Jerry Coyne represents himself as the epitome of science, reason and critical thinking. But “Dr. Reason” or shall we say “Dr. EvolutionIsTrue” often ends up as the butt of jokes and sarcasm in the ID community.
He got hoodwinked recently. He was pranked into believing a particular internet account was real and then started quoting from it to support his arguments. Turned out his evidence was from a faked source. Finally someone intervened to stop Coyne from making anymore a joke of himself. Coyne was forced to make a retraction:
But more seriously, Coyne might not make retractions when fellow scientists discover serious flaws in his own work. First I point out physicists have overturned his claims that the “backward” wiring of the human retina is a design flaw. In fact because the wiring acts as light channel, the wiring acts serves an important photon segregating function. He totally embarrassed himself:
(Phys.org) —Having the photoreceptors at the back of the retina is not a design constraint, it is a design feature. The idea that the vertebrate eye, like a traditional front-illuminated camera, might have been improved somehow if it had only been able to orient its wiring behind the photoreceptor layer, like a cephalopod, is folly.
Hear that? Coyne’s ideas are called folly.
But that’s not all, he got called on the carpet by nuclear chemist Jay Wile who pointed out Coyne didn’t even bother consulting basic embryology textbooks. Coyne claims lanugo hair has no function and uses his false claim as evidence evolution is true. Wile point out Coyne’s error:
From about the third month lanugo hair (Latin, lana = wool) hair is initially formed and it has a role in binding vernix to skin.
Indeed, this is such a well-known fact that review materials for the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam discuss it. For example, Philip R. Brauer in his review book, Human embryology: the ultimate USMLE step 1 review says:
Vernix caseosa is a culmination of sebaceous gland secretions and dead epidermal cells, and the lanugo hair helps retain it on the outer skin surface.
I do credit Coyne with getting one thing right
In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to [the pseudoscience of] phrenology than to physics.