Thursday, February 2, 2017


Alternative facts seems like either oxymorons or sources of cognitive dissonance.  At best they may be due to failure to have agreed upon definition of terms, at worst they may be deliberate deceptions.  In between those extremes are areas of foggy thinking or reliance on gurus of varying degrees of competence.

To my embarrassment I re-read my February 2015 post on "Evolution: the body cavity".  I did so to see if was really so good that more people have recently been viewing it more than all 160 of my other posts put together.  I noted the first sentence of the third paragraph had an "alternative fact".

Evolution- my embarrassing alternative fact

Pseudocoelomates were placed in an evolutionary sequence between acoelomates and coelomates.
There is no factual basis for that statement.  In fact, it is more likely the pseudocoelomates are a separate line from the turbellarian flatworms just as the coelomates are a separate line from the turbellarian flatworms.  There may have been other origins of pseudocoelomates besides the aschelminths (gastrotrichs, rotifers, kinorhynchs, and nematodes) that evolved from the turbellarians via the gnathostomulids.

Politics- alternative facts

The headlines responsible for the the popularity of alternative facts may be due to unwarranted reliance on the pronouncements of an adulated guru.  Neither conservatism nor liberalism is always right or always wrong in their particular definitions of how the constitutional God-given rights of people should be interpreted..  The "Bill of Rights" should help us realize that and see the value of an interaction of the legislative, administrative, and judicial branches of government in reaching prudent solutions.

Religion- alternative facts

Literal based interpretations versus a message carried in varied literary forms, as ways of getting God's message in scripture have long plagued Christians.  I suspect similar problems have led to the divisions seen among Jews and Muslims.

Roman Catholics are currently undergoing divisive problems with a few cardinals trying to "correct" the Pope with what seems to be a reaction to his trying to replace privilege with more Christ-like behavior in the hierarchy.

Science- alternative facts

We have come a long way from when we believed everything in the world was composed of four elements such as fire and water.  Evolution, following the acceptance of natural selection's importance, has seen anatomical studies, the fossil record, embryology, and molecular genetic principles being successively accepted principles guiding natural selection and the placement of species in correct genealogical order.  Unfortunately, reliance on the most recent fad has brought unrecognized chaos to parts of the view of the tree of life.  My earlier posts on pogonophora, the deep-sea, isopods, and longevity might help you update yourself on what the current science literature is missing.


I appreciate the many individuals students, faculty, family and friends that contributed to my thinking and development. Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, The University of Tasmania, The United States Fulbright Commission for International Education, and Aquinas College all had significant input into the process of my development of new ideas in my blogs; however, I take full credit for any errors that may be involved.

Joseph G. Engemann    Emeritus Professor of Biology, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan     February 2, 2017

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