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Sunday, 03 July 2005


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David, you accuse me of not responding in a "calm and reasoned way" to you "pointing out" that there are "some huge gaping holes" in Darwinian theory. I admit that I did find arguing with you pretty frustrating.

But if the gloves came off, it was because I found myself infuriated by someone, who clearly didn't have the first idea what he was talking about, showing outright contempt for the work of professional scientists.

I tried to point out that the "gaping holes" you professed to see were in fact a mirage created by your fundamental misunderstanding of what evolutionary theory does and doesn't say, and I attempted (in a mostly calm and reasoned way) to explain your mistakes to you.

Your response was to stick your fingers in your ears ("la la la I'm not listening") and stand by the position you first thought of, even after it had been thoroughly and painstakingly shot to pieces fifteen times over. Your attempts to back-up your own misunderstanding of evolution by directly quoting Darwin at length were particularly disastrous (not that you noticed).

Even now I bet you still believe all that drivel about the primary evolutionary drive being the fight for food between conspecifics in a population too large for the available food supply. ("But Darwin says so!" No David he doesn't, and even if he did, he would be wrong.)

I've never heard of David Stove, but if the remorseless logic of his writing involves misinterpreting a variety of major scientific theories so as to turn them into obvious nonsense, and then crowing about how a variety of major scientific theories are in fact obvious nonsense, then why should I read him, when I can argue with you who have mastered this skill so well?

Other things that occur to me are that (i) using racist slang like "Mick" tends to undermine any political point you might be making, and (ii) I've seen "Rosencrantz and Guilenstern are Dead" on stage twice, and enjoyed it thoroughly both times. I agree with you that Stoppard is one hell of a playwrite, though probably on almost nothing else.

Two more things (and then I promise I'll leave you in peace):
(iii) I find your cries of "poor Africa" in fairly poor taste since as a realpolitiker you'd happily let them starve if it would make you a penny richer to do so; and (iv) I have a suggestion for a communal noun: a 'Behe' of IDiots.

Sorry to clog up your comments section.

But I was just searching Amazon for this David Stove character, and found some reviews of his book which put your objections to the theory of evolutionary in some context:

"...The book reaches its low point in the third section, his criticism of Darwinism. As he strays further from the field of philosophy, Stove finds himself on unfamiliar ground, and often relies on the same techniques he was sharply critical of in earlier essays. The misstatements he makes, both errors of fact and errors of logic, are numerous and diverse. For instance, in the first sentence of the first essay of the section he makes both kinds of error by saying: `If Darwin's theory of evolution were true, there would be in every species a constant and ruthless competition to survive...' On the contrary, nothing in Darwin's theory precludes cooperation (Robert Axelrod has written a couple of excellent books on the subject) - in fact, it has been shown to be one of the most successful evolutionary strategies..."

"...consider Stove's essays on Darwinism. A basic tenet of Darwin's theory starts from the fact that when living beings reproduce they do more than replace their parents. Anyone who has ever owned a dog or a cat know that litters have more than two children. Human beings do not stop having sex once they have produced two children. Insects can have thousands, possibly millions of offspring. Now if these rates of reproduction were maintained, the world would be overwhelmed not merely with humans, but with roses, eucalyptus trees, octopi, emperor penguins and panda bears. Obviously, this has not happened. There is in fact, a great struggle for existence, and it is this struggle which sets the stage for natural selection. What Stove does, however, is to *amend* Darwin's theory to say that Darwinism stands for the proposition that everywhere and always populations are filled to the bursting point and that populations seek to reproduce as many of themselves as conceivably possible. Having *misstated* the theory, Stove easily shows that it is wrong, since often people are celibate, they rarely engage in incest, pets are often neutered (though this is done to prevent them from breeding out of control) and population numbers are often kept low by predation. But Stove has not refuted Darwinism, he has simply engaged in polemical slight of hand."

Well at least I know now where you get it from...

Ok that really was the last one, I'll go away now.

Larry 'fights the good fight' - again! I won't rehearse the debate *we* enjoyed (I'm not sure about anyone else!) but you can read it for yourself at:

If you're not sleeping well, that lot will send you off in no time. But, if you want a lively read on the subject I cannot recommend David Stove's book "Darwinian Fairytales" highly enough. Pay no regard to the amateur reviews mentioned by Larry above, they're obviously hurt and bewildered neo-Darwinists who've just experienced the equivalent of a church-goer hearing some-one say bollocks to the bishop!

Larry then goes on .. and on .. and on .. (Just joking, I enjoy our bouts enormously and you're always welcome here, Larry). However, I do get fed up with these youngsters dissolving into tears if you use old-fashioned terms about other nationalities. Irishmen have been 'Micks' for as long as 'Taffies' have been Welsh, and Americans have been 'Yanks' (you never hear Lefties complaining about that one, do you!), and us Brits have been 'Limeys'. Nobody minds, so brace up, Larry, and stop snivelling!

As to Africa and real-politik (see entry below), it's a bit rich Larry complaining thst I have completely mis-understood Darwin (even though I quote his own words!) when he then goes on to distort *my* own words. I talked of our national interest which does *not* necessarily mean us getting richer. I specifically gave the example of 16th c. Spain which indulged in mass murder to gain gold and which did them absolutely no good whatsoever. I also pointed out, several times I think, that *our national interest was free trade* which makes us richer *and also the Africans*.

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