Bernard d'Abrera

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The divine comedy
Icon creationism.svg
Running gags
Jokes aside
Blooper reel
Evolutionism debunkers

Bernard Laurance d'Abrera (1940–2017) was an Australian Fundamentalist Christian scientist butterfly photographer. He was a signatory of A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism and a vehement opponent of evolution.

He was a fellow at the pro-intelligent design organization International Society for Complexity, Information and Design.Wikipedia He owned Hill House Publishers, which restricted itself to publishing his Lepidoptera books, Bella Wyborn d'Abrera's revisionist anti-English Reformation books, and facsimile reprint editions of John Gould'sWikipedia works. Ironically, John Gould's island biogeography work was instrumental in the development of evolution and was cited in Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.


It seems that he did not publicly state his religious affiliation, but it would seem that he veered towards Traditionalist Catholicism due to his opposition to both the Protestant Reformation and the Roman Catholic Church's infallibility reversal on evolution.

Qualifications and quality of work[edit]

d'Abrera was not a scientist by training. He earned bachelor's degrees in History & Philosophy of Science, and History from the University of New South Wales in Sydney.[1]

Although the sham petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism lists d'Abrera as a Visiting Scholar of the "Department of Entomology, British Museum", the listed affiliation is, quite simply, a lie; d'Abrera was associated with the Natural History Museum, which has not been part of the British Museum for several decades. d'Abrera was not a scientist by training and does not hold a Ph.D.[2]

Lacking a degree is not inherently a hindrance to doing quality scientific work (credentialism), however:[3]

He absolutely refused to submit his work to peer review, with the predictable result that his books contain numerous errors, many of which would have been easily identified and resolved even if he had only asked someone to give them the 'once-over'. His innate pomposity, combined with an ego of monumental proportions, resulted in the fact that even major errors were – so far as I can see – rarely if ever corrected in subsequent editions of the same book, even over a period of decades.
—John Tennent

View on evolution[edit]

He described the theory of evolution as "viscid, asphyxiating baggage" that requires "blind religious faith" since, according to this particular PRATT, it is unfalsifiable. Arthur Shapiro aptly described d'Abrera as "profoundly anti-scientific – not unscientific, but hostile to science."[4]

Dissection of a D'Abrera book[edit]

In describing d'Abrera's book Butterflies of the Holarctic Region, Part I, Arthur Shapiro states the following,[5]

Attention should be paid to their stupidities, their errors, their pig-headedness, their bad writing. The thing is, as I say in my reviews, they're absolutely indispensable. There's nothing else like them. If you're trying to identify exotic butterflies outside your geographic area, the primary and secondary literatures are so scattered and relatively inaccessible, you're out of hope. Big coffee table picture books are the only way to go. But if you're going to do that, at least get input from the people in the areas you cover geographically so you don't make an ass of yourself.

Analysis of Birdwing Butterflies of the World, new and revised edition by Bernard d'Abrera (Hill House Publishers, 2003):

d'Abrera TextDissection
From the Preamble: "… author's misguided deference to his 'elders and betters', and his confusion brought about by the fog of evolutionary pseudo-science, which fog he has not yet learned to penetrate." (page ix)The author starts off on bad footing by criticizing something that he admits that he does not understand, evolution, but gives readers fair warning at least. The original edition of this book was published in 1975, so the author had 28 years to understand a widely-accepted concept taught from secondary school through university.

From the Preamble: the author reviews other books on the birdwing butterflies. (page ix)One book by J. Haughum and A. M. Low (A Monograph of the Birdwing Butterflies) is called "prolix, unlovely, curiously stilted". d'Abrera later states that though these authors helped him, they had "thinly disguised malice" against him (perhaps actually a critique against d'Abrera's denialism about evolution).

The Introduction begins with a review of the history of birdwing butterfly discovery and taxonomy. (pages xiii-xv)In concluding the review, the author refers to the editors of the original edition of the book (Lansdowne Publishing) as "militant atheists" for replacing the text "…humble tribute to their Creator" with "…humble tribute to these insects". (page xv)

d'Abrera states that "Ornithoptera, Trogonoptera and Troides are natural units" (and correspond with the genera). (page xv)This is widely recognized.

Continuing the Introduction, d'Abrera begins to spell out his objections to modern taxonomy. (pages xv-xix)He objects to "speculative theories", "lack of experimental proof of theories of the evolutionary descent of living creatures", and "specious theories of vast geological age". (page xv)

d'Abrera then launches into an attack on evolution (given in more detail in his book The Concise Atlas of Butterflies of the World). "Evolution is an anti-science." "Creation requires a creator" (seemingly an unacknowledged nod to Ray Comfort), "a frog can never turn into a handsome prince…" (seemingly a reference to the Answers in Genesis propaganda film on Richard Dawkins).Bizarrely, he refers to the "metaphysics of cause and effect", seemingly a flat-out admission to being a denialist. His main argument against evolution is that its proponents are humanistic and godless ("'Non serviam' is their battle-cry."), essentially an Argumentum ad hominem. (page xvi)

d'Abrera next sets out "some philosopho-scientific definitions". (pages xvii-xviii), starting with "The Species". He defines the species as "both primordial and terminal", and summarizes his view as the "Aristotelian Law of Typology (='like begets like'.)" (page xvii)Here he distances himself entirely from his co-creationists and rejects the concept of the baramin, and here he also rejects evolution again.

Concluding his philosophy on what is a species, he states "Therefore, a species… successfully mate with other species to produce fertile offspring, because locked into its genome is its singular and strictly limited capacity to reproduce only its own kind…" (page xvii)This statement is at odds with reality, even within his narrow field of butterflies. It has been widely accepted and known since the 1870s that related species can naturally form an interbreeding mimicry ring.[6]

d'Abrera next rejects the name "subspecies" (because as he insisted earlier, "species is the terminal taxon"), instead insisting on the term "race" to mean a temporally isolated subpopulation that has irretrievably lost some genes.This is not how taxonomists define subspecies; it is generally defined as sub-populations of the same species with distinctive features and the capability of interbreeding, but that do not usually do so.

Concluding the introduction (pages xviii-xix), d'Abrera attempts to critique a journal article by Kiyotaro Kondo et al.[7] d'Abrera's contention is that there is no genetic relationship between species that is higher than genus-level; Kondo et al. attempted to show the relationships of the three birdwing genera within the tribe Troidini and within the larger family of Papilionidae. d'Abrera attempts to start his critique by paraphrasing Karl Popper, "evolutionary theory was only a pseudo-science, because it was incapable of encompassing testable hypotheses."d'Abrera misinterprets Popper and is likely referring to co-creationist Duane Gish without attribution, who similarly misunderstood Popper.[8] Oddly, d'Abrera supports only species- and genus-level categorizations of life forms yet rejects baraminology and states that species have existed since the Creation. He supports the original, pre-evolutionary Linnaean taxonomy and no further. Why should there be any genus-level classification if there is no phylogenetic relationship between species, as he asserts?

Continuing in his critique, d'Abrera states that Kondo et al. are objectively correct with regard to their measurement of genetic distances between species, but that they are still wrong because "they have demonstrated nothing more than the numerical expression of unbridgeable genetic difference…"d'Abrera states that species are immutable and that evolution cannot be true even if genetic analysis indicates otherwise.

d'Abrera then quotes Maciej Giertych. Giertych is is a co-signer of A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism, a signer of the CMI, anti-semite, a dendrologist, and geneticist. Giertych stated, "…Molecular genetics generally confirms the accuracy of taxonomy. But at the same time, it does not confirm postulated evolutionary sequences. There are no progressive changes say from fishes to amphibians to reptiles to mammals. Molecular genetics confirms systematics not phylogeny." (pages xiii-xix)We have another denial of evolution, this time by way of the missing link canard.

"Like most modern evolutionists, they are either ignorant of, or refuse to accept what is now being demonstrated in certain laboratories about sedimentology, and the difference between 'layers' and 'strata'. (p. xix)No citation is given for this unfounded statement. Perhaps it was the research performed at Dinosaur Adventure Land?

"Perhaps it is time to draw the reader's attention to the work of Professor Guy Berthault, the prominent sedimentologist… [who] has experimentally demonstrated the exact mechanisms of sedimentation, and proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that successive geological 'strata' are in no way indicators of geological age."So, the "laboratories" mentioned previously are just the work of one geologist Young earth creationist. Berthault rejects the broad consensus of geologists (and even the 1669 foundational publication by Nicolas Steno[9]) that geologic strata are laid down temporally.[10][11]

Drawing to a close of the tendentious introduction, d'Abrera states, "Francesco Redi (1626-1697) has already shown infallibly, that it is impossible to produce life from non-life (='chemical evolution'), but that axiom is precisely what papers such as the one by Kondo et al. are trying to un-prove." (page xix)Francesco RediWikipedia did not, in fact, prove that chemical evolution is impossible; he merely showed that flies originate from maggots.

Text and photographs on individual butterfly species on the pages that follow the introduction. (1-313)The text is frequently peppered with anti-evolutionary "flapdoodle" (e.g., "In simple terms, what is scientifically demonstrable is that when God created what we call O. richmondia, He created it specifically distinct in all its stages from those of its congeners." Goddidit, pages 93-94), retractions of evolution-oriented "claptrap" that d'Abrera wrote in the previous edition, and claims of being libeled, slighted, and insulted by other lepidopterists. d'Abrera could have confined his creationist self-delusions to the book's front matter and left the species descriptions dispassionate and science-oriented. Instead, the creationist appeals to Goddidit are almost inescapable. The frequent mentions of personal attacks against him by lepidopterists cause one to wonder just how paranoid he is.

Hill House[edit]

Since d'Abrera's demise, Hill House Publishers has gone belly up, with its web domain purchased sometime in 2018 or 2019.[12]


  1. [1] About Bernard d'Abrera, Hill House Publishers (archived from April 17, 2015).
  2. BSCE, article on the British contributors to the list
  3. John Tennent remembers Bernard Laurance D'Abrera (latterly d'Abrera), 28th August 1940 – 13th January 2017 by John Tennent (2017) Entomological Society of Queensland News Bulletin 44(9). via The Insect Collectors' Forum (archived from August 9, 2019).
  4. (Review of) Bernard d'Abrera, Butterflies of the Holarctic Region, Part I, Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 30 (1-2): 142–144.
  5. Arthur Shapiro as quoted in The Dangerous World of Butterflies: The Startling Subculture Of Criminals, Collectors, And Conservationists by Peter Laufer Lyons Press, ISBN 1599219271.
  6. Mimicry Rings in "Learn About Butterflies"
  7. Molecular systematics of birdwing butterflies (Papilionidae) inferred from mitochondrial ND5 gene by Kiyotaro Kondo, Tsutomu Shinkaw and Hirotaka Matsuka (Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 57:17-24, 2003)
  8. What Did Karl Popper Really Say About Evolution?]
  9. De Solido Intra Solidium Naturaliter Contento Dissertationis Prodromus
  10. "The Curious Case of the One-Man Band. The work of Guy Berthault: Revolutionary Geology or Extravagant Hubris?" by Alec MacAndrew
  11. "If Dr. Berthault is Not a Creationist, Why Do His Supporters Say Otherwise?" by Kevin R. Henke
  12. Hill House Publishers (archived copies)