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  Topic: DI reviews Texas textbook choices< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

Posts: 319
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: July 22 2003,19:42

Yee ha, mostly more of the same.

Random observations:

1) Several typos in quotes of textbooks, presumably introduced by the DI author (aka Wells and/or a lackey)

2) Miller-Urey: DI attempts to establish via repeated assertion that (a) a neutral prebiotic atmosphere is established and (b) that the miller-urey experiment absolutely doesn't work in such conditions.  Neither is particularly true, and if (a) is even mildly wrong then (b) is very wrong.

2.5) I should like to find out if this paper really is trustworthy or if there is something wrong with it.  It pretty much says that a neutral atmosphere *can* produce abundant amino acids, which AFAIK has been denied by Stanley Miller and collegues.

F. Hanic, M. Morvova and I. Morva

Thermochemical aspects of the conversion of the gaseous system CO2-N2-H2O into a solid mixture of amino acids. Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry. Vol.60, 2000, pp. 1111-1121. I.F.: 0,607.

Conversion of the gaseous mixture CO2(g)+N2(g)+H2O(g) to a solid amino acid condensate in an electric discharge plasma has high efficiency of the energy transfer from the different plasma components
into chemical processes. The basic activation process is activation of the N2 metastable electronic state, followed by formation of NCO* and ON˝NCO free-radicals and generation of many reactive radicals. These radicals help to overcome the high activation energy of thermal dissociation of N2 to N (950 kJ=9.846 eV).

The major product is a statistical polycondensate containing the amino acids: arginine, lysine, histidine, methionine, glycine, alanine, serine and aspartic acid. This information was obtained by
comparing the IR spectra of the products with reference IR absorption spectra of pure components. Identification of the individual amino acids in the solid product was performed by HPLC, when samples
were dissolved using 6MHCl applied at 100░C for 24 h. Properties of the condensate were estimated using thermogravimetric analysis. Small amounts of oxamidato complexes and oligo pyrrole structures are formed on the electrode surface giving the surface catalytic properties. The gas cleaning process has practical applicability (production of useful fertilizers, reduction of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere) and may also contribute to explanation of the origin of life on Earth.

3) Peppered moths.  Same ol', same ol'.  Very selective citation of sources as usual.  Disturbingly, though, one quote from a textbook appears to have bought into the press accounts:

Peter H. Raven & George B. Johnson
Biology, 6th edition (2002)

DI says:
The lengthy account in the text retells the classical story. Although a student who reads all the way to the end of the account learns that scientists are now reconsidering the story and that "wherever the moths rest during the day, it does not appear to be on tree bark" (p. 447), such important information should be discussed in the body of the account and not merely tacked on as an afterthought.

...yet another instance of a highly garbled and second-hand version of Majerus' comments making it into respected print as the new default position.  But, cripes, except for tree bark, the only things for moths to rest on are the ground, which is right out, or leaves.  If they rest underneath branches, which seems like the most likely most common spot, this is still tree bark, and still lichened tree bark at that.  Undoubtedly some rest under leaves, but the actual expert consensus, from Kettlewell to Majerus, has not changed.  Majerus (2002) explicitly endorses Kettlewell's opinion on resting positions, "underneath the larger boughs of trees, less commonly on trunks").  And the most recent Majerus data on resting positions supports this:

exposed trunk   - 6
unexposed trunk - 6
trunk/branch joint - 21
branches        - 19

(Notably the DI bit says that the resting position of peppered moths was only discovered in the 1980's...sigh)

Hooper and favorable reviews thereof prominently mentioned, the skeptical reviews from the experts are not...

3.5) The Raven & Johnson quotes including a mini-rebuttal of ID are interesting, though, they're not taking the controversy lying down...

4) Haeckel.  Richardson's later work not mentioned, nor the complexities about when and why Haeckel put out various drawings.  The DI continues to make use of tactical ambiguity about "early" stages vs. "earliest" stages, what exactly "close resemblance" means, and obfuscation over whether or not (a) all vertebrate classes should be equally similar (a flabbergasting strawman) or whether similarity should follow the accepted phylogeny of vertebrates (the actual theory).  The latter is admirably addressed in Gishlick's review of Icons:

The similarities in obfuscational terminology are so similar to Wells' that he almost has to be the author.

5) DI criteria cleverly put n/a for many books on specific topics.  If the treatment of embryos in Campbell 2003 is similar to that for Campbell 1993, then Wells just totally left them out because they use photos but also discuss the differences between mammals and birds at the blastula stage.

6) Unfortunately the DI is able to jump on several more-or-less blatant errors in the history of science (e.g., that the flat earth was a popular idea in the 1400-1500's).  They do overcorrect and try and leave the Roman Church blameless for what happened to Galileo, and implying that house arrest was the most serious threat he faced from the inquisition, which is dubious.

7) Finally, the DI does pick the probably-best textbook (Campbell, or actually Campbell and Reese in the 6th edition) as their least-worst pick, so on the off-chance that the Texas board picks Campbell for some course or other, be prepared for DI crowing.  However, Campbell is pretty much a college biology text, and is probably a bit much for anything except A.P. Bio, so perhaps its selection is unlikely.

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