When Meyer Met Marshall (for a Radio Debate)
Stephen Meyer recently debated UC Berkeley paleontologist Charles Marshall on the Cambrian explosion and Dr. Meyer's book Darwin's Doubt, which Dr. Marshall reviewed in Science. The venue for the debate was Britain's Premiere radio. It went quite well. We'll have more to say about the debate shortly -- hear it for yourself here. In the meantime, enjoy this grousing paragraph by Jerry Coyne, writing at Why Evolution Is True ("A paleontologist debates an IDer on the Cambrian Explosion"):
I wish more paleobiologists would have a look at Meyer's book. Not that he'll listen to their critiques, for he and his Discovery Institute cronies aren't interested in scientific argument, and always find a way to discredit the several negative reviews. And although it's annoying to take time out of one's science to debunk ID, having a paper record against its arguments is valuable. Paleobiologists should, for instance, note that if you look on the Amazon rankings under "organic evolution," you'll find this...
Coyne never ceases to amaze. We won't listen to critiques? If you follow us at ENV you'll know that we seek out every opportunity to listen and reply in detail to genuine criticism (as opposed to mere name-calling). It's our opponents who then present those critiques as not only unanswerable but unanswered.
We aren't interested in "scientific argument"? But Meyer's whole book is a scientific argument at a high level, and we've conducted a very extensive argument with critics, those that dare to answer back. It's Coyne who has dodged or ignored every single challenge to debate or argue with us.
It's "annoying to take time out of one's science to debunk ID"? My goodness! As evidenced by his own blog, Dr. Coyne doesn't do science anymore. He occupies himself primarily as a connoisseur of and commentator on adorable animal videos and photographs, sometimes taking a break from that to bash religion.
As for the last sentence, he's referring to the list of Amazon's top-selling books on organic evolution that features Darwin's Doubt in the #1 spot, followed somewhat distantly by Dawkins's Greatest Show on Earth in paperback and Kindle (#2 and #4), Dawkins's Blind Watchmaker (#3), and finally...Coyne's Why Evolution Is True (#5).
He finds this ranking to be a "travesty." I suppose that's not surprising, given that Meyer trounces Coyne himself in sales. (Of course, sales rankings are evanescent.)
An email correspondent recently chastised me for saying that "I love" something an evolutionist had written, understanding me as being sarcastic, which my email friend thought was unworthy. In fact I was being completely sincere. And I agree about saracasm, but what else is there to say about a paragraph like Coyne's that delivers such amusement, that makes you laugh aloud? I love it. I do.
Coyne promises to listen to the debate: "I haven't yet listened to the hour-long debate, but I will." I wonder if he'll then have something more solid and accurate to say about Meyer's book than his earlier capsule summary, "Yes, baby Jesus made the phyla!" That was published a couple of months before Darwin's Doubt was released and hence before Coyne or his friends could have read the book.
Coyne has never apologized for, retracted, or corrected that one. When you consider that the man is regarded as America's top pugilist for Darwinian evolution, amusement fades. There are more than a handful of people who actually take him somewhat seriously. I don't love that. The truth is, it's very sad.