Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Arrested Development

The rule of thumb for some people, even some who are chronologically older than twelve, is that when they don't have an argument, or worse, when their argument is completely incoherent, the best course is to conceal the fact by piling on the personal invective. Darwinian Larry Moran is evidently a good example of the type.

Michael Egnor tells us a little bit about Professor Moran's style:

University of Toronto biochemistry professor Larry Moran takes issue with my characterization of his vicious personal attacks on Dr. Jonathan Wells. Dr. Wells has pointed out that superb recent research on bacterial resistance to antibiotics was independent of Darwin's theory. Dr. Moran said of Dr. Wells:

"...the right people hate IDiots...Wells makes a virtue out of lying for Jesus...He should be an embarrassment to the intelligent design creationist cult except that the members of that cult are all incapable of separating fact from fiction when it comes to science...When I first saw the Wells article I seriously wondered whether Jonathan Wells was mentally stable..."

Dr. Moran has a low view of people who question his evolutionary views from the perspective of design. In 2006 he said of students who support the inference to design in biology:

"Flunk the IDiots...40% of the freshman class [at UCSD] reject Darwinism... the university has become alarmed at the stupidity of its freshman class and has offered remedial instruction for those who believe in Intelligent Design Creationism...UCSD should not have required their uneducated students to attend remedial classes. Instead, they should never have admitted them in the first place...[T]he University should just flunk the lot of them and make room for smart students who have a chance of benefiting from a high quality education."

In fairness to Dr. Moran, though, he no doubt feels threatened. His life's work and credibility, everything he's ever said to his students, is under assault, and he feels bitter toward those responsible. So he lashes out, flailing ineffectually and incoherently, at the perceived cause of his distress. The man's world is collapsing all around him so we shouldn't judge his juvenile screed too harshly.


Defining Our Terms

Jonathan Wells takes the occasion of a nasty dispute involving some vitriolic Darwinians to clarify the meaning of key terms in the contemporary debate over origins. Wells succinctly clears up the difference between Darwinian evolution, Darwinism, microevolution and macroevolution. Confusion often reigns in the popular media over these terms, largely because the first, Darwinian evolution, is often used a synonym for each of the others even though each of the others means something entirely different.


Inside the Bridge

The March 12 missile attack on Taliban leadership gathered in a house in Pakistan was orchestrated from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Phil Peterson was at the command center (called the Bridge) and describes the operation as he witnessed it there:

The March 12 strike originated from intelligence gathered on the ground from a subordinate unit seeking information on the Haqqani Network. After full-motion video and other "special intelligent collection capabilities" were performed, the Bridge confirmed this particular compound was indeed a safe house for insurgents. Analysts continued to scrutinize the area looking for any signs of life, the presence of women or children, and activity in neighboring structures. Other disciplines, such as law and weapons, are consulted as well.

In this case, intelligence assets reported no presence of civilians in the area over the previous five days, making the decision to launch a strike urgent. Full-motion video captured and projected on to the center projection screen -- known as "Kill TV" -- several individuals performing sentry duty in and around the Haqqani Network compound's boundaries.

At 9:40 PM local time, Coalition forces declared an imminent threat from the compound and gathered in the Bridge to discuss the possibility of striking the compound. Due to its location inside Pakistan, the proposal was sent up the chain of command to US Central Command and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force). After discussing the latest intelligence reports, rechecking and confirming their accuracy, the commanding general ordered the strike.

While everyone was working the "pre-strike," they gathered in groups of 2-3 people, larger groups at times, and in the minutes leading up to the strike, everyone was working to make sure their data and intelligence was correct. In the final seconds, all eyes were on Kill TV, some people were sitting while others were standing, to see the real time video of the impending strike.

There was no cheering or high fives; only a hushed "ohhh" from a few people when the strike was made.

The strike was completed and work resumed as usual. Personnel returned to their workstations and the designated section began the process of contacting Pakistan officials to let them know about the strike. Analysts continued studying the streaming video images looking for signs of life in and around the area while other teams at offsite locations were doing the same and then feeding their conclusions to the Bridge commander.

There's more at the link.