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I got into the whole evolution/creation thing by being a little too curious. In 1986, I attended an antievolution lecture at the University of Florida and spoke to the lecturer afterward. I asked if there were further materials I might look at. He gave me a copy of Henry M. Morris’s “The Scientific Case for Creation”. As I read it, my disappointment grew and grew. The sheer mendacity which suffused that book, and which apparently pervades the antievolution movement in general, spurred me into action to counter it.
I did not attend that lecture as a “dogmatic Darwinist” or “atheist” or whatever scare words might be popular. I was willing to be persuaded by a well-founded apologetic. What I found, though, were falsehoods peddled as if true. As we found out last year, the content of the antievolution materials has definitely not gotten better on that score; just check out the cdesign proponentsists.
If there’s one recent post here that you ought to read to find out where I’m coming from, then it must be The Galvanic Response.
I’m going to make a capsule summary of links related to websites I’m associated with.
The TalkOrigins Archive (TOA). This site provides mainstream science responses to antievolution arguments. It went up around 1995, designed and implemented by Brett Vickers. Brett managed it single-handed for almost six years, then real life intervened and he passed it on to me. I put together about a dozen volunteers who actually make things happen there, including Adam Marczyk, Michael Hopkins, Mike Dunford, and Douglas Theobald. In 2005, Ken Fair set up the “TalkOrigins Archive Foundation” as a 501(c)(3) non-profit to support the TOA and other related websites. Ken, John Wilkins, and I are the current directors of the Foundation.
TalkDesign.org (TD). This project is about countering “intelligent design” arguments. It grew out of a YahooGroups message board, mostly featuring pro-science people who participated on the Access Research Network discussion board. Daniel Ball acquired the domain name. After a while, he handed it over to me, and I got it pointed to a server so that Daniel and others could actually start in on setting up pages. We’re talking about going to a content management system for these pages, so there may be a radical revision to the look and feel in the near future. One of the fun things about TD was announcing its debut during my talk in 2002 at the CSICOP Fourth World Skeptics Conference.
The Panda’s Thumb weblog (PT). In March, 2004, Gary Hurd suggested that a weblog would be a good thing. Ed Brayton gave some advice on the software package to use. Mark Isaak suggested the domain name. I was initially skeptical, but I acquired the domain and set up the software. Ed did some initial configuration, and we went live just a week after the initial suggestion of the project. PT is now a widely recognized resource for information on current events and breaking news concerning evolution and creation issues. Reed Cartwright handles most of the admin and software hacking for the site now.
Antievolution.org (AE). This site grew out of a set of personal pages I had originally written in 1994. The site mission is to provide resources for critics of antievolution. It is now set up using the CivicSpace content management system, and hosts features like the “Finite Improbability Calculator” and the “McLean v. Arkansas Trial Documentation Project”. It also has the AE BB, an “Ikonboard” based discussion forum for free-wheeling talk about evolution and antievolution. I am looking for people to help add and manage content on the CMS system, so if you feel you would like to get active here, let me know.
Online Zoologists (OZ). This site also came from my personal pages from 1994. Basically, the mission here is to provide a line of communication between zoologists and the public. It’s just been set up with the CivicSpace system, and I’m in the early stages of community-building here, too. If you are a zoologist and would like to get involved, let me know.
Austringer. A small collection of pages on the topic of falconry. This blog is part of the site, but I may simply incorporate the static pages here. I’m running the WordPress blogging software, which is a nicely featureful package. This really is a personal weblog, which means that readers will get descriptions of things like Diane and I taking our Harris’ hawk, Rusty, out to try to catch rabbits. The weblog started out as a way for me to tell relatives and friends across the world what was up with me as I was in the hospital for emergency surgery in 2004. The connection I was able to make with people while mostly flat on my back in the hospital was tremendously supportive. If there are any clinicians out there who care, I think a study concerning effect of Internet connectivity on post-op recovery would be just a cool thing to do. I know that I felt better for it.
I also want to get a page up to host material from my old dial-up BBS, “Central Neural System”. That will probably be down the road a few months at least.
Other pages of note on the server are Sam H. Ridgway’s Dolphin Doctor, William E. Evan’s weblog, and Ted Cranford’s Whale Science. All three of them were on my dissertation committee, plus Randy Davis, Dan Levine, and William Neill.
I do have some Cafepress items available. Consider adding a Professor Steve Steve “Peril in Berkeley” T-shirt, a “Waterloo in Dover” coffee mug, or a “Preys Together” bumper sticker to the clutter of your life. I do some items on suggestion, too; if you have an idea for something that you would like, but need someone to implement, drop a note. Here’s a bumper sticker:
Now, about some of the things in the interview…
On HIV-causes-AIDS-denial, check out this PT comment and several that follow for links. Crux Magazine has apparently removed the original article from its server, but you can find it in the Google cache. That is, of course, not the only magazine article working up a good state of denial. A 1994 list of supporters of HIV denial included both Johnson and Jonathan Wells. The National Institutes of Health have summarized the case for HIV as a causative agent for AIDS, with a handy list of links to further resources. HIV denial is not merely an intellectual exercize; the denialists have been able to influence government policies in sub-Saharan Africa, where AIDS is an epidemic in full swing.
The transcripts of the Kansas Evolution Hearings are on the TalkOrigins Archive site.