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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.
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
occasion where he referred to my book he misrepresented it.
His first slide displayed his purpose, "A brief rebuttal
of The Biotic Message", which refers to my book, The Biotic Message.
The first sentence of his rebuttal again called out
my book by name, "Walter ReMine has written The Biotic Message, one of
many books that ..."
On several occasions his rebuttal referred explicitly to
After referring to my "book" he would immediately rebut a
topic I had not presented in the debate. These were
additional cues to the audience that he was rebutting my book.
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
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
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.
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
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
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 not – it
is not biological. Message theory is biological, it explains biological
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.
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
My book shows that Haldane's Dilemma was never solved, instead it was
merely garbled and brushed aside.
Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem of Natural
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:
In either case, the theorem is useless for explaining large-scale evolution.
Fisher's theorem does not apply (in fact, it is generally false)
when there is mutation or environmental change in the picture, and
When the theorem does apply, it predicts evolution will slow to a halt.
(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
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"
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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?
Classical Darwinism is contradicted by the following:
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.
The record of life shows a systematic absence of gradual change over a
The record of life shows a systematic absence of clear-cut ancestors and
lineage over a large-scale.
The fossil record is sufficiently complete that the above two patterns
cannot be brushed aside, they must be explained more as they stand.
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
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
... 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:
By the failure of Darwinian Systematists to identify real ancestors.
By the Darwinians attempts to create the illusion that ancestors
have been identified. (I identified a variety of methods used, including
the creation of paraphyletic groups. and mis-use of terminology such as
By the rejection of paraphyletic groups as "artificial". (This was done
by cladists and other modern systematists, and became a key issue among
evolutionists about how then to best sell evolution to the public.)
By the peculiar structure and use of punk-ek theory.
By the diverse contradictions between evolutionists when they attempt to
By numerous statements about the fossil data, both particular and general,
from evolutionist experts themselves.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
"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.
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
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
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