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Getting the Facts Straight: A Viewer's Guide to PBS's Evolution Paperback – September 17, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 154 pages
  • Publisher: Discovery Institute (September 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0963865455
  • ISBN-13: 978-0963865458
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,872,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

False and Outdated Evidence

"Evolution affects almost every aspect of human life," claim the
series producers, "from medicine to agriculture to a person's choice
of mate." The seven episodes supposedly present "the underlying
evidence" for this contention, yet some of the evidence presented in
the series is known to be false, and the remaining evidence provides
surprisingly little support for Darwin's theory.

We are told that "powerful evidence" for the common ancestry of
all living things is the universality of the genetic code. The genetic
code is the way DNA specifies the sequence of proteins in living
cells, and Evolution tells us that the code is the same in all
living things. But the series is badly out of date. Biologists have
been finding exceptions to the universality of the genetic code since
1979, and more exceptions are turning up all the time. In its
eagerness to present the "underlying evidence" for Darwin's theory,
Evolution ignores this awkwardÑand potentially
falsifying--fact. (p. 10)

Dissenting Evolutionists Ignored

Much of the remainder of the series consists--not of evidence--but
of interviews with evolutionary theorists giving us their
interpretations of a few ambiguous facts. And surprisingly, the series
completely ignores biologists who--though strongly committed to
Darwinian evolution--are also strongly critical of the interpretations
being presented.

For example, several episodes deal with human origins. We are
treated to lots of wildlife photography of apes, and numerous
dramatizations featuring human actors in "missing link" costumes, seen
from afar--like shots of "Bigfoot"-- while we listen to stories told
by people who apparently think a very little evidence can go a very
long way. But Henry Gee, chief science writer for Nature (and
an evolutionist), has pointed out that all the evidence for human
evolution between about 10 and 5 million years ago "can be fitted into
a small box." According to Gee, the conventional picture of human
evolution as lines of ancestry and descent is "a completely human
invention created after the fact, shaped to accord with human
prejudices." Putting it even more bluntly, Gee wrote in 1999: "To take
a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a
scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that
carries the same validity as a bedtime story--amusing, perhaps even
instructive, but not scientific." (p. 11)

Scientific "Just-so" Stories

Science is supposed to rest on evidence, but a whimsical cartoon
animation about the evolutionary origin of sex is not evidence. In
fact, most of what we have just seen is what evolutionary biologist
Stephen Jay Gould would call a "just-so story." About a hundred years
ago, Rudyard Kipling wrote a children's book by that name which
recounted entertaining but scientifically meaningless stories about
how leopards got their spots, and other things. In just-so stories,
according to Gould, "virtuosity in invention replaces testability as
the criterion for acceptance." Evolution is telling us just-so
stories, yet we are expected to regard them as scientific
. . . (p. 75)

Customer Reviews

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16 of 28 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 26, 2006
I will concede that PBS's "Evolution" miniseries is filled with omissions of fact, most notably in discussing current controversies regarding the tempo and mode of evolution, but it does a fine job nonetheless in introducing the Modern Synthesis Theory of Evolution to an interested public audience, stressing the importance of this theory towards our understanding of all aspects of biology, from developmental biology and population genetics to paleobiology and ecology, and last, but not least, both epidemiology and medicine. Carl Zimmer's companion volume to the PBS miniseries "Evolution" does an admirable job elaborating on some of the points briefly mentioned or not covered in the PBS program. That book, also entitled "Evolution", should be a potential reader's guide, not this error-filled, woefully misguided effort at critiquing "Evolution" from a pro-Intelligent Design perspective.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Transigent on April 22, 2013
This book is written as though it were produced by a public relations firm for religion rather than someone familiar with science & history.

For those that accept creationism and intelligent design through their faith, even this video attempts to muddle faith with logical inconsistencies and false scientific assertion.

Keep your faith separate from your science and both can flourish.
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38 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Mit on November 27, 2001
As a scientist who studies evolution, the PBS Evolution Series profoundly embarrassed me. How so much effort and money could be poured into a project that wound up so flawed is a potential case study in the failure of science education. Getting the Facts Straight is an excellent primer on errors, both in fact and logic, in the series. Every teacher who wants to show these videos in a classroom should first read the Getting the Facts Straight, then prepare lesson plans that help students to see why the PBS Evolution Series is a caricature of how science should be. In fact, anyone who saw the series and didn't drop off to sleep should read this book. It made viewing the series a lot more interesting for me, and it was great to be able to compare my own reservations about it with those of the writers of this book. I highly recommend Getting the Facts Straight to anyone who is interested in science, popularization of science or evolution.
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31 of 64 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 26, 2001
I've enjoyed reading and re-reading this little book in its web version and am glad it is finally in paperback. Despite its size, it provides a lot of information that seems crucial to evaluating the claims of Darwinian evolution--info. that was not mentioned in the PBS series.
It covers stuff quickly and objectively, while providing ample notes and references for the research inclined [even the music from the PBS series is identified and footnoted]. Also, as it describes the material in the PBS series, one doesn't need to have seen the series for this book to be useful--it is quite sufficient as a stand alone piece.
Though not addressing intelligent design, this is one of the best materials to have come from the ID community: I'd say it is among the best as a quick reference on evolution, as topics are easy to find, brief to survey and it is a heck of a lot less expensive than others.
Good work with a priceless piece.
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29 of 64 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 29, 2003
Instead of investing in this book as a companion to the PBS series, consider investing in other books on evolutionary theory such as Dawkins "The Selfish Gene" or even Darwin's classic "Origin of Species." While these evolutionists have been misinterpreted for years in North America, Gould's Just So Stories have been running rampant. Instead of looking to the so called evolutionists responding to the PBS series in this book, you would better spend your time looking to those that have spent their lives pursuing this science and have built the credibility to speak clearly on this subject.
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