"Dustin, who goes by D.J., produced a final paper that was well-researched, thoughtful, and well written. The final version was radically different from earlier iterations."
No, it was not radically different. It was a piece out of the middle. The piece you told me to focus on after begging me not to do my original paper
"He demonstrated an enthusiastic rejection of the evolution thinking that we studied, deeming it, in his words, outdated and obsolete, though he declined the opportunity to demonstrate his understanding of that material."
I did not reject contemporary theory, nor did I decline the opportunity to demonstrate my understanding of it. I asked you for an alternative to the Coyne quiz. Jerry Coyne has demonstrated dishonesty (or at least speaks in such a "fast & loose" manner that the end result is still highly deceptive) with regard to the subject of religion (do not take my objection here to mean that I'm religious; I'm an anthropology student and I find his characterization of religion insulting on a purely intellectual level), and his book, "Why Evolution is True" is an anti-creationist pamphlet written for high school students. It's not a serious discussion of contemporary evolutionary biology, and, honestly, Coyne's knowledge of evolutionary biology is pretty behind-the-times; that's why he had to find a niche for himself arguing against creationism: Because among evolutionary biologists, he'd be the idiot of the group. Same with Richard Dawkins, actually (and Dawkins has even admitted as much in interviews, noting that he didn't particularly "stand out" as a laboratory researcher, but it was when he started writing books that he became well-known). It's not that I disagree with them on whether evolution is true or not, it's that these guys are more showmen than scientists and their books, written for mass public consumption, are not adequate for a college-level science class. They portray a version of evolutionary theory that is decades out of date, and that isn't really good for anything but debunking creationism (which was a fun thing to do when I was a teenager, before I realized how masturbatory it was).
"He correctly noted that our focus in this program was on the evolution of eukaryotes, but there are fundamental differences in prokaryote biology and genetics that have implications for their evolution."
No, Karen. You and Allen claimed, in class, to which there were multiple witnesses (one of which has offered to come forward, and I'm sure the other students will back me up on this as well), that the theory of evolution predicts we should see a gradual increase in complexity in the fossil record over time, starting with the simplest organisms and ending in the most complex, with no dips, spikes, or sudden bursts as might be predicted by a theistic evolution or intelligent design model, except for mass extinctions. You also stated that not all lineages increase in complexity at the same rate and that's why "higher" and "lower" organisms can sometimes overlap (and presumably why there are "living fossils").
I then stated that if you were meaning to say that all evolutionary change for life on Earth proceeds inevitably from the simple to the complex, there are a lot of biologists who would disagree with you on that.
Allen said, "I don't know of any biologist who would disagree with that."
You nodded in agreement.
I then attempted to argue how patently untrue that is: Reduction is now considered an extremely successful evolutionary strategy, I informed you, and offered micro-organisms as an example, citing that prokaryotes show signs of reduction in their evolutionary history, which would especially be true according to the now-popular (or infamous, depending upon whom you ask) "Primal Eukaryogenesis" and "NuCom" hypotheses.
I could have given many other examples, but you cut me off to move the discussion along. I was not talking about something so simplistic as a difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic evolution, Karen!
(While it is true that horizontal gene transfer in prokaryotes does have implications for their evolution (for example it is debatable whether the "tree-like" evolutionary patterns we use to organize eukaryotic phylogenies can even legitimately be applied to their evolutionary history), me pointing out that reduction is often a successful evolutionary strategy isn't the same as pointing out that eukaryotes and prokaryotes evolve differently! I was using prokaryotes as an example of reduction, Karen! One example! Of something also seen very frequently among eukaryotes! Is your understanding of modern biology really this infantile?)
We had several arguments about this, over the course of which I tried to get you to admit that since we are no-longer using the 5 kingdom system of classification (under which eukaryotes make up 4 of those kingdoms and complex multicellular eukaryotes characterize 3 of those 4), it is inappropriate to characterize the exaggeration in multicellularity among multicellular organisms as some kind of universally applicable evolutionary truth. The "increase in complexity" you were claiming as a prediction of evolutionary theory is actually something we've only observed on one minuscule branch of the evolutionary Tree of Life.
I most certainly was NOT "noting that the focus in this program was on the evolution of eukaryotes, but there are fundamental differences in prokaryote biology and genetics that have implications for their evolution". I merely used prokaryotes as one very striking example of reduction in evolution. Something that applies to eukaryotes as well. It even applies to multicellular eukaryotes. A lot of lineages show reduction, Karen. You showed a fundamental misunderstanding of evolutionary theory by arguing that the evolution of life on Earth proceeds inevitably from the simple to the complex.
During one such exchange, before I could get to the bit about the "increase in complexity" not even being a clear-cut trend for the complex multicellular eukaryotes (there are multiple instances of reversion to unicellularity, which might actually outweigh the number of times multicellularity has evolved to begin with, as well as other forms of reduction, such as neoteny and phenotypic loss, and many of the evolutionary transitions that were traditionally characterized as increases in complexity during the 19th and early 20th century, such as increases in encephalization, have turned out to also and/or instead be cases of neoteny), you interrupted me and began to argue that since the students were human and were only going to be interacting with macroscopic, complex multicellular organisms, then it was perfectly fine to make generalizations about "all life on Earth" from those macroscopic organisms.
"He set up an extreme position to argue against, in which he seemed to imply that current evolutionary theory holds that biological complexity always and everywhere must increase."
No, Karen. YOU took that position. YOU claimed that current evolutionary theory holds that biological complexity always and everywhere must increase, with the exception of mass extinctions and "living fossils". YOU took that position, Karen!
I took the position that current evolutionary theory DOES NOT SAY THIS. I took the position that virtually every other modern biologist takes: That reduction is very often an extremely successful evolutionary strategy, that evolution merely predicts biological change over time and cares naught for complexity unless that should turn out to be the best survival/reproductive strategy (which apparently is only very rarely, since prokaryotes and viruses appear to be reductionist organisms and prokaryotes make up the overwhelming majority of cellular life on this planet, in addition to viruses also being reductionists who are also the dominant biological entities on this planet), and that "evolution" should NOT be taken as a synonym for "increasing complexity".
YOU were arguing with me about that, Karen! YOU took the position that biological complexity must always and everywhere increase! That was the position YOU held at the beginning of the quarter!
You are NOT the face of contemporary evolutionary theory, Karen! And neither is Jerry Coyne. Neither you nor Coyne get to decide what "current evolutionary theory" is. That's decided in the peer-reviewed literature. Just because I disagree with something you say, or something that Coyne says, doesn't mean I'm disagreeing with current evolutionary theory, nor does it mean you can switch horses mid-stream and accuse me of making a straw-man of your position when I argue against out-dated science, after YOU set up the straw-man! YOU held the position that biological complexity must always and everywhere increase; just because modern evolutionary theory doesn't actually say that, doesn't mean YOU never said that! You don't get to pretend that you never said something just because it turns out that modern science doesn't agree with you, and then turn around and accuse ME of "straw-manning" your position! You "straw-manned" yourself, Karen! And I certainly didn't "straw-man" current evolutionary theory! I'm the one sticking up for current evolutionary theory! I'm arguing against an old, out-dated version of evolutionary theory! Are you really this dense? What about this are you not understanding?
The very notion that you would think that by disagreeing with you, I was by extension disagreeing with modern evolutionary thinking, is unbelievably narcissistic! There is no excuse for this behavior, Karen! This is not appropriate adult behavior!
Karen, the title of my paper was, "From Progressive Evolution to Opportunistic Evolution". The assignment you gave us was to write about a scientific topic, preferably about something that people once believed but no longer believe, and to discuss the reasoning that led to the change in belief using one or more of the models in the required text.
I followed these instructions, choosing to describe how we went from believing that there was an "active" evolutionary trend toward complexity (discussing both orthogenesis and the past belief that more complex organisms were inherently more fit, and therefore tended to be favored by natural selection, which was a position that hasn't really been tenable since we realized most of the biodiversity on this planet is among prokaryotes and switched from the 5 kingdom system to the Tripartite Tree of Life during the Woesean revolution of the late 20th century) to the modern view, in which reduction is acknowledged as an extremely successful evolutionary strategy and that "evolution" shouldn't be treated as synonymous with increases in complexity.
I was very obviously NOT arguing against current evolutionary theory!
How could I have been implying that current evolutionary theory holds that biological complexity always and everywhere must increase, when my title, my thesis statement, and literally every paragraph in my paper said exactly the opposite?
Are you really so deluded that when I wrote, "19th to mid 20th century evolutionary theory," you read it as "current evolutionary theory", but when I wrote "current evolutionary theory" you read it as, "D. J.'s idea he has that I'm not going to bother to research or look up because it sounds unfamiliar to me and my 1970s concept of evolution"?
Did you think I was writing in the past-tense as a rhetorical device? Did you think I was just pretending to take the mainstream view as bravado?
Those are some intense mental gymnastics, Karen!
I'm not a creationist, Karen. Nor an "intelligent design" proponent of any kind. I believe in blind, mechanical, materialistic, purely-biological evolution-by-natural-selection just like you do. Except my understanding of evolution is far, far more up-to-date.
"This had the effect of distracting somewhat from some genuinely interesting ideas."
No, Karen, the "genuinely interesting ideas" are what my paper was all about. You were distracted because you were doing too many mental gymnastics, convincing yourself that I was writing an attempted indictment of current evolutionary theory to avoid having to deal with the fact that your own understanding of the subject is pathetically outdated.
Let's do a quick review of aforesaid mental gymnastics:
(1) You either forgot that you'd said that evolution is a process that inherently makes living things more complex over time (some sort of Alzheimer's-induced memory lapse, like when you forgot that prokaryotes exist?), or realized while reading my paper that you'd been sorely mistaken and needed to try and cover your tracks after what you'd so foolishly said in class.
(2) You either genuinely thought that I was actually opposing current evolutionary theory (in which case you need to get yourself checked for Alzheimer's), or, in an attempt to cover for the laughably inaccurate things you'd said about evolutionary theory in class, realized you needed a scapegoat for the fact that I'd written my paper "against" this outdated version of evolutionary theory, and decided to try and make it look as though I, not you, was the one who had a fundamental misunderstanding about evolutionary theory (in which case you're a liar and a fraud).
(3) If you did genuinely think I was opposing current evolutionary theory, you must've convinced yourself that I was writing in the past-tense about what you consider to be "current" evolutionary theory, as a rhetorical device.
(4) If you did genuinely think that I was writing in the past-tense about current evolutionary theory, you must've taken every instance where I used "late 19th to mid-to-late 20th century" or a similar phrase to mean, "contemporary evolutionary theory".
(5) If you did not genuinely think that I was writing in the past-tense about current evolutionary theory, you had to _intentionally_ mistake every instance where I used "late 19th to mid-to-late 20th century" or a similar phrase to mean, "contemporary evolutionary theory". That is extremely intellectually dishonest and completely inappropriate, Karen!
(6) If you did genuinely think that I was writing in the past-tense about current evolutionary theory, you must've taken every instance where I used "contemporary evolutionary thinking" or "modern biology thinking" (or a similar phrase) as meaning, "D. J.'s belief that I already know is wrong so I'm not even going to bother to look it up or check his references or do any reading at all."
(7) If you did not genuinely think that I was writing in the past-tense about current evolutionary theory, you had to _intentionally_ mistake every instance where I used "contemporary evolutionary thinking" or "modern biology thinking" (or a similar phrase) as meaning, "D. J.'s belief that I already know is wrong." That is extremely intellectually dishonest and completely inappropriate, Karen!
(8) If you did genuinely think I was opposing current mainstream evolutionary theory, you must've convinced yourself that when I was writing as if virtually all modern, mainstream evolutionary scientists agree with me, that I was doing so out of bravado, as yet another rhetorical device.
(9) If you did not genuinely think I was opposing current evolutionary theory (i.e., if you neither have dementia nor are a complete idiot), then you decided that since whosoever might read your evaluation of me probably wouldn't bother to read the paper I'd written (or that any who did read it wouldn't have an adequate enough vocabulary in evolutionary biology to realize what you were doing), you could say in your evaluation, dishonestly, that I was the one who came up with false notion that modern evolutionary theory predicts that almost all lineages would show increasing complexity, even though you were the one claiming this from day 1 and I was the one opposing it!
(10) You did this all to avoid having to admit (even to yourself?) that your understanding of evolutionary biology is laughably, pathetically out-of-date! (Or at least it was; you seem to be doing better, now that I've given you a much-needed crash-course in modern evolutionary thinking, aside from the complete lack of integrity you're showing here by trying to accuse me of being the one who said that modern evolutionary theory predicts biological complexity should increase all the time and in every lineage!)
(11) Instead of admitting that your own understanding of contemporary evolutionary thinking was ridiculously out-of-date (or that you'd had some kind of Alzheimer's-induced anachronistic mental lapse), you decided it was acceptable to lie about a student and destroy an innocent person's future.
It's no wonder you were so distracted, Karen! Those are some truly impressive mental gymnastics! Bravo!
"He did show the ability to organize his arguments in the logical structures that we studied, even if his premises were sometimes of debatable accuracy."
Debatable accuracy? You don't even know what my premises were! You thought (or are pretending to have thought) that I was arguing against current evolutionary theory! Do you even understand words?
"D. J. only turned in one assignment related to analyzing scientific reasoning, and he participated in only one classroom discussion focused on the Logic Made Easy text."
You created a hostile learning environment, Karen. You objected to everything I said in class, things that were based in solid science! Almost everything that came out of your mouth was fallacious science. You tried to tell me, "pretty much everything has sex" (no, only eukaryotes do, but you corrected yourself on this), you claimed in class that current evolutionary theory predicts biological complexity must always and everywhere increase (and when I objected in class and said that there were a lot of biologists who'd disagree with that, you and Allen said that you didn't know of any biologist who would disagree with it), you said that humans were not a type of fish (tetrapodomorpha does, in fact, nest within the osteichthyes, which you later admitted), that apes were not a type of monkey (hominoidea does, in fact, nest within the simiiformes, which for some reason you thought contradicts the idea that the hominina nests within the hominidae) -- and after all that, you have the audacity to accuse ME of arguing against current evolutionary thinking?! You were arguing against current evolutionary thinking for that entire class, Karen! YOU said those things, Karen! Not I, YOU!
I had perfect attendance both Fall 2017 and Winter 2018. I had great teachers and stimulating curricula. You, however, made coming to class a nightmare.
"When he was present, his in-class comments often highlighted issues of logic and scientific reasoning, and he was clearly interested in the philosophical portions of the program."
When I said that all life on Earth is just one big organism, in four dimensions, and you said, "that's philosophical", you were wrong, Karen. The Tree of Life that we see in biology textbooks is more than just a metaphor, it's a literal depiction of life along a "t" axis representing time in one direction, and since lineages are grouped by relatedness (obviously), an "i" (information) axis in the perpendicular direction. If you were to "zoom out" and look at all life on Earth along all 4 spacial axes (x, y, z & t), all the things living today would be branches, and we'd share a common "root" probably around 4 billion years ago. We only appear separate from one another because the infinitesimal lifespan of a single conscious organism prohibits it from seeing anything more than an extremely 4-dimensionally-thin, almost 3 dimensional "slice" of biological life at any given time. It's not a metaphor, it's not philosophy, it's physical reality. To deny this is to deny common ancestry.
Are you denying common ancestry, Karen?
"His predilection to be an iconoclast might make his productive engagement in scientific discourse more challenging than it needs to be."
Funny, none of the other instructors here said anything like that about me.
Also, being an iconoclast is typically highly encouraged in scientific discourse. You're being petty.
No-one is going to believe you about me rejecting contemporary evolutionary theory. I run a website the main purpose of which is to teach about evolution and debunk ridiculous social constructs such as religion (although lately I've been focusing my attention on prebiotic synthesis, specifically my own hypothesis that the origins of genetic inheritance lay before cellularity in the proto-planetary disk, and I was in the middle of designing experiments to test that hypothesis when this abomination of a class happened to me). The "Genesis Panthesis" website I ran when I was a teenager (http://genesispanthesis.tripod.com) was geared specifically toward debunking creationism, as well as teaching about evolution. Since I've been here at Evergreen, I've been an outspoken critic of religion, theism, theistic evolution, any form of "guided" evolution, "intelligent design", and all such nonsense. In that respect, I am an iconoclast. I am not, however, as you appear to have implied, a denier of current evolutionary theory. I am a critic of the anthropocentric evolutionary theory of yesteryear. That you can't tell the difference is shameful.
I don't _want_ to accuse you of outright dishonesty, Karen, but I'm going to have to ask you again what the title of your doctoral thesis was, and I'm going to have to see proof of your credentials, and proof you've been keeping up with your continuing education.
I don't know if this is outright dishonesty, Karen, or if you're just starting to get Alzheimer's, or if you've got a secret opioid habit that you're trying to cover up for, but this behavior is inexcusable.
- D. J. Scott