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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

James Shapiro

Ray's quote mining a molecular biologist, James Shapiro.
I found a (newer) paper of Shapiro in an accessible form where he actually says some intelligent things in favor of evolution. I'll read it and update this when I find the time and if nobody wants to do it for me...

update: Well, what I found was the transcript from a talk. Maybe not easy to understand without the powerpoint presentation (that should be somewhere...). It's mainly about epigenetics, that the environment can have an influence on the DNA and that this is one important force in evolution. Even if changes are more or less random. But here is a transcript of the discussion. There is also a link to his homepage where you can get the actual paper.

Seems, as if he indeed is critical to Darwinism. But honestly, every biologist is that. You just can't use "The Origin of Species" as an infallible source of information and nobody does that. Research is going on and today we know a lot more than Darwin ever dreamed of. Shapiro might be extreme in his judgment of "natural genome engineering" but he's miles away from ID and creationism. AND HE DOESN'T SAY THAT EVOLUTION COULD BE WRONG, RAY (everybody else: Sorry, somehow I felt like shouting).

That's so typical: A Scientist says something like "Well, maybe our definition of evolution isn't complete" and some creotards start misquoting him.


  1. A lying stinking steamy reeking lying sack of shit.

    That would be Ray.

  2. Does anybody here know this guy a little bit? Maybe from a conference or from his papers?

    I don't really know what to think of him. Sounds a little bit like half way back to Lamarckism to me and that has been proved wrong a thousand times. Especially in bacteria, where his "Natural Genome Engineering" should occur most often.
    But on the other hand: We still know very little about epigenetics, so I wouldn't dare to dismiss everything Shapiro says, just because it sounds far fetched.

    I'll probably have to look at his data. And I'm pretty sure, in contrast to some other people, he presents some...

  3. Tilia-

    I've been reading some of Shapiro's work, and yes, he does present some.

    At least he is a scientist. He does, it seems, proscribe to some form of Intelligent Design concepts, based on computational biologic informatics.

    I am currently slugging through a paper he co-wrote with Richard von Sternberg, who you may remember as a Discovery Institute poster boy martyr, as portrayed in Expelled.

  4. Tillia,

    My training was in Mech Eng, 34 years ago! That puts me one step above child molester in the scientific community!

    I tried to wade through that to no avail. Couldn't find much on the guy anywhere.

    The jury is "still out" on this until someone finds out about his credentials. Of course, Ray isn't going to be forthcoming on that type of thing.

    It's just another round of obfuscation by Ray.

  5. BF,

    "...who you may remember as a Discovery Institute poster boy martyr, as portrayed in Expelled."

    Thanks BF, now we're getting to the meat of the ploy.

  6. allfiredup is being his normal douchiness, saying that quote mining isn't lying. So I posted this collection of posts from AFU.

    Allfiredup said...

    "churches still don't know how to decipher exactly why Jesus came to the earth"


    'the old Law applies and if Christians aren't following them, then "Naughty Naughty Christian!"'


    "churches have totally missed the point."


    "If a man rapes and then butchers a young girl, then the man should be caught and be given a big party and welcomed into the community with no consequences what so ever."

    Interesting quotes

  7. if Ray quotes somebody still alive you can actually ask them...
    So I wrote an email to Shapiro (something like: There's an idiot quoting you and even if this is completely irrelevant, I'd like to hear if you have an opinion about it.)
    I didn't really expect an answer.
    If every professor would answer to each irrelevant email they got, they wouldn't do anything else...

    He answered within less than half an hour and I really hope for him that he's not in his usual time zone at the moment, because otherwise he answered me at a 4:45 AM.

    This is it:

    I looked, and the quote is accurate. at least Ray got that one right, even if he DID use it out of context Questioning the adequacy of Darwinian theory is something quite different from challenging the evidence for evolution. Our best defense against Creationism is a vital scientific study of evolutionary processes using the most complete molecular and biological information we can obtain. I attach a paper I published on this a number of years ago. You can find other, more technical papers on my web site.

    Jim Shapiro

    James A. Shapiro

    Professor of Microbiology

    Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

    Gordon Center for Integrative Science

    I hope, he doesn't mind if I post his response. I've read that paper and had a look at some of his other stuff. Sounds provocative and intelligent. Discussible. On a scientific level. MILES away from this ID nonsense.

  8. Tilia,
    great work. Who ever said we Germans weren't diligent? Oh, nobody did? ok... ;)

  9. This is a post I made at A/C the other day in the thread on Shapiro's quote.


    You deceptively present a quote from James Shapiro, a microbiologist at the University of Chicago, as if his investigations of the mechanisms of evolution somehow contradict darwinian evolution.

    Shapiro, who studies the many ways in which organisms can actively restructure their genetic material, believes that such processes should be more widely incorporated into evolutionary thinking. Although Darwin could not possibly have anticipated such processes, they follow the general darwinian paradigm and do not, in any way, endorse or support the childish Biblical creation myth you cling to.

    You would be far better off trying to read and understand Shapiro's work on evolution, than pull a quote you don't really understand due to your unflagging ignorance about evolution.

    But here's a more apropos quote from Shapiro, from an article in the Boston Review, talking about the potential for new science
    in the Creationist-Darwinist debate. He laments that both sides present a static view of the scientific enterprise.

    "This is to be expected from the
    Creationists, who naturally refuse to recognize science's remarkable record of making more and more seemingly miraculous aspects of our world comprehensible to our understanding and accessible to our technology."

    Hmm, 'Refuse to recognize science's remarkable record' - Sounds like he's talking about the Anti-scientist, Ray Comfort.

    Why don't you write to Dr. Shapiro and ask him to "enlighten" you about evolution?

    December 3, 2008 12:12 PM

    The thread only had 11 responses, none of which were from Ray. You would think he'd know better than to use an anti-creationist, scientific source to support his creationist, anti-scientific screeds.


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