Have you wondered how Texas State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy persuaded fellow board members last month to add an amendment weakening proposed science standards dealing with evolution? Well, here’s an interesting Web page put together by an enterprising fellow: “Collapse of a Texas Quote Mine.” The site looks at the many quotes from reputable sources that Dr. McLeroy used to justify calling into question common descent, a core concept of evolutionary theory. The site lists each of the quotes culled by McLeroy (or whoever provided his talking points) and explains how they were distorted and taken out of context in the cause of promoting pseudoscientific nonsense.
…the various steps in the history of the change from ape to man … is entirely based on inferences and any part of it may be refuted at any time.
Sounds like skepticism about a key part of human evolution over time, yes? Well, Mayr certainly didn’t mean it to be. This is the quote in context from his book:
Yet, as far as the general trend in human evolution is concerned, the fossil record is of considerable assistance. By making use of the interpretations of numerous authors, but relying particularly on Stanley (1996) and Wrangham (2001), I am developing a sequence of historical narratives that reconstruct the various steps in the history of the change from ape to man. The resulting picture is entirely based on inferences and any part of it may be refuted at any time. But developing a cohesive story is far more instructive than merely compiling a list of unconnected facts. The most important certainty that has emerged from recent studies is that Homo sapiens is the end product of two major ecological shifts (habitat preference) of our hominid ancestors.
Of course, quote mining is intellectually dishonest, but it’s hardly a new tactic. Evolution deniers have been using it for long time now. So it’s good to see someone document the nonsense. Check it out here.