Thursday, October 1, 2015

#1477: Nicholas Comninellis

Dumpster diving in the Discovery Institute’s petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism also produced today’s entry. Nicholas Comninellis is Associate Professor of Community and Family Medicine at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. We have been unable to locate any actual research output for Comninellis (doing science is not a prerequisite for signing the Discovery Institute list), but he is at least the author of several creationist books, including Creative Defense: Evidence Against Evolution, which apparently argues that “[p]hilosophically, the dogma of evolution is a dream, a theory without a vestige of truth,” whatever that means (it certainly doesn’t suggest a discussion of the scientific evidence for that scientific theory). He has also produced Darwin’s Demise: Why Evolution Can’t Take the Heat, which helpfully demonstrates how its central argument relies on wishful thinking in its very title. Harun Yahya is apparently a fan of Comninellis’s writings, which for someone dabbling in biology is the equivalent of being endorsed by Craig Paul Cobb if you’re doing political theory.

Diagnosis: Crackpot who hates science (and philosophy) since it threatens the beliefs he arrived at by non-evidential and non-rational means. I suppose that since he is, in fact, affiliated with a real educational and research institution it’s a good thing he is so open about his anti-science attitude. 


  1. Hello GD ~ I am the man you write about in the post. Please either take down you statement now or call my cell phone to discuss in detail your assumptions. My number is 816-520-6900

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Hi. I'm abroad, so calling you on the phone is tricky. However, I do strive for accuracy in the post and will endeavor to correct anything that is inaccurate. You can either post your concerns in the comments here or send a private email to fredrik.haraldsen*AT*

      As is pretty clear from the post I haven't actually read "Creative Defense" and don't know what precisely it contains. I have briefly glanced at "Darwin's Demise", however. It seemed to me to contain little beyond points-refuted-a-thousand-times - some are probably even on this list: - without any attempt to address those refutations). More importantly, the quote-mining is pretty offensive: You can't alter quotes, jam together phrases from different pages and insert words without actually saying so! It didn't make me very sympathetically inclined toward your work.

      Example? "In stark contrast to his theological training, Darwin later demonstrated his enormous contempt for anything Christian. He wrote: 'The Old Testament, from its manifestly false history of the earth, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindus, or the beliefs of any barbarian. The New Testament is a damnable doctrine. [I can] hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true' (The Origin of Species, 1859)." Right [p.8-9]? Now, can you point me to the page numbers for that quote in The Origin of Species? Or anywhere else? Especially the phrase "The New Testament is a damnable doctrine". (Yes, I got this observation from Gary Hurd - and the point is that you are not presenting this as an *interpretation* of Darwin, but as a quote!)

      As far as I can tell - and please correct me if this is inaccurate - what you might call my "assumptions" were:
      1. You have no formal expertise in or published any research in biology in any relevant venue (i.e. peer-reviewed journals).
      2. You nevertheless reject the consensus scientific view in that field (going so far as to call it a "dogma" and a "dream", which is pretty ambitious given the serious work thousands of very, very smart scientists have put into carefully researching the subject), and you have published books and signed a petition to that effect.
      3. You do so without engaging with contemporary evolutionary biology, but by using mostly tired, old creationist canards that people have responded to plenty of times - and you don't engage with those responses or even acknowledge their existence. And in particular: You seem to be using quote-mining, which is a pretty damnable practice.

      The third one was based on Darwin's Demise. Now, for all I know, Creative Defense might address some of those concerns, though the blurb doesn't really make me very optimistic (though that might of course be publisher's hype or something). Or perhaps there are other publications or resources that fill in the picture and correct some of the stuff from Darwin's Demise. Please feel free to enlighten me.

      I have to admit that I did get pretty annoyed during my brief look at Darwin's Demise, in particular because of things like the above-mentioned "quote". That impression informed this blogpost. Again, I emphasize that I am willing to make accommodations if my impression doesn't capture the full picture.