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Weasel Words

"Weasel Words"

Chapter 3 is replete with "weasel words" --phrases that imply something without explicitly stating it, that make statements without backing, that cite sources without naming those sources.

The type of weasel word most commonly used in Explore Evolution involves making statements attributed to "some scientists" or "some critics." In almost every case, Explore Evolution does not name who these critics are. Even when Explore Evolution does cite a scientist, as in the case of Paul Chien (as discussed at length here ), Explore Evolution misrepresents his credentials, calling him a "paleobiologist," a description that does not match his education, research, or publications.

"Some critics" think Explore Evolution is, according to "some sources," a work of fraud that can be debunked simply by looking at its language. You might want to know who these sources and critics are--but if I refuse to identify them, you cannot verify that I have represented their positions correctly. I could be lying. I could have made up the sources. I could have used real sources but used them incorrectly. Science needs a mechanism for checking sources.

A few examples from Explore Evolution, with weasel words italicized:

p. 20: "Recently, some scientists think they have discovered a transitional fossil sequence…"

p. 20: "[unnamed] Paleontologists have identified many gaps…"

p. 21: "[unnamed] Advocates of Common Descent also point out…"

p. 22: "Most critics of the fossil succession argument agree…"

p. 22: "For this reason, many scientists think…"

p. 24: "Critics of the fossil succession argument point out…"

p. 24: "As a result, critics say the pattern of fossil appearances does not support Darwin's picture…"

p. 26: "Critics of fossil succession point to a second feature…"

p. 26: "No, say the critics…"

p. 26: "In much the same way, critics point out…"

p. 27: "For this reason, critics argue that Darwin's theory…"

p. 27: "In the overwhelming majority of cases, Common Descent does not match the evidence…"

p. 27: "Scientific critics of the Fossil Succession…"

p. 27: "Some critics are unpersuaded…"

p. 27: "Given the millions of different fossil forms in the fossil record, critics argue…"

p. 27: "Some textbooks alter the scale of pictures…"

p. 30: "Many paleontologists would argue…"

p. 31: "Critics agree that…"

p. 33: "And that's the dilemma, say the critics."

p. 34: "Critics of both argue…"

p. 34: "We have seen that scientists disagree over how to interpret…"

p. 35: "For example, some scientists say…"

p. 35: "Even so, some advocates of punctuated equilibrium…"

Explore Evolution seems afraid to name specific sources for its information, and with good reason.