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A Tale of Two Citations

By James Downard

Posted June 30, 2003

"It was the best of scholarship. It was the worst of scholarship...."

Discussion

Contents

  1. The Intelligent Design movement's Wedge campaign as Double Standard

  2. Citation No. 1: David Berlinski versus Nilsson & Pelger in The Case of "The Vexing Eye"

  3. Citation No. 2: The Woodmorappe Affair … or the perils of relying on Phillip Johnson for paleontological advice

  4. Corroborating evidence: the Malhotra Case, or why no one ought to be taking Woodmorappe seriously
  5. Implications: Forbidden topics and a serious lack of antievolutionary curiosity
  6. Conclusion: How the Woodmorappe Affair fits into a larger pattern of antievolutionary behavior, and what it tells about Discovery Institute "scholarship" (Johnson and Berlinski style).
  7. References

1. The Intelligent Design movement's Wedge campaign as Double Standard

Over the last twenty years there has been a significant "evolution" in the antievolution subculture, as the cast of characters have adapted to their repeated failures to dislodge Darwinian naturalism from its central position in the scientific and educational venues. Overtly Young Earth creationist organizations like the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) that played pivotal roles in the "equal time" campaigns of the 1970s and 1980s have given way to chronology-free advocacy groups like the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and its Center for Science & Culture.

Discovery Institute Fellows include their technical point men (biochemist Michael Behe, mathematician William Dembski, and biologist Jonathan Wells) and their philosophical patron saint, lawyer Phillip Johnson, who helped articulate the current Wedge strategy whereby creationists set aside their trivial doctrinal disputes in order to concentrate on slaying the Darwinian dragon. This policy of accommodation has led to a considerable double standard when ID proponents turn their guns on evolutionary theory, as they hold scientists there to a lofty standard they show little inclination to apply to their own camp. [1]

Thus to date no Intelligent Designer has substantively criticized any of their Young Earth creationist fellow travelers on any scientific issue whatsoever, no matter how egregiously ill-informed they may be.[2] This runs even to the instances where the ID movement has relied on the writings of geocentrists (people who don't buy into that radical new idea that the earth revolves around the sun). Notable examples here run from British geocentrist Malcolm Bowden (who managed to persuade Phillip Johnson "to be suspicious of both the Java Man and Pekin [sic] Man fossil finds") to Tom Willis, author of the infamous 1999 creationist revisions to the Kansas science standards.[3]

An interesting display of this ID double standard in action concerns another of the Discovery Institute's academic Fellows, mathematician David Berlinski, who has of late questioned the underpinnings of Darwinism and Big Bang cosmology.[4]

Wearing his anti-Darwinian hat, Berlinski appeared to open a new page in his cue sheet in the December 2002 issue of Commentary magazine, suggesting the efforts of Behe and Dembski might not be quite as conclusive as their side had supposed. Berlinski even seemed to throw in the towel on one of the major episodes of macroevolution chronicled in the fossil record, the reptile-mammal transition, conceding in his typically rococo way that "The margin between the reptiles and the mammals appears far more friable today than it did a century ago." But like Lucy Van Pelt yanking back the halpless Charlie Brown's football at the last minute, Berlinski immediately deflected the macroevolutionary impact. "When the dead [by which Berlinski means "fossils"] are interrogated at length, then, oxygen levels do drop in certain chambers of conflict, but curiously enough, both Darwinian and design theorists seem to be turning blue as a result." [5]

Curiously enough, Berlinski did not explain who these colorful Darwinists might have been, or why any of them should have been turning even slightly pale over so magnificently clear a pro-evolutionary sequence as the 50-million-year transition from the synapsid reptiles to mammals back in the Permian and Triassic periods. As we'll see shortly, Berlinski did have something in mind for an argument here. But first we need to look at one of the prime subjects of his December 2002 piece.

2. Citation No. 1: David Berlinski versus Nilsson & Pelger in The Case of "The Vexing Eye"

A section on "The Vexing Eye" took aim at a 1994 paper by Dan-Eric Nilsson & Susanne Pelger that had modeled how lensed eyes could have developed incrementally in 1829 1% changes accumulating in as little as a few hundred thousand generations (a geological eye blink).[6]

Misspelling Pelger's name consistently throughout his December 2002 entry (including in a direct quote from somebody else, as we'll see below) Berlinski had focused not on the substance of Nilsson & Pelger's data set, but rather on how the work had been commented on by others:

Biologists who failed to read what Nilsson and Pilger [sic] had written -- the great majority, apparently -- assumed that they had constructed a computer simulation of the eye's evolution, a program that could frog-march those light-sensitive cells all the way to a functioning eye using nothing more than random variation and natural selection. This would have been an impressive and important achievement, a vivid demonstration that Darwinian principles can create simulated biological artifacts. But no such demonstration has been achieved, and none is in prospect. Nilsson and Pilger's [sic] computer simulation is a myth. In a private communication, Nilsson has indicated to me that the requisite simulation is in preparation; his assurances are a part of that large and generous family of promises of which 'your check is in the mail' may be the outstanding example. What Nilsson and Pilger [sic] in fact described was the evolution not of an eye but of an eyeball, and they described it using ordinary back-of-the-envelope calculations. Far from demonstrating the emergence of a complicated biological structure, what they succeeded in showing was simply than an imaginary population of light-sensitive cells could be flogged relentlessly up a simple adaptive peak, a point never at issue because never in doubt.[7]

Concerning what "the majority of biologists" purportedly thought about Nilsson & Pelger's paper, a footnote in Berlinski's December 2002 Commentary article put forward only this example:

The physicist Matt Young offers this inadvertently rich account of his own inability to read the literature: "Creationists used to argue ... that there was not enough time for an eye to develop. A computer simulation by Dan Nilsson and Suzanne Pilger [sic] gave the lie to that claim: Nilsson and Pilger estimated conservatively that 500,000 years was enough time."[8]

Among the many letters in the March 2003 Commentary on Berlinski's views, Young rejoined that even if Nilsson & Pelger had not strictly used a computer to carry out the simulation, the modeling was nonetheless a thoroughly mathematical one, and thus still valid on its own merit.

In challenging Nilsson & Pelger on this point, Berlinski would have improved his argument had he investigated the individual dynamic changes being modeled. But all that concerned him was whether there had been a "computer program" to do the dirty work. Replying to Berlinski in 2001, Nilsson correctly replied that his work with Pelger had indeed not involved a computer simulation. What Berlinski had not asked to see were the actual data points on which those calculations were based.[9]

Having failed to inquire about the data set, the half-cocked Berlinski then shot both rhetorical barrels in an April 2003 diatribe for Commentary. Now Nilsson & Pelger ballooned into "A Scientific Scandal" of significant proportions, with the "gross incompetence" of those evolutionists who had intemperately described Nilsson & Pelger's work as a "computer simulation" becoming "in many ways the gravamen of my complaints and the dessert of this discussion."[10]

Grinding this axe extra fine, Berlinski took issue once again with Matt Young:

Whatever the truth -- and I do not know it -- Mr. Young's inference is pointless. One judges a paper by what it contains and one trusts an author by what he says. No doubt Matt Young is correct to observe that "computer-aided simulation might have been a better description" of Nilsson and Pelger's work. I suppose one could say that had Dan-Erik Nilsson and Susanne Pelger rested their heads on a computer console while trying to guess at the number of steps involved in transforming a light-sensitive patch into a fully functioning eyeball, their work could also be represented as computer-aided.[11]

Well, harrumph!

Beyond all the fuss over whether some science writers should check their rhetorical license more carefully, Berlinski pressed onto really serious ground when he directly accused Nilsson & Pelger of having virtually made up their data, performing no substantive calculations at all. He specifically hammered at Figure 3 of their paper, where the growing number of image points in the visual field followed a commendably linear progression through the 1829 steps of the sequence.[12]

Mistaking the highlighting of seven of the eight theoretical stages in the process as a sign that the rest of the line had been merely an interpolation, Berlinski insisted:

Moreover, Nilsson and Pelger do not calculate the "visual acuity" of any structure, and certainly not over the full 1,829 steps of their sequence. They suggest that various calculations have been made, but they do not show how they were made or tell us where they might be found. At the very best, they have made such calculations for a handful of data points, and then joined those points by a continuous curve.[13]

When I wrote Nilsson to check up on these matters, I did ask about his data set, and he readily supplied a neat summary of the ten variables involved in the simulation and the stages of their acquisition.

As seen from Nilsson's summary, the shifts in the first five stages involved the corneal width and thickness, and the upper and lower widths of the retinal and pigment surfaces. The next stage added an increase in the central refractive index. The final two stages incorporated changes to iris width and the height and width of the developing lens. The accumulating variations could have been reached by any number of specific paths, of course (where three increments involving two variables could have been A>B>A as readily as A>A>B or B>A>A).

Parenthetically, it was a curious lapse for a mathematician like Berlinski not to have appreciated the obvious: just listing all 1829 increments of the ten factors Nilsson & Pelger had used would have involved dozens of pages of small print. So perhaps it was understandable that the Royal Society paper had not included all the raw numbers.

Concerning the ongoing research that Berlinski so disparaged, Nilsson also explained how their modeling of eye evolution was becoming more inclusive precisely to the degree that they were incorporating realistic algorithms reflecting actual genetic control processes and developmental gene expression. In other words, if Berlinski is expecting an increase in computational clarity to undermine the overall theoretical point established in their original 1994 work, he may be in for quite a wait.[14]

But underlying Berlinski's unwarranted charges is a far more seriously flawed conceptual basement. According to Berlinski,

What Nilsson and Pelger assume is that natural selection would track their results; but this assumption is never defended in their paper, nor does it play the slightest role in their theory.

And for an obvious reason: if there are no random variations occurring in their initial light-sensitive patch, then natural selection has nothing to do. And there are no random variations in that patch, their model succeeding as a defense of Darwin's theory only by first emptying the theory, of its content.[15]

Whatever did Berlinski think was going on in Nilsson & Pelger's data set, if not a particular quantification of what would have ultimately represented "random variations" in the parameters of the initial light sensitive patch?

Whether done on "computer" or envelope, one has to recall that all the stages in Nilsson & Pelger's mathematical modeling were based on examples found in living organisms, so Berlinski's characterization of the initial set of cells as "imaginary" rings hollow.[16]

Going by Nilsson's summary of the data points (which Berlinski did not ask about, remember), an initial variation need have been no more than a 1% increase in corneal thickness. That was the feature showing the greatest number of cumulative shifts leading to the second stage of the model, by the way. What Berlinski was insisting here was that in a whole population of organisms possessing that initial photoreceptive patch, none of the characters in any one of them would ever have varied by even that single percentage point!

Given the observed ubiquity of natural variations (from DNA alleles through to the number of ribs in our chest) Berlinski's position tells far more about his own grip on modern biological science than the limitations of Nilsson & Pelger's foray into eye evolution.[17]

This aspect of Berlinski's critique of evolution hasn't always been easy to spot, but only because he hasn't cited all that many technical works. A rare prior exception concerned a comment dropped in the letters section of Commentary -- this time back in September 1996, sparked once again by one of his anti-Darwinian articles. On that occasion, Berlinski called attention to a paper on botany that had not only isolated the mutations responsible for the evolution of several sunflower species ... they had actually been able to reproduce them experimentally.

Now you might have thought this was about the last sort of revelation that could be taken as posing a problem for Darwinism, but that's not taking into account Berlinski's amazing aptitude for glossing sources. He decided that this finding actually "contravenes Darwinian doctrine" -- by which he meant Stephen Jay Gould's argument on the contingent and unpredictable outcome of evolution, where "rewinding the tape" of life would purportedly produce very different results (such as dinosaurs never giving ground to mammals). Berlinski then opined that "the tape in this experiment ran to precisely the same genetic end product every time it was played."[18]

The problem with Berlinski's claim is that Gould's opinion is hardly a core of "Darwinian doctrine" -- just ask Simon Conway Morris, or even Jerry Coyne's commentary on the very article Berlinski had cited. Berlinski had taken Gould's view (which at most would apply to only the broadest phyletic and class categories) and summarily transmogrified it into a dogma mandating genetic chaos all the way down to mutation selection in speciation and plant hybridization.[19]

Now all these quixotic utterances would have represented nothing more than scholarly laziness or conceptual dyslexia on Berlinski's part -- and not a troubling case of "double standard" -- were it not for something that the mathematician had written in the March 2003 letters section of Commentary.

Citation No. 2: The Woodmorappe Affair … or the perils of relying on Phillip Johnson for paleontological advice

Responding to other critics beside just Matt Young (including some querulous comments from his Discovery Institute Fellows taking issue with Berlinski's tepid caveats on their views), Berlinski clarified his position on what evolutionists were supposed to be thinking about the reptile-mammal transition:

On the other hand, the reptile-mammal sequence, the jewel in the crown of Darwinian paleontology, is not without critics of its own in the intelligent-design camp. The indefatigable Phillip Johnson has drawn my attention to a paper by John Woodmorappe in TJ 15(1), 2001, pp. 44-52. (TJ is self-described as a "creation journal," a fact of no relevance to an assessment of Woodmorappe's arguments.) Using cladistic analysis, Woodmorappe investigated a discrete group of morphological characteristics that paleontologists have offered as evidence for the evolutionary nature of the reptile-mammal sequence. At issue is the claim that mammal-like reptiles, when arranged in succession from the pelycosaurs on up, "show an essentially unbroken chain of progressively more mammal-like fossils." With respect to 165 of the 181 anatomical characteristics C. A. Sidor and J. A. Hopson's "Ghost Lineages and 'Mammalness': Assessing the Temporal Pattern of Character Acquisition in the Synapsida" (Paleontology, 24 (2), 1998, Appendix 2, pp. 269-270), Woodmorappe argues that "the majority ... do not show a unidirectional progression toward the mammalian condition" (emphasis added).

I have not studied Woodmorappe's paper thoroughly, but I am quite sure that both his conclusions and the methodology upon which they rest will be widely disputed, if they are ever widely noted. I return to my own starting point: neither Darwinians nor design theorists can look to the fossil record with perfect equanimity.[20]

Actually, there is every reason to question whether Berlinski could have "studied Woodmorappe's paper" at all.

Given how demanding Berlinski was about that "gross incompetence" of anyone who dared describe Nilsson & Pelger's work as a "computer simulation," what then are we to make of Berlinski plainly calling Woodmorappe's article a "cladistic analysis"? That taxonomical discipline involves very specific nomenclature and analytical algorithms. As none of these surfaced even tangentially in Woodmorappe's treatment (which had used nothing more complicated than sums and division -- and messed up even at that level), this datum may be filed under the "People who live in glass houses" category.[21]

Now it is true that Woodmorappe criticized several cladistic analyses, but in so doing only demonstrated how little he understood of the process (or at least how unwilling he was to share this intelligence with his readers, if he did comprehend it).

Woodmorappe insisted that "the proliferation of reversing traits makes it difficult for evolutionists to decide which mammal-like reptiles, and inferred early mammals, are, evolutionarily speaking, closest to each other." His documentation for this was to cite "Luo and Crompton, Ref. 19, p. 340. Four different versions of cladograms are presented, with each one supported by one set of evolutionists. My descriptions involve two of these: (A) and (C)."

Luo & Crompton's 1994 paper was the source for more of Woodmorappe's case against the reptile-mammal transition, which we'll be examining in a moment.

But first we have to ask whether those cladograms A & C (which actually appeared on p. 342 of Luo & Crompton) represented any dark cloud on the evolutionary horizon.

Any set of objects (from fossils to cruise liner deck chairs) may be grouped according to shared traits, and displayed as a cladogram. But this is more than just presenting a proposed sequence of trait acquisition. What cladistic analysis does to a data set is to quantify just how many steps are required to work your way from one end to the other. Rearrange the groupings (as you are completely entitled to) and the Treelength of the cladogram may well change. It is that enumeration which is the point of the exercise: the lower the value, the more "parsimonious" that arrangement is.

That's what Luo & Crompton were doing with their cladograms: testing the various proposals. The issue was therefore not whether all evolutionists have agreed on a particular arrangement over the years (based on the information available to them at the time), but how those proposals stack up when run through the cladistic wringer today.

When you actually look at the cladograms Woodmorappe brought up, it seems quite a jog to describe them as "wildly-conflicting." A & C agreed completely on the middle of the sequence, involving three taxa: the Permian cynodont Procynosuchus, and the later Triassic Thrinaxodon and Probainognathus (when dinosaurs were just gearing up, by the way). They disagreed over whether two of the preceding groups (Gorgonopsia and Therocephalia) were a bit more closely related to one another (the A position). They also differed on the ordering of the two succeeding groups (the Tritheledontidae and Tritylodontidae) leading to the early mammal Morganucodon at the end of the parade. A put the Tritheledontidae closer, while C switched the standing. They did not disagree that those two groups clearly occupied the position immediately adjacent to the early mammals.

We'll see how these characters play out in the discussion of Woodmorappe's charts below. But the relevant point to the cladogram question was their respective Treelength values, which Woodmorappe did not even allude to, let alone dispute. Because the Treelength for A was 35+, somewhat shorter than the value of 39 for C, the "parsimonious" cladistic edge would go to the arrangement in cladogram A.

It is precisely because the mammal character traits are observable only in the preceding synapsid lineage that these taxa are the subject of the debate. There was no controversy about which taxa needed to be included in these studies (for example, no one was dragging in contemporaneous diapsid reptiles like dinosaurs). What "conflict" there is to this has arisen only because the taxa involved look so much alike, nudging just close enough in appearance to require the finest of discernment (helped along by a few Treelength values) to provisionally assign a taxonomical pecking order.

And here is where the worldview of Woodmorappe (and those who choose to cite him with a straight face) parts company with functioning paleontology. We haven't a clue whether Woodmorappe (or Johnson or Berlinski) thinks a gorgonopsid is (or is not) the same "kind" or "type" as Probainognathus or Morganucodon ... or Felix the Cat, while we're about it. Since the field of antievolutionary taxonomy is a discipline without content, there is no opportunity for creationists to progress to the stage where they might apply a few Treelengths to their own typological alternative.[22]

Now while it was certainly incorrect to characterize Woodmorappe's cavils as a "cladistic analysis," this blunder is nothing compared to Berlinski's giddy assertion that the article having appeared in a "creation journal" was "a fact of no relevance to an assessment of Woodmorappe's arguments."[23]

Of no relevance?

Again we have to draw on Berlinski's own behavior in the Nilsson case. From being suspicious of everything about Nilsson & Pelger's Royal Society piece, up to his (erroneous) accusation of their having cobbled together data points, Berlinski suddenly turned all skittles and beer when it came to the Technical Journal.

Published by Answers in Genesis (AiG), the digs of Ken Ham, Jonathan Sarfati and others, the Technical Journal is a venue totally dedicated to defending the scientific credibility of ideas that are far from scientifically credible. Or would Berlinski care to defend a few plots of their specialized doctrinal turf? There's the obvious conviction that the earth and universe are only a few thousand years old, of course.[24] But it extends to less popularly known notions that derive from the central Genesis dogma: such as that prior to the global Flood AiG thinks was responsible for laying down the scenic upper layers of the Grand Canyon, tyrannosaurs were really docile herbivores.[25]

Now would the mere fact of Woodmorappe's paper appearing in an AiG journal constitute "proof" that his argument on the evolution of mammals from therapsids wasn't up to snuff? Of course not ... but it ought to have at least made them very suspicious about its content, and consequently more than casually wary about citing it in public. Had Johnson or Berlinski felt that Woodmorappe's argument sounded plausible, the next step of course would have been for them to investigate the claims and the suitability of Woodmorappe's documentation for them. But as far as I have been able to determine, neither Johnson nor Berlinski thought to do that.[26]

Which means they consider the Darwinian practices of scientists like Nilsson and Dawkins sufficiently egregious to warrant a degree of hairsplitting critical skepticism that they show no inclination to apply even cursorily to the pseudoscientific blather of Young Earth creationists that they may tactically cite.

And Woodmorappe has obligingly returned the favor.

In comments on the 1997 Firing Line evolution debate, Woodmorappe "particularly enjoyed Dr. Berlinski's feisty style of debating. Reminds me of Dr. Duane Gish. Berlinski did not let the evolutionists get away with any of their baloney. A better debate, in my opinion, would perhaps have consisted of Berlinski and Dr. Duane T. Gish against any two evolutionists. I also enjoyed Phil Johnson's deft response to the evolutionists' provocation of showing him a book obviously intended for children, and dealing with a topic not relevant to this debate (dinosaurs and men)."[27]

Whether Berlinski or Johnson should be sleeping all that well at night knowing how much Woodmorappe welcomes their apologetic efforts is something to think about. (Though the vision of Berlinski and Gish in a joint debating appearance would justify bringing along an extra-large tub of popcorn, to be sure.) But one may certainly cringe over Woodmorappe's interesting implication that a book supporting his own steadfastly held view (that dinosaurs and people coexisted) shouldn't even be a topic of concern to the issue of creation/evolution ... precisely because it was aimed at molding the minds of children.[28]

Time now to cut to the chase: does Woodmorappe's "cladistic analysis" warrant even a scintilla of the confidence Johnson and Berlinski thought to place in it?

To borrow a fitting line from Berlinski's own 2003 Commentary peroration: "Business before pleasure."[29]

Woodmorappe actually presented three charts to support his position, each drawing on a separate paleontological paper, not just the one that Berlinski mentioned. The Luo & Crompton work we've already mentioned, and we'll look at that and the third shortly. But first, here's the table based on Sidor & Hopson's 1998 paper, precisely as it appeared in Woodmorappe's AiG article (though with my own notations concerning typos and sundry minutia):

Overall skeletal characters



ID Number




Description




Taxon

Mammalness Index
Progressive Characters
88 of 165 useable characters
from 181 total characters

1

primitive pelycosaurs

Ophiacondontidae

5

2

advanced pelycosaurs

Edaphosauridae

0

3

primitive sphenacodont

Haptodu a

1

4

overall sphenacodont

Sphenacodontidae

3

5

primitive therapsids

Biarmosuchia

29

6

primitive therapsids

Anteosauridae

32

7

primitive therapsids

Estemmenosuchidae

32

8

varied therapsids

Anomodonti b

33

9

primitive therapsids

Gorgonopsidae

43

10

advanced therapsids

Therocephalia

52

11

primitive cynodont

Dvinia

80

12

primitive cynodont

Procynosuchus

81

13

medial cynodont

Galesauridae

85

14

varied cynodont

Thrinaxodon

87

15

advanced cynodonts

Cynognathia

82

16

advanced cynodont

Probelesodon c

101

17

advanced cynodont

Probainognathus

102

21

sister-group candidates

Trithelodontidae d

109

26

mammals

Morganucodontidae

120

a Sidor & Hopson's list referred to a specific taxon, Haptodus.

b Sidor & Hopson's list referred to a broad category, Anomodontia.

c Sidor & Hopson listed Probelesodon after Probainognathus.

d The Tritheledontidae is slightly misspelled here, which Woodmorappe consistently does in the tables.


Of all this, Woodmorappe contended:

We can see the precipitous gap between the pre-therapsids (0-5) and therapsids (29-52).  From the vantage point of the Mammalness Index of 120 for the listed inferred first mammals (the Morganucodontidae), the mammal-like traits in pelycosaurs and sphenacodonts are trivial in magnitude. This gap is all the more extreme because pelycosaurs and therapsids are each large, internally-diverse groups.

This is only the beginning. It is eye opening to realize that the discontinuity between the therapsids (29-52) and cynodonts (80-109), at 28 points, is greater than the entire range of mammal-like traits within the evolution of the therapsids themselves, the latter of which amounts to 23 points! The gap within the cynodonts (80-87 vs. 101-109), while not as extreme, is nevertheless appreciable, and, at 14 points, is greater than both the ranges of the antecedents (7 points) and successors (8 points). Those with a strong background in vertebrate anatomy may want to consult the original sources and examine how the anatomical technicalities (here just summarized as numbered traits) fail to resemble anything like a gradational appearance of mammalian traits in the evolutionistic-constructed "chain" of mammal-like reptiles.

Woodmorappe's invitation to explore the "anatomical technicalities" turns out to be a bold but dangerous challenge.

First off, are Woodmorappe's numbers quite as they appear?

The "progressive characters" that filled Woodmorappe's "Mammalness Index" column in his first chart consisted of only that subset of Sidor & Hopson's data that showed a direct incremental transition -- such as feature no. 27 (000000000000111122222). A sequence like no. 44 (200201120110101211100) would contain a trait "reversal" among the listed examples and wouldn't make the cut.  Similarly, if some of the relevant bones hadn't been preserved so that you couldn't tell what number to assign to it, Woodmorappe left those out too. For instance some of the later taxa have not preserved feature no. 21 (0000111110000000xxxxxx).[30]

Or at least that's what Woodmorappe thought he had done. Before we get to what all those zeros, ones and twos refer to (and whether Woodmorappe's summation of them makes any sense at all), we have to check whether Woodmorappe had even managed to get the data shunted into the right columns, or consistently add them correctly.

To this end I consulted the original sources (as Woodmorappe so confidently recommended his readers do) and plotted the whole lot on spreadsheets to reconstruct his charts.

According to Woodmorappe's note 16, "I have omitted Estemmenosuchus and Sinoconodon from this part of the database because large numbers of their respective character traits are unknown. The 93 rejected characters are accounted for in Ref. 25."

We're are now off to a bumpy start, for you may notice how the "Estemmenosuchidea" was still on his list as item seven. A check with the Sidor & Hopson original indicated that the taxon Woodmorappe had actually dropped was another one on an adjacent line, Eotitanosuchus. That Woodmorappe's eye can slip a row now and then will surface again later. But there's a bigger theoretical problem with his exclusion of Eotitanosuchus and Sinoconodon that again relates to how Woodmorappe's "cladistic" study differs from cladistic studies. While the former taxon is known mainly by dental elements, there is more of the skull available for Sinoconodon (though still missing the taxonomically important quadrate bone). Thus both forms still bore a great deal of information relevant to at least parts of the puzzle, and acting as though they didn't exist was doing a disservice to the paleontological facts.

But just like Berlinski apropos Nilsson's "computer program," all Woodmorappe was interested in were those lump numerical totals.

Let's see what he was doing there. The accounting in Ref. 25 read: "Of the 93 characters omitted from this analysis, 16 were excluded for the sole reason of being of unknown character-polarity for a large number of taxons. The remainder (77) were rejected because they were not consistently progressive towards the mammalian condition, as discussed in the text."

Now we know which categories made it onto Woodmorappe's Mammalness Index, because he listed them in a footnote.[31]

What we didn't get was which of the discards counted among the 16 missing data or the 77 reversals. Had he done so it might have supplied some clues as to some anomalies in his categorization method.

Most ironically, it turns out there weren't "77" reversing characters as Woodmorappe thought ... but actually 87. Now you might think this would strengthen his case, but that would depend on whether a "reversing" feature meant what Woodmorappe wanted it to. The reader has no way to judge directly, of course, because Woodmorappe never related any of these numerical totals to the anatomical specifics.

Consider the haphazard way Woodmorappe handled the two excluded taxa.  If you removed " Estemmenosuchus" (Eotitanosuchus) and Sinoconodon from the field, two of the cranial character traits that "reversed" solely because of them (nos. 24 & 99) would have changed categories into a "progressive" sequence that happened to have a few slots of missing data (1 and 3 positions respectively).[32]

While Woodmorappe put no. 24 in the "progressive" column, he left no. 99 off. But where did it go? If it was lumped in with the "missing data" bunch, that would leave 15 of those to be accounted for. But if having at least three missing slots is qualification for that category, then there are more than a score of those (of which quite a block ended up inconsistently on Woodmorappe's "progressive" list).

Indeed, his main set of 88 "progressive" characters actually included 8 of the "reversals": nos. 25-26, 113, 129 & 169 with missing data (1, 1, 1, 3 & 3 respectively), while 15, 39 & 65 had shown "reversals" with all categories intact. These murky categorizations could have been due to Woodmorappe having a poor copy of the paper, mistaking some of the symbols in the small print of the chart.

But however Woodmorappe's first table came about, the fact is that there seems to be no consistent application of his own criteria. And that's before we get to the more basic question of whether those criteria have any substance.

For the moment, though, let us accept that Woodmorappe had some sort of reason for categorizing the items as he did. What then of the numbers themselves?

The figures running down the right hand column are the processed forms of the totals obtained by adding up each of the acceptable 88 "character polarities" for the taxon, and then running them through a final "normalizing" formula. As Woodmorappe explained in his note 18, "suppose that there is information for 80 of the 88 relevant character traits, and the sum of character polarities is 60. The Mammalness Index in this case is (60/80)(100), or 75."

Once I had all of Sidor & Hopson's original data in a spreadsheet, it was a simple matter to apply Woodmorappe's normalization formula to reconstruct his numbers. It was also possible to generate a comparison value, based on the actual number of "progressive" traits had he used his stated criteria more consistently (rejecting all reversals but not excluding any traits unless they had data missing above a threshold level (such as over a quarter).

But there's something else that needs to be included in an evaluation of Woodmorappe's "cladistic analysis."

One of the most "eye opening" things about Woodmorappe's treatment is that it was devoid of chronology. Since Woodmorappe is a Young Earth creationist, this is a somewhat understandable oversight. In his own conception, all these taxa were literal contemporaries, and their fossils the detritus of the Flood. Thus Noah may well have patted the heads of a pair of gorgonopsids trotting up the gangplank of the Ark.

But Phillip Johnson and David Berlinski have not embraced the YEC worldview, so they do not have this dodge to fall back on.

What happens then when you put Woodmorappe's chart into temporal perspective? The table's first listing was starting off 310 million years ago:

ID Number

Spreadsheet values for the 88 list

Woodmorappe's normalized numbers

Values for a criteria-consistent set of 83

1

4.60

5

1.22

 

10 million

years later:

 

2

0.00

0

1.22

3

1.14

1

2.41

4

3.41

3

4.62

 

30 million

years later:

 

5

30.38

29

27.03

6

29.76

32

28.75

7

31.40

32

29.63

8

34.52

33

34.18

 

4 million

years later:

 

9

45.98

43

43.90

10

50.65

52

53.42

 

11 million

years later:

 

11

80.26

80

79.45

12

81.62

81

80.72

13

85.23

85

84.34

 

5 million

years later:

 

14

86.36

87

85.54

 

10 million

years later:

 

15

92.05

82

89.02

 

6 million

years later:

 

16

100.00

101

97.56

17

100.00

102

97.47

 

20 million

years later:

 

21

113.10

109

111.69

26

120.24

120

119.48

The chronology has now spanned 96 million years, far longer than the time separating Woodmorappe from a T. rex.

The "precipitous gap" separating the four pre-therapsids from the six therapsids happened to cover thirty million years, during which the taxa had accumulated 25 of Woodmorappe's "Mammalness" points. Things picked up during the next eleven million years, by which time the sampled cynodonts had chalked up another 28. Although even by Woodmorappe's reckoning the numbers kept getting larger, this situation was apparently not "gradational" enough for him.

As for the math, Woodmorappe's normalized numbers were sometimes fairly close to the mark (within one or two of the spreadsheet value) but sometimes not. The glaring difference is on item 15, where ten points somehow got shaved -- and which (coincidentally?) happened to be the one spot in the later taxa where the Mammalness had seemingly suffered a trend reversal. That Woodmorappe's processed numbers had a few "reversals" is an issue we'll be returning to concerning another of his tables.

Part 2

[1] Cavalier-Smith (1997) noted the double standard quality of Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box. Re Behe (1996, 68, 179, 279n, 285n), Cavalier-Smith also called attention to his dated sources, and how Behe "deceitfully ignored" relevant work "despite citing the volume containing it as 'evidence' that no paper has ever been published on the subject!" For comparison, Johnson (2000, 73, 180n) proceeded as though Darwin's Black Box had never been criticized at all. This may have been because Johnson thought he had thoroughly eviscerated Behe's critics in his previous book, Defeating Darwinism, where Johnson (1997, 80) did some tactical juggling of the content of Shapiro (1996) and Coyne (1996b).

[2] Dembski (1999, 198-199, 257-252) considers YEC debates over radiometric dating to be bad for the "interdisciplinary dialogue," and distances his "specified complexity" arguments from Creation Science beliefs. ID insularity is reinforced by a failure to engage YEC believers in debate-as of this writing, I know of none involving Behe, Dembski, Johnson, Meyer or Wells, who prefer to cross swords only with evolutionists. This may be compared to how often Old Earth creationists like Hugh Ross debate YEC believers as well as evolutionists.

[3] Johnson (1991, 175) extols Bowden's importance. According to Bowden's "Creation Page" website "there is evidence that the earth is NOT moving around the sun, but either the aether is moving around the earth carrying the planets with it, or the earth is spinning on its axis. The most likely model is that the aether is rotating around the earth as calculations show that if it did not, it would rapidly collapse upon itself." Tom Willis defends the scientific legitimacy of geocentrism in his 2000 piece "More Great Proofs of Evolution" at the Creation Science Association of Mid-America (CSA) website. A belief that the Bible required Ptolemaic cosmology remained surprisingly popular among certain conservative American religious denominations into the 20th century, such as the Missouri, Wisconsin and Norwegian Lutheran synods. Geocentrism also circulated in the background at G. M. Price's "Religion and Science Association" and Walter Lang's "Bible Science Association" (BSA) in the 1930s, Numbers (1992, 106, 237-238). Paul Ellwanger (who inspired the spurt of "equal time" creationist legislation a quarter century ago) and R. G. Elmendorf represent a retrograde band of Roman Catholic geocentrists. Ohio college computer science teacher Gerardus Bouw promotes geocentrism via the Association for Biblical Astronomy, along with the conservative political agenda of the Constitution Party (a.k.a. the "Taxpayers Party," with its recurrent presidential candidate Howard Phillips). Eve & Harrold (1991, 129-130) understandably plot Biblical geocentrism on the extreme right wing of the creationist movement. Toumey (1994, 128-130) described how disconcertingly open-minded members of the Bible Science Association were even in the mid-1980s to lectures by Bouw and other geocentrists. While Young Earth creationist Paul Taylor (1995, 34-35, 53, 90-94, 97-99) drew on Bouw and Bowden without mentioning their geocentrism, other YEC ideologues are not so impressed. "TJ" complained (with considerable unintended irony) that "Bouw fails to apply the same rigorous standards that he applies to the heliocentric theory to his own pet model," as though YEC believers weren't loaded with their own double standards.

[4] See Berlinski (1996a,b; 1998; 2001). A distinct thread of "mystery" runs through all of these pithy Commentary essays, where Berlinski appears to object to the tendency of recent science to endeavor to explain too much, stepping on the toes of the "ineffable" (whether God or not). A comparable focus applies to fellow anti-Darwinian Tom Bethell (1996; 1999a,b; 2000; 2001; 2002) over at The American Spectator, grumping over relativity theory along with naturalistic evolution. See economist Brad DeLong on "Conservative Fear of Albert Einstein" and John Farrell's "Did Einstein Cheat?" Chris Hillman's "Some Scientifically Inaccurate Claims Concerning Cosmology and Relativity" offers a concise guide through the obdurate thicket of characters here. Bethell's enthusiasm for fringe physicists includes Tom Van Flandern (who is also convinced that the "face on Mars" is a bona fide clue to ancient civilizations on that planet).

[5] Berlinski (2002, 33). This was a slight retrenchment of his position at the 1997 PBS Firing Line evolution debate. On that occasion Berlinski freely acknowledged that the fossil evidence for the reptile-mammal transition was strong, yet treated this as though it were some inconsequential microevolutionary blip rather than the macroevolutionary appearance of a whole new vertebrate class. The antievolution side of the debate was clearly a Discovery Institute affair, since Berlinski, Johnson and Behe were all DI Fellows. William F. Buckley marshaled his team against the evolutionary opposition of biologist Ken Miller, minister Barry Lynn (of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State), philosopher Michael Ruse and anthropologist Eugenie Scott (of the National Center for Science Education).

[6] Nilsson & Pelger (1994), excerpted in Mark Ridley (1997, 293-301).

[7] Berlinski (2002, 34). Although the bulk of Berlinski's article was actually as critical of ID reasoning as Darwinists, the apologetic Access Research Network obviously found "The Vexing Eye" congenial, and reprinted that segment as a stand-alone in February 2003. Berlinski's interest in Nilsson & Pelger appears to have been sparked when the PBS Evolution series featured them in the course of discussing eye evolution (see "Evolution" Series Claim on Eye Evolution More Fiction than Fact, part of the Discovery Institute's critique of the program).

[8] Berlinski (2002, 34); the ellipsis was Berlinski's. Matt Young and five others posted their rejoinders to Berlinski in December 2002. Incidentally, Berlinski (2003, 29n) apologized for having misspelled Pelger's name.

[9] Nilsson confirmed this in an e-mail to me in April 2003. Nilsson's response to Berlinski was also posted at Talk Reason.

[10] Berlinski (2003, 35) complained that "Matt Young is hardly alone in his lavish misreadings," calling to account the similar "computer" versions of Nilsson-Pelger in Ian Stewart (1995, 21-23) and Richard Dawkins (1995, 78-83). Stewart had actually drawn on the somewhat less effusive Dawkins (1994), that hadn't gone so far in the literary license department by describing eye shape mutating visibly on computer screens as he would in River Out of Eden. Dawkins (1996, 138-197) reprised his arguments. Had Berlinski wanted to buff up his documentation with a few more examples, the discussion of eye evolution in Raff (1996, 375-386) did mention "computer simulation"-but the account of Nilsson & Pelger in Schwartz (1999, 345-347, 361-363) did not employ the offending buzzword computer. Cf. Goodwin (1994, 161-168) on eye evolution. Incidentally, Behe (1996, 36-39) challenged only the older pre-Nilsson Dawkins (1986, 77-81) by effectively demanding all the point mutations involved. Theistically minded physicist Keith Ward (1996, 121-124) accepted Nilsson & Pelger's argument, but thought such mutations could only have been guided by divine thought. Berlinski's "scandal" may be thought of as dipping an oar in the turbulent waters already stirred up by the truculent Jonathan Wells (1999; 2000a,b; 2002), who has become a starring figure in current creationist apologetics for his claims that evolutionists have been relying on spurious "Icons of Evolution." With perhaps appropriate irony, the Discovery Institute posted Berlinski's Commentary piece at their website on April 1, 2003.

[11] Berlinski (2003, 35).

[12] Figure 3 as illustrated in Nilsson & Pelger (1994, 56).

[13] Berlinski (2003, 35). This marked a progressive escalation of Berlinski's certainty. Berlinski (2003, 32) had insisted, "Numbers make an appearance in each of their graphs: the result, it is claimed, of certain elaborate calculations. But no details are given either in their paper or in its bibliography. The calculations which they allude remain out of sight, if not out of mind." On the next page he decided the 1829 number was "derived from nothing at all." And by Berlinski (2003, 35) he averred that "Nilsson and Pelger did not require a computer simulation to undertake their calculations because they made no such calculations, their figure of 1,829 steps representing an overall guess based on the known optical characteristics of existing aquatic eyes."

[14] For an example of simulations actually done on a computer, Lenski et al. (2003) is relevant to the "irreducible complexity" (IC) defense currently espoused by Michael Behe and William Dembski. The ID mantra is that IC functions cannot be produced by either "direct" or "indirect" Darwinian means. The "direct" mode is something of a logical trick, where by definition the specific IC function cannot be accomplished with other than the current set of minimal parts. But that begs the "indirect" route, where novel interactions could appear by co-opting subsystems already engaged in doing something else. The Lenski paper explores how complex functions can originate in a group of "digital organisms" (competing self-replicating forms open to mutation) by just such "indirect" means, including even drawing on mutations that were initially deleterious.

[15] Berlinski (2003, 33).

[16] For example, see Arendt et al. (2002) on pigment-cup eyes in the polychaete Platynereis dumerilii and the general conservation of larval eyes in bilaterian organisms.

[17] Figuring out the nuts-and-bolts of eye evolution has been a laborious process involving a lot of very fundamental hard work. Indeed, little data were available to Gamlin & Vines (1986, 218-219) or even the more recent textbook, Müller (1996, 208-209). Yoon (1998) and Pennisi (2002) report on the latest discoveries and thinking in the field. When the eyeless gene family was first found it was briefly thought that the "master control" for eyes had been found, but it soon became apparent (pardon the pun) that multiple genes contribute to the process, such as Roush (1997) re Shen & Mardon (1997) on the dachshund gene. Pax 6 is still one of the most strikingly conserved and powerful of the components, though, as indicated by the ectopic eyes that can be generated on the bodies of fruit flies and frogs. This is even true when the gene used to do it is drawn from the other phylum, Barinaga (1995) re Halder et al. (1995), Onuma et al. (2002). Similarly, Neumann & Nuesslein-Volhard (2000) note how hedgehog homologues governing retinal patterning among fruit flies and zebrafish "supports a common evolutionary origin of the animal visual system." See Callaerts et al. (1999), Pineda et al. (2000) and Oakley & Cunningham (2002) for related research. Things are a bit farther along when it comes to the origin of metazoan limbs, especially for us vertebrates. As recounted by Zimmer (1998, 28-107; 2001g, 131-134) the developmental process was actually implied by the fossil evolutionary sequence and later confirmed genetically. More specifically, finger duplications (leading eventually to our five-digit hand) turn out to be due to alanine repeats in the Hoxd-13 gene. This area certainly has been widely covered: Goodwin (1994, 147-161), Sordino et al. (1995), Averof & Patel (1997), Kondo et al. (1997), Shubin et al. (1995; 1997), Gibson-Brown et al. (1998), Schwartz (1999, 339-345), Laurin et al. (2000), Ruvinsky & Gibson-Brown (2000), Tudge (2000, 389-397), Wagner & Chiu (2001) and Capdevila & Belmonte (2002). Assessing the Creation Science and Intelligent Design reaction to such work is difficult, however, since they don't appear to have discussed any of it.

[18] Berlinski cited Rieseberg et al. (1996) in his segment of the "Controversy" section (pp. 4, 6, 8-11, 14-28, 30-39) occasioned by Berlinski (1996b).

[19] See Conway Morris (1998a,b) and Coyne (1996a). Though you could hardly tell from reading Berlinski, there's a nice literature on the interplay of contingency and constraint in many areas of biological evolution. Some recent examples: Manché et al. (1999) and Wichman et al. (1999) on mutation in bacteria and viruses, Salehi-Ashtiani & Szostak (2001) on multiple origins for self-cleaving RNA, and Shanahan (2003) on a broader biological level. It is of course significantly more difficult to test the jumbo Gould-scale of contingency, which falls into the same category as historical "what if" speculations (such as would Weimar Germany have got into a similar mess around 1933 even if Hitler had died of gas exposure back in WWI). There would probably be valid answers to such questions, but they are functionally undecidable on account of our inability to actually rewind the tape of history to find out.

[20] March 2003 Commentary Letters (p. 24), citing Woodmorappe (2001) which was most likely obtained the same way I did, via the Answers in Genesis website.

[21] See Gamlin & Vines (1986, 32-33), Whitfield (1993, 176-177), Fastovsky & Weishampel (1996, 51-54. 61-63, 70, 90) or Tudge (2000, 33-62) for the origin of cladistic analysis and illustrations of how it is applied in an evolutionary context (useful online links are available at Phylogenetic Systematics And Development). Lee (1998), Sereno (1999) and Hudson & Coyne (2002) discuss related technical issues (such as the difference between "crown" and "stem" groups, how "nodes" figure in cladistics, and the effect different definitions have on the interpretation of genetic loci data). Dodson (2000, 506-508) and Gould (2002, 605) offer wary comments about the applicability of cladism.

[2]2 Michael Denton (1985) tried valiantly to resuscitate a non-evolutionary typology, but had to exclude whole swaths of fossil taxa in the process (including giving ridiculously short shrift to the reptile-mammal transition). It is revealing that Denton (1998) dropped the subject of typology completely, accepting (sort of) common descent while marching upstairs to embrace the "anthropic" view of the natural world as reflecting Intelligent Design (though by whom or what he still hasn't worked out).

[23] Someone else who takes this position is ID psychologist Paul Nesselroade, who has guest-authored recent installments of the Access Research Network's Wedge Update after its founder Phillip Johnson curtailed his activities following a stroke. The January 29, 2003 bit (available at arn.org) complained about "a recent syllabus for a science education class at a major university" (which he did not specify) that cautioned students not to cite creationist sources (like ICR or Answers in Genesis) or likeminded ID material. Oblivious to the scholarly thin ice onto which he was stepping, Nesselroade objected: "But when has the source of a citation been reason enough to disregard it? Is the challenge being raised valid or not? The truth should not have to be protected from challenges. Surely it can tolerate honest questions." Now ID boosters can of course offer the original scientific material on which the antievolutionary claims might have been supposedly based. But insofar as a creationist resource shows no aptitude for analytical triage, it is entirely appropriate for a college-level instructor to reject such citations as inherently suspect.

[24] Young Earth cosmology and cavils over radiometric dating are featured prominently in the "Selected Articles" section. A typical exposition of how this plays out outside the AiG parapets is Jonathan Sarfati's lengthy post mortem of a debate moderated by Rev. John Ankerberg in October 2000 between YEC bumpkin "Dr." Kent Hovind and Old Earth creationist physicist Hugh Ross. At one point Ross admitted: "If the Bible clearly taught that it was young, I would believe that in spite of my astronomy." To which Sarfati commented: "The Bible does teach the Earth is young, and it's not 'despite' any astronomy, but consistent with astronomical data." By the way, Ankerberg is par for the apologetic course in the antievolution venue, mining authority quotes against evolution without much comprehension of what the issues are. Ankerberg & Weldon (1998, 302-303) go so far as to accept the silly "biosphere" experiments of "Dr." Carl Baugh, attempting to recreate pre-Flood giantism and longevity in what amounts to a pressure cooker. For background, Hovind and Baugh are among the few remaining YEC believers who accept that human footprints are preserved at the Paluxy River site in Glen Rose, Texas-an idea dropped by more mainstream creationists (if that term means much). See the backspin at the ICR (John Morris' Impact No. 151, January 1986) and AiG ("Maintaining Creationist Integrity" ). A sampling of the voluminous critical literature on the Paluxy "mantracks": Strahler (1987, 462-470), Lockley (1999, 181-185), Pennock (1999, 216-221) and Kossy (2001, 184-189). For the record, Hovind and Baugh's "doctorates" are self-inflicted: Hovind's from "Patriot University" (which presently operates out of a suburban split-level in Colorado) and one of Baugh's from an Australian mail order operation set up conveniently by his friend and fellow YEC believer, Clifford Wilson.

[25] Answers in Genesis cofounder Ken Ham (1998, 22) is representative of the logical thrust of Young Earth creationist comparative anatomy: "With such teeth, evolutionary scientists are quick to see an animal that was a ferocious meat-eater. However, we know that originally T. rex was a vegetarian: Genesis 1:30 states, 'And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat and it was so.' It's certainly possible that T. rex teeth were designed for eating special types of "green herb" such as large melons, gourds, coconuts and large hard seed pods (or even tree and fern branches) to name a few possibilities. It's also conceivable that the Curse might have resulted in changes to their structure, either degenerative or by deliberate design." Similarly the Institute for Creation Research's venerable Duane Gish (1990, 71) on T. rex: "It is supposed that his main diet consisted of other dinosaurs, but it also may be that these teeth and claws were used to eat tough roots and bark, etc." Gish's book is structured as a school text, by the way. Strahler (1986, 358) remarked on the similar position of Whitcomb & Morris (1961, 461, 464) that no carnivorous beasts existed before the Fall, and how this appeared to require post-Curse anatomical transformations of an unfortunately broad character. All this may be contrasted with the grubby forensic details. Larson & Donnan (2002, 213): "We know T. rex's punchlike teeth could neither strip leaves from trees nor crush and process fruits and berries. They had only one use, and that was to cut through flesh and bone. We know what happened to Sue's dinner after she ate because we found the acid-etched tail vertebrae of an Edmontosaurus in her stomach contents, along with other digestive tract material." Abler (1999) describes T. rex's dental tool kit. One may toss in an apparently cannibalistic theropod from Madagascar, Rogers et al. (2003). On the scholarly suppression front, to reach his biblically-correct view of antediluvian herbivory, Ham had to step over a large body of relevant material in one of his own cited sources: Currie & Padian's 1997 Dinosaur Encyclopedia. See William L. Abler, "Tooth Serrations in Carnivorous Dinosaurs," and Anthony R. Fiorillo & David B. Weishampel, "Tooth Wear," in Currie & Padian (1997, 740-743, 743-745). The situation with carnosaurs may be contrasted with the question of whether the Triassic period prosauropods (precursors of the great Jurassic sauropods) were carnivores, omnivores or herbivores. The evidence currently favors a largely herbivorous diet, Paul Upchurch, "Prosauropoda," in Currie & Padian (1997, 602-603). Aase R. Jacobsen, "Tooth Marks," in Currie & Padian (1997, 738) noted signs of predation are more common than earlier supposed (though still found on only a few percentage of the bones in an average ensemble). They were quite prevalent, however, on the disarticulated fossil array from one Utah segment of the Morrison Formation, Joshua B. Smith, "Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry," in Currie & Padian (1997, 126). This was most likely an Allosaurus hunting ground where the predators occasionally got as stuck in the mud as their prey, Norell et al. (1995, 110-112).

[26] In May 2003 I dispatched e-mails to Berlinski via the Discovery Institute and Johnson at his home page, asking them whether it was Johnson or Berlinski who had initially described Woodmorappe's piece as a "cladistic" analysis, and whether either thought to investigate the original papers on which Woodmorappe's claims rested. As of this writing, neither had replied.

[27] Woodmorappe's piece on the Firing Line debate is available online at rae.org/firing.html (cf. note 5 above). It is of interest to contrast his gushy ode to Berlinski & Gish with his less charitable "refutation" to criticism of Woodmorappe's 1996 book Noah's Ark: a Feasibility Study by Glenn Morton. Although Morton is a devout Christian (but ex-creationist), Woodmorappe started off by declaring that "Morton is attacking the very Word of God" and quoted Martin Luther fulminating about similar "criminal monsters" who attacked Scripture. Whether such umbrage falls under the same category as Luther's considerable anti-Semitism, as noted by Hill & Cheadle (1996, 20) or Walters (2001, 55-61), is debatable. But it does suggest how ill prepared Woodmorappe is to permit other interpretations of the Bible, let alone temper his particular Noachian conclusions by contrary evidence.

[28] A brief sampling of creationist kid books falling under the "appalling in every respect" category: Taylor (1987), Gish (1990; 1992) and Gray (1996a,b). Taylor (1987, 25-27) and Gish (1992, 69-71) both openly support the "dinosaurs on Noah's Ark" view of the world, which includes the herbivorous tyrannosaurs mentioned in note 23 above. Aimed at the 4-8 age group, Gray's cheery cartoon books do not offer a traditional YEC framework, but do contain their own choice nuggets of misinformation. In a section devoted to the wonders of the Garden of Eden, for example, Gray (1996a, 7) had an illustration captioned: "The rhinoceros iguana of Puerto Rico has 3 eyes." That Gray somehow mutated the three-horned iguana (which, like all vertebrates, comes equipped with the standard pair of peepers as a conserved feature) suggests the author's familiarity with even basic animal anatomy is (to put it charitably) rather limited. Incidentally, a check in May 2003 showed Gray's book holding its own as No. 57 of the 68 most popular children's titles offered at HallKidsReligions.com. For a contrasting work for children by an actually competent scientist, paleontologist David Norman (1985) is ideally representative.

[29] Berlinski (2003, 32).

[30] The three items in this example were all cranial characters, described by Sidor & Hopson (1998, 271). Item 21 involved the relative elevation of a bone opening, "Parietal foramen: flush with roof or on low swelling (0), raised on tall 'chimney' (1)." No. 27 was "Ectopterygoid shape: large, contacts maxilla (0), reduced, excluded from maxilla (1), absent (2)." And 44 concerned the "Zygomatic arch dorsoventral height: slender (less than one-quarter temporal fenestra height) (1), very deep (greater than one-half temporal fenestra height) (2)." The zygomatic arch is a characteristic feature of the mammal skull (you can easily feel it in your own cheek) whose distinctive appearance is one of the suite of characters that permit the identification of our fossil ancestors and cousins.

[31] Woodmorappe's note 17 explained, "Relative to the 181 numbered anatomical characters culled from Sidor and Hopson, Ref. 15, Appendix 1 and 2, the 88 suitable characters entered into Table 1 bear the following numbers: 5-7, 9, 11-15, 17-20, 22, 24-27, 29-30, 32, 35-37, 39, 46-47, 49-50, 51, 53, 56-57, 63-72, 74-75, 77, 80, 82, 84-92, 95, 101, 113, 117, 123, 126-127, 129, 131-138, 144-145, 155-156, 158-160, 163, 165-170, 174."

[32] Sidor & Hopson (1998, 271-272) defined character trait 24 as "Vorner ventral surface: flat to convex (0), lateral ridges and median trough (1), narrow vertical keel (2)." The sequence ran 00001[0]11111?11222222[2], with the bracketed numbers excluded for Eotitanosuchus and Sinoconodon. Character trait 99 referred to "Reflected lamina of angular size: large (0), small (1)," with the data string there running ???00[?]00000111111113[1]. Since there was no "3" in the trait, that was a typographical error on Sidor & Hopson's part, where the value should have read 1. But since there was no "3" state for the algorithms to measure (and no actual shift in character state) the data matrix typo didn't figure into Sidor & Hopson's cladistic conclusions. Since Woodmorappe excluded 99, the difference between 1 and 3 also didn't affect his non-cladistic calculations.

Discussion