The ICR's Gary Parker has been among the more blatant offenders [in distorting the words of scientists]. On page 95 of his Creation: The Facts of Life, we read: "Famous paleontologists at Harvard, the American Museum, and even the British Museum say we have not a single example of evolutionary transition at all." This is untrue. A prominent creationist [Sunderland] interviewed a number of paleontologists at those institutions and elsewhere (actually, he never did get to Harvard). I was one of them. Some of us candidly admitted that there are some procedural difficulties in recognizing ancestors and that, yes, the fossil record is rather full of gaps. Nothing new there. This creationist then wrote letters to various newspapers, and even testified at hearings that the paleontologists he interviewed "admitted" that there are no intermediates in the fossil record. Thus, the lie has been perpetuated by Parker. All of the paleontologists interviewed have told me that they did cite examples of intermediates to the interviewer. The statement is an outright distortion of the willing admission by paleontologists concerned with accuracy, that, to be sure, there are gaps in the fossil record. Such is creationist "scholarship."David Raup, in a letter to Thomas J. Wheeler dated December 9, 1987 (quoted in Wheeler's "A Response to D. James Kennedy's Presentations on Creationism and Evolution on 'The John Ankerberg Show'," available from Wheeler at 426 Deerfield Lane, Louisville, KY 40207) wrote regarding a quote about the horse series being "phony" (used by Kennedy) that:
I suspect that much of the quote from the radio [actually television] came from the Sunderland interviews. Although I might easily have made the statement about the horse series, I do not remember doing so. In my interview with Sunderland I said: "Well, as more is learned about the evolution of the horse, more separate lineages have been recognized and it's far more complicated than early work indicated." I suspect that the quoted statements were actually made either by Eldredge or Gould. I have heard Gould repeatedly criticize the traditional museum treatment of horse evolution. And Eldredge said in his Sunderland interview that the AMNH [American Museum of Natural History] exhibit on the subject is "lamentable."Wheeler notes that when he asked Kennedy for the source of the Raup quote, he was sent a photocopy of a page from The Quote Book which did not at all match what Kennedy said on the air (Wheeler reprinted it in full on p. 26 of his response) and does not state that there are no transitions in the horse series.
"Obviously I have not helped you fight your local creationists -- sorry. The story behind the 'Impact' article is that last November I gave a talk to the systematics discussion group in the American Museum of Natural History. I was asked to talk on 'evolutionism and creationism,' and knowing the meetings of the group as informal sessions where ideas could be kicked around among specialists, I put a case for difficulties and problems with evolution, specifically in the field of systematics. I was too naive and foolish to guess what might happen: the talk was taped by a creationist who passed the tape to Luther Sunderland. Sunderland made a transcript, which I refused to edit, since it was pretty garbled, and since I had no exact record of what I did say. Since, in my view, the tape was obtained unethically, I asked Sunderland to stop circulating the transcript, but of course to no effect.
There is not much point in my going through the article point by point. I was putting a case for discussion, as I thought off the record, and was speaking only about systematics, a specialized field. I do not support the creationist movement in any way, and in particualr I am opposed to their efforts to modify school curricula. In short, the article does not fairly represent my views. But even if it did, so what? The issue should been [sic] resolved by rational discussion, and not by quoting 'authorities,' which seems to be the creationists' principal mode of argument."
It depends how somebody approaches a problem that is outside his area of expertise. If they research the problem properly and argue logically, that is one thing. But if they base their arguments on discredited ideas and use rhetoric or appeal to emotion rather than logic, then they will deservedly get shot down in flames.
The author of Darwin on Trial is a lawyer, well versed in courtroom techniques, which include using emotion and rhetoric to convince jurors, also the discrediting of witnesses because they do not have particular facts immediately. All these are succesful techniques to win a debate.
But debates and trials do not establish scientific FACTS like gravity, light and evolution. All they do is generate a layman's opinion.
A scientist on the other hand uses the scientific method. After all, that's what works. This is based on putting forward hypotheses and then disproving them until one is found that fits the evidence. Sometimes they can be dismissed immediately because of obvious discrepancies, even though the correct answer might not be known. Sometimes they take time and research to disprove. This is the absolute opposite of debating and trials. Scientists usually lose debates because they are too honest. The attacker makes a charge like "what about human and dinosaur tracks together at Paluxy". If the scientist has heard of these, he will know that they have been discredited. If not, he will go away and do some research before he will commit himself. Of course, anybody with a modicum of education knows that the dinosaurs were supposed to be extinct before man came on the scene, but in a debate before the uneducated this does not matter.
And yes, they get very boring and wordy because their written words have to be exact, and leave no room for ambiguity.
The author of Darwin on Trial is a lawyer who hasn't researched his subject properly. The arguments were based on rhetoric and appeal to emotion. This is why his book was dismissed so easily on talk.origins a while back.
Incidentally, without evolution, most of modern science could not exist. Oil deposits are found using geological principals that are based on the evolution of the Earth's crust. Do you use petrol (gasoline) in your car, or plastic products in your home? The sciences of biology and biochemistry have lead to modern medical techniques.
Even if evolution is somehow discredited, the creationists would still have to explain ALL the observations that support it, in a way BETTER than evolution does.
You used the word "evolutionist". This tells us plenty about you, and your position. It is a word that is used by the US creation movement to describe everybody who doesn't believe the biblical creation myths, which means the rest of the educated world. It's all rather pathetic, and more than a little paranoid.