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February 22, 2003

Know thine enemy....

Just read Native American scholar Vine Deloria's Evolution, Creationism and other Modern Myths. This is what I read on the jacket: "Deloria takes Western science and religion to task...." The knives were already sparking on the stone before the first page was cracked, but I was surprised by the book, I have many criticisms to make, but it was thought-provoking. I'll put up a longer review later in the week, but here is one problem I have, Deloria attacks modern evolutionary theory, "Darwinism," and tends to look to Behe & Dembski's Intelligent Design movement for help. One thing I noticed, and confirmed, the scientists used to caricature "Darwinists" are kind of weird (Deloria even admits it at one point). Here are the number of references to evolutionary theorists according to the index:

Stephen Jay Gould, 16
Darwin, 10
Ernst Mayr, 0
JBS Haldane, 0
RA Fisher, 0
William Hamilton, 0
Robert Trivers, 0
E.O. Wilson, 0
John Manyard Smith, 0
Richard Dawkins, 0 (yes, a populizer, but I would forgive the neglect of mathematical biologists like Hamilton & Fisher less well known by the general public if Dawkins was mentioned)

Vine Deloria makes paleontology & SJ Gould's ideas look a bit like mumbo jumbo. Well, that's fine, but let us be honest, after the First Book of Dinosaurs phase in your life, if you want to pursue evolutionary theory on the collegiate level, you move past butterfly collection and familiarize yourself with the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis. 'nuf said. Dr. Deloria does a good job showing that butterfly collection is a house of cards. Retitle the book, Butterfly Collection, Creationism and other Modern Myths.

Posted by razib at 12:06 AM

Wait, are you calling all of paleontology "butterfly collecting?" What about detailed comparative anatomy of skeletons, cladistics, etc.?

Posted by: Jesse at February 22, 2003 02:27 PM

yes-i know about that. have a friend that's doing paleo-bioinformatics even. but deloria is attacking old-school butterfly collection. he might be misrepresenting paleontology (and to some extent he is, as he is quoting people from the 1950s a lot), but that's his straw-man.

Posted by: razib at February 22, 2003 02:36 PM