PvM posted Entry 2336 on June 3, 2006 07:14 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2331

With the recent find of various additional transitional fossils, it may be relevant to revisit a ‘golden oldie’ written by Wesley Elsberry title Missing links still missing!? Talkorigins Post of the Month: February 1998. Although, given the number of transitional fossils, I doubt that many creationists feel brave enough to still make the argument that such transitionals are lacking.

Based on the arguments by Darwin, Elsberry derives an estimate for the expected number of transitional fossils:

Elsberry wrote:

Let’s derive an expectation of ratio of transitional to non-transitional fossils from what Darwin actually said, shall we? Darwin stated that natural selection would work intermittently, and often only at long intervals.

On the other hand, I do believe that natural selection will always act very slowly, often only at long intervals of time, and generally on only a very few of the inhabitants of the same region at the same time. (CR Darwin, Origin of Species, 1st ed., p.153)

Elsberry wrote:

Darwin addressed geographical distribution of fossils as a factor.

One other consideration is worth notice: with animals and plants that can propagate rapidly and are not highly locomotive, there is reason to suspect, as we have formerly seen, that their varieties are generally at first local; and that such local varieties do not spread widely and supplant their parent-forms until they have been modified and perfected in some considerable degree. According to this view, the chance of discovering in a formation in any one country all the early stages of transition between any two forms, is small, for the successive changes are supposed to have been local or confined to some one spot. Most marine animals have a wide range; and we have seen that with plants it is those which have the widest range, that oftenest present varieties; so that with shells and other marine animals, it is probably those which have had the widest range, far exceeding the limits of the known geological formations of Europe, which have oftenest given rise, first to local varieties and ultimately to new species; and this again would greatly lessen the chance of our being able to trace the stages of transition in any one geological formation. (CR Darwin, Origin of Species, 1st ed., p.306)

In his famous section on the imperfection of the geological record, Darwin gave several further reasons to doubt that we would ever have a complete record of past life.

I have attempted to show that the geological record is extremely imperfect; that only a small portion of the globe has been geologically explored with care; that only certain classes of organic beings have been largely preserved in a fossil state; that the number both of specimens and of species, preserved in our museums, is absolutely as nothing compared with the incalculable number of generations which must have passed away even during a single formation; that, owing to subsidence being necessary for the accumulation of fossiliferous deposits thick enough to resist future degradation, enormous intervals of time have elapsed between the successive formations; that there has probably been more extinction during the periods of subsidence, and more variation during the periods of elevation, and during the latter the record will have been least perfectly kept; that each single formation has not been continuously deposited; that the duration of each formation is, perhaps, short compared with the average duration of specific forms; that migration has played an important part in the first appearance of new forms in any one area and formation; that widely ranging species are those which have varied most, and have oftenest given rise to new species; and that varieties have at first often been local. All these causes taken conjointly, must have tended to make the geological record extremely imperfect, and will to a large extent explain why we do not find interminable varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps. (CR Darwin, Origin of Species, 1st ed., pp.340-341)

Given these views of Darwin, we can derive an expectation of the ratio of transitional to non-transitional fossils found. I include in the following only those factors which yield a differential expectation of discovery of transitional fossils displaying the action of natural selection.

EFR = (NSTP * NSPP * AP * SEVR * FSDP)
and
ETF = EFR * OFS

where EFR is the “expected fossil ratio”,
NSTP is the “natural selection time proportion”,
NSPP is the “natural selection population proportion”,
AP is the “area proportion”,
SEVR is the “subsidence vs. elevation variation ratio”,
FSDP is the “formation to species duration proportion”,
ETF is the “expected number of transitional fossils”,
and OFS is the number of “observed fossil species”.

Now, we can assign some estimated numbers to the variables listed above. Because Darwin said “often only at long intervals”, NSTP should be small. Let’s assign a relatively large “small” value of 0.1. Since Darwin said that natural selection operates on only a very few inhabitants at a time, NSPP should be smaller still than NSTP. Let’s assign a value of 0.01. For AP, the area proportion between the geographic extent of a widely ranging species and its local variety, a value of 0.1 is probably an overestimate, but let’s leave it at that for the moment. For SEVR, Darwin’s text would indicate a value of 0.25 or less would be reasonable. FSDP is something best estimated by a geologist, but Darwin probably felt it to be under 0.5. Replacing values, we find that

EFR = 0.1 * 0.01 * 0.1 * 0.25 * 0.5
EFR = 0.0000125 = 1/80,000

David Raup has estimated the number of catalogued fossil species at 250,000. This allows us to generate an estimate for number of transitional sequences expected under Darwin’s own views as:

ETF = EFR * OFS = 0.0000125 * 250,000 = 3.125

Roger Cuffey’s 1974 paper on paleontologic evidence listed references for at least 139 fine-grained species to species transitional sequences. According to an expectation derived from Darwin’s own words and values from the real world, it can be seen that the fossils have been rather more forthcoming than one would expect, not less.

In addition, creationists seem to believe that gradualism is not a feature found in the fossil records. Again, they are perhaps unfamiliar with the scientific literature in this area. Luckily, there is an excellent resource by Mark Isaak called Index to creationist claims.

Don Lindsay shows some beautiful examples of gradual fossils

a single species of snail

A tree dweller becomes two

Chris Cuffey provides us with a beautiful series of “Mammal like reptiles”

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Comment #103735

Posted by Necro on June 3, 2006 8:07 PM (e)

Looks like BarryA’s effort re transitional fossils over at UD is set to cause yet another rift between the YEC IDists and whatver the rest are:

http://makeashorterlink.com/?D2243653D

Comment #103737

Posted by steve s on June 3, 2006 8:27 PM (e)

To quote the genius biologists at Uncommonly Dense:

Seriously, I hope some of our Darwinists friends who post comments on this site can help me understand how evolutionary theorists deal with their cognitive dissonance when they consider the issue of gradualism and the general absence of transitional forms from the fossil record.

Comment #103746

Posted by John Marley on June 3, 2006 9:43 PM (e)

IDiots have always ignored (or dismissed as irrelevant) inconvenient evidence. Why would they change now?

Side note: I think it would be appropriate for ‘IDiot’ to be added to the spellchecker.

Comment #103750

Posted by PvM on June 3, 2006 9:56 PM (e)

Isn’t it sad how ID still embraces the ignorance of its creationist roots?
Any claims that ID is interested in teaching the controversy and ‘correct science’ should be taken with a significant grain of salt.

Comment #103755

Posted by bill Farrell on June 3, 2006 10:12 PM (e)

Is not every fossil a transitional fossil?

I hope that I’m a transitional fossil and not an ordinary fossil. I’d hate to be just an ordinary fossil, know what I mean, Vern?

I always thought I was special.

Comment #103756

Posted by PvM on June 3, 2006 10:30 PM (e)

Wikipedia shows nicely how transitionals were filled over time in for human evolution

Comment #103757

Posted by PvM on June 3, 2006 10:32 PM (e)

And of course, Talkorigins has a large FAQ on vertebrate transitionals

Why is it that it seems that so often ignorance is guiding ID creationism?

Comment #103760

Posted by Wheels on June 3, 2006 11:03 PM (e)

Even after watching this sort of stuff go on for a few years now, I’m still amazed that some people (even “major players”) can outright deny the veracity of any and all transitional forms. Worse still, the constant appeals to Eldridge and Gould as if it made the case for evolution itself any weaker.
I guess this is partly why I’ve been “enfascinated” into the whole thing. Some people are just stupifyingly interesting to watch.

Comment #103761

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 3, 2006 11:23 PM (e)

wow phillip.

it’s amazing how consistently your comments look like almost pure stream of consciousness.

was there a point you were trying make here?

I’d recommend you be a try to be a bit more specific in the future.

Comment #103762

Posted by Christian on June 3, 2006 11:34 PM (e)

Bruce,
After reading a bit of your website, I can only say: Wow! How incredibly, psychotically imaginitive can one get in order to attempt to prove that the bible has much to do with evolution or the genesis of this solar system?

Comment #103763

Posted by PvM on June 3, 2006 11:34 PM (e)

Heywood, contribute or use the bathroom wall.

Comment #103765

Posted by snaxalotl on June 3, 2006 11:43 PM (e)

toejam, I’m paraphrasing, but I think the point was “some different species are kinda samey, at least one species is kinda diverse for very artificial reasons, and therefore blah blah blah”. Hope that clarifies.

Comment #103769

Posted by Bruce Thompson GQ on June 4, 2006 1:21 AM (e)

I interrupted my Saturday night drinking to read:

Leaving Man aside: life is common to all species: the difference between species is information.

Yes, quite right, life is not common to all members of our species.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Comment #103774

Posted by Marek 14 on June 4, 2006 6:01 AM (e)

I wonder about this:

Today, you can have all sorts of things done to you after you die. You can be buried, burnt, shot into space, frozen, be fed to vultures…

But is there actually an option to get yourself well-fossilized so you could be found some millions of years later?

Comment #103775

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on June 4, 2006 7:46 AM (e)

If you can’t come up with a fossilisation process you could consider plastination http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_Worlds .

Comment #103776

Posted by Wheels on June 4, 2006 7:50 AM (e)

Last I checked, all humans are apes.
This is verified not only by all that information you liked to harp on about at the molecular level, but also by the outward manifestations of said information, i.e. morphology. This sort of classification would hold out even neglecting the accepted idea of evolutionary relatedness, as no less than Carol Linnaeus himself classified humans among the other primates, and that was before much of modern biological classification was explored and established with solid methodology. Since you seemed so dismissive of using anatomy as a classification method, it does bear repeating that all the “information” i.e. that wonderfully complex genetic code indicates that humans are a sort of ape.
This whole Creationist uproar about being “related” to apes amuses me to no end. “More like an ape than a human” indeed. My dogs do not act more like mammals than they do dogs.

Comment #103777

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on June 4, 2006 8:16 AM (e)

It is a telltale sign when a creationist speaks about cognitive dissonances. One will find he exhibits one in the very same text.

This time twice, since the UD poster both refers to explanations such as Elsberry’s for the number of transitional fossils and Darwin explaining why the fossil record will not be complete without understanding what he is saying. The task of science is of course to explain the observations we can make, not asking for observations we can’t make.

On Philip’s comments I reacted the same as several here. He exhibits the frontloading that Charlie Wagner does on Pharyngula and the Loom.

He even adds some quantum babble for good measure. “A tree is a pre-programmed information device-the Creator’s quantum style computer.” What is this thing with trees and nuts? Don’t tell me it’s good for the species procreation.

Comment #103779

Posted by JC on June 4, 2006 8:40 AM (e)

How come there is some much vicious spew against those poor uneducated or misled believers in ID or creationism?

I mean, you hate their guts.

What should be an academic matter becomes viciously personal…oh, there is the argument kids are being misinformed, etc, but our society passes all kinds of spew off on kids everyday and you don’t complain.

And since the schools are doing a poor job anyway, less than a third of the kids graduating, and of those only half being able to really read and write at a high school level…it seems there is more going on here.

Yep…atheist propaganda; the atheist dare not let a “theistic foot” in the door as one atheist scientist commented, or their whole rotten humanity hating edifice could come crashing down.

Comment #103781

Posted by Russell on June 4, 2006 9:10 AM (e)

JC (not THE JC by any chance?) wrote:

How come there is some much vicious spew against those poor uneducated or misled believers in ID or creationism?

I mean, you hate their guts.

What should be an academic matter becomes viciously personal…

Well, you’re right. It does become a bit like a playground brawl at times. But I think you’ll find that it’s one of those vicious cycles. In addition to repeating the same old canards, severely testing the patience (and, frankly, the ability to grant the benefit of the doubt that these guys are being honest), ID/creationists say ugly, stupid, intolerant things about non-creationists; things like, Oh, I don’t know…

or their whole rotten humanity hating edifice could come crashing down.

Comment #103782

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 4, 2006 9:14 AM (e)

What should be an academic matter

This is not an academic matter:

http://www.geocities.com/lflank/fundies.htm

Yep…atheist propaganda; the atheist dare not let a “theistic foot” in the door as one atheist scientist commented, or their whole rotten humanity hating edifice could come crashing down.

But “ID isn’t about religion. No sirree Bob. It’s just them lying atheist darwinists who say it is.”

Thanks for once again demonstrating to everyone that (1) ID is just fundamentalist apologetics, (2) IDers are just lying to us when they say it isn’t, and (3) Judge Jones was perfectly correct when he rukled that it is.

Oh, and by the way, I’m, uh, not an atheist.

Comment #103787

Posted by K.E. on June 4, 2006 10:02 AM (e)

Lenny, Heywood is down to his last few marsupials in his top paddock. I expect the men in white coats will be called soon.

JC. You know you are 100% right. The sons and daughters of Cletus and Brandine Spuckler (all 26 of them) would be much better off at a decent madrasah.

Comment #103791

Posted by wamba on June 4, 2006 10:28 AM (e)

Although, given the number of transitional fossils, I doubt that many creationists feel brave enough to still make the argument that such transitionals are lacking.

Ever the optimist.

Comment #103793

Posted by Vyoma on June 4, 2006 10:43 AM (e)

Heywood wrote:

These commentators are chewing on the rug because their PreCambrian preconceptions tell them that being a member of a species is all to do with outward shape, when it is known and always has been known and always will be a fact that being a member of a species has mostly to do with being able to marry and have children.

And here you are again making pronouncements about things that you’re obviously ignorant and/or misinformed about.

According to your definition, no asexual organisms could be termed a species, and yet these commentators wouldn’t be surprised to find that asexual species do exist. Has this thought not crossed your mind before coming to your conclusion?

In fact, what you’re referring to is a typological species concept, and one that hasn’t been prevalent in quite some time. You’re really going all the way back to Linnaeus here, to a time when morphology was the basis on which phylogeny was centered because that’s all there was to work with. I can assure you that if any modern biologists base their understanding of evolutionary relationships solely on either morphology or upon the capability to reproduce sexually, they are a tiny minority slaving away over bubbling retorts in a cave somewhere. In fact, one current school of thought is to do away with this taxonomic concept entirely and base phylogenetic relationships almost exclusively on molecular data.

Your attribution of purely typological classification to modern science is exclusively of your own creation. It may be one aspect that is considered, but it’s only one among many. It’s really quite typical of the kind of arguments that creationists spin, and what is generally known as a straw man. You put forth an argument that you claim is that of the other side, then proceed to knock it down without ever acknowledging that it is you, not they, who put forth the argument in the first place.

Comment #103794

Posted by K.E. on June 4, 2006 11:03 AM (e)

Vyoma….. don’t waste your time …..Bruce will start talking about cats and dogs and the improbability of crows talking then move on to why Darwin died an atheist because he didn’t read Mendel’s papers.

Isn’t that right Bruce?
Stone the crows mate, you must be busier than a one armed Sydney Cobbie with crabs throwing a technicolor yawn over evolution, a bit more choke and you would have started.

Comment #103795

Posted by Vyoma on June 4, 2006 11:08 AM (e)

K.E. wrote:

Vyoma….. don’t waste your time

Dno’t worry about that. It’s Sunday, a day well suited for wasting a bit of time. Besides, yo never know… someone someday might get through to the guy enough for him to take that absolutely bizarre website of his offline.

Comment #103797

Posted by K.E. on June 4, 2006 11:24 AM (e)

Vyoma if only ‘twere that easy.
I’m thinking of dropping sarcasm altogether (they just don’t seem to ‘get it’)and moving to outrageous insults. I’ve come a long way quickly with these idiots (as the surprised actress said.

Comment #103799

Posted by K.E. on June 4, 2006 11:26 AM (e)

insults go better without spelling checkers
Sydney Cobbie=Sydney Cabbie

Comment #103805

Posted by Anton Mates on June 4, 2006 11:58 AM (e)

Philip Bruce Heywood wrote:

I will add something on the off chance there may be some decent person who is wondering what that was all about. These commentators are chewing on the rug because their PreCambrian preconceptions tell them that being a member of a species is all to do with outward shape, when it is known and always has been known and always will be a fact that being a member of a species has mostly to do with being able to marry and have children. Your husband might look more like an ape than a human; he might act more like an sape than a human; he may swing through trees at a terrific rate making the appropriate noises; he may even contribute at TalkOrigins! But if you and he have raised a family, well, shape aside, what species does he belong to? And if you wish to find out more about the origin of the species, visit the link that is my name. There’s no monkeying there!

Philip, I already pointed this out, but here it is again, in bold:

The ability of humans and other apes to interbreed has never been tested. It remains an open question whether we could hybridize with, for instance, chimps. (Overall genetic similarity argues for it; the different (but not too different) chromosomal arrangement and developmental differences argue against.)

So if you’re hinging your species concept purely on interfertility, you cannot say that, say, humans and chimps are definitely different species. Do you think such a concept is particularly useful?

Comment #103806

Posted by Stevaroni on June 4, 2006 12:05 PM (e)

If any of you guys are ever in Capetown, South Africa, check out the Natural History Museum (it probably has an official name, but it escapes me).

I saw perhaps the best illustration ever of transitional fossils there.

They have a long wall, and on the left end of it, they have the fossil skull of a very ancient and primitive fish. On the right end of the wall, they have a modern human skull.

And in between, they have a whole slew of intermediates, all from the right geological era.

They’ve also helpfully color-coded all the individual bones on each skull, so you can track what moved where and when, so you can see how those pesky gill covers became ear bones with your very own eyes.

There’s a similarly convincing display of changing hominid skulls in the 3rd floor lobby of the British Museum of Natural History in London (not to mention an entire wing on Darwin).

I would hazard a guess that anyone who was truly looking for evidence of transitions with an open mind would come away from either of these displays convinced.

It’s a real shame that in recent years American museums have caved to public pressure and tuned down the emphasis on evolution in new exhibits, because when you see a really good example of this type of display, it’s pretty hard to honestly think anything but “Well, Duh.”

(By the way, Capetown also has an excellent exhibit on regional whales which shouldn’t be missed)

Comment #103807

Posted by Bruce Thompson GQ on June 4, 2006 12:26 PM (e)

I awoke from the frat party to read this:

How come there is some much vicious spew against those poor uneducated or misled believers in ID or creationism?

I mean, you hate their guts.

Incorrect, poorly constructed arguments that ramble and go nowhere are not greeted with any sympathy at PT. When authors repeatedly present the same ramblings other commenter’s will intensify the harsh language in response. The wide range of backgrounds at PT guarantees that comments will be scrutinized from various viewpoints, especially those making extraordinary claims.

If Philip Bruce Heywood would spend time on his comments, restricting himself to what he believes is a single defensible point and present it in a readable format he might survive a little longer. By continually posting unreadable and undecipherable (except perhaps to himself) comments he opens himself to ridicule in the public arena.

Up your meds Bruce, it works for me.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Comment #103808

Posted by PaulC on June 4, 2006 12:45 PM (e)

Technical advance solved this quizz, and the outcome favoured … atheism?… the Bible? … the Prophet? … Bob Hawke and the Australian Labour Party? It favoured … eggs.

You’ve solved it! Eggs, not ice, is civilization.

Comment #103809

Posted by Jason on June 4, 2006 12:54 PM (e)

PVM states…

Although, given the number of transitional fossils, I doubt that many creationists feel brave enough to still make the argument that such transitionals are lacking.

Are you serious? I mean….wow. I interact with creationists every day and I don’t think I’ve ever encountered one who didn’t throw out the “no transitional fossils” assertion. Are there any creationists at all who say “Oh sure, there are transitional fossils…”? If there are, I haven’t seen ‘em.

So really PvM, were you serious when you wrote that?

Comment #103810

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 4, 2006 1:05 PM (e)

toejam, I’m paraphrasing, but I think the point was “some different species are kinda samey, at least one species is kinda diverse for very artificial reasons, and therefore blah blah blah”. Hope that clarifies.

lol.

no, but at least it’s more concise.

Comment #103811

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 4, 2006 1:13 PM (e)

But is there actually an option to get yourself well-fossilized so you could be found some millions of years later?

that’s a great idea!

talk about immortality…

and no, I really am serious. with some of the nutty stuff folks are willing to pay for to enter their remains in creative ways, this sounds like a sure money maker. take for example having your ashes incorporated into an artificial reef:

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,796667,00.html

how much better would fossilization of your complete skeleton be?

I can imagine some smaller paleo depts. offering this service…

for those of you anxious to get started in your own human fossilization business, here’s a brief discussion of the issue:

http://www.newscientist.com/backpage.ns?id=lw1052

Comment #103816

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 4, 2006 1:21 PM (e)

What is this thing with trees and nuts?

ugh.

Comment #103817

Posted by PvM on June 4, 2006 1:34 PM (e)

Jason wrote:

So really PvM, were you serious when you wrote that?

Yes and knowing very well that there are plenty of creationists who in their ignorance still make these claims. Sad how their churches and other creationists keep them ignorant of scientific fact.

Comment #103819

Posted by MrPeng on June 4, 2006 1:59 PM (e)

Hi,

I’ve been lurking here and at UD for several months, since the Dover, PA trial, and reading like crazy The Wedge, Creationism’s Trojan Horse, Why Intelligent Design Fails, Darwin’s Ghost, I have even slogged through Debating Design: from Darwin to DNA, and a host of other volumes, and one thing completely stumps me: Why are there a certain set of people who can look at the available data and not see what there is to see? It’s as if you show an evolution denier a banana and he says, “That’s an orange, and your insistance on dogmatically calling it a banana is responsible for World War Two, Hurricanes, AIDS (not that there is such a thing as AIDS), Homosexualtiy and the downfall of Western Civilization as we know it!”

There seems to be a funkadelic disconnect from reality. I don’t want to blame religion, because there are plenty of religious people who ‘get it.’ What causes this seemingly willful obtuseness and refusal to accept what is so patently obvious? Its maddening, and I applaud those of you here who take the time to explain things - over and over and over and over again and again and again and again - to the latest ninnyhammer to arrive with his sack full of talking points from Answers in Genesis. I simply do not understand how, when shown the lovely progression from tetrapod to whale, the evo-deniers can honestly say (honsetly is key here) that they don’t see what an elegant example of evolution in action it is.

Anyway, brilliant site, and I will now return to lurk mode.

Comment #103821

Posted by Tukla in Iowa on June 4, 2006 2:11 PM (e)

But is there actually an option to get yourself well-fossilized so you could be found some millions of years later?

I’ve encased myself in a cube of Lucite. It makes typing difficult, though.

Comment #103822

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 4, 2006 2:12 PM (e)

Why are there a certain set of people who can look at the available data and not see what there is to see?

You sense what’s behind a lot of it (IMO) right here:

There seems to be a funkadelic disconnect from reality.

Indeed, the patterns of behavior exhibited by most of these folks is quite consistent. What you see is common usage of psychological defense mechanisms of projection and denial, the more so whenever you push them to provide “evidence” to support their ideas.

i I don’t want to blame religion, because there are plenty of religious people who ‘get it.’ What causes this seemingly willful obtuseness and refusal to accept what is so patently obvious?

You’re quite right. It has less to do with religion itself, and much more to do with how these specific people were taught when young, and whether they were capable of dealing with the cognitive dissonance caused by such contrasting worldviews as they grow older.

Its maddening,

that’s it exactly.

Comment #103823

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on June 4, 2006 2:34 PM (e)

The Transitional Fossil Existence Challenge.

Comment #103824

Posted by steve s on June 4, 2006 2:34 PM (e)

Its maddening,

Only if you let it get to you. If you can make peace with the fact that religion has made most people insane in a very limited, mostly harmless way, and a few people insane in an active and dangerous way, you’ll not be maddened.

Comment #103825

Posted by Katie on June 4, 2006 3:11 PM (e)

This is the thing I don’t understand: obviously, since there are no transitional fossils and particularly no hominid ones, every hominid must be either pure human or pure ape. Yet creationists can’t even agree (sometimes even with themselves!) on which are human and which are ape. That all by itself blows the entire “no transitional fossils” straight to hell, without even looking in any detail at morphology or at any of the other lineages. It seems like a pretty perfect illustration of how intermediate those fossils really are, unless anyone can explain to me why it’s not?

Comment #103829

Posted by steve s on June 4, 2006 4:39 PM (e)

Yeah, I do love those moments when one creationist says ‘this skeleton isn’t transitional, it’s a monkey’ while another says ‘this skeleton isn’t transitional, it’s a human’. those are delicious.

In a related story, over at After the Bar Closes, one creationist (AFDave) is claiming that relativity proves god exists, while another creationist (Ghost of Paley) is claiming relativity is totally wrong.

Comment #103830

Posted by Henry J on June 4, 2006 5:13 PM (e)

Re “It seems like a pretty perfect illustration of how intermediate those fossils really are, unless anyone can explain to me why it’s not?”

The problem is, you’re using logic to evaluate the argument, when you’re supposed to use your emotional reaction to the conclusion. ;)

Henry

Comment #103832

Posted by Ed Darrell on June 4, 2006 5:52 PM (e)

Looks like BarryA’s effort re transitional fossils over at UD is set to cause yet another rift between the YEC IDists and whatver the rest are:

http://makeashorterlink.com/?D2243653D

Looks like BarryA let another cat out of the bag – they’ve dredged up all the old YEC arguments as justification for ID. They can’t keep straight which tale they’re supposed to tell.

Organizational senility is a terrible thing to watch.

Comment #103833

Posted by dogscratcher on June 4, 2006 5:58 PM (e)

Heywood:
“when it is known and always has been known and always will be a fact that being a member of a species has mostly to do with being able to marry and have children.”

Shouldn’t there be a constitutional ammendment making interspecies marriage illegal? I mean it really cheapens the whole intstitution of marriage if you allow dogs and cats to marry.

Comment #103834

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 4, 2006 6:09 PM (e)

I hate to complain about an anti-anti-evolution paper, but you can’t really “do math” like that. The values Elsberry assigns might be reasonable, but they can’t be ascribed to Darwin. Unlike Dembski, Darwin knew where he was ignorant, and walked carefully around those areas.

Then too, one cannot compare the time of Darwin with the time today. The numbers Elsberry uses may, or may not, be reasonable guesses at what Darwin might have used, but of course the numbers are very different at this time. We all know that? Of course we do, but if one truly takes account of this fact, the conclusion, “…it can be seen that the fossils have been rather more forthcoming than one would expect, not less,” does not follow from the calculations, mainly because the numbers have changed since Darwin’s day (even if we accept, for the sake of argument, the figures that Elsberry uses).

Why do I bother? Because of the fact that evolution may not have proceeded as Darwin expected–that is to say, the punc-eek guys might be right. The great thing about Elsberry’s article is that he gets to showcase known (or at least highly suspected) gradualistic change, which is especially difficult to account for in the YEC scenario (who knows what ID “would predict” (obviously they try their best to predict nothing at all, except highly suspect post-dictions (find a complex “machine” and proclaim that it cannot evolve) of unevolvability)?). Perhaps more to the point, evolution probably did not occur according to how many neo-Darwinists assumed it would, something that Elsberry’s mathematics does not change, IMO.

There’s another issue, which is that more effort may have been put into documenting gradual changes where it was hoped that they would exist, than in sequences which were expected not to yield these gradual changes. Hence there may be an artifact of selection that also affects Elsberry’s figures.

Having said all of that, I would also point out something that your average creationists does not know, and usually does not care to learn. Gradualism was the assumption throughout much of evolutionary theory’s life, however it was not an entailed prediction. It was simply due to the conservatism of science, that one ought not to predict anything for which one does not have evidence. There is not a similar stricture in ID/creationism, of course, so that these pseudoscientists do not understand the conservatism of evolution, yet this is a necessary constraint in legitimate science.

The entailed predictions of evolution were not touched by the debates over the rate of evolution (or, the typical rates of evolution). This is why Gould and Eldredge were talking the same language and types of evidence as the gradualists, since virtually the same kinds of changes were expected with punctuated equilibrium as with gradualism, just at differing rates.

We are not even talking about the same sort of evidence with IDists/creationists, since we have no idea how life would be “front-loaded”, or affected from the heavens, in the ID “scenario”. The IDists want us to forget this fact, and to assume that the sort of complexity predicted by evolution (namely, derivative complexity) is also predicted by ID–or equally, that the lack of prediction by ID is fine because ID has no expectations (beyond complexity levels–which are not entailed by ID at all, considering that we have no expectations of the designer).

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #103835

Posted by the pro from dover on June 4, 2006 6:37 PM (e)

Attention Lurkers: If you approach this website a few monotremes short of a subclass you can expect to be attacked by the intelligent educated segment of society. Probably the best example of an IESS is the right reverend Leonardo Flanko MD pHD FOTHB. And until he aims his high powered sarcasm ray at your corpus callosum you’re..well..still a lurker. Before PT i could’t even spell scientist now i can use terms like “funkadelic disconnect” in some of the most erudite of social gatherings (and how it helps me pick up chicks!!!). I wonder do you have to pay royalties to George Clinton or to Bootsy Collins for that expression? An intersting side issue to the transitional fossil phenomenon can be found with modern sharks and rays. Sharks are ancient creatures with fossils dating back to what 400,000,000 years whereas rays dont appear until sometime in the cenozoic era. Today its very hard with living specimens to clearly delineate where sharks end and rays begin without applying some arbitrary definition. Although the “difference” between a Great White and a Manta is huge as you gradate from one to the other there are organisms that are truly “transitional”.

Comment #103836

Posted by steve s on June 4, 2006 6:43 PM (e)

Organizational senility is a terrible thing to watch.

Au contraire. Watching the Organizational schizophrenia of Uncommonly Dense is hilarious. What about the time Salvador claimed the Genetic ID company was performing the Explanatory Filter, Davescot got mad at him because that’s just pattern matching–Dave could never quite explain how salvador was wrong about the EF–and closed the comment section on the post, whereupon Sal complained to Dembski, and shortly thereafter made a new thread about Genetic ID, which Dave proceeded to bitch about. That was hilarious.

Like Steve Reuland put it in The Quixotic Message,

ID is whatever we say it is, and we don’t agree.

Comment #103842

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on June 4, 2006 7:12 PM (e)

I hate to complain about an anti-anti-evolution paper, but you can’t really “do math” like that.

Sure you can. It’s called estimation. Consult Consider a Spherical Cow: A Course in Environmental Problem Solving. The result is not intended to be precise, but rather gives a feeling for the likely neighborhood of the solution.

The values Elsberry assigns might be reasonable, but they can’t be ascribed to Darwin. Unlike Dembski, Darwin knew where he was ignorant, and walked carefully around those areas.

Certainly Darwin did not produce numbers, but Darwin’s descriptions are sufficient to exclude ranges of numbers: “small” will not be a number near the totality, and by standard English usage is going to be less than half at the very least.

Then too, one cannot compare the time of Darwin with the time today. The numbers Elsberry uses may, or may not, be reasonable guesses at what Darwin might have used, but of course the numbers are very different at this time. We all know that? Of course we do, but if one truly takes account of this fact, the conclusion, “…it can be seen that the fossils have been rather more forthcoming than one would expect, not less,” does not follow from the calculations, mainly because the numbers have changed since Darwin’s day (even if we accept, for the sake of argument, the figures that Elsberry uses).

OK, I’m game. Pick one of the numbers I substituted in and show how different the value was in Darwin’s day from today. Until then, I am frankly unconvinced that there is a point here.

Why do I bother? Because of the fact that evolution may not have proceeded as Darwin expected—that is to say, the punc-eek guys might be right.

Oh, boy. This is one of my favorite arguments.

The point of the exercise was to highlight that Darwin did not expect us to find innumerable transitionals, even though common descent requires such to have existed. This is clear from the plain English description Darwin gave, but some people need to have some numbers plugged in for the light to click on.

Comment #103862

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 4, 2006 9:28 PM (e)

Yeah, I do love those moments when one creationist says ‘this skeleton isn’t transitional, it’s a monkey’ while another says ‘this skeleton isn’t transitional, it’s a human’. those are delicious.

In a related story, over at After the Bar Closes, one creationist (AFDave) is claiming that relativity proves god exists, while another creationist (Ghost of Paley) is claiming relativity is totally wrong.

Heck, it wasn’t very long ago that AiG was arguing both that (1) Archaeopteryx is just a bird, with no dinosaur skeletal characteristics at all, and (2) Archaeopteryx is a fake that was made by adding feathers to a plain old ordinary dinosaur skeleton.

These arguments were being made not only both at the same time, but both ON THE VERY SAME PAGE.

Not terribly bright, are they.

Comment #103864

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on June 4, 2006 10:58 PM (e)

Anton writes “So if you’re hinging your species concept purely on interfertility, you cannot say that, say, humans and chimps are definitely different species. Do you think such a concept is particularly useful?”

One wonders whether or not Phillip would like to test his hypothesis.

Do it for glory Phil.

Stuart

Comment #103876

Posted by Philip Bruce Heywood on June 5, 2006 7:12 AM (e)

I’ve been out swinging from trees. Don’t forget that to prove two individuals are the same species they need to produce fertile offspring. Advanced organisms that reproduce asexually sure as shooting reproduce after their kind. We are referring here to complex organisms. The microscopic world and the world of plants follows along the same lines, although not perhaps in a clear-cut fashion. We also have to consider the matter in context. As I mentioned, human breeding programmes may be a factor in some instances (e.g., dogs). As for testing humans with, say, chimps, to see if we are the same species - don’t assume it hasn’t been tried. But that is a red herring. Species in the everyday sense are reproductively “islands unto themselves” as anyone who opens his eyes can see.
It is not the purpose of Science to overthrow the absurdley obvious to support a religious stance. Science utilizes facts to build theories, not vice-versa. So, species in the common, everyday layman’s understanding, are genetically distinct units. Explain, then, how they were transformed one to another. Such events presumably occurred only under exceptional, special conditions, but they happened, naturally, without breaking the laws of science. “Transitional” specimens will presumably play a part in this endeavour. “Transitional” in inverted commas. People who already know how it happened need not apply.

Comment #103877

Posted by Shirley Knott on June 5, 2006 7:19 AM (e)

Phil, are you seriously asserting that it is in principle impossible ever to determine whether two males are members of the same species?!?!?!

hugs,
Shirley Knott

Comment #103880

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on June 5, 2006 7:40 AM (e)

So, species in the common, everyday layman’s understanding, are genetically distinct units. Explain, then, how they were transformed one to another. Such events presumably occurred only under exceptional, special conditions, but they happened, naturally, without breaking the laws of science.

Well, first of al, that’s not the “everyday layman’s” definition. That’s Mayr’s definition, who came to it from a distinctly evolutionary outlook.

Second, we have plenty of examples of incipient species, i.e. groups of individuals between which gene flow is minimal, but still possible. Some of the genetic events responsible for reproductive isolation have even been identified, and shown to be due to conventional mutation mechanisms.

Speciation is not exceptional, it’s the norm. We can see it happen, and we are clearly starting to understand how it happens. No “laws of science” have to be broken.

Comment #103881

Posted by SteveF on June 5, 2006 7:45 AM (e)

“I’ve been out swinging from trees.”

Does that explain why you talk such shit?

Comment #103888

Posted by Erasmus on June 5, 2006 8:30 AM (e)

So Heywood then all members of Lepomis (Centrarchid fishes) may be synonymized into one species? They interbreed successfully with persist despite multiple fertile outcrossings. You really should write that paper my friend with your incisive insight and wonderful bafflegab ideas, you could revolutionize the world of teleost taxonomy. Maybe you would set the entomological world on it’s frontoclypeus if you were to insist that descriptions of new species be presented alongside reproductive isolation data, make these ivory tower humbugs test their assertions, plain old lock and key does not a species make.

the fact that ‘anyone who opens his eyes can see ‘is not so plain as you might think, check the recent cryptic complexes of lepidoptera from south america. your notion of species is emotional essentialist bullshit.

Comment #103889

Posted by Vyoma on June 5, 2006 9:10 AM (e)

Heywood wrote:

Don’t forget that to prove two individuals are the same species they need to produce fertile offspring.

As I have already explained, no, they do not. This is one criteria that can be used to demonstrate one particular relationship. It cannot take into account organisms that reproduce asexually, of which there are many thousands known. If your definition were true, then almost no protista could ever be termed a species.

This isn’t even taking into account extinct organisms that no one has ever seen reproduce. Could dodo birds and passenger pigeons interbreed? Archaeopteryx and tasmanian tigers? The mind boggles at such over-simplification.

Advanced organisms that reproduce asexually sure as shooting reproduce after their kind. We are referring here to complex organisms.

OK, name for us an asexually reproducing advanced organism and explain what makes it more complex than an prmitive sexually-reproducing organism. This ought to be good.

We also have to consider the matter in context. As I mentioned, human breeding programmes may be a factor in some instances (e.g., dogs). As for testing humans with, say, chimps, to see if we are the same species - don’t assume it hasn’t been tried. But that is a red herring. Species in the everyday sense are reproductively “islands unto themselves” as anyone who opens his eyes can see.

I’m sorry, but this is just plain ignorant and perhaps willfully so. Have you any familiarity with ring species, or are you just making things up again?

And how exactly do you explain the polar bear/grizzly bear hybrid that was recently bagged in the wild? The two species have scores of morphological differences, yet they certainly managed to breed in the wild, all by themselves.

It is not the purpose of Science to overthrow the absurdley obvious to support a religious stance. Science utilizes facts to build theories, not vice-versa. So, species in the common, everyday layman’s understanding, are genetically distinct units.

Wow, what a bunch of gibberish. According to this line of thinking, science should never have tackled the question of geocentricity vs. heliocentricity, since it was at one time “absurdely obvious” that the sun revolved around the earth. The point of science is not to simply ignore common belief, the thoughts of laymen (i.e., those who do not do science and likely have very little understanding of the principles of any particular scientific field — such as yourself) notwithstanding. It is precisely the role of science to question commonly-held beliefs in order to confirm or discount their veracity. This is where creationist knuckleheads run right off the tracks and into a ravine of idiocy. You always come back to this argument that’s based on having unshakeable faith in what you think you already know and bristle instantly at the idea that the world is not as it seems. I’m just waiting for the assertion now that the reams of evidence and investigation that contradict your claims are the works of evil spirits (or, as I like to call it, “argument from ooga-booga”).

Explain, then, how they were transformed one to another. Such events presumably occurred only under exceptional, special conditions, but they happened, naturally, without breaking the laws of science.

Yes, this is a discipline called evolutionary biology. I suggest you actually investigate it sometime, perhaps after you’ve finished concocting fairy tales about laws of science that you really don’t know anything about and making up exceptions to them that don’t actually exist. Here’s a clue for you, though. Evolutionary biology doesn’t make the claim that populations undergo change only under special conditions. Quite to the contrary, if you take a look at the Hardy-Weinberg equation, the claim is quite the opposite; populations only fail to undergo change under a set of conditions so limited that they almost don’t exist at all. Change over time is the norm, not the exception. You now have a clue. You owe me a quarter.

“Transitional” specimens will presumably play a part in this endeavour. “Transitional” in inverted commas. People who already know how it happened need not apply.

Uhhhhh, yeah, sure Phil. You think you know what happened without actually looking at the evidence. You know, I saw a 15 year old girl wearing a t-shirt the other day. The shirt read “Faith: Not seeing is believing.” That translates as “poke your eyes out and you’ll know everything.” I can only surmise that you’ve purchased a Braille keyboard…

Comment #103890

Posted by AD on June 5, 2006 9:20 AM (e)

With regard to the earlier comment about this being a scientific debate…

It’s not a scientific debate until both sides have conducted and published actual research. So, um, who’s holding up the scientific debate again?

Just wondering.

Comment #103891

Posted by k.e. on June 5, 2006 9:23 AM (e)

Geez Bwuce, are you SURE they didn’t let you out just to get rid of you?
Bestiality is a crime in most states in Australia, so why is it you have never been caught?

Comment #103893

Posted by stevaroni on June 5, 2006 9:25 AM (e)

Heywood wrote:

Don’t forget that to prove two individuals are the same species they need to produce fertile offspring.

This is somewhat disturbing, as it seems to show that my wife and I are, as of the moment at least, different species.

Then again, women have been asserting this with regards to men in general for some time.

Comment #103895

Posted by stevearoni on June 5, 2006 9:52 AM (e)

JC wrote:

How come there is some much vicious spew against those poor uneducated or misled believers in ID or creationism?
I mean, you hate their guts.

Not true. Their guts are fine, what we hate the argument

It’s like listening to someone spew conspiracy theory about something you’re very familiar with because you handle it regularly. It doesn’t matter that you have this huge pile of simple, readily demonstrable, highly inconvenient data - he simply refuses to acknowledge it because it’s hard to refute directly and it doesn’t fit his pet theory.

Those who dispute Noah’s ark provide all sorts of analysis about the carrying capacity of known bronze age wooden boats and the predicted waste volume of 20,000 animals. Those who support the ark blather about secret spy satellite photos that somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody once heard of.

There’s a difference. One of these you can go check.

You can only stand out in the middle of a field with someone who’s arguing that the sky is not blue and the grass is not green for so long before you call him an idiot and walk away.

Comment #103899

Posted by Anton Mates on June 5, 2006 10:49 AM (e)

Philip Bruce Heywood wrote:

I’ve been out swinging from trees. Don’t forget that to prove two individuals are the same species they need to produce fertile offspring.

I didn’t say the single-species status of chimps and humans was proved; I said it was undecided by your criterion.

Four sentences later, he wrote:

As for testing humans with, say, chimps, to see if we are the same species - don’t assume it hasn’t been tried. But that is a red herring. Species in the everyday sense are reproductively “islands unto themselves” as anyone who opens his eyes can see.

You do recognize the 180° contradiction here, yes? Actual testable interfertility versus apparent reproductive isolation at a casual glance?

Again: there are chains of fertile offspring connecting virtually every common felid, from housecats to lions. There are chains of fertile offspring connecting the entire genus Canis. There are chains of fertile offspring connecting several species (“in the everday sense”) of dolphins and toothed whales. These offspring are not hypothetical.

On the other hand, there are no chains of fertile offspring connecting, say, me and Pim.

So do we accept that Pim and I are different species, while there’s only one species each of “cat,” “dog, genus Canis,” “small toothed whale?” Or do we scrap your definition as unusable and return to your “everyday sense,” which in fact is derived from evolutionary theory?

Comment #103901

Posted by k.e. on June 5, 2006 11:07 AM (e)

stevearoni said:

This is somewhat disturbing, as it seems to show that my wife and I are, as of the moment at least, different species.

Then again, women have been asserting this with regards to men in general for some time.

SHhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
You’ll let the proverbial cat out of the bag.

On a lighter note:
Did you hear Paul McCartney bought a plane for his wife for Xmas? We still don’t know what she’s going to shave her other leg with.

Hrmm that’s an old carpenters joke :)

Comment #103916

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 5, 2006 12:54 PM (e)

Elsberry wrote:

Davidson wrote:

I hate to complain about an anti-anti-evolution paper, but you can’t really “do math” like that.

Sure you can. It’s called estimation. Consult Consider a Spherical Cow: A Course in Environmental Problem Solving. The result is not intended to be precise, but rather gives a feeling for the likely neighborhood of the solution.

Yes, it’s an estimation, but it’s kind of like using the Drake equation, all of the variables are unknown, or in this case, poorly known(we can’t read Darwin’s mind), so that the errors are likely to add up. One might hope that some errors cancel out, but that is not something that ought to be expected. Environmental estimates are based upon actual data, generally, and not upon someone’s defense of evolution (meaning that we have to be concerned about whether Darwin was straining or not–the arguments are there to be evaluated, not simply to be taken as faith from Darwin’s pen).

Also, I believe that in the equation you multiplied the small proportion of individuals evolving twice. I cannot see any good reason to figure in both the NSPP and the AP. We don’t know what sort of “region” Darwin is discussing when he claims that only a few inhabitants are evolving, hence it seems plausible that his “local” evolution (AP) is essentially the same thing as his “only a very few inhabitants of the same region [evolving] at the same time” (NSPP). And if you would dispute this, well, let’s note that it is a disputable calculation, which was my major point.

Elsberry wrote:

Davidson wrote:

The values Elsberry assigns might be reasonable, but they can’t be ascribed to Darwin. Unlike Dembski, Darwin knew where he was ignorant, and walked carefully around those areas.

Certainly Darwin did not produce numbers, but Darwin’s descriptions are sufficient to exclude ranges of numbers: “small” will not be a number near the totality, and by standard English usage is going to be less than half at the very least.

Did I dispute the idea that his descriptions exclude ranges of numbers? Of course they do, the trouble is that then you go right ahead and perform a calculation in which the unknowns are likely to multiply into something with a very high error rate–if there were any real figures (but “real figures” means nothing, actually, as Darwin wasn’t thinking in figures).

Elsberry wrote:

Davidson wrote:

Then too, one cannot compare the time of Darwin with the time today. The numbers Elsberry uses may, or may not, be reasonable guesses at what Darwin might have used, but of course the numbers are very different at this time. We all know that? Of course we do, but if one truly takes account of this fact, the conclusion, “…it can be seen that the fossils have been rather more forthcoming than one would expect, not less,” does not follow from the calculations, mainly because the numbers have changed since Darwin’s day (even if we accept, for the sake of argument, the figures that Elsberry uses).

OK, I’m game. Pick one of the numbers I substituted in and show how different the value was in Darwin’s day from today. Until then, I am frankly unconvinced that there is a point here.

Sure, you can just input numbers without any backing, but I’m supposed to show difference from your numbers–when I’m disputing the possibility of doing such quantitative analyses altogether.

What I’ll do instead is counter the subsidence vs. elevation ratio reasonably. The fact is that while Darwin’s “local” issue may very well matter, the knowledge of formations is rather more complete today than it was in Darwin’s time. Areas of deposition continued during periods of overall continental elevations, so that the same sort of concern over elevation vs. subsidence does not matter as much for that reason (what is more, the common marine fossils would be found evolving in these areas that we can now connect, but which were not connected in Darwin’s day).

I get the impression from reading Darwin that he considered unconformities to be a greater problem than they were even in his day, let alone in our day of far more comprehensive knowledge of widespread formations.

Likewise, the duration of formation to duration of species (which is not the term that Darwin actually used, but it is your interpretation) ratio is not much of a problem, at least not for the most common species (which are the ones Darwin would know the best). One does not really expect insect transitions to be well-documented, of course, but today we know (better than Darwin did) of some very long-lived formations. The evidence for this? Just look at some of the fine-grained evolutionary sequences known, which are made possible by circumventing the problem that Darwin was discussing.

Those two issues alone change the resultant figures substantially. Plus, if my interpretation of Darwin is used, the AP has to be discarded, since it seems reasonable to understand the NSPP as covering the area problem (Darwin appears to have understood that populations evolve).

What is more, Darwin’s idea that change occurs quite slowly does not square well (in my mind, anyway) with a figure of just 0.1 for the NSTP. While he does write things like that the period of modification “was probably short in comparision with that during which it remained without undergoing any change” (Darwin, Ch. 10, “On the imperfections of the fossil record,” p. 428, as found on http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1011737/posts?page=197, p. 13), he does not give us much reason for this, nor does “quite short” convey a very narrow range of possibilities.

What I’m getting at now is that Darwin has to be interpreted. Since he accepted the inheritance of acquired characteristics, at least later on, how is one really supposed to know what his position on rates of evolution “really was”? The neo-Darwinists had their own interpretation, which tended toward gradualism because their experiments and observations were of seeming gradualistic change.

But getting back to the figures in the calculation, I will repeat that one cannot use the same figures for the geological record that one would use today to calculate the “expected rate of species evolution”. We have a more complete geological record today, and Darwin’s “expectations” would have to change accordingly. Gaps have been bridged, and thicker formations covering more time have been found since his day. Those two “knowledge factors” have to considered to be variables that change with time, and we cannot compare the ratio of transitions/fossil species in our day with the expected ratio of Darwin’s day without factoring in the change in variables (that is to say, we haven’t obviously “done better than expected” by Darwin because Darwin did not assume that no advances in geology would occur–plus the point that I brought up and you ignored, the selectivity of finds based on what people want to find out).

Elsberry wrote:

Davidson wrote:

Why do I bother? Because of the fact that evolution may not have proceeded as Darwin expected—that is to say, the punc-eek guys might be right.

Oh, boy. This is one of my favorite arguments.

The point of the exercise was to highlight that Darwin did not expect us to find innumerable transitionals, even though common descent requires such to have existed. This is clear from the plain English description Darwin gave, but some people need to have some numbers plugged in for the light to click on.

Of course Darwin didn’t expect us to find innumerable transitionals, but his ideas seem to suggest that more species transitions would be found than were. And that is what Darwin was discussing, at least in most of the relevant passage, since he already had reasonable larger-scale intermediates–amphibians between fish and reptiles, for instance.

Your own comments also pay heed to the species-transition issues that Darwin was actually discussing, but then you use Cuffey’s figure of 139 known transitions as if this responded to the ratio “calculated” from Darwin’s comments regarding species transitions. I have not been able to locate Cuffey’s paper (though I may yet–it’s 1984, not 1974, btw), however it does not appear that the full 139 are species to species transitions. According to the link above, Cuffey is including “protists, several invertebrate phyla, and vertebrates, especially mammals including hominids” (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1011737/posts?page=197, p. 13). I am not sure if those are all within the “139”, but clearly we don’t have the sorts of intermediates between species of hominids that were at issue in Darwin’s statements regarding species change within the geological record (meaning that he may have 139 species-to-species transitions shown in fine detail, but I have reason to doubt it given what I can find on the web). In fact I believe that there are no vertebrate fossil sequences really showing the fine-grained species-to-species transformations that Darwin was “explaining away”.

So that unless it is shown that Cuffey really was discussing the sorts of transitions that Darwin had been writing about in all 139 transition, I am going to reserve judgment even on the modern ratio, let alone the ones based upon the geological knowledge of Darwin’s day.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #103919

Posted by Mathmattx on June 5, 2006 1:02 PM (e)

If the aim of this website is true to its mission statement “to educate and defend” please respond…Often times these panels truly miss the point, all the vitriol aside for a moment. ID or Darwin folks get so bent out of shape trying to interpret ever changing “evidence”, using ever shifting methods of collection that barely pass as science e.g., (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,11069-2208566,00.html). Sort of the (as mentioned) playground bullying of “My PhD is bigger than yours”. I think Evolutionists enjoy this game because it diverts attention from the crux of the issue (as Darwin did). So the two questions remain as I would like them answered. Let’s rewind to the beginning and simplify the issues, so there is no intellectual slight of hand (on either side). If the “Big-Bang, i.e., “First there was nothing and then it exploded”, 1) what did evolution first act upon to produce life when there was no life? (If we believe Pasteur, and the Universe was “hot” as science says it was, then it was basically a, ultra- sterilized Petri dish. 2) If evolution, why more than one form of life? So, we grant number 1), but why then “evolution”. If the first organism evolved, it was alive and perfectly suited to its environs, it had no predators, was succeeding, etc, why such a range of diverse creatures. I suppose you can claim competition or a changing environment, but with as slow as evolution acts…the limited population would have been either eaten or starved out of existence, rendering the simple single cell “cousin” the dominate and successful organism. Any evolution beyond this defies logic…why risk expenditures of biologic energy trying to evolve when there is no environmental pressure to evolve. Again, why such a range of creatures from a simple to “ever-complex”. If it is a result of competition, shouldn’t we have just a few or even a single “Ultra-Complex” life form on Earth…why are “humans” here if bacteria or amoebas still flourish? To say anything beyond this, seems to me, to imply that the evolutionary process itself is “intelligent”, e.g., that an evolved “eye” also had the extra sensory perception to know that a connection to the brain, to a nervous system, to fluid vessels, a lens, etc would be needed. I will leave the Christians alone at this point because, whether you agree with them or not, their position is clear and has been consistently defined since the dawn of recoded history (An uncreated God, created everything). However, Science seems to get ever more imaginative and speculative as time goes on, why (among other reasons) sciences texts from even a few years ago are “out of date”.

Comment #103920

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 5, 2006 1:14 PM (e)

In fact I believe that there are no vertebrate fossil sequences really showing the fine-grained species-to-species transformations that Darwin was “explaining away”.

Glen -

but you do agree that there are “fine grained” fossil species transitions for things other than vertebrates?

why is this distinction important to you?

Comment #103922

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 5, 2006 1:24 PM (e)

why are “humans” here if bacteria or amoebas still flourish?

lol.

man, i haven’t seen that one presented as an argument for quite a while now.

in answer to this specific question. ask yourself:

when was the last time you competed with an amoeba?

“They took our jobs!”

there are some basic concepts you seem to have missed somewhere along the line.

I would suggest a basic treatise on ecology would help.

maybe wiki?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecology

specifically, check out what’s involved in the “niche diversification” hypothesis.

good luck.

Comment #103923

Posted by steve s on June 5, 2006 1:28 PM (e)

DEY TOOOK ERRRR JUUUBBBBBBBBSSSSSSSSSS!

Comment #103925

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 5, 2006 1:31 PM (e)

thanks for the correction, Steve.

That’s a much better phrasing.

;)

Comment #103928

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 5, 2006 1:43 PM (e)

Sir TJ wrote:

Glen -

but you do agree that there are “fine grained” fossil species transitions for things other than vertebrates?

why is this distinction important to you?

Isn’t it obvious? It has to do with the figure “139”, and comparisons.

Comment #103931

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 5, 2006 1:59 PM (e)

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Comment #103932

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 5, 2006 2:07 PM (e)

I found what I believe is the Coffey article (in Ashley Montagu’s Science and Creationism). Nowhere do I see or count a figure of 139 for documented species to species transitions. There are two tables (pp. 258-259) of species-to-species transitions documented in the fossil record, but even with the considerable overlap in the two, there are only 22 taxa listed.

There may be more than one species succession in some of the taxa, however we are not told that there are.

I think that I’ve seen the figure “139” before, and could not fathom where they got it. As best as I can tell, someone counted up the number of references in the first three tables (close to 139, but not exactly). But there is no reason to suppose that each reference is for a different speciation sequence in the case of any of the taxa.

Either a good reference for the figure “139” attributed to Cuffey needs to be found, or it is time to retire that figure.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #103933

Posted by Russell on June 5, 2006 2:15 PM (e)

why are “humans” here if bacteria or amoebas still flourish?

Wow! That takes “why are there still monkeys?” to a whole new level!

Comment #103934

Posted by Wheels on June 5, 2006 2:19 PM (e)

Mathmattx wrote:

Often times these panels truly miss the point, all the vitriol aside for a moment. ID or Darwin folks get so bent out of shape trying to interpret ever changing “evidence”, … Sort of the (as mentioned) playground bullying of “My PhD is bigger than yours”. I think Evolutionists enjoy this game because it diverts attention from the crux of the issue (as Darwin did).

While it’s true that sometimes individuals argue and continue to argue in terms that are entirely too personal, the issue really is one-sided when you get past people and their interpersonal spats.
Also, is this an assertion that Darwin enjoyed the attention that the controversy over Natural Selection brought, and used it as a means of deflecting legitimate criticisms of his theory? That’s a disengenous tactic and I’d like some sort of documentation to back it up. It seemed to me from many of Darwin’s Letters that he was less than vitriolic and honestly discussed the merits of his theory for the sake of his theory rather than any sort of glory-seeking or subject-changing. In fact, I could say that this would apply to many people who debate Evolution/ID. I think the onus of proof would be on you to support the assertion that most are doing it as a diversion. From what I’ve seen, there’s not much diversion on the part of Evolution supporters. In fact their arguments tend to be the more informative and educational.

So the two questions remain as I would like them answered. Let’s rewind to the beginning and simplify the issues, so there is no intellectual slight of hand (on either side). If the “Big-Bang, i.e., “First there was nothing and then it exploded”,

Big Bang has nothing to do with ID vs. Evolution. Evolution is generally a Theory about the diversity of life forms we see today and those that existed in the past. It takes the existence of life as a given. The origin of life proper is something for a more specialized area of research, and it’s more chemistry than biology. Big Bang is astrophysics and cosmology. Evolution doesn’t depend on it even a bit, and Evolution as a Theory doesn’t depend on how life arose so long as it arose somehow.
Also, that is a mischaracterization of the Big Bang. Whether that was an intentionally humorous Heinlen reference or not, it’s not conducive to a good discussion.

1) what did evolution first act upon to produce life when there was no life?

Evolution didn’t produce life from nonlife. All signs point to chemistry for this. It’s a fuzzy line sometimes because a lot of Evolution depends on chemistry, and the laws of chemistry have an undeniable influence on the processes that drive Evolution. Certain evolutionary concepts as processes many have even been at work before proper life as we know it came about, with certain self-replicating chemical assemblies being more successful than others. But in general terms Evolution doesn’t say anything about the conditions that gave rise to life. Research into the different forms of chemical Abiogenesis as the origin of life is ongoing and yielding interesting results.

(If we believe Pasteur, and the Universe was “hot” as science says it was, then it was basically a, ultra- sterilized Petri dish.

I don’t think anybody has posited the existence of life in an immediately post-Bang, hot universe. Life on Earth appears to have originated shortly after the planet formed, but Earth wasn’t formed until relatively recently in astronomical times, only a few billion years ago and less than a third of the time that the Universe has apparently been expanding.

2) If evolution, why more than one form of life? So, we grant number 1), but why then “evolution”. If the first organism evolved, it was alive and perfectly suited to its environs, it had no predators, was succeeding, etc, why such a range of diverse creatures.

Who says it was “perfectly” suited to its environment? I for one wouldn’t expect it to be. Regardless, Evolution depends largely on the fact that reproduction involves copying errors. With every generation, slight changes are made that increase the diversity of genetic material. This is, basically, a generative process that produces diversity through the accumulation and profusion of copying errors, some of which can be beneficial, some harmful, many neutral, and the determinant for that value is usually the context of the environment. The basic mechanism that allows reproduction of life includes imperfection, and copying imperfection leads to diversity.

Any evolution beyond this defies logic…why risk expenditures of biologic energy trying to evolve when there is no environmental pressure to evolve.

There is plenty of pressure to evolve. Some of the random copying errors that produced variations in the population can give certain members a significant advantage, a singificant disadvantage, or a lateral but singificant difference such as the ability to exploit a new niche. Also, environments don’t tend to remain statice for long even if we suspend the idea of biological competition. Any significant change in environmental conditions can change the context that makes some features bad and others good. There is always an interplay between environment and organisms, and also one between organisms themselves.

…why are “humans” here if bacteria or amoebas still flourish?

Humans and bacteria occupy different niches, different trophic levels, and even different scales of physical size. On human scales, we’re more competitive at exploiting certain resources. It would be very difficult for us to actually compete for the exact same resources that bacteria do, since they can use resources which come in incredibly small amounts very well, but they’re not so good at handling large amounts.

To say anything beyond this, seems to me, to imply that the evolutionary process itself is “intelligent”, e.g., that an evolved “eye” also had the extra sensory perception to know that a connection to the brain, to a nervous system, to fluid vessels, a lens, etc would be needed.

Not only does that not follow from the previous statements, it’s also not true. There is no need for an intelligent decision to develope certain features, a lot of it can be very accountable to random chance plus selective pressures.

I will leave the Christians alone at this point because, whether you agree with them or not, their position is clear and has been consistently defined since the dawn of recoded history (An uncreated God, created everything).

Aside from being a completely superfluous idea, this is also wrong. Great revolutions, schisms, and reformations have happened in the long history of Christianity, sometimes leaving only the general ideas the same, and even that isn’t universal (Gnostics for example hold that the God of the Old Testament was an imperfect, ignorant demiurge who had no knowledge of the higher God and its other emanations).

However, Science seems to get ever more imaginative and speculative as time goes on, why (among other reasons) sciences texts from even a few years ago are “out of date”.

The fact that science has to answer new challenges posed by new data and by interpretations of those data? I’d say that’s generally a sign of progress, because if our understanding remained static it would mean that we cease to learn anything new. Science, however, is constantly uncovering new bits of information about the natural world, and using improved explanations for those phenomena.

Comment #103935

Posted by Raging Bee on June 5, 2006 2:33 PM (e)

Don’t forget that to prove two individuals are the same species they need to produce fertile offspring.

You mean I’ve been a species-of-one, totally apart from the rest of humanity, ever since I got my vasectomy? Damn, I knew I was special, but I didn’t know I was THAT special…

Comment #103939

Posted by fnxtr on June 5, 2006 3:07 PM (e)

mathmattx:

Any evolution beyond this defies logic…why risk expenditures of biologic energy trying to evolve when there is no environmental pressure to evolve.

It’s also important to note that nothing is “trying to evolve”. It just happens, whether organisms want it to or not.

Reproduction is sloppy, and the sloppiness leads to diversity.

Sometimes the diversity is advantageous and the diversified organisms survive to reproduce, sloppily.

Sometimes the diversity isn’t advantageous and the organism fails to reproduce.

Sometimes the diversity isn’t even important in the immediate environment but becomes important generations later.

Comment #103940

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 5, 2006 3:34 PM (e)

Isn’t it obvious? It has to do with the figure “139”, and comparisons.

hmm, actually NONE of what you present is obvious. It probably has more to do with your writing style than the substance of your arguments, which is why I asked.

and you still haven’t actually answered the question.

Comment #103941

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on June 5, 2006 3:40 PM (e)

Yes, it’s an estimation, but it’s kind of like using the Drake equation, all of the variables are unknown, or in this case, poorly known(we can’t read Darwin’s mind), so that the errors are likely to add up. One might hope that some errors cancel out, but that is not something that ought to be expected. Environmental estimates are based upon actual data, generally, and not upon someone’s defense of evolution (meaning that we have to be concerned about whether Darwin was straining or not—the arguments are there to be evaluated, not simply to be taken as faith from Darwin’s pen).

Please attend to the start of the post in question:

KT wrote:

KT>’Those intermediate types, the famous MISSING LINKS, were not to be
KT> seen in the fossil record. Where were they ? Darwin’s answer was
KT> “keep digging”: If we dig enough fossils, we shall find the missing
KT> links.
KT> Now, 130 years after Darwin the missing links are still missing.’

The point has to do with the expectation that Darwin had concerning finding transitional fossils. Therefore, my response concerned what Darwin’s expectation might have been, as justified by looking at his writing on the matter. The whole issue at hand concerned a matter of history.

Also, I believe that in the equation you multiplied the small proportion of individuals evolving twice. I cannot see any good reason to figure in both the NSPP and the AP. We don’t know what sort of “region” Darwin is discussing when he claims that only a few inhabitants are evolving, hence it seems plausible that his “local” evolution (AP) is essentially the same thing as his “only a very few inhabitants of the same region [evolving] at the same time” (NSPP). And if you would dispute this, well, let’s note that it is a disputable calculation, which was my major point.

The precision is certainly disputable; I have no trouble with that. We can argue over the range of values that might be plugged into the equation, but my contention is that KT’s original jibe is still misplaced, that Darwin did not expect the finding of innumerable transitionals.

As for NSPP and AP, these are not the same thing. AP is completely a geographic component, while NSPP has both a geographic and stratigraphic component. So perhaps there should be an adjustment to NSPP to compensate for overlap with AP, but the term does not go away entirely as claimed.

Did I dispute the idea that his descriptions exclude ranges of numbers? Of course they do, the trouble is that then you go right ahead and perform a calculation in which the unknowns are likely to multiply into something with a very high error rate—if there were any real figures (but “real figures” means nothing, actually, as Darwin wasn’t thinking in figures).

[Shrug] I don’t think that we will go so far astray in doing this. The goal is to establish that Darwin didn’t expect the finding of innumerable transitionals, and I thinking that even with your preferred more conservative stance on assigning numbers, this is still the case.

Sure, you can just input numbers without any backing, but I’m supposed to show difference from your numbers—when I’m disputing the possibility of doing such quantitative analyses altogether.

You’ve made a specific criticism, that numbers will have changed from Darwin’s time to ours, making a major change in the outcome of applying the equation. Either you can defend that or you can’t. That’s not my problem. My goal was to say something about Darwin’s expectation.

What I’ll do instead is counter the subsidence vs. elevation ratio reasonably. The fact is that while Darwin’s “local” issue may very well matter, the knowledge of formations is rather more complete today than it was in Darwin’s time. Areas of deposition continued during periods of overall continental elevations, so that the same sort of concern over elevation vs. subsidence does not matter as much for that reason (what is more, the common marine fossils would be found evolving in these areas that we can now connect, but which were not connected in Darwin’s day).

I get the impression from reading Darwin that he considered unconformities to be a greater problem than they were even in his day, let alone in our day of far more comprehensive knowledge of widespread formations.

Yeah, and the number I plugged in for SEVR was 0.25, a pretty large value. If we nullify it completely (make it 1.0), we change the outcome by less than one order of magnitude. I really was assigning conservative numbers to this effort already.

Likewise, the duration of formation to duration of species (which is not the term that Darwin actually used, but it is your interpretation) ratio is not much of a problem, at least not for the most common species (which are the ones Darwin would know the best). One does not really expect insect transitions to be well-documented, of course, but today we know (better than Darwin did) of some very long-lived formations. The evidence for this? Just look at some of the fine-grained evolutionary sequences known, which are made possible by circumventing the problem that Darwin was discussing.

And the number I plugged in for FSDP? 0.5. Nullify it (again, making FSDP 1.0), and you’ve altered the result by a factor of 2.

Those two issues alone change the resultant figures substantially.

Those two issues together will, if made as conservative as possible (basically dropping them out entirely) change the outcome by just under one order of magnitude. I’d say I’m still in the same ballpark there.

These suggested changes, I should note, would make the current expectation more expansive than Darwin’s, a point that would still be at odds with KT’s argument.

Plus, if my interpretation of Darwin is used, the AP has to be discarded, since it seems reasonable to understand the NSPP as covering the area problem (Darwin appears to have understood that populations evolve).

As I noted before, NSPP and AP are not anywhere close to being the same thing. At best, NSPP may need to be adjusted slightly to compensate for it referring to both stratigraphy and geography.

What is more, Darwin’s idea that change occurs quite slowly does not square well (in my mind, anyway) with a figure of just 0.1 for the NSTP. While he does write things like that the period of modification “was probably short in comparison with that during which it remained without undergoing any change” (Darwin, Ch. 10, “On the imperfections of the fossil record,” p. 428, as found on http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1011737…, p. 13), he does not give us much reason for this, nor does “quite short” convey a very narrow range of possibilities.

The reason I quoted Darwin was that people could see where I was obtaining my material.

C.R. Darwin wrote:

On the other hand, I do believe that natural selection will always act very slowly, often only at long intervals of time, and generally on only a very few of the inhabitants of the same region at the same time. (CR Darwin, Origin of Species, 1st ed., p.153)

We can argue over exactly what proportion a “long interval” might cover, but I think it would do violence to Darwin’s text to assert that it will be less than 75% of the available time, and I think 90% is still a pretty good guess as to Darwin’s intent.

What I’m getting at now is that Darwin has to be interpreted. Since he accepted the inheritance of acquired characteristics, at least later on, how is one really supposed to know what his position on rates of evolution “really was”? The neo-Darwinists had their own interpretation, which tended toward gradualism because their experiments and observations were of seeming gradualistic change.

Sure, Darwin needs to be interpreted. That doesn’t mean that we can’t distinguish between Darwin having an expectation of finding innumerable transitionals and his having an expectation that we will not.

But getting back to the figures in the calculation, I will repeat that one cannot use the same figures for the geological record that one would use today to calculate the “expected rate of species evolution”.

Nor was that what I was trying to do.

We have a more complete geological record today, and Darwin’s “expectations” would have to change accordingly. Gaps have been bridged, and thicker formations covering more time have been found since his day. Those two “knowledge factors” have to considered to be variables that change with time, and we cannot compare the ratio of transitions/fossil species in our day with the expected ratio of Darwin’s day without factoring in the change in variables (that is to say, we haven’t obviously “done better than expected” by Darwin because Darwin did not assume that no advances in geology would occur—plus the point that I brought up and you ignored, the selectivity of finds based on what people want to find out).

Darwin would certainly have altered his expectations given a different set of knowledge. But that wasn’t the point I was after. Nor is it illegitimate to use a proportion that we know now to assess how well Darwin’s own expectation has fared over time. The point made by KT concerned a prospective expectation of Darwin’s, not the ratio he might have assigned to the fossil record as it stood in his day.

As for ignoring points, my eyes tend to glaze when people start yelling about phyletic gradualism, a concept falsely attributed to Darwin that he would no doubt have rejected as too restrictive. Darwin’s writings make it clear that he was not “wedded” to phyletic gradualism, as even just the quote above makes clear. I went further in showing that Gould’s “wedded to gradualism” claim actually was contradicted by the passage from Darwin that was used by Gould as the basis for his rant.

WRE wrote:

The point of the exercise was to highlight that Darwin did not expect us to find innumerable transitionals, even though common descent requires such to have existed. This is clear from the plain English description Darwin gave, but some people need to have some numbers plugged in for the light to click on.

Of course Darwin didn’t expect us to find innumerable transitionals, but his ideas seem to suggest that more species transitions would be found than were. And that is what Darwin was discussing, at least in most of the relevant passage, since he already had reasonable larger-scale intermediates—amphibians between fish and reptiles, for instance.

No, Darwin’s ideas implied that more transitionals existed than were found. What Darwin expected in the way of finding transitionals is a different matter, which I am trying to address. Darwin was discussing why there were fewer transitionals found than must have existed. The reasons that he gave have, I think, held up remarkably well given our expanded knowledge since then.

Your own comments also pay heed to the species-transition issues that Darwin was actually discussing, but then you use Cuffey’s figure of 139 known transitions as if this responded to the ratio “calculated” from Darwin’s comments regarding species transitions. I have not been able to locate Cuffey’s paper (though I may yet—it’s 1984, not 1974, btw),

I was a bit off on the date:

Roger J. Cuffey. 1972. Paleontologic evidence and organic creation. Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, 24(2).

See also this page.

The 1984 date is a reprint of the article in Montagu’s book.

however it does not appear that the full 139 are species to species transitions. According to the link above, Cuffey is including “protists, several invertebrate phyla, and vertebrates, especially mammals including hominids” (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1011737…, p. 13). I am not sure if those are all within the “139”, but clearly we don’t have the sorts of intermediates between species of hominids that were at issue in Darwin’s statements regarding species change within the geological record (meaning that he may have 139 species-to-species transitions shown in fine detail, but I have reason to doubt it given what I can find on the web). In fact I believe that there are no vertebrate fossil sequences really showing the fine-grained species-to-species transformations that Darwin was “explaining away”.

I really dislike the “explaining away” jibe. I don’t think that you have any business making it. Frankly, I don’t think you’ve earned that.

Cuffey does class his evidence according to detail of the transitions. I count 183 total references from the page linked above, so I didn’t include everything in the count I used based on Cuffey..

The TalkOrigins Vertebrate Transitional Fossils FAQ disagrees with you.

Kathleen Hunt wrote:

Kurten (1976) describes bear transitions: “From the early Ursus minimus of 5 million years ago to the late Pleistocene cave bear, there is a perfectly complete evolutionary sequence without any real gaps. The transition is slow and gradual throughout, and it is quite difficult to say where one species ends and the next begins. Where should we draw the boundary between U. minimus and U. etruscus, or between U. savini and U. spelaeus? The history of the cave bear becomes a demonstration of evolution, not as a hypothesis or theory but as a simple fact of record.” He adds, “In this respect the cave bear’s history is far from unique.”

[…]

Werdelin & Solounias (1991) wrote an extensive monograph on hyenids. They discuss over one hundred (!) named species, with extensive discussion of the eighteen best-known species, and cladistic analysis of hundreds of specimens from the SIXTY-ONE “reasonably well known” hyaenid fossil species. They concluded:

“We view the evolution of hyaenids as overwhelmingly gradual. The species, when studied with regard to their total variability, often grade insensibly into each other, as do the genera. Large specimens of Hyaenotherium wongii are, for example, difficult to distinguish from small specimens of Hyaenictitherium hyaenoides, a distinct genus. Viewed over the entire family, the evolution of hyaenids from small, fox-like forms to large, scavenging, “typical” hyenas can be followed step by step, and the assembly of features defining the most derived forms has taken place piecemeal since the Miocene. Nowhere is there any indication of major breaks identifying macroevolutionary steps.”

[…]

Chaline & Laurin (1986) show gradual change in Plio-Pleistocene water voles, with gradual speciations documented in every step in the following lineage: Mimomys occitanus to M. stehlini to M. polonicus to M. pliocaenicus to M. ostramosensis. The most important change was the development of high-crowned teeth, which allows grass-eating. They say: “The evolution of the lineage appears to involve continuous morphological drift involving functional adaptation processes. It presumably results from changes in diet when Pretiglian steppes were replaced in Europe by a period with forest…In our opinion phyletic gradualism [in this lineage] seems well characterized. It lasts for 1.9 my and leads to very important morphological changes, and the transitional stages in the chronomorphocline are sufficiently easily recognizable that they have been described as morphospecies…”

There’s more. Go read the FAQ.

So that unless it is shown that Cuffey really was discussing the sorts of transitions that Darwin had been writing about in all 139 transition, I am going to reserve judgment even on the modern ratio, let alone the ones based upon the geological knowledge of Darwin’s day.

Cuffey didn’t claim to have made an exhaustive listing of examples, either, just the ones that he knew about. So there are likely further examples in the literature that were not part of Cuffey’s enumeration.

Again, the point wasn’t about Darwin’s assessment of the evidence as it was in his day, but rather about the prospective expectation of what would be found. Because I’m looking at the prospective expectation, it makes all kinds of sense to compare that to what we have in hand today.

I don’t think that clouding this in a post-modernist fog is productive. If that’s the way that you want to play it, then I have better ways to spend my time.

Comment #103953

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 5, 2006 5:40 PM (e)

It is not the purpose of Science to overthrow the absurdley obvious to support a religious stance.

Tell that to the IDers.

Once you become coherent.

Comment #103962

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on June 5, 2006 6:07 PM (e)

Mathmttx writes “

whining snipped>

So the two questions remain as I would like them answered. Let’s rewind to the beginning and simplify the issues, so there is no intellectual slight of hand (on either side). If the “Big-Bang, i.e., “First there was nothing and then it exploded”,

I’m sorry. I’m not familair with that version of the Big Bang theory. Can you please provide references to the peer-reviewed professional literature which makes that claim? And no, Science Digest doesn’t count.
By the way Big Bang is not an explosion. It is an expansion.

1) what did evolution first act upon to produce life when there was no life?

Biological Evolution didn’t exist until there was life. Evolution doesn’t explain the origin of life. It does explain the subsequent course of Life’s history through geologic time.

(If we believe Pasteur, and the Universe was “hot” as science says it was, then it was basically a, ultra- sterilized Petri dish.

Frankly, thsi is the first time I’ve seen Pasteur and “hot universe” in the same sentence, much less tome.

2) If evolution, why more than one form of life?

What do you mean by one form of life?

If one examines the genetic codes of extant life, genetic codes of mitochonria, it appears thatg at one time there may have been several “forms” of life there had different versions of the genetic code.

THe other “forms” are now extinct.

So, we grant number 1), but why then “evolution”. If the first organism evolved, it was alive and perfectly suited to its environs,

Why would you expect the first life to be perfectly sutiable to its environs?

Second, what about other enviorns or niches not occupied?

it had no predators, was succeeding, etc, why such a range of diverse creatures. I suppose you can claim competition or a changing environment, but with as slow as evolution acts…the limited population would have been either eaten or starved out of existence,

Obviously this is wrong, for we observe speciation today.

rendering the simple single cell “cousin” the dominate and successful organism. Any evolution beyond this defies logic…

You haven’t applied logic, just assertions.
You’re acting like the Earth only had one enviornment, but even the early earth had many different types of enviornments.

why risk expenditures of biologic energy trying to evolve when there is no environmental pressure to evolve.

You’re laboring under a false assumption. You think evolution only occurs when a population is under stress. Thats false. Second, there is a struggle for existence and to leave progeny. That neve goes away.

Again, why such a range of creatures from a simple to “ever-complex”. If it is a result of competition, shouldn’t we have just a few or even a single “Ultra-Complex” life form on Earth…why are “humans” here if bacteria or amoebas still flourish?

You know, this one always brings a smile to my face. Humans have lots of bacteria. Bacteria love Humans. And for the most part they don’t seem to mind us. Its not true the other way around.

To say anything beyond this, seems to me, to imply that the evolutionary process itself is “intelligent”, e.g., that an evolved “eye” also had the extra sensory perception to know that a connection to the brain, to a nervous system, to fluid vessels, a lens, etc would be needed.

Some of these things are needed, but not all. The Nautilus see just fine for its purposes, but it has no lens.

A planaria has no lens, not much of a criculatory system, just light sensitive nerve cells for eyes and a ganglia for a primitive brain.

Furthermore, there is no reason that all these pieces had to develop simultaneously.

You’re wrong on a number of levels.

I will leave the Christians alone at this point because, whether you agree with them or not, their position is clear and has been consistently defined since the dawn of recoded history

LOL.

You ignorance of the history of Christianity seems to be well matched to your ingnorance of the history of life.

(An uncreated God, created everything). However, Science seems to get ever more imaginative and speculative as time goes on, why (among other reasons) sciences texts from even a few years ago are “out of date”.”

I’m sorry, but its clear you know little about science in general, much less evolution.

Indeed, science is a self correcting process, but your remarks suggest that you don’t thing science makes progress, that it takes one step forward and then one step back.

Thats ludicrous.

Comment #103965

Posted by Mr.K.A.T. on June 5, 2006 6:12 PM (e)

Hi! I am the “KT” these refer to:

Wesley Elsberry wrote:

“..still be at odds with KT’s argument.”
“The point made by KT concerned a prospective expectation of Darwin’s,..”

But I want to emphasize that those arguments were borrowings from Cesare Emiliani, remarkable scientist, who pioneered the isotopic analysis of deep sea sediments etc…
NOT from ME.

I knew Archaeopteryx, some transformial fossil whales on that time as good examples. My problem was practical: What I should answer to a creationist about famous scientist saying “the missing links are still missing”? I was wondering on that time if such famous scientist could make err ? Or was he silently saying either “most” (Ok) or “all” (wrong,like creationist usually choose) ? I was also wondering on that time if Emiliani could be antievolutionist,too.. etc.

Thanks for good calculation.

Regards,
Mr. Kari A. Tikkanen, Finland, EU.

Comment #103969

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on June 5, 2006 6:30 PM (e)

NOT from ME.

I’m sorry about that. You were passing along the objection.

Thanks for reminding me.

Comment #103974

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 5, 2006 7:57 PM (e)

Elsberry wrote:

The point has to do with the expectation that Darwin had concerning finding transitional fossils. Therefore, my response concerned what Darwin’s expectation might have been, as justified by looking at his writing on the matter. The whole issue at hand concerned a matter of history.

No, the expectations that Darwin had are a matter of history, but the numbers of transitionals found to date involve the more comprehensive knowledge that we have today. Thus it is not reasonable to compare a ballpark figure that one might estimate from Darwin’s writings with the selective findings that have been found to date using more advanced knowledge (including where the formation gaps are plugged, especially for the huge unconformities).

See, the thing is that the figure you calculate is probably too large for Darwin’s day (at least if we were using real numbers). Even if multiplying your ratio by the numbers of known fossils in his day does not result in a figure of “1” or more, the fact of the matter is that there are too many variables affecting the number (most notably, imo, whether or not anyone was looking for evidence of species-to-species transitions) to treat the ETR “coefficient” as if it were a constant over time. And clearly, the ETR “coefficient” is too small at the present time, although it is definitely arguable that Darwin was being overly pessimistic.

Elsberry wrote:

Davidson wrote:

Also, I believe that in the equation you multiplied the small proportion of individuals evolving twice. I cannot see any good reason to figure in both the NSPP and the AP. We don’t know what sort of “region” Darwin is discussing when he claims that only a few inhabitants are evolving, hence it seems plausible that his “local” evolution (AP) is essentially the same thing as his “only a very few inhabitants of the same region [evolving] at the same time” (NSPP). And if you would dispute this, well, let’s note that it is a disputable calculation, which was my major point.

The precision is certainly disputable; I have no trouble with that. We can argue over the range of values that might be plugged into the equation, but my contention is that KT’s original jibe is still misplaced, that Darwin did not expect the finding of innumerable transitionals.

As for NSPP and AP, these are not the same thing. AP is completely a geographic component, while NSPP has both a geographic and stratigraphic component. So perhaps there should be an adjustment to NSPP to compensate for overlap with AP, but the term does not go away entirely as claimed.

Does NSPP have a stratigraphic component? What Darwin writes is that only a few individuals will be adapting at any one time and in one place. As far as I can tell, the NTSP is the component with a temporal aspect to it, while I can see no reason to say that the NSPPP does. Both the NSPP and the AP appear, to me at least, to involve space (for the sake of the fossil record) and not time, so that they would also not involve stratigraphy, independently of the other factors. I could be wrong, as one possibility.

But regardless, I suppose I am willing to settle for merely an adjustment, considering that the figures are soft.

Elsberry wrote:

Davidson wrote:

Sure, you can just input numbers without any backing, but I’m supposed to show difference from your numbers—when I’m disputing the possibility of doing such quantitative analyses altogether.

You’ve made a specific criticism, that numbers will have changed from Darwin’s time to ours, making a major change in the outcome of applying the equation. Either you can defend that or you can’t. That’s not my problem. My goal was to say something about Darwin’s expectation.

Depends upon what “major change” is considered to be. If it were an order of magnitude, which I think is conservative (again, you have to factor in selection of evidence, which you have not done), I would consider it to be important, perhaps a “major change” in the outcome. Still, I didn’t say that it would make a “major change” in outcome, the closest I came was, “but of course the numbers are very different at this time.” “Very different” numbers is not the same thing as saying that the outcome would be a “major change”.

I could, of course, come at it from the other direction. You did leave out Darwin’s surmise that evolution might occur more during “uplift” than during “subsidence”. Indeed, you might well leave that out, however doing so fails to properly account for the historical facts of the matter.

Elsberry wrote:

Yeah, and the number I plugged in for SEVR was 0.25, a pretty large value. If we nullify it completely (make it 1.0), we change the outcome by less than one order of magnitude. I really was assigning conservative numbers to this effort already.

No dispute over the large value of 0.25. And I really don’t suppose that you underestimated the ratio in Darwin’s day, for I think you overestimated it at that time. What concerns me is the variables that do change over time, probably shifting the ratio higher for today than for his time.

Elsberry wrote:

And the number I plugged in for FSDP? 0.5. Nullify it (again, making FSDP 1.0), and you’ve altered the result by a factor of 2.

Yes, but there is the concern for vulnerabilities that opponents might exploit.

Elsberry wrote:

Davidson wrote:

Those two issues alone change the resultant figures substantially.

Those two issues together will, if made as conservative as possible (basically dropping them out entirely) change the outcome by just under one order of magnitude. I’d say I’m still in the same ballpark there.

These suggested changes, I should note, would make the current expectation more expansive than Darwin’s, a point that would still be at odds with KT’s argument.

It’s hard to know what KT’s argument is, since it seems to involve transitions to higher taxa, while Darwin’s discussions of missing intermediates, at least in the passages we’ve looked at, revolve around speciation.

However, if we get to one aspect of KT’s argument, Darwin does indeed imply that intermediates (which were missing “between species”, at least as specimens that could be readily shown to be intermediate)should be found if a much better sampling of the geological record is effected. KT claims to be concerned over the “fact” that “the missing links are still missing,” even though we have a good sampling of “missing links” which are no longer missing. It does not seem to me that KT was faulting the lack of innumerable links nearly as much as a supposed dearth of them (I had read KT’s complaint already). Presumably, it only takes one intermediate to at least threaten ID/creationism (though it presumably needs to be at a higher taxon for IDists than the species-to-species succession that Darwin discussed in most of the passages used on this thread).

Elsberry wrote:

Davidson wrote:

Plus, if my interpretation of Darwin is used, the AP has to be discarded, since it seems reasonable to understand the NSPP as covering the area problem (Darwin appears to have understood that populations evolve).

As I noted before, NSPP and AP are not anywhere close to being the same thing. At best, NSPP may need to be adjusted slightly to compensate for it referring to both stratigraphy and geography.

Elsberry wrote:

NSPP is the “natural selection population proportion”

How is NSPP, which appears both in your definition and in the Darwin quote to involve merely to a portion of the population at any one time, a matter of stratigraphy (that is, without being multiplied by other factors)?

Elsberry wrote:

Davidson wrote:

What I’m getting at now is that Darwin has to be interpreted. Since he accepted the inheritance of acquired characteristics, at least later on, how is one really supposed to know what his position on rates of evolution “really was”? The neo-Darwinists had their own interpretation, which tended toward gradualism because their experiments and observations were of seeming gradualistic change.

Sure, Darwin needs to be interpreted. That doesn’t mean that we can’t distinguish between Darwin having an expectation of finding innumerable transitionals and his having an expectation that we will not.

One trouble I’m having here is that I don’t know why you’re arguing against “innumerable transitionals”. Perhaps earlier discussions with KT involved the term? Not the little bit from KT included in the linked blurb, though. I was never arguing that Darwin suggested “innumerable transitionals”, I mainly didn’t like the comparison of an “estimation” multiplied out of poorly constrained figures using Darwin’s suppositions, with the current figures (if there is one) for known “fine-grading between species”.

Elsberry wrote:

Davidson wrote:

But getting back to the figures in the calculation, I will repeat that one cannot use the same figures for the geological record that one would use today to calculate the “expected rate of species evolution”.

Nor was that what I was trying to do.

True, I didn’t write that bit properly.

Elsberry wrote:

Davidson wrote:

We have a more complete geological record today, and Darwin’s “expectations” would have to change accordingly. Gaps have been bridged, and thicker formations covering more time have been found since his day. Those two “knowledge factors” have to considered to be variables that change with time, and we cannot compare the ratio of transitions/fossil species in our day with the expected ratio of Darwin’s day without factoring in the change in variables (that is to say, we haven’t obviously “done better than expected” by Darwin because Darwin did not assume that no advances in geology would occur—plus the point that I brought up and you ignored, the selectivity of finds based on what people want to find out).

Darwin would certainly have altered his expectations given a different set of knowledge. But that wasn’t the point I was after. Nor is it illegitimate to use a proportion that we know now to assess how well Darwin’s own expectation has fared over time. The point made by KT concerned a prospective expectation of Darwin’s, not the ratio he might have assigned to the fossil record as it stood in his day.

There is no indication that Darwin was discussing prospective expectations. Indeed, his first point in one of the passages you quote is the paucity of sampling of the fossil record in his day:

Darwin wrote:

I have attempted to show that the geological record is extremely imperfect; that only a small portion of the globe has been geologically explored with care…

Elsberry wrote:

As for ignoring points, my eyes tend to glaze when people start yelling about phyletic gradualism, a concept falsely attributed to Darwin that he would no doubt have rejected as too restrictive. Darwin’s writings make it clear that he was not “wedded” to phyletic gradualism, as even just the quote above makes clear. I went further in showing that Gould’s “wedded to gradualism” claim actually was contradicted by the passage from Darwin that was used by Gould as the basis for his rant.

Yes, that is all well and good. But it doesn’t obviate the matter that you consistently fail to deal with the selection issue affecting the number of known species-to-species evolutionary records.

Elsberry wrote:

Davidson wrote:

Elsberry wrote:

The point of the exercise was to highlight that Darwin did not expect us to find innumerable transitionals, even though common descent requires such to have existed. This is clear from the plain English description Darwin gave, but some people need to have some numbers plugged in for the light to click on.

Of course Darwin didn’t expect us to find innumerable transitionals, but his ideas seem to suggest that more species transitions would be found than were. And that is what Darwin was discussing, at least in most of the relevant passage, since he already had reasonable larger-scale intermediates—amphibians between fish and reptiles, for instance.

No, Darwin’s ideas implied that more transitionals existed than were found. What Darwin expected in the way of finding transitionals is a different matter, which I am trying to address. Darwin was discussing why there were fewer transitionals found than must have existed. The reasons that he gave have, I think, held up remarkably well given our expanded knowledge since then.

It could go without saying that Darwin’s ideas implied that more transitionals existed than were found.

Darwin himself was arguing without much evidence, about the lack of evidence. Not all of his ideas explaining the lack did hold up well, though it seems that mostly he did all right.

Elsberry wrote:

Davidson wrote:

Your own comments also pay heed to the species-transition issues that Darwin was actually discussing, but then you use Cuffey’s figure of 139 known transitions as if this responded to the ratio “calculated” from Darwin’s comments regarding species transitions. I have not been able to locate Cuffey’s paper (though I may yet—it’s 1984, not 1974, btw),

I was a bit off on the date:

Roger J. Cuffey. 1972. Paleontologic evidence and organic creation. Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, 24(2).

See also this page.

The 1984 date is a reprint of the article in Montagu’s book.

Okay, but the 139 number is still a problem, both because it doesn’t appear as a figure or as a proper count in the Montagu reprint (the overlaps of the two tables, and the apparent counting beyond the two proper tables, alone conflate the figure), and I believe that many would dispute some of the sequences that he actually does include. Can hominids and other vertebrates really be included in the count of “examples of transitional individuals grading continuously between successive species, and crossing from one higher taxon into another”? Yes to the latter, but surely the former can be disputed.

I’m having a problem even with the language of that quote. “Examples of transitional individuals grading continuously”? How can transitional individuals grade “continuously”? Still, that’s just another problem for the figure of “139”, or the figure of “183”.

Elsberry wrote:

Davidson wrote:

however it does not appear that the full 139 are species to species transitions. According to the link above, Cuffey is including “protists, several invertebrate phyla, and vertebrates, especially mammals including hominids” (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1011737……, p. 13). I am not sure if those are all within the “139”, but clearly we don’t have the sorts of intermediates between species of hominids that were at issue in Darwin’s statements regarding species change within the geological record (meaning that he may have 139 species-to-species transitions shown in fine detail, but I have reason to doubt it given what I can find on the web). In fact I believe that there are no vertebrate fossil sequences really showing the fine-grained species-to-species transformations that Darwin was “explaining away”.

I really dislike the “explaining away” jibe. I don’t think that you have any business making it. Frankly, I don’t think you’ve earned that.

I really dislike the failure to heed scare quotes. Perhaps I should have forgone the phrase, in fact, but I made a quick judgment, and put the phrase in scare quotes to indicate that it is not my position. I did not earn any such approbation, certainly not due to a phrase in scare quotes.

Elsberry wrote:

Cuffey does class his evidence according to detail of the transitions. I count 183 total references from the page linked above, so I didn’t include everything in the count I used based on Cuffey.

The problem is that you did not say that there were 139 references, or 183 for that matter, but that you wrote, “Roger Cuffy’s 1974 paper on paleontologic evidence listed references for at least 139 fine-grained species to species transitional sequences”. That is far from giving us the Cuffey reference count, which is all that is possible from his paper.

Okay, a mistake was made. Not a grave problem, but it is worth addressing.

Elsberry wrote:

The TalkOrigins Vertebrate Transitional Fossils FAQ disagrees with you.

I believe that cladists would have some issues with the FAQ’s easy acceptance of gradualistic change based on the claim that it is “quite difficult to say where one species ends and the next begins.” Lack of good resolution is one thing, evidence for “grading continuously” (Cuffey’s phrase) is another. Anyway, your criticisms involve a statement with careful modifiers placed in it:

Davidson wrote:

In fact I believe that there are no vertebrate fossil sequences really showing the fine-grained species-to-species transformations…

In the literalistic sense, you can hardly say that the FAQ disputes something that I called a “belief”. More substantively, arguing over this matter involves what “fine-grained species to species transformations” really means in this context.

I would not be inclined to suppose that the bear species mentioned necessarily represent lineal descent

More crucially, you avoided the problem of including hominids on the list (which was the less-modified claim that I made) and the problem that the figure of “139” or “183” does not refer to species transitions, but to something else. I am well aware that hominids are not always easy to sort out, however the inclusion of hominids in a list purportedly dealing with “fine-grained species to species transitional sequences” appears to be something that can be questioned, at least (H. erectus, for instance, looks more modern in some instances, yet there seems to be no good intermediates midway between older H. erectus and H. sapiens).

Elsberry wrote:

Davidson wrote:

So that unless it is shown that Cuffey really was discussing the sorts of transitions that Darwin had been writing about in all 139 transition, I am going to reserve judgment even on the modern ratio, let alone the ones based upon the geological knowledge of Darwin’s day.

Cuffey didn’t claim to have made an exhaustive listing of examples, either, just the ones that he knew about. So there are likely further examples in the literature that were not part of Cuffey’s enumeration.

Likely enough. That makes comparisons on the plus side more questionable. The fact that the figure of “139”, or “183”, is not obviously a species-sequence count is a problem for comparison on the minus side. I was questioning the comparison.

Elsberry wrote:

Again, the point wasn’t about Darwin’s assessment of the evidence as it was in his day, but rather about the prospective expectation of what would be found. Because I’m looking at the prospective expectation, it makes all kinds of sense to compare that to what we have in hand today.

Darwin’s points were made regarding the fossil record of his day. That is the problem.

Elsberry wrote:

I don’t think that clouding this in a post-modernist fog is productive. If that’s the way that you want to play it, then I have better ways to spend my time.

About as cheap a shot as that crack you made about the phrase I put into scare quotes. I am as far from post-modernism as anyone can be, and instead wish to keep arguments and discussions on a sound footing. But I guess if you’re going to resort to mischaracterizing my position and the issues I have with the variables affecting the comparison that you attempted, I do hope that you have better ways of spending your time.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #103975

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 5, 2006 8:13 PM (e)

Sir TJ wrote:

Glen D wrote:

Isn’t it obvious? It has to do with the figure “139”, and comparisons.

hmm, actually NONE of what you present is obvious. It probably has more to do with your writing style than the substance of your arguments, which is why I asked.

and you still haven’t actually answered the question.

The statement I made regarding vertebrates and “fine-grained species to species transformations” referred to a statement made earlier in the paragraph. Here it is again (though cut), with bolding added to the relevant sentence:

According to the link above, Cuffey is including “protists, several invertebrate phyla, and vertebrates, especially mammals including hominids” (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1011737…, p. 13). I am not sure if those are all within the “139”, but clearly we don’t have the sorts of intermediates between species of hominids that were at issue in Darwin’s statements regarding species change within the geological record (meaning that he may have 139 species-to-species transitions shown in fine detail, but I have reason to doubt it given what I can find on the web). In fact I believe that there are no vertebrate fossil sequences really showing the fine-grained species-to-species transformations that Darwin was “explaining away”.

I was questioning the figure of “139” for the number of “fine-grained species to species transitional sequences,” that Cuffey was purported to have found. The bigger questions of the “139” figure involve just what Cuffey was listing with each of the taxa in his first two tables, and to what the references actually refer overall, as well as the question of why any count goes beyond the first two tables.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #103976

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 5, 2006 8:21 PM (e)

Glen.

Maybe it’s just me, but you might consider being a bit more concise in your posts.

IMO, Wes is correct in stating that your point is often lost in a fog of rambling side points, regardless of whether the description is inaccurate wrt whether it’s “postmodern” or not.

it’s really hard to grab exactly what point you are trying to make, a lot of the time. Here, too. what IS your point exactly?

…and you still haven’t answered my question yet.

it’s a simple one, really, and quite concisely stated.

should i repeat it for you? It’s actually a two parter, just to be clear:

1. Do you agree that there are “fine grained” fossil species transitions for things other than vertebrates?

2. why is this distinction important to you?

My contention is that this is just as important a distinction in your argument as your contention that the number “139” is important to Wesley’s.

Comment #103978

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 5, 2006 8:35 PM (e)

ahh, we posted at the same time.

so, modifying my post…

leave the parts about your posting style being a bit obtuse.

I see your answer to my questions, but are you really saying that the important thing here is the exact number of transitionals found, rather than the general implications?

in fact, I am focusing on your statement here:

In fact I believe that there are no vertebrate fossil sequences really showing the fine-grained species-to-species transformations that Darwin was “explaining away”.

and my question relates to why you think this is, and further, why it is important to you to make that distinction?

Is it really just to debate the accuracy of the estimated number “139”?

Is it that Cuffey is worthless because the number might actually be closer to 138 or 284?

Is it that you feel there are no vertebrate transitionals, so this raises some serious issues in your mind?

what?

so far, all i can see is the superficial point of your argument over whether Cuffy or Wes might be off by a factor of 2 or less, while ignoring the whole point of the little example by Wes to begin with.

so spill it:

what EXACTLY is the point you are trying to make with all of this?

Comment #103984

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 5, 2006 9:17 PM (e)

and my question relates to why you think this is, and further, why it is important to you to make that distinction?

Is it really just to debate the accuracy of the estimated number “139”?

What else would it be? I have no idea why you keep insinuating mysterious hidden purposes to my critique. I believe in getting the process right. I care more about that than any particular result.

Is it that Cuffey is worthless because the number might actually be closer to 138 or 284?

Where would you get that idea, other than out of your own mind?

I have not criticized Cuffey much at all, since he mostly just laid out the references (though the language of the tables seems self-contradictory).

Is it important to get the facts right? Do you think that the facts don’t matter when incorrect statements come from our side?

Well, how do you like false accusations, based on nothing substantial?

Is it that you feel there are no vertebrate transitionals, so this raises some serious issues in your mind?

Is that what I said, or is it essential to anyone’s desire for accuracy, regardless of one’s side?

I don’t even know how you could suggest that I “feel there are no vertebrate transitionals.” I have mentioned real vertebrate intermediates (a term I do prefer to “transitional”) numerous times in this forum.

what?

What do you mean, “what”? As far as I can tell, you fail to realize the importance of dealing with evidence properly. That’s what.

so far, all i can see is the superficial point of your argument over whether Cuffy or Wes might be off by a factor of 2 or less, while ignoring the whole point of the little example by Wes to begin with.

Where’d you get “factor of 2”? Wes totaled it up to “less than an order of magnitude” (that is to say, the math would say “8”, if he threw out both of the geological points). And I keep bringing up the selection of evidence. Since you seem unable or unwilling to take what I write at face value, here is a good warning made by others (which seems to be your criterion of what is “important”, and is totally unscientific) about the selection of fossils:

Remember: the fossils that are preserved are NOT an aselect representation; and the people collecting them are also NOT aselect in what they pick up and take to the museum.

http://ethomas.web.wesleyan.edu/ees123/fossil.html page 2

I don’t “ignore” the point made by Wes, I just think that it should be made without confusing current factors with the factors of Darwin’s day, nor by ignoring the matter of selection of evidence (or by mis-stating what Cuffey laid out in his article).

I have made the selection point several times, but I figured that someone might not care to think about this issue, so I kept this reference around after finding it today.

so spill it:

what EXACTLY is the point you are trying to make with all of this?

What EXACTLY is your point in bringing up unevidenced insinuations, when I have stated my concerns? I cannot, of course, give you any help with your false implications, and obtuseness about the need to keep “pathetic little details” straight, and about the details themselves. You know, the ninth commandment belongs to atheists, too, at least in some (legal) matters.

Btw, your earlier post was scurrilous, and equally in insubstantiality to this post of yours. You could not properly back up a single one of your accusations.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #103992

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 5, 2006 10:37 PM (e)

Btw, your earlier post was scurrilous, and equally in insubstantiality to this post of yours. You could not properly back up a single one of your accusations.

hmm. scurrilous?

nope, don’t see it.

how’s this then; perhaps it will be more correctly “scurrilous”?

yes, your argument is pretty superficial to the actual point of Wes’ little experiment, but I’ll get to that later.

You seem like an intelligent guy, so when you say things like this:

In fact I believe that there are no vertebrate fossil sequences really showing the fine-grained species-to-species transformations that Darwin was “explaining away”.

it does make one wonder what your point was in saying that the way you did. Not that i would disagree that there are not same kind of vertebrate transitional fossil series that we see with small inverts, but I’m wondering if you somehow think that large vertebrate fossils would be found in the same kind of series as tremendously more common small inverts?

which just to be even more clear myself, is why i asked you specifically why this was an important distinction in your mind.

and also why i asked you why you thought it was the case that there are no “fine-grained” vertebrate fossil transitional sequences.

I’m not IMPLYING anything.

I am trying to figure out what you’re thinking when you say a statement like that quoted above.

I believe in getting the process right. I care more about that than any particular result.

Okay, a mistake was made. Not a grave problem, but it is worth addressing.

so when you make mistakes, it’s not a grave problem, but when when a general equation results in a number you don’t like, it is?

even when you make mistakes about the definition and usage of terms in the equations?

As I noted before, NSPP and AP are not anywhere close to being the same thing. At best, NSPP may need to be adjusted slightly to compensate for it referring to both stratigraphy and geography.

as to

Where’d you get “factor of 2”?

I got it from Wes:

And the number I plugged in for FSDP? 0.5. Nullify it (again, making FSDP 1.0), and you’ve altered the result by a factor of 2.

and getting back to the issue of pertinence and misunderstanding; this is the point I keep seeing you miss:

[Shrug] I don’t think that we will go so far astray in doing this. The goal is to establish that Darwin didn’t expect the finding of innumerable transitionals, and I think[ing] that even with your preferred more conservative stance on assigning numbers, this is still the case.

So, all that said, I now see your point, but I still contend it is superfluous to the larger issue raised by Wes as the very reason he posted the example to begin with.

If you want to claim that as “scurrilous” do feel free.

I think you are wasting energy, and making yet another superflous point by doing so, however.

Comment #103995

Posted by Henry J on June 5, 2006 10:49 PM (e)

Re “Bacteria love Humans. And for the most part they don’t seem to mind us.”

They certainly don’t mind us - the ones we don’t want hang around quite often when we’re trying to tell them to go away. :)

Henry

Comment #103999

Posted by P.B.H on June 5, 2006 11:26 PM (e)

I can’t really be certain the contributor was Australian or not and I don’t know whether there was more than one entry, but it was out of place. Going down certain roads will deter visitors.

Comment #104003

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 5, 2006 11:42 PM (e)

I can’t really be certain the contributor was Australian or not and I don’t know whether there was more than one entry, but it was out of place. [b]Going down certain roads will deter visitors.[/b]

visitors like yourself?

hmmmm.

If a logician was to systematically document and explain every contradiction on this page, it would take up more space than the page.

uh, i’d say that would be quite accurate, when applied to your own posts.

Comment #104004

Posted by stevaroni on June 5, 2006 11:47 PM (e)

Is it really just to debate the accuracy of the estimated number “139”?

This completely misses the point. 139? 138? 20007? All either side really needs is one really unambiguous example.

All the creationists need to do is find that one true “code rewrite bunny” and (poof) they have absolutely proved that a higher power has actively designed creatures here on earth.

All the evolutionists need to do is dig up one long 20 million year sequence showing, say, small grazers developing into horses, or one showing hippos developing into whales and (poof) they have demonstrated that evolution has actually happened.

Once you have established that one or the other of these things actually has occurred, whichever it may be, the logical proof is pretty much finished. Both theories posit that the rest is extrapolation. God, or evolution, they just make more of the same.

Once you prove that one plus one equals two, counting to a million is just a matter of time.

Now, who seems to have the hard evidence of at least one example?

Comment #104010

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on June 6, 2006 12:18 AM (e)

I found an earlier post that gives a bit more detail on my enumeration of Cuffey’s data…

Cuffey’s conception of transitional covers a lot of territory. Within the general class, Cuffey identifies several sub-classes of transitional sequences, depending upon the level of detail. From those with the most detail to those with the least, Cuffey gives those as “transitional individuals”, “successive species”, “successive higher taxa”, and “isolated intermediates”. Cuffey’s Tables I and II are composed of references which fit the first and most detailed sub-class. There are 59 references in Table 1, and 40 references in Table 2. Because Table II is a collection of references documenting two or more species-to-species transitions, between Tables I and II we have a lower bound of 139 species-to-species transitions described. Table III lists references to “successive species” showing within-genus changes, with the note that often the evidence which the authors have is of the sort that Cuffey terms “transitional individuals” but which is not fully reported due to space or other limitations. There are 45 references given in Table III. In total, Cuffey cites 225 references in five tables.

Comment #104011

Posted by Anton Mates on June 6, 2006 12:18 AM (e)

Philip Bruce Heywood wrote:

Anton, there is a necessary but confined world of academia, and there is a larger world. Get out there in the open and let nature sink in a while.

Ah, the dreaded Ivory Tower gambit. You do know that that Darwin guy did quite a bit of “getting out there in the open,” yes? Actually sailed all around the world and such? And didn’t actually spend much of any time in the “confined world of academia?”

Would you say that you spend more time out in the open actually looking at nature than does the average field biologist? Will you be making your massive observation logs available to the public?

It took me a long time before I could evaluate all that university stuff. After 30 yrs I hope it’s coming into perspective. You’re correct but you’re too “correct”. The reason we can definitively state that humans and apes are, for the purposes of Origins Science, different species - for time and eternity - is because genetically transmissible features in one’s ancestory always will appear in one’s offspring. If grandaddy was an ape, grandson will sooner or later be an ape.

Um, what about the other three ancestors? Do most of your grandparents not have any “genetically transmissible features?” Or do apes have special conquest-optimized DNA that would beat out human genes in any hybrids?

Furthermore, the crucible of time and the real world has proved that humans do not successfully interbreed with any other species. Seen any half-apes walking down the street?

Seen any humans getting it on with apes in attempt to produce them?

Like I say, it took me years to sort through the fine print. Nature is rational and decipherable, if we stick at it long enough.

The people who are actually doing that job, however, are called “biologists.” One can learn a lot from them.

Comment #104026

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on June 6, 2006 6:45 AM (e)

Looking at the indicated page for the text about “aselect”, I found this:

About what percentage of extinct marine animals do we know? In order to evaluate this, we must make estimates for the following:

* Number of fossil species described (~200,000?)
* Number of present species (?? 250,000??)
* Age of oldest animals (?~600 Ma??)
* Average duration of species : ~ 4 million years?
* How has diversity changed over time?

Maybe 1 to 2% of organisms might have been described.

But ~2/3 of marine animals has no hard parts; so we may see up to about 4% of animals with hard parts?

Remember: the fossils that are preserved are NOT an aselect representation; and the people collecting them are also NOT aselect in what they pick up and take to the museum.

(Source)

The source’s main project is to obtain information about past diversity from the fossil record, and in that regard the caution given is relevant and cogent.

But that is pretty much completely orthogonal to my little project. Sure, it would be better all around if there weren’t physical biases in preservation potential and observer biases in sampling potential. These both, though, simply reduce the actual numbers of catalogued fossils and species. Much the same thing goes for the claimed sampling bias concerning the paleontological wrangle over the relative frequencies of phyletic gradualism and punctuated equilibria.

For the preservation potential issue, I’ve addressed that before:

Let’s say bivalve A gives rise to bivalve B, and the diagnostic character of interest is the number of teeth on the hinge. How, precisely, is it a “wild stab in the dark” to presume that the per individual preservation potential does not change substantially from bivalve A to transitional population AB? Almost all species-to-species transitions are going to be similar. There are certainly transitions that would involve changes in PIPP of significance, but what is asserted is that they will be comparatively rare.

Consideration of sampling potential and biases would be similar.

Comment #104028

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on June 6, 2006 7:02 AM (e)

From the link I gave previously, here is Roger Cuffey’s explication of “transitional individuals” and the characteristics of references in his Tables 1 and 2.

Roger Cuffey wrote:

First, some groups have been so thoroughly studied that we know sequences of transitional fossils which grade continuously from one species to another without break (Table 1), sometimes linking several successive species which cross from one higher taxon into another (Table 2). We can say that situations of this kind display transitional individuals.

One may question that transitional individuals is the right phrase, but one cannot say that Cuffey did not tell us what he meant by it.

Comment #104063

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 6, 2006 11:09 AM (e)

I was going to reply in detail to the incompetent poster with the middle school tag (“Sir Toejam”), but what would that accomplish? He mostly restates his ill-founded suspicions and lack of regard for proper argumentation, but with a few new egregious errors that I must address.

Pathetically, he totally misunderstands the context of my following remark:

Sir TJ wrote:

Davidson wrote:

Okay, a mistake was made. Not a grave problem, but it is worth addressing.

so when you make mistakes, it’s not a grave problem, but when when a general equation results in a number you don’t like, it is?

My comment referred to the mistakes others have made regarding Cuffey’s work (not originally by Wes, is my guess), and not to any mistakes that I have made. It would be comic how badly Sir TJ reads, if it were not so tragic.

Sir TJ wrote:

even when you make mistakes about the definition and usage of terms in the equations?

I didn’t make mistakes about the definition and usage of terms in the equation. Sir TJ, not competent to argue for his accusation, resorts to the fallacy of argumentum ad verecundiam. Wes has not backed up his claims that NSPP and AP are different because of stratigraphy, which I questioned on the basis of its apparent atemporality (apart from the other factors, that is.

Then he repeats his mistake of using only one of the factors in question to get to his faulty conclusion that only a factor of “2” is involved. He totally misses, again, the (less than) “4” factor involving the AP that Wes played with. He also misses my rhetorical question, and my mention of the “less than an order of magnitude” that Wes had mentioned and that I repeated in response to one of his posts. One cannot really deal with someone whose understanding is so lacking.

On to respond to Wes. Thank God he reads at a high level and is competent in these matters. This means that a discussion with him is worthwhile.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #104069

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 6, 2006 11:44 AM (e)

Wes wrote:

I found an earlier post that gives a bit more detail on my enumeration of Cuffey’s data…

Cuffey’s conception of transitional covers a lot of territory. Within the general class, Cuffey identifies several sub-classes of transitional sequences, depending upon the level of detail. From those with the most detail to those with the least, Cuffey gives those as “transitional individuals”, “successive species”, “successive higher taxa”, and “isolated intermediates”. Cuffey’s Tables I and II are composed of references which fit the first and most detailed sub-class. There are 59 references in Table 1, and 40 references in Table 2. Because Table II is a collection of references documenting two or more species-to-species transitions, between Tables I and II we have a lower bound of 139 species-to-species transitions described. Table III lists references to “successive species” showing within-genus changes, with the note that often the evidence which the authors have is of the sort that Cuffey terms “transitional individuals” but which is not fully reported due to space or other limitations. There are 45 references given in Table III. In total, Cuffey cites 225 references in five tables.

Thank you for that quote. I have some comments.

First off, as I previously noted, the tables overlap. I didn’t say add this before (it seemed almost implied, and perhaps not important), but so do some of the references.

Now I know from where the figure of “139” comes.

What is still not obvious, though for all I know it could be the case, is that each reference deals with a different species sequence. Some do seem to, as the Simpson reference is to Horses, while Wood deals with the evolution of rhinoceruses. But I cannot discern from Cuffey’s article nor from the references given if the references on table 2 for Angiosperms deal with different sequences, or if there is overlap.

I also suspect that at least some of the sequences are not of “fine-grained species-to-species transitional sequences” as this is usually understood in these discussions. Cuffey does perhaps illuminate this issue with the quote that Wes brought up, since he does write, “…we know sequences of transitional fossils which grade continuously from one species to another without break”. This seems to imply that he is not listing really fine-grained sequences, but very good intermediate species.

Of course it may be that some bear evolution, as Hunt and Wes suggest, really does demonstrate acceptably fine-grained sequences from species to species.

I should note for anyone without access to Cuffey, he does list four “particularly convincing examples”. These might be worth checking out (I don’t have time right now to give the references, but probably would later on if someone indicated a desire for them). I think that I am going to have to look up some of the references in a few days, to understand better what appears to be quite an excellent resource.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #104071

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 6, 2006 11:54 AM (e)

Wes wrote:

But that is pretty much completely orthogonal to my little project. Sure, it would be better all around if there weren’t physical biases in preservation potential and observer biases in sampling potential. These both, though, simply reduce the actual numbers of catalogued fossils and species. Much the same thing goes for the claimed sampling bias concerning the paleontological wrangle over the relative frequencies of phyletic gradualism and punctuated equilibria.

I actually think that at least some of the biases are a good thing. We do not necessarily need more trilobite species from periods of relative stasis, while we might learn a lot if we concentrate on periods of change.

But it makes a difference in the ratio of fine-grained species to species transitional sequences to total number of species if people are looking more for the former, as you know. It seems likely to me that this particular bias has increased since Darwin first published, although it was probably not absent beforehand.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #104080

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 6, 2006 12:28 PM (e)

Elsberry wrote:

Cuffey
First, some groups have been so thoroughly studied that we know sequences of transitional fossils which grade continuously from one species to another without break (Table 1), sometimes linking several successive species which cross from one higher taxon into another (Table 2). We can say that situations of this kind display transitional individuals.

One may question that transitional individuals is the right phrase, but one cannot say that Cuffey did not tell us what he meant by it.

I commented on this in another post, but I think I have to say that I find my previous tentative interpretation less likely than it seemed at that time.

He does seem to be saying that both table I and II involve examples of (presumably ambiguously-assigned) intermediates between species. His mention of “transitional individuals” appears to suggest a minimum of one individual, particularly in his introduction of table I, where he proclaims that they are “Examples of transitional individuals grading continuously between successive species within the same higher taxon (genus). It still appears to be ambiguous wording (and not accurate in all cases under this interpretation), but the sensible idea to be gained from it is that at least one individual “grades continuously” between species.

I am really going to have to look up some of his references.

I think that the only way to know how well his examples fit the concept of “fine-grained species to species transitional sequences,” is to find the referenced material.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #104104

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 6, 2006 2:41 PM (e)

gees, Glen, one might get the impression that the vitriol in your responses suggests that my pointing out your original argument was superficial, struck a nerve somewhere.

whatever.

In fact:

I am really going to have to look up some of his references.

I think that the only way to know how well his examples fit the concept of “fine-grained species to species transitional sequences,” is to find the referenced material.

one wonders why you didn’t start there before even parsing your “argument” to begin with.

have fun playing with Wesley….and do try to get that temper of yours under control.

cheers

Comment #104107

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 6, 2006 3:14 PM (e)

gees, Glen, one might get the impression that the vitriol in your responses suggests that my pointing out your original argument was superficial, struck a nerve somewhere.

whatever.

Geez, it’s almost like someone doesn’t like having his words completely distorted, and false accusations made repeatedly. Well, the middle-school level “thinker” simply tries to smear again, all that he seems capable of doing well. Of course you’re not going to admit that your libels (these are not actionable, of course) are evil, rather blame the person that you attempt to injure.

Always projecting your stupid little suspicions, without recognizing the evil in your soul that is necessary to attempt to bring the innocent down to your level of incompetence and to your focus on the personal, as opposed to the issues. Unfortunately, you can’t deal with the latter.

one wonders why you didn’t start there before even parsing your “argument” to begin with.

Yes, I’m sure you wonder about a lot of things that you cannot deal with intelligently. Of course someone as unjust as yourself is not concerned about time issues or the difficulty in accessing the referenced material (I wasn’t even given a decent biography), but then no sense of justice or honesty has informed your posts to this point.

You just try to smear, not caring about any justice or truth. I raised actual questions about what I could find out about Cuffey on the web, and no one has answered them yet. You’re certainly not capable of tackling it, and you have no interest in following your own advice prior to your hypocritical attacks. Sneering is your only weapon, avoiding the fact that you have nothing to add, no competence to address the legitimate questions I raised.

You are content to be a bit of toejam stinking up the internet. Whether many of Cuffey’s “transitional individuals” really are part of “fine-grained species to species transitional sequences,” remains up in the air, since it appears that no one here has bothered yet to deal closely with the evidence brought up by Cuffey. Of course I wasn’t making claims about the evidence originally, so your attack is yet unjust in that way as well (if you understood justice, you’d be more inclined to attack anyone who brought Cuffey up in the first place without vetting the references. Not that this should be done, and I did not and would not do it, since there are reasons why the person who brought up Cuffey might not check much into the evidence. My only point is that if you had any sense of justice informing your criticisms, you would not fault the one who raised questions that haven’t been answered first. But then, this too is probably the sort of thing that you cannot comprehend well).

have fun playing with Wesley….and do try to get that temper of yours under control.

Try not to be a complete fool, TJ, the sort that you are whose injustices ought to make any decent person angry. Well, another concept that is probably beyond your ken, but what isn’t?

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #104124

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 6, 2006 5:57 PM (e)

Dudes, y’all need to smoke a bowl or two and relax.

Geez.

Comment #104130

Posted by Lenny's Pizza Guy on June 6, 2006 6:33 PM (e)

Lenny:

Dudes, y’all need to smoke a bowl or two and relax.

Hey, boss, should I interpret that as another order for our “Special” Oregano pizza?

Comment #104131

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on June 6, 2006 6:38 PM (e)

Which is special, the pizza or the “oregano”?

Comment #104132

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 6, 2006 7:06 PM (e)

Hey, boss, should I interpret that as another order for our “Special” Oregano pizza?

Yeah, but give one of THOSE guys the bill. ;)

Comment #104133

Posted by Philip Bruce Heywood on June 6, 2006 7:13 PM (e)

I slipped this in to test how deep the controller of this page and his minions are into selective censorship and deliberate distortion, in open opposition to democracy. One can see you going the next step and actually devizing a system to surruptitiously alter the wording of posts.
Totalitarianism and thought police aside, the page is essentially void of logical or scientific content. When you finally decide whether for instance you wish a species to be defined by the hidden information within it, or by its outward appearance, give Science a call. It’s quite obvious to anyone who can even bring themselves to take a look – help is needed from some other source.

Comment #104134

Posted by the pro from dover on June 6, 2006 7:19 PM (e)

Rumor has it that along with the “special oregano pizza” from the LPG delivery service comes a copy of “Iron Butterfly’s greatest hit” LP. Trust me on this one Mr. Domino (and I don’t mean Fats) will never give you an offer like this (he may send you to Ave Maria university no doubt to study the significance of 6/6/06).

Comment #104135

Posted by Lenny's Pizza Guy on June 6, 2006 7:33 PM (e)

Heh! Well, I’m sure a lot more likely to get a TIP from one of “those” guys…!

Comment #104136

Posted by ben on June 6, 2006 7:37 PM (e)

One can see you going the next step and actually devizing a system to surruptitiously alter the wording of posts.

Apparently the surreptitious system devised to screw up IDiot spelling is already functioning efficiently. Next they’re coming for your grammar, I’m sure.

Comment #104138

Posted by Anton Mates on June 6, 2006 7:47 PM (e)

Philip Bruce Heywood wrote:

I slipped this in to test how deep the controller of this page and his minions are into selective censorship and deliberate distortion, in open opposition to democracy. One can see you going the next step and actually devizing a system to surruptitiously alter the wording of posts.

Dude, we’ve been to your own website. It’s far too late to convince us that the weirdness of your posts is someone else’s fault.

Comment #104139

Posted by Lenny's Pizza Guy on June 6, 2006 8:04 PM (e)

As Lenny might say:
BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Philip, dude, I just checked sales of your tome “Tree of Life, blah blah,” at amazon.com and you’re not exactly burning up the charts:
#4,310,514 in Books!

You are definitely cut off from any more “Special” Oregano topping on your pizzas until you can blow a clean one on the COHERE-O-METER.

Sad, how some people just never learn to limit themselves to toppings they can handle…

Comment #104142

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 6, 2006 8:57 PM (e)

Judging from a fairly small sample, the sequences in Cuffey’s references probably do overlap a little within tables, but not a lot. They do, as I noted before, overlap substantially across the tables 1 and 2. Again, this is judging from a small sample–several authors in the book Genetics, Paleontology, and Evolution edited by Jepsen, Mayr, and Simpson, 1949.

At least in the examples from that book, resolution of the sequence (if not of the taxa) is claimed to be quite good, though we are not given much data from which to judge, and the original sources would probably be difficult to track down in most cases.

Two of Cuffey’s references from this book discuss angiosperms, the third, rhinoceruses. One of the shorter example follows:

The second example, which comprises only a single genus, but which gives the most complete sequence known for any herbaceous plant, is the series of seeds of the genus Stratiotes from Europe described by Chandler (1923). The oldest seeds in this series, of Eocene age, are small, broad, and heavily sculptured, while those of younger strata are progressively longer, narrower, and smoother, until in the uppermost Pliocene there occur seeds which are indistinguishable from the modern European S. aloides…. The seeds of its other modern genera have not been studied and are not available among the collections of specimens in the larger herbaria. There is no way of deciding, therefore, whether the recorded changes in the seeds are on the species level, or whether the Eocene seeds belonged to plants of a different genus. Furthermore, it is not even possible to infer what types of changes were taking place in the rest of the plant and whether the Early Tertiary species grew under similar or different conditions from the modern one. Stratiotes, therefore, represents an isolated case of undouted progressive evolution of which the causes and significance are obscure.

Stebbins in Jepsen, Mayr, and Simpson, pp. 230-231.

There is more in the middle, but I don’t think that it clarifies much for our purposes. This particular case seems to be rather difficult to pin down to continuous species to species change, at least at the time when the excerpt above was written. Evolution from the Eocene to the Pliocene could be upwards of 50 million years, and the difficulties in inferring species or genera from seeds alone is mentioned in the passage above. It seems to be a good case of progressive evolution, as reported in the passage, but the level of resolution of the relevant issues is not so very good.

There is an especially large amount of overlap of references for this particular series. The reference for Chandler on Table 1 seems likely to refer to the same series, given that Stebbins uses Chandler as a source. Stebbins also is listed as a reference on both tables 1 and 2. Here, three references likely refer to one sequence, two certainly do. This appears to be an unusual convergence, however.

By contrast with the stated uncertainty in the above example, the rhinocerus series in Wood’s article in Jepsen, Mayr, and Simpson (pp. 188-189) claims a near-certainty of “unitary succession” from one rhino species to another.

The third of Cuffey’s references to this book is written by Chaney, and the relevant passage is from pp. 193-199. It discusses a lot of relatively small changes that can be seen in the fossil record of oaks, and ends with a bit about grass evolution. It is difficult to see any truly continuous species-to-species successions in those pages, even though the evolutionary changes appear to make classification of species difficult. Another good case for evolution, but I would be cautious about using the various examples from Chaney to show fine-grained species-to-species transitions (as with Stratiotes, we only get to observe a small portion of the plant, generally leaves, and sometimes acorns, in these instances).

Cuffey’s tables are excellent resources for those who would like examples of evolution through geological time. But fine-grained species to species transitional sequences are difficult to show from at least some of his references–if the three cases that I found are anything to go on. Overlap between the references would reduce the number of sequences as well, though it would not reduce it by 50% or anything like that.

One more thing. Cuffey is a good resource, however 1972 was a long time ago and it is likely that better and more highly constrained sequences could be found than his examples. Unfortunately, I don’t know of anyone who has compiled more recent sets of examples, although they exist in the literature.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #104144

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 6, 2006 8:59 PM (e)

Hey Heywood, you’re blithering again.

Comment #104145

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 6, 2006 9:01 PM (e)

Rumor has it that along with the “special oregano pizza” from the LPG delivery service comes a copy of “Iron Butterfly’s greatest hit” LP.

And Pink Floyd.

I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.

:)

Comment #104146

Posted by Lenny's Pizza Guy on June 6, 2006 9:06 PM (e)

So that’s where you’ve been leaving all my tips…!

:>

Comment #104147

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 6, 2006 9:19 PM (e)

Heywood wrote:

Totalitarianism and thought police aside, the page is essentially void of logical or scientific content. When you finally decide whether for instance you wish a species to be defined by the hidden information within it, or by its outward appearance, give Science a call. It’s quite obvious to anyone who can even bring themselves to take a look — help is needed from some other source.

Inadvertently, you put your finger onto the creationist/IDist problem. Only an outside authority could decide what a species is in the ambiguous cases (of which there are many), and it would have to decide this arbitrarily. The species taxon is the most “real” taxon that exists, and even it fails to conform to any Platonic/religious illusions of strict biological categories. Another success for evolutionary predictions.

Say “hi” to all of the voices in your head for me. I wouldn’t want any of them to feel unappreciated.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #104187

Posted by Vyoma on June 7, 2006 5:14 AM (e)

Heywood wrote:

I slipped this in to test how deep the controller of this page and his minions are into selective censorship and deliberate distortion, in open opposition to democracy.

YO HEYWOOD

I slipped this in quite openly to remind you that I asked you a series of questions on this thread that you have so far failed to respond to. Do you have a response, or is this selective self-censorship in action?

Comment #104203

Posted by Raging Bee on June 7, 2006 8:06 AM (e)

Heywood wrote:

I slipped this in to test how deep the controller of this page and his minions are into selective censorship and deliberate distortion, in open opposition to democracy.

Well, the very existence of this post kinda proves your insinuations are false, doesn’t it? It’s always amusing when creationists toss out allegations that disprove themselves without our help.

PS: your website is not THE most incoherent piece of crap on the Web, but it’s close enough to merit mention in “High Weirdness by Mail.” As I’ve said about certain other sites, “I’ve seen more coherent bollocks from Lyndon LaRouche!”

Comment #104211

Posted by Erasmus on June 7, 2006 8:50 AM (e)

Yo Heywood I am still waiting to hear whether or not all Lepomis fishes (bream, sun perch, goggle eyes, whatever you wanna call them) are a single species. Did Go.. er the Intelligent Designer Formerly Known as God create one ‘kind’ of Lepomis fish and Sin has caused diversification, or is your species concept as useless as your website?