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|DATE:18 May 2007
your review of Joan Roughgarden's newest book
Dear Gert Kortrhof,
That said, let me reiterate my admiration for your site.Your work is consistenly among the most fair minded and accesible work on evolution that is available.
Best Regards - Peter James Causton
|DATE:12 Apr 2007
|DATE:18 Jun 2006
||Subject: Ancestry of The Vertebrates
|DATE:15 May 2006
||Subject: Answer to your critique of Computer Viruses Artificial Life & Evolution|
I thank Dr. Korthof for the opportunity to respond to his critique of my book, Computer Viruses, Artificial Life and Evolution. I was rather surprised that it took 13 years for a proponent of evolution to pick it up and address it. Since it has taken so long, though, you may imagine my thinking has developed somewhat in those years. As such, I will preface my remarks by saying that to the extent that anything I write here differs from what is written in my book, it is due to a development of the ideas involved in the intervening time.
continue... Mark Ludwig: Intelligent Design Theorist - Fact or Fiction?
|DATE:03 Mar 2006
||Subject: Thank you for your website |
Dear Mr. Korthof,
Thank you for developing such a wonderful resource on this subject. The amount of time and effort you must have put into this website is very impressive. I am especially grateful that you included so much detailed material from critics of evolution along with specific, respectful commentary. It is very difficult to find any source of information that tries to provide a balanced, rational treatment of a controversial issue.
|DATE:18 Feb 2006
||Subject: review of Gould|
I accidentally found your web site and was impressed with the clarity of your presentation of "Darwinism" from Gould's Structure of Evolutionary Theory
|DATE:16 Oct 2005
||Subject: Cancer selection |
I am attaching the PDF of a paper
Adaptive evolution of the human fatty acid synthase gene: Support for the cancer selection and fat utilization hypotheses? by two Irish scientists (Mary J. O’Connell, James O. McInerney)
who appear to confirm -- to some extent -- my idea that
"cancer selection" played a role in evolution.
|DATE:23 Mar 2005
||Subject: Falsification of Darwinism |
|DATE:28 Mar 2005
||Subject: New book on intelligent design controversy
You might like to list my book, By Design or by Chance?: The Growing Controversy On the Origins of Life in the Universe (Augsburg Fortress, 2004), which is a simple introduction for the layperson to what the intelligent design controversy is about.
My publisher will send you a review copy if you wish. Let me know your address and I will contact the person who does that job.
|DATE:January 4, 2005
||Subject: An Evolutionary Look at Human Homosexuality
Dear Mr. Korthof,
A recent theory, put forth by Dr. Gregory M. Cochran, postulates that human male homosexuality results from a similar change in the brain, as does Narcolepsy. In the last ten years we have seen an abundance of empirical work and theory on the subject of sexually dimorphic brains and human homosexuality. Paradoxically, one of the most rational, well thought out theories has received little publicity. In recent years, Gregory M. Cochran has gained recognition as the result of the Atlantic Monthly three part article, A New Germ Theory 1999, and other scientific papers authored by him. Dr. Cochran's research partners include: Paul W. Ewald and Henry C. Harpending. For those not familiar with Dr. Cochran, perhaps you have heard of the renowned William D. Hamilton who, prior to his untimely death, had concurred with Cochran on this theory which is meant, in no way, to hurt or bash gays. Previous studies on genetic causation have hinted at genetic diseases. "It's a very sensitive subject," Ewald admits, "and I don't want to be accused of gay-bashing. But I think the idea is viable. What scientists are supposed to do is evaluate an idea on the soundness of the logic and the testing of the predictions it can generate." Atlantic Monthly 1999. If you are interested, please read ahead:
Gregory M. Cochran, a physicist, turned evolutionary biologist, is best known for his work with Dr. Paul W. Ewald using statistical analysis to make the case that many diseases long thought to be hereditary may in fact be caused by infectious agents. What can we do with this information? Many respected biologists are in agreement that Cochran's theory is plausible, warranting scientific study. In fact, William D. Hamilton, the greatest theoretical biologist of the twentieth century, reviewed Cochran's landmark scientific paper, Infectious Causation of Disease: An Evolutionary Perspective (published in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 43,3 (2000): 406-448, Click here) which touched upon the possibility of infectious causation of male homosexuality. This was, sadly, Hamilton's final scientific review prior to his untimely death, at the age of 63. Of Cochran's theory, Hamilton said: "This is an important reorienting review for scientific medicine and will be much cited...It is well written...it.... opens our eyes to many quite weird possibilities about disease that most medical scientists, tending to be unaware of current evolutionary thought, don't think of. The idea about homosexuality, for example, while bound to be highly controversial is timely to be raised and is sensitively treated. What they suggest has certainly seemed to me a very real possibility: I had not, however, heard of the homosexual sheep and, as they say, that case immediately opens big possibilities for investigation."
We have sheep, an excellent animal model, and narcolepsy, an excellent disease model.
If a pathogen is, indeed, the cause of male homosexuality, would there not be much benefit in knowing this?
Specifically, once dud rams are identified, and their brains are in the laboratory, a microbiologist would look for signs,
evidence and portents of infection. Then, gene chips would hopefully reveal specific differences in gene expression
between the brains of dud and normal sheep. Differential PCR could look for DNA found in dud sheep but not in the others.
(that's how they found the herpesvirus causing Karposi's sarcoma). Identifying specific missing neurons in the brains
of the dud rams, would also be a primary goal of the study. (same as in Narcolepsy)
|DATE:22 Nov 2004
||Subject: The Feathered Onion.
Many thanks for the review of my book. I don't think I could quibble
with a thing you say. The final Conclusion is very
quotable. It is very thorough and well written, and
obviously you are extremely well-read.
|DATE:15 Nov 2004
||Subject: Paper relating Asperger Syndrome and evolution
I was hoping you would have time to read a paper I've
written on Asperger Syndrome and its effects within
the human population. It can be found at
|DATE:20 Apr 2004
||Subject: Darwin was not wrong
Thanks for your review of Yockey's position, it was helpful.
You should find this publication interesting:
|DATE:12 Apr 2004
I don't know if you're interested in my small speculative theory of evolution which is Darwinian with a twist: I think homicidality has been a factor in our enormous intelligence, and may explain why we are excessively intelligent compared to the intelligence required to nicely survive. See here (this archive contains an invalid email address for me).
With kind regards
|DATE:23 Mar 2004
Dear Dr Korthof,
Larvea and Evolution, D.Williamson
Cancer Selection. J Graham, S Moore
Larvae and Evolution is potentially interesting and a serious work, but probably contains exaggerated claims and
misunderstandings and with a list price of $ 156,00 it is far too expensive just 'to try' it...
|DATE:18 Jan 2004
||Subject: The Principles of Life
Dear Mr Korthof,
It was a pleasure to read your review on my book, The Principles of Life. I feel myself highly honoured by your opinion.
|DATE:05 Jan 2004
||Subject: Lamark's signature
Dear Dr. Korthof,
I noticed the box that was recently added as an update to your comment of Ted Steele's book "Lamark's Signature" concerning one of my old publications. The reference is "Sperm Cells as vectors for introducing foreign DNA into eggs: genetic transformation of mice (1989) Cell 57, 717-723". Presently the article cannot be retrieved on-line from the Cell website, as only articles published after 1996 have been made available on-line. If you wish, I can mail you a hard copy of that paper.
I am also attaching to this mail some recent articles from our group, which indicate a new role of endogenous reverse transcriptase enzymes in biological processes and as mediator of new genetic information. As a whole, these articles support the conclusion that reverse transcriptase has a biological function and may be of some relevance to the questions raised by Steele's work.
|DATE:21 Aug 2003
||Subject: Re: your book
I've just skimmed over your review - much food for thought;
I'll write more later (I'm fiendishly busy today preparing for lectures), but just a few immediate thoughts.
First of all, I'm not a Creationist: my aim was to show that science is messy, never that it is wrong on big
issues like evolution. As I say in the Huxley chapter, my assumtpion is that religion now has little to offer science,
but this was not always the case; moreover, my position on Huxley is that he tried to eject clerics from science more
because they were unpaid amateurs than because they were bad scientists (which many of them weren't).
You're quite right about the imprecision of the potted history of heredity post-Mendel's death I provide
(this is being altered in the p/back). But on the subject of this chapter, I don't think the example of notation
you quote demolishes Olby's case: I'll say more about this in a subsequent email. In brief, though, I'm convinced
that Mendel was using the double notation to describe the pattern of inheritance, as could be observed phenotypically,
not the number of 'elements' involved - note he talks about eggs and not elements.
DATE:15 Jun 2003
||Subject: My book In the Blink of an Eye
Many thanks for sending me your review of my book, which I enjoyed reading. You have understood all that I have tried to say, which is rare in reviews!
As you requested, I have some specific comments:
Intermediates: I am writing two further books that address this problem (terrible answer, I know...but true!). Believe it or not, I do have a new theory that is an "unknown non-Darwinian process", and it's not a miracle! I will publish this in scientific journals soon.
Handicap principle: I deliberately tried not to mention this by name to keep things simple (although I found that difficult throughout the book). The bird example specifically relates to colour and predators - most birds can afford to flaunt themselves because they can fly away from predators, a perfect means of escape (in most cases).
Questions: Actually I am a biologist. I am aware of genetics, evo-devo etc. (I force myself to read the literature) although my research involves morphological evolution (and optics, animal behaviour and palaeontology).
Thanks again for a great review!
Best wishes, Andrew
|DATE:10 Jun 2003
||Subject: Your review of Spetner's book Not By Chance!
Dawkins had a very clearly stated objective in presenting his METHINKS IT
IS LIKE A WEASEL experiment. It was to clarify the popular misconceptions
about evolution being solely a theory of chance. He begins his chapter by
citing quotations from otherwise intelligent people, like Hoyle's "Tronado
in a junkyard" quote, to the effect that evolutionists believe that
complexity arises solely from chance. He then contrasts single-step
selection unfavorably against cumulative selection. His point was that
it is cumulative selection that evolutionsts argue is the source of
complex organs, not random or single-step selection. Towards the end of
the chapter he states (roughly, I don't have the book in front of me) "If
evolution had to rely on single-step selection it would never have got
anywhere. But if somehow the blind laws of nature could have set-up the
necessary conditions for cumulative selection, strange and wondrous might
have been the results." I suppose you could accuse Dawkins of belaboring
the obvious, but since so many critics of evolution seem to be confused on
this point I can hardly blame Dawkins for using so much space to address
As for serious discussions of population genetics, surely Fisher, Haldane,
Wright, or any of the more recent textbooks in population genetics would
be better places to go than Spetner or Hoyle.
I had been under the impression that it was a done deal that the findings
of population genetics were entirely compatible with traditional
neo-Darwinism. Isn't that why Fisher and Haldane in particular
are included among the founders of the synthesis.
|DATE:12 Feb 2003
||Subject: A comment on Spetner's Not By Chance!
While I have been unable to find a copy of the book to browse, I have seen a summary of his arguments concerning speciation on the web *, which has been accepted as accurate by Spetner's supporters (implicitly - they have never disputed any point drawn from the page, nor have they stated that it is inaccurate even when asked).
Your review does fail to mention that Spetner did consider the case where more than one possible beneficial mutation was available per "step" (a term which appears to refer either to the fixation of a mutation OR to the average number of births per fixation according to Spetner's speciation model). Since Spetner admits that it is unreasonable to assume that there is only one, I have to wonder why he bothered with producing a calculation on that assumption - it can only serve as a misleading piece of rhetoric (which may, of course, be the answer as to why it was included).
I would agree that Spetner's speciation model is very questionable (for example it ignores splits in a population) and that he has probably overestimated the number of species transitions that need to be considered (he uses a high figure for the number of genera as the basis for this estimate - clearly biasing the calculation in favour of his conclusion). His emphasis on point mutations is also known to be false now (and I would strongly suspect it was also known to be false at the time of writing) - See Helen Lynn Caporale's Darwin in the Genome for relatively up-to-date information.
However when Spetner goes on to consider the number of possible beneficial mutations his calculation is mathematically invalid. It should be clear that if we need an average of one fixed mutation ("step") per "step" (considered as a number of births) and the probability of each possible beneficial mutation occurring and achieving fixation given that number of births is 1/300,000 then we should expect speciation to occur if there were 300,000 possible mutations.
Spetner in fact says that there is a probability of 10-6 given 1,080,000 possible beneficial mutations, which is clearly at odds with the statement above. It turns out that Spetner calculates the probability of getting AT least one "step" (fixed mutation) per "step" (number of births) and multiplies that by itself 500 times. In other words Spetner effectively discounts any "step" after the first in each "step" - something made possible only by confusing the two uses of "step".
THe "convergent evolution" calculation where this number is used has similar methodological errors so as to be equally worthless.
I would also disagree with his criticisms of Dawkins "weasel" program as an irrelevance - the program does what it is
intended to do (illustrate the fact that cumulative selection is more efficient than purely random guessing) to criticise
it for not doing more is to miss the point entirely. And Spetner's claims of information decrease as found in the
trueorigins site appear to be mainly sophistry. By his own admission the measures he uses are partial and they do not seem
to be consistently - or fully - applied. It is especially ironic that he accuses his opponents of jumping to conclusions
when his own analyses are so incomplete and far from decisive.
|DATE:26 Dec 2002
||Subject: Evolution in Space and Time
I came across your web page and reviews in relation to molecular drive where you reviewed Dover's book.
It may interest you to know that the concept of molecular drive has been integrated into the non-Darwinian evolutionary
synthesis called panbiogeography. This term refers to a non-Darwinian research program that is rarely mentioned in
traditional evolutionary circles where the focus is on biological form, yet it has been around for over three decades.
Craw, R.C., Grehan, J.R., Heads, M.J. 1999:
|DATE:10 Dec 2002
||Subject: We've linked to you!
Because we feel our readers will find your information valuable, we have provided a link to your site at
Dedicated to promoting literacy in the biosciences, our non-commercial, ad-free, educational site features peer-reviewed articles and class lessons on the following issues: biodiversity, environment, genomics, biotechnology, evolution, new frontiers in the sciences, and education. Our homepage is: http://www.actionbioscience.org
|DATE:26 Sep 2002
||Subject: Comments and suggestions.
I commend you on the work you've put into Was Darwin Wrong? You've treated the subject with a remarkable transparency in a truly enormous and embroiling subject area. Your keeping the debate open and attention to detail is excellent. Good job! ^-^
I am a bible-believing Christian, although a strictly non-young-earth-creationist.
I take it you've read
Another thing is the Gaia model (can't remember whose theory it is) as discussed in "Nothing But Atoms and Molecules? : probing the limits of science", by Rodney Holder.
I recommend the following books, which I think are excellent perspectives for (Christian) exponents of special creation (and hence, you will be interested to read them):
Once again, great work!
Added 7 Mar 2003: Dr. Holder informed me that his 1993 book can be found in Amazon.co.uk
Added 25 May 2003: Dr. Holder kindly send me his book (reprinted 1999 edition). The title 'Nothing but Atoms & Molecules?' nicely symbolises reductionism in science. The book is a critique of reductionism in science from a Christian perspective. Statements of Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking are critically analysed. [GK]
|DATE:10 Jul 2002
||Subject:Origin of Species Revisited Review.
Dear Gert Korthof,
On October 23, the Darwin Day Program (www.darwinday.org) will be publishing a book that compiles a diverse set of content. I would like to request your permission to include your review of Donald Forsdyke's 'Origin of Species Revisited.' I have spoken with Prof. Forsdyke and he agrees that this would be a good addition to our book. I have included the latest draft for the table of contents and will look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
|DATE:09 Feb 2002
||Subject: Evolutionary Theories of Aging.
Dear Dr. Korhof,
Perhaps this new article on evolutionary theories of aging may be interesting to you:
Gavrilov LA, Gavrilova NS:
Home site: http://longevity-science.org/
L.A. Gavrilov and N.S. Gavrilova (2004) The Reliability-Engineering Approach to the Problem of Biological Aging., New York Academy of Sciences 1019:509-512 (2004). [added 23 Dec 2004]
............................................................................................................................. I am pleased to inform you that our new book chapter on Evolutionary vs Reliability Theory of Aging published recently in the Handbook of the Biology of Aging, Academic Press, USA, 2006, has become publicly available online at:
Reliability Theory of Aging and Longevity
Any comments and suggestions are welcome!
[10 Jul 2006]
|DATE:29 Jan 2002
||Subject: The Origin of Animal Body Plans
Dear Dr Korthof
Thank you for writing this very kind review of my book, and indeed for
drawing my attention to it. Of course I agree with you that even with
the combination of neo-Darwinism and Evolutionary Developmental Biology
the expanded evolutionary synthesis may not be complete. We never know
what's around the next corner!
|DATE:28 Dec 2001
||Subject: The Origin of Species Revisited
|DATE:1 Nov 2001
||Subject: Your website
|DATE:6 Sep 2001||Subject: Re: review of Mendel's Demon
Many thanks for alerting me to your review, and indeed for writing the review. It is v pleasing for me to read, even down to the appearance of the web-page.
You are right that I ignored advantageous mutations because I had more than a book's worth on the disadvantageous ones -- and there has been interesting research advances in the areas I wrote about, whereas there have not for advantageous ones.
I am certainly interested in innovation. I am currently doing the third edition of my Evolution text. I am adding a chapter on development and genomics, and last week was writing about how genetic switches facilitate innovation. However, I am not sure I am up to doing a whole book on it. I am vaguely thinkink my next book, aimed at the same sort of market as Mendel's dmon, will be a history of human DNA, inspired by the sequencing of the human genome. But if that ever happens it will be some time in the future.
Best wishes, and thanks again
|DATE:4 Sep 2001
||Subject: Re: review of "Unifying Biology. The Evolutionary Synthesis and Evolutionary Biology"
Dear Dr. Korthof, thanks so much for taking the time to read and review my book and then for letting me know.
It is indeed orthodox in its acceptance of evolution completely unorthodox in its historiography. the only way that I could preserve my perspective as an evolutionist and practitioner and preserve my sanity as the same time that I wrote the history was to rethink the historiography. The alternative would have been to REDUCE the science to sociology; I tried to develop a philosophy of science that allowed me to have both the social and the logic of the science in the narrative.
Don't think anyone has actually understood what I was trying to do actually; but that doesn't matter. I think that many biologists enjoyed reading the chapters that you singled out and that in itself was a contribution.
Thanks so much again--
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|Copyright © 2001 G.Korthof||First published: 6 Sep 2001||Last update: 31 May 2007|