Sunday, July 03, 2011

No Wonder Michael Egnor is So Confused about Biology

He thinks dolphins are fish and embryos and fetuses are babies.

How did he ever graduate from medical school?


AL said...

Noticed one of the commenters there "defended" the dolphin are fish claim by claiming Darwin said we were all once fish.

So much confusion.

Miranda said...

See definition # two at

Miranda said...

While you're at the dictionary, check out definition #2 under the "World English Dictionary" section at this link:

Corey said...


A dolphin is not considered as a fish biologically or scientifically.

Same with embryos/fetuses with babies.

Miranda said...

No kidding, Corey. What makes you so sure that Egnor used those terms in the scientific sense?

B.R. said...

He also thinks that other religions are bad while his religion is good!("neo-pagans"). Somebody should tell this guy about what Stephen Roberts said.


Oxford says dolphin is a kind of whale and whale is a mammal(
I can't see the word fish anywhere!

Corey said...


Because many people make the the claim that evolution states that humans are "monkeys" and they classify gorillas and cther apes as "monkeys".

Miranda said...

(B.R., you didn't look at the fish link I provided, did you.)

Corey, you have a point. See the third definition at

But the question still remains if you know for sure that Egnor (not "many people", but Egnor himself) meant "fish" and "baby" in a scientific sense, given that they are often used in a colloquial sense.

jeff said...

I get a kick out of self-righteous folks, no matter the religion they align themselves with. The catholic (which means "universal") church at one point in the past owned and controlled more land than any single conqueror ever took. So the "church" collected the taxes and had the power to send a citizen to hell, or take her land and burn her at the stake for being a Neo-pagan (or just somebody labeled as such to help the "church" justify the subsequent acts of violence to follow).
Michael Egnor takes an odd segue on abortions, but yet the "church" is only recently starting to relax on its stance on condom usage. Here's an odd segue: since when did animals become "innocent" or "guilty", besides I recall from Genesis (in the Bible) that man has rule of animals and that it is okay to eat them.
In fact, I'm going to eat a piece of "guilty" cow in about an hour in the form of nice cheeseburger. My burger patties have bits of yummy bacon in them too, and I can't wait to cook em' up in on the grill.
Let's take it further off topic: I recall seeing a show on some pigmies living in a jungle who had never been introduced to Christianity. They would leave a premade figurine in the spot of the "Act" when and where they took meat from the jungle, they do it to say thanks. I think this is a good thing to do, a prayer (grace or blessing) seems a little lazy to me in comparison.

Tantalus Prime said...

Far be it from me to defend Egnor, but is it possible that he was taking artistic license with the word fish, attempting to highlight the difference between humans and other animals while knowing full well that a mammal is not a fish?

I don't seriously think so, but am just offering it as an alternative explanation.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Jeff: "How did he ever graduate from medical school?"

Well, that's not too hard to explain. I read he is a neurosurgeon, so he forgot everything he knew about babies or fish. (As a parallel, I know probabilists who have trouble stating the inverse function theorem correctly.)

Miranda: Again, thanks for posting. I find everything you say very amusing. On this side of the Atlantic, we had a laugh when we read your attempts to support someone who describes himself as "conservative Catholic".

Anonymous said...

The fact that the human zygote will not articulate itself into anything else but a human has been one of the main arguments against abortion. But a zygote is not a baby. Egnore has posted a challenge... The abortion debate is dynamic indeed.

Miranda said...

Takis, you and your imaginary friend on your side of the Atlantic must find me so funny that you forgot to actually address the challenge I raised.

Miranda Farted said...

Miranda's argument stinks because she ignores context and generalizes. They stink as bad as her farts. Someone open a window.

Anonymous said...

The path to perfection depends on criticism, but there is a fine line between criticism and cruelty.
In a recent and related post Egnor states,
"... I just knew when I wrote the post that one of the more OCD Darwinists would point out that my expression "a couple of fish" rather than "a couple of aquatic mammals"..."
Egnor displays his penchant for cruelty by using OCD, a sometimes very disabling disorder, in a derogatory manner.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Miranda: Which challenge are you talking about? When did you pose a challenge? I looked through your postings and didn't see anything. Please state the challenge again.

Miranda said...

Takis, you couldn't figure it out from the links I provided? Oh well, here it is, more explicit:

Jeffrey tells us what Egnor thinks, based on the fact that Egnor seemed to call dolphin 'fish' and embryos 'humans.' I argued that _maybe_ Egnor used these words in the colloquial sense, as the dictionary definitions allow for.

Corey thinks Egnor is speaking scientifically because "many people" are ignorant in this regard.

Tantalus Prime offers the same suggestion I did, but for some reason doesn't "seriously think" it's true.

"Miranda Farted" thinks he's funny.

What do you think? Was Jeffrey right in claiming to know what Egnor was thinking?

Jughead said...

"What do you think? Was Jeffrey right in claiming to know what Egnor was thinking?"

Based upon the evidence, yes.

Jeffrey - 1
Miranda - 0

Bob Oboc said...

Are you right about what Egnor was thinking? No one can be entirely sure what another person has going on in their mind, that's why we refer to the things they have written/spoken. Instead of criticizing someone who actually analyzed the contents of Egnor's writings, you should be criticizing Egnor for writing such a foolish statement. Perhaps he had something else in mind, but due to poor writing/editing/proofreading left it unclear. Once again, we can only judge his ideas as he expresses them.

On another note, random internet dictionaries are notoriously unreliable. The Oxford English Dictionary is the standard dictionary for written and spoken English. Why dont you find the definitions there and then tell us what you see? is about as authoritative

jeff said...

Here is an original idea:
Lt. Col. Donald G. Carpenter, a prolific scientist and former commander of the SPACETRACK Radar Site at Shemya, originator of the Space Science Course at the USAF Academy, and the 1972 Theodore von Karman Award Recipient, produced a series of unusual papers:

Carpenter, D. (1980). The physics of haunting. Analog C, 10, 44–53.
Carpenter, D. (1984). Weighing the soul at death: Some methodological and theoretical considerations. Theta, Journal of Psychical Research 12, 14–16.
Carpenter, D. (1998). Physically Weighing the Soul, electronic book,
Basically, he derives a rigorous lower density bound of energy a spirit must maintain to exist in our reality. Researchers have tried to apply this bound to measure weight loss at the time of passing of life, see for instance:
My original idea it to apply this bound to the human zygote to see if a spirit could truly exist inside it in the form of pure energy. In other words, can the human zygote contain that energy? It seems like we could deduce something of value here.

Miranda Farted said...

Excuse me, Miranda but I am a WOMAN. Yep. Not only does your argument about fish fail but you are a sexist to boot. Kudos.

And it still stinks in here, Miranda. Where is the air freshener?

g said...

The OED's first and most relevant definitions for "fish" and "baby":

In popular language, any animal living exclusively in the water; primarily denoting vertebrate animals provided with fins and destitute of limbs; but extended to include various cetaceans, crustaceans, molluscs, etc. In modern scientific language (to which popular usage now tends to approximate) restricted to a class of vertebrate animals, provided with gills throughout life, and cold-blooded; the limbs, if present, are modified into fins, and supplemented by unpaired median fins.

A very young child, esp. one not yet able to walk and dependent on the care of others; an infant. Also applied to an unborn child. Formerly also: †a child of any age (obs.). Cf. newborn n. 2.

Just what Egnor meant by "fish" and "baby" is of course impossible to tell. (Someone could ask him but there's no guarantee that he'd tell the truth if it were embarrassing.)

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Miranda: I actually can see your point and cannot for sure say whether Egnor was referring to a dolphin as a fish, or to an embryo as a baby in a scientific manner or whether he was just being casual. In fact, nobody can say for sure what he thought.

But, based on the other stupid things he writes, there are lots of evidence against the intelligence of this person. To wit, he is a person of faith and believes in idiotic things (like creationism). So, even though he may have used the words above informally, he doesn't seem to be very coherent.

Miranda said...

Jughead, you refer to evidence, but you don't say what it is.

Bob Odoc, Merriam Websters is authoritative enough for me. It supports the colloquial reading for "fish." (The online version does not support the colloquial reading for baby, though.)
But wait a minute! We're expected to believe that people can use a word colloquially only if the Oxford English dictionary says it's OK to? That's a really unusual position to hold.

Miranda Farted writes, "And it still stinks in here, Miranda. Where is the air freshener?"

I believe it's on the window sill in your computer room. You may wish to go outside. Downwind from me, though.

"g" writes: "Just what Egnor meant by "fish" and "baby" is of course impossible to tell."

Yes, exactly. No further comment is necessary.

Takis: In sum, it appears you're saying, "I agree with Miranda, but..." OK, fine, I accept that.

Now all we have to do is wait for Jeffrey to weigh in. He has accused me of erroneously reading his mind, so I know it's something he would like to avoid doing himself.

jeff said...

Nobody looks interested, but I found that Carpenter's ebook is no longer available at 1stbooks.

Carpenter, D. (1998). Physically Weighing the Soul, electronic book,

Authorhouse bought 1stbooks:

The 13 digit ISBN for Carpenter's ebook is: 0000000001031.

I called authorhouse and requested that they make Carpenter's book available for purchase again. They do have it. I was told it may take 4-6 weeks before to becomes available and to call back then, wow.

Anyhow, these papers are a good example of a highly accomplished scientist publishing on "fringe" or "pseudo" science towards the end of his or her career.

Clearly, nobody wants to do real work to get real results that we can use to make rational conclusions with; rather people seem to just want to banner and rant...

Miranda Farted said...

Miranda - still trying to prove that you matter to the internet world. Give it up, hun. You can be wrong and still live a fulfilling life. Your weekly viewing of Joel Osteen should have proven that point!

And the air freshener was empty. Your farts keep filling the air. Ugh.

a Nadder said...

While fish does refer to a broader group of creatures colloqually, I think it's a pretty rare use of the word -- this would be a case where scientific facts have managed to change popular language.

So at best, Egnor is showing very poor judgement in using such a misleading (and unpopular) colloqualism, especially when discussing evolution! And at worst, it's like Jeffrey's original post said.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

a Nadder said.. So at best, Egnor is showing very poor judgement in using such a misleading (and unpopular) colloqualism, especially when discussing evolution!

I agree, except I gave him the benefit of the doubt. As for his discussion on evolution, it is precisely because he doesn't accept evolution that he gets confused. From what I recently read, Egnor seems to be a capable surgeon, but, as a scientist, he cannot be considered so. He is, simply, blindly trying to promote religion, like all creationists. Something, somewhere, went wrong with him.

Bob Oboc said...

Merriam Websters is authoritative enough for me.

Yes, because a popular dictionary must be a good one, right? Great logic. But honestly, colloquial language never gets into dictionaries quickly enough to keep up with every-day usage, I pointed the OED out to you because A) youve probably never heard of it and B)You insisted on leaving three (unusable)links to the same crappy online dictionary as if that somehow proved your point, whatever it may be. We can argue about semantics but that is pointless, instead let's talk pragmatics. I have never heard anyone refer to dolphins as fish for as long as I can recall. They are mammals. Do you know what a mammal is? Maybe now is a good time to refresh your knowledge of basic biology. Here's a website full of wonderful information that you might be able to absorb.

Careful! Don't strain yourself too much by reading something unfamiliar or experiencing excessive cognitive dissonance! Take it a page at a time and you should be OK.

Miranda said...

Steven Gould pointed out that scientifically and taxonomically, there really isn't anything such as a fish. Hagfish, lungfish, sharks, tuna, they're all called fish but they're not closely related to each other.

You can google on Gould's name, Bob Oboc, since you probably never heard of him.

So, based on SJG's insight, I guess Egnor was really, really wrong in referring to any sea animal as a fish.

Tantalus Prime said...

Miranda said: "Tantalus Prime offers the same suggestion I did, but for some reason doesn't "seriously think" it's true."

I offered the suggestion that he used creative wit to highlight the difference between humans and dolphins. However, based on his previous writings, I think it is more likely that he used fish in the colloquial sense without thinking. It is more in line with his style so I don't take the artistic license option seriously.

It is possible that Egnor believes dolphins are fish. I wouldn't put it outside the realm of possibility, but would consider it highly unlikely. Only he knows for sure.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

"It is possible that Egnor believes dolphins are fish. I wouldn't put it outside the realm of possibility, but would consider it highly unlikely."

I wouldn't be so sure. Someone who believes in religion and creationism is likely to believe in anything. This is the power of faith: it makes one take as facts things which are myths.

Anonymous said...

In July 2011, Jeff posted regarding Col. Donald Carpenter. I met Don in the mid 1990s and we had many "interesting" conversations on a variety of topics. Without question, he was the most brilliant person I have ever met.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

This "Jeff" you refer to was not me, but some commenter.