A funny side-effect of PZ Myers “An ontogeny of toilet drain behavior” was to bring Fleury’s theory within the range of one of the famous crackpot detectors, Suzan Mazur.
This is a completely different dimension from my favorite local (French) crackpot detector, Jean Staune, the very anti-Darwin Secratary General of the Université Interdisciplinaire de Paris, an association heavily financed by the John Templeton Foundation. Whatever Jean likes (in science) becomes immediately suspicious and it was Jean who introduced Fleury in a public forum, where we first meet.
Now, Suzan Mazur, spotted Fleury, and he grabbed the opportunity to explain himself to a larger audience. That’s great, the visibility is much wider then an isolated blogger in France could expect trying to debunk Fleury’s theory.
As I acknowledged, I’m the one who asked PZ Myers’ opinion on Fleury’s paper. The choice of the science blogger to contact at first was easy to make. PZ is an embryologist, have a particular interest for integration of developmental and evolutionary biology, he is a longtime fan of d’Arcy Thompson, is rather outspoken, it’s difficult to influence him, and he have a large audience with a fair proportion of scientists who dare speak their minds in the comments.
I was delighted with PZ’s conclusions which match mines closely, and as a bonus Fleury abundantly commented making his point of view much clearer then in his paper, so people know better where he stands.
In the interview Suzan Mazur stupidly try to make her point that evolutionary biologists, biologists in general, PZ in particular, are worried about some paradigm shift. Paradigms shifts may be a common topic of interest of crackpot detectors and crackpots. PZ took care of that part of the interview.
Fleury’s opinion about PZ is a complex subject:
Summarizing: he promotes good science, with reviews which are OK, except it’s rubbish, and he isn’t trustworthy. Shifting position during a single interview! Who’s the guy with the weird behavior here?
Let’s go for the more scary thingies:
I would like to thank Suzan Mazur for her excellent idea to interview Fleury, another way to help a fellow hang himself. And Fleury for accepting; quite difficult to translate everything he said in the french press and radio, but now we have an english version of the Big Picture.
1. For Fleury “creationism” is a term restricted to YECreationism.
It may be asked how far I extend the doctrine of the modification of species. The question is difficult to answer, because the more distinct the forms are which we may consider, by so much the arguments fall away in force. But some arguments of the greatest weight extend very far. All the members of whole classes can be connected together by chains of affinities, and all can be classified on the same principle, in groups subordinate to groups. Fossil remains sometimes tend to fill up very wide intervals between existing orders. Organs in a rudimentary condition plainly show that an early progenitor had the organ in a fully developed state; and this in some instances necessarily implies an enormous amount of modification in the descendants. Throughout whole classes various structures are formed on the same pattern, and at an embryonic age the species closely resemble each other. Therefore I cannot doubt that the theory of descent with modification embraces all the members of the same class. I believe that animals have descended from at most only four or five progenitors, and plants from an equal or lesser number.
Analogy would lead me one step further, namely, to the belief that all animals and plants have descended from some one prototype. But analogy may be a deceitful guide. Nevertheless all living things have much in common, in their chemical composition, their germinal vesicles, their cellular structure, and their laws of growth and reproduction. We see this even in so trifling a circumstance as that the same poison often similarly affects plants and animals; or that the poison secreted by the gall-fly produces monstrous growths on the wild rose or oak-tree. Therefore I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed.
(Charles Darwin, 1959)