The rear of the horse that measles rode in on

May 23, 2010

Why would people fail to inoculate their kids against measles, and thereby contribute to deadly epidemics?

There was this guy in Britain, Andrew Wakefield, who published a study suggesting a link between measles vaccines and autism.  But it turned out his research didn’t support that claim.  Then it turned out he was under contract to produce a paper that made that claim regardless the science, for a lawsuit.

Darryl Cunningham's graphic account of measles vaccine hysteria, one page

A page from Darryl Cunningham's graphic account of measles vaccine hysteria, "The Facts in the Case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield." TallGuyWrites (Darryl Cunningham)

Darryl Cunningham created a concise, 15-page graphic accounting of the story of how the misdeeds of one physician led to a world-wide, child-killing panic.  If you do not know the story, go read it.  You should be troubled by the story it tells.  Be sure to read it through.  Cunningham is thorough in his debunking of the hysteria the anti-vaxxers promote, and you should know it all.

Darryl Cunningham's graphic story, "The Facts in the Case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield"

Another page from Darryl Cunningham's graphic story, "The Facts in the Case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield" about the motivations behind the hysteria.

Then send a copy to Jenny McCarthy, or anyone else who carries the torch of ignorance-based hysteria against vaccines and in favor of disease.

Dr. Wakefield’s original paper was retracted by the publisher — it’s no longer considered valid science.  It’s a hoax.  No subsequent research confirmed any links to autism.  Serious, large-scale follow-up studies revealed no connection whatsoever between measles vaccine and autism.

Measles is a nasty disease, tough to eradicate, and working hard to come back and get your children and grandchildren.  Don’t be suckered.

Andrew Wakefield created a hoax.  Those who rely on his study rely on bogus science, voodoo science.  History tells us that, if we stop the fight against measles, people will die.

Would you contribute to publishing this comic for distribution in pediatrician’s waiting rooms?

More:

Tip of the old scrub brush to JD 2718.


Basic climate skeptic’s pseudoscience

March 7, 2009

Anthony Watts want to make a case that rising ocean levels aren’t connected to human activities, there’s nothing we can do about it, there’s nothing we should do about it, or something.  Looking for a touchstone in history, Watts said:

In 2002, the BBC reported that a submerged city was found off the coast of India, 36 meters below sea level.  This was long before the Hummer or coal fired power plant was invented.  It is quite likely that low lying coastal areas will continue to get submerged, just as they have been for the last 20,000 years.

Submerged city?  Hmm.  Not in the textbooks published since 2002.  What’s up with that?

NASA Earth Observatory photo of the Gujarat Gulfs, including the Gulf of Cambay (Khambhat), where a lost city was thought to have been found in 2001; later research indicates no city underwater.

NASA Earth Observatory photo of the Gujarat Gulfs, including the Gulf of Cambay (Khambhat), where a "lost city" was thought to have been found in 2001; later research indicates no city underwater.

Oh, this is what’s up:  Watts links to a BBC news story, not a science journal — one of the warning signs of Bogus Science and Bogus History, both.   The news story talks about preliminary findings in 2002 that did not hold up to scrutiny.  Measurement error was part of the problem — the pattern of the scanning radar sweep was mistaken for structures found on the sea floor.  Natural formations were mistaken for artificial formations.  When the news announcement was made, archaeologists and other experts in dating such things had not be consulted (and it’s unclear when or whether they were ever brought in).  The follow-up didn’t support the story, notes Bad Archaeology.  Terrible archaeology to support pseudo climate science?  Why not?

This doesn’t deny Watts’ general claims in his post, but it is too indicative of the type of “find anything to support the favored claim of denial” mindset that goes on among denialists.  (There is evidence of a much lower waterline in the area during the last ice age; water levels have risen, according to physical evidence, but probably not inundating the what would be the oldest civilization on Earth.)

It will be interesting to watch what happens.  Will Watts note an oopsie and apologize, or will the entire group circle their Radio Super wagons around the issue and call it a mainstream science plot against them?  Will Watts correct his citation, or will they move on to cite the disappearance of Atlantis as evidence that warming can’t be stopped?

Anybody want to wager?

What sort of irony is there in a guy’s complaining about a scientific consensus held by thousands of scientists with hundreds of publications supporting their claims, and his using one news report almost totally without any scientific corroboration in rebuttal?

Resources:


Good Interred With Their Bones Dept.: Michael Crichton

November 24, 2008

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/9qtgQXtrl4Q/hqdefault.jpg

Author Michael Crichton railing against environmental protection and science he politically disagreed with, at the Smithsonian Institution, about the same time as his Commonwealth Club presentation.

One of my news grabbers found an article on environmentalism and religion at a Live Journal site, an answer to a speech by Michael Crichton on environmentalism as religion.  Crichton’s speech was delivered in 2003 to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, a venerable old institution for giving a soap box to doers and thinkers. [Note, April 2015: If that link doesn’t work, find Crichton’s speech here.]

Crichton’s speech started out with promise:

I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.

We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we’re told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems. Every one of us has a sense of the world, and we all know that this sense is in part given to us by what other people and society tell us; in part generated by our emotional state, which we project outward; and in part by our genuine perceptions of reality. In short, our struggle to determine what is true is the struggle to decide which of our perceptions are genuine, and which are false because they are handed down, or sold to us, or generated by our own hopes and fears.

As an example of this challenge, I want to talk today about environmentalism.

The promise was short-lived.

Crichton described his learnings from studying anthropology, including an observation that religions always arise, and cannot be stamped out.  From there he makes an astounding leap, to claim that environmentalism is religion.  From that failed leap, the speech rapidly deteriorates.  He adopts tenets of American Christian and political fundamentalism, rapidly following up with a disavowal of fundamentalism, as if to try to hide what he’s done, or deny it, at least for himself:

So I can tell you some facts. I know you haven’t read any of what I am about to tell you in the newspaper, because newspapers literally don’t report them. I can tell you that DDT is not a carcinogen and did not cause birds to die and should never have been banned. I can tell you that the people who banned it knew that it wasn’t carcinogenic and banned it anyway. I can tell you that the DDT ban has caused the deaths of tens of millions of poor people, mostly children, whose deaths are directly attributable to a callous, technologically advanced western society that promoted the new cause of environmentalism by pushing a fantasy about a pesticide, and thus irrevocably harmed the third world. Banning DDT is one of the most disgraceful episodes in the twentieth century history of America. We knew better, and we did it anyway, and we let people around the world die and didn’t give a damn.

I can tell you that second hand smoke is not a health hazard to anyone and never was, and the EPA has always known it. I can tell you that the evidence for global warming is far weaker than its proponents would ever admit. I can tell you the percentage the US land area that is taken by urbanization, including cities and roads, is 5%. I can tell you that the Sahara desert is shrinking, and the total ice of Antarctica is increasing. I can tell you that a blue-ribbon panel in Science magazine concluded that there is no known technology that will enable us to halt the rise of carbon dioxide in the 21st century. Not wind, not solar, not even nuclear. The panel concluded a totally new technology-like nuclear fusion-was necessary, otherwise nothing could be done and in the meantime all efforts would be a waste of time. They said that when the UN IPCC reports stated alternative technologies existed that could control greenhouse gases, the UN was wrong.

I can, with a lot of time, give you the factual basis for these views, and I can cite the appropriate journal articles not in whacko magazines, but in the most prestigious science journals, such as Science and Nature. But such references probably won’t impact more than a handful of you, because the beliefs of a religion are not dependent on facts, but rather are matters of faith. Unshakeable belief.

From the promising start of claiming we must be skeptical and carefully sort out what is true from what is not true, he rapidly plunges from the stratosphere into the depths of the ocean of misinformation.  Count the errors:

  1. Newspapers have been regular carriers of claims that restrictions on DDT are unnecessary.  You won’t find such claims in science journals, in fact — they appear almost without exception in newspapers.  Crichton is wrong about where you’d learn that DDT is harmless.  You can’t learn it from people who know.
  2. DDT is a “probable human carcinogen” listed by every cancer-fighting agency on Earth.  Fortunately for humans, it appears to be weakly carcinogenic.  Recent studies indicate it’s devious in its carcinogenicity, too — it gives cancers not to the people who were exposed, but to their children.  Research into this path is only about a decade old.  Recent studies confirm carcinogenicity in humans.  Carcinogenicity in almost every other animal exposed has been long known.  It is highly unlikely that a compound known to cause cancer in every mammal tested, would not be carcinogenic in humans.  Again, you can’t learn this stuff in science journals.  You’ll have to learn it as dogma from cranks and crackpots.
  3. DDT’s links to the deaths of young birds is rock solid.  The links were clear by 1962, and no study has been done since 1962 to question those conclusions.  In fact, more than 1,000 studies have been done on the links, and published in peer-review journals.  Each one supports Rachel Carson’s conclusions that DDT is deadly to young birds.  The mechanisms are now known by which DDT causes eggshell-thinning, which increases the chick mortality.  Recovery of the bald eagle, osprey, and brown pelican correlate exactly with the decline of DDT in the tissues of the birds.  No scientist who has studied the matter doubts that DDT kills birds.
  4. DDT was banned because it disrupts eco-systems.  In the wild, it is uncontrollable.  Yes, it kills pests.  But it also kills all the pest predators, too.  The pests use reproduction as a survival tool, and outreproduce predators, and even DDT.  An application of DDT, then, kills off the predators that protect an ecosystem from the pests, and the pests come roaring back, unchecked by nature.  The poison is magnified as it rises through the food chain (trophic levels, if you want the science term).  By the time an eagle or predator fish eats, it gets a crippling dose of the stuff.  By the mid-1960s, insects and arachnid pests around the world had begun to show resistance and even immunity to DDT (bedbugs demonstrated resistance by 1950; some are completely immune to DDT; almost all mosquitoes now carry multiple copies of a gene which allows mosquitoes to digest DDT as a nutrient, doing no harm).  The restrictions on DDT had nothing to do with human cancers, but everything to do with saving crops and forests, and the wildlife that lives there.  Crichton pulls an old bait-and-switch when he claims regulators knew DDT “wasn’t carcinogenic and banned it anyway.”  The regulators knew it might be a weak carcinogen, but they did not know it spreads through the environment and lasts almost forever, contaminating even human breast milk for at least six decades after application.  But this was not their concern.  The dangers of carcinogenicity were on top of the concerns about agriculture and forests and prairies.  Regulators acted to save the world we live in, and noted that such action also produced a minor reduction in cancer risk.
  5. DDT use in Africa never reached the nations where most malaria victims die today, at least not by 1972.  The ban on spraying DDT on cotton has nothing to do with malaria rates today, except that contrary to Crichton’s claim, it was the DDT use that aided malaria, not its cessation.  So for Crichton to claim that stopping the use of DDT on U.S. cotton crops led to a rise in malaria in Africa is a stretch of evidence way, way beyond any logical link.  Chaos theory only jokingly suggests the butterfly’s fluttering in Beijing last month affects weather in New York this month.  Boll weevils in the U.S. don’t carry malaria anyway, let alone fly to Africa to infect children there.
  6. Crichton dogmatically insists smoke is not a health hazard to non-smokers.  You won’t find much research to back his claim.  It’s another claim he makes religiously, on belief, not on evidence.  He can tell us second-hand smoke is not dangerous, but he can’t back the claim with evidence.  (Dangers of second-hand smoke have been well known since the 1970s; when Orrin Hatch got the law passed to switch to four, rotating warnings on cigarette packages, the debate was whether to include a fifth warning of second-hand smoke.)
  7. Urbanization figures cited by Crichton are low, and do not consider the damage done by urbanization to non-urban lands.  Low?  In one study, planners looked at Tippecanoe County, Indiana.  Recently, urban land use there rose from 8% to 12% — starting from a baseline larger than Crichton allows.  Crichton might argue that counties in North Dakota lose people, but the pollution and erosion from the urbanization in West LaFayette, Indiana, cannot be offset by relatively stable rural areas 600 miles away (I’m plucking a figure out of my hat), in a completely different watershed, in a completely different airshed, in a completely different climate, in a different economy.  Any soldier  or farmer can tell you that concentrating activities of people in a smaller area multiplies the impacts.  If you have 40 cows roaming over 6 acres, you don’t need to worry so much about where they leave their pies, or the concentration of ammonia in their urine.  If you put those same 40 cows in one small pen, however, you’ve just created a runoff problem, and health problems for the cows and the people who handle them.  Wholly apart from the numbers games, the facts show that urbanization increases the need for green and wild space for the people who move into the citiesTwo different presidential commissions reporting 25 years apart noted the needs, and the needs are only more fierce now (the link is to an article by Charles Jordan, who was one of the commissioners on the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors which reported in 1987, the second of the two studies referred to — see Jordan’s article for full details).
  8. If the Sahara is shrinking, that doesn’t help much.  South of the Sahara, in Niger, an area the size of Luxembourg is lost to desertification every year.  Deserts are advancing in Arizona, California, China (both the Gobi and the Taklamakan), and across the rest of Central Asia to Africa.  If the Sahara is shrinking, that’s probably good.  It’s not enough to suggest that desertification is not a problem, even in North Africa.  Ultimately, it’s not how much land is affected, but rather it is the effects themselves, and how they affect humans.  Desertification — which is defined by international agencies as the degradation of land — affects 16.5 million people in Europe alone.  According to the UN, desertification threatens the lives and livlihoods of about out of every six people on Earth — 1.2 billion people total.  How does the Sahara’s shrinking help them?  Is Crichton just pulling another bait-and-switch?
  9. The total ice on Antarctica is increasing because the waters around the icy continent are warming — “lake effect” increases snowfall when increased evaporation from warmer waters is carried by the air over land.  The rather dramatic increases in ice pack on parts of Antarctica are stark testimony to the ill effects of global warming.
  10. If Crichton is right, and no existing technology will allow us to reduce carbon emissions, then we need to hit the panic button, not the snooze button.

Those are just the factual errors in two paragraphs.  Environmentalism as religion?  Maybe that would be a good idea, if the religion honored accuracy and truth telling, rather than fictional accounts of what is going on on Dear Old Planet Earth.

I enjoyed Michael Crichton’s writing, and I hope his stories inspire kids to work at a life in science.  But, as with Caesar, as Antony noted, the bad stuff people do lives on past them.  Let’s change that for Crichton – kill the bad stuff, keep the good stuff.

The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.

William Shakespeare
Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 2

Update, April 4, 2013:  American Elephants, a blog that isn’t about elephants, isn’t about their conservation, and in my view, isn’t much about America, either, fell victim to Crichton’s errors, all these months later. Plenty of time to get the story right since 2008, but American Elephants couldn’t do it.  American Elephants is too often an example of the Dunning Kruger effect, alas.

Other sites that still get it wrong, five and six years later:


Fred Flintstone waded here: Hoaxsters ready to teach creationism to Texas kids

August 5, 2008

Creationists in Texas claim to have found a stone with footprints of a human and a dinosaur.

No, I’m not kidding.

Hoax

Hoax “dinosaur and human footprints” claimed to be found in the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas.

Could you make this stuff up? Well, yeah, I guess some people think you could. Somebody did make this stuff up.

According to a report in the too-gullible Mineral Wells Index, long-time hoaxster and faux doctorate Carl Baugh’s Creation Evidence Museum announced the rock was found just outside Dinosaur Valley State Park. The area has been the site of more than one creationist hoax since 1960, and was an area rife with hoax dinosaur prints dating back to the 1930s. (See these notes on the warning signs of science hoaxes and history hoaxes.)

The estimated 140-pound stone was recovered in July 2000 from the bank of a creek that feeds the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas, located about 53 miles south of Fort Worth. The find was made just outside Dinosaur Valley State Park, a popular destination for tourists known for its well-preserved dinosaur tracks and other fossils.

The limestone contains two distinct prints – one of a human footprint and one belonging to a dinosaur. The significance of the cement-hard fossil is that it shows the dinosaur print partially over and intersecting the human print.

In other words, the stone’s impressions indicate that the human stepped first, the dinosaur second. If proven genuine, the artifact would provide evidence that man and dinosaur roamed the Earth at the same time, according to those associated with the find and with its safekeeping. It could potentially toss out the window many commonly held scientific theories on evolution and the history of the world.

Except, as you can see, Dear Reader and Viewer, it’s a hoax. No dinosaur has a footprint exactly resembling the print of Fred Flintstone’s pet Dino, as the rock shows; nor do human footprints left in mud look like the print shown.

Dear God, save us from such tom-foolery, please.

To the newspaper’s credit, they consulted with an expert who knows better. The expert gave a conservative, scientific answer, however, when the rock deserved a chorus of derisive hoots:

However, Dr. Phillip Murry, a vertebrate paleontology instructor in the Geoscience department of Tarleton State University at Stephenville, Texas, stated in his response to an interview request: “There has never been a proven association of dinosaur (prints) with human footprints.”

The longtime amateur archeologist who found the fossil thinks that statement is now proven untrue.

“It is unbelievable, that’s what it is,” Alvis Delk, 72, said of what could be not only the find of a lifetime, but of mankind.

Delk is a current Stephenville and former Mineral Wells resident (1950-69) who said he found the rock eight years ago while on a hunt with a friend, James Bishop, also of Stephenville, and friend and current fiancee Elizabeth Harris.

Yes, it’s unbelievable.

For comparison, real hominid footprints look much different — the print below was left in a thin-layer of volcanic ash about 4 million years ago, 61 million years after dinosaurs went extinct, according to timelines corroborated by geologists, paleontologists, astronomers, nuclear physicists and biologists:

Print of a hominid, found at Laetoli, Africa; image from Stanford University

Print of a hominid, found at Laetoli, Tanzania, Africa; image from Stanford University. Photo: J. Reader/SPL

With luck, serious scientists will get a chance to analyze the prints soon, and note that they are hoaxes. If history is any guide, however, Baugh and his comrades will keep the rock from scientific analysis, claiming that scientists refuse to analyze it.

The rock is approximately 30 inches by 24 inches. The human footprint, with a deep big toe impression, measures 11 inches in length. Baugh said the theropod track was made by an Acrocanthosaurus. Baugh said this particular track was likely made by a juvenile Acrocanthosaurus, one he said was probably about 20 feet long, stood about 8 feet tall and walked stooped over, weighing a few tons.

Its tracks common in the Glen Rose area, the Acrocanthosaurus is a dinosaur that many experts believe existed primarily in North America during the mid-Cretaceous Period, approximately 125 million to 100 million years ago.

Baugh said Delk’s discovery casts doubts on that theory. Baugh said he believes both sets of prints were made “within minutes, or no more than hours of each other” about 4,500 years ago, around the time of Noah’s Flood. He said the clay-like material that the human and dinosaur stepped in soon hardened, becoming thick, dense limestone common in North Texas.

He said the human print matches seven others found in the same area, stating the museum has performed excavations since 1982 in the area Baugh has dubbed the “Alvis Delk Cretaceous Footprint” discovery.

This “find” comes as the State Board of Education begins rewriting science standards for Texas schools. The chairman of the SBOE is a committed creationist who publicly says he hopes to get creationism into the standards and textbooks in Texas, miseducating Texas students that creationism has a scientific basis.

Delk’s own daughter, Kristi Delk, is a geology major at Tarleton State University in Stephenville and holds different beliefs from her dad about the creation of Earth and the origins of man.

She said she wants to see data from more tests before jumping to any conclusions.

“I haven’t come to terms with it,” she said. “I am skeptical, actually.”

Listen to your daughter, Mr. Delk.

In a story Texas educators hope to keep completely unrelated to the foot prints hoax, Mineral Wells area schools showed gains in academic achievement on the Texas state test program.

Additional resources:

________________________

Gary Hurd at Stones and Bones, who Is a bit of an expert in this stuff, calls “fake.

Here is how to fake a patina that will look like this fake fossil: Brush the surface with vinegar, and then sprinkle with baking powder followed by baking soda, and let dry. Repeat until you are happy with the results. This is not the only way, or even the best way. But it is simple, and will fool the average fool. Especially easy if they want to be fooled.

So, having spent a little bit more time on the photo of this fake, I feel that I understand a bit more about how it was produced. A legitimate dinosaur track was found and removed. Incompetent, unprofessional “Cleaning” damaged it. An parital overprint, or simple erosion depression was “improved” by adding “toes.” The faked surfaces were smothed over with a simple kitchen concoction to make a “patina.” Artifact fabricators next bury the fake for a year or two, or they smear it with fertilizer and leave it exposed. This helps weather the object and obscure tool marks.

Did you find this post useful, or entertaining? Vote to share it with others — click the “Digg” button above; list it on Reddit or other services, if you have memberships there. Link to this post from your own blog. Help spread the word this hoax is coming.

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How to tell if someone is wrong about DDT and Rachel Carson

December 12, 2007

Here is one surefire way to tell someone is bluffing, and perhaps doing a bit of planned prevarication, about Rachel Carson and the safety of DDT: Look for a footnote like this:

31 Sweeney EM. EPA Hearing Examiner’s recommendations and findings concerning DDT hearings. 25 April 1972 (40 CFR 164.32).

Why is that a sign of a bluff?

The volume and paging, “40 CFR 164.32,” is a reference to the Code of Federal Regulations. One knows that codes do not contain hearing records, and sure enough, this one does not. 40 CFR covers the rules of administrative hearings in federal agencies, but there is nothing whatsoever in that entire chapter about DDT, or birds, or chemical safety.

40 CFR is the chapter of the Code of Federal Regulations that pertains to the rules, regulations and procedures of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); it does not contain transcripts of regulatory hearings.

40 CFR is the chapter of the Code of Federal Regulations that pertains to the rules, regulations and procedures of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); it does not contain transcripts of regulatory hearings.  Anyone who cites a hearing to this publication is giving you a bogus citation, probably to promote bogust history and bogus science.

If that citation shows up in a screed against environmentalists, or against Rachel Carson, or urging that we spray poison till the cows come home to die, you can be pretty sure that the person offering it has copied it wholesale from Steven Milloy’s junk science purveyor shop, and that the person has not read it at all.  If the person has a law degree, or was ever a librarian or active in interscholastic debate, you can be pretty sure the person knows the citation is wrong, and is insulting you by listing it, knowing it’s unlikely you’ll ever find it in your local library.

(What is the accurate citation for the hearings? I’m not sure; but 40 CFR is not it. See the current section of CFR below the fold — it’s one page, not more than 100 pages.)

I have posted about this before. The hearings Judge Sweeney presided over were conducted early in the existence of the EPA. They were conducted under court orders requiring EPA to act. The transcripts are not in usual legal opinion publications, so far as I have been able to find. Many claims have been made about the hearings, most of the claims are false. Jim Easter at Some Are Boojums did the legwork and extracted a copy of the actual decision out of EPA’s library. He’s posted it at his blog, so you can see. Check the pages — “40 CFR” is a bogus citation, designed to keep you from learning the truth.

So the footnote is intended to make the gullible or innocent think there is a reference, where there is no reference.

But read the analysis of the hearings at Some Are Boojums. It is more than just the citation is wrong. Contrary to Internet Legend claims, Sweeney did not determine that DDT was harmless. Sweeney determined that DDT usage provided some benefits that outweighed the harms, considering the dramatically reduced use of DDT then allowed. DDT use had been severely restricted prior to the Sweeney hearings; Sweeney was not looking at all uses, nor even at historic uses. Sweeney was looking at dramatically reduced DDT use under the registrations then allowed. His conclusions of “no harm” where he actually concluded that, were based on greatly reduced use of DDT. This finding cannot be used today to urge an expansion of use — or should not be so used, by honest people.

Not to mention that at Caosblog, footnotes are not even listed in the text. The listing of the footnotes is a gratuitous error, there is no footnote 31 in the text.

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Vox Day: Trapped in a quote mine cave-in

August 31, 2007

Vox Day, who claims to know more than most mortals can even think about, has fallen into a quote mine. (Quote mine defined.) Worse, the mine appears to have caved in.

Vox Day wishes to make the claim that Darwin is responsible for the evils of the Soviet Union. Apart from the prima facie absurdity of the claim, Vox has a dozen highly tenuous links he wishes to torture into supporting his claim, despite their refusal to do so.

This just in: Since I started out on this particular Fisking, Vox has popped up with this gem:

Unsurprisingly, evolutionists are reacting strongly to my column today. They swear up and down that there is no connection whatsoever between evolution and Communism, despite the fact that every single major Communist not only subscribed to Darwinist evolution but considered Darwin to be second only to Hegel as a pre-Marxist socialist figure.

There is no evidence Stalin or Lenin ever subscribed to evolution theory, and at any rate, Stalin expressly rejected Darwin and evolution, eviscerating the Soviets’ lead in genetics in 1920 by banning the teaching of evolution, banning research in evolution or research that had Darwinian overtones, stripping Darwin-theory subscribing biologists of their jobs, exiling a few to Siberia and death in several cases, and executing a few just for good measure. In place of evolution, Stalin backed Trofim Lysenko who advocated, apart from his creationist-like hatred of Darwin, an odd, almost-Lamarckian idea that stress in utero would change characteristics.

So, for example, Lysenko ordered that seed wheat be frozen, and then planted in winter. The freezing, the Stalin-Lysenko idea held, would make the wheat able to grow in cold weather. The crop failures were so spectacular that at least 4 million people died of starvation in the Soviet Union. By 1954 the crop failures were so massive the Soviet Union had to purchase wheat from the U.S., with loans from the U.S. These loans crippled any hope of the Soviet economy ever breaking out of its doldrums, and started the long slide to the collapse of the Soviet Union. You’d think Vox Day, who professes to be a libertarian and a Christian, would approve of the collapse of the Soviet Union by any cause — but he does not approve of the collapse if it came by a lack of evolution theory.

Vox Day never lets the facts get in the way of a rant. (As evidence that Marx was so deeply influenced by evolution theory, Vox notes that a fellow who knew Darwin, Edward Aveling attended Marx’s funeral. If that doesn’t convince, you, Vox says, Aveling later wrote an article saying it’s true, Marxism was based on evolution theory. So take THAT all you people who think Marxism emphasizes collectivism and the state: Darwin’s individual competition for survival is the REAL root of socialism. No, I’m not making this up — go read it for yourself. Then get some facts — read this account, which includes the guest list of Marx’s funeral. There were only nine people at Marx’s funeral, and Vox got the guest list wrong: Aveling wasn’t there. One more Vox claim refuted.)

Back to the regularly scheduled Vox Day quote mine cave-in, below the fold.

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