Over at Space City Skeptics, I wrote a blog post criticizing Discovery Institute fellow Michael Egnor’s claim that the only thing evolutionary theory has given medicine is eugenics. Several other blogs were also critical of this ludicrous idea. Now, Egnor has responded to blogs such as Respectful Insolence, Pharyngula, and my Space City Skeptics post.
In his post, Egnor still still claims that the theory of evolution led to eugenics. He even goes so far as to call eugenics, “Darwinian medicine 1.0.” The whole idea is ridiculous. Eugenics is essentially human breeding, and we all know that animal breeding preceded Darwin by thousands of years.
Egnor implies in his first post that a conference on evolution and medicine was somehow being kept a secret. He said that he is “having trouble finding the program.” However, details of the conference were are already available on Pharyngula:
(P.Z.) Myers notes that he had posted the conference schedule a while back, which I missed. Sometimes my Internet Content Filter screens out Pharyngula, so it’s not always easy keeping up. I’ll have to dial down the ‘bigotry’ and ‘casual obscenity’ settings.
Notice how Egnor puts the blame for his own ignorance on someone else? Shouldn’t he have accepted some blame, or better yet, have actually done some research before coming to the conclusion that the conference was being hidden? This is typical of the Discovery Institute and similar Intelligent Design proponents. They want to have their conclusion first without finding out the reality. It is called willful ignorance and is at the core of many of the ID talking points (i.e there are no transitional fossils).
In order to exert some sort of authority on the subject, Egnor goes on and on about how he is a professor of neurosurgery and has a lot of experience in medicine. However, he is too far removed from basic science to really see how the ideas and knowledge obtained through evolutionary theory really effect his work. I know this from my own personal experience. I used to work in a neurobiology lab and took a medical neuroscience class. The med class wasn’t anywhere near the level of depth where evolution would be important. There is just too much other information that is more relevant to being a doctor. It wasn’t until I started studying microbes and their relation to each other and higher life forms that it became obvious of that evolutionary theory permeates nearly everything one does at that level even if it isn’t explicitly stated.
Egnor goes on to say:
My own experience with medical research and education is that medical practice is a very effective check on b.s., because in medicine ideas often have immediately obvious consequences.
If this were true, we wouldn’t need large randomized, double-blind studies for the evaluation of medicines. We also wouldn’t need to show any result by several different methods before they can be taken seriously. There are just too many uncontrolled and unknown variables that can’t be accounted for in experiments. The fact that Egnor doesn’t understand this fundamental property of doing proper science is an example of the improper mindset that ID proponents have.
Of course he doesn’t really address the myriad of reasons why evolutionary theory benefits modern medicine that I and others pointed out. He does however argue that medicine is just fine with only knowing the “proximate” explanations for diseases, etc. In other words, he believes that doctors and research scientists only need to know the “what” of biology. Again, Egnor misses the fact that we would not have the knowledge that we have today if it weren’t for evolutionary theory.
Egnor finishes his post with more of his anti-scientific and anti-intellectual prejudice. He says:
The purpose of the evolutionary explanations is to provide jobs and grant money for evolutionary biologists — a kind of academic workfare for Darwinists-still-seeking-relevance.
This kind of statement would be really funny, if this type of attitude didn’t lead to the general decline of science. We can see these negative attitudes effect on education, on basic research, and even the perception of the United States.