Andrea Bottaro posted Entry 1376 on August 22, 2005 05:42 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1373

One of the items in the list of offenses Richard Sternberg claims to have suffered at the hands of his Smithsonian colleagues and the “Darwinian orthodoxy” after the publication of the Meyer paper is the accusation of being a “Young Earth Creationist”. However, the record shows that, at the time, the accusation was hardly a purposeful smear aimed at unfairly tarnishing Sternberg’s reputation, but a reasonable conclusion based on the available information.
More below.

The claim that Sternberg was a Young Earth Creationist stemmed in large part from the discovery that Sternberg has been, for several years, on the Editorial Board of a Young-Earth Creationist newsletter, the “Occasional Papers of the Baraminology Study Group” (OPBSG). Baraminology is a Creationist pseudoscientific version of taxonomy, which focuses on the supposedly unabridgeable differences between organisms to identify the Biblical “created kinds”. The Baraminology Study Group (BSG) has seat at the Young-Earth Creationist William Jennings Bryan College in Dayton, TN, and as far as I can tell it includes, besides Sternberg, only Young-Earth Creationists. A requirement for BSG Society membership is that one must be “a Christian accepting the auhority of the Bible … in all areas” (Sternberg is not a Society member).

Since the Meyer-Sternberg affaire broke out, Sternberg has defended himself from the accusation by claiming that his role on the OPBSG Editorial Board was that of a “friendly but critical outsider”. The BSG’s Todd Wood has issued a letter supporting Dr. Sternberg’s assertion to the extent that he (Sternberg) is “not a young-earth creationist” and “does not accept the young earth position” (no comment was made on other forms of Creationism).

While Sternberg could have acted as an outside critical reviewer for the BSG under various roles, he was officially on the Editorial Board of OPBSG, and also actively contributed to the BSG proceedings. For instance, in 2001, Sternberg participated in the “Discontinuity: Understanding Biology in the Light of Creation” conference at Cedarville University. In his presentation there, he argued that process structuralism (a theory, which Sternberg adheres to, about the origin of biological types that aims at understanding “laws of form” underlying morphology, independent of the historical process of evolution) “provides a ready-made, although as yet incomplete, theoretical foundation for baraminological thinking”, and that “Some structuralists are striving to establish a “rational systematics”… that would reflect the ‘Plan of Creation’.” His talk drew an unreservedly enthusiastic review by an attending Young-Earth Creationist, writing for the “Creation Science Dialogue”. [Incidentally, Sternberg’s take on structuralism sounds a little peculiar to me, as I have always known most major structuralists to definitely accept evolution by common descent, although they disagree with mainstream evolutionary theory that evolution’s historical process, via contingent mutation and adaptation, can reveal how morphology originates. I would have a hard time fitting baraminological theory, which argues for independent supernatural de novo creation of organisms, within the framework of structuralism as it is generally intended. But I am not an expert on structuralism, anyway. Perhaps someone can add to this in the comments.]

Also, right before the Meyer paper was published, Sternberg was the sole author of another paper in OPBSG, presented at the Third BSG Conference “Discovering the Creator”, held at Bryan College. In the abstract, Sternberg argues for a fundamental discontinuity in the fossil transitional forms of cetaceans:

Second, whereas the basal cetaceans are arranged in a complex map-like way to each other, they are only weakly connected to the basilosaurids-dorudontids [extinct primitive cetaceans - AB], and strictly discontinuous with Mysticetes and Odontocetes [moderns cetaceans - AB]. Serious logical problems with the interpretation of “Pseudocetes” as transitional forms are briefly presented.

The lingo and conclusions of the paper are indistibuishable from those of bona fide baraminologist material.

It is therefore hardly a surprise that, when Sternberg was involved in overseeing the publication of the anti-evolution paper by Meyer, people simply assumed that his connection with baraminology was more than that of a “friendly but critical outsider”. (Meyer is himself a Creationist who rejects the evidence for common descent and, as a faculty of Palm Beach Atlantic University, affirms “that man was directly created by God”.)

One may legitimately argue whether the best form of “friendly outside criticism” a scientist can provide to baraminologists is to help them hone their pseudo-scientific methods and arguments about the impossibility of evolution, and thus reinforce their cranky beliefs, as opposed to unequivocally taking the scientific position of arguing for the evidence that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old, that a world-wide flood never occurred and that the fossil and molecular records are definitive evidence that biological species changed across time. Perhaps Sternberg did that as well, and the record of such criticisms was expunged from publication of the various BSG conference reports (in which case, Sternberg should have realized his “friendly criticism” was not as welcome as his apparent endorsement).

The issue remains that as the Meyer paper scandal broke, Sternberg’s participation in the BSG proceedings in the relevant public record appeared, for all intents and purposes, genuinely and unconditionally supportive.

Based on the information emerged later, one can accept Sternberg’s and Wood’s word, and agree Sternberg is in fact not a Young-Earth Creationist - I for one am willing to do that. However, in asking for fairness from his colleagues in this respect, Sternberg should reciprocate in kind, and cease making false accusations that the claim he was a closet Young-Earth Creationist was an “outrageous rumor” and a willful attempt to smear him, as opposed to a straightforward and reasonable inference from the overwhelming available evidence in the summer of 2004.

In his dealings with the baraminologists, just like in his mishandling of the Meyer paper review, Sternberg can trade the accusation of being an outright pseudoscientist with that of simply being a scientist with exceptionally bad professional judgement. He can’t however just blame his colleagues for taking his own words and actions at face value.

Acknowledgements:
Thanks to Gary Hurd for pointing out material and sources, and Nick and Wes for suggestions.

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Comment #44343

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on August 22, 2005 5:20 PM (e)

I could use a refresher on the different brands of creationism. Here are the types I am familiar with:

Young Earth Creationism (YEC): The Earth, indeed the entire universe, is less than 10,000 years old; humans were specially created and are not descended from another species. Usually but not always associated with Biblical literalism.

Old Earth Creationism: Accepts the evidence for age of the universe and Earth, but denies common ancestry, particularly between humans and other species

Progressive Creationism: Accepts age of Earth & Universe, and accepts common descent, but believes that a Creator stepped in from time to time to do things that couldn’t be done by evolution alone (I think Behe would probably fall into this group, and Denton as of the time he wrote ‘Evolution: a Theory in Crisis’)

Omphalos, or ‘Last Thursday-ism’: Claims that the Universe is recent, (less than 10,000 years up to last Thursday) but was created with a ‘history’, evidence of past events that didn’t in fact occur, possibly even including memories. Although this is consistent with known evidence and unfalsifiable, it is quite unpopular amongst the zealots because it makes the Creator out to be a trickster.

Comment #44344

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on August 22, 2005 5:30 PM (e)

Bayesian Boufant, FCD:
This is a good write-up by Eugenie Scott.

Comment #44345

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on August 22, 2005 5:34 PM (e)

Very useful. Thanks.

Comment #44347

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 22, 2005 5:39 PM (e)

Andrea, have you ever hear of the “Velikovsky Affair”? I see an interesting parallel here.

Comment #44349

Posted by Mark Perakh on August 22, 2005 5:48 PM (e)

A small bit of information: the term “baramin” is a combination of two Hebrew words. “Bara” means “created”, and “min” means “kind.” If the “kinds” were created, as baraminologists seem to believe, why is Sternberg offended when referred to as a creationist?

Comment #44351

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on August 22, 2005 5:54 PM (e)

If it walketh like unto the duck kind, and it quacketh like unto the kind of the duck, yea and verily I say unto you …

Comment #44352

Posted by Kesh on August 22, 2005 5:58 PM (e)

Omphalos, or ‘Last Thursday-ism’: Claims that the Universe is recent, (less than 10,000 years up to last Thursday) but was created with a ‘history’, evidence of past events that didn’t in fact occur, possibly even including memories. Although this is consistent with known evidence and unfalsifiable, it is quite unpopular amongst the zealots because it makes the Creator out to be a trickster.

As an aside, my great-uncle firmly believes that dinosaur bones were created by Satan to confuse humans and lead them astray. He refuses to budge from that viewpoint. He also believes that, if one runs out into the road & throws themselves under a truck, that it was not self-determined; God willed you to do that.

So, yes. I can believe that there are zealots out there who follow the quoted concepts. Which frightens me to no end.

Comment #44353

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on August 22, 2005 5:58 PM (e)

Blast:
I know a little about the Velikovsky saga. What aspect exactly parallels Sternberg’s dealing with the Baraminologists?

Mark:
Sternberg does not argue baraminologists are not creationists. He’s just saying that he’s not one of them. That is probably true, but sure as heck he did a great imitation of one, up until his dealings with BSG became widely known.

Comment #44359

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2005 6:07 PM (e)

Hey Blast, I believe you were about to show me a front-loaded sequence in the genome of the house mouse that “unfolded” to become the genes in the recently-discovered Super Mice.

Or were you just about to dodge the question. Again.

Comment #44360

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2005 6:11 PM (e)

As an aside, my great-uncle firmly believes that dinosaur bones were created by Satan to confuse humans and lead them astray. He refuses to budge from that viewpoint.

I can top that one — I have had three separate creationists, on three different occasions, inform me, in all seriousness, that flying saucers are actually time machines being used by atheistic scientists to travel back into the past and plant fake fossils in order to manufacture phoney evidence for evolution.

Seriously.

No joke.

Comment #44361

Posted by SEF on August 22, 2005 6:14 PM (e)

If it walketh like unto the duck kind, and it quacketh like unto the kind of the duck, yea and verily I say unto you …

Ah, but the bat is also officially of the bird kind in scripture. So the baraminologists have a rather noticeably macro amount of micro-evolution to explain away at some level or other.

Comment #44378

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2005 7:56 PM (e)

“I have had three separate creationists, on three different occasions, inform me, in all seriousness, that flying saucers are actually time machines being used by atheistic scientists to travel back into the past and plant fake fossils in order to manufacture phoney evidence for evolution.”

Ack! How on earth did you manage to maintain your sanity in the face of such a virulent case of stupidity?

or did you…

Comment #44382

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2005 8:17 PM (e)

Ack! How on earth did you manage to maintain your sanity in the face of such a virulent case of stupidity?

or did you…

(sits in corner and rubs finger rapidly over lips, producing a “b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b” sound)

Does that answer your question? :>

Comment #44389

Posted by AV on August 22, 2005 8:34 PM (e)

(off topic)

Australian talkback radio tackles ID:

Monday to Friday at 6pm (4pm in WA), repeated at 3am

Should Intelligent Design Be Taught In Our Schools
Tuesday 23 August 2005

The theory of intelligent design has reignited debate about evolution by challenging Darwin’s theory. US President George Bush wants it taught in schools. And here it’s won the qualified backing of education minister Dr Brendan Nelson. Should intelligent design be taught in our schools?

http://tinyurl.com/bpgnv

If you are interested in contributing, the contact details are:
Fax: 07-3377-5171
Toll-free phone: 1300 22 55 76 - 1300 CALL RN

(These are Australian numbers: you may need to add an area code or something)

Comment #44391

Posted by Gerard Harbison on August 22, 2005 8:45 PM (e)

I’m just curious: does Andrea have any objective reason to take Wood and Sternberg at their word? Given what Sternberg said in Cedarville, his denials seem implausible. And let’s just say that in my interactions with creationists, a scrupulous devotion to the truth never struck me as one of their more obvious characteristics.

Comment #44395

Posted by Ediacaran on August 22, 2005 9:25 PM (e)

Maybe Sternberg is just angry with the “Young Earth” part of being called a “Young Earth Creationist”. Still, most ID Creationists try to avoid the “creationist” term altogether, unless they are with a sympathetic audience.

What Pierce said. ;c)

Comment #44396

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 22, 2005 9:34 PM (e)

ya know, this is just so appropriate to discussions about what motivates ID supporters, i just can’t believe it hasn’t been discussed here before. Has it?

http://www.mercatus.org/pdf/materials/465.pdf

the man himself, trivers, attempts to tackle self deceit from an evolutionary standpoint.

if this hasn’t been discussed before, i would really think we should start a thread to do so.

Comment #44397

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 22, 2005 9:51 PM (e)

Maybe Sternberg is just angry with the “Young Earth” part of being called a “Young Earth Creationist”.

I think mostly it’s an attempt to establish, in some sort of legal sense, that ID is not equal to creationism. After all, if ID *is* equal to creationism, then it is already a nonstarter thanks to Maclean and Aguillard.

Of course, if ID is *not* creationism,. I’d sure like an IDer to explain to me why all of the ID arguments offered — every single one of them – are nothing but plagiarized versions of standard ICR boilerplate first put out three decades ago.

Comment #44402

Posted by Arden Chatfield on August 22, 2005 11:13 PM (e)

As an aside, my great-uncle firmly believes that dinosaur bones were created by Satan to confuse humans and lead them astray. He refuses to budge from that viewpoint.

I’ve also heard that dinosaur bones were invented by GOD in order to test humans’ faith. Is there a theological means of choosing between these two explanations? Or are they both true?:-)

Comment #44403

Posted by Arden Chatfield on August 22, 2005 11:18 PM (e)

As an aside, my great-uncle firmly believes that dinosaur bones were created by Satan to confuse humans and lead them astray. He refuses to budge from that viewpoint.

Or, alternately, Kent Hovind thinks dinosaurs were real (breathed fire, even), but all drowned in Noah’s flood.

Obviously, these two theories can’t be reconciled. Would passionate believers in either one of these theories be admantly opposed to the other? Would this be the basis of a horribly acrimonious theological debate?

Comment #44415

Posted by natural cynic on August 23, 2005 1:35 AM (e)

“I can top that one —- I have had three separate creationists, on three different occasions, inform me, in all seriousness, that flying saucers are actually time machines being used by atheistic scientists to travel back into the past and plant fake fossils in order to manufacture phoney evidence for evolution.”

How can that be, since the rapture starts in mid-October.

Comment #44416

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 23, 2005 1:47 AM (e)

Andrea: The way in which the scientific community vilified someone who wanted to publish something that did not fit the prevailing orthodoxy, and, which had religious overtones.

I must say, I found the entire affair almost unbelievable. But my view of scientific “objectivity” has grown beyond the naive stage.

Comment #44417

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 23, 2005 1:58 AM (e)

GWW wrote:

Hey Blast, I believe you were about to show me a front-loaded sequence in the genome of the house mouse that “unfolded” to become the genes in the recently-discovered Super Mice.

Lenny, I just ran across the Table of Contents for “No Free Lunch,” by Dembski. He has a chapter on “Front-Loading.” Maybe you can read it. Front-loading, as much as you want to disparage it, flows from information theory. It also has its parallels in nature, specifically, in bird feather evolution.

You’re one of the few persons I know that is addicted to sarcasm. Hope you got your fix.

Comment #44418

Posted by Richard Wein on August 23, 2005 2:15 AM (e)

I think Sternberg’s association with YECs is an example of a phenomenon I’ve noticed before: cranks attract cranks. Cranks often feel comfortable in the company of other cranks, even if they don’t share their particular brand of crankery, because they share a high tolerance for nonsense and a feeling of persecution by the establishment.

Comment #44419

Posted by Grey Wolf on August 23, 2005 4:00 AM (e)

“I can top that one —- I have had three separate creationists, on three different occasions, inform me, in all seriousness, that flying saucers are actually time machines being used by atheistic scientists to travel back into the past and plant fake fossils in order to manufacture phoney evidence for evolution.”

How can that be, since the rapture starts in mid-October.

Oh, but those dastardly atheistic scientists have had flying saucer-shaped time machines for a while now, and they have been using them to plant the same fossils they then dig up. Didn’t you get the memo? No wonder I have surplus of time machines in my back room (it’s bigger in the inside than in the outside, so I confortably fit several hundreds). Don’t worry, you’ll soon receive yours in the mail, so you can colaborate on our massive evolution hoax before rapture.

Joking aside, you know, there is nothing we can really do to help those people. Anyone able to believe such ridiculous statements will never budge their position. I doubt they would believe God if He came down and patiently explained reality to them. They’d probably say it was the devil in diguise.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf, who objects to being left outside flying time machines for not being an atheistic scientist and demands freedom for theistic scientists to collaborate

Comment #44420

Posted by Paul King on August 23, 2005 5:50 AM (e)

The most likely explanation is that Sternberg is an OEC. An OEC could be largely or even entirely in agreement with “Baraminology”. An OEC could not honestly join the BSC because that requires an explicit commitment to YEC - but an OEC could support it without making reference to the age of the Earth. And this is what Sternberg has done.

Comment #44421

Posted by SEF on August 23, 2005 6:38 AM (e)

OEC is still creationist though (NB the hint is in the name!).

Comment #44423

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 6:48 AM (e)

Lenny, I just ran across the Table of Contents for “No Free Lunch,” by Dembski. He has a chapter on “Front-Loading.” Maybe you can read it.

Read it. It’s crap, just like all the rest of Dembski’s drivel.

Now quit changing the subject and answer my question. Where in the mouse genome can we see the front-loaded sections that became the genes found in the Super Mice.

Indeed, where can we see an example of ANY frontloaded information in any genome. Any at all.

Comment #44425

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on August 23, 2005 7:05 AM (e)

Andrea: The way in which the scientific community vilified someone who wanted to publish something that did not fit the prevailing orthodoxy, and, which had religious overtones.

Well, with regard to the first, it’s definitely plain b.s.. Sternberg himself has authored papers that are critical of neo-darwinian theory. For instance, this one passed peer-review in a significantly better journal than PBSW, and was published 2 years before Meyer. And nothing happened. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of papers that do not fit the “prevailing orthodoxy” published in science journals every single year. Not only their authors are not vilified (unless their science sucks), they sometimes carve themselves a niche and make a living out of it (search Pubmed for “Jablonka E”). More power to them, if they have something interesting to contribute.

As for the second, of course scientists get upset at transparent attempts to sneak in religion under the guise of science, especially where the “science” part is as bad as that in Meyer’s screed. Or are you of the idea that scientists should accept any sort of religious non-sense into their journals, just because it conforms to majority opinion?

Comment #44439

Posted by Greg Peterson on August 23, 2005 11:01 AM (e)

If any religionist suggests that human time travel is possible (atheist or otherwise), they have just eliminated any need whatever for a god, because the “creation of life” could then be a closed loop, with humans going back in planting the seeds of life, which evolve into humans, which go back to…and so on, in a Nietzsche-style eternal recurrence. Poof…god disappears in a cloud of logic, just like in Doug Adams.

By the way, Kesh, your great-uncle is absolutely right about human determinism, if he believes in an omnipotent and omniscient creator who set the boundary conditions in full knowledge of how everything would play out. The weird thing is that his god apparently leaves Satan to frolic, installing fake fossils. And to what purpose? If got determines everything humans do, this would presumably include their faith or lack of it…so what would the point possibly be in leaving Satan free to play trickster, when the outcome of the prank is entirely controlled by God?

Kesh, I’m not suggesting for an instant that you think any of that stuff makes sense. I just marvel at what passes for reason, or even faith, in some people’s life. It’s possible to believe things without evidence, I think, without tossing every last vestige of thought overboard at the same time.

Comment #44441

Posted by Moses on August 23, 2005 11:28 AM (e)

Mr. Sternberg needs to learn that if you lie down with dogs, you get fleas. And he needs to get off the “victim” train.

Comment #44453

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on August 23, 2005 1:55 PM (e)

Intelligent Design Creationists consider it a smear to be confused with Young Earth Creationists. Teach the controversy!

Comment #44454

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 23, 2005 2:06 PM (e)

Andrea wrote:

As for the second, of course scientists get upset at transparent attempts to sneak in religion under the guise of science, especially where the “science” part is as bad as that in Meyer’s screed. Or are you of the idea that scientists should accept any sort of religious non-sense into their journals, just because it conforms to majority opinion?

Well, you overlooked the conjunction–both conditions must be met for the scientific community to lash out. Now, let me ask you, Andrea, what in Meyer’s article can you point to that is religious? If the mention of design, in your opinion, is tantamount to invoking religion, then there is some merit in your argument. But the idea of ‘design’ in Meyer’s paper is meant to contrast and compare the ‘explanatory power’ of various models. What’s wrong with that? How is that unscientific? If you think that neo-Darwinism has greater explanatory power, then simply demonstrate it–rather than attacking someone who permits a perfectly legitimate article to be published.

Admit it, the outrage of the scientific community at the publication of Meyer’s article is simply because its publication undermines one of neo-Darwinism’s arguments against ID: viz., “Well, what ‘peer-reviewed’ articles have they published?” So, the neo-Darwinists demonstrate through their attacks on Sternberg just how disengenous their argument really is. You know, if the truth is on your side, you have nothing to fear. Only frightened people take desparate measures. It seems that ID unnerves the neo-Dar’s. How come? Is it because, deep down, you really don’t believe what you’re saying?

Comment #44455

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 23, 2005 2:12 PM (e)

'Reviled Dr.' Lenny Flank wrote:

Now quit changing the subject and answer my question. Where in the mouse genome can we see the front-loaded sections that became the genes found in the Super Mice.

Indeed, where can we see an example of ANY frontloaded information in any genome. Any at all.

First, the super mouse isn’t an example of “front-loading”. Second, it’s a shame you don’t read Dembski. (I hope this doesn’t mean you berate someone with which whose writings you are not familiar.) Third, an example would be the bird feather–as I mentioned in the last post. But, really, ANY ‘irreducibly complex’ feature of biological life falls into this category. So, you can study the bacterial flagellum. :)

Comment #44456

Posted by Heinz Kiosk on August 23, 2005 2:21 PM (e)

BlastFromThePast wrote:

Lenny, I just ran across the Table of Contents for “No Free Lunch,” by Dembski. He has a chapter on “Front-Loading.” Maybe you can read it. Front-loading, as much as you want to disparage it, flows from information theory. It also has its parallels in nature, specifically, in bird feather evolution.

Lenny Flank wrote:

Read it. It’s crap, just like all the rest of Dembski’s drivel.

BlastFromThePast wrote:

it’s a shame you don’t read Dembski.

Mmm, I wonder if BlastFromThePast reads Dembski and the Bible with the same level of reading comprehension as he managed with Lenny’s post. Par for the course.

Comment #44457

Posted by caerbannog on August 23, 2005 2:49 PM (e)

BlastFromThePast wrote:

Lenny, I just ran across the Table of Contents for “No Free Lunch,” by Dembski. He has a chapter on “Front-Loading.” Maybe you can read it.

Actually, David Wolpert (co-author of the original paper describing the “No Free Lunch” theorems) already has. And here’s what he had to say about Dembski’s work:

(from http://www.talkreason.org/articles/jello.cfm)

William Dembski’s treatment of the
No Free Lunch theorems is written in jello
By David Wolpert

….….….…..

I say Dembski “attempts to” turn this trick because despite his invoking the NFL theorems, his arguments are fatally informal and imprecise. Like monographs on any philosophical topic in the first category, Dembski’s is written in jello. There simply is not enough that is firm in his text, not sufficient precision of formulation, to allow one to declare unambiguously ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when reading through the argument. All one can do is squint, furrow one’s brows, and then shrug….….……

It may well be that there is a major mystery underlying the performance of some search processes that one might impute to the historical transformations of ecosystems. But Dembski has not established this, not by a long shot.

So BlastFromThePast, given that the original author of the “No Free Lunch” theorems agrees with Lenny that Dembski’s work is crap (although he expresses his sentiments a bit more diplomatically), perhaps it’s time for you to give it up and concede defeat gracefully.

Comment #44458

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 23, 2005 2:58 PM (e)

Blast blurted:

First, the super mouse isn’t an example of “front-loading”.

Blast, in trying to make sense of your comments on the Super Mouse thread, http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/07/super-mutant_ki.html#comments,
several of us clearly suggested rather early on that you were again invoking the “front-loading” mechanism, one of your standard “evolution-doesn’t-really-generate-new-information” dodges.

You continued to comment and argue, but never denied that “front-loading” was a possible mechanism for the size changes manifested by the island Super Mice. Noting that the mouse genome has now been completely sequenced, Lenny directly challenged you to point to any indicia of “front-loading” in the mouse’s genome. Again, you did not trouble to deny that you were contending for “front-loading,” but disappeared from the thread for a different reason (promising to “chew on” quetzal‘s comments–how’s that coming, by the way?).

But NOW, on this entirely different thread, you reappear to (a) admit that front-loading has nothing to do with Super Mouse’s leap in size, while implicitly claiming (b) that you never urged to the contrary.

Blast, methinks a little act-cleaning is in order, before you start to exude that permanently-disingenuous air wafting off of Dembski, et al. Say, right down from the pizza place (you know, the one that Lenny’s pizza delivery boy works for), there’s a good car wash–maybe you ought to duck in behind the next paying customer’s car and take a quick washy…

Comment #44459

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 23, 2005 3:20 PM (e)

Well, you overlooked the conjunction—both conditions must be met for the scientific community to lash out. Now, let me ask you, Andrea, what in Meyer’s article can you point to that is religious? If the mention of design, in your opinion, is tantamount to invoking religion, then there is some merit in your argument. But the idea of ‘design’ in Meyer’s paper is meant to contrast and compare the ‘explanatory power’ of various models. What’s wrong with that? How is that unscientific?

The religion is in the Design Detector. What is the detector?

Well, remember back when Justice Potter Stewart was asked how to define obscenity? He replied that he could not “tell you what it is – but I know it when I see it.”

I watched a guy named Michael Behe get pinned down before an audience of microbiologists at a gathering at the University of Texas at Arlington, on the issue of just how one detects design. Some of them had read Dembski’s book, and many had read Behe’s book, and they wanted to know how they could tell one cellular device was “designed” as Behe suggested flagella might be, and another device had evolved, as Behe admitted. Behe danced around using the word “complexity” for a while, and one of the microbiologists noted that some example Behe had used as design was less complex than one he had mentioned might have evolved.

Finally, Behe said, ‘Well, I can’t tell you how to tell, but’ “I know it when I see it.”

That is religion. It’s not law, it’s not science. It is pure faith, pure belief.

Comment #44460

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on August 23, 2005 3:24 PM (e)

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Lenny, I just ran across the Table of Contents for “No Free Lunch,” by Dembski. He has a chapter on “Front-Loading.” Maybe you can read it.

Lenny wrote:

Read it. It’s crap, just like all the rest of Dembski’s drivel.

Blast wrote:

Second, it’s a shame you don’t read Dembski. (I hope this doesn’t mean you berate someone with which whose writings you are not familiar.)

BlastfromthePast appears to have some reading comprehension issues.

Comment #44462

Posted by shenda on August 23, 2005 4:42 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank:

“Indeed, where can we see an example of ANY frontloaded information in any genome. Any at all.”

Actually, it is EVERYWHERE IN EVERY GENOME!!!!!!

Without frontloaded genomes, there wouldn’t be no genome! Every genome comes from preexisting gnomes! If that aren’t frontloading, I don’t know what is, and I is an expert!

Your problem is that you look backwards from the result. What you need to do is look backward to the beginning, THEN look FOREWARD to the result! Do that and you will clearly see that frontloading HAS to be there!

Mendaciously yours,

Shenda

Comment #44464

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 23, 2005 5:07 PM (e)

Steviepinhead wrote:

Again, you did not trouble to deny that you were contending for “front-loading,” but disappeared from the thread for a different reason (promising to “chew on” quetzal‘s comments—how’s that coming, by the way?).

Well, maybe you can talk to whoever is in charge of that post, since I tried to post an extremely long rebuttal to Steve Reuland which has, apparently, floated off into digital nirvana. Even when I tried to complain about this loss, that post did not show up either. Is that how the game is played here?

Now, as to “quetzal,” I must say I was momentarily swayed by the possibility that there was more to random mutation than meets the eye. But on further reflection, I come back to the same conclusion (which, by the way, was part of my rebuttal to Reuland and is now floating about in digital space somewhere) that random mutations won’t cut it. It’s not plausible enough. [Along those lines, I was reading a 1999 article by Lenski about bacterial “evolution.” In it, 6 of the 12 bacterial lines, in the face of the SAME environmental pressures, turned to producing, I believe, acetic acid (or acetate–can’t remember exactly). What are the odds that 6 out of the 12 “independent” lines turned to the SAME, but different, metabolic route? They’re astronomical. Looking at that data alone, you’d have to say that it bespeaks of “directed” mutation–again, part of my rebuttal to Steve Reuland]

Lastly, about “front-loading” and the supermice, there’s a general argument that can be made, and a more specific one. The general argument applies in the case of mice generally, and so there is no need to invoke “front-loading” for the specific case of they’re getting larger. In other words, we’re dealing with information. If we’re dealing with the information for “growth hormone”, obviously it is already there or the mice wouldn’t grow at all. Hence, the information is ‘already’ there. So why invoke “front-loading”. We’re dealing with the possibility of random mutations occurring in regulatory sections of the genome and permitting growth hormone to be produced for a longer period of time. In my rebuttal to Steve Reuland–now lost–(my mistake for not saving it on Word) I mentioned that the likelihood of just the right mutation occurring in just the right location at just the right time is just simply hugely small. Now, if there is some environmental feedback between genomic potential and environmental conditions (in other words, a “directed” mutation scenario), all of this makes much more sense.

Heinz wrote:

Mmm, I wonder if BlastFromThePast reads Dembski and the Bible with the same level of reading comprehension as he managed with Lenny’s post. Par for the course.

Heinz, if you read the post carefully enough, then you’ll notice that Lenny didn’t say: “Hah, Dembski, I’ve read his stuff and it’s all c–p!” Rather, he gives the impression that he won’t bother reading it because he thinks it unworthy of his attention. Maybe I’m wrong; but let Lenny answer first.

caerbannog wrote:

So BlastFromThePast, given that the original author of the “No Free Lunch” theorems agrees with Lenny that Dembski’s work is crap (although he expresses his sentiments a bit more diplomatically), perhaps it’s time for you to give it up and concede defeat gracefully.

Fair enough criticism about Wolpert’s take on Dembski’s NFL. But, pray tell, what “defeat” does this represent? I was directing Lenny to Dembski’s take on “front-loading”, and he apparently doesn’t want to go there. Wolpert may be right on. Then again, he may be wrong. Dembski’s work on probability space is not the easiest stuff in the world to follow. If there is a “vagueness” to it–in other words, if it is hard to come up with real-life analogies to the involved probability space and how it’s being manipulated–this shouldn’t come as a surprise. By the way, I haven’t read NFL, but plan to do so soon. ID is just one, of many, ways of pointing out the inadequacy of Darwinian theory. That’s all.

Comment #44469

Posted by Russell on August 23, 2005 5:23 PM (e)

Blast, Blast, Blast.

Dembski writes a book based on Wolpert’s work. Wolpert’s comment is that Dembski’s scribbling is not even solid enough to be judged right or wrong. You, though you have yet to get around to reading the book, while allowing that Wolpert might be right, hold out the possibility that Wolpert may just not be able to follow Dembski’s argument.

You recommend Dembski’s book, that you haven’t read, to Lenny, based on its table of contents, ignore the fact that Lenny told you he’s read it, tell him it’s a shame he won’t read it.

… it’s a shame you don’t read Dembski. (I hope this doesn’t mean you berate someone with which whose writings you are not familiar.)

My only question: are you serious?

Comment #44473

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 23, 2005 5:34 PM (e)

Right on, Russell (flashes power fist) !

Indeed, we may need to rechristen Blast the Inartful Dodger, or something along those lines.

Comment #44474

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 5:45 PM (e)

First, the super mouse isn’t an example of “front-loading”.

How can you tell?

What *is* an example of frontloading?

How can you tell?

Or do you just want everyone to take your word for it?

Comment #44476

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

‘Reviled Dr.’ Lenny Flank

Gee, Blast, think this one up all by yourself, didja?

And THAT’S the best you can do? “Reviled Dr”? THAT’S all you got????

Really and truly? THAT’S the best you could come up with?????????

Pfffffft. You’re a lightweight, Blast. Even your *insults* aren’t worth bothering with. You’re just a pit yorkie, Blast. Yap, yap, yap. (shrug)

Do let me know when you can give us an observed example of any frontloading, Blast.

I’m sure you’ll understand if I dont’ hold my breath waiting.

Comment #44477

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 5:51 PM (e)

Second, it’s a shame you don’t read Dembski.

Psssst, hey Blast:

Read it. It’s crap, just like all the rest of Dembski’s drivel.

Know what the words “read it” mean?

Not terribly bright, are you, Blast.

Comment #44481

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 23, 2005 5:54 PM (e)

Ed Darrell wrote:

Behe danced around using the word “complexity” for a while, and one of the microbiologists noted that some example Behe had used as design was less complex than one he had mentioned might have evolved.

Finally, Behe said, ‘Well, I can’t tell you how to tell, but’ “I know it when I see it.”

That is religion. It’s not law, it’s not science. It is pure faith, pure belief.

It’s all on how you want to understand him. Maybe you think what Behe said is a telling discredit of his ideas on irreducible complexity. But I think what Behe meant was that “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

Over the years, I’ve seen time and time again that when liberals are confronted with evidence that discredits their thinking, they then resort to simply denying reality. They ask questions like: “Well, what do you mean by ‘ultimately’?” “What do you mean by ‘normally’?, etc. They act as if they come from some far, distant planet and have never seen a dictionary nor have lived life on earth–all so that the argument against them is unsustainable because they choose to be ‘agnostic’ about the plain meaning of words. That’s what Behe was likely dealing with; and his words can easily be understood in that way. So, keep trying.

And, about “faith” and all that stuff, why not read the Origins of Species?

Here’s just one example chosen at random:

“In attempting to estimate the amount of structural difference between allied domestic races, we are soon involved in doubt, from not knowing whether they are descended from one or several parent species….I do not believe, as we shall presently see, that the whole amount of difference between the several breeds of the dog has been produced under domestication; I believe that a small part of the difference is due to their being descended from distinct species….”

Well, is this law, science, or just pure “belief”?

Comment #44482

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 5:57 PM (e)

Blast, in trying to make sense of your comments on the Super Mouse thread, http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/07/supe…,
several of us clearly suggested rather early on that you were again invoking the “front-loading” mechanism, one of your standard “evolution-doesn’t-really-generate-new-information” dodges.

You continued to comment and argue, but never denied that “front-loading” was a possible mechanism for the size changes manifested by the island Super Mice. Noting that the mouse genome has now been completely sequenced, Lenny directly challenged you to point to any indicia of “front-loading” in the mouse’s genome. Again, you did not trouble to deny that you were contending for “front-loading,” but disappeared from the thread for a different reason (promising to “chew on” quetzal‘s comments—how’s that coming, by the way?).

But NOW, on this entirely different thread, you reappear to (a) admit that front-loading has nothing to do with Super Mouse’s leap in size, while implicitly claiming (b) that you never urged to the contrary.

Blast, methinks a little act-cleaning is in order, before you start to exude that permanently-disingenuous air wafting off of Dembski, et al. Say, right down from the pizza place (you know, the one that Lenny’s pizza delivery boy works for), there’s a good car wash—maybe you ought to duck in behind the next paying customer’s car and take a quick washy…

Blast, no need to thank me for pointing out that your frontloading crap doesn’t have anyhthing to do with the Super Mice. Just as thier is no need to thank me for (1) mentioning Baldwin and Waddington to you (since you never heard of them before I told you about them, or (2) mentioning _Caudipteryx_, _Ambulocetus_ and _Pakicetus_ to you, since you never heard of them either before I mentioned them to you. I also won’t ask you to thank me for pointing out that all of your quoted info about Goldschmidt came from a website written by some fruitloop who refers to himself as an “ecological visionary” — I assume you already knew when you regurgiquoted it that it was written by a nutjob.

But Blast, honestly, you can’t expect me to keep giving you a basic science education forever. Sooner or later, dude, you are just going to HAVE to crack open a science book and learn something on your own. If you continue to get your, uh, “science” information from ID religious tracts like Dembski’s, then people will continue to conclude that you haven’t the foggiest idea what you are blithering about.

Comment #44485

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 6:00 PM (e)

But on further reflection, I come back to the same conclusion (which, by the way, was part of my rebuttal to Reuland and is now floating about in digital space somewhere) that random mutations won’t cut it.

And, as I have asked before, why on earth should anyone care in the slightest about your uneducated opinion on the matter?

Ohhhhh, that’s right — you’ve made an, uh, extensive study of evolution, right …. ?

(snicker) (giggle)

Comment #44486

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 6:02 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #44490

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 23, 2005 6:07 PM (e)

“Read it”, in English, can be the present declarative, the present interrogative, or simply the present (rare), or the past tense. I read it (past tense) as the interrogative, for whatever reason. Hope this has all been cleared up. Glad, Lenny, that you read it.

Blast wrote:

… it’s a shame you don’t read Dembski. (I hope this doesn’t mean you berate someone with which whose writings you are not familiar.)

Russell: “My only question: are you serious?”

To question what David Wolpert might have meant is, I don’t believe, “berating” Wolpert.

Comment #44493

Posted by frank schmidt on August 23, 2005 6:13 PM (e)

Blast:
you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink

I prefer:

Dorothy Parker:
You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think

Comment #44495

Posted by steve on August 23, 2005 6:30 PM (e)

All this talk of front loading and irreducible complexity and such, i’d like to see how the IDers deal with those polar bears in Singapore who recently developed a symbiotic relationship with some algae. The algae live inside the hollow hair shaft of the bear, and the bear gets some protection from the hotter singapore sun. The cute green polar bears made news for a few days.

Now, on Planet ID, they would have to say this is an IC system. the hair is hollow, the algae is green, it’s an IC system. take any part away, it doesn’t work. Yet we just saw it happen.

Comment #44498

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 23, 2005 6:41 PM (e)

Gosh, Blast, thanks for the grammar lesson.

Now for the punctuation lesson–an interrogative use of the phrase would ordinarily be signalled with the “?” mark.

Actually, your only reasonable explanation would have been that you had, um, read it as a future injunctive: “Read it! Blast and then we’ll see if you have anything sensible to say about it…”

Which, of course, you haven’t.

Comment #44499

Posted by steve on August 23, 2005 6:47 PM (e)

Any reasonable person would, in the absence of significant contrary evidence, based on their respective reputations and credentials, conclude that Wolpert is right about NFL, and Dembski is not.

Comment #44502

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 23, 2005 6:54 PM (e)

BlastOfHotAir wrote:

They act as if they come from some far, distant planet and have never seen a dictionary nor have lived life on earth—all so that the argument against them is unsustainable because they choose to be ‘agnostic’ about the plain meaning of words….

“Read it”, in English, can be the present declarative, the present interrogative, or simply the present (rare), or the past tense. I read it (past tense) as the interrogative, for whatever reason.

<snicker>

Here’s H. Allen Orr’s review of Dembski’s NFL:
http://www.bostonreview.net/BR27.3/orr.html

Read it. It’s good. Now, either way that you interpret my ambiguous “read it”, it wouldn’t follow that I hadn’t read it. But if you continue to blather about front-loading and irreducible complexity, it will follow that you either didn’t read it, didn’t comprehend it, or simply choose to ignore that which refutes your claims.

Comment #44505

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 23, 2005 7:13 PM (e)

P.S. I shouldn’t leave the impression that I think Lenny’s “Read it.” was ambiguous – it wasn’t. BlastOfGas wrote “Maybe you can read it.” and Lenny responded “Read it. It’s crap …” There’s only one plausible, intelligent, or honest interpretation. And then there’s Blast’s interpretation: “he gives the impression that he won’t bother reading it because he thinks it unworthy of his attention. Maybe I’m wrong” – and yet Blast complains that “they choose to be ‘agnostic’ about the plain meaning of words…”. Hypocrisy from an IDist – what a surprise.

Comment #44506

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 23, 2005 7:21 PM (e)

RDLF wrote:

Blast, no need to thank me for pointing out that your frontloading crap doesn’t have anyhthing to do with the Super Mice. Just as thier is no need to thank me for (1) mentioning Baldwin and Waddington to you (since you never heard of them before I told you about them, or (2) mentioning _Caudipteryx_, _Ambulocetus_ and _Pakicetus_ to you, since you never heard of them either before I mentioned them to you. I also won’t ask you to thank me for pointing out that all of your quoted info about Goldschmidt came from a website written by some fruitloop who refers to himself as an “ecological visionary” —- I assume you already knew when you regurgiquoted it that it was written by a nutjob.

Lenny, so what if you pointed out “Caudipteryx_, _Ambulocetus_ and _Pakicetus_ “ to me. What does it matter? What do any of these forms prove? Nothing! In fact, Caudipteryx causes more problems for evolutionary theory than if it weren’t there. And as far as cetacean evolution is concerned, both of those forms only point out the more the missing links that exist. Admit it; they look like whales! None of this has any “explanatory power” when it comes to Darwin’s theory–so why should I bother myself with the details of a theory disproven by the very facts that are intended to prove it? I’m really not interested.

As per Goldschmidt, would you like to see my copy of “The Material Basis of Evolution” that is tabbed, highlighted and underlined? I’m currently reading Gould’s “Structure of Evolutionary Theory”, Richard Bird’s “Chaos and Life”, and “What Genes Can’t Do”, by Lenny Moss. (One Lenny I can learn something from!) If I don’t read “What Evolution Is” by Mayr, please excuse me; but I don’t want to waste my time on biological fundamentalism. (Gould, at least, will admit the weaknesses that exist in Darwinian theory, unlike most others.)

So, enough of your arrogance! When it comes to evolutionary theory, one unfortunately deals not with “laws”, but with presumptions. It is good judgment that counts. I’ve looked for a probable, reasonable answer to species formation; and neo-Darwinism isn’t the answer. And I don’t mind telling you. Darwinism will one day be looked upon like the plague; as something that almost knocked the life completely out of biological sciences. But, of course, you can always prove me wrong. I dare you! Go ahead!

RDLF wrote:

I assume you already knew when you regurgiquoted it that it was written by a nutjob.

I selected that quote because it was more informative, and better written, than an entry on the same topic taken from an online encyclopedia. And you’ll remember that I prefaced it by saying that the quote was for “your” information. I thought you might find it entertaining. I didn’t know to what degree you were a horse’s ass when I did. I’ve subsequently learned.

Comment #44508

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 7:31 PM (e)

Lenny, so what if you pointed out “Caudipteryx_, _Ambulocetus_ and _Pakicetus_ “ to me. What does it matter? What do any of these forms prove? Nothing!

Are you basing that on your, uh, extensive study of evolution, Blast?

(snicker) (giggle) (howls of laughter)

Let me know when you have an observed example of frontloading to show us, Blast. Until then, save all your arm-waving. Your uninformed opinions mean less to me than those of the kid who delivers my pizzas (who at least knows what the hell he is talking about before he presumes to talk about it).

Comment #44509

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 23, 2005 7:32 PM (e)

steve wrote:

Now, on Planet ID, they would have to say this is an IC system. the hair is hollow, the algae is green, it’s an IC system. take any part away, it doesn’t work. Yet we just saw it happen.

What do you confuse “front-loading” with “symbiosis”? This is silliness.

ts(not Tim) wrote:

…snicker…

Read it. (past tense) Read it. (present declarative) Is this really the same as emptying words of their meaning when it suits one purpose? Such utter silliness.

Comment #44510

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 7:37 PM (e)

I’ve looked for a probable, reasonable answer to species formation; and neo-Darwinism isn’t the answer. And I don’t mind telling you.

I’ll ask again, Blast —- why on earth should anyone care in the absolute slightest about your uninformed uneducated opinion on the matter? Particularly when you prove, again and again and again, publicly, that you are not only utterly unable to defend any of it, but don’t even understand it very well.

You’re a pit yorkie, Blast. Yap, yap, yap. It used to be fun kicking you across the room when you yapped too loudly. Now, it’s just not worth the bother. (shrug)

Come back when you have a basic science education, Blast. I’m tired of tutoring your ignorant ass.

Comment #44511

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 7:40 PM (e)

Darwinism will one day be looked upon like the plague; as something that almost knocked the life completely out of biological sciences.

Waterloo!!!! Waterloo!!!!!! Waterloo!!!!!!!

(yawn)

Comment #44515

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 7:43 PM (e)

I dare you! Go ahead!

Oh yeah? Well, I *double-double* dare *you*! So THERE !!!! Pththththtttttt!!!!!!

(sigh)

Dude, how old are you? Twelve?

Geez.

Comment #44518

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 7:50 PM (e)

First, the super mouse isn’t an example of “front-loading”.

How can you tell?

What *is* an example of frontloading?

How can you tell?

Or do you just want everyone to take your word for it?

Well? What seems to be the problem, Blast? Someone with your, uh, extensive study of evolution should be able to answer these simple questions, right?

Right???

(sound of crickets chirping)

Yep, that’s what I thought, Blast ….

Time to run away again, little boy.

Comment #44519

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 23, 2005 7:57 PM (e)

BlastOfIgnoranceStupidityAndDishonesty wrote:

Read it. (past tense) Read it. (present declarative)

What part of “either way that you interpret my ambiguous “read it”, it wouldn’t follow that I hadn’t read it” don’t you understand?

Comment #44522

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 23, 2005 8:25 PM (e)

Lenny, every time you get involved with a post, the entire post goes down the drain. Maybe that’s something you ought to reflect on.

Comment #44524

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 23, 2005 8:39 PM (e)

Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Lenny often gets involved in order to give IDiots a well-deserved paddling. It’s the presence of IDiots such as yourself that tilts things downhill. Threads often recuperate when the IDiots wander off.

Comment #44525

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 23, 2005 8:43 PM (e)

BTW, have you read http://www.bostonreview.net/BR27.3/orr.html ? Or are you just throwing up these smokescreens in order to avoid the burden of understanding or responding to its content?

Comment #44528

Posted by Red Mann on August 23, 2005 9:10 PM (e)

BFTP

I’m new here and don’t have any axes to grind. Would you be so kind to explain to me what facts you are referring to when you said “the details of a theory disproven by the very facts that are intended to prove it” and how they disprove the theory?
Could you expand on “the weaknesses that exist in Darwinian theory” that Gould admitted to?
Could you give more detail on “Darwinism will one day be looked upon like the plague; as something that almost knocked the life completely out of biological sciences”
Have you found “a probable, reasonable answer to species formation”. If you have, will you share it with me? I’m always willing to learn.

Comment #44529

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 9:16 PM (e)

Lenny, every time you get involved with a post, the entire post goes down the drain. Maybe that’s something you ought to reflect on.

Blast, every time I ask you simple questions, you (1) whine a lot, before (2) running away.

Maybe that’s something YOU ought to reflect on.

Comment #44530

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 23, 2005 9:18 PM (e)

If you’re finished whining, Blast, would you mind answering my simple questions?

*ahem*

First, the super mouse isn’t an example of “front-loading”.

How can you tell?

What *is* an example of frontloading?

How can you tell?

Or do you just want everyone to take your word for it?

Well? What seems to be the problem, Blast? Someone with your, uh, extensive study of evolution should be able to answer these simple questions, right?

Right???

(sound of crickets chirping)

Yep, that’s what I thought, Blast … .

Time to run away again, little boy.

Comment #44545

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on August 23, 2005 10:09 PM (e)

This thread has wandered waaaay out of topic and the level of the discussion is not worth the bandwidth. I will try to bring it back to the original topic, but if this doesn’t work, I’ll just close the comments.

Blast wrote:
Well, you overlooked the conjunction-both conditions must be met for the scientific community to lash out. Now, let me ask you, Andrea, what in Meyer’s article can you point to that is religious? If the mention of design, in your opinion, is tantamount to invoking religion, then there is some merit in your argument. But the idea of ‘design’ in Meyer’s paper is meant to contrast and compare the ‘explanatory power’ of various models. What’s wrong with that? How is that unscientific? If you think that neo-Darwinism has greater explanatory power, then simply demonstrate it-rather than attacking someone who permits a perfectly legitimate article to be published.
Admit it, the outrage of the scientific community at the publication of Meyer’s article is simply because its publication undermines one of neo-Darwinism’s arguments against ID: viz., “Well, what ‘peer-reviewed’ articles have they published?” So, the neo-Darwinists demonstrate through their attacks on Sternberg just how disengenous their argument really is. You know, if the truth is on your side, you have nothing to fear. Only frightened people take desparate measures. It seems that ID unnerves the neo-Dar’s. How come? Is it because, deep down, you really don’t believe what you’re saying?

Blast, please spare us the mind-reading and cheap psychology.

Arguing for Design need not necessarily be religious, but when the argument is made in an anti-scientific manner (for instance, by purposefully misrepresenting scientific evidence, as in Meyer’s paper) by someone who is a political/religious activist by profession, then there is good reason to ponder both sides. The many errors and distortions in Meyer’s paper that have already been pointed out are good enough reason why the paper should not have been published in a scientific journal. Scientists get mad when really bad and dishonest papers get through peer review, even more so when this happens in a suspiciously surreptitious manner. However, now that a Creationist paper has somehow been published in the scientific literature, it is entirely fair to discuss the political and religious implications.

As I pointed out before, anti-darwinian papers in the scientific literature are a dime a dozen. No one cares much, as long as they make reasonably scientific arguments and get their facts straight. Behe has published a paper in Protein Science, a better journal than PBSW, and although it also was a bad paper (though not even half as bad as Meyer’s), no one has questioned the integrity of Protein Science’s editors or its reviewers. Meyer’s paper did not pass the science standards: it was, honestly, a farce, chock-full of outright distortions and misrepresentations of existing evidence. Just because a paper is about science, it doesn’t mean it is science.

As for your use of the term “disingenuous”, I think it is best applied to those who think it is perfectly normal that a pseudoscientific article written by a Creationist political and religious activist with no scientific training and an axe to grind against the science of evolution, and working for a political/religious lobbying organization, would pass peer-review and get published in a completely obscure journal, which not a single scientist I know had ever heard of before, whose editor just so happens to personally know the above-mentioned political/religious activist, and to have demonstrated sympathies for his cause, and to have previously participated in activities of the above-mentioned political/religious lobbying organization and other Creationist groups, and who despite such close personal and ideological connections to the paper’s author may have suggested at least the appearance of conflict of interest, just so happened to find it perfectly appropriate to deal with the review process in person and in a rather secretive and, frankly, at least borderline unprofessional fashion, to the point of apparently denying the journal’s editorial board access to the names of the paper’s reviewers, to which the editorial board is entitled in order to carry out its supervisory role. People who want us to believe that the publication process outlined above, which is exactly what happened to Meyer’s paper, was transparent and only had to do with science - those people, my friend, are disingenuous.

So, despite the various protestations of innocence, something stinks about the publication of Meyer’s paper, and people are absolutely in their right to question at the very least Sternberg’s judgment, if not his ethics. Sternberg was criticized because he mishandled the review process, not because he is a Creationist, an ID advocate, a process structuralist or a whatever, and not because of his religious beliefs or his opposition to modern evolutionary theory. He should have excused himself, or at least closely involved another editor, because of his personal and ideological connections to Meyer and the DI. As an editor, he himself should have noticed at least some of the many obvious errors in Meyer’s paper and demanded their correction. After the scandal broke out, he should have been open and straightforward about the process, instead of defensive and secretive. He didn’t. He blew it. It’s that simple.

Comment #44546

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 23, 2005 10:38 PM (e)

Bottaro: I want you as my lawyer.

Comment #44548

Posted by PvM on August 23, 2005 11:02 PM (e)

Blast wrote:

Darwinism will one day be looked upon like the plague; as something that almost knocked the life completely out of biological sciences. But, of course, you can always prove me wrong. I dare you! Go ahead!

The continued prophesies of the demise of Darwinism seem to be evidence enough to disprove your assertions.

Cretinism or Evilution? No. 3

The Imminent Demise of Evolution: The Longest Running Falsehood in Creationism

Cheers…
Ignorance should be no excuse for these silly statements. Darwinism not only strongly continues, but compared to ID has real scientific support.

ID is scientifically vacuous, remember…?

THat ID is unable to present its own hypothesis is one thing, that it relies on our ignorance is nothing remarkable, that however people see this ignorance as evidence of the demise of a good evolutionary theory seems quite silly.

Comment #44551

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 23, 2005 11:10 PM (e)

Blast said:

It’s all on how you want to understand him. Maybe you think what Behe said is a telling discredit of his ideas on irreducible complexity. But I think what Behe meant was that “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

I think Behe was serious. Dr. Ed Bellion of UT-Arlington engaged him for several minutes after the event, and Behe stuck to the line. Now, as I noted, this was before an audience of microbiology students and a few grads and professors. It was an audience that understands the science – and if Behe was frustrated, it wasn’t time to get flippant. He didn’t. He meant it. He can tell. He can’t tell you how to tell. He can’t tell me how to tell.

And that’s not science. The Potter Stewart line highlighted the legal difficulty with determining what is obscene and what is not – but it did not produce adequate criteria by which to tell. Behe’s standard is the same. It’s personal, and it’s not science. It’s belief. It’s a standard that is sloppy, open to error, inadequate for law, and hopelessly ridiculous for science.

Over the years, I’ve seen time and time again that when liberals are confronted with evidence that discredits their thinking, they then resort to simply denying reality. They ask questions like: “Well, what do you mean by ‘ultimately’?” “What do you mean by ‘normally’?, etc. They act as if they come from some far, distant planet and have never seen a dictionary nor have lived life on earth—all so that the argument against them is unsustainable because they choose to be ‘agnostic’ about the plain meaning of words. That’s what Behe was likely dealing with; and his words can easily be understood in that way. So, keep trying.

But of course, it was Behe who was confronted. He’s the one who proposed that we should make room for intelligent design, and when pressed with the evidence, he resorted to ‘trust me, I can tell.’

So, yeah, keep trying: Go to the lab and see if you can do what no other ID advocate can do.

But don’t lay that lame line off on “liberals.” The issue is whether there are scientific criteria so Professor Evolution at Big University can tell her grad students how to tell the difference between intelligently designed living things and evolution-designed living things.

When crunch time comes, even the great lights of intelligent design can’t say just what the hell intelligent design is. “I can tell it when I see it.” Right. And if you believe that, I’ve got some canals on Mars I’d like to sell you irrigation shares in …

And, about “faith” and all that stuff, why not read the Origins of Species?

Here’s just one example chosen at random:

“In attempting to estimate the amount of structural difference between allied domestic races, we are soon involved in doubt, from not knowing whether they are descended from one or several parent species….I do not believe, as we shall presently see, that the whole amount of difference between the several breeds of the dog has been produced under domestication; I believe that a small part of the difference is due to their being descended from distinct species….”

Well, is this law, science, or just pure “belief”?

It’s a prediction, actually, and he was right.

Behe should be so lucky – but in Behe’s case, it would indeed be pure luck.

Darwin was a most cautious writer. When he wrote “I believe” he meant, “I have a grand mound of evidence to this effect, but I’m a scientist and I’m open to other data showing something different – I don’t have enough to convince me that this is all there is.”

Darwin didn’t mean “Goddidit and we haven’t a clue how.”

Behe is a near-reckless writer. He writes that blood clotting couldn’t have evolved, ignoring research done a decade earlier which denies in detail Behe’s technical claims.

I’ll take Darwin over Behe any day.

Did I ever tell you about the time Darwin was right about the age of the Earth and the Sun, compared with Lord Kelvin, who was the most famous scientist of the time? No, you probably don’t want to know that Darwin was right, and that the fundamental understandings of physics Lord Kelvin defended were completely, humorously (now) off the mark. Don’t bet against Darwin, if you care about accuracy.

Comment #44555

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 23, 2005 11:42 PM (e)

Andrea, if things are indeed as you have stated them, then I can see why you are troubled (and obviously deeply so) about what happened. Now, I’ve observed some of these goings-on from the periphery. I don’t get the same sense that you do; specifically, the relationship between Meyers and Sternberg. So I’m tempted to think this is an over-reaction on the part of the establishment. But perhaps you can kindly direct me to a news item or two that deals with the alleged relationship between Msrs. Sternberg and Meyers. I say that sincerely. (I’m going to look for some in the meantime.)

But it seems to me that the scientific community should nevertheless take note of what’s happened here: the man has been completely marginalized, his marriage is broken up, and I would imagine it won’t be easy moving forward in his professional career. That’s a big price to pay. As well, it would seem that the Dep’t of Justice thought that he was harassed in his workplace but didn’t follow up on said harassment simply because, technically, he wasn’t paid directly by the Smithsonian. So I don’t think the scientific community can maintain that it’s beyond fault here. Don’t you think it’s important to remember that we’re dealing with people’s lives here? I think some caution and deference would have been in order. The pall of the Velikovsky Affair still hangs in the air–so all the more reason to go forward taking into account Sternberg’s rights as a citizen and as a member of the scientific community.

Again, and I say this with all sincerity, I don’t see what the big deal is. It’s not like Meyers is writing something that he hasn’t, in one form or another, written about already. But I’m beginning to think that the anger develops because you don’t believe that Meyers’ article conforms to what is considered, let’s say, “hard science”? In other words, he’s not in the lab doing something? So your issue would be that Meyer’s article belonged more in a journal that deals with the philosophy of science, or something along those lines. That would certainly strike me as being a legitimate concern. (But I can’t go so far as to say there isn’t reason for reproach, for, after all, as they say, “the end doesn’t justify the means.)

Cheap psychology or not, there is an edginess here that goes beyond what meets the eye. But, again, I’ll look for some more info on the background of Meyers and Sternberg’s relationship.

Ciao, paisano.

Comment #44559

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 24, 2005 12:03 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

THat ID is unable to present its own hypothesis is one thing, that it relies on our ignorance is nothing remarkable, that however people see this ignorance as evidence of the demise of a good evolutionary theory seems quite silly.

I’m not so wedded to ID as I’m convinced that Darwinism is correct in only in a limited way (perhaps even a very limited way). Obviously I feel strongly about this–as I imagine you do in opposing this view. With time, as more is learned about the genome, answers will be forthcoming. I feel very sure of that. Further, I think we can all agree that Darwinism and ID can only co-exist–theoretically–along the edges at best (something’s gotta give). So I imagine that, one way or the other, someone will prove right and someone wrong.

In the meantime, we can argue. Nothing wrong there.

As to the alleged ignorance, an analogy: You walk into a college classroom. You look at the chalkboard. It’s filled with all kinds of equations. You try and figure out what the equations mean. You completely fail. If someone asks you what all these equations mean, you have to answer that you have no idea. But, you firmly understand enough of the parts of these equations to realize that they’re not simply mumbo-jumbo. Aren’t you right to conclude that whoever wrote those equations was intelligent–even though you can’t explain them? Now, maybe they’re no more than a hodge-podge of equations like the ones you can see in movie and tv commercial backgrounds–i.e., maybe we’re being fooled even though we don’t think so. But, then again, maybe we’re really onto something.

Comment #44564

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 24, 2005 12:25 AM (e)

Ed Darrell:

If Behe really stood by his statement later on, then I would agree with you that it undermines his argument. Not being there, I’ll just take your word for it.

And, about “faith” and all that stuff, why not read the Origins of Species?

Here’s just one example chosen at random:

“In attempting to estimate the amount of structural difference between allied domestic races, we are soon involved in doubt, from not knowing whether they are descended from one or several parent species….I do not believe, as we shall presently see, that the whole amount of difference between the several breeds of the dog has been produced under domestication; I believe that a small part of the difference is due to their being descended from distinct species….”

Well, is this law, science, or just pure “belief”?

You say that was a prediction and that he was right. I don’t know whether that’s true or not–I mean, how much do we really know about the ancestors of the domesticated dog? But it was the methodology I was trying to get at. I chose the quote at random. There is a disarmingly large number of times wherein Darwin phrases things in this sort of way. One of the early criticisms of Darwin was precisely along these lines. Should we just accept things because Darwin “believes” them. Yes, he may have evidence for this position–but is there contradicting evidence, is he misinterpreting it, etc? We’re left to simply accept his opinion in many places. That sure doesn’t fill me with loads of confidence.

Darwin, indeed, was right about the world being older than Kelvin thought. Indeed, he did go out on a line when he contradicted the “calculations” of Kelvin. But, he verges on believing that the earth is quasi-eternal. This might be an exaggeration; but he certainly thought it was plenty old. This was something, having been influenced by Lyell, that he was committed to. But, shall we forget he was also completely dismissive of continental drift. And this was no small or trifling matter since continental drift–if accepted–would have affected his ideas about the causes of the geographic distribution of species.

Comment #44567

Posted by RBH on August 24, 2005 12:56 AM (e)

Blast wrote

Over the years, I’ve seen time and time again that when liberals are confronted with evidence that discredits their thinking, they then resort to simply denying reality.

That’s a line that infuriates me. I am old enough to have voted for Barry Goldwater (a genuine conservative) back when you had to be 21 to vote; I’m a veteran (I still carry my dogtags 45 years after they were issued to me); I’m an elected official of the Republican Party; I have worked in science and technology for 43 years (including 10 years in the aerospace and defense industry and 20 years in academia); and I am sick unto death of half-brained idiots who play religico-political games with science. I will soon be resigning my position with the party over that very issue.

Sorry for the derailment, Andrea.

RBH

Comment #44585

Posted by Alexey Melkikh on August 24, 2005 6:54 AM (e)

I think that it is possible to create new theory of evolution - deterministic(not Darwinian and not creationistic).
For example:
Melkikh A.V. Internal structure of elementary particle and possible deterministic mechanism of biological evolution. Entropy. 2004. 6. 223-232.

Comment #44589

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 24, 2005 7:14 AM (e)

I’m not so wedded to ID as I’m convinced that Darwinism is correct in only in a limited way

And we should care about your uneducated uninformed opinion because . .?

I’m still waiting for you to tell me how you know that the Super Mice was not an instance of frontloading, Blast.

I am still waiting for you to show me any observed instance of front loading, Blast, and how you can tell.

What seems to be the problem, Blast?

Comment #44595

Posted by Russell on August 24, 2005 9:37 AM (e)

the stunningly ill-informed Blast wrote:

Should we just accept things because Darwin “believes” them.

Who ever suggested such a thing?

… We’re left to simply accept his opinion in many places. That sure doesn’t fill me with loads of confidence.

Name one of those places.

Comment #44599

Posted by PvM on August 24, 2005 10:03 AM (e)

blast wrote:

Aren’t you right to conclude that whoever wrote those equations was intelligent—even though you can’t explain them?

apples and oranges. that science recognizes intelligence in such areas as archaeology, criminology etc is based on positive knowledge ID is purely eliminative and proposes no explanations beyond poof

Comment #44603

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 24, 2005 10:34 AM (e)

Blast wrote:

Over the years, I’ve seen time and time again that when liberals are confronted with evidence that discredits their thinking, they then resort to simply denying reality.

RBH: This was part of an answer as to why Behe made a comment he is alleged to have made. I used the word “liberal”, not “Darwinist”. So if you choose to take umbrage, that’s your choice.

RBH wrote:

I am sick unto death of half-brained idiots who play religico-political games with science. I will soon be resigning my position with the party over that very issue.

Does this mean the Republican Party is filled with “half-brained idiots”? Does this mean that Behe and Dembski and Wells and Gerald Schroeder are “half-brained idiots” as well? If you’re resigning from the party over this issue, aren’t you reacting in a “religico-polictical” fashion? Just clarifying.

Comment #44607

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 24, 2005 10:47 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

apples and oranges. that science recognizes intelligence in such areas as archaeology, criminology etc is based on positive knowledge ID is purely eliminative and proposes no explanations beyond poof

Criminology and archaeology also operate in an eliminative way. For example, to be sure that a piece of stone is more than just a piece of stone, you have to eliminate the possibility that its shape/form is NOT the result of natural forces. To conclude that somebody died of natural causes–and hence that you are not dealing with a homicide–you have to “rule out foul play.”

And, just as criminology and archaeology presuppose “manipulation” of objects, so too does ID; however, the manipulation is at the quantum level; i.e., the sub-microscopic, not the macroscopic. Hence, when you say that “archaeology, criminology etc is based on positive knowledge”, what you’re in effect saying is that we’re dealing with the kinds of manipulations that we can see with our own eyes and with which we are familiar. I therefore predict, that as we become more “familiar” with quantum/subatomic processes, that ID will become more and more “positively” apparent. As I said in the prior post, advancing technology and knowledge will decide this issue for us one way or the other.

Comment #44608

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 24, 2005 10:57 AM (e)

Russell wrote:

Who ever suggested such a thing?

Does this mean “no”?

Russell wrote:

Name one of those places.

Darwin says that he can envision that species give rise to genera, genera give rise to families, families give rise to orders, and even that orders give rise to classes. Do you believe that? And if you do, then why don’t you likewise believe that classes give rise to phyla, and that phyla give rise to kingdoms, and that beets, therefore, given enough time can give rise to T. Rex’s?

Now give me the proof that Darwin gives for this–where’s the proof? Is it the fossil record? Is it in extant species? Is it found in recorded history?

And, please tell me, why, with Darwin, that you agree that variation can proceed up to the “class” level, but not beyond. What’s the reason for “believing” that such a barrier exists? From whence does such a barrier arise? I guess I’m ill-informed. So, please, inform me.

Comment #44611

Posted by Pastor Bentonit on August 24, 2005 11:24 AM (e)

BFTP wrote:

And, please tell me, why, with Darwin, that you agree that variation can proceed up to the “class” level, but not beyond. What’s the reason for “believing” that such a barrier exists? From whence does such a barrier arise? I guess I’m ill-informed. So, please, inform me.

The point is moot, as taxonomical categories above species level are artificial constructs. Moreover, the species definition is not unambiguous (plants hybridise, bacteria, archaea and some eukaryotes do not reproduce sexually). However, it does not (bio)logically follow that:

BFTP wrote:

…beets, therefore, given enough time can give rise to T. Rex’s?

is a relevant proposition. The last common ancestor of beets and T. rex is more likely found much earlier in geological time.

Let me stress this once again: taxonomy is based on arbitrary units (above the species level!). This does not mean that taxonomy itself is useless; the nested hierarchy of more - and less - similar (on many levels) organisms is in itself a very good indication of common descent.

Comment #44613

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 24, 2005 11:29 AM (e)

Andrea: I did a google search and didn’t find much. So maybe you can send me something.

But I did find this:
http://www.arn.org/cgi-bin/ubb/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=13;t=001929;p=1

I say forget Velikovsky; this is now the “Smithsonian Inquisition”. What Klinghoffer points out is really pretty bad.

Comment #44615

Posted by PvM on August 24, 2005 11:31 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #44616

Posted by PvM on August 24, 2005 11:34 AM (e)

Until the quote mismatch is repaired, let me reiterate that phylum is a later addition to Linnaean hierarchies.

Comment #44618

Posted by PvM on August 24, 2005 11:36 AM (e)

blast wrote:

What Klinghoffer points out is really pretty bad.

You mean what Klinghoffer asserts may sound pretty bad. I am sure that you appreciate the difference.

Perhaps you can provide an example of what you consider to be ‘really pretty bad’ and we can determine what is speculation, what is fact and what is fiction?

Comment #44619

Posted by Augray on August 24, 2005 11:38 AM (e)

BlastfromthePast wrote:

In fact, Caudipteryx causes more problems for evolutionary theory than if it weren’t there.

I’ve read extensively through the primary literature on bird evolution, and I’m unaware of any problems that Caudipteryx causes. What problems did you have in mind?

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Front-loading, as much as you want to disparage it, flows from information theory. It also has its parallels in nature, specifically, in bird feather evolution.

The same goes for this claim. I’m unaware of any need for “front-loading” in the evolution of feathers.

Comment #44620

Posted by PvM on August 24, 2005 11:38 AM (e)

Criminology and archaeology do not rely on pure elimination but rather on motive, means, opportunities. Let’s not confuse common design with rarefied design shall we?

That you consider QM to be where ID is hiding is not surprising as QM provides us with just those gaps where ID can hide away from our observations.

Comment #44622

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 24, 2005 11:43 AM (e)

Pastor Bentonit wrote:

The point is moot, as taxonomical categories above species level are artificial constructs.

There’s more to this than what I’m stating; but for the time being: if taxonomical categories above the species level are artificial, then why did Darwin bother talking about them? Or why did he think what he was saying was of startingly significance?

Put another way, THE principal hypothesis of Darwin was that there was–using Gould’s description–“isotropic” variation. If there is no variation, then N.S. has nothing to work on and becomes “moot”.

Whence this variation? And why is variation variable? For example dog breeds are much more variable than cat breeds (again, to use an example from Gould). If you presume/postulate/hypothesize “isotropic” and on-going variation (the latter being a prerequisite for gradualism), then when does this “variation” stop? And, “what” stops it?

Since Darwin is unable to articulate either position, then (bio)logically his theory implies that beets become beasts.

If there is a sensible answer out there, I am quite curious about all this.

Comment #44624

Posted by PvM on August 24, 2005 11:49 AM (e)

blast wrote:

Front-loading, as much as you want to disparage it, flows from information theory. It also has its parallels in nature, specifically, in bird feather evolution.

Perhaps you could elaborate on front loading and ‘flowing from information theory’. Additionally how does it relate to bird feather evolution?

If you have a continuous series of incremental changes, how do you differentiate this from ‘front loading’? In other words, what is the difference between front loading and initial conditions and how does one distinguish between the two?

Prum THE EVOLUTIONARY ORIGIN AND DIVERSIFICATION OF FEATHERS

Hypotheses for the initial function of feathers are reviewed. The aerodynamic theory of feather origins is falsified, but many other functions remain developmentally and phylogenetically plausible. Whatever their function, feathers evolved by selection for a follicle that would grow an emergent tubular appendage. Feathers are inherently tubular structures. The homology of feathers and scales is weakly supported. Feathers are composed of a suite of evolutionary novelties that evolved by the duplication, hierarchical organization, interaction, dissociation, and differentiation of morphological modules. The unique capacity for modular subdivision of the tubular feather follicle and germ has fostered the evolution of numerous innovations that characterize feathers. The evolution of feather keratin and the molecular basis of feather development are also discussed.

Comment #44625

Posted by PvM on August 24, 2005 11:53 AM (e)

blast wrote:

if taxonomical categories above the species level are artificial, then why did Darwin bother talking about them?

Historical relevance…

blast wrote:

Whence this variation? And why is variation variable?

Since Darwin is unable to articulate either position, then (bio)logically his theory implies that beets become beasts.

Nope… While you are correct that Darwin did not describe ‘whence this variation’ and ‘why is variation variable’, science since then has found the source of variation as well as why variation is variable (aka evolvability) and guess what?…

Evolvability seems to require neutrality and neutrality is a selectable trait…
Now that is fascinating isn’t it…. Think about it.

Comment #44626

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 24, 2005 11:54 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

Let’s not confuse common design with rarefied design shall we?

We were talking about “intelligence”, not design.

PvM wrote:

That you consider QM to be where ID is hiding is not surprising as QM provides us with just those gaps where ID can hide away from our observations.

ID is about CSI–information. And what are scientist racing to perfect: quantum computing: the most powerful computing system the “mind” can imagine and capable of storing vast amounts of, yes, you guessed it, information. Maybe somebody beat us to it?

I’m willing to wager somebody did. Das ist allis.

Comment #44629

Posted by PvM on August 24, 2005 11:58 AM (e)

blast wrote:

We were talking about “intelligence”, not design.

Nice diversion. Why not address the point…

blast wrote:

ID is about CSI—information. And what are scientist racing to perfect: quantum computing: the most powerful computing system the “mind” can imagine and capable of storing vast amounts of, yes, you guessed it, information. Maybe somebody beat us to it?

Equivocating on concepts like information. ID is about probabilities, not information.. Your ad hoc reasoning seems to not be suffering from a logical approach though.

Why not support your claims rather than making assertions. What is the relevance of using QM for computing to the issue of intelligence? Is silicon intelligent because it is used so commonly in computer chips?

Sigh…

Comment #44630

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 24, 2005 12:02 PM (e)

Augray wrote:

I’ve read extensively through the primary literature on bird evolution, and I’m unaware of any problems that Caudipteryx causes. What problems did you have in mind?

Did, or did not, the discovery of Caudipteryx cause the entire lineage leading to modern birds into question? Isn’t the position of Archeopteryx relative to this lineage still problematic?

Augray wrote:

I’m unaware of any need for “front-loading” in the evolution of feathers.

In Prum and Brush’s 2003 article on the bird feather, they mention that the primitive follicle seems to have, in their words, an “inherent capacity” for the development of the remaining features that make the follicle a bird feather. “Front-loading”, “inherent capacity”, have an etiological resonance. Prum and Brush were more or less saying that the “primitive” follicle seemed to “know” what was coming. This is very suggestive of informational “front-loading.”

Comment #44632

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 24, 2005 12:21 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Nice diversion. Why not address the point…

My original analogy was about “intelligence”, not design. Now there’s a convergence between intelligence and design, but they’re not the same thing; and I was not originally talking about design. So who’s guilty of a diversion here?

PvM wrote:

Is silicon intelligent because it is used so commonly in computer chips?

You make my point. The “silica” is not intelligent of itself; but it can nevertheless be the carrier of “intelligence.” If “silica” can carry “intelligence”, then why can’t “carbon” (of the same chemical family) not also be a carrier of “intelligence”?

PvM wrote:

Equivocating on concepts like information. ID is about probabilities, not information..

CSI is fundamental to the thinking and theorizing of Wm. Dembski: complex, specified, INFORMATION. How is this equivocating? How can you say that ID is about “probabilites” as if it has nothing to do with information. It has to do precisely with the “probability” that “information” can come about in a NON-“intelligent”, random fashion. The two are interlinked. Why have you tried to unlink them?

Comment #44634

Posted by PvM on August 24, 2005 12:23 PM (e)

Blast’s comments show that his concept of front loading is nothing different from ‘initial conditions’. Of course the predecessor of the follicle has an ‘inherent capacity’ to ‘evolve’ into a feather, that’s the whole idea surrounding Darwinian theory that one can trace back evolution via incremental changes. In other words, front loading as used by Blast, without further explanation, is equivalent to initial conditions. But then Blast makes an unsupportable assertion

Prum and Brush were more or less saying that the “primitive” follicle seemed to “know” what was coming.

Were they really saying this? I doubt it

The tubular feather follicle and feather germ led to subsequent evolution of numerous additional morphological and developmental novelties. This complexity appears to have exploited an inherent capacity of the innovative tubular form of the feather follicle and feather germ. Future research on the evolution of feather keratin and the molecular mechanisms of feather morphogenesis will provide additional insights into the innovative nature of feathers.

Comment #44636

Posted by Ved Rocke on August 24, 2005 12:29 PM (e)

Sorry to continue the off-topic, but:

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Lenny, so what if you pointed out “Caudipteryx_, _Ambulocetus_ and _Pakicetus_ “ to me. What does it matter? What do any of these forms prove? Nothing! In fact, Caudipteryx causes more problems for evolutionary theory than if it weren’t there. And as far as cetacean evolution is concerned, both of those forms only point out the more the missing links that exist. Admit it; they look like whales! None of this has any “explanatory power” when it comes to Darwin’s theory—so why should I bother myself with the details of a theory disproven by the very facts that are intended to prove it? I’m really not interested.

How do any “odd” fossils create problems for evolutionary theory? Just because a fossil species is found doesn’t mean that it has to fit in a previously known branch of the tree of life and be the ancestor of some later form. It could very well be the last of it’s kind at or near the end of some side branch. A large number of species that have ever walked the earth must be evolutionary dead ends. If anything, a new odd fossil should be considered more circumstantial evidence showing more biodiversity in whatever age it is found to be from, and point to more “evolution” happening.

Your argument is exactly as wrong as saying we are evolved from modern apes, or from Neanderthal man. Of those 2 “cousins” one made it to modern day, and the other did not.

We haven’t even identified all species presently on earth as evidenced by the fact that we continue to discover new ones. Expecting to find all the missing links that ever existed is a tall order indeed, and not necessary to “prove” evolution.

Comment #44637

Posted by PvM on August 24, 2005 12:29 PM (e)

blast wrote:

You make my point. The “silica” is not intelligent of itself; but it can nevertheless be the carrier of “intelligence.” If “silica” can carry “intelligence”, then why can’t “carbon” (of the same chemical family) not also be a carrier of “intelligence”?

Is that your point? Then what relevance does this really have? QM has nothing to do with intelligence perse?…

blast wrote:

CSI is fundamental to the thinking and theorizing of Wm. Dembski: complex, specified, INFORMATION. How is this equivocating? How can you say that ID is about “probabilites” as if it has nothing to do with information. It has to do precisely with the “probability” that “information” can come about in a NON-“intelligent”, random fashion. The two are interlinked. Why have you tried to unlink them?

CSI is indeed fundamental to the thinking of Dembski and also the reason why ID has been far from succesful in making a scientific case.

Your description “it has to do with the probability that information came about” does not accurately describe Dembski’s usage of these terms.
Why am I trying to unlink them? Because people get confused when these terms are conflated.
You prove my point.

Information/complexity is the negative log of the probability in Dembski’s world. That’s all. A mathematical transformation which makes the argument basically one of ignorance: Based on our present understanding we do not understand how X could have happened thus X is unlikely, hence we conclude it must have been designed.
Also you are wrong, it is not all about randomness alone. Although again these concepts are conflated.

Comment #44639

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 24, 2005 12:32 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Evolvability seems to require neutrality and neutrality is a selectable trait…
Now that is fascinating isn’t it…. Think about it.

You seem to have avoided the thorny issue of gradualism’s constant need for variation. Are you suggesting that gradualism’s needed variation “stops” because N.S. “chooses” neutrality? But N.S. functions after the fact, so how can it function on something that’s not functioning. That is, if the organism does not change, then natural selection cannot act since it has nothing to act upon. Therefore, by definition, “neutrality” can’t be a “selectable” trait, per Darwin. Logically, “neutrality” can only come about by an “internal” cause (though it’s possible for an “outside” trigger–but this wouldn’t be N.S.), but, of course, this presents serious problems for Darwinism. So, though you say “neutrality” is “selectable”, this “selectibility”, logically, confounds Darwinism.

Back tomorrow. Have to go off. Ciao.

Comment #44640

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on August 24, 2005 12:36 PM (e)

Re: Blast’s request for evidence of connections between Sternberg and Meyer/the DI.

In 2001, Sternberg, with Meyer, was one of the first 100 signatories of the Discovery Institute-organized “List of 100 scientists who doubt Darwinism”. Sternberg was invited to talk at the 2002 RAPID (Research and Progress in Intelligent Design) conference at Biola, a small, closed-door affair from which non-ID supporters were actively excluded (Meyer and practically the entire Discovery Institute CRSC leadership were there too). In 2003 Sternberg wrote a glowing endorsement for “Darwin, Design and Public Education”, a book edited by Meyer and another DI fellow, John Angus Campbell.
In 2004 Sternberg, with the DI’s Jonathan Wells, was scheduled to talk at an ID/Creationist meeting in Finland (I don’t know if he actually ended up doing it, because the meeting was after the Meyer affair broke out).

There are more examples, I just don’t have time to dig everything up. However, I think this is enough to foster the suggestion that Sternberg has closed personal contacts with the ID leadership, that they see him at least as as a sympathizer, and more specifically that he knew Meyer personally, and that he participated - before, after and possibly while the Meyer paper was submitted for publication in PBSW - in several high-profile activities organized or arranged in part by Meyer’s employer, the DI, or its affiliates (I have no knowledge of any of these activities providing monetary compensation or other perks, like free travel).

Regardless of whether impropriety occurred, the appearance is there, and good professional practice at least would have required Sternberg to make the review process as transparent and open as possible, and not as secretive as PBSW editorial rules or custom allowed. He chose to do the latter.

For everyone else:
Blast here is engaging in his own form of “Gish Gallop”. Don’t indulge him, and try to stay on topic.

Comment #44641

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 24, 2005 12:39 PM (e)

Ved Rocke:

You’re getting all this stuff out of context. RDLennyFlank used Caudipteryx in a vain effort to provide a “missing link” for the bird lineage. When you have a form that has anatomical features that are very similar to modern birds, and that has very nearly modern feathers (my understanding–I could be wrong), then how does that provide a “missing link.”

I’m sure you might see it differently. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It just doesn’t, logically, to me, fill the bill.

Comment #44645

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 24, 2005 12:52 PM (e)

Blast here is engaging in his own form of “Gish Gallop”. Don’t indulge him, and try to stay on topic.

Andrea:

I’m being attacked on anything I say. I’m just defending myself. I’m not going to allow them to run all over me. If they didn’t attack, then I wouldn’t have to answer.

It, of course, strikes me as ludicrous to be talking about Caudipteryx, just to mention an example, on a blog about Sternberg.

Incidentally, the information you provide seems plenty enough to suggest that Sternberg would have done himself a big service by recusing himself from the process. But again, the end doesn’t justify the means. A severe reprimand, exclusion from future editorial work, would have been in line. But taking away the keys to his department, ostracizing him, etc.–a bit uncalled for.

Comment #44651

Posted by steve on August 24, 2005 1:11 PM (e)

Comment #44639

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 24, 2005 12:32 PM (e) (s)

PvM wrote:

“ Evolvability seems to require neutrality and neutrality is a selectable trait…
Now that is fascinating isn’t it…. Think about it.”

Therefore, by definition, “neutrality” can’t be a “selectable” trait, per Darwin. Logically, “neutrality” can only come about by an “internal” cause (though it’s possible for an “outside” trigger—but this wouldn’t be N.S.), but, of course, this presents serious problems for Darwinism. So, though you say “neutrality” is “selectable”, this “selectibility”, logically, confounds Darwinism.

Back tomorrow. Have to go off. Ciao.

A field of study can possess features which look like contradictions to laymen, but are understood to be compatible by experts.

For instance, a laymen might say in my field, “Aha! You say that F=ma, and F=Gm1m2/r^2, but this book is just sitting on the table. Gravity is acting on it, it has mass, the earth has mass, so it must have a force. But it isn’t going anywhere, so it’s not accelerating. This, logically, confounds Gravitationism.”

The smart layman would understand that when it looks to him like there’s an obvious and lethal contradiction in a field of science, and the scientists say there isn’t, it’s probably his own misunderstanding.

Comment #44652

Posted by Augray on August 24, 2005 1:13 PM (e)

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Augray wrote:

I’ve read extensively through the primary literature on bird evolution, and I’m unaware of any problems that Caudipteryx causes. What problems did you have in mind?

Did, or did not, the discovery of Caudipteryx cause the entire lineage leading to modern birds into question? Isn’t the position of Archeopteryx relative to this lineage still problematic?

No, to both your questions. In fact, the position of Archaeopteryx has been extremely stable.

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Augray wrote:

I’m unaware of any need for “front-loading” in the evolution of feathers.

In Prum and Brush’s 2003 article on the bird feather, they mention that the primitive follicle seems to have, in their words, an “inherent capacity” for the development of the remaining features that make the follicle a bird feather. “Front-loading”, “inherent capacity”, have an etiological resonance. Prum and Brush were more or less saying that the “primitive” follicle seemed to “know” what was coming. This is very suggestive of informational “front-loading.”

Actually, you’re referring to their 2002 paper (Prum, R. O., & A. H. Brush. 2002. The evolutionary origin and diversification of feathers. The Quarterly Review of Biology 77:261-295.) where they state that:

The tubular feather follicle and feather germ led to subsequent evolution of numerous additional morphological and developmental novelties. This complexity appears to have exploited an inherent capacity of the innovative tubular form of the feather follicle and feather germ.

Note their use of the term novelties. In case there’s any doubt, in their 2003 Scientific American article (March 2003, Which Came First, the Feather or the Bird? pp. 84–93) they write:

Our developmental theory proposes that feathers evolved through a series of transitional stages, each marked by a developmental evolutionary novelty, a new mechanism of growth.

They also write that:

Proposing that feathers evolved for flight now appears to be like hypothesizing that fingers evolved to play the piano. Rather feathers were “exapted” for their aerodynamic function only after the evolution of substantial developmental and structural complexity. That is, they evolved for some other purpose and were then exploited for a different use.

This would seem to contradict your claim of front-loading. Ironically, they state at the end of the article that:

Creationists and other evolutionary skeptics have long pointed to feathers as a favorite example of the insufficiency of evolutionary theory. There were no transitional forms between scales and feathers, they have argued. Further, they asked why natural selection for flight would first divide an elongate scale and then evolve an elaborate new mechanism to weave it back together. Now, in an ironic about-face, feathers offer a sterling example of how we can best study the origin of an evolutionary novelty: focus on understanding those features that are truly new and examine how they form during development in modern organisms. This new paradigm in evolutionary biology is certain to penetrate many more mysteries.

While “inherent capacity” may have an etiological resonance for you, such resonance was clearly not the intent of Prum and Brush.

Comment #44655

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 24, 2005 1:23 PM (e)

Blast gassed:
When you have a form that has anatomical features that are very similar to modern birds, and that has very nearly modern feathers (my understanding—I could be wrong), then how does that provide a “missing link.”

I’m sure you might see it differently. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It just doesn’t, logically, to me, fill the bill.

Blast, we don’t really care what “logically” works or doesn’t work for you, unless you can give us some detailed reasoning, based on actual evidence, that explains how you reached whatever thought gives comfort to what passes for your brain.

Here you have actually made one of your few attempts to draw back the veil of murk behind which your thought processes are usually obscured. You’ve started to tell us why you don’t think Caudipteryx “fills the bill”: this critter possesses “anatomical features” (otherwise unspecified) that to you (“beauty is in the eye of the beholder”) seem “very similar” (no means of quantifying the degree of similarity suggested) to modern forms, including “very nearly modern” (quantification again lacking) feathers.

Blast, what specific features are you talking about, beyond the feathers? Who, other than your befuddled self, has characterized these features as “very similar” to the homologous features of modern birds? Likewise, as to the “very nearly modern” feathers? What scale or measure of comparison are you–or your source, if you have one?–utilizing in arriving at these judgments? Where, to begin with, do you understand Caudipteryx fits into the sequence of bird evolution? Because, um, if it fits relatively late into the sequence of the development of bird-from-small carnivorous dino traits, then you don’t really have any point at all, do you?

(And please note that it’s the relative position in the sequence that’s meaningful here, not some absolute date in time–after all, mammals alive during the Age of Dinosaurs presumably had already evolved “modern” mammalian features, including “very nearly modern” fur, right?)

Comment #44658

Posted by Flint on August 24, 2005 1:27 PM (e)

Incidentally, the information you provide seems plenty enough to suggest that Sternberg would have done himself a big service by recusing himself from the process.

We’re talking about two entirely different processes, I’m afraid. What you are talking about here is respect for propriety, avoiding the appearance of conflict of interest, and adherence to procedures which have over time proven themselves most effective in preventing such conflicts.

The process Sternberg was very plainly using, was the one where he uses his position and influence to accomplish by deceit what MUST be accomplished (because God wants it!) but could never happen under normal procedures. Sternberg wasn’t doing anything different from what Leonard was doing at Ohio State: using duplicity and dishonesty to glue the reputation of a respected institution onto something that institution would have rejected in an instant if the rules had been followed. In the vernacular, this is embodied in a single word: cheating.

After reading all this, it seems that Sternberg continues with his prior level of access, his same offices, etc. What he does NOT have is the trust he abused, which probably limits his ability to wreak such mischief in the future. His name goes onto the same virtual list as the DI’s PR agency, who tricked the SI into giving the appearance of endorsement of creationist material in the “Privileged Planet” case.

The overall pattern never changes: Kangaroo courts with rigged results, misrepresentation of materials for PR advantage, improperly stacking a PhD committee with those whose only “qualification” is a shared political agenda, subversion of the peer review process to get a respected institution associated with religion masquerading as science, and the beat goes on. Two conclusions stand out: Creationists can’t penetrate the world of serious inquiry on the merits, and the merits don’t much matter to them anyway. Stolen goods are never sold at a loss.

Comment #44667

Posted by SEF on August 24, 2005 2:39 PM (e)

the same virtual list

Is there a good reason why it shouldn’t be a more real virtual list (including the evidence of course), eg on one of the TalkOrigins/Design type resources?

Comment #44670

Posted by Gary Hurd on August 24, 2005 2:55 PM (e)

“Incidentally, the information you provide seems plenty enough to suggest that Sternberg would have done himself a big service by recusing himself from the process. But again, the end doesn’t justify the means. A severe reprimand, exclusion from future editorial work, would have been in line. But taking away the keys to his department, ostracizing him, etc.—a bit uncalled for.

That you can spout such nonsense should exclude you from any conversation based on fact or reason.

Sternberg whines that he lost a Master Key, i.e. one that could open any door. For a mere research associate to have such a thing is absurd. The only people significant enough for such a responsibility are truly critial employees such as the Director, and the night cleaning crew.

As to ostracizing someone, that is a personal decision and is not under the control of the administration of the SI.

Comment #44673

Posted by Flint on August 24, 2005 3:09 PM (e)

That you can spout such nonsense should exclude you from any conversation based on fact or reason.

But of course, this is nothing new. He spouts it because it sounds persuasive to anyone who doesn’t know better, and forwards the cause.

The bottom line should never be lost from view: Sternberg is a foot soldier in the service of the Lord, therefore what he has done is Virtuous. Enough such soldiers, placed where their efforts can be leveraged by inspired PR efforts, and eventually creationists will control the reins of civil authority as God intended and the Righteous shall triumph. And that isn’t you!

Comment #44691

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 24, 2005 5:59 PM (e)

I’m being attacked on anything I say.

Sniffle. Sob. Boo hoo hoo. Want some cheese to go with that whine?

Don’t flatter yourself, junior. Nobody here gives a flying fig what you think. We are simply pointing out to all the lurkers that you have no coherent scientific statement to make, mostly because you get all your “science” information from 80-year old science books and ID religious tracts.

Now then, if you are finished struggling on your cross to show everyone what a martyr you are, would you mind answering my simple questions? They were:

(1) How can you tell that the Super Mice are not an example of frontloading?

(2) what IS an example of frontloading, and

(3) how can you tell?

Put up or shut up, junior.

Comment #44692

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 24, 2005 6:02 PM (e)

Over the years, I’ve seen time and time again that when liberals are confronted with evidence that discredits their thinking, they then resort to simply denying reality.

That’s a line that infuriates me. I am old enough to have voted for Barry Goldwater (a genuine conservative) back when you had to be 21 to vote

I am not a “liberal” either —- I am a *radical*, dammit. ;>

Comment #44694

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 24, 2005 6:04 PM (e)

And, please tell me, why, with Darwin, that you agree that variation can proceed up to the “class” level, but not beyond.

Huh? What the hell are you gibbering about?

Comment #44698

Posted by SEF on August 24, 2005 6:21 PM (e)

I’m being attacked on anything I say.

It’s not as fine a whine as Ray Mummert’s though:

We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture.

I’ve been collecting the ones I think are the best (as long as I can find reasonably decent source attributions for them - which has been a problem with some). I haven’t been storing them in an organised manner though according to the vintage and the particular variety of sour grapes (underlying cause, religious and institutional affiliations, qualifications, state or whatever etc). There’s definitely potential for a proper web-site page on these

Comment #44701

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 24, 2005 6:50 PM (e)

Ed Darrell wrote:

It’s a prediction, actually, and he was right.

Really? I thought all dogs are descended from Canis lupus. Can you point me to evidence that dogs are descended from more than one species? And if so, how are dogs now a single species (subspecies of Canis lupus, in fact)?

BlastOfGas wrote:

Front-loading”, “inherent capacity”, have an etiological resonance. Prum and Brush were more or less saying that the “primitive” follicle seemed to “know” what was coming. This is very suggestive of informational “front-loading.”

A tree trunk has an inherent capacity for being carved into a canoe. Does that mean that it “knows” that a canoe is coming, that canoes are informationally front loaded into tree trunks? What’s very suggestive here is that you don’t know what words mean, and that you selectively misinterpret what people write while ignoring the stuff that directly contradicts your interpretation – as you did with “read it”.

I’m being attacked on anything I say.

So stop saying such incredibly silly and patently false things.

PvM wrote:

Until the quote mismatch is repaired, …

The “quote mismatch” is a syntax error in what you typed, having to do with the quote tag – it isn’t necessarily a mismatch, that’s just a catchall error message. Some possibilities are omitting the closing tag, omitting the slash in the closing tag, misspelling “quote” in the closing tag, misspelling “author” in the opening tag, or leaving out one or both quote marks around the author’s name in the opening tag. (I’ve made all of these mistakes.) It’s always a good idea to hit Preview first if you’ve used any tags, and then find and fix the syntax errors if you get an error message.

Comment #44732

Posted by PvM on August 24, 2005 10:37 PM (e)

Blast wrote:

You seem to have avoided the thorny issue of gradualism’s constant need for variation.

Sure, evolution needs inheritable material and variation. Your point being?

Blast wrote:

Are you suggesting that gradualism’s needed variation “stops” because N.S. “chooses” neutrality?

Nioe

Blast wrote:

But N.S. functions after the fact, so how can it function on something that’s not functioning. That is, if the organism does not change, then natural selection cannot act since it has nothing to act upon.

As others have pointed out already, before jumping to conclusions would it not be helpful to educate yourself on this issue? All you needed to do was ask.

Blast wrote:

Therefore, by definition, “neutrality” can’t be a “selectable” trait, per Darwin.

Wrong again

Blast wrote:

Logically, “neutrality” can only come about by an “internal” cause (though it’s possible for an “outside” trigger—but this wouldn’t be N.S.), but, of course, this presents serious problems for Darwinism. So, though you say “neutrality” is “selectable”, this “selectibility”, logically, confounds Darwinism.

So far it only seems to confuse you. Are you interested in hearing more about these findings? I agree they may appear to sound contradictory but that’s the beauty of it…
In fact, let me add another angle. Neutrality also increases robustness… Imagine this. Neutrality affects both robustness and the ability to evolve…

And of course it is selectable itself.

The concept of evolvability is the dynamic counterpart of “fitness”

More information… It gets even better, but I will save this for later.

Comment #44733

Posted by PvM on August 24, 2005 10:46 PM (e)

blast wrote:

I’m being attacked on anything I say.

Nope just the more obvious mistakes are addressed…

Comment #44755

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 25, 2005 7:01 AM (e)

It gets even better, but I will save this for later.

Alas, it seems as if Blast has once again fled the field.

I’d like to think that he has taken himself to the library (the big buidling with all the books in it) so he can educate his ignorant ass about sixth grade biology. But alas, I think it far more likely that he is combing through ID religious tracts and Internet crapsites, cackling to himself, “Oh yeah, well let’s see them respond to THIS” …. .

Fortunately, ignorance is a correctible condition. UN-fortunately, correcting it requires some effort. Blast seems unwilling to expend the necessary effort.

Comment #44761

Posted by Savagemutt on August 25, 2005 7:37 AM (e)

SEF wrote:

I’ve been collecting the ones I think are the best (as long as I can find reasonably decent source attributions for them - which has been a problem with some). I haven’t been storing them in an organised manner though according to the vintage and the particular variety of sour grapes (underlying cause, religious and institutional affiliations, qualifications, state or whatever etc). There’s definitely potential for a proper web-site page on these

You may already know of these. The first is a talk.origins “award” archive. The second is more general. And of course they’re just internet postings, not wacky stuff being said in “real life”. Unfortunately, neither seems to be updated anymore. But they’re hilarious to scan through.

Chez Watt

Fundies Say the Darndest Things!

Comment #44764

Posted by SEF on August 25, 2005 8:01 AM (e)

I’d seen the winace collection before. However, I do like the Chez Watt item in which someone erroneously asserts that “feathered animal that flies … accurately describes the bat”. If they didn’t flunk primary school biology they certainly should have.

I’m only collecting those by people in prominent positions who are clearly holding themselves up for public ridicule though. So that’s typically politicians, clergy, media personalities and any misguided doctors or scientists prostituting themselves to the cause of religious stupidity and ignorance.

Comment #44795

Posted by PvM on August 25, 2005 11:42 AM (e)

But those who see no place for intelligent design in the realm of science - and that includes us - will ruefully give him credit for maneuvering a brief for intelligent design into a peer-reviewed journal, although how rigorous that review was remains a point of contention.

Scientists irked over intelligent design

Comment #44910

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 26, 2005 2:12 AM (e)

Steviepinhead wrote:

Blast, what specific features are you talking about, beyond the feathers? Who, other than your befuddled self, has characterized these features as “very similar” to the homologous features of modern birds? Likewise, as to the “very nearly modern” feathers? What scale or measure of comparison are you—or your source, if you have one?—utilizing in arriving at these judgments? Where, to begin with, do you understand Caudipteryx fits into the sequence of bird evolution? Because, um, if it fits relatively late into the sequence of the development of bird-from-small carnivorous dino traits, then you don’t really have any point at all, do you?

(And please note that it’s the relative position in the sequence that’s meaningful here, not some absolute date in time—after all, mammals alive during the Age of Dinosaurs presumably had already evolved “modern” mammalian features, including “very nearly modern” fur, right?)

Who? How about Stephen Gould:

And so at least until the initiating tidbit for this essay appeared in the August 17, 2000, issue of Nature, one running dinosaur with utterly unambiguous feathers on its tail and forearms seemed to stand forth as an ensign of Huxley’s intellectual triumph and the branching of birds within the evolutionary tree of ground-dwelling dinosaurs. But the new article makes a strong, if unproven, case for an inverted evolutionary sequence, with Caudipteryx interpreted as a descendant of flying birds, secondarily readapted to a running lifestyle on terra firma, and not as a dinosaur in a lineage of exclusively ground-dwelling forms (T. D. Jones, J. O. Farlow, J. A. Ruben, D. M. Henderson, and W. J. Hillenius, “Cursoriality in Bipedal Archosaurs,” Nature 406, August 17, 2000).

Here’s the link:
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1134/is_9_109/ai_67410982

But there’s also Olsen reviewing a book by Witner: Here’s the link:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4067/is_200404/ai_n9400864

“The presence of unambiguous feathers in an unambiguously nonavian theropod has the rhetorical impact of an atomic bomb, rendering any doubt about the theropod relationships of birds ludicrous.” But Caudipteryx is anything but an unambiguous theropod and the theropod origin can only be sustained if one wishes away the differences in the homologies of the digits of the hand and totally ignores the fundamental differences in tooth replacement pattern and ankle structure, as Witmer does here.

Where in the lineage? Well, that’s precisely the problem. Here again is Gould:

“The case for secondary loss of flight rests upon a set of anatomical features that Caudipteryx shares with modern ground birds that evolved from flying ancestors–a common trend in several independent lineages, including ostriches, rheas, cassowaries, kiwis, moas, and others. By contrast, lineages of exclusively ground-dwelling forms, including all groups of dinosaurs suggested as potential ancestors of birds, evolved different shapes and proportions for the same features. In particular, as the accompanying illustration shows, ground-running and secondarily flightless birds–in comparison with small dinosaurs of fully terrestrial lineages–tend to have relatively shorter tails, relatively longer legs, and a center of gravity located in a more forward (headward) position. By all three criteria, the skeleton of Caudipteryx falls into the domain of flightless birds rather than the space of cursorial (running) dinosaurs.

…….But if Caudipteryx is a secondarily flightless bird, the general hypothesis of dinosaurian ancestry suffers no blow, though Caudipteryx itself loses its potential role as an avian ancestor (while gaining an equally interesting status as the first known bird to renounce flight).

So, if Lenny Flank wants to throw out Caudipteryx as a “missing link”, well, what’s “missing” is where in the world it belongs–is it a dinosaur or a bird. Gould’s sense is that it is a “flightless” bird. So, then, how can it be the “missing link”?

About Orr’s article: I’ve read it. I’ve found a glaring error; and will be posting about it very soon. Stay tuned.

Augray wrote:

Prum and Brush wrote:

Proposing that feathers evolved for flight now appears to be like hypothesizing that fingers evolved to play the piano. Rather feathers were “exapted” for their aerodynamic function only after the evolution of substantial developmental and structural complexity. That is, they evolved for some other purpose and were then exploited for a different use.

This would seem to contradict your claim of front-loading.

Indeed, it does not. It makes my point exactly. They’re basically saying that the potential for the modern bird feather, it’s tubular structure, was present at the beginning, when, according to them, other “selective pressures” were in play. This, if you believe in Darwinian mechanisms, might be true. But, it is not the most parsimonious approach. If we believe that ALL the information for the modern bird feather was already present–though parts of it repressed in some fashion or other–then we have both a simple answer AND “front-loading.” Let’s remember that one of the MAIN points the authors make in their article is that Darwinian mechanisms do NOT provide an easy answer to the cunundrum. They say it actually got in their way. (This whole issue has previously been hashed out. If you don’t agree with me–which I suspect you don’t–fine. Let’s agree to disagree.)

Gary Hurd wrote:

That you can spout such nonsense should exclude you from any conversation based on fact or reason.

Why don’t you look at the OSC report, and then look at Sternberg’s website, and then tell me if you want to reconsider your wording here?

RDLF wrote:

1) How can you tell that the Super Mice are not an example of frontloading?

If you look at some of the other posts, you’ll see that it was never I who brought this up, but others. I was then criticized for not addressing it. Why didn’t I address it? Because it was such a stupid notion. Lenny, if you really thought things through, you would see that you’re asking a ridiculous question. That you can’t see that says something about you. And I’m not inclined to help you out. Figure it out yourself.

ts (not Tim) wrote:

A tree trunk has an inherent capacity for being carved into a canoe. Does that mean that it “knows” that a canoe is coming, that canoes are informationally front loaded into tree trunks? What’s very suggestive here is that you don’t know what words mean, and that you selectively misinterpret what people write while ignoring the stuff that directly contradicts your interpretation — as you did with “read it”.

A tree trunk has an inherent capacity for being carved into a canoe in the “mind” of the person who is going to carve it out. And he knows it. “Front-loading” is, after all, about “intelligence”, and therefore “mind.” Do you see how easy it is to dismantle your thinking? Maybe it’s because I’m on the right side of this question and your on the wrong side. Would you like to consider changing sides?

PvM wrote:

So far it only seems to confuse you. Are you interested in hearing more about these findings? I agree they may appear to sound contradictory but that’s the beauty of it…
In fact, let me add another angle. Neutrality also increases robustness… Imagine this. Neutrality affects both robustness and the ability to evolve…

This seems to simply be a variation on a theme of Kimura’s Neutral Theory. I am a little surprised that you can’t immediately see that if you begin to invoke “neutrality”, then this only makes the effectiveness of point mutations less and less. There’s a trade-off. Actually, it’s worse than that because “neutrality” lessens the effectiveness of what point-mutations can do (Do I have to explain it: in other words, if amino acids themselves are neutral, then a point mutation (roughly one-third of an amino acid specification) is even MORE neutral–that is, ineffective.) at the same time as it undermines Darwinian theory as I’ve already mentioned; viz., that changes are taking place independent of NS. Now this might bolster the position of punk-eck, but it damages neo-Darwinism.

PvM wrote:

Blast wrote:

You make my point. The “silica” is not intelligent of itself; but it can nevertheless be the carrier of “intelligence.” If “silica” can carry “intelligence”, then why can’t “carbon” (of the same chemical family) not also be a carrier of “intelligence”?

Is that your point? Then what relevance does this really have? QM has nothing to do with intelligence perse?…

My ‘mind’ communicates with your ‘mind’ via silicon using physical processes which are, at bottom, due to QM. QM is not the source or dispenser of “intelligence”; but it has clearly been shown to be a vehicle, or carrier, of said intelligence. Again, carbon and silica share the same chemical (QM) properties. I think this has relevancy.

PvM wrote:

Information/complexity is the negative log of the probability in Dembski’s world. That’s all.

Let’s be more precise: Dembski, using Shannon’s definition of information, defines the “measure of information” as the negatie log of probability. (If you don’t like the definition, then talk to Shannon.) That doesn’t make probability and information the same thing. They’re inversely related. That’s why if X is highly IMPROBABLE, then it has a very high “measure” of information as do designed items we encounter. (Think of computer software.)

steve wrote:

The smart layman would understand that when it looks to him like there’s an obvious and lethal contradiction in a field of science, and the scientists say there isn’t, it’s probably his own misunderstanding.

First, this is generally true of the ‘hard’ sciences. But it is not true in evolutionary biology. Now, Wolpert is more a mathematician. He was not commenting so much on Dembski’s use of NFL theoroms, but rather on the “fitness functions” that Dembski uses as a corollary to the NFL. That’s not his field of expertise. “An obvious and lethal contradiction in a field of science”? Isn’t that a little overstated?

Comment #44917

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 3:44 AM (e)

A tree trunk has an inherent capacity for being carved into a canoe in the “mind” of the person who is going to carve it out.

It has the capacity, in reality. A twig, a pebble, or a feather, OTOH, has no such inherent capacity.

And he knows it. “Front-loading” is, after all, about “intelligence”, and therefore “mind.” Do you see how easy it is to dismantle your thinking? Maybe it’s because I’m on the right side of this question and your on the wrong side. Would you like to consider changing sides?

No more than I would like to consider changing sides to that of any other ignorant fool.

Comment #44942

Posted by Russell on August 26, 2005 8:09 AM (e)

Blast wrote:

About Orr’s article: I’ve read it. I’ve found a glaring error; and will be posting about it very soon. Stay tuned.

I, for one, am on the edge of my seat. You will let us know, won’t you, where and when you expose Orr’s “glaring error”?

Comment #44957

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 26, 2005 10:11 AM (e)

ts (not Tim) wrote:

Blast wrote:

A tree trunk has an inherent capacity for being carved into a canoe in the “mind” of the person who is going to carve it out.

It has the capacity, in reality. A twig, a pebble, or a feather, OTOH, has no such inherent capacity.

Why don’t you look up the words, “inherent” and “capacity”? Have you ever seen–outside of intelligent agency–a tree trunk become a canoe? Do you have any examples?

And, why the ad hominems?

Comment #44963

Posted by steve on August 26, 2005 10:38 AM (e)

First, this is generally true of the ‘hard’ sciences. But it is not true in evolutionary biology.

I don’t see you give any reason for that.

Now, Wolpert is more a mathematician. He was not commenting so much on Dembski’s use of NFL theoroms, but rather on the “fitness functions” that Dembski uses as a corollary to the NFL. That’s not his field of expertise. “An obvious and lethal contradiction in a field of science”? Isn’t that a little overstated?

Oh, Wolpert is a mere mathematician? What do you think Dembski is? Dembski has no credentials in biology, and few in math, compared to Wolpert.

The “Isaac Newton” of anything, he ain’t.

Comment #44967

Posted by PvM on August 26, 2005 11:11 AM (e)

blast wrote:

Have you ever seen—outside of intelligent agency—a tree trunk become a canoe? Do you have any examples?

Sigh… What ‘logic’…
When discussing science, you need to do more than rely on your ‘intuition’.

blast wrote:

Let’s be more precise: Dembski, using Shannon’s definition of information, defines the “measure of information” as the negatie log of probability.

Sigh… Dembski’s work only superficially resembles the work by Shannon. But if you accept Shannon theory as the relevant measure then it has been long shown how regularity and chance processes can increase such information (Schneider).

blast wrote:

This seems to simply be a variation on a theme of Kimura’s Neutral Theory. I am a little surprised that you can’t immediately see that if you begin to invoke “neutrality”, then this only makes the effectiveness of point mutations less and less.

What did I tell you? Familiarize yourself with the argument before trying to criticize it. Yes, Kimura had a theory called neutrality theory. Yes, I am talking about neutral mutations. That’s however were much of the overlap between the two end.

There’s a trade-off. Actually, it’s worse than that because “neutrality” lessens the effectiveness of what point-mutations can do (Do I have to explain it: in other words, if amino acids themselves are neutral, then a point mutation (roughly one-third of an amino acid specification) is even MORE neutral—that is, ineffective.) at the same time as it undermines Darwinian theory as I’ve already mentioned; viz., that changes are taking place independent of NS. Now this might bolster the position of punk-eck, but it damages neo-Darwinism.

As I told you before, familiarize yourself and do not rely on your ‘intuition’. In fact neutrality increases the ability to evolve… Sounds contradictory, I know, but that’s the beauty of it.

Evolvability: The capacity to be innovated

Fontana wrote:

argue here that such neutral change – and thus robustness – can be a key to future evolutionary innovation, if one accepts that neutrality is not an essential feature of a mutation. That is, a once neutral mutation may cause phenotypic effects in a changed environment or genetic background.

Fontana gives the following definitions for evolvability

a biological system is evolvable
if its properties show heritable genetic variation,
and if natural selection can thus change these properties.

and

a biological system is evolvable
if it can acquire novel functions through genetic change,
functions that help the organism survive and reproduce.

Is Neutral Evolution Non-Darwinian

Now let’s look at the work by Toussaint

Marc Toussaint Christian Igel Neutrality: A Necessity for Self-Adaptation, Proceedings of the Congress on Evolutionary Computation (CEC 2002)

Abstract|Self-adaptation is used in all main paradigms of evolutionary computation to increase efficiency. We claim that the basis of self-adaptation is the use of neutrality. In the absence of external control neutrality allows a variation of the search distribution without the risk of fitness loss.

They define ‘self adaptation’

The ability of an evolutionary algorithm to adapt its search strategy during the optimization process is a key concept in evolutionary computation,

Comment #44969

Posted by PvM on August 26, 2005 11:17 AM (e)

Evolvability is defined by Altenberg [13] as “the ability of random variations to sometimes produce improvement”. This concept refers to the efficiency of evolutionary search; it is based upon the work by Altenberg [14]: “the ability of an operator/representation scheme to produce offspring that are fitter than their parents”.

Marc Ebner, Mark Shackleton, Rob Shipman How neutral networks influence evolvability Complexity Volume 7, Issue 2 , Pages 19 - 33, 2002

Abstract
Evolutionary algorithms apply the process of variation, reproduction, and selection to look for an individual capable of solving the task at hand. In order to improve the evolvability of a population we propose to copy important characteristics of nature’s search space. Desired characteristics for a genotype-phenotype mapping are described and several highly redundant genotype-phenotype mappings are analyzed in the context of a population-based search. We show that evolvability, defined as the ability of random variations to sometimes produce improvement, is influenced by the existence of neutral networks in genotype space. Redundant mappings allow the population to spread along the network of neutral mutations and the population is quickly able to recover after a change has occurred. The extent of the neutral networks affects the interconnectivity of the search space and thereby affects evolvability

Comment #44973

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 26, 2005 12:06 PM (e)

Why don’t you look up the words, “inherent” and “capacity”?

inherent: Occurring as a natural part or consequence
capacity: The quality of being suitable for or receptive to specified treatment

Have you ever seen—outside of intelligent agency—a tree trunk become a canoe? Do you have any examples?

Irrelevant, as I offered it simply as an example of inherent capacity.
As for examples of inherent capacity that don’t involve intelligent agency – yes, billions of examples.

And, why the ad hominems?

Why don’t you look up “ad hominem”. I don’t claim that your arguments are wrong because you’re an ignorant fool, but rather that the “arguments” you make indicate …

Comment #45004

Posted by Ved Rocke on August 26, 2005 3:35 PM (e)

I’ve seen trees floating down a river. Suppose an animal is struggling in the water and it climbs onto a tree as it floats by. There’s your canoe. It’s not pretty but it gets the job done. You don’t have to have the ideal solution if you can get by with what you’ve got.

Comment #45007

Posted by SEF on August 26, 2005 3:53 PM (e)

The “Isaac Newton” of anything, he ain’t.

I don’t see why he couldn’t be considered to be the Isaac Newton of the Discovery Suppression Institute. It would merely throw into stark relief just how much more vacuous all the rest of them are if Dembski is really the best they have.

Comment #45011

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 26, 2005 4:23 PM (e)

…And some of the trees that have fallen alongside streams, lakes, rivers, or other shorelines will have been partially hollowed out by insect or animal activity or partially burned out by a lightning strike or wildfire–voila! a dugout waiting to be “exapted.”

So far, no “intentional design” is involved in the process of tree > log > canoe at all.

Comment #45022

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 26, 2005 5:41 PM (e)

Hey Blast, why isn’t the Super Mouse an observed example of frontloading, and how can you tell?

What *is* an observed example of frontloading, and how can you tell?

You seem to be having some sort of difficulty answering those simple questions, Blast. Why is that?

Comment #45032

Posted by steve on August 26, 2005 7:05 PM (e)

Comment #45007

Posted by SEF on August 26, 2005 03:53 PM (e) (s)

The “Isaac Newton” of anything, he ain’t.

I don’t see why he couldn’t be considered to be the Isaac Newton of the Discovery Suppression Institute. It would merely throw into stark relief just how much more vacuous all the rest of them are if Dembski is really the best they have.

And if you read the Wikipedia article about Dembski, you’ll see just how sad that is. But I disagree. I think Behe is the best they’ve got. For one thing, Behe was a mediocre biochemist before his long trek down this dead end. Dembski never really had an academic career, let alone a mediocre one. Also, Behe’s notion that there were IC things which couldn’t evolve, was merely wrong. CSI and its metric have been defined several different incompatible ways (such as Salvador’s ‘If it resembles a platonic form it has CSI by analogy’ nonsense), and is given additional names depending on whether an algorithm produced it (“apparent”), yet supposedly can’t be produced by any algorithm. Plus Dembski put that risible “Isaac Newton of Information Theory” line on his book.

Comment #45033

Posted by steve on August 26, 2005 7:09 PM (e)

The only thing Dembski has going for him is, the refutation of his stuff is younger than Behe’s stuff, and it has a mathematical veneer the naive find impressive.

Comment #45042

Posted by SEF on August 26, 2005 7:45 PM (e)

But I disagree. I think Behe is the best they’ve got.

Well Behe can be their Einstein or whatever then. Sticking to actual subject specialty never bothered them in the past, hence trying to pass all those medical doctors and engineers off as scientists on their lists. The Einstein of relatively irreducible relative complexity?

Comment #45044

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on August 26, 2005 7:53 PM (e)

Blast writes:Admit it, the outrage of the scientific community at the publication of Meyer’s article is simply because its publication undermines one of neo-Darwinism’s arguments against ID: viz., “Well, what ‘peer-reviewed’ articles have they published?” “

THe only thing undermined was the peer-review process, when Sternberg published Meyer’s article on his own authority; an authority he did not have.

Then again, its no surprise the IDiots resort to dishonesty.

Comment #45046

Posted by steve on August 26, 2005 8:12 PM (e)

ID has never been published in a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. The Meyer/Sternberg affair doesn’t change that. The words “Intelligent Design” do not constitute a theory, and the peer review was hustled. The outrage is no different than the outrage in the physics community about the Schoen situation. It’s just about lying and fraud.

Comment #45057

Posted by Ed Darrell on August 27, 2005 4:58 AM (e)

You know, some people really are so clueless that, when they get hit in the head by an apple, they think they are doing just what Isaac Newton did.

Comment #45058

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 27, 2005 7:11 AM (e)

Well Behe can be their Einstein or whatever then.

Haven’t you heard? IDers are telling us now that Einstein was wrong.

Anyway, Einstein was born Jewish, and turned into some sort of fuzzy Spinoza-ist. Most un-Christian.

Better to stick with Newton, who was a good solid Bible-believing Christian, who also happened to delve heavily into quack science, and who plagiarized much of his work from others.

Just like IDers.

Comment #45218

Posted by derek lactin on August 28, 2005 3:43 AM (e)

I followed the blast/rev dr. repartee for some time, and i’m surprised that no-one picked up on this gaffe:

the likelihood of just the right mutation occurring in just the right location at just the right time is just simply hugely small.>>

here’s the source of blast’s confusion: a misunderstanding of the nature of genetic variation and evolution:
he implies that mutations occur at the time the selective force is applied! i.e., that change in the environment causes mutations to occur.

NO EVOLUTIONIST worth his salt believes this (it’s a long-refuted neo-Lamarckian idea). If you do, you have some catching up to do! Variants (alleles) of genes arise in the population by random errors (etc.) more or less constantly over time.

Changes in the environment merely change the relative ‘fitness’ of EXISTING alleles. Selection works on existing variability. “Supermice” arose because somewhere in the founding population, one or a few of the mice had alleles for (potential) large size. Your puzzlement over the apparent perfect timing of the mutation leading to this trait is without basis, as is this corollary:

Now, if there is some environmental feedback between genomic potential and environmental conditions (in other words, a “directed” mutation scenario), all of this makes much more sense.>>

Learn about evolution before you criticize it.

Comment #45239

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 28, 2005 7:42 AM (e)

here’s the source of blast’s confusion: a misunderstanding of the nature of genetic variation and evolution:
he implies that mutations occur at the time the selective force is applied! i.e., that change in the environment causes mutations to occur.

Blast seems enamored of some sort of fuzzy anti-Darwinian neo-Lamarckism or something. It’s why he likes to quote long-dead “authorities” like Goldschmidt.

You are indeed quite correct in pointing out, though, that Blast knows less about biology than my neighbor’s dog does. (shrug)

Comment #45470

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 29, 2005 3:00 PM (e)

derek lactin wrote:

the likelihood of just the right mutation occurring in just the right location at just the right time is just simply hugely small.

I’m wondering where this was picked up from. It’s not from this post. I believe I was responding to something Steve Reuland had written. Before I respond, could you tell me where this is from so I can check it out for myself. Thanks.

Comment #45519

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 29, 2005 5:56 PM (e)

Before I respond, could you tell me where this is from so I can check it out for myself. Thanks.

See? Even earthworms can learn from experience ….

Blast, why don’t you go to the library (that’s the big building with all the books in it) and ask the nice librarian to point you to some real honest-to-goodness science books. Stop getting your, uh, “science information” from creationist crapsites, ID religious tracts, and nutty “ecological visionaries”.

After that, you may even be, at long last, capable of telling me (1) why the Super Mice are not an example of “frontloading” and how you can tell, and (2) what IS an example of frontloading and how can you tell?

Comment #45663

Posted by Augray on August 30, 2005 7:10 AM (e)

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Steviepinhead wrote:

Blast gassed:

When you have a form that has anatomical features that are very similar to modern birds, and that has very nearly modern feathers (my understanding—I could be wrong), then how does that provide a “missing link.”

I’m sure you might see it differently. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It just doesn’t, logically, to me, fill the bill.

Blast, what specific features are you talking about, beyond the feathers? Who, other than your befuddled self, has characterized these features as “very similar” to the homologous features of modern birds?

Who? How about Stephen Gould:

And so at least until the initiating tidbit for this essay appeared in the August 17, 2000, issue of Nature, one running dinosaur with utterly unambiguous feathers on its tail and forearms seemed to stand forth as an ensign of Huxley’s intellectual triumph and the branching of birds within the evolutionary tree of ground-dwelling dinosaurs. But the new article makes a strong, if unproven, case for an inverted evolutionary sequence, with Caudipteryx interpreted as a descendant of flying birds, secondarily readapted to a running lifestyle on terra firma, and not as a dinosaur in a lineage of exclusively ground-dwelling forms (T. D. Jones, J. O. Farlow, J. A. Ruben, D. M. Henderson, and W. J. Hillenius, “Cursoriality in Bipedal Archosaurs,” Nature 406, August 17, 2000).

Here’s the link:
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1134/is_9_109/ai_67410982

Gould is referring to a paper that has since been shown to be flawed. See Christiansen & Bonde (2002. Limb proportions and avian terrestrial locomotion. Journal für Ornithologie 143(3):356-371) and/or Dyke & Norell (2005. _Caudipteryx_ as a non-avialan theropod rather than a flightless bird. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 50(1):101–116). And even if one accepts the Jones et al. paper at face value, that’s just one feature. Did you have any others in mind?

BlastfromthePast wrote:

But there’s also Olsen reviewing a book by Witner: Here’s the link:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4067/is_200404/ai_n9400864

“The presence of unambiguous feathers in an unambiguously nonavian theropod has the rhetorical impact of an atomic bomb, rendering any doubt about the theropod relationships of birds ludicrous.” But Caudipteryx is anything but an unambiguous theropod and the theropod origin can only be sustained if one wishes away the differences in the homologies of the digits of the hand and totally ignores the fundamental differences in tooth replacement pattern and ankle structure, as Witmer does here.

The question of whether birds originated from theropods is a separate issue from the identification of Caudipteryx. But on the former topic, his complaint about digit homologies is puzzling, considering that variation in digit homologies are known to occur within the Kiwi (Wagner, G. P., & J. A. Gauthier. 1999. 1,2,3 = 2,3,4: A solution to the problem of the homology of the digits in the avian hand. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 96:5111-5116).

Similarly, the supposed difference in tooth replacement patterns is unfounded, as dromaeosaurs (a type of theropod dinosaur believed to be closely related to birds) have a pattern virtually identical to that of birds (Currie, P. J. & Zhao X.-J. 1993. A new troodontid (Dinosauria, Theropoda) braincase from the Dinosaur Park Formation (Campanian) of Alberta. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 30:2231-2247). In addition, the claim that the ankle structure is different in theropods and birds is debunked in Paul (2002. Dinosaurs of the Air. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press. pp. 211-212).

Surprisingly, Olsen never tells us why he thinks Caudipteryx “is anything but an unambiguous theropod”, but it’s obvious that he believes it to be a bird based on one trait: feathers. But if all the specimens had been found without feathers, there’d be no doubt that it’s a theropod more primitive than Archaeopteryx, since it shares a large number of similarities with the oviraptors (see Paul 2002, pp. 216-217).

Comment #45687

Posted by Augray on August 30, 2005 9:56 AM (e)

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Augray wrote:

Prum and Brush wrote:

Proposing that feathers evolved for flight now appears to be like hypothesizing that fingers evolved to play the piano. Rather feathers were “exapted” for their aerodynamic function only after the evolution of substantial developmental and structural complexity. That is, they evolved for some other purpose and were then exploited for a different use.

This would seem to contradict your claim of front-loading.

Indeed, it does not. It makes my point exactly. They’re basically saying that the potential for the modern bird feather, it’s tubular structure, was present at the beginning, when, according to them, other “selective pressures” were in play. This, if you believe in Darwinian mechanisms, might be true. But, it is not the most parsimonious approach. If we believe that ALL the information for the modern bird feather was already present—though parts of it repressed in some fashion or other—then we have both a simple answer AND “front-loading.” Let’s remember that one of the MAIN points the authors make in their article is that Darwinian mechanisms do NOT provide an easy answer to the cunundrum. They say it actually got in their way. (This whole issue has previously been hashed out. If you don’t agree with me—which I suspect you don’t—fine. Let’s agree to disagree.)

On what basis do you claim that all the information for the modern bird feather was “present at the beginning”? Prum and Brush state that:

…feathers were “exapted” for their aerodynamic function only after the evolution of substantial developmental and structural complexity. That is, they evolved for some other purpose and were then exploited for a different use.

Once again, this contradicts your claim that all the information was “present at the beginning”, and Prum and Brush don’t support your claim of front-loading. Yes, you might want to believe that there was front-loading, but that claim is not supported by Prum and Brush. Your claim of parsimoniousness is unsupported, because you have no evidence to support front-loading. Your claim is based entirely on faith.

Also, Prum and Brush do not state that Darwinian mechanisms caused them problems. Rather, they claim that neo-Darwinian approaches to the origin of feathers get in the way of determining their true origins. Assumptions about the path that evolution took to produce flight feathers get in the way of investigations to determine the route that was actually taken. This would be similar to your assumption of front-loading, since such a belief would bring research in this area to a halt.

Comment #45746

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 30, 2005 2:07 PM (e)

Augray wrote:

And even if one accepts the Jones et al. paper at face value, that’s just one feature. Did you have any others in mind?

Well, I did quote two articles, didn’t I? And the second article did mention the discrepancies in the digits and teeth. It seems as though I did have others in mind, right?

Augray wrote:

The question of whether birds originated from theropods is a separate issue from the identification of Caudipteryx. But on the former topic, his complaint about digit homologies is puzzling, considering that variation in digit homologies are known to occur within the Kiwi (Wagner, G. P., & J. A. Gauthier. 1999. 1,2,3 = 2,3,4: A solution to the problem of the homology of the digits in the avian hand. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 96:5111-5116).

Now you seem to have an expertise in this area which I welcome. I’ll leave it to the experts to fight it out over these features. But, again, the origin of the discussion about Caudipteryx had to do with it being a “missing link”. So, presuming on your expertise, do you, or, do you not, think that Caudipteryx is a “missing link”? And, if so, between what and what.

Augray wrote:

On what basis do you claim that all the information for the modern bird feather was “present at the beginning”? Prum and Brush state that:

Prum and Brush: feathers were “exapted” for their aerodynamic function only after the evolution of substantial developmental and structural complexity. That is, they evolved for some other purpose and were then exploited for a different use.

On the basis of the Prum and Brush having to invent a word, “exapted.” We don’t even know what the word means. Obviously it is related to “adapted”, but what does it really mean. The authors are forced to invent the word because ordinary Darwinian “assumptions” couldn’t explain the “proto” feathers that they had to deal with. The possibility of “front-loading” becomes evident when you consider that if the “proto” feather had not started out as a tubular structure, this would have precluded the emergence of the modern feather. The question then is: how did Nature know that the modern feather was coming? You might try and side-step this vexing question by saying, as do the authors, that “…they evolved for some other purpose and were then exploited for a different use….”, but, it seems to me, this is not a satisfactory answer. The answer evades the question as to “why” the ‘tubular’ structure arose in the first place. If the purpose was evident, we can be sure the authors would have told us about it. So their answer is basically, “We know the ‘proto’ feather didn’t arise specifically for flight. It was simply later ‘exapted’. Yet, we don’t really know why ‘proto’ feathers arose.” So, it is an argument from ignorance. Therefore, the authors simply “believe” that there indeed was a “selective” pressure present bringing about the “proto” feather, but they, nevetheless, don’t KNOW why. I believe it was “front-loading”, and therefore the fully formed modern feather simply came about in stages–that is, it “unfurled”, serving various purposes along the way. You choose to believe Darwin; I don’t. But “front-loading” fits the facts–and, without the burden of trying to figure out what “evoked” the early stages of the feather. Only if you’re wedded to materialism does the “front-loading” present problems. Thus, it’s not about science; it’s about philosophy. Aren’t both Dembski and Meyers philosophers?

Augray wrote:

Also, Prum and Brush do not state that Darwinian mechanisms caused them problems. Rather, they claim that neo-Darwinian approaches to the origin of feathers get in the way of determining their true origins.

This strikes me as a distinction without a difference. Remember, they had to invent a new word.

Augray wrote:

Assumptions about the path that evolution took to produce flight feathers get in the way of investigations to determine the route that was actually taken. This would be similar to your assumption of front-loading, since such a belief would bring research in this area to a halt.

I’m not sure why this would bring research to a halt. Whether you believe Darwinism the better explanation of ‘evolution’, or whether you believe that ID is the better explanation, BOTH accept the “fact” of ‘evolution’; that is, that organic forms have changed over time as is evidenced by the fossil record. IDists don’t question that. (YEC do. So take that argument up with them.) So, “changing forms” is a given, either way. Now, given that we, as humans, are curious animals, it is only natural for us to ask questions about how these changes came about. Now, if I really believed that God brought about every species directly–then there is nothing to investigate. But if, instead, I believe that God in some way “infused” his intelligence into organic forms as they developed over time (a view that I, more or less, take), then I am still naturally curious as to what “mechanisms” He may have employed. And finding out the various “steps” that were taken, trying to sort out the interrelationship between these steps, is still of great interest. We might not, as humans, be able to “know” everything; but why not try and find out as much as we can? So, I don’t see why ID brings things to a halt. Will there be places where “forms” are “irreducibly complex”? Yes, there will be? Will that prove that God exists? Well, so far it hasn’t. So why will it in the future? After all, faith is a gift. If we don’t want it, we can always throw it away ( to our sorrow).

Comment #45753

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 30, 2005 2:36 PM (e)

Hey Blast, why is the Super Mouse not an example of frontloading, and how can you tell?

What IS an example of frontloading, and how can you tell?

(sound of crickets chirping)

Yep, that’s what I thought, Blast.

Comment #45754

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 30, 2005 2:39 PM (e)

But if, instead, I believe that God in some way “infused” his intelligence into organic forms as they developed over time (a view that I, more or less, take), then I am still naturally curious as to what “mechanisms” He may have employed. And finding out the various “steps” that were taken, trying to sort out the interrelationship between these steps, is still of great interest. We might not, as humans, be able to “know” everything; but why not try and find out as much as we can? So, I don’t see why ID brings things to a halt. Will there be places where “forms” are “irreducibly complex”? Yes, there will be? Will that prove that God exists? Well, so far it hasn’t. So why will it in the future? After all, faith is a gift. If we don’t want it, we can always throw it away ( to our sorrow).

So much for that whole “ID is science and isn’t religious” thingie, huh.

Thanks, Blast, for making it so crushingly clear that IDers are just lying to us when they claim to be SCIENCE and NOT religious apologetics. If we pay your expenses, are you willing to come to Dover and testify to that under oath?

Comment #45755

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 30, 2005 2:41 PM (e)

I believe

Why on earth should anyone care about your uneducated uninformed opinion on the matter, Blast?

it was “front-loading”, and therefore the fully formed modern feather simply came about in stages—that is, it “unfurled”

From what?

How?

How can you tell?

Or do you just want everyone to take your Divine Word for it, Blast?

Comment #45793

Posted by BlastfromthePast on August 30, 2005 6:28 PM (e)

RDLF wrote:

Thanks, Blast, for making it so crushingly clear that IDers are just lying to us when they claim to be SCIENCE and NOT religious apologetics.

Lenny, what I wrote happens to be my personal belief. Fred Hoyle thought Darwinsim was poppycock–and he was basically an atheist. Dave Scott is an atheist; but his rational mind tells him that ID makes sense. Maybe he thinks some alien intelligence “infused” intelligence into biological forms. Who knows?

But ID is NOT, per se, “apologetics.” ID doesn’t make the claim that God did it. It makes the claim that biological life can be best explained ONLY by invoking some intelligent agency. I just don’t happen to believe in aliens.

RDLF wrote:

How can you tell?

Because I have a rational mind.

Comment #45795

Posted by darwinfinch on August 30, 2005 6:35 PM (e)

Blast says he has a rational mind, and his response is “But this is eleven.”

Comment #45799

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 30, 2005 7:35 PM (e)

Lenny, what I wrote happens to be my personal belief.

Nobody CARES about your “personal belief”, junior. (shrug)

Does ID have something scientific to say, or doesn’t it. Yes or no. If it does, then quit waving your arms and just SHOW IT TO US. If it doesn’t, then what the hell are you griping about?

Comment #45881

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on August 31, 2005 10:42 AM (e)

BlastfromthePast wrote:

On the basis of the Prum and Brush having to invent a word, “exapted.” We don’t even know what the word means. Obviously it is related to “adapted”, but what does it really mean. The authors are forced to invent the word because ordinary Darwinian “assumptions” couldn’t explain the “proto” feathers that they had to deal with.

Actually, we do have a very good idea of what exapt means. According to that link, the origin of that word is tied to Stephen Gould and an associate and dates to a 1982 paper, Stephen J. Gould and Elizabeth Vrba “Exaptation - a missing term in the science of form,” Paleobiology 8 (1982). I am not certain that the source I cite is accurate as to the origin of the term, but certainly it can be verified, and at the very least could not have been invented later. Since the paper by Prum and Brush was written in 2002, they certainly did not invent a word first introduced to the literature at least 20 years earlier, especially since they are using the same definition as Gould and Vrba did.

If you are still confused as to the definition, exapt means to use an existing structure for a new function. For non-biological examples of exaption, rent a few episodes of MacGuyver - first season is now out on DVD.

Comment #45882

Posted by steve on August 31, 2005 10:50 AM (e)

Comment #45795

Posted by darwinfinch on August 30, 2005 06:35 PM (e) (s)

Blast says he has a rational mind, and his response is “But this is eleven.”

LOL

Comment #45944

Posted by Augray on August 31, 2005 5:51 PM (e)

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Augray wrote:

And even if one accepts the Jones et al. paper at face value, that’s just one feature. Did you have any others in mind?

Well, I did quote two articles, didn’t I? And the second article did mention the discrepancies in the digits and teeth. It seems as though I did have others in mind, right?

The statement of yours that launched this line of inquiry was:

When you have a form [Caudipteryx] that has anatomical features that are very similar to modern birds, and that has very nearly modern feathers (my understanding—I could be wrong), then how does that provide a “missing link.”

What aspects of the digits of Caudipteryx are similar to modern birds? What aspects of the teeth of Caudipteryx are similar to modern birds? You’re aware that no modern birds have teeth, right?

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Augray wrote:

The question of whether birds originated from theropods is a separate issue from the identification of Caudipteryx. But on the former topic, his complaint about digit homologies is puzzling, considering that variation in digit homologies are known to occur within the Kiwi (Wagner, G. P., & J. A. Gauthier. 1999. 1,2,3 = 2,3,4: A solution to the problem of the homology of the digits in the avian hand. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 96:5111-5116).

Now you seem to have an expertise in this area which I welcome. I’ll leave it to the experts to fight it out over these features.

But you seem to have no problem citing them. Could it be that you don’t really understand the issues involved?

BlastfromthePast wrote:

But, again, the origin of the discussion about Caudipteryx had to do with it being a “missing link”. So, presuming on your expertise, do you, or, do you not, think that Caudipteryx is a “missing link”? And, if so, between what and what.

The term “missing link” is rather outdated, if not downright misleading. For instance, we can never know if the creature whose remains make up any particular fossil, when living, left any descendents. Similarly, we can never know whether any species left any descendents. After all, it might have been a closely related, yet unknown species that gave rise to a lineage. That being said, a relatively generalized outline would point out that Caudipteryx has fewer traits associated with living birds than Archaeopteryx, but more than Sinosauropteryx.

Comment #45947

Posted by Augray on August 31, 2005 6:08 PM (e)

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Augray wrote:

On what basis do you claim that all the information for the modern bird feather was “present at the beginning”? Prum and Brush state that:

Prum and Brush: feathers were “exapted” for their aerodynamic function only after the evolution of substantial developmental and structural complexity. That is, they evolved for some other purpose and were then exploited for a different use.

On the basis of the Prum and Brush having to invent a word, “exapted.” We don’t even know what the word means. Obviously it is related to “adapted”, but what does it really mean. The authors are forced to invent the word because ordinary Darwinian “assumptions” couldn’t explain the “proto” feathers that they had to deal with.

When you state that “We don’t even know what the word means” are you using the royal “we”? Because I’m familiar with the term, even if you’re not. Take a look at this explanation. See also Kevin Vicklund’s comment.

BlastfromthePast wrote:

The possibility of “front-loading” becomes evident when you consider that if the “proto” feather had not started out as a tubular structure, this would have precluded the emergence of the modern feather. The question then is: how did Nature know that the modern feather was coming?

Why on Earth do you assume that Nature knew that the modern feather was coming?

BlastfromthePast wrote:

You might try and side-step this vexing question by saying, as do the authors, that “…they evolved for some other purpose and were then exploited for a different use….”, but, it seems to me, this is not a satisfactory answer. The answer evades the question as to “why” the ‘tubular’ structure arose in the first place. If the purpose was evident, we can be sure the authors would have told us about it. So their answer is basically, “We know the ‘proto’ feather didn’t arise specifically for flight. It was simply later ‘exapted’. Yet, we don’t really know why ‘proto’ feathers arose.” So, it is an argument from ignorance. Therefore, the authors simply “believe” that there indeed was a “selective” pressure present bringing about the “proto” feather, but they, nevetheless, don’t KNOW why.

I would point out that you don’t KNOW either. So far, all I’ve seen from you is the assertion that feathers were front-loaded. And now the obvious question is: why? At least Prum and Brush outline scenarios that can be tested, and in fact, have been tested. What tests do you propose to test your claim of front-loading?

And speaking of arguments from ignorance, ID is entirely an argument from ignorance. IDists can’t imagine how everyday natural forces could shape life, so there must have been a designer.

BlastfromthePast wrote:

I believe it was “front-loading”, and therefore the fully formed modern feather simply came about in stages—that is, it “unfurled”, serving various purposes along the way. You choose to believe Darwin; I don’t. But “front-loading” fits the facts—and, without the burden of trying to figure out what “evoked” the early stages of the feather. Only if you’re wedded to materialism does the “front-loading” present problems. Thus, it’s not about science; it’s about philosophy. Aren’t both Dembski and Meyers philosophers?

How does materialism present problems for front-loading? After all, extraterrestrials might have front-loaded the feather. The problem with your front-loading claim is that it’s unparsimonious. Why invoke an extra agent when none is needed?

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Augray wrote:

Also, Prum and Brush do not state that Darwinian mechanisms caused them problems. Rather, they claim that neo-Darwinian approaches to the origin of feathers get in the way of determining their true origins.

This strikes me as a distinction without a difference. Remember, they had to invent a new word.

It’s a huge distinction. “Darwinian mechanisms” refers to a purported mechanism of evolution. The neo-Darwinian approaches that Prum and Brush complain about are scenarios proposed by other researchers.

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Augray wrote:

Assumptions about the path that evolution took to produce flight feathers get in the way of investigations to determine the route that was actually taken. This would be similar to your assumption of front-loading, since such a belief would bring research in this area to a halt.

I’m not sure why this would bring research to a halt. Whether you believe Darwinism the better explanation of ‘evolution’, or whether you believe that ID is the better explanation, BOTH accept the “fact” of ‘evolution’; that is, that organic forms have changed over time as is evidenced by the fossil record. IDists don’t question that. (YEC do. So take that argument up with them.) So, “changing forms” is a given, either way.

Actually, most IDists seem to have a enormous problem with the idea that “organic forms have changed over time”. Jonathan Wells does, and you seem too as well. You stated that “Caudipteryx causes more problems for evolutionary theory than if it weren’t there” but I fail to see why it would cause any less of a problem for the idea that “organic forms have changed over time”.

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Now, given that we, as humans, are curious animals, it is only natural for us to ask questions about how these changes came about. Now, if I really believed that God brought about every species directly—then there is nothing to investigate. But if, instead, I believe that God in some way “infused” his intelligence into organic forms as they developed over time (a view that I, more or less, take), then I am still naturally curious as to what “mechanisms” He may have employed. And finding out the various “steps” that were taken, trying to sort out the interrelationship between these steps, is still of great interest. We might not, as humans, be able to “know” everything; but why not try and find out as much as we can? So, I don’t see why ID brings things to a halt. Will there be places where “forms” are “irreducibly complex”? Yes, there will be? Will that prove that God exists? Well, so far it hasn’t.

So, what line of investigation would you recommend?

BlastfromthePast wrote:

So why will it in the future? After all, faith is a gift. If we don’t want it, we can always throw it away ( to our sorrow).

What does that have to do with anything?

Comment #45956

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on August 31, 2005 6:28 PM (e)

But you seem to have no problem citing them. Could it be that you don’t really understand the issues involved?

Dude, he never even **heard** of _Caudipteryx_ until *I* told him about it. Right after he finished telling me all about his, uh, “extensive study of evolution”. (snicker) (giggle) (howls of laughter)

Comment #45963

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on August 31, 2005 7:10 PM (e)

To give Blast a hint as to why “protofeathers” (that is, long, thin, tubular structures that cover the body) are selectable (note - this is just one possibility), he might want to look up the reason why polar bears are white (or occasionally green).

Comment #45972

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 31, 2005 8:04 PM (e)

Yo, Blast, how does it help either your ID or your “front-loading” “theories” if Caudipteryx, as an assertedly ancient flightless bird, lies between dinosaur-birds and modern birds? (Instead of between on the feathered-dino side of the dino-bird transition?) It’s still a “transitional” fossil that represents evolution in action either way, right?

In any event, the latest thinking seems to be coming back around towards a feathered-dino interpretation:
http://app.pan.pl/acta50/app50-101.pdf
Dyke, G.J. and Norell, M.A. 2005, Caudipteryx as a non-avialan theropod rather than a flightless bird, Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 50 (1): 101-115.

To return to the larger question again: how does a dispute between evolutionary biologists as to where exactly in the scheme of things Caudipteryx fits benefit someone who doesn’t believe that evolution mechanisms, acting alone (i.e., without external assists from “design mechanisms”–like front-loading?), can generate significant change between species and lineages. I mean, either Caudipteryx is an example of how theropod dinosaurs evolved feathers and (some of them, eventually) flight or it’s an example of how the quite-recently-evolved feathered and flying birds–wherever they came from–were then able to quite quickly re-evolve into flightless forms to opportunistically fill ground-living opportunities.

And, once you’ve chewed on that one awhile, why don’t you get around to telling us how we would recognize “front-loading” anywhere you claim it occurs? SuperMice. Caudipteryx. I don’t care, just anywhere you like…

Comment #46302

Posted by BlastfromthePast on September 2, 2005 7:24 PM (e)

Augray wrote:

But you seem to have no problem citing them. Could it be that you don’t really understand the issues involved?

If you search this post, you’ll see that it wasn’t I who brought up Caudipteryx. Rather, Lenny Flank, the broken record that he is, raised the issue again—left over from another post. There he wanted to insinuate that Caudipteryx was a “missing link.” My reply, including the citations, simply indicates that that is not so. As Gould and Olsen argued, and as Feduccia argues as well, Caudipteryx falls within the bird lineage. They certainly don’t consider it a “missing link.” When I asked you, point-blank, if you thought it was a “missing link”, you basically ‘punted’. You said that the term is “rather outdated, if not downright misleading.” Well, why don’t you tell Lenny Flank that. I would appreciate it.

Now, from your posts, I would take you for a ‘cladist.’ I’m sure you have plenty of arguing you want to do with Feduccia et. al. about “ghost lineages” and such, and so, as I said earlier, I’ll leave it to the experts to argue their points.

Augray wrote:

On what basis do you claim that all the information for the modern bird feather was “present at the beginning”? Prum and Brush state that:

Prum and Brush:

feathers were “exapted” for their aerodynamic function only after the evolution of substantial developmental and structural complexity. That is, they evolved for some other purpose and were then exploited for a different use.

BlastfromthePast wrote:

On the basis of the Prum and Brush having to invent a word, “exapted.” We don’t even know what the word means. Obviously it is related to “adapted”, but what does it really mean. The authors are forced to invent the word because ordinary Darwinian “assumptions” couldn’t explain the “proto” feathers that they had to deal with.”

Augray then wrote:

When you state that “We don’t even know what the word means” are you using the royal “we”? Because I’m familiar with the term, even if you’re not. Take a look at this explanation. See also Kevin Vicklund’s comment.

Well, the reason I used the royal “we”, is exactly because Prum and Brush used quotation marks. That’s a bit unusual if the word is already in use. I certainly hadn’t heard it before. I see that Gould is attributed with its coining. (More on that later.)

Augray wrote:

BlastfromthePast wrote:

The possibility of “front-loading” becomes evident when you consider that if the “proto” feather had not started out as a tubular structure, this would have precluded the emergence of the modern feather. The question then is: how did Nature know that the modern feather was coming?

Why on Earth do you assume that Nature knew that the modern feather was coming?

I addressed that issue in what followed. You simply broke up my response into two pieces.

I wrote:

The answer evades the question as to “why” the ‘tubular’ structure arose in the first place. If the purpose was evident, we can be sure the authors would have told us about it. So their answer is basically, “We know the ‘proto’ feather didn’t arise specifically for flight. It was simply later ‘exapted’. Yet, we don’t really know why ‘proto’ feathers arose.” So, it is an argument from ignorance. Therefore, the authors simply “believe” that there indeed was a “selective” pressure present bringing about the “proto” feather, but they, nevetheless, don’t KNOW why.

Augray, in response, wrote:

I would point out that you don’t KNOW either. So far, all I’ve seen from you is the assertion that feathers were front-loaded. And now the obvious question is: why? At least Prum and Brush outline scenarios that can be tested, and in fact, have been tested. What tests do you propose to test your claim of front-loading?

When asked about an example of “front-loading”, I went out on a limb (pardon the pun), and answered that I thought the evolution of the feather represented such an example. Do I KNOW that it does? No. But there is a logic to it that simplifies this thorny problem for Darwinian theory.

I’m now going to go back to Gould’s word ‘exaption.’ Here’s what Gould says about it in his 1982 article with Vrba: “Exaptive possibilities define the ‘internal’ contribution that organisms make to their own evolutionary future.” “Internal” contribution: how interesting! In other words, unlike NS, which acts, supposedly, from the outside to in, ‘exaption’ works from the inside to out.

And here’s what Prum and Brush wrote in their article:

Prum and Brush wrote:

As a consequence of duplication and direction, the same mechanisms that produce the main vane of the feather result in the division of the posterior new barb locus into two laterally displaced new barb loci, the creation of a second rachis ridge (the hyporachis), and ultimately an entire second vane growing simultaneously
from a single follicle.

The “same mechanisms” that produce the main vane ALSO bring about: (1) the division of the posterior new barb locus, (2) the creation of a second rachis ridge, and (3) an entire second vane growing simultaneously from a single follicle. This has the hallmark of what “front-loading” might look like.

Now what is really suggestive is that the feather continues to be a “tubular” structure, meaning that the germs, barbs, barbules, etc. are ALL “tubular” in nature. And, of course, this is what is PRECISELY needed for feathered flight. So, what is “needed” for feathered flight is there from the BEGINNING and CONTINUES throughout.

As for testing, this remains to be done–and it awaits the proper technology. One can only confirm this “front-loading” by comparing genomes. And one can only begin to compare genomes when one has a good idea of what to look for. I don’t think we’re close to that for the time being.

Augray wrote:

And speaking of arguments from ignorance, ID is entirely an argument from ignorance. IDists can’t imagine how everyday natural forces could shape life, so there must have been a designer.

What a wonderful quote! Yes, you’re right. Indeed, IDists CAN’T imagine how everyday natural forces can shape life; but Darwinists CAN. If you want to equate “imaginings” with “knowledge”, then go right ahead. But such ‘imaginings’ don’t impress me; they don’t even make sense to me.

Augray wrote:

How does materialism present problems for front-loading? After all, extraterrestrials might have front-loaded the feather. The problem with your front-loading claim is that it’s unparsimonious. Why invoke an extra agent when none is needed?

As Prum and Brush point out, to make Darwinian theory work here with the feathers, you have to use their ‘developmental’ model. They say that there are five stages, more or less, to the development of the feather. If “flight” isn’t the ‘adaptive’ reason for the development, we are now forced to look for four more ‘adaptive’ reasons–other than flight–for the development of the feather. Of course, this is not only not easy, it is very, very unparsimonious. (I think Feduccia points out some of the problems with positing other preadaptive selective pressures.)

Augray wrote:

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Augray wrote:

Also, Prum and Brush do not state that Darwinian mechanisms caused them problems. Rather, they claim that neo-Darwinian approaches to the origin of feathers get in the way of determining their true origins.

This strikes me as a distinction without a difference. Remember, they had to invent a new word.

It’s a huge distinction. “Darwinian mechanisms” refers to a purported mechanism of evolution. The neo-Darwinian approaches that Prum and Brush complain about are scenarios proposed by other researchers.

Well, let me allow Prum and Brush to speak directly. This is what they wrote:

Prum and Brush wrote:

By emphasizing the reconstruction of a series of functionally and microevolutionarily plausible intermediate transitional states, neo-Darwinian approaches to the origin of feathers have failed to appropriately recognize the novel features of feather development and morphology, and have thus failed to adequately explain their origins. This failure reveals an inherent weakness of neo-Darwinian attempts to synthesize micro and macroevolution.”

Notice the word “synthesize.” Let me point out that “front-loading” does not have this problem. It not only is more parsimonious, but it is integrated, thus avoiding the problems of ‘exaption.’

Augray wrote:

Actually, most IDists seem to have a enormous problem with the idea that “organic forms have changed over time”. Jonathan Wells does, and you seem too as well. You stated that “Caudipteryx causes more problems for evolutionary theory than if it weren’t there” but I fail to see why it would cause any less of a problem for the idea that “organic forms have changed over time”.

The fossil record makes clear that forms have changed over time. I think the vast majority of IDists see it that way. As to me, when I said that Caudipteryx causes more problems than if it weren’t there, I probably misspoke. (But remember I was simply making an argument against Lenny Flank and his assertion of Caudipteryx as a ‘missing link.’)

I only have a passing interest and passing knowledge of that area. But from what I picked up here and there, my distinct impression was that having more forms than Archeopteryx, surprisingly, created more taxonomic problems than it solved. I think that’s still the case from what I’ve read lately. And I’m not necessarily speaking about Caudipteryx here.

Augray wrote:

So, what line of investigation would you recommend?

There’s an article in the latest issue of The Scientist by Philip S. Skell where he writes about having canvassed the many scientists he knows who work in evolutionary biology and asking them how important Darwin’s theory was in their research. Almost universally they said that it was of no help at all. Whether you “believe” in neo-Darwinism or in ID, the same basic research goes on. So, I would simply say: “Let them carry on with what they’re doing.” But why can’t they begin to approach their experiments differently by simply asking themselves the question: “If I were designing this organism, this organ, this molecular system–whatever–,how would I have built it? In some cases, surely not in all, this might just prove to be fruiful. It would seem that “science” would be the winner.

Comment #46306

Posted by ts (not Tim) on September 2, 2005 8:01 PM (e)

And speaking of arguments from ignorance, ID is entirely an argument from ignorance. IDists can’t imagine how everyday natural forces could shape life, so there must have been a designer.

What a wonderful quote! Yes, you’re right. Indeed, IDists CAN’T imagine how everyday natural forces can shape life; but Darwinists CAN. If you want to equate “imaginings” with “knowledge”, then go right ahead. But such ‘imaginings’ don’t impress me; they don’t even make sense to me.

The knowledge claim, explicitly, is “natural forces cannot have shaped the life we see”. What you are stating here is that, not only are you too dense to understand how they can, but you are too dense to understand what an argument from ignorance is or why it’s fallacious. Given that, it is guaranteed that no one’s attempt to explain it to you will get through.

Comment #46310

Posted by BlastfromthePast on September 2, 2005 8:21 PM (e)

Steviepinhead wrote:

why don’t you get around to telling us how we would recognize “front-loading” anywhere you claim it occurs? SuperMice. Caudipteryx. I don’t care, just anywhere you like…

I neither claimed that Caudipteryx is an example of “front-loading”, nor did I claim that the SuperMice was. The “feather” is a different matter. You can read my posts to Augray for that.

Steviepinhead wrote:

Yo, Blast, how does it help either your ID or your “front-loading” “theories” if Caudipteryx, as an assertedly ancient flightless bird, lies between dinosaur-birds and modern birds? (Instead of between on the feathered-dino side of the dino-bird transition?) It’s still a “transitional” fossil that represents evolution in action either way, right?

In any event, the latest thinking seems to be coming back around towards a feathered-dino interpretation:

The problem with Darwinism is that there aren’t enough “transitional” fossils. That’s why, it seems to me, that you either buy into punk-eek, (but there are now problems with neo-Darwinism and the whole idea that “random” “mutations” (which are almost always deleterious) can bring about significant change) or, something like ID. As I’ve stated plenty of times, I’m not so much “for” ID, as I am “against” Darwinism. I do, indeed, think and believe that God was involved. But I believe He did it in such a way that it will be hard for us to “clearly” see how He did it. If God made his handiwork ‘overly’ apparent, then there would be no reason for faith since our reason would demand that we believe. (This is a theological argument for sure; but what I’m trying to say is that science has its own provenance, and that provenance needs to be respected.)

As to “Dino-birds”, I think Alan Feduccia has a very strong argument against the theory. He seems to be hated for holding that position, but his argumentation seems awful sound.

Comment #46402

Posted by BlastfromthePast on September 3, 2005 3:47 PM (e)

ts (not Tim) wrote:

The knowledge claim, explicitly, is “natural forces cannot have shaped the life we see”. What you are stating here is that, not only are you too dense to understand how they can, but you are too dense to understand what an argument from ignorance is or why it’s fallacious. Given that, it is guaranteed that no one’s attempt to explain it to you will get through.

I aspire to be plenty smart like you some day. But, in the meantime, let’s point out two things:

First: I was likening Augray’s “imaginings” to HIS “knowings”. I was not asserting an argument from ignorance. I was asserting the insufficiency of mixing the one with the other–even if one is not aware that that is what he’s doing.

Second: If you want to talk about arguments from ignorance, then we have these two positions:
(a) the IDist says to the Darwinist: “You’re notion that mostly harmful minute changes can randomly combine in some unknown way to bring about advanced biological structures is absurd.”
(b) the Darwinist says to the IDist: “You’re notion that some unseen intelligent power has brought about advanced biological structures is absurd.”

In this stand-off, (b) is much more plausible than (a).

Comment #46403

Posted by PvM on September 3, 2005 3:54 PM (e)

Blast, perhaps you should not focus too much on strawmen. Btw why is b more plausible than a? Where are the calculations?