In an astonishing example of anti intellectualism four biology professors at Emory University, joined by hundreds of faculty, researcher and student signatories, wrote an incredible letter to the editor full of blatant scientific misrepresentations. Here are the more blatant misrepresentations.
If there was any doubt about the professor’s intent it is quickly dispelled in the first paragraph where the reader encounters the bizarre claim that “science rests squarely on the shoulders of evolution.” It would be difficult even to know where to begin with such a claim. To say it is false would be a compliment.
Later the letter makes the false claim that “The evidence for evolution is overwhelming.” If that wasn’t enough, the professors attempt to justify this claim, but they just make matters worse.
First, they make the circular claim that “ape-human transitional fossils are discovered at an ever increasing rate.” That, of course, simply begs the question. Every freshman knows you cannot argue for the truth of a proposition by presupposing the proposition in the first place. Yes fossils are discovered. But if you are arguing that the evidence for evolution is overwhelming, then you cannot begin with the evolutionary assumption that the fossils are “transitional.” Philosophers call this a “theory-laden” observation.
Next, the professors dig another hole by making the erroneous claim that “the processes by which organisms evolve new and more complex body plans are now known to be caused by relatively simple alterations of the expression of small numbers of developmental genes.” No clever fallacy here, that is simply false. There is no such knowledge and, as life scientists, it would be incredible if the professors did not know this.
Next the professors make the false conclusion that evolution is as well supported as gravity. They write: “The theory of evolution is as strongly supported as the theory of gravity and the theory that infectious diseases are caused by micro-organisms.” Again this is false. But it is so blatantly untrue that one hardly knows how to respond. It would be like a physics professor saying perpetual motion is as well supported as breathing. What could they possibly be thinking?
Finally, the professors hypocritically equate evolution with all of science and critical thinking. They write: “Dismissing evolution disregards the importance of science and critical thinking to society.” This sentiment reveals the underlying dogma. For these professors, and the hundreds of signatories, are displaying a lack of critical thinking and an anti intellectualism that is disturbing. If we’re not allowed to dismiss the non scientific dogma that all of biology arose spontaneously, then we’re all in trouble.