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Ron Paul, Evolution, and Right-Wing Populism:

Libertarian science writer Ron Bailey points out that Ron Paul has denied the theory of evolution:

In a South Carolina forum, Paul was asked about his views on evolution, to which he replied, "I think it's a theory, the theory of evolution and I don't accept it as a theory." He also said that he thought it was an inappropriate question to be asking presidential candidates.

I don't believe that scientific illiteracy on this issue is an absolute bar for supporting a presidential candidate. However, for reasons that Bailey explains in his article, it's definitely a negative. Worse, Paul's position on evolution is of a piece with other indicators that he's less a libertarian than a far-right populist. It is consistent with his penchant for right-wing conspiracy theories, such as the supposed plan to form a "North American Union," his opposition to free trade agreements on the ground that they undermine "sovereignty," and his nativist (and highly unlibertarian) position on immigration. Unfortunately, it's also consistent with his having published far-right racist, anti-Semitic, and conspiracy-mongering articles in his political newsletters in the late 1980s and early 90s. Even if Paul didn't endorse their content, he clearly was willing to associate with the sorts of people who believe these things and didn't mind letting them take control of the content of his publications.

Ron Paul isn't all bad. However, it is increasingly clear that association with his presidential candidacy does more harm than good to the cause of libertarianism, a point that I tried to make in my very first post about him. Not only is his candidacy turning out to be a flop politically, as I predicted. It also creates the risk of tarring libertarianism by associating it in the public mind with bigotry, conspiracy-mongering, and xenophobic hostility to free trade and immigration (though the latter, unfortunately, is actually quite popular even outside far-right circles).

Elliot Reed (mail):
RP lost any hope of getting my vote when I learned that he supports repealing the Fourteenth Amendment's grant of birthright citizenship. That looks even more sinister now that I know of his support for (or at least refusal to distance himself from) this sort of racist bullshit.
1.11.2008 2:23pm
r78:
Here is the full quote from a transcript of the interview.

The incomplete quote you quote has been floating around the internets . . .

Well, at first I thought it was a very inappropriate question, you know, for the presidency to be decided on a scientific matter, and I think it's a theory, a theory of evolution, and I don't accept it, you know, as a theory, but I think it probably doesn't bother me. It's not the most important issue for me to make the difference in my life to understand the exact origin. I think the Creator that I know created us, everyone of us, and created the universe, and the precise time and manner, I just don't think we're at the point where anybody has absolute proof on either side. So I just don't...if that were the only issue, quite frankly, I would think it's an interesting discussion, I think it's a theological discussion, and I think it's fine, and we can have our...if that were the issue of the day, I wouldn't be running for public office.
1.11.2008 2:31pm
r78:
oops


Well, at first I thought it was a very inappropriate question, you know, for the presidency to be decided on a scientific matter, and I think it's a theory, a theory of evolution, and I don't accept it, you know, as a theory, but I think it probably doesn't bother me. It's not the most important issue for me to make the difference in my life to understand the exact origin. I think the Creator that I know created us, everyone of us, and created the universe, and the precise time and manner, I just don't think we're at the point where anybody has absolute proof on either side. So I just don't...if that were the only issue, quite frankly, I would think it's an interesting discussion, I think it's a theological discussion, and I think it's fine, and we can have our...if that were the issue of the day, I wouldn't be running for public office.
1.11.2008 2:31pm
advisory opinion:
The Volokh Conspiracy - conspiring against Ron Paul since 2003.
1.11.2008 2:37pm
Ilya Somin:
The fuller version of the quote posted by R78 is interesting, but in no way contradicts the short version I put in the post. It doesn't change the fact that Paul denies the validity of the theory of evolution. It merely adds the point that he doesn't consider it's validity to be "the most important issue." I agree that it isn't. However, Paul's position on it is still a negative.
1.11.2008 2:42pm
AK (mail):
I'd very much like anyone who "believes in the theory of evolution" to explain brielfly the most widely accepted models of speciation. Most of the sneering at creationists, Intelligent Design folks, etc., is based entirely on appeals to authority.

I don't know whether I prefer a president who doesn't believe in evolution because it conflicts with his faith or one who believes in evolution because smart people tell him that it's true. I prefer neither, actually. The issue is irrelevant to my choice of presidential candidates.

Is someone who doesn't believe in macroevolution "anti-science"? I don't think so, because macroevolution isn't really "science," in the sense that it doesn't conform to the scientific method. There aren't any testable hypotheses. If a presidential candidate didn't believe in the scientific method or microevolution, that would be one thing. But not believing in an untestable hypothesis doesn't worry me much.
1.11.2008 2:47pm
J.McFaul (mail) (www):
The expanded quote only makes mattrs worde for Paul.

"if that were the issue of the day, I wouldn't be running for public office."

Too bad then, you shouldn't have run. Although not the issue inself, evolution is a very significant proxy marker for the issue of the day. The candidate's view on evolution is a near perfect indicator of the cadidate's view of reality as opposed to "magic."

Paul's other "exotic" views only reinforce his distance from reality.
1.11.2008 2:47pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Big L Libertarians should do what Milton Friedman did.

Join the Republican Party and work for change.

I di.
1.11.2008 2:48pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
I di as a Libertarian and Live as a Republican
1.11.2008 2:49pm
Ilya Somin:
The Volokh Conspiracy - conspiring against Ron Paul since 2003.

It's not a conspiracy if it's completely out in the open. My views about Ron Paul are no secret to VC readers. I'm no more conspiring against him than I am conspiring against advocates of unlimited eminent domain authority, supporters of the War on Drugs, and the Supreme Court justices who voted with the majority in cases such as Kelo and Raich. Criticizing people publicly is not "conspiring" against them.
1.11.2008 2:51pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
I don't feel like a wacko, I'm not a Paul voter or donor, and I'vebeen liberatrian and atheist long before blogs (ordinarily a preface like this ought not matter in a debate of ideas, but defending Paul is a special case): this listing of creedal nuttiness seems as pointless as a list of "true" libertarian beliefs,a s if the agrregate promotes you into a class and the details don't matter.

Its ludicrous to say that trade agreements do not undermine sovereignty. Anyone who has followed the taxation of US companies' foreign activities knows that Congress has repeatedly had to "fix" its legislation to comply with the WTO and a non-U.S. body has fined teh U.S. government repeatedly. Plus, an international body recently stripped U.S. companies of copyright protection becaus eof our governments protection of domestic gambling interest. NAFTA truckers, etc etc. Bush was right not to sign on to the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto protocol because they would undermine sovereignty. The administrations understands this simpel point.

Similarly, evolutions is just a theory and its a theory that posits a purpose behind natural selection (in favor of species survival or, in Dawkins version, of gene survival). That purpose is more a function of the model (this category is a species, this category has survived, ergo it selected for survival) then any real evidence. These investigations are in their infancy and healthy agnosticism is warranted.

This is not say he's a good candidate, but trying to tar him as more of a wacko than Hilary, Guliani, Romney or Huckabee seems more personal than well thought out.
1.11.2008 2:58pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
Does the President's opinion on evolution have any policy relevance? I suppose he could try to defund science-based biology research or require states to scrap scientific biology for creationist biology as a condition of federal education funding, but that's has so little chance of succeeding that I don't see why he'd even try.
1.11.2008 2:59pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Is someone who doesn't believe in macroevolution "anti-science"? I don't think so, because macroevolution isn't really "science," in the sense that it doesn't conform to the scientific method. There aren't any testable hypotheses.

Chalk this up as the most ignorant statement of the day as it displays both a misunderstanding of evolution and the scientific method.
1.11.2008 3:01pm
advisory opinion:
Ilya, that was meant to be humorous. Maybe the irony was a bit subtle . . .

I concur completely with your views on the Ron Paul phenomenon.
1.11.2008 3:02pm
RL:
I would not use a candidate's views on evolution as a litmus test for whether they should be president. I would, however, be influenced by their opinion on whether their personal beliefs are relevant to the election.

In my view, this is one litmus test that RP actually passes.
1.11.2008 3:12pm
Lugo:
Not only is his candidacy turning out to be a flop politically, as I predicted.

What a courageous, contrarian prediction! You really went out on a limb with that one. I congratulate you that your willingness to buck the conventional wisdom was validated.
1.11.2008 3:14pm
Steve Erickson (mail):
I would have been more impressed if someone had asked RP if he thought the theory of evolution had been proven. One isn't suppose to "believe" in science, just as one cannot "prove" the existence of God (that's why it's called faith).
1.11.2008 3:14pm
Mark Field (mail):

I'd very much like anyone who "believes in the theory of evolution" to explain brielfly the most widely accepted models of speciation. Most of the sneering at creationists, Intelligent Design folks, etc., is based entirely on appeals to authority.


The fact that you ask this on a legal-political blog instead of actually researching the issue in, say, a biology text or an encyclopedia strongly suggests to me that you aren't interested in an answer. In the unlikely event that you are, I suggest beginning with this link.
1.11.2008 3:16pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):

I don't think so, because macroevolution isn't really "science," in the sense that it doesn't conform to the scientific method. There aren't any testable hypotheses.


Yes there are.

Hypothesis: if macroevolution is ture, there will be transitional fossils.

Test: Search for transitional fossils.

Result: Confirmed.

As for whether this is relevant to Paul's qualifications for the Presidency, I have to say absolutely yeah -- I want someone who's scientifically literate making decisions about stem-cell research.
1.11.2008 3:16pm
Gary McGath (www):
Paul's lack of understanding of biological science doesn't bother me much insofar as he's a presidential candidate. It does make me wonder about his medical training, though.
1.11.2008 3:19pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
As for whether this is relevant to Paul's qualifications for the Presidency, I have to say absolutely yeah -- I want someone who's scientifically literate making decisions about stem-cell research.
Right: scientists. Not the government. That's the point.
1.11.2008 3:24pm
fishbane (mail):
I'd very much like anyone who "believes in the theory of evolution" to explain brielfly [sic] the most widely accepted models of speciation.

Look here.

As J.F. notes, the way you are posing the question betrays a lack of understanding about how science works.

...Just to add, calling defenses of "evolution" (which is really just used as shorthand for a cluster of different areas of biological inquiry) nothing but appeals to authority is really rich, considering that creationism/ID just boils down to nothing but "...and then God did it," which has to be the ultimate empty appeal to authority.
1.11.2008 3:25pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I don't know whether I prefer a president who doesn't believe in evolution because it conflicts with his faith or one who believes in evolution because smart people tell him that it's true."

Watch out for those smart people. Some of them may be physicists telling him about the yield of a nuke. Others might be doctors telling him about bird flu precautions. Some others may be informimg him of problems in the sub-prime market. Others may be telling him about famine in Africa, tsunami warning systems, unemployment, ...

Perhaps it's really better to find these answers in the bible? But not from smart bible experts.
1.11.2008 3:37pm
Colin (mail):
The only thing I love more than reading ignorant and pretentious blathering about evolution is the Quixotic struggle against that ignorance. Thanks, J.F., Mark, and fishbane.

Ilya said, It's not a conspiracy if it's completely out in the open.

Now I'm curious what the secret is that makes the Volokh Conspiracy a conspiracy.
1.11.2008 3:38pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I would have been more impressed if someone had asked RP if he thought the theory of evolution had been proven."

I'd be very interested in hearing about any scientific theory that has been proven. What constitutes proof?
1.11.2008 3:41pm
r78:

The fuller version of the quote posted by R78 is interesting, but in no way contradicts the short version I put in the post. It doesn't change the fact that Paul denies the validity of the theory of evolution.

A couple of things. One can summarize Paul's view however one wants, but quotes should be completely accurate. Otherwise it is not a quote. I hope your recognize that.

And as much as I hate creationist nonsense, the "theory of evolution" does not disprove the belief that the universe was created by some guy with a white beard wearing a robe - any more than it disproves the belief that the flying spaghetti monster was the Creator.
1.11.2008 3:42pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I'd be very interested in hearing about any scientific theory that has been proven.

You first need to understand that scientific theories are not proven. A scientific theory is not a conjecture to be proved (I have a theory that X committed the crime) but rather a model that is a basis for testing observations. Gravity is a theory, things will always fall towards the earth (at least around here they do), but we're still not exactly sure why.

We've gone over this many times.
1.11.2008 3:50pm
Jason F:
Follow-up questions for Dr. Paul:

As a physician, do you find it problematic if one of your patients does not complete a prescribed course of antibiotics? Why or why not?
1.11.2008 3:50pm
John Kunze:
Ilya --

You made clear in your first post that you don't agree with Ron Paul's foreign policy views. But that is the major thing Paul has gotten traction on, so of course you may think his candidacy has done more harm than good.

But those of us libertarians who broadly support his principled non-interventionist foreign policy can still see his candidacy as a net plus.

No reasonable person who looks at the evidence currently available will conclude that he wrote the offending material. On the other hand he was negligent in letting others use his name without vetting how they used it. How negligent depends on how long it went on, and that is not so clear. One account argued that the worst stuff happened over a few months and others claimed it lasted a decade.

Ron Paul's candidacy is a rare opportunity for getting some libertarian ideas into a public debate. No one else was willing and able to do the job and for all his limitations, I don't forsee someone better stepping up four or eight years from now.

It is unfortunate this has happened. But his run may still make it easier for someone else to run in the future. Thsee newsletters may not matter the next time we get the chance to support a libertarian in the primaries, but lets hope libertarians keep our noses clean.
-------------
And if we condemn Paul for being "willing to associate with the sorts of people who believe these things", lets also condemn those who hang around the incumbent butchers of the Constitution, or those who pander about doubling Git-mo, or who think two million Americans in jail is law and order.
1.11.2008 3:51pm
Gramarye:
So you think two million convicted criminals back out on the streets would better serve the goal of law and order?
1.11.2008 4:06pm
fishbane (mail):
So you think two million convicted criminals back out on the streets would better serve the goal of law and order?

Not speaking for John, but personally, it is my view that nonviolent people convicted of a crime that has been to possess a substance officially frowned upon shouldn't be considered criminals in the first place.

I realize that some believe that even wrong laws should be followed. As a practical matter, I practice that, because I don't wish to be thrown in prison. As a moral matter, however, wrong laws are wrong, and should be opposed. Even from a utilitarian perspective, imprisoning people for consensual activity is perverse - otherwise productive people are taken out of the workforce, and tax dollars are spent to keep them unproductive (unless you're a fan of prison labor... but that's getting even more off-topic).
1.11.2008 4:15pm
Hoosier:
Sean O'Hara--THANK YOU! I don't know how many times I've had to make that point. In addition, the theory of Evolution was on the table before the excavations of the Cambrian and Silurian strata in Wales. And when they were discovered and investigated, the thesis was again validated: Increasing complexity over the course of time.

The emphasis on Evolution being a theory is just not convincing. The idea that you and I are made of atoms is a theory. "Theory" in science doesn't mean something vague. A theory is a systematic attempt to explain the relationship of large amounts of data (i.e, facts). On that note: Evolution is a theory. But biological progression is a *fact*. You can *observe it* in the rock layers. And it is consistent from continent to continent.
1.11.2008 4:21pm
bittern (mail):
If the government is going to do some global warming mitigation, science education, disease eradication, etc., then I'd sure prefer a president who has an idea how fast or slow evolution happens. If the president wants no tariffs, no foreign entanglements, and precious little government, I don't see how it matters what he thinks of any results of science.
1.11.2008 4:24pm
Hoosier:
J F THOMAS--"Gravity is a theory, things will always fall towards the earth (at least around here they do), but we're still not exactly sure why."

But this is untrue! Objeckts fall to the Earthe through that Propensitie of the Cosmick Spheres to generate unfelt Windes, that, blowing and pushing, impell the Objeckts Earh Wards.
1.11.2008 4:28pm
John Kunze:
People who repeatedly commit violent crime need to be locked up, so I don't propose to let all two million out of jail. The point was that two million is too many and many would never have committed a crime but for the failed war on drugs.

Sending them to jail destroys their ability to prosper in legal occupations while putting them in an environment to learn a full range of bad behavior. We have no choice when someone has been violent in society, but sending drug users to jail is a crime. The war on drugs is perpetuating an underclass and wasting lives.
1.11.2008 4:44pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
It also creates the risk of tarring libertarianism by associating it in the public mind with bigotry, conspiracy-mongering, and xenophobic hostility to free trade and immigration (though the latter, unfortunately, is actually quite popular even outside far-right circles).

If people are becoming hostile to "immigration" as you claim, that is only because the laws are not being enforced, and the many, many people who object to "illegal immigration" are beginning to lump other foreign-born in with the illegal immigrants.

I always heard, if you don't like the laws, work to change the laws. But somehow I never heard the answer was to BREAK the laws, or refuse to enforce them.

Permitting illegal immigration sadly harms all those who did it right and are not legal American citizens, or legal visitors here.

Please Ilya: Make the distinction between "illegal" immigration that people oppose and legal, which most people overall still don't object to. Not yet anyway, but again, looking the other way as the immigration laws continue to be broken, and lumping them all into the same boat surely does none of the foreign-born any favors.
1.11.2008 4:59pm
Aeon J. Skoble (mail):
So we have to choose between (several) people who (claim to) understand biology, but have zero understanding of political philospophy and economics, and one whose science seems weak (despite having an MD) but who has a better understanding of how markets work and what the Constitution means. Seems like an imperfect, but easy, choice.
1.11.2008 4:59pm
MDJD2B (mail):

Paul's lack of understanding of biological science doesn't bother me much insofar as he's a presidential candidate. It does make me wonder about his medical training, though.

Dr. Paul went to one of the best med schools in the US (Duke) and took what was then and now one of the best residencies in OB/GYN (Pittsburgh--McGee-Womens). I don't think he ever passed his boards, though --at least he doesn't seem to be a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

And there are no questions about evolution on the Board exam.

(No-- I don't think OB/GYN boards or ACOG fellolwship is a relevant qualification for the presidency, though if it were, I would consider running!)
1.11.2008 5:18pm
FatDrunkAndStupid (mail):
I understand characterizing the newsletters as containing what could be construed as racist sentiment, but where is the justification for anti-semitism charge? Unless one equates an unwillingness to conjoin our national security with that of Israel's as defacto evidence of anti-semitism" I just don't see anything that supports that point. The newsletters were probably written by the Rockwell crowd, who all work for an institute named after a famous Jewish Economist, and Rockwell himself practically worships his late mentor Murray Rothbard. To accuse these folks of anti-semitism seems a bit absurd. I know its a minor point, but if you are going to dredge up these decade old newsletter in an attempt to tar Paul, at least be fair about their contents.
1.11.2008 5:33pm
c.gray (mail):

who has a better understanding of how markets work


Uhuh.

I read a transcript of the South Carolina debate. Ron Paul claimed that the nation is entering a recession because the fed held interest rates too low for too long. He then implied that this meant the appropriate government response to the impending recession would be to drive up interest rates. The latter should tell anyone with basic economic knowledge just about all they need to know about Paul's putative mastery of "Austrian economics" and the market.

Paul was a crypto-racist in the 80s and early 90s. He's morphed into a pseudo-libertarian for the early 21st century. Different songbook. But playing with the same cracked instruments.
1.11.2008 5:41pm
neurodoc:
nothing but appeals to authority is really rich, considering that creationism/ID just boils down to nothing but "...and then God did it," which has to be the ultimate empty appeal to authority.
fishbane, you beat me to the punch with that answer to the "appeal to authority" nonsense. You might have taken it somewhat further, though, noting that "creationism" amounts to "hearsay," which is a generally suspect form of evidence; and that there are multiple, conflicting accounts, none with much to support them other than the exhortation to "believe this," and a good deal to rebut them. (Gee, this makes me wonder whether I really am the agnostic I think I am.)
1.11.2008 5:52pm
Cornellian (mail):
I don't believe that scientific illiteracy on this issue is an absolute bar for supporting a presidential candidate. However, for reasons that Bailey explains in his article, it's definitely a negative.

I believe it is an absolute bar, particularly when the candidate in question is a physician who can hardly claim that science is too difficult for him to understand and particularly when he's not a candidate like Romney where you can dismiss the statement as mere pandering that the candidate doesn't really believe.
1.11.2008 6:02pm
Cornellian (mail):
RP lost any hope of getting my vote when I learned that he supports repealing the Fourteenth Amendment's grant of birthright citizenship. That looks even more sinister now that I know of his support for (or at least refusal to distance himself from) this sort of racist bullshit.

I thought he denied supporting that.
1.11.2008 6:03pm
happylee:
How is being against managed trade (which is what NAFTA is) the same as being against free trade? If it was up to Paul goods would flow absolutely freely into this country. Where's the problem with that? There is, however, a problem with creating a supra-national agency to regulate trade. NAFTA is not free trade. For this position Somin labels him a rightwing nut?

Ditto on immigration. When is the last time Somin took his kids to the ER at 2am, only to find 100 mexicans waiting for routine medical treatment, for FREE. That's Paul's whole point, as long as we are offering free, free, free stuff, we have to watch the number of people who are allowed in. For this Somin labels him a nativist?

Basically, Somin disagrees with Paul's sincere and well-reasoned positions, and for this reason Paul is not a libertarian.
1.11.2008 6:04pm
bittern (mail):

When is the last time Somin took his kids to the ER at 2am, only to find 100 mexicans waiting for routine medical treatment, for FREE.

HappyLee, I think the question is:
When was the last time Somin took his kids to the ER at 2am, only to find 100 mexicans waiting for routine medical treatment, for FREE.
1.11.2008 6:08pm
bittern (mail):

I understand characterizing the newsletters as containing what could be construed as racist sentiment, but where is the justification for anti-semitism charge?

at least be fair about their contents.

Racist, but not anti-semitic, thank god!
1.11.2008 6:11pm
Lonely Capitalist (mail):
What kind of cults don't believe in evolution in the 21st century? I thought even the mainstream religions came around to saying that the 7 days of creation in the Bible could be 7 billion years and God could have done his work through evolution or something like that.
1.11.2008 6:16pm
bittern (mail):

I always heard, if you don't like the laws, work to change the laws. But somehow I never heard the answer was to BREAK the laws, or refuse to enforce them.

Gary Anderson, spend more time listening.

I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe--"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which the will have.

It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.

Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth--certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Henry David Thoreau, 1849.
1.11.2008 6:33pm
AK (mail):
Hm. Apparently I didn't make myself clear.

I'm actually quite familiar with the models for speciation (I have an advanced degree in biochemistry), and think they're okay, but every model gets better over time. The reason that I posed my challenge is not to get links to science websites from lawyers. I posed it as a rhetorical question for those who think themselves smarter than those who don't believe in macroevolution. For the most part you don't understand the science except in the most abstract sense. You haven't examined the primary research. You believe what you believe because you believe what smart people tell you to believe. That takes no intellectual curiosity at all. You happen to be right, but that doesn't make you any smarter than those who don't believe in evolution.

And no, macroevolution isn't science. It's Natural History. You can't reproduce macroevolution in the lab. (Well, you could, given enough time, but as of today no one has.) Until someone demonstrates speciation in laboratory settings, we will no more "prove" macroevolution than we can "prove" that George Washington existed. Go ahead, try to prove, in the lab, that George Washington existed. Or, for that matter, that the universe wasn't created a second ago.

If someone doesn't believe in the results of reproduced scientific experiments, he's dangerous, because he's detatched from present reality. If someone does believe in reproduced scientific experiements, but doesn't believe in untestable Natural History, he's incorrect, but not nearly as dangerous.
1.11.2008 8:22pm
Cornellian (mail):
What kind of cults don't believe in evolution in the 21st century? I thought even the mainstream religions came around to saying that the 7 days of creation in the Bible could be 7 billion years and God could have done his work through evolution or something like that.

Well it is hard to believe that the term "day" in the Genesis account of creation could have meant the period from sunrise to sunset as it does today since according to Genesis the sun wasn't created until the fourth day.
1.11.2008 8:27pm
AK (mail):
Yes there are.

Hypothesis: if macroevolution is ture, there will be transitional fossils.

Test: Search for transitional fossils.


Doesn't explain the mechanism for evolution, which is really what is at issue. Try again.
1.11.2008 8:30pm
fishbane (mail):
Hm. Apparently I didn't make myself clear.

This does make more sense, thank you for the clarification.

The reason that I posed my challenge is not to get links to science websites from lawyers.

I'm not a lawyer. Just clarifying.

I posed it as a rhetorical question for those who think themselves smarter than those who don't believe in macroevolution. For the most part you don't understand the science except in the most abstract sense. You haven't examined the primary research. You believe what you believe because you believe what smart people tell you to believe. That takes no intellectual curiosity at all. You happen to be right, but that doesn't make you any smarter than those who don't believe in evolution.

You're making an awful lot of assumptions about some "you" out there. In fact, you're correct that I don't have a degree in bio. You're incorrect, if you were referring to me, that I haven't read primary sources. It did take me a few months to slog through it, but Arnold and Lande informs my thoughts on the matter. Rice and Salt have demonstrated speciation in the lab, as did Dodd.

I suppose there's a solipsistic argument to be made that, since I have not personally reproduced these experiments, I'm not qualified to comment. If that's what you'd like to argue, I hope you never have to depend upon a lawyer or accountant. Perhaps this is what you were getting at with "arguments to authority". But if reviewing what others have done and forming opinions on them are out, what are we left with? If that is your argument, in a way, you're actually implicitly endorsing the Flying Spaghetti Monster at the same time you're arguing that the commonly understood models of speciation are correct, which is... odd.

Nerodoc: I try to limit my arguments, although I don't always succeed. As for your last statement, personally, I try to explain my opinion on a higer power as: I am agnostic, in that I can't know the answer to what is fundamentally a metahuman question about the existence of non-detectable entities. As far as belief goes, I'm an atheist. And yes, that annoys both my faithful and faithless friends.
1.11.2008 8:52pm
Hoosier:
AK-->>Doesn't explain the mechanism for evolution, which is really what is at issue. Try again.<<

No. That is NOT waht's "really at issue." One was NOT justified in rejecting the theory of universal gravitation just because Newton hadn't a clue HOW it worked. But more to the point: This entire debate has been about evolution, NOT "natural selection." Evolution is the process, natural selection is the mechanism. Even if you were able to refure Darwin's proposed mechanism, we are still left with evolution. (Lamarck predated Darwin, after all.)

Now, I suppose you'll explain why I'm insufficiently sophisticated to understand your arguments. But how can you call natural history "untestable"? Please refer to my previous post regading the predictive capacities of evolutionary theory. Or have a look at some of Thomas Huxley's work. Theories are tested when their explanatory power is applied to new realms. If they explain the newly-observable facts better than any other theory, then they have proved themselves.

Final point: Is paleontology NOT a science? If not, why not?
1.11.2008 9:36pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?

So you think it's unjust to regulate and account for the number of people who come into the country?

I'd say you're supporting anarchy there my friend, plus inviting public health troubles (all HIV positive Haitians, c'mon in!) and courting the fall of our representative government system if we don't have accurate numbers.

Not to mention the humanitarian crisises such as when a hurricane hits and local officials have no idea exactly how many bodies and souls they will be called on to provide for.

Thankfully, I don't know too many libertarians who advocate opening the borders to any and all comers, whenever and wherever they want to come in and establish themselves.

If you don't like the immigration laws, work to change them. But don't tell me it's somehow "unjust" for a country to regulate and account for its own citizens. That's the dumbest thing I evah hoid!
1.11.2008 9:38pm
supposedEuropeanUniontooIguess:



supposed plan to form a "North American Union,






How out of touch with reality are you?
Google Search
1,230,000 for "North american union"
pick one....read...enjoy fasicm.
1.11.2008 9:39pm
Waldensian (mail):

You believe what you believe because you believe what smart people tell you to believe. That takes no intellectual curiosity at all. You happen to be right, but that doesn't make you any smarter than those who don't believe in evolution.

Actually, it makes us mindless scientist-following sheep at least slightly smarter than the evolution deniers, doesn't it?

Consider that we brainless scientist worshipers have at least some reason to believe that things like the scientific method, peer-reviewed journals, academic credentials, and the competitive nature of the scientific process -- for all their occasional faults -- can sometimes result, and in fact have often resulted, in truthful, factual, and useful answers to at least some of life's persistent questions.

Thus, I may not know enough math to make change, but I'm reasonably confident that Fermat's Last Theorem has in fact been proved. And I'm really not totally stupid for thinking that it has been proved; indeed I have some good reason to think that's the case.

Now: explain to me why Pat Robertson, for example, ought to be listened to when it comes to describing the origin of species or, more generally, the will of the Alleged Almighty. I can't think of a single reason his views ought to be, shall we say, taken as Gospel.

Denial of evolution isn't an "appeal to authority" -- it is (at best) a surrender of reason to a non-authority in a context that we know to be utterly indifferent to evidence and rational inquiry.

You see the distinction I'm getting at, I hope, even though I'm such a flippin' idiot.
1.11.2008 10:16pm
Ted10 (mail):
Glad to know you don't think scientific illiteracy on this issue is an absolute bar for supporting a presidential candidate. Were it so, America would not have elected a President to date. (OK, maybe Clinton)
1.11.2008 10:21pm
Ilya Somin:
How is being against managed trade (which is what NAFTA is) the same as being against free trade? If it was up to Paul goods would flow absolutely freely into this country. Where's the problem with that? There is, however, a problem with creating a supra-national agency to regulate trade. NAFTA is not free trade. For this position Somin labels him a rightwing nut?


First of all, NAFTA is not a "supranational agency." Second, NAFTA and other agreements like it have made trade far freer than it was before by massively slashing tariffs, quotas, and the like. The choice before Paul when he voted against these agreements was not a choice between complete free trade and NAFTA, but a choice between NAFTA and a far less free status quo. Finally, note that in the article I linked to Paul opposes NAFTA and other such agreements because they supposedly infringe "sovereignty" (i.e. - because they undermine one of the powers of the state). That is hardly a libertarian position.

Ditto on immigration. When is the last time Somin took his kids to the ER at 2am, only to find 100 mexicans waiting for routine medical treatment, for FREE. That's Paul's whole point, as long as we are offering free, free, free stuff, we have to watch the number of people who are allowed in. For this Somin labels him a nativist?

Paul has never said that he would be in favor of increasing immigration if various welfare benefits for illegals were abolished. He has made it clear that he is in favor of cracking down on immigration regardless. Moreover, the claim about the 100 Mexicans is exactly the kind of nativism I was condemning. Among other things, it ignores the fact that illegal immigrants pay a lot more in taxes than they consume in welfare state benefits, as demonstrated by studies by the CBO, the Urban Institute, and others.
1.11.2008 11:23pm
SenatorX (mail):
Over a decade ago I double majored in Botany and Plant Pathology. Though I went back to school soon after my degrees and went a different path (computers) I find it impossible for a creationist's theories to compete with what I learned. There is deep knowledge in the natural sciences. I remember classes where we would start with the earliest single cells and follow the changes all the way to the flowering plants. Most of my classes had labs too. "God did it" while not a meaningless theory is just not in the same ballpark.
1.11.2008 11:29pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Here's a hypothesis: Paul, like most politicians, says things in part because his constituency needs to hear them. He does it in order for them to pay attention long enough to hear the other things Paul finds more important.

To get the red state hoi polloi to listen to you these days you have to come out against immigration, coded as "illegal" immigration. Paul HAS said he'd personally favor bringing in more immigrants once welfare is ended.

To get the red state Evangelicals to listen to you, you have to express doubts about evolution, which Paul did even though going to an excellent medical school.

Why does Paul do that, if these are not his sincere beliefs? (Why does Clinton talk about the importance of public education when she sent her daughter to a private school?). So he can get a greater than 5% showing in the polls and be allowed a stage to speak about what IS important: the link between having a limited government with low taxes and the necessity of having a non-interventional foreign policy, something many so-called libertarians today no longer appreciate, though it IS a traditional libertarian view and principle.

Does this explain Paul's positions? I don't know. As I say, it is merely a hypothesis. I grant this hypothesis is less appealing to me post-TNR than it was when I first developed it a few months ago.
1.12.2008 2:10am
fishbane (mail):
Thoughtful -

So, you seem to be implicitly accepting a Straussian approach - lying to constituents about one's belief, while perhaps distasteful, is needed to achieve office, because the proles need red meat to allow one to later act against their apparent interests and do what Really Needs To Be Done. Is that correct?

I don't really follow the parallel with Clinton there - it is perfectly consistent to want a baseline education for all while also taking advantage of greater opportunities, should you have them. I can think of a couple HLS graduates, several MIT grads, and at least one Yale law grad (but he would, wouldn't he?) whom I've heard explicitly support public education.

Just because you don't eat government cheese every night at the dinner table doesn't mean you're inconsistent for not wishing that people were starving in the streets.

(And I readily admit that was one of the worst sentences I've constructed recently. Rather than fix it, I'm going to paste it into my journal, as an example of what not to write again, and leave here as a cautionary example.)
1.12.2008 2:45am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
AK said:

Doesn't explain the mechanism for evolution, which is really what is at issue. Try again.
Hoosier said:
No. That is NOT waht's "really at issue." One was NOT justified in rejecting the theory of universal gravitation just because Newton hadn't a clue HOW it worked.

We don't have to know how gravity works to know that it exists because it can be observed in real time. Evolution cannot be observed in real time; thus establishing its very existence requires some other form of evidence.
1.12.2008 5:35am
fishbane (mail):
Alan K.: When you use the referent "evolution", it isn't clear what you're referring to. Could you please indicate if you're disputing speciation, selection, drift, mutation, variance, or some other aspect of biologic change over time?

I have to add that it makes no sense to claim that "evolution" (whatever you're referring to - I'm assuming speciation, because that seems to be what sticks in most creationist's craws) doesn't happen in "real time". We happen to live in real time (as an insomniac, don't I know this right now), and speciation has been observed. If you are actually interested in the biology, and really not trolling, google for "T. mirus T. miscellus", for starters.

Of course, if you simply want to rehash silly, already refuted arguments, then please, carry on, and the rest of us will keep pointing to talk-origins, who have already done the heavy lifting of laboriously refuting all of the variations on the "and then God did it" argument, which is all the creationist/ID crowd seems to have to offer.

It still strikes me as astounding that folks are willing to deny the evil scary evolution theory at the same time they're willing to take drugs for heath benefits that exist because of the evil scary evolution theory. Or who knows. Maybe god invented pyrazinamide, and simply let the devil plant false memories about how it came to be, just like he did with those dinosaur bones, as a test of faith.
1.12.2008 6:11am
libertarian soldier (mail):
Ilya, Do you read the Economist on a regular basis? Because if you do you can frequently come across its opposition to all regional trade agreements--including NAFTA--based on the premise that they warp free markets and manage international trade, as opposed to freeing it up. My understanding of Paul's position on trade is he wants to limit/eliminate barriers to trade, such as tariffs and subsidies, which, again, is the Economist's position.
1.12.2008 8:18am
Waldensian (mail):

Maybe god invented pyrazinamide, and simply let the devil plant false memories about how it came to be, just like he did with those dinosaur bones, as a test of faith.

A vastly improved sentence. :)
1.12.2008 9:18am
fishbane (mail):
A vastly improved sentence. :)

Yet another example of evolution in action. Ahem.
1.12.2008 1:51pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Does anyone deny the geologic record of change in life forms?
1.12.2008 2:57pm
c.j. ammenheuser:
Is Dolly NOT an example of macroevolution's possibilty?
1.12.2008 3:19pm
Waldensian (mail):

Does anyone deny the geologic record of change in life forms?

If you mean "does anyone think that the earth is 6000 years old and that Tyrannosaurus Rex was on the Ark with Noah," the answer is apparently yes.
1.12.2008 4:48pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Ilya, Do you read the Economist on a regular basis? Because if you do you can frequently come across its opposition to all regional trade agreements--including NAFTA--based on the premise that they warp free markets and manage international trade, as opposed to freeing it up. My understanding of Paul's position on trade is he wants to limit/eliminate barriers to trade, such as tariffs and subsidies, which, again, is the Economist's position.
Libertarian soldier: it's fine to argue in print that we should get better deals than NAFTA. An editorialist can pick between any positions he feels like, and declare one to be the best. But Paul wasn't given a choice to vote for NAFTA or true free trade; he was given a choice to vote for NAFTA or less free trade, and he voted for less free trade.
1.12.2008 4:58pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
When you use the referent "evolution", it isn't clear what you're referring to. Could you please indicate if you're disputing speciation, selection, drift, mutation, variance, or some other aspect of biologic change over time?
Actually I'm not disputing evolution. I am simply saying that the means for establishing that evolution exists is different from the means for establishing that gravity exists. We can directly observe the effects of gravity. We can watch stuff fall to Earth while it is happening. We cannot observe evolution or any of its components as they are happening. That statement does not prove or disprove evolution; it simply states that the scientific methodology for establishing its existence is diferent than that for establishing the existence of gravity.

The rest of fishbane's post is completely irrelevant, since whether one believes or disbelieves evolution has no bearing on my thesis.

In comments sections I prefer to keep discussion focused on a specific topic. Comments threads have a limited lifespan, and participants have limited Internet time. The evolution vs. creation debate as a whole is just too big for a comments section. There's only so much space and time, so ideally such a debate should limit itself to a tiny slice of it - say, if evolution is falsifiable.

Ilya's article is about Ron Paul more than it is about evolution, so we've kinda strayed off the true topic, which is whether Paul's views on evolution are politically relevant. They are if you insist that the government should mandate them into curricula. Paul does not; he is consistently libertarian on that issue.
1.13.2008 3:26am
Waldensian (mail):

We cannot observe evolution or any of its components as they are happening.

Is "near" real time fast enough for you?
1.13.2008 9:33am
CJColucci:
That a politician is ignorant of some bit of science, even an important bit, isn't particularly interesting. Science is a hard, specialized field, and not their business. Could any of the candidates make sense out of black holes? And how many scientists could explain the Rule Against Perpetuities?
What's wrong here is that Paul, and all the other candidates who don't "beieve" in evolution, set themselves up as judges of matters where they must, if at all self-aware, know themselves to be incompetent to have an opinion. I don't "believe" in evolution by natural selection. I know that the scientists who have studied the matter are persuaded that it is true, I know, at a very basic level, some of the reasons they are so persuaded, and I see no reason to doubt the scientific consensus. I know that there are some disputed technical issues within the subject, and the experts have their differing reasons for "believing" one side or the other on the disputed issues. But I don't have, and don't consider myself qualified to have, a "belief" on those matters.
If Ron Paul or Mike Huckabee think they have any business having "beliefs" on subjects they know nothing about, and reject the consensus of experts in the process, like evolution, what else do they think they have any business having "beliefs" about, rejecting what real experts know, and, quite possibly, enacting into law? Ignorance of specialized knowledge isn't a problem, assertive ignorance is.
1.13.2008 11:45am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Waldensian's example is good, AK, but there are even more compelling ones, involving metafauna.

For example, I have interviewed a researcher who has documented speciation in spiders over a period of 20 years, well within one researcher's lifetime and even shorter than the period required to determine, say, changes in climate.

Although, some people (like me) deny human-induced climate change, I don't know anyone who denies that climate changes just because it happens on a time-scale longer than one human lifetime.
1.13.2008 5:01pm
Andrew Taylor (mail):
I've just stumbled across this. It appears that the heat is getting to Lew Rockwell, so he's sending his surrogates out to defend him. And, not surprisingly, the man who won't come clean about authoring the Ron Paul newsletters is (through his surrogates) demonstrating that he is ready to throw Paul under the bus:

"The burden of the newsletter content is on Ron Paul, the man whose name graces the covers, and shame on you scoundrel 'libertarians' for automatically drawing the assumption that Lew Rockwell must have, had to be, surely was involved in writing those passages that have you all so horrified. Yet you claim that this man, who has worked so hard - on his own time and dollar - to open peoples' minds to the more radical aspects of freedom and free markets, is 'destroying your movement,' as if this is some juvenile brotherhood of badges, pin pricks, sworn statements, and membership cards."

You can read the entire tiresome screed here:

http://www.karendecoster.com/blog/archives/002714.html

By the way, did anyone else not know that Rockwell was accused some time ago of having an affair with Cindy Sheehan? Google it if you want to read about it. I thought good paleos weren't so morally lax, what with being "traditionalist Catholics" and all that.
1.13.2008 11:10pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
The starting point of gravitational theory is a process that everybody has seen and recognized: an unsupported weight will fall from a height. The layperson needs no explanation to grasp that gravity exists. Evolutionary processes, if they exist, are invisible to the layman's eye.

Establishing the existence of evolution requires something a lot more complex than "Watch what happens when I drop this rock." The scientist must explain something that can't be visually demonstrated in the course of a half-second. And the layperson must be sufficiently equipped to fact-check the evolutionary (or anti-evolutionary, in the case of Professor Behe) scientist's claims.

Conclusion: a science based on something that everyone has consciously witnessed cannot be compared to a science based on something that has not.

All I'm saying is compare apples to apples.
1.14.2008 8:43am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
Correction: Michael Behe is an evolutionist, albeit a rather unorthodox one:

Unlike William A. Dembski and others in the intelligent design movement, Behe accepts the common descent of species, including that humans descended from other primates, although he states that common descent does not by itself explain the differences between species.
1.14.2008 9:54am
Ron Paul Will Pardon All Nonviolent Drug Offenders:
While many blacks sit in prison for nothing but using some drugs, a law professor blog and its evolutionist readers are up in arms about Ron Paul not being an evolutionist. They can now have a reason to withdraw their support from the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. for his position that God created the universe. Ron Paul has stated he will pardon all nonviolent drug offenders. Nonviolent offenders sitting in jail is the real issue that matters to people not in an ivory tower of conformity.
1.14.2008 2:49pm