Ed Brayton posted Entry 1596 on October 22, 2005 12:22 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1591

One of the interesting segments of the Michael Behe cross examination begins on page 42 of the Day12AM transcript, and it concerns a paper that Behe wrote with David Snoke. That paper, called Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Feature that Requires Multiple Amino Acid Residues, was based upon a computer simulation that attempted to answer the question of how long it would take cumulative point mutations in a single gene to produce a new trait - the interaction of two proteins - requiring a change in multiple amino acid residues if there was no selective advantage to preserve any of the individual mutations until they were all present and the final result was fully functional. For Behe, this is a simple example of irreducible complexity:

Thus in order for a protein that did not have a disulfide bond to evolve one, several changes in the same gene have to occur. Thus in a sense, the disulfide bond is irreducibly complex, although not really to the same degree of complexity as systems made of multiple proteins.

This paper has been lauded by ID advocates as an excellent example of ID-stimulated research. The DI has listed it as an example of genuine peer reviewed research that supports ID. William Dembski has declared that Behe and Snoke’s research “may well be the nail in the coffin [and] the crumbling of the Berlin wall of Darwinian evolution.” Unfortunately for them, this paper didn’t hold up well under questioning during the Dover trial.

Continue reading Behe Disproves Irreducible Complexity at Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

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Comment #53184

Posted by John Timmer on October 22, 2005 12:48 PM (e)

So the funny thing is that Behe even pointed out during the cross examination that some of the math necessary to make the argument ludicrous is in the Behe and Snoke paper. He specifically noted that calculations were also done for the entire annual prokaryotic population of the earth. Based on the math presented there, it appears that this sort of mutation combination could arise about 10^14 times a year, or something like 100 trillion times a year. Really “nail in the coffin” sort of stuff, that.

Comment #53189

Posted by bill on October 22, 2005 1:21 PM (e)

The Intelligent Designer must be a pretty busy fellow, then, just keeping up with bacteria.

I don’t think even Santa Claus moves that fast.

Comment #53190

Posted by Shirley Knott on October 22, 2005 1:22 PM (e)

This just cries out for some non-banned person to post on Dembski’s site with a question as to the correctness of the math ;-)

hugs,
Shirley Knott

Comment #53192

Posted by Steve LaBonne on October 22, 2005 1:52 PM (e)

What. A. Maroon. Sheesh. Best argument against tenure I’ve ever seen. My sympathy goes out to the real biologists at Lehigh who are stuck with this terminally embarrassing colleague.

Comment #53194

Posted by AR on October 22, 2005 2:13 PM (e)

I know of a number of cases when a tenured professor was kicked out for some transgressions. In one case a middle-aged professor was accused by a few female students of “ogling” them in a swimming pool. Behe’s behavior is, to my mind, immensely more obscene and harmful. His colleagues at Lehigh will surely not touch him, as they are too busy with real research to spend energy on getting rid of a rotten apple.

Comment #53197

Posted by Dave Cerutti on October 22, 2005 3:48 PM (e)

Just because they said he was staring at them?! That sounds like the straw that broke the camel’s back. There must have been a lot of other things he’d done that they were all just itching to get him for something.

Comment #53200

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 22, 2005 4:07 PM (e)

If elephants reproduce, on average, every four or five years, is that one new sulfide bond in, what, 100,000 years? And so why don’t bacteria become some other species right before our eyes?

Comment #53202

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 22, 2005 4:10 PM (e)

If elephants reproduce, on average, every four or five years, is that one new sulfide bond in, what, 100,000 years? And so why don’t bacteria become some other species right before our eyes?

You’re babbling again, Blast.

Comment #53203

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 22, 2005 4:15 PM (e)

If elephants reproduce, on average, every four or five years

Well, I see that Blast knows as much about elephants as he does about … well . . everything else.

(snicker) (giggle)

Comment #53204

Posted by Troy Britain on October 22, 2005 4:19 PM (e)

Forget about a ton of soil:

It has been calculated that the normal human houses about 10^12 bacteria on the skin, 10^10 in the mouth, and 10^14 in the gastrointestinal tract. The latter number is far in excess of the number of eukaryotic cells in all organs which comprise the human host.

Source: http://textbookofbacteriology.net/normalflora.html

Comment #53206

Posted by Steve S on October 22, 2005 4:32 PM (e)

Indeed, if you calculate the numbers, Behe’s paper implies that this particular irreducibly complex structure probably evolves naturally more than once a day on Planet Earth.

Great Job, Behe! Really destroyed Darwin there.

Comment #53214

Posted by Jeremy on October 22, 2005 6:45 PM (e)

This just cries out for some non-banned person to post on Dembski’s site with a question as to the correctness of the math ;-)

I’m not banned. I post under the name “higgity.”

Comment #53218

Posted by Joel Sax on October 22, 2005 7:08 PM (e)

I’d post but I am no good at math….still, just reading this article I can see major flaws in Behe’s approach….if a poet can do it, why can’t a friggin’ creationist?

Comment #53222

Posted by Michael Hopkins on October 22, 2005 7:15 PM (e)

Great post.

Put in one more thing for this nice debunking of Behe: He is trying to simulate the evolution of a disulfide bond. In addition to Behe’s absurdly small bacterial populution, ignoring all forms genetic change besides point mutation, and looking at short period of time, I would question Behe on another crucial and often missed point. what reason is there that bacterial could not have evolved something else besides a disulfide bond? Maybe they could have evolved a different form of chemistry. There are many ways to evolve something “better.” To calculate the odds of only one particular solution is just plain silly. (And on a similiar note, how can one figure out every possible way that life use chemistry to form disulfide bonds?)

Comment #53229

Posted by bill on October 22, 2005 7:50 PM (e)

Here’s a question for Blast.

My cat and I are sitting on the back deck enjoying the sunset. Golden rays and all that stuff. We both spot a mockingbird on the hedge showing his stuff.

The question is this:

Who has been evolving longer, me or my cat?

It should be an easy question for Blast to answer.

Now, the Bonus Question has to do with the bacteria on the soles of my flip-flops and the pads of my cat’s feet. Again, which has been evolving longer?

Over to you Blastgenius.

Comment #53230

Posted by Jane Shevtsov on October 22, 2005 8:03 PM (e)

Behe’s question wasn’t even interesting! I mean, it just looks like the neutral theory of molecular evolution. Not exactly news.

Comment #53238

Posted by Steve S on October 22, 2005 9:09 PM (e)

Exactly, Mike H.

Comment #53240

Posted by Don S on October 22, 2005 9:15 PM (e)

Over on the post at “Dispatches” he summarizes Behe as confirming his work to say, among other things, that it would take just 20,000 years for a “necessary” mutation IF you assume a population of bacteria on the entire earth that is 7 orders of magnitude less than the number of bacteria in a single ton of soil.

So, if I did the math right, that would be the population of bacteria in three 1000ths of an ounce of soil. Isn’t that way less than a single grain of sand, or so?

This is hilarious.

Comment #53243

Posted by Dave Cerutti on October 22, 2005 9:42 PM (e)

But, Mike H. (who correctly surmises that most of New Mexico is a placeholder for American territory and a substrate for gas stations)!

Your argument opens the way for Behe to make an “Earthquake” move! The cytosol is typically a reducing environment. Taking this into account (with some number that is accurate in some particular case, neglecting whether it is valid given the evidence that disulfide bonds DO form in the cytosol), one might arrive at the conclusion that the evolution of a disulfide bond is a PHYSICAL IMPOSSIBILITY! This evidence would invalidate Behe’s study, but it would also be another way to cast doubt on biological evolution, which, of course, is Behe’s purpose.

Comment #53245

Posted by Dave Cerutti on October 22, 2005 9:52 PM (e)

But, in general, one thing that needs to be mentioned here is the point made emphatically by Michael Lynch in his reply / couterstudy to Behe in September’s Protein Science issue: that Behe wasn’t studying a Darwinian evolutionary process in his attempts to probe the limits of Darwinian evolution!

One of the local ID guys I talk with was really sand-bagging on the issue of the Behe article. On the one hand, he realized that there were valid criticisms, but on the other, he had to dig at me that I hadn’t researched the article thoroughly enough for myself. Firstly, I feel like the guiding notion of his argument is that anything that a particular person can’t disprove without consulting other experts must be true, or at least that particular person must conclude it to be true. Then, things got really off the wall when he made an aggressive argument that

(paraphrase)
“now that this is out there in the literature, I’d expect to see more than just a web-blog (which isn’t peer-reviewed and whose contributors are not real scientists) respond to this. But, that hasn’t happened. Where are the rebuttals?”

He made that allegation in September of 2004, one month after the paper had been made available online. Michael Lynch’s study was received by Protein Science in October of 2004.

Comment #53263

Posted by Jaime Headden on October 23, 2005 12:55 AM (e)

When will someone point out that Behe’s “unselected steps” are imaginary? He has to asusme that any point mutation until a new binding site is formed cannot be selected for for any other option, but can only operate to build toward the unrealized disulfide binding site. This is a MAJOR flaw in his reasoning, and for the whole paper, that adds to the long litany of improbabilities to make IC work.

Comment #53264

Posted by Dave Cerutti on October 23, 2005 1:03 AM (e)

Jaime,

Are you suggesting that he assumed his own concept of irreducible complexity for the purpose of demonstrating the existence of irreducible complexity, and in so doing disproved the existence of irreducible complexity in this case?

Hmmm….

Comment #53275

Posted by Jaime Headden on October 23, 2005 5:13 AM (e)

He had to assume that to disprove evolution and use successive point mutations, only the end result is valid for there to be a Crea—er, Designer. Thus, only the end result can be true and the Designer’s “hand” seen in the successive point mutations which “don’t work.” Thus, IC is TRUE! Indeed, he’s not shown how these successive steps are NOT selectable, but how to test that? Hmmm. We’ve already seen gradation in cellular secretion systems into flagella and how intermediate models are not only found in nature, but WORKING, and doing things unexpected of non-flagellar “reduced” secretion systems. And, not only is it possible to make a two-legged stool, you can make a ONE-legged stool work just as well. Selection, to make these work, would only have to alter the shapes of the legs, so a two legged stool can be acheived by warping the legs to support the center of gravity, and a one legged stool need only increase the leg’s “girth” to prevent distortion under pressure; since we see both of these in place, by simple logical exaptation, why can we not see it in pre-existing forms today, and inferring their nature in the unseen past? This is why Behe is a fatuo— is wrong.

Comment #53280

Posted by Michael Hopkins on October 23, 2005 7:41 AM (e)

Dave Cerutt wrote:

But, Mike H. (who correctly surmises that most of New Mexico is a placeholder for American territory and a substrate for gas stations)!

I surmised what?

Comment #53286

Posted by Keith Douglas on October 23, 2005 9:16 AM (e)

This issue illustrates the importance of numeracy for scientific literacy. It is amazing what rough calculation can do to inform us about the world.

(Also, happy mole day everyone.)

Comment #53289

Posted by Aristotle on October 23, 2005 11:15 AM (e)

No you blooming idiots, your math is wrong. The reslut is just the opposite. Behe is proving that bacteria “evolve” a new trait every trillion years or so.

Comment #53290

Posted by Democritus on October 23, 2005 11:24 AM (e)

Because I doubt Aristotle is your real name, I decided to use the name Democritus. I hope you can taste the irony. Anyway, would you like to prove your argument, for this isn’t a Greek congregation your talking to, were your influence proves whether you’re right or wrong. This is modern day science we are talking about. Your answer must be backed up by evidence, or is that too hard to conceive? Besides, you spelled result wrong.

Comment #53291

Posted by Aristotle on October 23, 2005 11:26 AM (e)

Your math is wrong because God is not on your side. Your sacreligious acts must stop, you are impedeing the rights of others. Chew on that Democritus.

Comment #53292

Posted by Democritus on October 23, 2005 11:31 AM (e)

How can you reason like that? “Your math is wrong because God is not on your side”? May I ask how old you are? Or are you some stupid kid without understanding of scientific process? Your arguments have no support, baseless. This style of debate is all too common with creationists like you. Again, how can you reason like that? You are just another example of why we should not teach ID in schools. I hope someone bans you from this site.

Comment #53296

Posted by Flint on October 23, 2005 11:54 AM (e)

I enjoyed the exchange, myself. Behe made as many demonstrably false assumptions as he could find, to stack the deck in his favor as much as possible, and irreducible complexity STILL failed miserably. I trust the judge saw the moral of this story: religious imposition on science fails even when they cheat!

Comment #53297

Posted by Alan on October 23, 2005 11:56 AM (e)

Jeremy wrote:

I’m not banned. I post under the name “higgity.”

I can only see three posts from you starting here. Try asking a few awkward questions and see if you get answers. If you feel you are being ignored, that will be because only you can see your posts. ;p

Comment #53299

Posted by Alan on October 23, 2005 11:58 AM (e)

Sorry, four.

Comment #53303

Posted by Bob O'H on October 23, 2005 1:39 PM (e)

I’ve just nominated Behe and Mr. Rothschild (the plaintiffs’ lawyer) for an IgNobel for this. Although I’m guessing only one of them would turn up to the ceremony.

Bob

Comment #53305

Posted by Steve S on October 23, 2005 2:06 PM (e)

It’s a new result in Quantum Mechanics. A system can be Irreducibly Complex, and not Irreducibly Complex, at the same time.

|psi> = 1/(Sqrt[2])*(|IC> + |notIC>)

Comment #53306

Posted by K.E. on October 23, 2005 2:16 PM (e)

Strangely enough the Bhudda said that
“something can be true and false at the same time”
I guess he was thinking of Quantum Mechanics
or maybe about the delivery of a pzza:>

Comment #53355

Posted by Dave Cerutti on October 23, 2005 6:05 PM (e)

Oh, sorry Mike. That’s what many people some to think about New Mexico. When you said you’ve flown over it, I mistakenly inferred that opinion. It is largely correct, though.

Comment #53379

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 23, 2005 8:21 PM (e)

Bill wrote:

Now, the Bonus Question has to do with the bacteria on the soles of my flip-flops and the pads of my cat’s feet. Again, which has been evolving longer?

Over to you Blastgenius.

Well, Bill, I can see you’re a real genius. If the bacteria on the soles of your bacteria is still bacteria, then obviously it hasn’t been evolving, has it.

And as for you and the cat, if you keep talking, I think I’ll pick the cat.

Comment #53387

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 23, 2005 8:34 PM (e)

RDLenny Flank wrote:

BlastfromthePast wrote:

If elephants reproduce, on average, every four or five years…

Well, I see that Blast knows as much about elephants as he does about … well . . everything else.

(snicker) (giggle)

Lenny, again, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Would you like to apologize?

“Females give birth at intervals of about every 5 years.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephants#Reproduction

Comment #53391

Posted by Steve S on October 23, 2005 8:40 PM (e)

You know Blast, given your beliefs, you should go into biology immediately. If 99% of the biologists in the world are committed to a totally unworkable idea, it will eventually collapse. And if you are so smart that without formal training in evolutionary biology, you can see through it, you are capable of leading the charge. You could really make a name for yourself by being at the forefront of a revolution which overturns 140 years of biology.

Comment #53392

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 23, 2005 8:45 PM (e)

er, since Blast is so dense, perhaps you should point out that it wasn’t the actual birth interval of elephants that lenny was commenting on, rather that Blast’s conclusion using that statistic was so far out as to be considered “blithering”

that clearer for ya, there, blasty?

Comment #53397

Posted by Steve S on October 23, 2005 9:13 PM (e)

It will be a glorious world after the ID revolution. Dembski will be professor at Harvard, Paul Nelson will head up CalTech’s bio department. Charlie Wagner will have an office at MIT.

Any day now.

Comment #53424

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 24, 2005 12:02 AM (e)

Sir Toejam wrote:

that clearer for ya, there, blasty?

Why don’t you let Lenny speak for himself. You’ve become a jackass just like Lenny. Congratulations.

Comment #53427

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 24, 2005 12:06 AM (e)

heee-hawwww

you do bring out the worst in me, but i doubt many blame me.

I’m sure lenny will speak for himself, if he cares to. sorry for trying to point out the obvious to you yet again.

please, feel free to chew on your own appendages ad-infinitum

Comment #53428

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 24, 2005 12:08 AM (e)

Steve S wrote:

And if you are so smart that without formal training in evolutionary biology, you can see through it, you are capable of leading the charge. You could really make a name for yourself by being at the forefront of a revolution which overturns 140 years of biology.

It’s not necessary, Steve. Every second that ticks by, every experiment that is conducted, gets us closer to the day that Darwinism will be seen for the dead weight that it is. I’m busy doing other things, thank you.

And by the way, is the only argumentation you’re capable of on this blog nothing but ad hominem‘s?

Comment #53429

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 24, 2005 12:12 AM (e)

still don’t want to prove to us you even know basic biology, eh blast?

my challenge to you still stands.

how would lenny put it?

put up or shut up.

Comment #53433

Posted by sanjait on October 24, 2005 1:25 AM (e)

“Every second that ticks by, every experiment that is conducted, gets us closer to the day that Darwinism will be seen for the dead weight that it is.”

I’m not sure if you actually believe this Blast, or are just trying to appear confident since nobody here agrees with you, but I can promise you this isn’t the case. Nobody is producing any experimental results that significantly challenge modern evolutionary theory. I suppose I can’t speak for the whole universe of science on this matter, but as recently as this June, at the American Society of Microbiology annual meeting in Atlanta, where 20,000 microbiologists come to present and discuss their findings, there was substantial work that both utilized and buttressed evolutionary theory, and absolutely none that did the opposite.

The DI and other ID groups like to tell the lay public about an upcoming scientific revolution that is brewing under the surface, but it just isn’t happening. That isn’t a debatable subjective analysis, it’s a fact. We continue to conduct our research with the precepts of evolutionary theory in mind, and we continue to make observations that correlate with, elucidate and support those precepts. Behe’s paper, a computer model with absurd assumptions, is a joke. And that’s the closest the DI even has to a real research paper. They have nothing, which is why scientists alternately laugh, cry, or respond with consternation at ID. It’s insubstantial and unsubstantiated simultaneously. I hope that helps Blast, have a nice evening.

Comment #53458

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 24, 2005 8:10 AM (e)

Lenny, again, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

And yet, *I* am the one who taught *YOU* about _Caudipteryx_, _Pakicetus_, Waddington, and Bladwin.

If *I* “don’t know what I am talking about”, and I am TEAHCING YOU, what does that say for YOU, Blast …. ?

Not terribly bright, are ya, buddy ….

Comment #53459

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 24, 2005 8:13 AM (e)

It’s not necessary, Steve. Every second that ticks by, every experiment that is conducted, gets us closer to the day that Darwinism will be seen for the dead weight that it is.

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

And by the way, is the only argumentation you’re capable of on this blog nothing but ad hominem‘s?

No Blast, we can also point out things like “snake venoms don’t supoport your frontloading crap”. Then we can point out that your cut-and-pasted abstract that you didn’t even understand, demonstrates that you are wrong.

Alas, whenever we do that, you seem to run away.

Have you found any cobra toxin genes in a garter snake yet, Blast?

Why not?

(snicker) (giggle)

Thanks for showing all the lurkers, yet again, that ID simply has nothing scientifically useful to say.

Comment #53485

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on October 24, 2005 11:10 AM (e)

BlastfromthePast wrote:

If elephants reproduce, on average, every four or five years, is that one new sulfide bond in, what, 100,000 years? And so why don’t bacteria become some other species right before our eyes?

…and later…

Well, Bill, I can see you’re a real genius. If the bacteria on the soles of your bacteria is still bacteria, then obviously it hasn’t been evolving, has it.

And as for you and the cat, if you keep talking, I think I’ll pick the cat.

The answer to the last question in your first quote is that we are seeing bacteria become new species right before your eyes. Your problem, as evidenced by the second quote, is that you don’t understand what a bacteria is.

Here is a basic lesson on classification. The listing is given in order from broadest to most specific.

Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
Species

Where on that list do you think bacteria as a classification fall? To give you some perspective, humans are a species, hominids are a family, mammals are a class, and animals are a kingdom.

Comment #53492

Posted by Henry J on October 24, 2005 11:59 AM (e)

Lenny,
Re “If *I* “don’t know what I am talking about”, and I am TEAHCING YOU, what does that say for YOU, Blast … . ?”

But how much confidence in the teacher do we get from the observed result? ;)

W. Kevin Vicklund,
Re “Where on that list do you think bacteria as a classification fall?”

I thought bacteria was ranked as a “domain” - the one above kingdom.

Henry

Comment #53494

Posted by Steve S on October 24, 2005 12:06 PM (e)

And by the way, is the only argumentation you’re capable of on this blog nothing but ad hominem‘s?

Of course not. Watch, here’s a substantive argument against you:

“Blast thinks he’s smarter than the biology community, yet he lacks a high-schooler’s understanding of how to indicate plurals.”

Oops. Dangit.

Comment #53498

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 24, 2005 12:12 PM (e)

Lenny,
Re “If *I* “don’t know what I am talking about”, and I am TEAHCING YOU, what does that say for YOU, Blast … . ?”

But how much confidence in the teacher do we get from the observed result? ;)

Hey, it’s not MY fault that my student is an idiot.

Ever hear the expression “casting pearls before swine”?

;>

Comment #53506

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on October 24, 2005 1:07 PM (e)

In some classification systems, domain has been adopted, but in others, it hasn’t (and in domain systems, it’s often prokaryote as domain, bacteria as kingdom). I was going for real basic concepts here to avoid confusing the poor guy.

Regardless, the point is, bacteria are classified at or near the broadest ranking short of life itself. “If animals are still animals, then obviously they aren’t evolving” is the equivalent to the argument Blast tries to use.

Comment #53611

Posted by kay on October 24, 2005 9:21 PM (e)

http://www.spiritplumber.com/change_over_time.html This is all I have to say about it. Hope Behe(n) won’t sue me…. :)

Comment #53621

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 24, 2005 11:03 PM (e)

RDLenny Flank wrote:

No Blast, we can also point out things like “snake venoms don’t supoport your frontloading crap”.

You did no such thing. You still don’t understand the argument I was making. And Lenny, there isn’t a thing you HAVE taught me–except you’re a man full of bile.

The remarks in response to my postings here are so pathetic and inept, it staggers the mind. What’s the average IQ here? 100?

Comment #53624

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 24, 2005 11:19 PM (e)

W. Kevin Vicklund wrote:

The answer to the last question in your first quote is that we are seeing bacteria become new species right before your eyes.

No need to be so patronizing. Are you an expert in bacteria? If you are, then perhaps you’re aware of the latest articles that are calling into question the whole idea of bacterial “species.” So I wouldn’t be so smug. And I wouldn’t call bacteria X changing to become bacteria Y evolution. I’d call it “change.” Bacteria becoming eukaryotic–well, that’s evolutionary. If you call ‘blowing your nose’ music–you’ll still never sell tickets.

Comment #53625

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 24, 2005 11:24 PM (e)

W. Kevin Vicklund wrote:

The answer to the last question in your first quote is that we are seeing bacteria become new species right before your eyes.

No need to be so patronizing. Are you an expert in bacteria? If you are, then perhaps you’re aware of the latest articles that are calling into question the whole idea of bacterial “species.” So I wouldn’t be so smug. And I wouldn’t call bacteria X changing to become bacteria Y evolution. I’d call it “change.” Bacteria becoming eukaryotic–well, that’s evolutionary.

You can call ‘blowing your nose’ music all you want…..but you’ll still never sell tickets.

Comment #53626

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 24, 2005 11:37 PM (e)

You still don’t understand the argument I was making

NOBODY understands what argument you are making, Blast, here, or anywhere else for that matter. Because your argument simply makes no sense, period.

we all read your posts, we all asked you appropriate questions, we all came to the same conclusions. It’s got nothing to do with any dogma, just simple logic.

It’s unfortunate you are unable to use logic yourself, but don’t blame us for your inherent mental limitations.

as for whether someone blowing their nose is music, i personally would probably find more meaning in a nose blowing solo than an entire opera composed from your drivel.

oh, and my challenge still goes unclaimed by you… when will you be able to show us you actually have any comprehension of basic biology or any of the other fields relating to evolutionary theory i asked you about?

please do list the titles of the overwhelming library of 6 texts you mentioned, so we can see if you actually understand what’s in the texts you claim to have read.

Really, Blast, rather than looking at the lastest articles you can scam from the abstracts in pubMed, you need to go back and read some basic biology texts first. You have made it clear time and time again that you don’t have the grounding necessary to put any of the articles you keep posting in context, let alone understand the content of them.

to paraphrase a movie villain: “Why do you persist, Mr. Anderson?”

why do you, Blast? with every paragraph you write, you bury yourself deeper and deeper in your own ignorance. It’s truly mind boggling.

Do you really want to keep putting your ignorance on parade for us over and over again?

Sorry to say, you’ve gone beyond being a running joke here, into near legendary status.

Comment #53627

Posted by Eugene Lai on October 24, 2005 11:55 PM (e)

to paraphrase a movie villain: “Why do you persist, Mr. Anderson?”

I suspect the answer in the movie applies equally well.

Comment #53648

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 25, 2005 7:12 AM (e)

No Blast, we can also point out things like “snake venoms don’t supoport your frontloading crap”.

You did no such thing.

Then show us the gene for cobra toxin ina garter snake, Blast.

What are you waiting for?

You still don’t understand the argument I was making.

Neither do you. (shrug)

And Lenny, there isn’t a thing you HAVE taught me

Don’t BS me, Blast.

The remarks in response to my postings here are so pathetic and inept, it staggers the mind. What’s the average IQ here? 100?

(sniffle) (sob) Boo hoo hoo.

Gee, Blast, if we’re just too stupid for you, why don’t you just leave and go somewhere else where your genius will be better appreciated?

Idiot.

Thanks for once again demonstrating to all the lurkers out there that ID simply has nothing scientifically useful to say.

Comment #53649

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 25, 2005 7:16 AM (e)

Are you an expert in bacteria?

BWA HA HA HA !!!!

Coming from YOU, of all people, Blast, that is pretty damn funny.

Tell us all again about the massive research YOU have done on evolution, Blast. (snicker) (giggle)

So I wouldn’t be so smug.

But Blast, you ARE. Insufferably so. Odd, for someone who has demonstrated no working knowledge of … well . . any area whatsoever.

And I wouldn’t call bacteria X changing to become bacteria Y evolution. I’d call it “change.”

Brilliant, Blast. Just brilliant.

No WONDER everyone thinks you are a pig-ignorant putz. (shrug)

Comment #53673

Posted by Uberhobo on October 25, 2005 11:37 AM (e)

From what I understand about disulfide bonds, they are largely there for structural reasons, except in cases where they are involved in some kind of electron shuttling reaction in enzymes. Disulfides often act as tielines between two different parts of a protein, holding it in a configuration that it might not take on otherwise.

I think a major flaw in Behe’s paper is that he appeared to have assumed a static model of a protein and waited for random point mutations to place two cysteine residues close enough to each other to form a disulfide bond. Nature simply doesn’t work that way. To form a disulfide bond, all you need in a protein is two sulfur containing amino acids that, sometime during the course of protein folding, come close enough to each other under the right conditions to form a disulfide bond. Proteins aren’t ready made in the forms that we typically see them in when we study them. They’re extruded like spaghetti from the ribosome, after which they fold.

Simulating this folding process is well beyond the scope of what science can do today, and not taking it into account in a simulation of protein evolution is either insultingly deceptive or just plain ignorant.

Comment #53674

Posted by Steve S on October 25, 2005 11:43 AM (e)

That’s correct. And there are other problems with Behe’s model. And someone here calculated that even with Behe’s model, that particular “Irreducibly Complex” structure would evolve naturally more than once a day.

In short, Michael Behe’s starting to look like the Homer Simpson of Biology

Comment #53675

Posted by Steve S on October 25, 2005 11:45 AM (e)

Homer Behe: Irreducibly Complex things can’t evolve.
Everyone: Look! Even your paper says they’d evolve all the time!
Homer Behe: Yep. Can’t evolve. (stares off into space, satisfied)

Comment #53682

Posted by Tyranosaurus on October 25, 2005 12:14 PM (e)

There is a site with lots of information about the theory of evolution and more. Most of the posters will know about it but here it goes again;
http://home.wxs.nl/~gkorthof/index.htm
Disclaimer: I am not related to this site at all, just found out about it recently.
There are sections with comments/critics on the books published (if you can count those books as honest publications) Behe, Denton, et al.

Comment #53683

Posted by Greg H on October 25, 2005 12:15 PM (e)

From http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9778236/

The school district is being represented by the Thomas More Law Center, a public-interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Mich., that says its mission is to defend the religious freedom of Christians.

I read this today, and thought I would delurk long enough to post it, as incredulous as it might sound. So..let me get this straight…Intelligent Design, a totally scientific, peer reviewed non-biased, in-no-way-related-to-any-religious-agenda, “theory” is being defended by a group whose “mission is to defend the religious freedom of Christians”?

I’m extremely confused. Admittedly, that isn’t hard to do some days, but this just seems a bit obvious. If it’s not religiously connected - why would it be at all related to the religious freedom of anyone?

To paraphrase C&C Music Factory…things that make you go What the hell?

Comment #53685

Posted by Tyranosaurus on October 25, 2005 12:27 PM (e)

Even his own “masterpiece”, Darwin’s Black Box, shows that his vauted IC is not a generally valid concept of falsificator of natural selection or neo-Darwinism, but that it applies in specific cases. However, he did not bother to address all other cases that are explainable by Darwinism. How is that for scientific honesty? No wonder the monicker Home Behe (thansk Steve S)applies so well in this case.

Comment #53686

Posted by Ved Rocke on October 25, 2005 12:29 PM (e)

Blast, you seem to be having trouble making some of your points to argue your own side. Let me help, you said:

If elephants reproduce, on average, every four or five years, is that one new sulfide bond in, what, 100,000 years?

Now, I’m assuming that here you’re trying to show that it takes a long time for a generation of elephants to occur because they breed slowly, much more slowly than bacteria. You even back up your claim with a Wiki link, and you quote a sentence that says:

Females give birth at intervals of about every 5 years.

Sure, the article says this, but this is not the info that you want to use to define how long it takes a generation of elephants to occur. You missed an opportunity to use a much larger number. Just before the quote you used it says:

Females (cows) reach sexual maturity at around 9-12 years of age and become pregnant for the first time, on average, around age 13.

Check.

An elephant’s gestation period lasts about 22 months (630-660 days), the longest gestation period of any mammal, after which one calf typically is born.

This means that even if a cow gets pregnant at 9, it’s calf won’t begin it’s life until almost 2 years later, when the mother is 11.

A little farther down it says:

Although males (bulls) reach sexual maturity around age 10, they often do not breed until they are about 30 when they become large and strong enough to compete successfully with other large bulls for the attention of females.

Now, because of the difference in breeding age between males and females it makes this data tricky to interpret, but, it’s easy to see that generations of elephants could occur at the very least every 11 years, not every 4 or 5. If the average female gets pregnant at 13, and it’s calf is born 2 years later, that makes the average generation occur every 15 years, not even counting the extra time it takes for breeding males to mature.

Does this help you understand why people are laughing at you?

Comment #53734

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 25, 2005 3:52 PM (e)

At the risk of sounding “smug”, and perhaps damaging my brain by attempting to extend myself into Blast’s, I’ll try to make Blast’s irrational argument for him, since he seems unable to speak clearly for himself. aside from the corrections in Blast’s “knowledge” of elephant generation times, I think it misses his “point” (note I’m just guessing here), that er, longer generation times mean slower evolution (to the point where by his estimation, you would never get sufficient mutation in a species with long generation times to ever see branching).

assuming this is actually his position, it would have been wise of him to ask a few questions, like:

Are Behe’s estimates of sulfide bond evolution in any way realistic when placed in the context of an actual cell?

A: no

Is Behe’s argument of sulfide bond creation even in any way applicable to organisms like elephants?

A: no

Assuming again the point in blast’s mind being that animals with long generation times simply wouldn’t show rapid enough mutations in order to “evolve”….

How much phenotypic change can occur from minor changes in genomic structure?

A: quite a bit, depending (remember those HOX genes?)
http://unisci.com/stories/20021/0207021.htm

Wouldn’t large changes be inherently lethal?

A: not necessarily (see above)

Once we get a random mutation, wouldn’t random selection take too long to cause branching based on that?

two part answer:

-selection itself is far from random (this is the part where you need to understand what selection agents are - check the www.talkorigins.org site)
-the relative strength of the selective agents working on the particular phenotypic change in question determine how fast the process proceeds. Branching can theoretically happen quite rapidly (and has actually been demonstrated to so in the field and in the lab many times)

and finally:

What is a species, then?

A: now that is a more interesting question, and one I’m sure blast would answer as: there are no species, hence his inability to see bacteria “evolving before his eyes into new species”. However, he does understand that mutation and selection produce CHANGE, so at least he is on the right tack, if not understanding that extending that process is what basically produces all variability on earth, regardless of how one defines “species” or any form of taxonomic heirarchy, for that matter.

Blast keeps touching on concepts and examples that actually are great cases in point supporting evolutionary theory (Hox genes, co-evolution, parrallel evolution, convergence, etc.), but he refuses to use his eyes to see, and instead appears to use his “gut” to try to intepret what he reads.

The problem with that approach is that one’s intuition is entirely based on what experiences and knowledge one has previously ammased. To those of us who have spent years studying and actually utilizing evolutionary theory in the lab and in the field, have seen the results, and have had our experiments shredded and reconstructed via peer review more times than we care to remember (for most of us :) ), out intuition is in complete agreement with evolutionary theory. It makes absolutely perfect sense to us, and fits with all the basic information gained from studying the pre-requisite biology, chemistry, mathematics, etc. However, if one has not really had exposure to these things, ones “intuition” would be entirely based on whatever experience comes to hand. if most of that experience is based on very religious parents and peers, with a decided lack of proper education in the sciences, then yeah, i could easily imagine that evolutionary theory might not look “intuitive”.

This is why i recommended to Blast (and others who view evolutionary theory as “non-intuitive” to spend some time learning about the basic science behind it first; in order to at least have sufficient knowledge, if not personal experience, to provide a substrate for one’s “intuition” to work from.

very few modern scientific theories would be viewed as “intuitive” out of the context of the basis for their development to begin with.

hence, that’s why the idea of a flat earth, and a geocentric universe hung on for so long. Without knowledge of galileo’s work, or conpernicus, or any of the others, what do you think your intuition would tell you about whether the earth is flat or round?

this is the LAST time i will bother with this Blast, so I hope at least some of this sinks in.

Comment #53736

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on October 25, 2005 4:00 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #53738

Posted by K.E. on October 25, 2005 4:03 PM (e)

Very Generous Toe
OK now explain why Behe’s intuition let him down

Comment #53739

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on October 25, 2005 4:04 PM (e)

Toejam said what I had to say, but much better, so I’ll not bother retyping.

Comment #53770

Posted by Ved Rocke on October 25, 2005 5:08 PM (e)

Sorry for the threadjack, but further down in the Wiki elephant article, there was this interesting tidbit:

The harvest of elephants, both legal and illegal, has had some unexpected consequences on elephant anatomy as well. African ivory hunters, by killing only tusked elephants, have given a much larger chance of mating to elephants with small tusks or no tusks at all. The propagation of the absent-tusk gene has resulted in the birth of large numbers of tuskless elephants, now approaching 30% in some populations (compare with a rate of about 1% in 1930). Tusklessness, once a very rare genetic abnormality, has become a widespread hereditary trait. It is possible, if unlikely, that continued selection pressure could bring about a complete absence of tusks in African elephants, a development normally requiring thousands of years of evolution. The effect of tuskless elephants on the environment, and on the elephants themselves, could be dramatic. Elephants use their tusks to root around in the ground for necessary minerals, tear apart vegetation, and spar with one another for mating rights. Without tusks, elephant behavior could change dramatically.

Comment #53775

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 25, 2005 5:16 PM (e)

OK now explain why Behe’s intuition let him down

sorry, i can only attempt to squeeze my brain into such a small space once a day at most. I’ll leave it to someone else to try and accomplish that feat with Behe.

Comment #53777

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 25, 2005 5:40 PM (e)

The propagation of the absent-tusk gene has resulted in the birth of large numbers of tuskless elephants, now approaching 30% in some populations

that’s quite a rapid shift. I wonder if anyone else here would agree that this supports the idea that sexual selection pressures on that particular trait must be/have been quite strong, for there to be such rapid and large scale shifts in it. Hmm, i guess that would presuppose agreement with the idea that rapid trait shifts like that might be supportive of high sexual selection pressure to begin with, which certainly might not be the case in general - my data is a bit out of date on this topic. Maybe someone else has a better general idea based on the current preponderance of data?

I am of the opinion that the use of large tusks for things like feeding were co-opted after sexual selection pressures made them overly large to begin with, but again, a wiki article just isn’t going to clarify the issue.

moreover, it being just a wiki article, i guess it doesn’t specify any differences between African and Indian elephants?

Comment #53785

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 25, 2005 6:43 PM (e)

Blast’s thinking of evolutionary theory as non-intuitive gets me thinking even more on that topic…

I often see the phrase : “you can’t make an elephant from a mouse” (or similar).

Now if we consider most extant species on the earth, this is probably true, at least based on current technologies.

However, the problem with this (and with the ape/man anti-evolution arguments) is that extant genera/families don’t evolve into one another. We rather look at relationships and branching in the PAST, not in the present, in order to trace linneages via evolution.

true, a mouse never became an elephant, but at some point in the very distant past, they did share a common ancestor. branching away from that common ancestor, with very different selection pressures, and a whole lot of time, gives you elephants and mice.

I’m sure blast wonders why we haven’t changed a bacteria into a fly or somesuch, but the problem is similar; you need to actually start with a precusor to both, in order to get both. the mere fact that we can’t change a bacteria into a fly is an argument AGAINST the front loading hypothesis. However, we have changed bacteria (and flies) sufficiently much that they can be classified (using current definitions) as different species… if we continued ad infinitum to provide specific selection pressures that acted on any new mutations that arose, eventually we would get something far enough away from the orginal bacteria/fly to be called a new genus, by our current classification systems. would that new genus be still a fly? sure. however, if you keep extending the process over and over, continually selecting for things that are, er, “non-fly”, eventually you would create something that would qualify by definition as a new family, and eventually to something that would be distinctly a “not-fly”. However, with our current level of knowledge regarding genetics, protein synthesis, and how selection pressures operate, it would be fortuitous indeed for this to occur in any time period short of geological in scale (even with organisms with rapid generation times, let alone ones that don’t). As a short list, we would need to know exactly what to select for in order to maximize “non-flyness” (perfect knowledge of protein synthesis pathways and which are heritable), as well as what selection mechanisms would be most efficient in maintaining and promoting continuing “non-flyness”.

I don’t think our understanding is quite there yet. Maybe in a few more decades, Blast will, in fact, see a fly change into something that could legitimately be called a “not-fly”, as we gain more knowledge of how genetics, protein translation, and selective pressures work.

However, just because normally it would take millions or billions of generations of independent populations of a species of fly to evolve into a “not-fly” given varying selection pressures and mutation pressures in natural populations, doesn’t mean that it isn’t plausible.

If someone can understand that:

- a small genotypic change (Hox gene, for example) can produce a quite large and non-lethal phenotypic change, they might not be so quick to think there are so many “missing links” out there

and once they can grasp that, that:

it takes time and many generations for even large phenotypic changes to be selected in specific directions to create what would be classified as different “species” (and that this has been done in the lab, many times), and that from there it would take orders of magnitude longer to produce something so different as to be classified as a new “genus”, etc.

then maybe it might seem to be more intuitive?

However, if an individual makes a conscious decision to block out this kind of information, how could they EVER come to the conclusion that evolutionary theory is intuitive?

maybe 150 years of education is not enough time yet for the majority of americans to accept the idea as intuitive yet.

How long did it take the “round earth” idea to become “intuitive” to the majority of people in the world?

Comment #53797

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 25, 2005 7:49 PM (e)

The harvest of elephants, both legal and illegal, has had some unexpected consequences on elephant anatomy as well. African ivory hunters, by killing only tusked elephants, have given a much larger chance of mating to elephants with small tusks or no tusks at all. The propagation of the absent-tusk gene has resulted in the birth of large numbers of tuskless elephants, now approaching 30% in some populations (compare with a rate of about 1% in 1930). Tusklessness, once a very rare genetic abnormality, has become a widespread hereditary trait. It is possible, if unlikely, that continued selection pressure could bring about a complete absence of tusks in African elephants, a development normally requiring thousands of years of evolution. The effect of tuskless elephants on the environment, and on the elephants themselves, could be dramatic. Elephants use their tusks to root around in the ground for necessary minerals, tear apart vegetation, and spar with one another for mating rights. Without tusks, elephant behavior could change dramatically.

I can add a similar example:

A number of herpetologists have remarked on the observation that rattlesnakes today seem far less likely to rattle when encountered than they did previously (an impression that I also got from my years of snake-watching in Pennsylvania and in Florida).

The reason would seem to be obvious —– the snakes that rattle when approached, usually get whacked with a shovel or chopped with a hoe. The snakes that don’t rattle, aren’t seen, and therefore live to pass on those genes.

Natural selection at its finest.

Will we eventually end up with rattle-less rattlesnakes? It’s not at all improbable. There is a very strong selection pressure for it.

Comment #53806

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 25, 2005 8:36 PM (e)

Lenny:

there is a species of rattlesnake on Santa Catalina Island in the Gulf of CA that has lost its rattle:

http://www.sdnhm.org/fieldguide/herps/crot-cat.html

so, there is definetly a case of rattle-less rattlesnakes already extant to compare to, and not surprising considering there would likely have been very few reasons for rattlesnakes to actually have rattles on a relatively small island.

I note that there are studies of subspecies of rattlers on other islands, that suggest they have become far less agressive than their mainland counterparts, among other things:

http://www.catalinaconservancy.org/ecology/research/ashton.cfm

Comment #53811

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 25, 2005 8:55 PM (e)

there is a species of rattlesnake on Santa Catalina Island in the Gulf of CA that has lost its rattle:

Yes. I have seen two possible explanations for why it has no rattle:

(1) rattles pretty much developed to warn large herbivores (bison, mostly) that the snake was there, so it wouldn’t get stepped on. On a small island with no large potential stepper-on-ers, there simply is no need for a rattle.

(2) the Catalina rattlers spend more time climbing around in shrubs and trees than do other rattler species. Other rattler species that try to climb around in shrubs tend to get their rattles caught in narrow forks in the branches – a big problem, since snakes cannot crawl backwards. Once stuck, they tend to STAY stuck – a quite unhealthful position to be in. Therefore, the Catalina rattlers lost their rattles as an adaptation to climbing around in branches.

These two selection pressures would not, of course, be mutually exclusive.

Comment #53822

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 25, 2005 9:45 PM (e)

as to (1);

speaking of the other Catalina island (the one off of CA), there is a subspecies of western pac. rattlesnake there that has some modified behavior (among other things - check the second link i posted).

However, funny enough, bison were introduced to the island for a film project in the 20’s (i think), and have since established a fair population on the island.

How great of an experimental setup is that to test the idea that rattles evolve in response to large herbivores, eh?

Comment #53825

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 25, 2005 9:52 PM (e)

oh and there was another theory i recall about rattle evolution relating to a warning to potential predators similar to aposematic coloration in wasps. Not sure i buy that one though, as many of the rattlers’ predators appear to be avian or ambush predators which the rattler would be unaware of to begin rattling to begin with.

i guess it depends on what the most prevalent type of predatory selection pressure is.

any idea on that?

damn, it’s been a long time since i read any of Harry Green’s stuff on rattlesnakes, i probably should refresh my memory.

Comment #53873

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 26, 2005 7:17 AM (e)

oh and there was another theory i recall about rattle evolution relating to a warning to potential predators similar to aposematic coloration in wasps. Not sure i buy that one though, as many of the rattlers’ predators appear to be avian or ambush predators which the rattler would be unaware of to begin rattling to begin with.

i guess it depends on what the most prevalent type of predatory selection pressure is.

any idea on that?

Yes, it seems to me that predatory birds are indeed the primary predators on snakes (some, like roadrunners, are very highly specialized snake hunters). And they indeed have virtually no defense against raptors. It’s why snakes spend nearly all of their time hidden away in a corner somewhere, and why they desperately try to avoid exposing themselves in open areas.

Incidentally, one good way to keep snakes away from your house is to have an area of flat open dirt around your house. Snakes are very reluctant to cross it, since it exposes them so effectively to predators. They prefer areas like brush, woodpiles, etc, that offer lots of cover (and also food, in the form of rodents).

Comment #53876

Posted by djlactin on October 26, 2005 8:16 AM (e)

In response to attacks on evolutionary thinking by IDists, I prefer not to stick to rebuttals, even when they are clearly devastating. I prefer to cut their legs out from under them by revealing the inanity of their proposed ‘solution’:

ID argument:
1.1) Observation: Whoa, this bio-widget sure is complex! how could it originate without a designer? I can’t see how.
1.2) Conclusion: There must be a designer. QED.

NOTE, however, that the designer must be more complex than the creation (especially if the designer is responsible for creating the entire universe, AND all creatures in it AND monitoring and (rewarding or punishing) these creatures as necessary. Therefore, the proposed designer is FAR MORE complex than the bio-widget. How is this a ‘solution’ to the observation of complexity??

Furthermore, we are left pondering the question of the origin of the creator.

phase 2:

2.1) Observation: Whoa, this designer sure is complex! how could it originate without a designer-designer? I can’t see how.
2.2) Conclusion: There must be a designer-designer. QED.
2.3) go to 2.1 (interpolate 1 ‘designer-‘ prefix where necessary at each iteration).

[Get away from your CPU before it blows!]

ID is not only scientifically vacuous, it’s philosophically vacuous.

I’d dearly love to invoke the woo-hoo bird who flies around and around in ever-smaller circles until it flies up its own ass and disappears, but unfortunately the circles are widening. sigh.

Comment #53998

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 26, 2005 11:12 PM (e)

djlactin wrote:

1.1) Observation: Whoa, this bio-widget sure is complex! how could it originate without a designer? I can’t see how.
1.2) Conclusion: There must be a designer. QED.

What’s much better is Darwin’s take on this: “I can’t imagine how the eye evolved little bit by little bit–it staggers my imagination. But the problem is simply that I’m not imaginative enough.”

That’s great science, isn’t it? Or am I just imagining things?

Comment #54000

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 26, 2005 11:26 PM (e)

no, blast, your hallucinating, not imagining.

your poor little mind has long lost the ability to imagine, or think rationally, for that matter.

you are reduced to screaming in the corner while the real world closes in on you.

how’s that feel?

Comment #54002

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 26, 2005 11:35 PM (e)

Darwin, in saying such, was doing something Blast, and most IDiots seem incapable of:

realizing the limitations of their own current knowledge, while at the same time understanding that with sound scientific principles at your back, eventually such mysteries will be solved.

the eye being a wonderful case in point.

I bet Darwin would be ecstatic to see how far we’ve come in 150 years, while IDiots keep forgetting all progress made since we discovered the world wasn’t flat.

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB301.html

http://www.origins.tv/darwin/eyes.htm

http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20050822230316data_trunc_sys.shtml

Comment #54006

Posted by Pastor Bentonit on October 27, 2005 12:06 AM (e)

Blast wrote:

What’s much better is Darwin’s take on this: “I can’t imagine how the eye evolved little bit by little bit—it staggers my imagination. But the problem is simply that I’m not imaginative enough.

(my italics)

You´ve got that right! Science doesn´t stop with imagination. Get with the program.

Comment #54008

Posted by K.E. on October 27, 2005 12:08 AM (e)

I would be interested why critical thinking is so poorly developed in the ID population.
It is almost as though a part of the brain refuses to function.
I’ve observed while growing up that some of my fellow apes only learn enough to get food and switch on the TV without being able to perform the most basic abstract mental logic tasks for cause and effect, the more advanced ones seem to go into PR.
Another poorly developed sense seems to be basic morality
certain people who I won’t mention seem to make statements that are so self deprecating it is starting to make me wonder if the two are connected.

Comment #54009

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 27, 2005 12:14 AM (e)

they might be:

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7147

Comment #54011

Posted by K.E. on October 27, 2005 1:12 AM (e)

I didn’t complete the above statement..in a nutshell I was wondering if

Poorly developed critical thinking was linked with poorly developed moral reasoning.

Moral reasoning is near to altruism or trust by my reasoning anyway.

There is some some science being done on this
game theory and measuring trust with brain scans

This may be a clue

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7384106/

Comment #54023

Posted by djlactin on October 27, 2005 6:20 AM (e)

I would be interested why critical thinking is so poorly developed in the ID population.
It is almost as though a part of the brain refuses to function.

I can perhaps elucidate, having been (briefly) exposed to a Catholic elementary school education. My experience was that the nuns indoctrinated the students to accept statements from authority without question. My question regarding the origin of the creator was met with a snarled “you’re not supposed to ask that”, followed by a visit to the only male teacher in the school, who attempted to cow me with threats of perdition. (I can still remember his glowering and bombast.) This generally works on a young child, but even as a seven-year-old I was able to see the hollowness of the threat.

For this and other observations, I was ®ejected shortly thereafter…. As if I were a malignant cell.

Why do the ‘authorities’ do this? simple: because they are funded by tithes from the faithful. Encouraging free debate would result in a diminution of the tithe-base: clearly counterproductive.

Note that this upbringing explains many of the debating tactics used by ID/creationists:
“Dr. A said this.” even if he didn’t, or if the idea has long since been refuted, and “It is known that…”, even if it isn’t. Statments from “authority”.

It also explains why so many misquotes are perpetrated indefinitely without correction: 1) the audience does not think to question what they hear and so do not think to check the original source(s); and 2) the primary ‘authority’ in the (okay okay okay) christian dogma is a document that is millennia old and is (falsely) held to have not changed since. The idea that new concepts can supersede old ones is not learned.

Such an upbringing also explains why many creationists label “Darwinism” a “religion”. Having been raised in an environment where all beliefs are based on Faith, and since Faith = Religion, many cannot grasp the idea that there are OTHER WAYS to come to a belief that are not based on Faith.

Appendix: This being said, I want to clarify that although I am not religious, I do see value in religion. Our legal code is based on the 10 commandments and they’re pretty good (don’t lie, don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t “do” married (wo)men. etc.) Aso, religious faith helps many people in life. I don’t think that the Torquemadas and Jim Joneses etc., who twist the creed to evil purposes should be used to tar the entire concept.

But it’s like this: Science should deal with the physical universe; Religion should deal with morality.

Comment #54025

Posted by Eugene Lai on October 27, 2005 6:58 AM (e)

Our legal code is based on the 10 commandments and they’re pretty good (don’t lie, don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t “do” married (wo)men. etc.)

These basic law are not the result of religion. Chinese have always had law against these crimes, long before christianity was imported.

And I bet that in every past or present culture, there would be law against theft, murder, adultery etc. These are behavior that would destablise a community. It would not take long for the law to evolve, much like anti-terrorism law is evolving today. It always happens, regardless the belief system of that culture.

To link the morality with religion just because religion includes moral teaching is giving undue credit to religion.

Comment #54027

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 27, 2005 7:23 AM (e)

What’s much better is Darwin’s take on this: “I can’t imagine how the eye evolved little bit by little bit—it staggers my imagination. But the problem is simply that I’m not imaginative enough.”

OK, so Blast has never read “Origin of Species”. If he had, he’d know that Darwin DID imagine it — in the very next sentence.

Thanks, once again, Blast, for demonstrating to everyone how utterly pig-ignorant you really are.

Comment #54030

Posted by Flint on October 27, 2005 8:34 AM (e)

Darwin didn’t say “beats me, I must be a dumbass” like Blast implies. Darwin said “this may initially sound preposterous, UNTIL we notice that it is a solid mainstream result of the evolutionary process.” But of course, misrepresentation without attribution is the hallmark of the ID creationist.

I’m always amused by the notion that American legal precepts are Christian in some sense. Maybe some people claim this because it’s what they were taught in religious schools, while others learn the Christian requirements and prohibitions first, and later find some of them embedded in the laws and conclude the religion must have come first. But the functional equivalent of the golden rule is found in every culture anthropologists have ever studied. It could probably be argued that a society is an emergent property of following the golden rule.

Comment #54094

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 27, 2005 3:05 PM (e)

@djlactin:

Your reasoning sounds right on the mark to me.

Moroever, I think our society in general reinforces the “argument from authority” position every day. I think a brief glance at just a few common TV advertisments would do justice to that opinion.

“Authority” sells as well as sex.

Comment #54097

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 27, 2005 3:18 PM (e)

This generally works on a young child, but even as a seven-year-old I was able to see the hollowness of the threat.

I too have exactly the same response to an “argument from authority” that you do.

Moreover, this didn’t stop even when i entered graduate school.

In fact, i jeopardized my career by challenging many “arguments from authority” that existed in the zoology department. I ended up embroiling the entire department in a controversy that ended up being my fault (at least from the viewpoint of several should-have-retired-sooner professors who relied too much on their own arguments from authority :) ). half the department was with me, half against, and since i was just a graduate student… well you can imagine who ended up taking the brunt of the resulting abuse of power.

so… my point in saying all this is that there is apparently psychology involved on both sides of the “argument from authority” issue. Many of us inherently reject such arguments, almost from birth, and a lot of us end up becoming scientists. Hell, in my mind a constant re-evaluation of what is “accepted” is the hallmark of a good scientist. However, from my own experience, I would warn any potential grad students out there to keep any knee-jerk reactions to such arguments in check until AFTER you get your degree ;)

cheers

Comment #54102

Posted by HermanVonPetri on October 27, 2005 3:33 PM (e)

A tangent, I know. But… The 10 Commandments v. U.S. law.

1. No God but the Hebrew God
That rule is explicitly forbidden by our Constitution which says we can worship under any religion we want, or not.
2. No graven images
Obviously it’s not only completely legal in this country, it’s even ignored by most Christian churches.
3. Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain
It is not illegal in our nation to suffix a statment with the term “by God” or any similar oath.
4. Remember the Sabbath, keep it holy, don’t do work that day…
Almost universally ignored by U.S. law. Almost universally ignored by Christian churchgoers.
5. Honor your mother and father.
It is not U.S. law to obey or honor your parents in all respects. Indeed, the commandment makes no exceptions for parents who are cruel to their children. Government services in fact remove children from their parents on occassion.
6. Don’t murder.
Good rule. Actually is law. Although, hardly exclusive to the 10 commandments. Of course, is it too much to point out that our government military programs do in fact train people how to skillfully murder other people?
7. Don’t commit adultery.
Another perfectly fine rule. Although, it is one that no longer carries much weight as criminal law in our country.
8. Don’t steal
Fair enough. One of the few that is actually a law in this country.
9. Don’t bear false witness.
No lying. In court, this is law. In the public sector - ehh - half points.
10. No coveting.
One might say that greed, in the corporate free enterprise system, is an American way of life. At the very least, there is no law against simply thinking you want something someone else has.

So, out of 10 commandments, only 3 are actual law and those are common in most societies throughout history. A couple others like adultery, and “keeping the sabbath” have had some laws supporting them in the past but are nearly defunct today. Additionally, the biggest commandment of this Hebrew code - worshipping no other god but that of the Hebrews - is explicitly rejected by our founding Bill of Rights.

The concept that American law is based on the 10 commandments seems a bit feeble to me.

Comment #54111

Posted by K.E. on October 27, 2005 4:13 PM (e)

djlactin
As you see Religion is not just a moral law, you are on the right track though it is NOT science.
Religion does contain many useful “truths,revelations,insights,understandings” of its own vis a vis man’s understanding of man. Where it falls down is in mans understanding of nature which some some people seem to think Gen.1 and Gen. 2 (the imagined collective Jewish history which for a few misguided people IS religion) are the sole authority.

Comment #54263

Posted by tedJohnston on October 28, 2005 10:13 PM (e)

wow, you Darwinians are just as bad as most fanatical Christian Creationists; you instantly jump on the opportunity to blow something completely out of context.

1. the fact that mutations occur on an already existing system doesn’t mean anything. the real question here is, “How did such a system come to exist in the first place?”
2. the number of microscopic organisms we are dealing with here is completely irrelevant. 10^14 or 100, it will still take 20,000 years for this mutation to take place. yes, this doesn’t change the fact that these kinds of mutations are probably happening on a daily basis on an exponential level, and yes, 20,000 years is a relatively short amount of time…however, that’s not the issue here.
3. the point Behe is trying to make here is that if such a system takes 20,000 years to variate once, then how did such a system come to be in the first place? the level of complexity on which this system operates makes it very hard for it to have come into being through the step-by-step processes of natural selection.

basically, this article does not disprove Irreducible Complexity, nor does it have anything to do with Irreducible Complexity in the first place. this cross examination was the equivalent of trying to disprove the law of gravity by bringing in arguments from music theory…completely irrelevant and not applicable.

I’m sure the prosecuting attorney finished his last “witty” remark, swiftly turned around, and walked back to his seat thinking “wow, I’m so smart!” while Behe was laughing in the witness chair thinking, “wow, this has nothing to do with anything at all!”

in short, this is no different than Creationists crying that radioactive dating is inaccurate…

Comment #54265

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 28, 2005 10:37 PM (e)

the point Behe is trying to make here is that if such a system takes 20,000 years to variate once, then how did such a system come to be in the first place?

Behe, for some odd reason, was quite unable to give any scientific explanation as to how “intelligent design theory” answer this. What does the designer do to produce new systems? What mechanisms does it use to do whatever the heck ID theory thinks it did? Where can we see the designer using these mechanisms to do … well . . anything?

After all, as Behe says, ID and evolution differ only in *the manner in which things happen*.

So show us how ID thinks it happened.

(sound of crickets chirping)

Yep, that’s what I thought …. .

IDers have no “alternative scientific theory”, and are just lying to (like Behe did) when they claim they do.

Comment #54266

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 28, 2005 10:38 PM (e)

wow, you Darwinians

What the heck is a “darwinian”? Is it anything like a “newtonian” or “faradayian” or “maxwellian” or “eisteinian”?

Comment #54267

Posted by Flint on October 28, 2005 10:55 PM (e)

tedjohnston:

I’m really not sure what you’re trying to say here, despite your attempt to be organized. Maybe it’s my problem, but:

1. the fact that mutations occur on an already existing system doesn’t mean anything. the real question here is, “How did such a system come to exist in the first place?”

Granted, we are assuming that what happens today has happened on an equally continuing basis in the past, just as we project that gravity existed in the past. We see today pretty much exactly what, if it had happened in the past, would result in what we see today.

2. the number of microscopic organisms we are dealing with here is completely irrelevant. 10^14 or 100, it will still take 20,000 years for this mutation to take place.

Huh? The idea was, it takes (let’s say) 20K years to happen in a population of 10^10. Now, given this rate, in a population of 10^16 (that is, a million times larger), the same event occurs every week. If that 10^16 is per ton of soil, and the earth has 10^10 tons of soil, the event is happening about 17,000 times per second. Not exactly a rare event.

yes, this doesn’t change the fact that these kinds of mutations are probably happening on a daily basis on an exponential level, and yes, 20,000 years is a relatively short amount of time…however, that’s not the issue here.

17,000 times per second might be important, don’t you think?

3. the point Behe is trying to make here is that if such a system takes 20,000 years to variate once

No, we just calculated that this variation happens 17,000 times per second. And remember: beneficial variations are conserved. Have you heard the phrase “snowball effect”? Do you know what it means?

then how did such a system come to be in the first place? the level of complexity on which this system operates makes it very hard for it to have come into being through the step-by-step processes of natural selection.

Two issues here: is it *impossible* for this level to have come into being step-by-step? You seem to be saying no, in principle it’s not impossible, but there hasn’t been time to do so at the rate of one beneficial change every 20,000 years. But we just calculated that we’re looking at 17,000 beneficial variations per second. Does this make a difference?

basically, this article does not disprove Irreducible Complexity, nor does it have anything to do with Irreducible Complexity in the first place.

I don’t understand how you can say this. What Behe did was make a WHOLE LOT of assumptions evolutionary evidence strongly indicates are self-serving, to the point where most scientists can legitimately say that that Behe carefully disallowed the operation of most observed processes. And having made his long list of self-serving assumptions, Behe calculated that the kind of variation he claims can’t happen in fact DOES happen, but does so very very rarely according to Behe’s false assumptions. THEN it was demonstrated that Behe’s “very very rarely” is in fact extremely common, given the population of bacteria in the real world, even granting Behe’s silly restrictions (which I granted as well).

Now, if we factor back in those things we KNOW about evolution beyond any rational doubt (that Behe disallowed because he found the facts inconvenient to his convictions), we find that the number of beneficial variations goes up by many MORE orders of magnitude. It’s no longer 17,000 per second per planet, it’s 17,000 per second per cubic centimeter or less. And at THAT (observable) concentration, Behe’s “irreducible complexity” changes from impossible to not just inevitable, but common as dirt.

So let’s go back to the top at this point. Behe was using the bogus-statistical argument that something was so bogglingly unlikely that we can dismiss it as even remotely plausible. Under questioning, Behe quantified his argument, being careful to stack the deck in his favor with every factor that crossed his mind. And unfortunately for Behe, EVEN WITH the deck so stacked, he had demonstrated that what he claimed was statistically improbably was in fact statistically inevitable! Unstack the deck, and by Behe’s own argument what he claims can’t happen, becomes the NORM!

Now you’re claiming that this is irrelevant? That the very underlying fundamental principles of Behe’s “irreducible complexity” argument doesn’t matter? Are you aware that this now-discredited argument was the ONE AND ONLY “scientific” argument ID had to offer? No wonder you’re not willing to follow the argument, do the numbers, and see the light.

Comment #54270

Posted by jeffw on October 28, 2005 11:16 PM (e)

The concept that American law is based on the 10 commandments seems a bit feeble to me.

Quite true. Especially when someone tells me I’m not allowed to covet my neighbor’s ass. That’s where I draw the line.

Comment #54272

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 28, 2005 11:22 PM (e)

why bother with your complete analysis, Flint? I’m sure the poster not only isn’t listening (I picture him with his hands over his ears, screaming at the top of his lungs - er, methaphorically), he never had any intention of actually understanding the arguments involved.

People like ‘ol ted there are just like Blast; evoltionary theory is “rocket science” to them, and is not intuitive. Therefore, because it isn’t “intuitive” it just can’t be correct in their minds.

We haven’t evolved since Newton’s time, that’s for sure. People like intuitive, orderly things, and automatically assume (without any actually knowledge to back it up) that the universe is just like they think it is.

Now, if they bothered to see how quantum theory interferes with their nice orderly view of the universe, I’m sure they would hate that too (oh wait, a lot of them do!).

There is no way to argue with someone who has so shut off their mind to the wonder of what is REALLY out there, to answering any mysteries that are spawned from examination, that have so totally lost all curiosity in the world around them as to be essentially brain-dead.

it’s sad.

Comment #54277

Posted by djlactin on October 29, 2005 1:49 AM (e)

I seem to have threadjacked this discussion with what I thought was a gentle philosophical opinion on the place of religion in society.

I said “our Our legal code is based on the 10 commandments”, and I have been misinterpreted.

The concept that American law is based on the 10 commandments seems a bit feeble to me.

1) I did not say that “American” law was based on the Ten commandments… You presume for some reason that I am an American. I am not. I am Canadian. When I said “our” I meant “the western world”, i.e. what mght once have been called “christendom”.
I hope that I am not sounding racist in this distinction of ‘western’ from ‘others’. I am not implying that other cultures are somehow backward in this regard, nor that these other cultures are lawless. I should have been more explicit on this.

2) I did not say that the laws are a carbon copy of the 10 commandments, just that they are ‘based on’ them. For example, current laws do not forbid worship of other deities but these this is a relatively recent modification (think Spain in the 1500s).

I also have to take issue with this statement:

But the functional equivalent of the golden rule is found in every culture anthropologists have ever studied.

This “noble savage” misconception has long since been shattered by observation. Please check your sources and cite a few.

Every analysis of murder rates in (for want of a better word) “primitive” cultures makes inner-city Detroit look like paradise (Read Chapter 17 in “The Blank Slate” by Steven Pinker). Probabilities that a male will be murdered can reach 25% in some societies.

Humans (like all creatures) are inherently Selfish, and like all pack carnivores, heirarchical and Violent. The ten commandments (and similar legal codes elsewhere) endorse atruistic behavior. Altruistic behavior is not natural; this is a consequence of evolution: helping competitors is not an evolutionarily stable strategy.

Where an Authority does not exist to enforce altruistic behavior, societies almost always assume a heirarchical structure based on intimidation and violence (consider the American Western Frontier in the 1800s; the warlord systems which self-assembled following breakdown of wider order in Somalia, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan) in which the strongest members dominate the weaker and appropriate most of the resources. Sadly, slave cultures and Feudal cultures have been the norm throughout much of human history, starting at least as long ago as the Assyrians. Even “classical” Greece, the womb of ‘democracy’ was a slave culture.

Where Authority fails, theft is also common. Look only as far back as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Nature made us animals; laws make us “Human”.

Some form of Authority is necessary to establish laws and to enforce them fairly. One of the possible forms of Authority is Religion (it’s not the only possibility, nor is it immune to abuse). I do not refer specifically to Christianity.

Thus my statement that Religion has its place in issues of morality.

Appendix: Clearly, this subject is not appropriate for this thread. I will not post further on it.

Anyone who wants to discuss further can contact me at
djlactin@yahoo.ca

Comment #54278

Posted by K.E. on October 29, 2005 2:18 AM (e)

STJ wrote

People like intuitive, orderly things, and automatically assume (without any actually knowledge to back it up) that the universe is just like they think it is.

And this from A.Huxley (grandson of Darwins Bulldog) by

http://www.newcriterion.com/archive/21/feb03/huxley.htm

(Things I didn’t know about Huxley with a bold conclusion)

In Doors of Perception, Huxley quotes with approval the British philosopher C. D. Broad: “The function of the brain and the nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and otherwise irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive.” Mind at Large, says Huxley himself, “has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system.”

Comment #54292

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 29, 2005 9:22 AM (e)

But the functional equivalent of the golden rule is found in every culture anthropologists have ever studied

This “noble savage” misconception has long since been shattered by observation. Please check your sources and cite a few.

Happily:

- Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. Talmud, Shabbat 3id… Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. - Leviticus 19:18, NIB
- Christianity: All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets… All the Bible!, Matthew 7:1… Do to others as you would have them do to you, Luke 6:31 NIB
- Islam, No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. - Hadith recorded by al-Bukhari, Sunnah
- Hinduism, This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you. Mahabharata 5,1517
- Buddhism, Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. Udana-Varga 5,18
- Taoism, Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien
- Jainism, Therefore, neither does he cause violence to others nor does he make others do so. - Acarangasutra 5.101-2
- Confucianism, Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state. Analects 12:2
- Zoroastrianism, Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others. - Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29.
- Baha’i Faith, He should not wish for others what he does not wish for himself. - Baha’u’llah, Bahá’í Faith.
- Humanism, don’t do things you wouldn’t want to have done to you. - British Humanist society
- Wicca: Bide the Wiccan Rede ye must, In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust; Live ye must and let to live, Fairly take and fairly give, the opening statement
- Socrates, Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others
- Epictetus, What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others
- Ancient Egypt, Do for one who may do for you, / That you may cause him thus to do.- The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant 109-110, tr. R.B. Parkinson.

Comment #54300

Posted by Steve S on October 29, 2005 11:39 AM (e)

Mind at Large, says Huxley himself, “has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system.”

Yet for some strange reason, I can percieve more with my reducing valve in place, than when it’s removed.

Comment #54307

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 29, 2005 2:19 PM (e)

This “noble savage” misconception has long since been shattered by observation

djlactin, did you know that the Iroquois had a functional democracy long before European settlers arrived in North America?

did you ever see the historical series “500 Nations”?

perhaps you might want to update your knowledge of the “noble savage” (er, assuming you were limiting that to it’s orginal usage, and not somehow incorrectly extrapolating it).

otherwise, you seem in danger of appearing not only a bit prejudiced, but quite ignorant as well.

Comment #54308

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 29, 2005 2:24 PM (e)

Yet for some strange reason, I can percieve more with my reducing valve in place, than when it’s removed.

undeniable on the face of it. :p

It’s equally probable that Huxley was speaking of filtering of extraneous sensory input (light, sound, etc.), rather than any extraneous philosophical input.

Comment #54309

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 29, 2005 2:33 PM (e)

Altruistic behavior is not natural

and yet it HAS been demonstrated to exist (albeit rarely) in several non-human species.

Check out blood-sharing behavior in vampire bats for a common cited example.

Comment #54391

Posted by djlactin on October 30, 2005 5:50 AM (e)

Check out blood-sharing behavior in vampire bats for a common cited example.

This one puzzled me for a long time, until i did check it out. It’s so-called “Reciprocal altruism” in which a given bat seems to share with a few others. It’s a form of “enlightened self-interest”, not altruism in the sense of a 0-1 score. This one converges over time on 0.5-0.5.

I also think that it’s likely that the partners are more closely related that average in the group. Favoring Kin is not true altruism either.

Comment #54394

Posted by djlactin on October 30, 2005 7:06 AM (e)

djlactin, did you know that the Iroquois had a functional democracy long before European settlers arrived in North America?

Yes I am aware of this. I’m not sure how this is a response to my assertion that Authority is necessary to enforce laws.

Further, if you look more closely, you will find that the Iroquois were a slave culture and were continually at war with the Hurons and the so-called ‘neutral tribes’, who were eventually exterminated.

Note also that I said “most cultures stratify”. I know of 2 cultures that apparently did not. One was the Harrappan civilization on the Indus approximately concurrrent with Sumer. They had no fortifications or army. The other is the (matrilineal) Naxi culture of southern China. (I’ve visited this culture, in LiJiang; the area is reputed to be the model for Xangri-la and I can believe it.)

perhaps you might want to update your knowledge of the “noble savage” (er, assuming you were limiting that to it’s orginal usage, and not somehow incorrectly extrapolating it)

I am using the ‘pre-industrial man was peaceful, eqalitarian, and in tune with his environment’ definition.

otherwise, you seem in danger of appearing not only a bit prejudiced, but quite ignorant as well.

I’m truly saddened that I appear to be prejudiced. I chose my examples carefully to avoid seeming to pick on groups outside my own.

As for ignorant, I confess to being less up-to-date on anthropology than the natural sciences, but I have read a bit. I stand behind my statement that in the absence of Authority, lawlessness is almost certain.

I have referred to Pinker (Pinker, S. 2002 “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature”, Penguin), but this is probably not fair. I provide an extended quote from page 330. I have used ellipses properly and have not change the meaning in any way with the omissions. I have substituted bracketed numbers for his superscripted citations and have provided the references at the end.

“Adjudication by an armed authority appears to be the most effective violence-reduction technque ever invented…. The shockingly high homicide rates of pre-state societies, with 10 to 60 percent of the men dying at the hands of other men, provide one kind of evidence[93]. Another is the emergence of a violent culture of honor in just about any corner of the world that is beyond the reach of the law [94]…. And the growth of these Authorities may explain the hundredfold decline in homicide rates in European societies since the Middle Ages [96].”

[93] Daly, M. & Wilson, M. 1988. Homicide Hawthorne, NY,: Altine de Gruyter.; Keeley, L.H. 1996. War before civilization: The myth of the peaceful savage. New York. Oxford University Press.
[94] Daly & Wilson 1988, ibid. , Nisbett, R.E. & Cohen, D. 1996. Culture of honor: The psychology of violence in the south. New York: HarperCollins
[96] Daly & Wilson 1988 ibid.

This is only a small selection of the examples from the book. It’s a fascinating book and I recommend it to all. (It’s not all about, nor even mostly about, violence in human societies.)

(I confess to the sin of secondary citation: I am currently FAR away from any University Library where the books are in English.)

My point is that some sort of Authority is necessary to enforce “the Golden Rule”. It only takes one bad apple…

Comment #54397

Posted by djlactin on October 30, 2005 8:17 AM (e)

But the functional equivalent of the golden rule is found in every culture anthropologists have ever studied

This “noble savage” misconception has long since been shattered by observation. Please check your sources and cite a few.

Happily:

- Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. Talmud, …

Ok. Now I see what you mean. We appear to be talking past each other. I misunderstood your point; my interpretation of your Golden rule statement as an invokation of peaceability in pre-state cultures was far off the mark. I apologize if I offended you.

I do have 2 comments, however.

(1) The golden rule is a great idea, and if everybody adhered to it (as I try to do, not always successfully), life would be sweet. Unfortunately every group will eventually have a “cheater” (to ther own immediate benefit). One or a few can be sufficient for the system to collapse. Peer disapproval can only go so far. Punishment (and hence a punishing Authority) is necessary.

(2) The golden rule typically applies only to other members of ‘the group’ (‘fellowman’, in your quote above). Where this occurs, outsiders are treated by a different set of rules. Pinker (again), A Hebrew himsef, acknowledges that the biblical context of the 10 commandments makes it clear that they apply only to dealings with other Hebrews.
(Consider the genocide of the Midianites.)

Consider also, the recent Atrocities perpetrated n the Former Yugoslavia [a three-way us-vs.-them war] and in Rwanda [Tutsi vs. Hutu] as well as the English-vs.-French wars in Canada in the 1700s (which still reverberate in Canadian politics). You may also want to Google ‘Napoleon Chagnon Yanomamo’. And read, if you can, ‘Leviathan’ by Hobbes (I couldn’t finish it: it’s simply too turgid.).

Fortunately, we live in a time when the average person’s concept of ‘the group’ is expanding, due to improvements in telecommunications, so that it’s much harder now to think of people with different cultures and appearances as somehow less worthy of our respect.

Comment #54402

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 30, 2005 11:27 AM (e)

(1) The golden rule is a great idea, and if everybody adhered to it (as I try to do, not always successfully), life would be sweet. Unfortunately every group will eventually have a “cheater” (to ther own immediate benefit). One or a few can be sufficient for the system to collapse. Peer disapproval can only go so far. Punishment (and hence a punishing Authority) is necessary.

No kidding.

Do you think this is some osrt of surprise for anyone?

Can you think of any human society at any time in history that did not have laws/rules and a mechanism to enforce them?

Do you think humans at any other time and place were any different (except technologically) than the humans we see around us today?

Comment #54412

Posted by djlactin on October 30, 2005 1:39 PM (e)

Can you think of any human society at any time in history that did not have laws/rules and a mechanism to enforce them?

Now we’ve digressed so far from my first posting that my original assertion has been forgotten: That religion is one of the possible ways of enforcing laws and that it thus has some value to society in the realm of Morality, but that it should leave attempts to explain the nature of the Universe to Science.

(Note also that this was trivial philosophical point at the end of a discussion of a totally different topic!!)

Of course, all societies have laws/rules, otherwise I don’t think you could even call them “societies”. Many of them have had laws and rules that we would find abhorrent. One example is the acceptance of slavery as natural and right by, among many others, the Athenians.

The problem is with enforcement (the ‘and’ part of your question). Laws without enforcement are hollow.

There have been numerous cases where the law-enforcement mechanisms have failed, with horrific results. The Montreal Police Strike in October 1969; the aftermath of hurricane Katrina; the Rwanda genocide. These were (briefly) societies without enforcement of the laws.

My point was that laws alone aren’t sufficient to maintain order. Some form of (honest)Authority is necessary. To reiterate: my original posting sggested that religious authority might have a role to play here.

Do you think humans at any other time and place were any different (except technologically) than the humans we see around us today?

Trick question? I suppose the answer depends on where along the Homo habilis – Homo sapiens “gradient” that you place the transition to “human”. [This is not meant to be facetious. I don’t think it’s been decided, or even whether it’s possible to decide.]

If you’re referring only to H. sapiens as “human”, I believe that all H. sapiens at least as far back as Cro-Magnon [and their presumedly African antecedent] are fully human and indistingushable from “us” except technologically.

I have a suggestion. Let’s get off this tangent and get onto something more PandasThumbAble!

Comment #54459

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 31, 2005 5:08 AM (e)

I also think that it’s likely that the partners are more closely related that average in the group. Favoring Kin is not true altruism either.

er, nope. if it was just kin selection, it never would have generated the interest it did. That’s actually what makes the relatively few demonstrated cases of altruism interesting; they AREN’T cases of kin selection.

I could easily argue there is no such thing BUT “reciprocal altruism”, even as you define it.

did you need me to dig up references for you, or can you do that on your own?

Comment #54461

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 31, 2005 5:24 AM (e)

My point is that some sort of Authority is necessary to enforce “the Golden Rule”. It only takes one bad apple…

hmm. for some reason i thought your point was that it takes religion as authority in order to maintain standard civil code.

in fact, this was the only reason i brought up the iroquois at all. Their democracy did not arise out of any religious tradition, so much as it arose out of 3 disparate but geographically close tribes coming the mutual conclusion that a democracy involving all 3 tribes served all 3 better than constant war.

It was a very “secular” decision. in fact, going by their “religions” (which slavery was a part of, but, as an aside, this kind of slavery was VERY different than the slavery we commonly think of), they should have continued warring with each other.

I find strongly religious governments to actually be the farthest from “the golden rule” type of civic codes, especially in the modern era.

some examples:

South Africa (apartheid founded by evangelical fundamentalists)
Iran (can you say “iyatolah”)
Afghanistan (tear down those statues, boys, and stone the womenfolk!)
India (Muslims/Hindus since before Ghandi have destabilized that country)
Pakistan (similar to India, but with even more extreme muslim factions)

so…. i guess we need to clarify what your point was again?

You can make a decent argument of general authority helping to enforce standard civil codes of conduct (hence that why most civilized countries have laws and a constitution - or they borrow someone else’s constitution), but as to civil conduct stemming from and being stabilized by religion… Not much evidence to support that in modern society, as far as i can see, and there is quite a bit of evidence to support that it wasn’t religion that stabilized many pre-modern societies either (tho it probably helped in many as well).

Pinker isn’t the only source for these arguments; that was all i was saying by suggesting you expand your horizons a bit.

Comment #54468

Posted by djlactin on October 31, 2005 6:32 AM (e)

I find strongly religious governments to actually be the farthest from “the golden rule” type of civic codes, especially in the modern era.

I did not assert that religious governments enforce ‘golden rule’ type civic codes. It was Rev-Dr Lenny that brought up the Golden Rule and his posting had nothng do do wth governments.

some examples:

South Africa (apartheid founded by evangelical fundamentalists)
Iran (can you say “iyatolah”)
Afghanistan (tear down those statues, boys, and stone the womenfolk!)

I’m sure we agree that these systems of law are abhorrent. This is difficult for me to say… but despite their abhorrent nature they DID/DO stabilize their societies. The fact that they are in a form that I do not like is a separate issue… (see below: “us” vs. “them”.)

India (Muslims/Hindus since before Ghandi have destabilized that country)
Pakistan (similar to India, but with even more extreme muslim factions)

I pointed out earlier that there has been usually a distinction between “us” and “them”, with different sets of rules involved in dealing with the two groups. You are citing cases of us-vs.-them interactions.
I have been speaking of stability of societies . I suppose I have come to the conclusion that I intuitively define a ‘society’ as ‘a group of people who share a defined space and common set of laws’. I hope you don’t see this as ‘moving the goalposts’; it’s just that my concept has crystallized. (Thanks for the Socratic lesson!)

Comment #54470

Posted by K.E. on October 31, 2005 6:48 AM (e)

WWW 1 & 2 Us vs Us.

Religion and war go together like a …..

Codified in the Koran as God’s Will, Inshalla.

http://www.twochapstalking.com/dictarchive/000127.html

You want to know why the US has such a good Constitution.

Ever heard of Spinoza?

Even from the first major Western Compact with Christianity
When the Emperor Constantine gave the Bishops exclusive franchise on foreskins and he got the rest…. the best model has been “Render unto God what is God’s and render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” right now the Creanderthals want to flip that model.

Comment #54472

Posted by djlactin on October 31, 2005 7:00 AM (e)

sir ToeJam:

re: Vampire bats.

I could easily argue there is no such thing BUT “reciprocal altruism”, even as you define it.

Puzzled by this, i reviewed the thread… In fact my original statement was “Altruistic behavior is not natural; this is a consequence of evolution: helping competitors is not an evolutionarily stable strategy.” (I suppose I should have interpolated “unilaterally” after the colon.)

You’re the one who brought up the vampire bats and now you seem to be agreeing with me!
So what are we arguing about?!

did you need me to dig up references for you, or can you do that on your own?

Thanks for your offer, but I am well-trained in Ecology and Evolution (Ph.D., 1993 from a reputable instituton) and I understand the nature and definitions of altruism in its various forms.

As to the bats, check out this site: http://www.bio.davidson.edu/people/vecase/Behavior/Spring2001/Spring01/Kizer/altruism.html

I would, however, be very interested (and excited!) if you could provide me with an unequivocal example of true altruism (in which the donor voluntarily reduces its own fitness to benefit an unrelated member of its own species or a member of another species) in a species other than H. sapiens. I’ll happily FedEx you a bottle of my bad homebrewed plum wine (or whatever type I have at the time.)

Comment #54723

Posted by ditch digger on November 1, 2005 11:20 PM (e)

There have been some notes about how much earth is in the earth, but I thought a different perspective would be interesting. Dirt weighs about 2500-3000 lbs per cubic yard depending on density and moisture. Taking the low end of the range to be charitable to Behe: 27 * (2000/2500) = 21.6 cubic feet of soil (0.8 cubic yard, 0.6 m^3). In other words, this evolutionary process is happening all over your yard. With heavier dirt of course, the volume a ton would occupy is even less.

Comment #54732

Posted by morbius on November 2, 2005 2:44 AM (e)

I would, however, be very interested (and excited!) if you could provide me with an unequivocal example of true altruism (in which the donor voluntarily reduces its own fitness to benefit an unrelated member of its own species or a member of another species) in a species other than H. sapiens. I’ll happily FedEx you a bottle of my bad homebrewed plum wine (or whatever type I have at the time.)

Numerous examples of dogs acting altruistically toward humans have been documented. There are inter-species examples as well, e.g., http://www.umich.edu/~esupdate/library/97.01-02/mamakos.html
although they can be dismissed as “enlightened self interest” by fallaciously equating the interests of the organism with the dispersal of its genes throughout the entire population. “no altruism” is strong dogma, based in large part on Spencerian concepts of evolution that still hold sway. It is a fact that genes are selfish in Dawkins’ sense, but that does not extend to the behavior of the organism as a whole.

Comment #55027

Posted by Anton Mates on November 3, 2005 4:32 PM (e)

An additional example would come from the long-tailed manakin, where pairs or trios of males work together to court a single female, but only the dominant male actually mates if their courtship’s successful. The males in these groups are known to be unrelated (see here.) Again, multiple paper wasps (for instance, Polistes) may found a nest together, and typically only the dominant foundress rears fertile offspring; the other foundresses are often, but not always, related to her.

In both of these cases, as with feeding of unrelated pups in wild dogs, the strategy seems to be evolutionarily stable because the altruistic individual has a chance of receiving a payoff in the future. When the dominant male at a manakin lek dies, one of the subordinate males who assisted him inherits his position; ditto for the subordinate foundresses at a wasp nest. But it’s not reciprocal altruism, because the altruistic individual doesn’t expect their partner to “pay them back” in the short term, or necessarily at all. They don’t punish the individual who benefits for failure to reciprocate. And, as Morbius said, it would be a mistake to call this “enlightened self-interest;” the wasp/manakin/wild dog doesn’t necessarily know it’s working for a possible payoff later. It just does what its instincts say it should.

Moreover, the definition of “true altruism” in animal behavior has very little to do with what we consider “altruism” in the normal sense of the word. Consider:

A conservative Catholic priest is the most “truly altruistic” person imaginable, because he nullifies his own fitness (via celibacy) while boosting everyone else’s (via condemning birth control).

Assisting in the rape of a nun is “true altruism,” because you’ve helped raise her reproductive output while likely sacrificing your own (due to social ostracism/jail time if you get caught).

Giving money to a program helping poor kids get through college is not “true altruism,” because you’re actually reducing their fitness; the affluent and educated in developed countries usually have fewer children.

So it’s rather unfair to say humans exhibit true altruism while most nonhuman species don’t–you’re conflating the colloquial definition of “doing nice things without expectation of a reward” with the evolutionary definition of “sacrificing one’s fitness to improve the fitness of an unrelated other.” Plenty of animals do “nice” things without (so far as we know) consciously expecting a reward.

Comment #55032

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 3, 2005 4:49 PM (e)

Having fewer offspring does not simplistically equate with decreased fitness. (I know you probably know this, but for those who might be confused…)

The point is having offspring who survive to sexual maturity and successfully mate, thus having offspring who survive, etc.

Sending poor kids to good schools might very well enhance their fitness even if it also decreased the number of their offspring. Education, success, etc., can considerably enhance the likelihood of the survival of offspring and the propogation of a lineage, whereas poverty, disease, lack of success, the debilitating effects on females of having too many offspring, etc., can reduce the odds of survival of the offspring and of their likelihood of founding longterm lineages.

And, of course, it’s possible that both “strategies” can pay off–investing relatively more in a few offspring and investing relatively little in more offspring.

Comment #55034

Posted by morbius on November 3, 2005 5:02 PM (e)

And, as Morbius said, it would be a mistake to call this “enlightened self-interest;” the wasp/manakin/wild dog doesn’t necessarily know it’s working for a possible payoff later. It just does what its instincts say it should.

My point wasn’t really about enlightenment, but that the payoff doesn’t go to the individual, but rather to its gene dispersal, and these are not the same thing. Behavior can be evolutionarily stable simply by creating an environment in which the genes that produce the behavior propagate, regardless of which individual carries the genes, such that the individual doesn’t receive the entire benefit of its behavior. That follows from the “selfish gene” refocus on genes rather than individuals as the elements of evolution. One can call this “reciprocal altruism”, but that gets rather tautological given that natural selection is at work at all.

Moreover, the definition of “true altruism” in animal behavior has very little to do with what we consider “altruism” in the normal sense of the word.

In other words, “altruism” as biologists define it has very little to do with true altruism. The problem is that these get conflated, and then the ToE is coopted to serve as justification for Spencerian moral philosophy, and we get people like Ayn Rand declaring altruism to be a sin.

Comment #55036

Posted by morbius on November 3, 2005 5:08 PM (e)

Sending poor kids to good schools might very well enhance their fitness

Sending poor kids to good schools might very well enhance their productivity to the society I live in and reduce the chances they’ll mug me; their genetic fitness isn’t relevant.

Comment #55081

Posted by Anton Mates on November 3, 2005 7:39 PM (e)

Sending poor kids to good schools might very well enhance their fitness even if it also decreased the number of their offspring. Education, success, etc., can considerably enhance the likelihood of the survival of offspring and the propogation of a lineage, whereas poverty, disease, lack of success, the debilitating effects on females of having too many offspring, etc., can reduce the odds of survival of the offspring and of their likelihood of founding longterm lineages.

That’s certainly true. In the particular case of modern developed countries, though, I don’t think any issues with offspring health or success are enough to outweigh the much higher birthrate among the poor. Which is not to say that wasn’t the case for most of our species’ history, just that mortality of children and infants is fairly low (not as low as it should be, of course) now in all economic strata. Poor kids grow up less healthy than rich kids, to be sure, but they do generally survive to found comparatively large families of their own.

But that’s just my opinion about this particular case; I certainly agree that offspring number doesn’t automatically equal fitness. In any event, I’m fairly sure that most people who help send poor kids to good schools aren’t doing it so that they’ll disseminate their genes more widely in the long run!

Comment #73084

Posted by nunnya buisness on January 17, 2006 10:08 PM (e)

u r all geeks who hav no life. y does it even matter? nobody cares!!!

Comment #79314

Posted by David Pesta on February 13, 2006 2:16 AM (e)

Math and logic aren’t being applied right here.

I only had enough time to read 1/4 of your responses in this thread, but does anyone here see that Behe’s paper isn’t really that interesting yet? That maybe it is nothing more than a preliminary work on studies in the future that can become more interesting?

Here is what Behe said:
“Thus in a sense, the disulfide bond is irreducibly complex, although not really to the same degree of complexity as systems made of multiple proteins.”

Here is my point:
Isn’t there a difference between something that is mildly irreducibly complex and something that is extremely irreducibly complex? I’m talking different enough to be put into a different category altogether. Here’s why: If a truly irreducible complex system is based upon the statistical equivalent of hundreds of disulfide bond formations, then the probability of forming this result is the mathematical product of the improbability of disulfide bond evolution. In this case, we’re talking hundreds of orders of magnitude greater number of bacteria needed. Many talked about there being 7 orders of magnitude more bacteria on the earth than in a ton of soil. That’s just 7 orders of magnitude. So how many “earths” are needed to hold hundreds of magnitudes more bacteria? We’re talking significant IC, not disulfide bonds.

If you think this event has anything to do with the issue in any significant way, and make ID finally come to an end, don’t get your hopes up.

I’m just being honest everyone.