Silliest Item of the Month - Evolution News & Views

Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

Evolution News and Views

Silliest Item of the Month

CSC senior fellow Jonathan Wells e-mailed me to point out that in the March issue of BioScience (the magazine of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, not available without subscription), a pro-Darwin / anti-ID article by Oksana Hlodan has provided us with the silliest item of the month.Well's writes:

Hlodan quotes University of Texas - Austin biologist David Hillis as saying "You can't study human diseases without studying phylogenetics."

This would no doubt come as a surprise to the hundreds of pioneers in medicine who have not only studied diseases but also found diagnostic techniques and effective treatments for many of them -- without ever studying phylogenetics. Phylogenetics is the study of the supposed history of descent of a group of taxa from common ancestors. Unfortunately, without a genealogical record it is not possible to verify that any no-longer-living organism was the common ancestor of two subsequent organisms, much less two different taxa; so phylogenetics is limited to formulating more or less plausible hypotheses about possible ancestor-descendant relationships. David Hillis (who vigorously defended flawed biology textbooks in testimony before the Texas State Board of Education in 2003) has made it his profession to formulate unverifiable phylogenetic hypotheses. Now he insists that a medical practitioner can't even STUDY puerperal fever, smallpox or tuberculosis without also studying such hypotheses. Thank goodness Ignaz Semmelweis, Edward Jenner and Selman Waksman didn't wait for Hillis to come along and tell them how to study those diseases.