Nick Matzke posted Entry 2682 on November 1, 2006 03:32 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2674

Last week, I did an interview on the podcast program called The SciPhi show (Science Fiction and Philosophy), run by Jason Rennie. It has now been posted (direct link to mp3 – 16 MB). The show previously did interviews with Michael Shermer, and ID guys Salvador Cordova and Michael Behe. I was somewhat annoyed with what the latter two were getting away with in their interviews, so on the spur of the moment I dropped Rennie an email, and boom, he had me on.

In addition to pointing out all the usual ID mistakes, there was an interesting discussion about Star Trek: Remember that Star Trek episode where they discover that the suspiciously coincidental bipedal, humanlike form of all of the Star Trek aliens was (somehow) encoded into bacteria seeded across the galaxy billions of years ago, by an ancient bipedal race, a fact revealed when a 3-D holograph recording is deciphered out of the ancestral DNA genome (somehow!). The only thing the episode left out was an explanation for human-klingon-vulcan interfertility. Great episode, typically ludicrous science, but does it help the ID guys make their case? Listen to find out.

Also, a month or two ago I blogged an online discussion I did at IslamOnline.net with IDist Mustafa Akyol; I forgot to blog Part 2 of the discussion, which answered a bunch of leftover unanswered questions from Part 1, and was posted the following week. Evidently the replies were originally posted, but then Akyol revised some of his answers, and that is what is posted now. Several of the answers in Part 2 make peculiar claims that I have only heard from one other person, DI spokesperson Casey Luskin, which indicates that Luskin might have helped with the revised answers. Alternatively, it shows that at least that Akyol – and, sadly, me – read Luskin’s stuff closely.

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Comment #142215

Posted by Michael Rathbun on November 1, 2006 8:32 PM (e)

Nick Matzke wrote:

Listen to find out.

Well done, although I might suggest that the words “you know” should be put into some sort of mental suppression list.

Comment #142223

Posted by Nick (Matzke)) on November 1, 2006 9:20 PM (e)

Hmm, good point. In 2004 I noticed I was doing that and tried to stop, but it looks like I have slacked. Ya know?

Comment #142225

Posted by DT-TJR on November 1, 2006 10:35 PM (e)

Nice interview. Jason is an IDist so I was half expecting him to speak up and voice his disagreement with you at various times during the interview, but he seemed to be content to let you speak uninterrupted, which was both nice and a bit disappointing at the same time. It was nice that you weren’t constantly interrupted and were allowed to speak freely, but a little bit of debate between you two would have been fun to listen to.

Comment #142241

Posted by Nick (Matzke)) on November 1, 2006 11:48 PM (e)

Wow, it looks like my little debate with Akyol at IslamOnline.net has been mentioned in a Nature cover story on “Islam and Science.”

Comment #142290

Posted by Jake on November 2, 2006 4:05 PM (e)

What do you mean by human, klingon, vulcan infertility? They were all capable of interbreeding. Spock himself was half vulcan and half human. On TNG there was a character that was half human and half klingon. Troy, on TNG, was half human and half betazoid.

Comment #142292

Posted by Jake on November 2, 2006 4:07 PM (e)

My bad. My eyes passed over it too quickly. I see now that you wrote INTERfertility. Sorry.

Comment #142310

Posted by The Sci Phi Show on November 2, 2006 5:54 PM (e)

Jason is an IDist so I was half expecting him to speak up and voice his disagreement with you at various times during the interview, but he seemed to be content to let you speak uninterrupted, which was both nice and a bit disappointing at the same time.

I’d be happy to do such a discussion with Nick at some point in the future if he wanted, but the interview was mainly intended to let him get his point across. I don’t interrupt guests, even when I disagree with them.

Comment #142332

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on November 2, 2006 7:59 PM (e)

On TNG there was a character that was half human and half klingon. Troy, on TNG, was half human and half betazoid.

And DS9 had a Bajoran/Cardassian hybrid (Zial), Voyager had another human/klingon (Behelana Tores), Sela (daughter of Tasha Yar) was a human/Romulan, and Savik was actually a Vulcan/Romulan hybrid (although those two races were established as being closely related, so perhaps that doesn’t count).

It was also established at least twice that klingon hybrids did not occur casually; Kalar told Troy that the DNA needed “help” to be compatible, and Dr. Bashir had to put considerable effort into assisting Jadzia and Whorf to conceive. In fact, the only clearly unintentional pregnancy of the lot was Zial (although half-human Kalar was clearly fertile with Whorf, hence Alexander, but you can chalk that up to having good “help”).

Comment #142335

Posted by Parse on November 2, 2006 8:23 PM (e)

The Sci Phi Show wrote:

I’d be happy to do such a discussion with Nick at some point in the future if he wanted, but the interview was mainly intended to let him get his point across. I don’t interrupt guests, even when I disagree with them.

Thank you, thank you, a thousand times thank you for being a good host. I know how hard it is to be quiet when you’re hearing something you disagree with; to be able to do this shows great discipline and is highly commendible. Is it possible for you to give lessons on this to the major news channels?

Comment #142338

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on November 2, 2006 8:31 PM (e)

I guess Star Trek has been saddled with the human-alien hybrid thing from the beginning, because for some reason Spock was a hybrid, even though he was more or less thoroughly Vulcan as a character.

In reality, I don’t think there is much of a reason to think that independently-evolved life would share much similarity beyond being based on water and carbon chemistry. Maybe the usage of some kind of amino acids and nucleic acids would happen repeatedly through convergence. If independently-originating life on two planets both used DNA genomes, I would surprised. If they both used the same 4 letters and 20 amino acids, I would be extremely surprised. I suppose if aliens went around and seeded engineered bacteria everywhere, that could get you those similarities, but then you would have to explain why apparently boneheaded phenomena like cytosine deamination weren’t fixed.

Mike Gene found the cytosine factoid so discomfiting he tried to invent a whole design rationale for it, but he never explains why we should think that this bias is in a good direction rather than a bad one (apart from raw speculation); why we should think that any significant amount of information could be frontloaded into genomes via this process (and why aliens would bother with a method that would be at the very least, extremely difficult to make work, compared to simple genetic engineering by an alien or computer); why any intended effects of a mutational bias wouldn’t be completely swamped by selection, and therefore pointless; and why a genetic code that in many respects is optimized to minimize mutations, which are generally detrimental, would defy this alleged “design logic” in the first place.

Comment #142357

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 3, 2006 12:21 AM (e)

I’d be happy to do such a discussion with Nick at some point in the future if he wanted, but the interview was mainly intended to let him get his point across. I don’t interrupt guests, even when I disagree with them.

You’ve got a wide open forum here, Jason.

go for it!

Comment #142358

Posted by The Sci Phi Show on November 3, 2006 12:56 AM (e)

You’ve got a wide open forum here, Jason.

No thanks. I’ve read the comments here before. I have better things to do with my time.

Comment #142359

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 3, 2006 1:05 AM (e)

LOL