Self-Published Genius #15: Darwin & Free Will

We have another author with a vanity press book. As with other paradigm-shattering discoveries, today’s proud author has announced his work by hiring a press release service.

This one is issued by an outfit we’ve encountered before. It’s called PRWeb, which “gets your news straight to the search engines that everyone uses, like Google, Yahoo and Bing.” Their Pricing page reveals that their “Basic Package” costs $80. We assume that’s what we’re dealing with now.

The press release is titled Author Explains How Science Alone Can Never Account For How We Evolved . Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Until science can account for conscious experience and free will there can’t be a science of evolution, says Shaun Johnston, author of “Save Our Selves from Science Gone Wrong: Physicalism and Natural Selection.” And even if there could be such a science it wouldn’t be Darwinism.

The first three words of that title are abbreviated “SOS,” a fact that is dramatized on the cover of the book which you can see in the press release. Great marketing! Here’s the publisher’s website: Evolved Self Publishing. Hey, the book has its own page at the publisher’s website. The press release continues:

As long as people value the experience of consciousness and free will Darwinism will continue to meet resistance, according to “Save Our Selves from Science Gone Wrong: Physicalism and Natural Selection”. Because Darwinism accounts for evolution through purely physical processes it can’t account for conscious experience.

Consciousness and free will? Where have we seen this criticism of “Darwinism” before? Oh yes, it’s been promoted by the Discoveroids. See this post from four years ago, Discovery Institute Revives Mind-Body Dualism, in which we said:

The “theory” of ID has taken so many hits lately in courtrooms and in state school boards that the Discoveroids apparently sense the need to beef up their “science” with additional instances of mystery forces at work. Thus — after digging deep into the pre-scientific past — they are now pushing the age-old idea that there are ghosts (or spirits, or something) at work inside the human brain. Yes, that sounds bizarre, but they’re serious.

To further this goal of providing intellectual company for the Intelligent Designer, the Discoveroids are reviving the ancient notion of mind-body dualism; therefore Plato, who flourished about 24 centuries ago, is having a big comeback among the Discoveroids. This reversion to ancient philosophy gives the Discoveroids a multi-syllabic (but content-free) way of asserting that if something isn’t yet fully understood, then the answer must be … Oogity Boogity! This claim that “ignorance of X means proof of Y” is the philosophical foundation for belief in all kinds of unscientific ideas, including the Intelligent Designer.

Let’s read on from the press release:

“This is a problem not just for Darwinism,” author Shaun Johnston says, “it’s a problem for science itself.”

We’d be more impressed if the guy could spell his own name correctly. We continue with his quote:

The methods of science apply only to matter. When science tries to account for something like evolution that involves conscious experience it’s bound to sell that experience short. A scientific explanation for evolution is bound to imply that we’re physically determined, exposing us to the risk of fatalism.

Egad, fatalism! Here’s one more excerpt:

Even if there could be a scientific theory of evolution, Johnston writes, it wouldn’t be Darwinism, or “The Modern Synthesis” as it’s called today. Among other criticisms he points out that as creatures got larger and lived in smaller interbreeding populations, having fewer progeny at greater intervals, a mechanism that acted once per generation would progressively slow down. Yet evolution has, if anything, sped up over time.

Amazing — evolution has one flaw after another. You need this book, dear reader. Go for it!

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Self-Published Genius #15: Darwin & Free Will

  1. he points out that as creatures got larger and lived in smaller interbreeding populations, having fewer progeny at greater intervals, a mechanism that acted once per generation would progressively slow down.

    True but completly mundane. Every scientist understands that (populations of) bacteria will evolve faster than (same-size populations of) humans due to the differences in generation time.

    It may also be a reasonable assumption to think that r-type species generally evolve faster than K-type species, but as a generalization I am less sure about that.

    Yet evolution has, if anything, sped up over time.

    This seems to be his error. I am pretty sure he doesn’t understand what evolution is, if he sees it as having a single, monolithic rate. But, I don’t think its worth my time reading his article to figure out exactly where he goes wrong.

  2. Ceteris Paribus

    Johnston has several books on offer,
    ‘Self Improvement Through a New Approach to Evolution’ with an Amazon best seller ranking of 7,393,511;
    and “Save Our Selves from Science Gone Wrong’ with best seller ranking 4,976,823.

    So which book to chose? Damn free will! Damn, damn, damn. So many books, so little time.

  3. Pete Moulton

    I went to the Amazon.com page for this wonder book, and discovered that the editorial blurb includes an approving comment from Mary Midgeley. That tells me all I need to know.

  4. “Because Darwinism accounts for evolution through purely physical processes it can’t account for conscious experience.”

    She should check out “Freewill” by Sam Harris.

  5. All it takes is a visit to an Alzheimer’s facility to understand that consciousness is completely a physical phenomena. People who allege that consciousness is somehow apart from the physical brain have never had a parent or close relative with the disease.

  6. These guys get their acts together. Every time one of them opens their mouth, they undermine one of their brothers in arms. This guy claims that Darwin was wrong (“. . . Yet evolution has, if anything, sped up over time.”) by granting that evolution exists, which blows out of the water the young earthers who believe everything is exactly as God has created it just a short while ago.

    Whoever is coordinating these guys needs to work harder.

  7. Retired Prof

    Johnston says, “Because Darwinism accounts for evolution through purely physical processes it can’t account for conscious experience.”

    As SC points out, this is a case of the “god of the gaps”: if we can’t fully account for a phenomenon yet, the only way to explain it is that god did it.

    And indeed, scientists haven’t fully explained (or even defined) consciousness yet, but a number of them are chipping away at the problem. Science News ran a series of articles this spring summarizing some of these efforts under the series title Demystifying the Mind. If you’re interested, go to http://www.sciencenews.org/ and enter that title into the “Body and Brain” search box.

  8. Retired Prof says: “And indeed, scientists haven’t fully explained (or even defined) consciousness”

    I explain it as a short-circuit in the brain, allowing it to sense some of its own activity.

  9. Retired Prof

    A good way to phrase it, SC. To summarize the article series we could say that scientists are trying map out the circuits in the brain and determine where they get shorted.