Friday, May 27, 2005

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Arab success in the US

Glenn Reynolds points to an interesting article here about how successful Arabs are in the US. In fact, according to the article the average Arab in the US has an average income and education higher than the average American. It would be interesting to see them compared to the average Jew in the US, but I'm just not motivated enough to look it up right now.

It's interesting on its face, but I have to wonder if this isn't skewed by some huge outliers. After all, an Arab who can make it to the US was probably doing really well at home already.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The good old days - they were terrible!

It's hard to go wrong heading over to Dean Esmay's place, but this post in particular will be memorable.

Nowadays there's no excuse for letting this living history leave us without documentation. I just lost a WWII veteran a week ago, and one of these days I'll have to debrief a woman who was born in pre-Nazi Germany who *wasn't* Jewish (however unsympathetic they may be, if you think the average German citizen had it easy you're mistaken).

For a taste of a still earlier time there's always the Otto Bettmann classic "The Good Old Days - They were Terrible!", or a number of books by that old lefty Studs Terkel.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


If you should ever see a jackass wearing a mortarboard exiting a biology department, it might well answer to the name "Hoppe". From a post attacking someone who dares to dissent from evolutionary dogma, quoth Richard Hoppe:
What it means is that Rubinstein is pig-ignorant of biology, is what it means. He has not the slightest clue, and passes off his clueless “best inference”, grounded on false premises, as a statement about evolutionary theory when in fact it’s a statement about his ignorance of the theory he egregiously misrepresents.

I am less interested in the specific errors, misrepresentations, and plain dumb crap in Rubinstein’s piece than I am in the question of how a presumably intelligent person could bring himself to publicly display such breathtaking ignorance, when the resources necessary to rectify that ignorance are as readily available to his readers as to himself. I am frankly puzzled. Does he really think his readers are as ignorant as he is and that they can’t (or won’t) do a tiny bit of reading on their own? (Don’t answer that!)
Is this how evolutionary biologists discuss their field? Venting my eye - the rest isn't much better, and it's unworthy of anyone claiming the appellation "scientist" or "gentleman".

About every discussion of evolution on the Web, including the one cited above, winds up with someone pointing to This is an interesting website which gathers a lot of useful information about evolutionary biology in one place with the alleged intent of contributing toward discussions of evolution vs. creation.

One hopes that Professor Hoppe approves of the following, inasmuch as he linked to the page:
The literature on observed speciations events is not well organized. I found only a few papers that had an observation of a speciation event as the author's main point (e.g. Weinberg, et al. 1992). In addition, I found only one review that was specifically on this topic (Callaghan 1987). This review cited only four examples of speciation events. Why is there such a seeming lack of interest in reporting observations of speciation events?

In my humble opinion, four things account for this lack of interest. First, it appears that the biological community considers this a settled question. Many researchers feel that there are already ample reports in the literature. Few of these folks have actually looked closely. To test this idea, I asked about two dozen graduate students and faculty members in the department where I'm a student whether there were examples where speciation had been observed in the literature. Everyone said that they were sure that there were. Next I asked them for citings or descriptions. Only eight of the people I talked to could give an example, only three could give more than one. But everyone was sure that there were papers in the literature.

Second, most biologists accept the idea that speciation takes a long time (relative to human life spans). Because of this we would not expect to see many speciation events actually occur. The literature has many more examples where a speciation event has been inferred from evidence than it has examples where the event is seen. This is what we would expect if speciation takes a long time.

Third, the literature contains many instances where a speciation event has been inferred. The number and quality of these cases may be evidence enough to convince most workers that speciation does occur.

Finally, most of the current interest in speciation concerns theoretical issues. Most biologists are convinced that speciation occurs. What they want to know is how it occurs. One recent book on speciation (Otte and Endler 1989) has few example of observed speciation, but a lot of discussion of theory and mechanisms.
I guess you can't help but admire the faith of these biologists in things not actually observed. Sorry, but these inferences of speciation events simply aren't any more scientific than inferences of creation events.

And if the cases cited are in fact true examples of speciation events (whatever they might be - look around on the page), still there were only 4 of them. This, for a theory more than a century old, out of something like 1.7 million described species of an estimated 14 million altogether. I think I'd be scurrying my tochas back into the lab looking for more examples before I got all huffy about anyone daring to question my pet theory. And I'd like to see it apply a few more notches up the alleged evolutionary ladder from Drosophila (fruit flies). (another link on the page points to more alleged examples, but they have their flaws - maybe I'll get around to fleshing that out in a later post).

Let the crying begin: Some of the fossils are gone! We haven't found them all yet! Many of the species have soft bodies and are not adequately preserved in the fossil record! Evolutionary processes take a long time! And so on. The answer to them all is tough luck, kid - the evidence is supposed to be there to support your theory.

And if you don't have it, you have no right to complain when someone points it out and notes that other scientific fields are more demanding of their theories. Spend your time researching instead of defending your faith with content-free invective like Hoppe.