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Things are bad in Texas

Postby Peter Henderson » Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:05 pm

How the Texas Board of Ed. misrepresented a Nobel Prize winner
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http://scienceblogs.com/tfk/2009/01/how ... d_misr.php


In November, the Texas Board of Education met to consider their new science standards. As I've mentioned a major point of contention is a reference in the current standards to "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific explanations, a concept only ever applied to evolution, and without any clear explanation of what it means.

In the course of 6 hours of testimony, witnesses constantly asked what these "weaknesses" were, and got no clarity. Finally, at an ungodly hour, Cynthia Dunbar (the one who thinks public schools are evil and that President Obama is a s3kr1t Mussulman) gave her explanation. In the course of doing so, she perpetuated blatant falsehoods about a Nobel Prize-winning doctor.

A concerned teacher observed that:

[During the 2003 textbook hearings in Texas] Much of the testimony given in support of 3A, the strengths and weaknesses, was given by the Discovery Institute, who were here, giving presentations on that. In that case, they were using this as a strategy for keeping open the idea of "teaching the controversy," which doesn't seem to be as prevalent within the scientific community as it does within our community at large.
Dunbar replied:
D: OK, but the last testimony heard was that science is not something that's determined by majority vote, there is a scientific method.
I would like to have someone of the magnitude of Dr. Werner Abner [sic] here. I don't know if you know who he is. Are you familiar with him?

A: Not right off the top of my head, no.

Dunbar: He is a Nobel laureate. He spent his life doing studies in evolution and genetics. I don't think we could get him here, I think he's in Switzerland. But his, his years and years and years and years of research in genetics and evolution are very, very credible, and his end result recently, I think it was in September, was that the genetic code, and genetic mutations are actually built in to a limitation that they can only go so far, which is contrary to the ultimate result of natural selection and all of that. But that would not be someone outside of the scientific community…


Statement on my view on biological evolution


TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:


I recently got aware of an article entitled "Werner Arber: Nobel Laureate, Darwin Skeptic" that was published in September 2008 by the Institute for Creation Research and that is authored by Jerry Bergman, Ph.D. This article completely misinterprets my general conclusions that I base on several decades of studies in microbial genetics. A number of citations are taken out of their original context and surrounded by comments and misinterpretations by the author of the article.

The truth is that I have contributed to advance scientific knowledge on biological evolution by studying molecular mechanisms of genetic variation. Genetic variation is clearly the driving force of biological evolution. A number of different specific molecular mechanisms contribute to spontaneous genetic variation. Together with non-genetic elements specific gene products are thereby involved as variation generators and as modulators of the rates of genetic variation. These are established facts that are based on experimental evidences and that are valid for the course of biological evolution as it works today in living organisms. Theoretically, one can extrapolate into the past history of life development on Earth. One can, e.g., postulate how the genes involved in biological evolution may have become fine-tuned to insure to living organisms a comfortable genetic stability and at the same time to the populations of living organisms an evolutionary development, including adaptability to changing living conditions and an expansion of biodiversity. In contrast, there is, so far, neither satisfactory scientific knowledge nor theory on the origin and early evolution of life on our planet.


On solid scientific grounds one cannot expect to discover if a Creator as defined by religious beliefs and sometimes referred to as intelligent design or God's Will, could be responsible for the origin and subsequent evolution of life. Serious scientific investigations can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God or a possible impact of God on evolutionary processes. In our civilization, both scientific knowledge and religious beliefs contribute essentially to our orientating knowledge, but these two sources of our worldview should not be intermingled.
In conclusion, I am neither a "Darwin skeptic" nor an "intelligent design supporter" as it is claimed in Bergman's article. I stand fully behind the NeoDarwinian theory of biological evolution and I contributed to confirm and expand this theory at the molecular level so that it can now be called Molecular Darwinism.


Werner Arber
Professor emeritus for Molecular Microbiology,
University of Basel.
Nobel Laureate Medicine/Physiology 1978
Peter Henderson
 
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