Here is a wonderful essay by PS contributor Nathan Lents. I am sure that DI will have several columns on it.
I like this article @NLENTS.
I hope not. Haven’t they written enough about me?
You and Dr. Swamidass are their new favorites. Since Jerry Coyne covered your article, I say that a Evolution News column on your essay is already in production. I’ll post it here as soon as it comes out.
Thanks. I actually wrote this way back in early summer, but was waiting for the right time to publish it, then forgot entirely. Because of the title, it may sound like I intend it as a “clarification,” as in, “No, I was not trying to enter the evolution v ID debate.” That’s not at all where my head was in writing it, but hopefully it does serve that purpose. I was not intending the book as a refutation of ID and I really didn’t think that the ID community would take notice of my book at all. Had I known they would, I certainly would have worded things differently. Nothing substantive, but lots of people have interpreted the book as entering into that debate, when that was not my intention. I continue to believe that glitches support common descent and propose challenges for ID, but this book assumes that all readers are already on board with common descent and is not written with other audiences in mind. As any decent writer will tell you, the “intended audience” can and should make a huge difference in how something is written.
huh? I didn’t see that.
Anyone want to take bets on whether the article is insulting, attacking, dismissive, arrogant, and/or mean-spirited? I’ll give you 100-1 odds.
And then if you write a strong rebuttal to the DI piece, they will claim 1) you misunderstood them, 2) you are being unfair to them, and 3) you are persecuting them.
I’ll give you 5-1 odds odds that @Agauger will be the author of the hit piece.
Such an excellent article by Dr. Lents.
I was enjoying the article so much and then it ended! Yes, I realize that one must read the book to get more details—but I was already getting addicted to the subject matter.
As someone who has major nerve damage which turned out to be due to a superfluous accessory muscle [Am I correctly recalling the medical term??] which compressed the nerve, I’m fascinated by the article’s mention of muscles which attach to nothing. (I don’t know if my muscle was attached to nothing, but it was certainly good for nothing.) I recall my surgeon (who had no idea that I had a problematic accessory muscle until he observed it while doing the transduction on the nerve) saying to me after the surgery: “I do these nerve procedures all the time and I probably find and remove these types of unnecessary muscles in about three or four patients per month. On one very muscular guy I removed an accessory muscle that was like a slab of beef. It certainly was doing him no good.”
The palmaris longus muscle probably comes to mind for most readers of this post. Some people have them in the forearms and some don’t. When present, it is easily observable [perhaps I should say that that tendons attaching to the wrist are visible in pushing up against the smooth skin near the wrist] and yet it provides no additional grip strength, for example, when measured against people who lack the palmaris longus muscle. My “human error” in the form of an unnecessary/useless muscle is not nearly as common as the palmaris longus muscle but when I looked up the name of my anomaly in a medical journal article (which was virtually an encyclopedia of strange/rare muscles which surgeons remove semi-routinely), I was amazed at how many of these muscle errors are to be found among humans.
Even for a non-biologists like me, it is easy to see how these unnecessary/useless/problematic muscles would arise through mutations or unusual genetic combinations routinely arising in human populations. Meanwhile, I can’t imagine those who deny evolutionary processes coming up with a meaningful model for explaining this phenomena—other than “It was caused by the Fall.” (That’s the evolution-denier’s universal wildcard explanation.)
Human Errors is an excellent book. You can be the second person on PS science to have bought the book on Amazon. It is in stock at Amazon and you can have it tomorrow with free shipping if you’re Amazon Prime.
And as an added bonus, every book sale is telling DI that their ID ideology is nonsense.
This is precisely what I mean when I say that quirks and glitches provide some evidence for evolution and common ancestry, if implicitly. They are easily understandable, and expected, within evolutionary theory, but require real mental gymnastics to explain with ID. I know, by itself, this is not a rhetorical slam-dunk, but I do think it’s some weight on the scales.
I should have added that those “mental gymnastics” will usually include “Those muscles aren’t unnecessary at all. Scientists just haven’t discovered their purpose yet!” (And some of those denialists would also add—with no awareness of the irony—“Scientists don’t know everything, so they shouldn’t be so dogmatic about things they don’t know.”)
@Patrick - did you say that Coyne said something about my article? If so, can you link me?
Coyne’s “why Evolution is true” sent me the link to your essay this morning. They automatically send much more than they post.
Just out of curiosity, @NLENTS what is your readership now?
Also the reason this post worked, in my view, is because you did a good job drawing out the paradox of imperfection and beauty. There is much to be unpacked there, but that framing unsettles the simple answers. It draws people into questiosn and
Not sure what you are asking here. Numbers?
Yeah. Size of audience. I’m also curious how we could help grow it.
How’s the sales of Human Errors going?
My blog gets anywhere from 200 to 500 viewers on an average day. It’s gone closer to 1K a few times, and I think just once over 1k in a single day. The numbers on each post vary widely. My most popular post is over 50k and about a quarter of them haven’t reached 1k.
I’m not actually sure. They decided to do a paperback (that’s not a guarantee) so that means it hit certain minimums and I will get the last installment of my advance (woo-hoo!). My guess is that it has burned through most of the initial printing, which was 50k I think, but I don’t think they’ve planned a second printing yet. Might not need to since the paperback will take over soon. Interestingly, it has sold almost as many in the UK market even though it is much smaller. I have no idea about the other foreign markets (it’s in like 6 or 7 languages).