Author: Michael Cranford (email@example.com)
Title: Should Forrest Mims have been hired by Scientific American?
What follows are selected excerpts from an open letter by Forrest M. Mims
III to Daniel Jimenez (this was written in May, 1991). I have not made any
changes (not even spelling corrections) to the text.
[ ... ] The reaction of various skeptics to all this
has been quite interesting. One spent minutes trying to
convince me that whales evolved from "cow-like creatures" (his
words). Yet he could identify absolutely no fossils that
demonstrate any such transition. (Yes, I am aware of the recent
finds in Egypt; no they aren't cow-whales.) Living aside my
views and questions, often skeptics are unable to give a
straight answer to Charles Darwin's own doubts and questions
about evolution expressed in "The Origin of Species." (Could
that be because they have not read the book?) Sometimes they
become rather disturbed when I remind them that Marx, Hitler and
assorted white supremacists were great admirers of Darwin. Marx
asked Darwin if he could dedicate his famous book to him, but
Darwin wisely declined.
Incidentally, Darwin was surrounded by servants and lived
off inherited wealth and allowances his entire life he was an
abolitionist (and argued against slavery with Captain Fitzroy
while aboard the HMS Beagle), but he was very comfortable with
the racist views of his class-conscious England. Among the very
first entries in his diary on his arrival in Brazil aboard the
Beagle is this passage:
"This war of extirmination [sic], although arrived on with
the most shocking barbarity, will certainly produce great
benefits. It will at once throw open four or five hundred miles
in length of fine country fo the produce of cattle...women who
appear over twenty years are massacred in cold blood [because, he
was told] they breed so."
This certainly gives new meaning to he phrase "survival of
the fittest." Want to find out more about Darwin? This
quotation can be found in Charles Darwin, a new book by John
Bowlby (W.W.Norton Company, New York, 544 pages with many
photographs, drawings and maps, 1991). I recently reviewed this
and another book about Darwin for The Philadelphia Inquirer. For
some reason all but the last 14 words of this quote have been cut
from my edition of Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle.
So far most of the skeptics I've encountered have apparently
been armchair scientists. They seem to be worried more about God
than anything else. It's no wonder that some of them seem so
threatened by and become so emotional over the evolution-
creation debate, especially when I tell them I used to accept
Darwinian evolution until I began studying fossils in museums as
a young adult. To the best of my knowledge, I've yet to be
questioned by a skeptic who has actually collected a fossil in
the field; few have even bothered to read "The Origin of Species."
[ ... ] They simply have no answer for questions like these:
1. From what did the insect evolve? (All fossil insects are
2. From where did the wing evolve? (There is absolutely no
fossil record of the supposed evolution of any form of wing.)
3. From what did the bat evolve? (The first fossil bats are
quite clearly bats.)
4. How did the feather evolve? (There's no fossil evidence of
any kind for feather evolution. Some poorly informed skeptics
dredge up the silly idea about "frayed scales," not realizing
that old canard was long ago rejected.)
5. From what did trilobites evolve--to say anything of all
the other fantastic creatures in the Burgess shale and the even
greater assortment found recently in southern China? (The
Cambrian explosion is often termed the greatest riddle of
6. Why has evolutionary biology been companied by some of
the most blatant cases of scientific fraud ever perpetrated and
many of the most famous personality rifts in science? (This is
personal--in the sixth grade I was taught that Piltdown man was a
legitimate fossil and human ancestor. Later I learned that the
fraud had been uncovered when I was much younger, but Piltdown
man was still in the biology books and the teacher didn't know
7. Why are reconstructions of fossil hominids always black?
(Tom Gray, co-discoverer of the Australopithecine
anthropomorphized by the name "Lucy" once showed me some plaster
casts of this famous fossil. They provided no clue whatsoever to
the skin color of the creature which they once supported.)
[ ... ] On the other hand, we find a very small group of
rather insecure folk who seem threatened by someone who has
written about and practiced science for more than two decades.
Why? Because I don't believe they are cousins of butterflies and
bumble bees. For the sin of failing to subscribe to their
philosophy, they would deprive me of my living and censor my
works--without ever having searched any of my books or articles!
How they can pronounce judgement when they ow nothing about my
work and then classify themselves as objective seekers of truth,
which is what a scientist is supposed to be, is beyond me.
Will they next censor the 49 Jewish physicians in New York who
published a statement about their advocacy of creationism? Will
they purge the textbooks of the writings of the hundred of famous
scientists over the centuries who believed in a Creator God? In
view of what has happened during past episodes of blacklisting
and censorship over religious, political and scientific beliefs,
these people must be taken very seriously. If they are not
confronted and exposed as censors and blacklisters, their name
calling, as history has clearly demonstrated, can eventually
escalate into something much worse than simply losing a position.
[ ... ]
Note that Mims resorts to a number of standard creationist tactics in an
effort to "prove" his point :
1. He wants a fossil of a "cow-whale" when evolution doesn't predict
that one exists (straw man argument) while ignoring the overwhelming
evidence that biological evolution has in fact occurred.
2. He suggests that doubts about evolution in "Origin of the Species"
are applicable today (over a century of evidence in favor of evolution
has been collected since Darwin's time).
3. He suggests that Darwin was a white supremacist (a strange statement
from someone who was raised in the southern part of the U.S. (Texas).
Also note that he objects to the black fossil hominid reconstructions!
4. He repeatedly suggests that skeptics haven't even read "Origin of
the Species" yet he clearly misattributes a statement made by a sailor
(that Darwin was quoting) to Darwin in an effort to smear Darwin as a
racist. Creationists have become famous quite for misquoting.
5. He claims to have once accepted evolution until he studied fossils
yet he seems unaware of the massive evidence in favor of evolution.
Why are there are no paleontologists, who essentially "live and breathe
fossils", who agree with him.
6. He fails to note that cases of scientific fraud in evolutionary biology
were in fact discovered by evolutionary scientists and not creationists.
7. He complains about the poor quality of biology textbooks and teachers
while ignoring the glaring fact that creationists in Texas and California
have been the leaders in the systematic removal of evolutionary biology
from pre-college science textbooks.
8. When did the scientific community decide that science should be defined
by 49 Jewish physicians? How many physicians, of any ethnic or religious
group, would it take to "prove" that the earth is flat and located at the
center of the universe and should science be a slave to this "proof"?
9. He tries to rewrite history by suggesting that members of the scientific
community are engaged in censoring ideas and textbooks like past events but
fails to note which groups of people were (and are now) engaged in these
activities (see number 7 above).
Etc, etc. (The rest is left as an exercise for the student).
The "name" of the Australopithecine (Lucy) actually came from the Beatles
song. Martin Gardner (a theist who accepts evolution) has stated that Mims
is "guilty of the sin of willful ignorance".