Replacing Darwin: AIG on Jeanson vs. Mays

@Herman_Mays Dr. Mays any comments?

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@evograd, take a look at this. I hope @Herman_Mays can comment.

This seems to be what I predicted:

And see what Jeanson writes:

Which presenter was correct? Again, from the feedback that I’ve received from viewers, few seemed to reach any conclusion on the validity of either participant’s content.

I do not doubt that is true. That means he is able to define precisely what this debate means, unchallenged, to his audience. That is a big win for him.

Yeah I saw it. He basically repeated what he said on AIG News a while back, plus reiterated the thesis of his book. Not impressed. It’s true the debate could have been more productive, and it probably was ambiguous enough for some AIG fans to come away thinking Jeanson had made valid points. I hope there’s a round 2 where more details get discussed. There’s plenty of material to go over about chapter 7 alone, as you know.

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That is why I think you need to really cut down immensely on your review. It is making precisely the same mistake, just in print.

I don’t see how. If someone reads through it carefully I think my points will come through loud and clear. The problem with the debate was that the first hour was mostly talking past each other and then there wasn’t a chance to get into the details. Nothing analogous to that in my review. As I said, maybe I’ll add a contents page and/or even a summarising TL;DR at the beginning, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to separate it out - the thrust of the argument gets lost.

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That is precisely the point. No one will read it through carefully. No one will rebut it point by point.

Instead one or two people will select the weakest point you make and present it as emblematic of the whole review. The longer it is the, weaker the weakest point.

Selectivity and salience is more important in my view.


Let’s be clear as to what is going on here. Jeanson’s book isn’t science. Period. It is a Trojan horse which ostensibly may look like science on the outside but on the inside is designed to lead people to narrow fundamentalist religious beliefs. That’s it. This isn’t really a debate at all. In the debate I was pointing out how divorced he is from the actual science and what actual tests of common ancestry have already been done. He simply had no meaningful response. None. I cited his mutation rates from the book and explained why they are wrong. He couldn’t explain. I noted that his use of mutation rate times time is absolutely not as he puts it, again in the book, a “standard coalescent equation”. He couldn’t explain. I even parroted his misguided explanation from the book that God created Adam and Eve and the first organisms to be heterozygous. That simply does not deal with the coalescent issue I brought up. It doesn’t matter that they were heterozygous. I repeated his explanation form the book that nested hierarchical patterns in the data are due to design from an omnoipotent God. He couldn’t explain. I even noted that in the papers I cited testing common ancestry they dealt explicitly with the very same source of function he is talking about (codon bias). He couldn’t explain. Even for very little but still substantive things like his claim that river otters are native to Hawaii he can not admit he’s demonstrably wrong.

Answers in Genesis has a constituency and they will no doubt view this through their religious lens. The point is there are now scientists who work in the field in which Jeanson is writing about who denounce this as nonsense. They can cry that they are victims all they like but they can not say that working scientists in the field he writes about in Replacing Darwin are taking it seriously as science. There is the debate, the follow up commentary on the Paulogia YouTube channel, there is my written review on my blog, evograd’s excellent written review of his own and soon I will have at least two reviews of Jeanson’s book published in leading science education journals (I’m already discussing with the editors).

So his following can claim he “won” as I fully expect they would. What he can’t claim is that the scientific community is finding any merit to the case he lays out in the book. Again it is a religious agenda disguised as science. That’s all.


Thanks for clarifying your strategy.

Which journals?

His mutation rates are totally off. At what time recording is this?

The equation he uses is a reasonable approximation (under some assumptions) of the standard molecular clock, right? Do you disagree?

Maybe that’s another reason to include a TL;DR summary of the key points - the key things that need to be rebutted to rescue Jeanson’s main thesis.

The same could be said for Jeanson’s book, of course. I could choose any one of the errors and say dismiss the entire book on the basis of that one error, but I’d hope most people wouldn’t exactly settle for that. I know that what I’d want is a point-by-point rebuttal. That’s what I’m writing, and I’m not going to concern myself too much with what the most dishonest or disinterested creationists will do to dismiss what I write.


Fair points @evograd. I suppose we need both approaches.

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I agree. A point by point rebuttal does serve a purpose. It leaves Jeanson, Ham and others without excuse if they continue to perpetuate the same errors. If they do they will be errors not of ignorance but of intentional deceptions. It also allows them the opportunity to accommodate and make changes if they are honestly seeking to provide a plausible or even compelling alternative theory. This is the best peer-review Jeanson is going to get since their own peers are not able to assess his materials.


I okay, @evograd I’m convinced. I still think that breaking this up into several posts is a much better way. Why not?

For reference, Part 1 of @Herman_Mays follow up is here:

And the Paulogia interview: YouTube.

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@Herman_Mays, you write:

Michael Behe is a full professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and a vociferous critic of evolution. Behe never lost his job as a result. He never was in violation of some employment contract requiring his full-throated support of evolution. Such agreements simply do not exist in academia. Now of course, any academic scientist promoting pseudoscience or committing outright fraud places their career in jeopardy. It is as difficult for a geologist who believes the earth is 6,000 years old to maintain a credible career in geology as it is for a geographer who thinks the earth is flat to maintain their career in geography. However, merely questioning anything in evolution is not considered grounds for termination in science. Questioning the empirical truth of a literal reading of the Biblical book of Genesis however is considered grounds for termination at Answers in Genesis.

Jeanson says he doesn’t get any royalties from sales of Replacing Darwin and that “the leadership” prior to publishing approved its release. No one in academia would agree to such terms. Actual academics deservedly receive royalties from the books and textbooks they produce (it’s very seldom enough to make one rich) and such works along with their published research are virtually never required to go through some ideological or theological vetting process by the administration. Such things are almost unheard of among actual working scientists. This ideological gatekeeping that occurs at organizations like Answers in Genesis should prompt questions regarding the credibility of any work from those organizations that is promoted as science. Had Jeanson published Replacing Darwin at a university like Marshall or Harvard he would be on more solid footing calling it “his book”, instead it seems to be much more “Answers in Genesis’ book.”

Very true.

I’ll let you know soon. I’m still talking to the editors. Not big journals really but smaller journals geared towards science educators which I think is the most relevant audience here.

What he says is a coalescent equation is simply not a coalescent equation. Not even a reasonable approximation of a coalescent equation.

He really doesn’t understand molecular clocks either. He insists on using the same rates in almost all cases. The real way we do this is by looking at the variation in our sample and seeing if the variation fits with a clock model first, not all loci behave equally clock like. Also there are techniques for dealing with different rates on different branches of a tree. These are all well trodden areas in phylogenetics and he completely ignores all of it. Again my main complaint is it seems like he’s making this up as he goes along while being untethered to the actual literature.


My goal at this point is to complete part II of my longer review on my blog, publish two abbreviated versions in the actual science education literature, and help evograd as he feels he needs it get the rest of his reviews up. Then we just point to the debate, the Paulogia response, my blog, evograds blog and two published reviews (and filthy monkey man blog which has a great critique of Jeanson’s mutation rates). That in my mind should be enough to close the case on this. They will be left to wallow in their indignation over these assessments and it will be virtually entirely confined to the AiG webpage and various church talks that Jeanson and others at AiG do. And that’s that and I move on to more important things.


Oh I see. Coalescence equation is not the molecular clock. I’m sorry for my ignorance here, but I have not read his book, but just his articles.

Can you write down what his equations are, and what they shoudl be?

This all seems like a side point, right? He has the wrong rate, and that is what screws the whole thing up. Why does this part even matter.

As you can already tell, I’m a minimalist in debating. You guys seems to be maximalists. Perhaps that is explanation enough…

He basically says the mutation rate times time elapsed is a coalescent equation. That is complete nonsense. That’s just a simple metric of how many mutations occur in a given time. Coalescent theory is like population genetics in reverse. It deals with the coalescent history of gene genealogies. He understands none of this and it’s a very important field and can be very complicated.

As for the clock issue the rate is not only wrong, but he should be using a neutral substitution rate not a de novo mutation rate. Also the points I bring up are relevant because we have to first test to see if our data fit a clock model and also we can model differing clock rates on different branches. It’s more complicated that he portrays it and it’s obvious he only superficially knows anything about what he’s talking about.


Oh. Wow. Is it just that he is confused on the terminology? And yes, I know what coalescence is.

Especially because it is mitochondria. Very good point.

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@Herman_Mays, as things start to get published, please give us notice. I’d like to keep people informed of your work. Thank you for engaging. I’m glad that @evograd, @Joel_Duff and you are able to connect on this here too.