Many of the people in this newsgroup
can be divided into two different categories. First there are the evolutionists - by which I mean people who believe in and know at least something about the theory of evolution
. This group is pretty diverse. There are some professional scientist
s who study evolution
, and may be professor
s or assistant professors who teach at real universities, perhaps even prestigious ones. Others are students
, still others are well read laypeople
, a few don't know as much as they think they do and may actually provide misleading
Many of the people in this first group have one thing in common. They think it is worth their time to help clear up misconceptions about evolution. Others just like to argue or insult people of certain religious persuasions. There is a semi serious virtual university called the University of Ediacara. Many of the evolutionists who devote a fair amount of their time to this newsgroup are given virtual positions in this university. The best of these people are experts, familiar with various misconceptions about evolution and good at explaining facts and theories calmly and clearly. Many of them are religious.
The second major group is the anti-evolutionists. I don't say creationists because not all of them are. Many are believers in so called scientific creationism, others in other theories, some even stranger. Ted Holden is rather a fixture of this second group, and would probably be pleased to discover he had made it into this post if he ever found out. A large majority of the posts from people in this group are false claims that have already been made and disproved and made again elsewhere several times in different contexts. There are also net loons who have their own private brand of gibberish. On rare occasions someone from this group posts somthing thought provoking. Even if you doubt some things that most evolutionists accept, you will probably agree 98 percent of the writing from people in this group is crud.
Then there are the others, miscellaneous. There are lurkers, people who look in out of curiousity, and people who are involved in long off topic discussions cross posted from other newsgroups. I believe some effort has been made to cut down on the last, not because people object to irrelevant (sometimes more intelligent and intelligible than on topic posts), as because people in many other newsgroups are sick of cross posts from here.
This newsgroup used to be more fun when you could at least skim the titles of a weeks worth of new posts. There are hundreds of posts per day now, and I personally never find it worth the effort anymore to sort the boring gibberish rehashed and requoted through many replies and followups from the interesting and original gibberish. If you're handy with your filters you can talk about real science with real scientists here.
This was originally an outgrowth of the talk.origins internet newsgroup. In the beginning when there was no world wide web but only the internet, the evolutionists on talk.origins noticed that again and again they heard the same questions from creationists, and heard the same arguments which some people belived evolutionists could never answer. Sometimes these questions had been asked very recently, and the answers were still there, and the questioner hadn't taken the time to read.
In response, a number of FAQ's developed, so that instead of explanations being repeated again and again creationist's could just be referred to the appropriate FAQ.
Now all those FAQ's and many more have been put into a searchable and browsable archive at http://www.talkorigins.org/. If you've heard an argument from a creationist and don't know the answer, there's a good chance you'll find it here. You will also find information on the scientific method and errors scientists have made.