Saturday, October 11, 2008





George Dvorsky challenges the notion that humans have stopped evolving.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is Dvorsky a geneticist? No. Is Steve Jones? Yes. Sorry, I missed the part about what makes Dvorsky qualified to criticize -- let alone challenge -- Jones.

Ken Y.

devo! said...

My favorite popscifi geneticist, Mark Mothersbaugh, would suggest devolution is the most likely direction the human species is taking.

Mac said...

Since when do we chastise writers for daring to take issue with the experts? Jones may be a geneticist, but he's as human as the rest of us. If you disagree with Dvorsky's arguments, fine. But don't condemn his right to be taken seriously solely because of his academic background.

Anonymous said...

Jones has devoted years of his life to studying and understanding genetics. His grasp of the subject combined with his continued meticulous research has earned him recognition and respect from his colleagues (hence he has been assigned "head" of his department). Are you suggesting that any presumptuous smart-ass with a comparatively cursory knowledge of the field can legitimately "take issue" with him?

Ken Y.

Mac said...

Ken--

Again, you fail to point out which of Dvorksy's arguments you consider untenable.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a geneticist. I'm not in any position to determine which of Dvorsky's arguments are or are not tenable. One thing I can do, though, is point out that in all likelihood Jones has already considered objections such as those raised by Dvorsky. Jones wouldn't be head of his department if his theories didn't rest on a solid basis. Once again, my point is that Dvorsky simply isn't qualified to challenge someone who has specialized in this field for years. He doesn't know nearly as much, nor has he spent nearly as much time thinking about questions related to genetics and evolution.

Ken Y.

Mac said...

Once again, my point is that Dvorsky simply isn't qualified to challenge someone who has specialized in this field for years. He doesn't know nearly as much, nor has he spent nearly as much time thinking about questions related to genetics and evolution.

There's no arguing that Dvorsky lacks Jones' credentials as a geneticist. But that's not the argument. The argument is whether an informed outsider can comment meaningfully on the views of an insider.

I do it all the time here on my own blog, especially in the case of Mars exploration and SETI. I routinely take issue with the "expert" proclamations of Seth Shostak, for instance. While Shostak is an astronomer, I'm not; regardless, I think some of his opinions are ill-founded.

I also take issue with NASA's myopic, geology-driven Mars exploration program -- which, if allowed to continue unchallenged, will almost certainly exclude manned exploration and subsequent colonization.

But apparently, if I played by your rules, this would be tantamount to an act of insubordination.

Anonymous said...

If Dvorsky wants to pitch in his two-cents, by all means let him do it. His comments won't carry anywhere near as much weight as that of contentious biologists, however. If, for instance, Richard Dawkins were to take issue with Jones's views, I would be very attentive. Besides, it's one thing to merely "comment" as an informed outsider; it's another thing to presumptuously challenge someone whom you've got no business challenging.

I've taken note of your criticisms of Shostak and NASA. In the first instance, what's involved has less to do with hardcore astronomy and more to do with fringe speculation regarding ET. Shostak is not an "expert" on such matters in the same sense that Jones is an expert in genetics. As for NASA, I believe what you're criticizing are their internal politics and agenda. I've never gotten the impression that you're presuming to place yourself on par with their level of scientific knowledge.

Ken Y.

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