Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but we’ve got a serial spammer in the comments. This twit, calling himself Peter Moore (also known as Ken DeMyer, or Kdbuffalo, as he was known on Wikipedia before being banned there), is repeating himself over and over again, asking the same stupid question, never satisfied with any answer anyone gives him. Forty nine insipid comments in three days is enough.
I will answer him one last time. Any further attempt to spam multiple comment threads with his demands (and this alone makes him an ass: an incompetent, unqualified hack like Moore is in no position to make demands) will result in his immediate banning.
Here’s his assertion:
Dear PZ Myers,
In the link you provided above you wrote the following:
One premise that Wells [Jonathan Wells] brings up with regularity in this chapter is that evolutionary biologists have relied on the false doctrines of Haeckel to prop up Darwinian dogma. He claims that Haeckelian theories “have periodically risen, phoenix-like, from the ashes of empirical disconfirmation” throughout the 20th century. He uses section headings like “Resurrecting recapitulation” and “Haeckel is dead. Long live Haeckel.” He accuses biologists of a conspiracy of silence, hiding the flaws in Haeckel’s work on one hand, and using it as evidence for evolution on the other.
None of this is true.
This is so patently obvious that we only need to use Wells’ own scholarship to show it. He cites a number of authors who discuss Haeckel or the biogenetic law:
Adam Sedgwick, 1894
William Garstang, 1922
Gavin de Beer, 1958
William Ballard, 1976
Stephen J. Gould, 1977
Richard Elinson, 1987
Jane Oppenheimer, 1987
Michael Richardson, 1995
Stephen J. Gould, 2000
However, here is the surprising thing: all of these authors condemn the idea that embryonic development follows the evolutionary pattern in no uncertain terms!
Now I think it is fair for you to bring up the work of Gould and others dismissing Haeckel’s fraudulent work. However, I believe it is fair to say that you are being quite negligent in not raising the much larger point of why the evolutionary community allowed the fraud to be perpetuated for a full century and why so many biology textbooks which were most likely composed by evolutionists were allowed to be published and distributed in public schools.
PZ Myers, given the vociferous efforts of evolutionists to keep creation science and intelligent design textbooks out of public schools it is certainly fair to ask why that same vociferousness was not applied to keep Haeckel’s fraudulent work out of the biology textbooks which were most plausibly written and edited by evolutionists. Can you please answer this reasonable question?
What we have there in my list is a century of biologists clearly and unambiguously stating that the biogenetic law of Haeckel is invalid. Many of them bring up the methodological flaws in Haeckel’s work, as well. You do not get to complain that evolution is founded on Haeckel and has been hiding the errors in Haeckel’s work when the biologists have been doing no such thing. Over and over again, eminent biologists beyond that list, including people like Roux and TH Morgan and Haldane, have squashed the theory flat, and still ignorant creationists whine that they have not done enough.
What are we supposed to do? Dig up the grave of Ernst Haeckel and piss on his tattered bones?
This is one issue: the explanatory theory of Haeckel has been falsified and long rejected. One reason it continues to be brought up, however, is that the data, the body of evidence that reveals similarity in organization of vertebrate embryos, is still intact. This is distinct from the theory of embryonic recapitulation, in which Haeckel suggested that the similarity was a consequence of a pattern of evolutionary change that was incorrect. But the similarities are still there!
What confuses the creationists is that they seem unable to distinguish a fundamental difference between an observation and a theory that explains that observation. Vertebrate embryos resemble one another. That’s an observation. We still teach that, and we show photographs and slides of embryos illustrating the similarities. Textbooks have used Haeckel’s old illustrations of the similarities to show those observations and show work of historical interest. This is not inappropriate, although there are now much better images available. I’ll also add that the image used is NOT one that was produced by fraud, so it is incorrect to accuse textbook authors of using “fraudulent work”. The actual image that was rather lazily faked in one of Haeckel’s books is quite obscure and most of these carping creationists wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it.
The textbooks have not promoted Haeckelian recapitulation, the outdated theory explaining those observations, for many years. Developmental and evolutionary biologists have been quite clear: the theory is wrong. The data is not.
The actual theoretical explanation most often used now is a variation on von Baer’s answer, that embryos develop from the most general features of the organism to the more specific. Differences appear over developmental time as species-specific elements form on a general vertebrate core.
I don’t expect any of this explanation to make the slightest difference to an ignorant ideologue like Peter Moore, but perhaps others with slightly more intelligence will be able to follow it. I can now say that if Peter Moore makes his inane demand one more time, I can declare him unteachable and evict his annoying butt from this site for good.