evolutionary argument. I gave more details in my talk and my book.  Pigliucci did not respond to that. I take that as a good sign.


Description of the book

Walter ReMine has written The Biotic Message, one of many books that allegedly "prove" that evolutionary biology has been on the wrong track for a century and a half, and that if one "objectively" looks at the world out there one cannot but conclude that there is a supernatural, omnipotent, and benevolent creator watching over us. My book does not say that. Pigliucci misrepresented my book to make it seem extreme and unscientific. He did this in several ways that are individually small but substantial in combined effect. This is a rather common tactic from evolutionists.
  1. One of the indicators of pseudo-scientific writing is its claim to "prove" things. That is why Pigliucci attributes that wording to my book. It is an attempt to cast my book as a work of pseudo-science. Careful science writers (like me) do not claim to "prove" theories about nature (especially about contentious issues), because empirical science is incapable of "proving" theories with final certainty. My book follows that practice, and never uses the word "prove" in the way Pigliucci alleges.
  2. Another indicator of pseudo-scientific writing is over-simplification and flatly-stated pat-answers to complex issues – such as "if one 'objectively' looks at the world out there, one cannot but conclude that [enter the pat-answer]." Contrary to Pigliucci's statement, my book says no such thing. Rather, it cautiously approaches the origins issues, mindful that many answers are complex and non-obvious.
  3. My book never mentions (much less argues) "omnipotence," "benevolence," or an "omnipotent, and benevolent creator watching over us." These are traditional themes of non-scientific works, which is why Pigliucci attributes them to my book.
  4. The book does discuss the supernatural, briefly, to make a new argument worthy of consideration. It argues that the concept of supernatural can potentially be part of testable science when approached the right way. However, the book never uses the supernatural in the way Pigliucci alleges, in reference to a "supernatural creator."
  5. The book goes great lengths to focus on science and avoid all religious discussion. Toward this end it uses the plain noun "designer" (instead of "Creator", "God", "Supreme Being" and so forth). In this sense, even Pigliucci's use of the word "creator" is a slight, though forgivable, misstatement about the book.


Months after the debate

When I became aware of Pigliucci's website, I informed him of its above misrepresentations.  Considering his bad scholarship during the debate, I encouraged him to publicly call for better scholarship in the future.  This would be the straightforward thing to do under the circumstances. Instead he altered his web article to make the situation worse, for he now implicitly tries to blame his misrepresentations onto me.  His first slide now says:
"My arguments are based on a correspondence with ReMine and on extensive literature on the idea found on his web site. During the debate, he did not present any arguments that meet my criticisms." (Accurate quotation as of Feb 24, 2001)
My correspondence with Pigliucci contained no technical details whatever, so he cannot have based his rebuttal on that.  Second, the web site is the publisher's web site, it only contains:  reviews and endorsements of the book, a biography of the author, a brief sketch of what the book is about, and a table of contents, all clearly identified as such.  This is not "extensive literature on the idea", contrary to Pigliucci's claim.  He based his rebuttal on the Internet equivalent of a book's dust jacket or advertisement – a deeply unscholarly thing to do.  (His rebuttal is even at odds with that material. See for yourself.)  In other words, there is no excuse for Pigliucci's unscholarly behavior, and it is wrong of him to implicitly blame anyone else.

Third, he says I "did not present any arguments" that meet his criticisms, he thereby pretends his misrepresentations (a) are not there, or (b) were silently condoned by me.  That is misleading. His rebuttal was the last presentation of the debate. I had no open time for responding to his rebuttal. (That arrangement was even at his request.) In his rebuttal he raised several new topics from my book, (topics I had not presented) – he misrepresented each one – and I had no opportunity to respond.

Fourth, Pigliucci recently changed the first slide of his web-article so it no longer refers to my book.  It now says:

"A brief rebuttal of the idea of a 'biotic message'. .... Notice that this is not a rebuttal of the book itself, which I didn’t have the time to read before the debate."  (Accurate quotation as of Feb 24, 2001)
That is not what our live audience saw and heard, which was just the opposite.  Despite his new disclaimer, all the other misrepresentations documented in the above sections are still present in his web-article.

Lastly, contrary to the changes to his first slide, his rebuttal scarcely mentions the idea of a biotic message, much less rebuts it.  The alteration to his first slide is little more than a cover-up for his unscholarly behavior.


Footnotes

1) "Where is ReMine wrong: A brief rebuttal of The Biotic Message", by Massimo Pigliucci. As best I can tell, his web-article is an accurate transcript of Pigliucci's oral statements at the debate.  In my various sections above, all unattributed indents are quotes from Pigliucci's web-article. The hyperlink and my above statements and quotations are accurate as of February 11, 2001. Months after the debate, after I contacted him, he changed the first slide, and my above quotations of it are accurate as of February 24, 2001.  See also My Summary of the Debate.

2) I had offered Pigliucci a gratis copy of my book well ahead of our debate, which he declined.  That was okay, as he had no obligation to read my book or to debate its material, because my book was not the topic of our debate.  Nonetheless, at the debate he postured that he was rebutting my book, and misrepresented it every time.

3) Pigliucci's exceedingly brief sketch (or caricature) of my theory was fair play, especially in the context of our oral debate, where the audience had only minutes before heard me give a brief discussion of it.  His web-rebuttal, however, does not provide that opportunity, so his readers there are left with a sketch that is entirely inadequate for other purposes.

4) It is also the only place in his web-rebuttal where he addresses Message Theory. I take that as a good sign for the theory.

5) As stated earlier, Pigliucci's other arguments were generic, they were matters you've seen many times before, they did not address Message Theory.

6) My opponents frequently try to recast my argument in terms of the raw genetic difference between modern humans and modern chimps.  My argument does not approach the issue that way.  Rather, it focuses on the improvements needed to create man's unique adaptations and whether 1667 mutations is sufficient to accomplish it.  In several key ways that is different from how my opponents attempt to recast the issue. Also, my book cites a number of additional reasons why the limit will be substantially less than the above figure.  For simplicity in public discussions, I often use the above figure because it is easy to verify as flowing directly from Haldane's paper.


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VIDEOTAPE

A video of the three-hour debate (VHS format, bundled on two tapes) can be ordered from a separate organization.  It was recorded under awkward audio & lighting conditions (darkened auditorium with bright slides), but the information came through fine.  Neither Walter ReMine nor St. Paul Science make any money from the video, directly or indirectly.  Send $28.00 (includes Sales Tax & shipping/handling) to: 

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