Nick Matzke posted Entry 3292 on August 28, 2007 03:03 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/3278

The ID movement hasn’t had many successes, but one area where they did pretty much succeed in causing considerable havoc was the classic textbook example of natural selection in action: the change in color of peppered moths (Biston betularia) from peppered white, to black, and back to peppered white again. Through a series of accidents that is still difficult to understand, the idea got started in the late 1990s that leading peppered moth researcher Michael Majerus had debunked Bernard Kettlewell’s famous study confirming the old hypothesis that the change in peppered moth color was due to selective predation of conspicious moths by birds.

This confusion, minor by itself, was massively magnified when the ID/creationists picked it up and spread it far and wide. In the 1970s-1980s, creationists used to just resort to traditional obfuscation when confronted with natural selection producing a the “designed-looking” adaptation of moth camouflage to match their changing background – creationists would just reply “they’re still moths”, purposely avoiding the point of the peppered moth example. But once they heard that Kettlewell’s research and hypothesis were in trouble, they declared the example a fraud, the illustrative photos a dastardly fraud, and told the world that the biology textbooks were lying to the children and that the ID movement’s quack science should be given a place in schools to balance things out. I think Jonathan Wells probably considered the alleged downfall of the peppered moth his career achievement.

Science journalists, forgetting the maxim “If a creationist declares victory, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve actually won” breathlessly and almost entirely uncritically repeated the basic “peppered moths debunked” storyline, almost completely neglecting the horrified objections of the actual people who knew something about the subject, the peppered moth researchers like Bruce Grant and Michael Majerus himself. Piling on was the (2002) book Of Moths and Men by New-Ager science journalist Judith Hooper, who naively took all the hubbub as an indication of reality, and added her own rumor-mongering and uninformed speculation to the mix, for example by postulating that maybe night-feeding bats somehow magically selectively predated one color of moth, and, most egregiously, inventing the idea that Kettlewell had actually deliberately faked his results, a conclusion which Hooper based on nothing but clueless armchair analysis of a few datapoints and a magical letter that somehow influenced Kettlewell the day before he actually received it (see debunking of this).

Well, the press was against Kettlewell’s Bird Predation Hypothesis. More than a few scientists (outside of the peppered moth community) looked askance at it. And the creationists were crowing for years. In addition, while I haven’t done a systematic analysis, my sense of it is that the poor peppered moth took a serious hit in coverage in the textbooks. The only defenders, basically, were the peppered moth guys themselves, and, well, us PT/talkorigins/NCSE folks. We defended the old Biston example through thick and thin, based mostly on the novel idea that one ought to read the original research and the actual experts to get a sense of what the most likely reality is. You can see most of this long-live-the-peppered-moth stuff here, here, here, and here.

It’s all well and good to argue about old studies, but for the last five years or so, Michael Majerus has been working on a long-term, answer-all-the-critics experiment to re-test (yet again) the idea that selective bird predation on conspicuous moths is the primary cause of the change in color morphs of the peppered moth. It looks like he’s finally finished:

Majerus Lab
Evolutionary Genetics Group

STOP PRESS - The text of Mike Majerus’ talk given at Uppsala on 23 August is now available as a pdf file - The Peppered Moth: The Proof of Darwinian Evolution

I have emailed Majerus, he says that he will put up the powerpoint slides and photos when he gets back from a meeting next week. (So please, don’t flood his email asking for these.)

Here is the news story on his talk:

Moth study backs classic ‘test case’ for Darwin’s theory

For more than a century it has been cited as the quintessential example of Darwinism in action. It was the story of the peppered moth and how its two forms had struggled for supremacy in the polluted woodlands of industrial Britain.

Every biology textbook on evolution included the example of the black and peppered forms of the moth, Biston betularia. The relative numbers of these two forms were supposed to be affected by predatory birds being able to pick off selectively either the black or peppered variety, depending on whether they rested on polluted or unpolluted trees.

It became the most widely cited example of Darwinian natural selection and how it affected the balance between two competing genes controlling the coloration of an organism. Then the doubts began to emerge.

Critics suggested that the key experiments on the peppered moth in the 1950s were flawed. Some went as far as to suggest the research was fraudulent, with the implication that the school textbooks were feeding children a lie.

Creationists smelt blood. The story of the peppered moth became a story of how Darwinism itself was flawed - with its best known example being based on fiddled data.

Now a Cambridge professor has repeated the key predation experiments with the peppered moth, only this time he has taken into account the criticisms and apparent flaws in the original research conducted 50 years ago. Michael Majerus, a professor of genetics at Cambridge University, has spent the past seven years collecting data from a series of experiments he has carried out in his own rambling back garden. It has involved him getting up each day before dawn and then spending several hours looking out of his study window armed with a telescope and notepad.

[…]

In a seminal description of his results to a scientific conference this week in Sweden, Professor Majerus gave a resounding vote of confidence in the peppered month story. He found unequivocal evidence that birds were indeed responsible for the lower numbers of the black carbonaria forms of the moth. It was a complete vindication of the peppered month story, he told the meeting.

[…]

While the professor has also described drawbacks to Kettlewell’s methodology, he was able to address all of these concerns and even tested an idea that Hooper had raised in her book - that it was bats rather than birds responsible for moth predation - a suggestion he dismissed altogether.

Professor Majerus compiled enough visual sightings of birds eating peppered moths in his garden over the seven years to show that the black form was significantly more likely to be eaten than the peppered.

A statistical analysis of the results revealed a clear example of Darwinian natural selection in action.

“The peppered moth story is easy to understand, because it involves things that we are familiar with: vision and predation and birds and moths and pollution and camouflage and lunch and death,” he said. “That is why the anti-evolution lobby attacks the peppered moth story. They are frightened that too many people will be able to understand.”

Barring the unlikely possibility of a dramatic change in the conclusions before Majerus’s official publication of his results (which, we must remember, will be the official, authoritative presentation of the work), let me say it again. We Told You So.

I do think that this case should be a cause of some reflection on the part of journalists and textbook publishers. Is it possible that these groups, normally skeptical of creationists, let themselves get stampeded into the “bird predation is dead!” meme by creationist propaganda?

At any rate, as sure as night follows day, the ID/creationists, craven as always, are already refusing to admit they were wrong, and are instead trying to crawl unnoticed back to their old hole: “Sure it’s natural selection, but they’re still just moths!” A case in point:

IMHO…a couple of issues with the most recent peppered moth study. It’s still a moth, and the evolution is an oscillation of populations, just like the finches of Galapagos

There it is, in black and white.

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Comment #201211

Posted by h3nry on August 28, 2007 4:22 AM (e)

Prof. Michael Ruse’s latest book Darwinism and Its Discontents also offers a few pages devoted to the peppered moth example. As a note, that section is part of a chapter which addresses Piltdown Man and Haeckel’s Drawings - which creationists are still using today as examples of scientific frauds.

Comment #201223

Posted by Christophe Thill on August 28, 2007 4:58 AM (e)

I’m currently reading Mayr’s Growth of Biological Thought. If there’s one idea I got from this book, it’s that modern biology is all about “populational thinking”, as opposed to the “typological thinking” of the old metaphysical philosophers and the pre-scientific biologists. And the best illustration of it is the concept of species.

So, actually, whenever we hear someone, creationist or not, using such arguments as “they’re still moths”, “it’s still a dog”, etc, we know that this person has no idea about what a species is and, therefore, can be said to know nothing about biology. And we should ask “what do you mean by that?” and force the person to explain their muddled concepts, until complete embarrassment is reached…

Comment #201237

Posted by Chip Poirot on August 28, 2007 6:09 AM (e)

What about the case of “Pan Sapiens Sapiens”?

We could point out that “it’s still a chimp!”.

5 million years of evolution have only succeeded in producing a species with minor physiological differences from other chimps. Even the major behavioral and other changes don’t depart that far from those of its close cousins.

And birds are still (mostly) small feathered, bipedal bipeds.

Comment #201257

Posted by k.e. on August 28, 2007 7:22 AM (e)

Comment #201237
Posted by Chip Poirot on August 28, 2007 6:09 AM (e)

What about the case of “Pan Sapiens Sapiens”?

We could point out that “it’s still a chimp!”.

5 million years of evolution have only succeeded in producing a species with minor physiological differences from other chimps. Even the major behavioral and other changes don’t depart that far from those of its close cousins.

And birds are still (mostly) small feathered, bipedal bipeds.

But their brains aren’t, somehow a whole lot of what otherwise look like humans have bird brains.

Darwinism simply can’t explain this.

In fact the whole field is completely outside science and would be what some people might call philosophy, if you went to school.

And bird poop if you didn’t.

Many theologians have over the centuries tried to explain this phenomenon, materialists, positive logicists and fantacians. Each has reached a different conclusion but most of them agree that chicken tastes better when cooked and that feathers will be spread all over the place if you try to pluck them before they are dead.

A small fraction of them refuse to cross the road and some bird brains subscribe to the bird brain in the bird bath school of thought.

A famous rooster by the name of Sigmund Fowl said that basting in a orange sauce would bring out the worst in your mother and has since been discredited as an over-rated couch salesman. He did however suggest the radical idea at the time most girls and boys want to grow up and play doctors and nurses unless they end up having 2 brains in the one bird. This was know as split birdanality or schitzonuggets, a pathological desire to describe the known and the unknown in terms of chickens entrails, a profession that went out in the western world with Julius Pollo IIIV a Roman General. The practice continues in Manila where chicken’s livers are regularly pulled out of fat tourists with terminal cancer.

Comment #201262

Posted by Wildy on August 28, 2007 7:35 AM (e)

“[B]ut they’re just still moths!” isn’t the stupidest thing that I have heard from a creationist. The stupidest thing regarding Peppered Moths would have to be that “it isn’t an example of evolution because the pollution was man made and evolution is natural”.

We should be glad that they are trying to limp into a hole right now…

Comment #201263

Posted by harold on August 28, 2007 7:41 AM (e)

I was always amazed at the stupidity of the “peppered moths are a fraud” argument.

Camoflaging coloration is so common in the animal world, especially among insects.

I mean, seriously, if coloration is selected for differently, some kind of change in the predation environment would be the first logical thought. Either a change in the background or a predator adaptation (or new predator). Of course something else could underly it, but those would be the first things I would think of to test.

Even if it had been true that industrial pollution didn’t contribute to the selection for darker moths, something obviously did.

At the very worst, the story could have been an example of an amusing surprise - in this one case, even though there was overwhelming reason to believe that the change in background plant coloration (due to pollution) favored a darker phenotype, some unexpected convoluted explanation was found later.

However, now it seems that the simple, expected, uncontroversial explanation that was initially proposed was the correct one.

Of course, the very exact details of the original research surely can, should, and will be fine-tuned and modified.

The utter intellectual dishonesty of those who pounced on the “fraud” nonsense is pretty astonishing. This was just a very straightforward example of selection of an obvious phenotypic trait, along the lines of antibiotic resistance or breeding of miniature animals. No honest, critical thinker could have thought that, even if some other explanation than bird predation was actually found, the concept of natural selection was weakened. Unbelievable.

In retrospect I guess more people should have asked the “fraud” gang - How do YOU explain the marked changes in frequency of dark coloration?

Comment #201273

Posted by IanR on August 28, 2007 8:25 AM (e)

I am always surprised at the lack of attention that David Rudge’s (Public Understand. Sci. 14 (2005) 1–20) pretty thorough debunking of Hooper’s fraud hypothesis gets (although I’m glad to see that Majerus references it).

Comment #201287

Posted by David Stanton on August 28, 2007 9:06 AM (e)

They are still moths. And this is still an example of natural selection in action. That is all it ever was. That is all it will ever be. So what?

To construct a straw man argument that every example in biology has to be an example of speciation or marco evolution is complete nonsense. Of course we have lots of examples of those as well. This isn’t one of them. It doesn’t have to be.

I agree with Harold. What about all the other examples of protective coloration in insects alone? What about walking sticks that resemble sticks and katydids that mimic leaves? What about preying mantids that mimic flowers? What about all the examples of Batesian and Mullerian mimicry in insects? Is natural selection not the proper explanation for these examples as well?

Even if the moth experiment did turn out to be in some small way flawed, so what? It doesn’t matter if industrial pollution was responsible for the change in allele frequency or not. It doesn’t matter whether bird predation was responsible or not. The details could be different and it would still be a good example of natural selection in action. Unless of course your explanation is that God was punishing the dark moths for eating apples offered to them by snakes. That sounds kind of racist to me.

Comment #201304

Posted by Flint on August 28, 2007 9:59 AM (e)

There it is, in black and white.

Which is great, but it’s only step one in a long uphill grind to undo the sheer inertia of Pepper Moth Mythology.

Carl Sagan illustrated the problem so well in “Demon Haunted World”, when he talked about how intercessory prayer had been deployed without effect, over millennia and literally trillions of prayers. The Believers’ position wasn’t that prayer doesn’t work, of course, it was that we have insufficient data(!)

But some decades ago, someone with (amazingly enough) a vested interest in the effectiveness of intercessory prayer, did a rigged study and found that it works! Religious believers all said “we told you so” in massive unison, and published these congenial results far and wide. Science proves prayer works said all the headlines.

Almost immediately after publication, the (inevitable) confirmation bias was identified, and the study was replicated many times without the methodological rigging. Nope, no effectiveness could be replicated. None.

Now, do you suppose the Believers retreated to their “insufficient data” posture, upon learning that their study was rigged? Are you kidding? To this day, it’s common knowledge that science proved that prayer works; this has become embedded indelibly in the mythology of the Christian experience. No amount of evidence, however exhaustive or clearly presented, has dislodged this mythology even a little bit.

And we expect this new information about the peppered moth to have better luck? Making Stuff Up that we WISH were true is the human meat and potatoes. Drawing most-likely inferences from observational evidence is very much an acquired taste, one of the airs put on by the effete elite.

Comment #201315

Posted by QuestionAndBeSkeptical on August 28, 2007 10:42 AM (e)

It’s still just a moth. Let me know when it turns into a goat.

Meanwhile, can you cite an example of an ID type who claims that change in traits over successive generations does not occur through natural, artificial, sexual, and other selective pressures?

More obfuscation from the now admitted PT/NCSE/TO affiliation of highly dedicated crusaders for evolution.

Comment #201318

Posted by Frank J on August 28, 2007 11:17 AM (e)

QuestionAndBeSelectivelyIncredulous wrote:

It’s still just a moth. Let me know when it turns into a goat.

IOW, let you know when evolution has really been falsified.

Comment #201319

Posted by Henry J on August 28, 2007 11:26 AM (e)

Should somebody point out that moths and goats are in entirely separate branches of the animal kingdom? They’re both in the bilateral clade, iirc, but their mothiness and goatiness properties arose much later than their split from each other.

Comment #201321

Posted by Steve Reuland on August 28, 2007 12:01 PM (e)

QuestionAndBeSkeptical wrote:

Meanwhile, can you cite an example of an ID type who claims that change in traits over successive generations does not occur through natural, artificial, sexual, and other selective pressures?

As far as I know there aren’t any, which makes their attacks on the peppered moth all the more scurrilous. It didn’t matter to them whether or not the underlying process is well established (there are thousands of studies of natural selection in the wild, so we could ignore the peppered moth altogether and nothing would change), it was simply a smear-job against the scientists involved in the research and, by implication, all of evolutionary biology. The real purpose was to scream “fraud” and sow distrust of the scientific community among the public. That’s what makes the ID movement quintessentially anti-science.

Comment #201322

Posted by k.e. on August 28, 2007 12:08 PM (e)

Meanwhile, can you cite an example of an ID type who claims that change in traits over successive generations does not occur through natural, artificial, sexual, and other selective pressures?

And your point is?

……oh wait goats from moths.

Seriously leave the parody to the experts.

Comment #201323

Posted by Mike Z on August 28, 2007 12:12 PM (e)

“It’s still just a moth. Let me know when it turns into a goat.”

This particular misunderstanding of evolutionary theory has always perplexed me (similar to the “show me a cat-dog” challenge). To suggest that evolutionary theory says that one species of animal would be expected to evolve into another, already existing species reveals a strange sort of confusion about the theory. I suppose it is another symptom of the typological thinking mentioned earlier in this thread – i.e. that there is a set number of types of organisms, and so any large-scale change must involve changing from one already-established type to another.
Of course, real evolution involves all sorts of contingencies that produce unique variations never seen before. Now, we might see something like convergent evolution (roughly similar solutions to similar selection pressures) but certainly not something like the appearance of a goat lineage completely separate from the standard one we already know.

Comment #201325

Posted by harold on August 28, 2007 12:25 PM (e)

Question and Be Skeptical -

I wonder if you have any idea how ironic your name is. Assuming that your posts aren’t parody - it’s always so hard to tell.

It’s still just a moth.

There is a post immediately above by David Stanton explaining that yes, this is just an example of natural selection within a population of moths. Do you deny natural selection within species? Do you deny that this is an example?

Let me know when it turns into a goat.

I assume that this is intended as rather childish sarcasm.

If I were uncharitable enough to take you literally, this would imply that you think that biologists believe that moths and goats share recent common ancestry, or indeed, that a modern moth lineage could conceivable give rise to goat descendants. But if you were really that challenged, you presumably wouldn’t be able to learn the alphabet and use a keyboard.

If I were to assume that this is intended as a straw man to fool unwary lurkers into mistakenly believing that scientists believe this, that would mean that you are, in essence, attempting to prey on the (even more) ignorant.

Therefore, I make the charitable assumption that this is rather childish sarcasm.

Meanwhile, can you cite an example of an ID type who claims that change in traits over successive generations does not occur through natural, artificial, sexual, and other selective pressures?

This is a dissembling subject change. The topic here is that ID/creationist types made disingenuous attacks on earlier peppered moth research, and have been embarrassed by subsequent developments.

You’ve set the bar very low. Even Michael Behe, who’s works are grounded in the illogical denial that the bacterial flagellum or blood clotting system could have evolved, might not deny every instance of selection.

The broader point is that ID/creationism is nonsense; even if not all “ID advocates” make fools of themselves by denying the most obvious examples of selection, this remains the case. We might make an analogy to a flat-earther who doesn’t quite deny that some force called “gravity” pulls near-earth objects to the ground, even while essentially choosing a ludicrous fantasy over modern physics.

More obfuscation from the now admitted PT/NCSE/TO affiliation of highly dedicated crusaders for evolution.

You are the one who changes the subject, creates straw men, and generally obfuscates.

I just read and post here; I have no official relationship to PT, NSCE, or TO, but why on earth shouldn’t they be affiliated?

I couldn’t care less what your personal beliefs are, and strongly support your right to believe as you wish, but I am pround to be an independent crusader for good science education, respect for constitutional rights, and public policy based on mainstream science.

Comment #201326

Posted by Conn-in_Brooklyn on August 28, 2007 12:34 PM (e)

I think this has a lot to do with the language esp. YEC creationists use. Often, one hears the word ‘kind’ used, which, from what I’ve witnessed, can mean anything from a ‘species’, to a ‘family’ and even a ‘class’ (if you’re persuaded that Dinosauria should be a class) - this allows them to use the cheap rhetorical trick that “a kind can only reproduce after its own kind” without actually having to spell out what ‘kind’ means - is it genetic differences, structural and anatomical differences, is Psittacosaurus a different kind than Protoceratops? I think Chris Thill is right: ask a creationist “what ‘kind’ a Mononychus is?” & watch them funble towards an answer …

Also, creationists tend to conflate genetic variance with structural and anatomical dissimilarity - thinking that natural selection and variation must mean noticeable structural differences in a short period of time. When you explain that we can see rapid gene variance under controlled experiments (more rapid than would occur in the wild) and eventually the kind of sturctural divergence they’d want to see would take place, though in an incredibly time span, they simply deploy the argument from personal incredulity …

Comment #201338

Posted by Henry J on August 28, 2007 1:14 PM (e)

this allows them to use the cheap rhetorical trick that “a kind can only reproduce after its own kind” without actually having to spell out what ‘kind’ means

Imnsho, the scientific term that seems to come closest to “kind” is simply “clade”. The descendants of members of a clade are in that clade, after all.

Comment #201354

Posted by K. Bledsoe on August 28, 2007 2:30 PM (e)

Arguments such as these also point out the general lack of understanding of the nature of science and scientific process seen among the general public. I’ve seen letters to the editor of the newspaper arguing that evolution has never been “proven” – as though science is desperately and foolishly seeking one definitive “experiment” that will “prove” that evolution happens. By the same kind of thinking, creationists have exploited the Peppered Moth story in hopes that it might be one definitive “experiment” that failed to “prove” evolution, and thereby “disproves” it.

In teaching my own students about evolution, I first give it this definition: Evolution is the change in the genetics (and the traits they code for) in a population over time. This takes a lot of the fear out of the “E” word and puts it in terms that most students can talk about. After all, changes in gene ratios are something we can directly measure (thereby defusing the argument that “we can’t study evolution directly”). We go through the history of evolutionary theory, from Buffon to Lamarck and Cuvier, to Darwin, to the rise of genetics, to Modern Synthesis Theory. We also talk about what “theory” means in science – the definition that works for them is “an evidence-supported explanation for a natural phenomenon.”

We then talk about population genetics and how we can see and measure genetic differences in a population over time. In some cases, as in the case of the Peppered Moth, these may be cyclic, reversible changes that nevertheless illustrate the principle of selection. It’s when we see cases of long-term environmental change, such as an oncoming ice age, that the gene ratios of a population shift in ways that lead to divergence.

By the time we’re done, most students at least understand what science is talking about and can talk about it themselves without breaking out into a rash, even if they still don’t want to accept evolutionary theory. That’s all I ask of them.

Comment #201386

Posted by QuestionAndBeSkeptical on August 28, 2007 5:00 PM (e)

K. Bledsoe wrote:

In teaching my own students about evolution, I first give it this definition: Evolution is the change in the genetics (and the traits they code for) in a population over time. This takes a lot of the fear out of the “E” word and puts it in terms that most students can talk about. After all, changes in gene ratios are something we can directly measure (thereby defusing the argument that “we can’t study evolution directly”). We go through the history of evolutionary theory, from Buffon to Lamarck and Cuvier, to Darwin, to the rise of genetics, to Modern Synthesis Theory. We also talk about what “theory” means in science – the definition that works for them is “an evidence-supported explanation for a natural phenomenon.”

Your definition of evolution is not controversial because it is diluted. The question is can such changes occur without bounds. If your answer is yes, give me an experiment to reproduce, as reproducibility will make this theory scientific. Quantify (science likes reproducibility and quantification) the number of generations necessary, and the extent of the genetic differences between the original and ultimate generations (And I mean something a little better than diverging a group of fruit flies into, umn, two groups of fruit flies, with members of one group refusing to mate with members of the other group).

I could give you a scientific definition of elasticity, and all is fine. But if I then try to tell you that human beings are so elastic that you can flatten them with a steam rollar and they will return to their normal size unharmed, this is not science. If I obfuscate by mentioning how packing peanuts are elastic to a lesser extent, more nonesense.

Comment #201388

Posted by GuyeFaux on August 28, 2007 5:06 PM (e)

The question is can such changes occur without bounds. If your answer is yes,give me an experiment to reproduce, as reproducibility will make this theory scientific.

The premise is a straw-man.

Comment #201391

Posted by raven on August 28, 2007 5:24 PM (e)

The question is can such changes occur without bounds.

That paragon of a persecuted anti-evolutionist Caroline Crocker once said, “they are quite different from macroevolution. No one has ever seen a dog turn into a cat in a laboratory.”

She is right. Evolution wouldn’t predict that either. Evolution says that the dog and cat shared a common ancestor probably 30 million years ago or so. When you look at the fossil record, that is just what you see.

Evolution predicts that new species arise from old ones in a chain that stretches back to bacteria. Exactly what we see. From fish to humans took about 400 million years. No one saw it directly. Who is going to stay up for 400 million years and watch? Fortunately, we have a reasonably complete fossil record and DNA sequence data that agrees with it.

In case you don’t get it, when the average life span of a human is 77 years and a species can take a million years to evolve from one to another, it is going to be hard to document in real time.

Comment #201392

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on August 28, 2007 5:28 PM (e)

The question is can such changes occur without bounds.

What mechanism do you propose to bind (limit the degree of) those changes? “Kinds”? What would prevent one “kind” from becoming another “kind” over a billion years?

Comment #201393

Posted by Henry J on August 28, 2007 5:35 PM (e)

Without bounds??????

Are you kidding?

Evolution has bounds. Consider cars, airplanes, steel armor - any of those could be quite useful, but would be extremely unlikely to evolve.

Evolution is bounded in that a species can only add successive small changes to what it already has.

It can’t grow a new feature just because it would be useful.

One species can’t copy complex features or traits from another species (even acquiring single genes from other species is rare in animals).

A complex new feature would take a long time to evolve; I recall one estimate for eye evolution was around a half million years or so.

Those bounds are expected from evolution as presently understand. There’s no evidence that current life has exceeded those limits.

There’s no reason to suppose that an “intelligent designer” would have any such limits.

Henry

Comment #201394

Posted by CJO on August 28, 2007 5:42 PM (e)

Sheesh.
So two populations of fruit fly diverge. We agree that the differences between the members of the two populations are the result of natural evolutionary mechanisms.

Start over with one of those populations. Repeat.

Start over. Repeat. (…)

The process is iterative, not cumulative. Your example of elasticity overlooks this distinction in order to draw your faulty conclusion.

Comment #201402

Posted by Phatty on August 28, 2007 6:18 PM (e)

Props to Majerus for pointing out the flaws in Kettlewell’s research and backing it up by repeating the experiment sans flaws. By the way, the fact that Majerus has confirmed the conclusions of Kettlewell’s research in no way answers the question of whether Kettlewell committed fraud in his research (I don’t mean to infer that Kettlewell committed fraud). Just because a conclusion is correct doesn’t mean a scientist can’t fudge their way to that conclusion. Similarly, just because a scientist has committed fraud in their research doesn’t prove that their conclusions are false. Thus, it was unfair for creationists to ever point to Kettlewell’s research (even if flawed) to support the idea that natural selection is bogus. But it’s not like creationists are the first to ever attack an entire group because of the isolated actions of one of its members. In fact, I plan to do just that when I impugn the GOP based on the lewd conduct of Senator Larry Craig in the airport.

Comment #201437

Posted by Gary Hurd on August 28, 2007 8:18 PM (e)

Re: Wolfwalker

Your recollection closely matched mine.

Comment #201439

Posted by harold on August 28, 2007 8:30 PM (e)

QABS -

I realize that you are too disturbed to absorb critical feedback, but for the sake of lurking eyes I will add to what others have pointed out. (I also realize that your motivation is probably social and political.)

Your definition of evolution is not controversial because it is diluted.

Ignoramous is a strong word, but no other word will serve here. The definition offered is one commonly used by mainstream scientists.

The question is can such changes occur without bounds.

Of course it isn’t. And this time, there is no excuse of childish sarcasm. This is just a dishonest strawman.

You are trying to imply a false dichotomy - either no bounds, or some magical bound that you wish for.

There are plenty of bounds, of course - just not the imaginary ones that you wish for.

If your answer is yes, give me an experiment to reproduce, as reproducibility will make this theory scientific.

Here is a very cursory overview of some evidence - http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

Quantify (science likes reproducibility and quantification) the number of generations necessary, and the extent of the genetic differences between the original and ultimate generations

How ironic that one of your ignorance would presume to teach science. There is a vast biochemical, molecular, and mathematical literature on rates of mutation and selection. In fact, population geneticists explored these questions in a sophisticated way before the biochemical nature of the genome was even understood.

(And I mean something a little better than diverging a group of fruit flies into, umn, two groups of fruit flies, with members of one group refusing to mate with members of the other group).

In other words, you already know that this can be demonstrated, so rather than accept reality, you’ll move the goal posts.

As has been pointed out, you’ll have to accept experiments on organisms with short generation times if you want to observe significant speciation from an original population in a single human life time.

You’ll have to rely on the overwhelming molecular, biochemical, anatomic, and physiologic evidence for any series of events that can’t be observed in a single human life span.

At one level, you seem to have been denied even a rudimentary level of science education (yes, I know, I know - you’re a “computer programmer” or “engineer” with a “genius IQ” - if you make those claims, I’ll challenge you for details).

At another level, you seem to know just enough to play the silly trick of trying to demand whatever special “evidence” that you are least frightened of being provided with, as an excuse to ignore the mountain of real evidence.

Comment #201453

Posted by MPW on August 28, 2007 9:48 PM (e)

I’m almost ready to call “parody troll” on QuestionAndBeSkeptical. On the one hand, QABS is remarkably deadpan, persistent and, well, dull for a parodist. But those steamroller and packing peanuts analogies above? Hilarious, and almost too good to be true. If it is sincere, it’s just about worthy of a place in the pantheon with “PYGMIES + DWARVES.”

Comment #201460

Posted by nickmatzke on August 28, 2007 10:01 PM (e)

Paul Nelson tries to hide the fact that his side trumpeted the pseudo-fact that “peppered moths don’t rest on tree trunks.”

Once again he demonstrates that he lacks the moral courage to suck it up and admit he and his colleagues were wrong and were actively misleading the public for a decade.

Comment #201512

Posted by Mats on August 29, 2007 3:00 AM (e)

Let’s see:
1. There were black moths and white moths in the beginning (different ratios)
2. There were black moths and white moths in the end (different ratios)
3. No moth evolved into a bat, or anything like that.
4. Moths only gave birth to……err….moths.
5. Natural selection is not doubted by Creation scientists.

So ….……how does the moth example serves as evidence that unguided, natural, undirected forces are responsible for all the “apparent” design in living forms?

If moths turning into moths is the best evolutionary example Darwinians can provide, then we can understand why they use the Law to prevent opposing views from being considered.

Comment #201548

Posted by Frank J on August 29, 2007 5:28 AM (e)

Henry J wrote:

Without bounds?????? Are you kidding?

Of course they’re kidding. And well aware that their target audience won’t get the joke. If ID/creationism were truly scientific their specification of those bounds would be converging, not diverging.

Comment #201591

Posted by David Stanton on August 29, 2007 8:34 AM (e)

Mats wrote:

“Natural selection is not doubted by Creation scientists.
So ….……how does the moth example serves as evidence that unguided, natural, undirected forces are responsible for all the “apparent” design in living forms?
If moths turning into moths is the best evolutionary example Darwinians can provide, then we can understand why they use the Law to prevent opposing views from being considered.”

Obviously, by itself, the moth example doesn’t serve “as evidence that unguided, natural, undirecte4d forces are responsible for all the apparent design in living things.” You already pointed that out yourself. It is an example of natural selection pure and simple. It is not the only example and it is not the only kind of evidence used to test evolutionary theory. Have you ever heard of genetics? Have you ever heard of comparative genomics?

Why do you insist that this one example must prove everything in evolutioaary biology to be correct? Why do you think this is the “best” example? Do you really believe that the entire foundation of evolutionary biology rests on this one piece of research? How do you interpret the excellent work done on natural selection in the Galapogos Finches, to take just one example? How do you interpret all of the genetic evidence for macroevolution?

Do you really believe that any scientist uses “the Law to prevent opposing views from being considered”? If so, aren’t you afraid you will be arrested for posting this nonsense? Aren’t you afraid that there are spies in your church who will rat you out to the police? You know that you have the freedom provided to you by the U.S. Constitution, the exact same document you denigrate with your mindless accusations.

Comment #201594

Posted by harold on August 29, 2007 8:55 AM (e)

Mats -

You truly are remarkable. All of your nonsense points were already addressed above, yet your apparent pathologic inability to absorb critical feedback caused you to post them anyway.

1. There were black moths and white moths in the beginning (different ratios)
2. There were black moths and white moths in the end (different ratios)

They weren’t “black” or “white”, indicating that you can’t even state the simple facts correctly. However, this is the closest you came to being correct.

3. No moth evolved into a bat, or anything like that.
4. Moths only gave birth to……err….moths.

I already dealt with an exactly analogous illogical comment above.

If you are trying to imply to even more ignorant others that the theory of evolution postulates that mammal descendants would arise from an insect population, and in the short term at that, then you are a dishonest person peddling a straw man.

If you sincerely believe that this is what the theory of evolution would suggest, then you are at best so uninsightful that you are unable to form an accurate estimate of what others might accept. Ignorance alone would justify only lack of knowledge, not such an assumption about the knowledge of others.

Do you think any sincere, intelligent person would be persuaded by…

“DUUHHHHH…the moths didn’t, duh, turn into bats, duhhhh”?

Why would anyone bother to make such a transparently foolish statement?

5. Natural selection is not doubted by Creation scientists.

The entire point of this thread is that creationists DID make fools of themselves trying to deny the peppered moth example.

So ….……how does the moth example serves as evidence that unguided, natural, undirected forces are responsible for all the “apparent” design in living forms?

If moths turning into moths is the best evolutionary example Darwinians can provide, then we can understand why they use the Law to prevent opposing views from being considered.

This cannot be construed as innocent misunderstanding; in the context of this thread, this must be interpreted as dishonesty.

It was explained very clearly above that of course, the peppered moth example is indeed nothing but an illustration of natural selection acting on a population in the short term.

As you know, no-one is using the “Law” to prevent other views from being considered.

Indeed, I strongly support your right to privately “consider” anything you like.

The fact that you posted here is proof that you are free to “consider” nonsense all day long.

However, you can’t violate the rights of others by having garbage taught as “science” in taxpayer funded schools.

Comment #201599

Posted by raven on August 29, 2007 9:29 AM (e)

Mats the troll:

If moths turning into moths is the best evolutionary example Darwinians can provide,

Well actually it isn’t. We have one case where a single celled organism turned into a variety of animals (millions), insects, dinosaurs, fish, mammals, and eventually gave rise to humans. Some of these humans are even capable of asking questions about the world around them and answering them.

A remarkable example of evolution that only took around a billion years.

Comment #201607

Posted by Mike on August 29, 2007 9:51 AM (e)

Nick: that peppered moth animation is seriously annoying when trying to read another post. The motion keeps drawing the eye away from whatever it is reading. It would be better placed below the fold.

Comment #201621

Posted by QuestionAndBeSkeptical on August 29, 2007 10:32 AM (e)

raven wrote:

Well actually it isn’t. We have one case where a single celled organism turned into a variety of animals (millions), insects, dinosaurs, fish, mammals, and eventually gave rise to humans. Some of these humans are even capable of asking questions about the world around them and answering them.

Do you still believe in Atlantas? Santa Clause? Casper the friendly Ghost? Puff the magic dragon? Harry Potter?

Comment #201623

Posted by QuestionAndBeSkeptical on August 29, 2007 10:53 AM (e)

So, do peppered moths rest on tree trunks?

It appears from this Encarta photograph that the photo is still considered worthy without footnote.

Same with Britannica

From what I understand, these moths do rest on tree trunks, when fraudulent researchers glue them there and photograph them.

Comment #201624

Posted by harold on August 29, 2007 10:55 AM (e)

Brain-damaged troll -

Do you still believe in Atlantas? Santa Clause? Casper the friendly Ghost? Puff the magic dragon? Harry Potter?

Wow, that’s devastating. A mature, sophisticated, evidence-based logical argument, delivered in a sensitive, collegial manner that exemplifies Christian ethics at their highest.

I’m absolutely convinced.

Sorry, just kidding.

Comment #201629

Posted by harold on August 29, 2007 11:04 AM (e)

From what I understand, these moths do rest on tree trunks, when fraudulent researchers glue them there and photograph them.

So you do continue to deny that peppered moth colored changes are an example of natural selection, and you do continue to parrot the “fraud” line which is addressed at the top of this discussion.

Do you deny all natural selection? If not, why does one rather trivial example matter? If yes, why don’t you say so?

You really can’t come out of this one smelling good. You’ve claimed, on one hand, that creationists don’t deny natural selection. You’ve claimed, on the other hand, that one rather trivial observed example is a “fraud”, and that it would somehow matter for the theory of evolution if peppered moths had never existed.

Which is it? Is natural selection accepted by creationists, in which case your blather about the peppered moth is nonsense? Or do you deny natural selection, and all examples of it that are put forward?

I realize that you’re too damaged to respond to questions in meaningful way. I pose them rhetorically.

Comment #201643

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on August 29, 2007 12:19 PM (e)

QABS:

QABS wrote:

I could give you a scientific definition of elasticity, and all is fine. But if I then try to tell you that human beings are so elastic that you can flatten them with a steam rollar and they will return to their normal size unharmed, this is not science.

Others have answered your questions. But this attempt of analogy is revealing of the creationists thought process. (Or rather, attempt to avoid thinking too much.) I would like to use it as a model for how to systematically arrive to an answer.

First, we should always ask if the analogy is applicable. (Well, it is supposed so in your tag, isn’t it?) I assume that elasticity is supposed to illustrate the inertia in changing the genome in a population. So far, so good.

We also know that evolution is a process, here putatively analogous to indefinitely stretching an elastic material. It is not a fixed piece of matter (“rubber”, “packing peanuts”) akin to a fixed size population. Here your attempt lost applicability.

Instead we need to see if we can make the analogy applicable to an ongoing process. Thus we have three requirements on our model - it should exhibit elasticity, it should be indefinitely malleable, and the population size should be changeable. If we don’t fulfill the two later requirements, we are moving the goalposts.

A model that immediately comes to my mind is a liquid. Let us take this out for a spin:

- A river would symbolize the population under selection or drift, channeled for selection processes and haphazardly spreading or going over barriers under near neutral drift. [As in any analogy it isn’t perfect, but you get the idea.]

- Obviously the inertia of viscosity helps it adapt smoothly by allowing stream lines. [In real life the inertia would vary, perhaps be so syrupy as to randomly prevent some flow ways, et cetera. But here we are talking rough analogy.]

- The population (water mass) can change size. [Evaporation, rain - again not perfect.]

Still good. With a little bit of thinking, I’m sure you see that the current location for a specific water volume “population” would be analogous to a trait. This is promising since while the analogy obviously isn’t the theory it seems to have properties in common with it. You could go on and think about analogies to abiogenesis (sources for rivers), speciation (forks in rivers), et cetera.

So while your inability to question and be skeptical combined with your, um, inelastic view of populations and traits combined to fail you in finding a proper analogy, it was easy to pick up your dropped ball and take it the whole way. It also helped that the goalposts weren’t moved during the analysis.

Question and being skeptical doesn’t magically appear just because you say so. You must actually do it.

Comment #201651

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 29, 2007 1:02 PM (e)

Question and B.S.:

Do you still believe in Atlantas?

Yes. Thanks for asking. Multiple Atlantas do exist. Not only is this a well-known city in Georgia, but its also the name of several other towns in the U.S. alone. The name derives from the female given name “Atalanta,” after the Grecian huntress-goddess.

It has nothing to do with the mythical island civilization Atlantis or with the ocean in which said civilization was allegedly located.

You can’t even get your puerile efforts at sarcasm correct.

But now you do know something that you didn’t used to. Keep up that trend for–well, for a very long time, probably, based on your current “performance”–and then you’ll be welcome back here once you have something to say that proceeds from a base of knowledge rather than ignorance.

Comment #201677

Posted by Gerard Harbison on August 29, 2007 2:02 PM (e)

QuestionAndBeSkeptical wrote:

It’s still just a moth. Let me know when it turns into a goat.

Let me just follow up with the killer argument

If moths turned into goats, why are there still moths!!!

Comment #201689

Posted by Henry J on August 29, 2007 3:04 PM (e)

Re “If moths turned into goats, why are there still moths!!!”

Cause somebody got their goat, so more moths were needed.

Comment #201691

Posted by AC on August 29, 2007 3:05 PM (e)

CranksThinkSkepticismAndCredulityAreSynonyms wrote:

Do you still believe in Atlantas? Santa Clause? Casper the friendly Ghost? Puff the magic dragon? Harry Potter?

Still?

That you consider evolutionary theory comparable to fantastic fiction is no indictment of evolutionary theory. On the contrary, it is at least an indictment of your intellectual honesty, and possibly of your very ability to reason as well.

Hopefully it was merely rhetoric—and you merely a troll—rather than what passes for serious argument in your mind.

Comment #201695

Posted by AC on August 29, 2007 3:10 PM (e)

Steviepinhead wrote:

Multiple Atlantas do exist….

Well played. :)

Comment #201715

Posted by David Stanton on August 29, 2007 4:03 PM (e)

QABS wrote:

“From what I understand, these moths do rest on tree trunks, when fraudulent researchers glue them there and photograph them.”

What possible difference could it make where they did or did not rest? If the photographs were taken in the lab, would you say the study was invalid because the moths could never open the door? Differential predation by birds has been confirmed as the selection agent. I’m sure the new paper will document exactly what the substrates involved were and their relative importance. So what?

How does this make the researchers “fraudulent”? Do you have any evidence that they were incorrect in their conclusions? Why does it matter to you? Would the validity of natural selection undermine your world view in some way?

Comment #201743

Posted by Frank J on August 29, 2007 6:09 PM (e)

Steviepinhead wrote:

Yes. Thanks for asking. Multiple Atlantas do exist.

I think he/she meant “Atlantus.” I definitely believe that it’s off the coast of Cape May, NJ.

Comment #201752

Posted by Anthony on August 29, 2007 6:51 PM (e)

I don’t understand. ID/YEC say they accept microevolution but they reject the examples. Any ideas?

Comment #201761

Posted by mark on August 29, 2007 7:28 PM (e)

From what I understand, these moths do rest on tree trunks, when fraudulent researchers glue them there and photograph them.

I think it’s been a few years now since somebody decided to take a look for himself and…yes, indeed, there were the moths, perched as described and shown in the photographs. But that was part of someone’s research, something Creationists react to like vampires to garlic.

Do you still believe in Atlantas? Santa Clause? Casper the friendly Ghost? Puff the magic dragon? Harry Potter?

Why, yes, of course–plus Eden, the other guy who shows up at Christmas every year claiming to bear a gift for me, the Holy Ghost (actually, he and Caspar are the same individual), dinosaurs on board the Ark, and Satan. And if you liked dead moths prepared for photographs illustrating how they appear in nature, you must love dioramas showing cave man kids riding dinosaurs!

Comment #201765

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 29, 2007 7:54 PM (e)

Speaking of the Santa “Clause”…

This almost sounds constitutional: is it anything like the Commerce Clause or the Due Process Clause?

At the minimum, Santa “Clause” has a certain, oh, legalistic tone to it. I sincerely hope that Mr. Santa isn’t in trouble with Mrs. Santa…

Or maybe Columbus had a ship on his interrupted voyage to the East Indies that our adulterated histories have neglected to mention: the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Clause?

I hope you didn’t just misspell “Santa Claws,” like in one of those seasonal slasher movies…

Comment #201769

Posted by David Stanton on August 29, 2007 7:59 PM (e)

Anthony,

Some creationists say they accept microevolution, but in actuality they reject all of science, the scientific method and naturalism in general. So, many of them are just lying because they think it will make them appear more open-minded.

Some creationists are probably trying to force a false dichotomy between micro and macro evolution in order to cast doubt on the latter without having to deal with the overwhelming evidence for the former. Too bad for them that there is no hard and fast distinction between the two and the evidence for both is overwhelming.

Of course there is no generalization that accounts for all in the big tent, but these ideas might explain at least some of this nonsense.

Comment #201786

Posted by nickmatzke on August 29, 2007 9:20 PM (e)

Nick: that peppered moth animation is seriously annoying when trying to read another post. The motion keeps drawing the eye away from whatever it is reading. It would be better placed below the fold.

Well, it is supposed to be annoying…

An ignorant creationist writes,

From what I understand, these moths do rest on tree trunks, when fraudulent researchers glue them there and photograph them.

You unbelievable hack. Read the Majerus paper linked in the opening post. Peppered moths, in the wild, observed undisturbed, rest on tree trunks naturally about 1/3 of the time. Determining this was part of the point of his study. Resting under large branches is somewhat more common, but (a) birds can fly and feed under branches perfectly well, (b) moss and lichens grow on both trunks and branches, © pollution effects both places, so what’s the problem? A 10 year vicious creationist witchhunt against the peppered moth photos with defamatory claims like “Piltdown moth” does not actually add up to a convincing case against the photos.

Comment #201818

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2007 10:57 PM (e)

So, do peppered moths rest on tree trunks?

Yes, are you not familiar with the research in these matters? What a lousy skeptic you must be.

Comment #201821

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2007 11:01 PM (e)

The best nonsense comes from evolution defender, Salvador Cordova who, in an apparent attempt to ridicule logic states that

Regarding the peppered moths, there is always the nasty side of the story which Darwinists fail to appreciate.

If there are varieties of traits within a species, the variety is suggestive of absence of selection, not presence of it. Selection is the enemy of diversity. Thus if varieties have persisted, selection cannot account for the variety, thus selection is a flimsy explanation for what is observed.

Appeals to balancing selection, etc. have proven insufficient to rescue Darwinism from the obvious consequence of Fisher’s fundamental theorem of natural selection. One simply cannot explain diversity through a mechanism which works by extinguishing diversity.

Shudder….

Comment #201822

Posted by PvM on August 29, 2007 11:04 PM (e)

It’s fascinating how ignorance of science and evolutionary sciences seems to be so prevalent amongst ID proponents, especially those of the YEC variation.

Comment #201865

Posted by hoary puccoon on August 30, 2007 3:14 AM (e)

Sorry, Steviepinhead. Fossils of Sanctacaris (imagine italics. My computer is limited) common name, Santa Claws, were discovered in Cambrian deposits by Desmond Morris, of the Royal Ontario Museum, in the 1980’s.
So, yes, scientists are the ones who believe in Santa Claws.

Comment #201869

Posted by hoary puccoon on August 30, 2007 3:26 AM (e)

I know Sal Cordova has seen, if not understood, The Origin of Species. Could he possibly have failed to notice that the first two chapters are devoted to varieties within species? If this were ‘a nasty side of the story’ why on earth would Darwin have put it so blatantly front and center?
I simply cannot reconcile what Cordova writes with honest ignorance.

Comment #201895

Posted by Mats on August 30, 2007 5:17 AM (e)

Obviously, by itself, the moth example doesn’t serve “as evidence that unguided, natural, undirected forces are responsible for all the apparent design in living things.” You already pointed that out yourself. It is an example of natural selection pure and simple.

Natural selection operating in nature is not controversial. What is controversial is the belief that NS can do what darwinists say it can, meanigly, to generate the complexity present in living forms.

It is not the only example and it is not the only kind of evidence used to test evolutionary theory. Have you ever heard of genetics? Have you ever heard of comparative genomics?

Genetic? Sure. Jump started by creationist Gregory Mendel. Genomic comparation? Doesn’t help to provide the evidence that unguided, undirected, natural forcs of nature can create the bio-systems present in nature.

Do you really believe that the entire foundation of evolutionary biology rests on this one piece of research?

Ño, but since this is used as “evidence for evolution”, it’s important to realize that this does not help to expain the origins of moths, trees and scietific observers, which is what evolutionism aims to explain. The fact that moths give rise to moths doesn’t say anything as to the origins of the said moth.

How do you interpret the excellent work done on natural selection in the Galapogos Finches, to take just one example?

Natural selection is not controversial. Read above.

How do you interpret all of the genetic evidence for macroevolution?

There is no genetic evidence that suports the notion that natural forms are the result of an unguided, undirected, natural process.

Do you really believe that any scientist uses “the Law to prevent opposing views from being considered”?

I believe that many evolutionary scientists use the Law to prevent facts that disagree with unguided evolutionism to be heard.

You know that you have the freedom provided to you by the U.S. Constitution, the exact same document you denigrate with your mindless accusations.

I did not criticize the US Constitution. I criticized the unscientific extrapolation that unguided evolutionists make out of the moth event.
Moths turning into moths doesn’t explain where do moths come from.

Comment #201902

Posted by Frank J on August 30, 2007 5:44 AM (e)

David Stanton wrote:

Some creationists are probably trying to force a false dichotomy between micro and macro evolution in order to cast doubt on the latter without having to deal with the overwhelming evidence for the former. Too bad for them that there is no hard and fast distinction between the two and the evidence for both is overwhelming.

Recently I started 3 threads on Talk.Origins with specific questions on the “whats” and “whens” of biological design actuation events that presumably occur in lieu of “macroevolution.” I didn’t ask for detailed molecule-by-molecule “hows”, as anti-evolution activists demand before they concede evolution, but just simple testable statements from IDers, even if they were not necessarily confident about them. In particular, did some (all?) of such design actuation events occur in vivo (e.g. a radical rearrangement of cellular chemistry) or in vitro (new cells from nonliving matter).

The question was open to IDers, classic creationists, even “evolutionists” who could provide a reference to quotes from the former. I did not want vague suggestions such as Meyer’s Cambrian or Behe’s malaria parasite. I got nothing. Nothing. Not a peep out of YECs (or pseudo-YECs like Salvador) who supposedly think that many design actuations occurred over a few hours’ time a few 1000 years ago. I specifically asked that no one try to change the subject to the pathetic “ID is not a mechanistic theory” nonsense. Of course one person did just that.

The result is that ID apparently has nothing more than it did 11 years ago, which is that the first cell might have been designed ~4 billion years ago, and it has been “maybe evolution” ever since (it’s still not clear if the “turning on of genes” is supposed to be “simple evolution”, as in one or 2 point mutations or not – IDers are deliberately vague). And they have even tried to backpedal from that (presumably because it’s easily testable).

Read between their lines, people. “Ignorant” or not they are shouting that we are right.

Comment #201922

Posted by hoary puccoon on August 30, 2007 7:20 AM (e)

Mats, no one here is interested in using “the Law to prevent facts that disagree with unguided evolutionism [sic] to be heard.”
If you really thought that was true, you would be too afraid of legal repercussions to post here, since you are certainly presenting arguments against modern evolutionary theory. On the contrary, the whole purpose of Panda’s Thumb is to allow both sides of the evolution-creation debate to be heard, without subjecting anyone to unfair pressure.
The only place in which scientists are using “the Law” to restrict debate is in public school science classes. Presenting creationism (or, for that matter, Hindu cosmology or any other religious doctrine) to public school children in the guise of science is a violation of the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution, and an infringement of the rights of parents to give their children the religious instruction they believe is best.
If you would like creationism to be accepted as standard scientific theory, you are perfectly free to talk about it, write about it, and hold meetings about it to achieve your goal. If creationism is ever accepted as standard science, you may be sure that the full force of the law will be exercised to allow it to be taught in public school classrooms.
But until that time, trying to force creationism into public school classrooms is, in fact, a denigration of the U.S. Constitution, and a violation of the rights of U.S. citizens.
So, go right on arguing here, or in any other appropriate forum, against evolution. Most of the bloggers here stand foursquare for your right to do so.
Just don’t try to have your views taught to children in U.S. public schools until they have gained acceptance in the scientific community.

Comment #201937

Posted by hoary puccoon on August 30, 2007 7:56 AM (e)

Friend of FTk asks, “has anyone checked Majerus’ results for themselves?”
And answers, “of course not.”

Okay. So the creationist position is, until I’ve sold my home, bought another one with a ‘rambling back garden,’ in a considerably more expensive country, of which I am not a citizen, and spent ‘seven years collecting data from a series of experiments’ that involve, ‘getting up each day before dawn and then spending several hours looking out of [the] window armed with a telescope and notepad,’ I can’t accept Majerus’s results as accurate.

Okay, that seems fair enough. And until the creationists produce the talking snake, the burning bush, and the archangel Michael, complete with his wings and the head of the dragon he slew, I can’t accept their results as accurate, either.

I think we’ve got a deal, here.

Comment #201942

Posted by Tim Hague on August 30, 2007 8:45 AM (e)

Mats wrote:

The fact that moths give rise to moths doesn’t say anything as to the origins of the said moth.

It’s quite amusing that you’ve chosen this example ‘moths give rise to moths’ - do you know what the differences are between a moth and a butterfly? Do you think you could easily distinguish the two?

Mats wrote:

Genomic comparation? Doesn’t help to provide the evidence that unguided, undirected, natural forcs of nature can create the bio-systems present in nature.

I assume you mean genomic comparison, which provides extremely strong evidence of common descent - reinforcing all the other lines of evidence that suggest the same thing. Anticipating the next question - could this not be common design? Probably not. Just one reason why not (with an example) - because genomic comparison also shows that chimps and humans share some of the same genetic flaws (for example the broken vitamin c gene). It shows that the human genetic flaws are more similar to the chimp genetic flaws than they are the genetic flaws of other great apes. Which begs the question - why would a ‘designer’ design a broken gene in humans, chimps and other great apes, and then also design it so that this useless, non-functional bit of DNA would be more similar to the chimp’s bit of useless DNA than the other great ape’s bit of useless DNA? Especially when you consider that if this gene actually worked it would be very useful to us indeed. It’s not just the broken genes that are more similar - the working genes are more similar as well. And the bits of non-functional DNA in between. The only explanation that fits the facts is that humans, chimps and the other apes shared a common ancestor, and that the human and chimp lines have diverged more recently.

I’m not sure what you mean by ‘unguided’ and ‘undirected’. The process of evolution is ‘guided’ by many things - including the environment a population finds itself in and the ancestry of the individuals in a population. Individuals within the population may experience ‘unguided’ random mutations in their germ cells, increasing the diversity of the population via their offspring (unless the mutations are strongly deleterious, resulting in death or sterility). A combination of the environmental conditions and the diversity within the population may result in the ‘guidance’ of natural selection being applied. The population will also always be subjected to ‘unguided’ genetic drift, regardless of whether it’s under a particular selection pressure or not. Each individual organism will be ‘guided’ by it’s ancestry - it only has the available genetic raw material that it inherited from its parents. This whole process will be ‘guided’ at a more fundamental level by the various laws of physics, and limitations of what is chemically possible.

Comment #201945

Posted by David Stanton on August 30, 2007 9:00 AM (e)

Mats wrote:

“What is controversial is the belief that NS can do what darwinists say it can, meanigly, to generate the complexity present in living forms.”

So what has that got to do with the moth experiment? Absolutely nothing. I can provide you with many references on the evolution of complexity. Maybe you will accept this evidence and maybe you will not, but that is certainly not the issue here.

“Genomic comparation? Doesn’t help to provide the evidence that unguided, undirected, natural forcs of nature can create the bio-systems present in nature.”

Actually the evidence from comparative genomics is exactly what one would predict if unguided natural forces created the diversity of life that we see on the planet today. The conclusion is not affected by ignorance of the evidence. I can provide you with many references that dsemonstrate the valifity of macroevolution (or you can just read the Talk Origins archive).

“Ño, but since this is used as “evidence for evolution”, it’s important to realize that this does not help to expain the origins of moths, trees and scietific observers, which is what evolutionism aims to explain. The fact that moths give rise to moths doesn’t say anything as to the origins of the said moth.”

No it doesn’t. It isn’t meant to. It never was. Why do you insist that it must? It is evidence for natural selection not evidence for evolution. Try to keep up. If you claim there are no people with red hair and I say yes there are, my sister has red hair, you cannot claim that there is no evidence that she is my sister and think you have won the argument.

“Natural selection is not controversial. Read above.”

So why do you find in necessary to try to demean the research that demonstrates it with dishonest accusations if you really agree with the conclusions?

“There is no genetic evidence that suports the notion that natural forms are the result of an unguided, undirected, natural process.”

This is the default assumption and it is consistent with all the evidence. If you believe that there is some guiding force or plan at work, it is up to you to provide the evidence. What is the intelligence involved? Where did it come from? What is the ultimate goal? Where is the evidence? Please, enlighten us. Once again, there is a wealth of genetic evidence, you are just ignoring it.

“I believe that many evolutionary scientists use the Law to prevent facts that disagree with unguided evolutionism to be heard.”

How could this possibly be true, even theoretically? How could the law poossibly prevent facts from being heard? Does the law censor your comments here? Does the law censor comments in your tax-free church? Could the law possibly prevent anyone from sequencing any gene they wanted and reporting the results? The cry of oppression is often heard as an excuse form those with no evidence to support their claims.

“I did not criticize the US Constitution. I criticized the unscientific extrapolation that unguided evolutionists make out of the moth event. Moths turning into moths doesn’t explain where do moths come from.”

You did criticize the Constitution by implying that upholding it is somehow improper. And yet this is the same document that give you the freedom that you deny you have. That is a very hypocritical argument. And no “unguided evolutionists” try to say that the moth experiment is anything but an example of natural selection. You are the only one with that delusion.

Comment #201946

Posted by harold on August 30, 2007 9:03 AM (e)

Mats -

I try to assume mistakes, ignorance, even delusion or psychological problems before I break out words like “dishonesty”.

At this point, though, you have repeated mis-stated what others have said.

Your dissembling comments merely group together “big words” that you hope will look impressive, presumably for the detriment of some even more ignorant reader.

You are, most likely, an individual dedicated to a fantasy of a harsh, authoritarian “Biblical rule” in the US (if you bother to dispute this I will merely embarrass you by forcing you to either answer or ignore questions about individual “issues”). You entertain the delusion that parroting the style of legal and academic discourse, in a meaningless way, will help you to manipulate others and gain power.

Natural selection operating in nature is not controversial.

Then natural selection in a peppered moth population is not controversial. You have no further reason to comment on this thread.

What is controversial is the belief that NS can do what darwinists say it can, meanigly, to generate the complexity present in living forms.

This is meaningless statement, and a factually incorrect one.

“Complexity” can be either a subjective term, or a term used in certain branches of mathematics.

It would probably be a safe generalization to say that genetic variability during reproduction can and does increase “complexity”, subjectively defined, and natural selection could increase or decrease the subjective “complexity” of a population. But there is little reason to bother with the word “complexity” in this context.

Genetic? Sure.

Jump started by creationist Gregory Mendel.

At best this would be a moronic argument from authority, as if all the seventeenth century beliefs of Gallileo should be endorsed because he “jump-started” physics.

But it’s worse than that. Gregor Mendel was a Catholic monk. I’m willing to bet that your values system assigns Catholics to “hell”. Current Catholic doctrine is not creationist (and it was not Biblical literalist in the times of Mendel). How does your argument make you look now?

Genomic comparation? Doesn’t help to provide the evidence that unguided, undirected, natural forcs of nature can create the bio-systems present in nature.

Look at all the meaningless big words. Genetics and biochemistry provide overwhelming evidence for the common descent of modern life. The only other explanation would be that common descent was being mimicked by magic.

Typically, you attempt to conflate the theory of evolution with hypotheses of abiogenesis. The theory of evolution does not explain how cellular and post-cellular life initially began, it describes how it evolves. That’s why it’s called “the theory of evolution”. Please don’t write back a lying condradiction of that. Nothing could be more pointless than to try to “win” an argument against “evolution” by trying to twist the meaning of the term “evolution” into your own silly strawman.

Ño, but since this is used as “evidence for evolution”, it’s important to realize that this does not help to expain the origins of moths, trees and scietific observers, which is what evolutionism aims to explain.

This is one of the most desperate, frightened, conniving, ridiculous things I have read from a creationist, and that’s saying a lot. A simple example of natural selection can’t be shown unless it explains the origin of life?

The fact that moths give rise to moths doesn’t say anything as to the origins of the said moth

Actually, of course, the theory of evolution is grounded in the fact that offspring come from parents. Creationism proposes that some moths were magically poofed out of nothing.

There is no genetic evidence that suports the notion that natural forms are the result of an unguided, undirected, natural process.

“Unguided” and “undirected” are subjective, anthropomorphic terms. Genetics provides overwhelming evidence that life shares common descent and the diversity of life arises through natural processes.

I believe that many evolutionary scientists use the Law to prevent facts that disagree with unguided evolutionism to be heard.

Repeating a crazy lie over and over again does not make it true. There are thousands of articles, web sites, conferences, discussions, etc, discussing creationist nonsense, right this very minute.

Which “law” do these “evolutionists” use? Jurisdiction, article, and section please. Who has been arrested? Let me know so that I can stop them.

I may be impatient with your nonsense, I may state my subjective opinion that it seems to reflect denial, delusions, and what I perceive as dishonesty, but that does not change my unflinching support of your right to express it.

I did not criticize the US Constitution.

How should the US be governed? According to the US Constitution, or according to the “Biblical law” of Leviticus and Deuteronomy?

Comment #201947

Posted by David Stanton on August 30, 2007 9:04 AM (e)

P.S.

Actually, moths don’t give rise to moths, they give rise to caterpillars. Caterpillars give rise to moths (and butterflies to).

Comment #201961

Posted by GV on August 30, 2007 9:58 AM (e)

Actually, the population always included black moths and white moths - this is not evolution at all, merely an oscillation of populations based on natural selection. No new genes, no new structures, no new anything! Majerus overstates the case quite significantly: “If the rise and fall of the peppered moth is one of the most visually impacting and easily understood examples of Darwinian evolution in action, it should be taught. It provides after all: The Proof of Evolution.”

If this is some of the best proof that evolutionists have, I’ll keep my options open. Majerus’ atheistic religion is getting in the way of his science. Plus, his “experiment” in his backyard is not statistically valid, as any statistician will tell you. It is amazing what evolutionists will do to logic and science in the name of atheism and to defend Darwin… simply amazing!

GV

Comment #201964

Posted by nickmatzke on August 30, 2007 10:13 AM (e)

Huh? I have a pretty clear memory of what happened, and it didn’t seem hard for me to understand at all. In 1998, Majerus wrote a book that among other things criticized Kettlewell’s methods in his peppered-moth experiments. Biologist Jerry Coyne then wrote a review of that book for Nature which heavily emphasized Majerus’s critique of Kettlewell and downplayed the fact that even as Majerus was rightly criticizing Kettlewell’s methodology, Majerus’s studies had nevertheless strongly supported Kettlewell’s conclusions. The meme that “the peppered moth example has been debunked” comes almost entirely from creationists quote-mining Coyne’s review.

It’s not quite that simple, Coyne was relying on the recent review article by Sargent, Craig, and Millar, which was more about industrial melanism in moths in general than in the peppered moth specifically. I think the accident that Coyne read Majerus in a hypercritical mode, after just having read Sargent et al., produced his florid review in Nature, which then provided grist for further “the revolution has come” hype in the media and in creationist circles.

In other news, Wells has joined the attempted creationist coverup of the fact that peppered moths do rest on tree trunks. Get a load of this logic:

In his August 23 lecture, Majerus summarized his results as follows:

“I have had occasion to spend time carefully scrutinizing the trunks, branches and twigs of a limited set of trees at the experimental site. During this time I have found 135 peppered moths, resting in what I have no reason to presume are not their freely chosen natural resting sites…

i) The majority (50.4%) of moths rest on lateral branches.
ii) Of the moths on lateral branches, the majority (89%) rest on the lower half of the branch.
iii) A significant proportion of moths (37%) do rest on tree trunks (so Kettlewell wasn’t so wrong in releasing his moths onto tree trunks)…”

Majerus concludes: “While the results may be somewhat biased towards lower parts of the tree, due to sampling technique, I believe that they give the best field evidence that we have to date of where peppered moths spend the day.”22

What’s wrong with this picture?

In the seven years during which Majerus was peering out his window, far more than 135 peppered moths visited his back yard, but (as previous research showed) he couldn’t see most of them because they were resting high in the upper branches of his trees. Those he could see from the ground represented only a tiny fraction of the total.

The “previous research” was Majerus’s previous results, which always showed that moths sometimes rested on tree trunks! I call shenanigans!

Comment #201966

Posted by nickmatzke on August 30, 2007 10:16 AM (e)

Actually, the population always included black moths and white moths

This is probably false. Black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin. Majerus discusses this extensively in his 1998 book, but creationists, ideologically committed to “variation within the kind”, are determined to ignore the best evidence available and just repeat their old talking points without any respect for data or truth. Shame on you.

Comment #201968

Posted by Mary Mallon's Ghost on August 30, 2007 10:22 AM (e)

harold wrote:

In other words, you already know that this can be demonstrated, so rather than accept reality, you’ll move the goal posts.

The referenced experiment moved the goal posts, closer, to achieve the desired result. Devout evolutionists, when they aren’t fudging data and photographs, use living, breathing definitions. Akin to a middle aged man who claims to be able to slam dunk a basketball, and when he finds he’s not as athletic as his claims indicated, simple lowers the basket. Speciation occurs when Japanese women refuse to mate with North Korean “garlic eaters”.

nickmatzke wrote:

Once again he demonstrates that he lacks the moral courage to suck it up and admit he and his colleagues were wrong and were actively misleading the public for a decade.

Exactly. And all of the text book publishers.

raven wrote:

We have one case where a single celled organism turned into a variety of animals (millions), insects, dinosaurs, fish, mammals, and eventually gave rise to humans. Some of these humans are even capable of asking questions about the world around them and answering them.

Nice story to fit the facts. Predict what species will look like to 1,000,000 years. Science can predict the future, not just “explain” the past. Evolutionism is a religion, not science.

Comment #201973

Posted by harold on August 30, 2007 10:46 AM (e)

GV -

If this is some of the best proof that evolutionists have, I’ll keep my options open

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Another whack-a-mole creationist.

Thanks for conceding.

It’s been explained a hundred times in this thread that it’s just a rather trivial example.

What a laugh the defense mechanism they’re using today is. First they called a simple example of natural selection a “fraud”. Then it was shown not to be fraud, not that it ever mattered.

So now it’s “Sob! It still doesn’t pwove evowution a miwwion percent!” Nobody said it did. Nobody remotely presented it as the “best proof of evolution”, did they?

But it is a nice, simple example of relatively short term natural selection. Creationists were upset by that. Creationists denied it. Now you have to deal with it.

But I feel safe GUARANTEEING that you will keep your mind and your options very, very CLOSED, indeed.

Comment #201979

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 30, 2007 11:33 AM (e)

Nice story to fit the facts. Predict what species will look like to 1,000,000 years. Science can predict the future, not just “explain” the past. Evolutionism is a religion, not science.

Then tell me where the next lightning strike will hit in a given area, say, Central Park. That’s science, make the predictions.

I brought that sort of example up to Paul Nelson, and predictably he ignored it. You guys are easy to predict, for you know so little, and what you do know is twisted and wrong through propandistic nonsense repeated by the ignorant.

And we can predict the aspects of evolution in the future, so long as nothing changes too much (that is, human-made changes can’t interfere overmuch, as they no doubt will for centuries, at least). We wouldn’t accept evolution if its many predictions were not fulfilled, including many predictions about observations which would be made regarding past evolution.

IOW, why don’t you learn some science, instead of repeating the lies of the creos/IDists?

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Comment #201985

Posted by raven on August 30, 2007 12:03 PM (e)

Evolution makes predictions of vital importance to humans every day.

We know that any antibiotic, antiviral, herbicide, insecticide, anticancer drug, anti-anything will sooner or later result in their targets becoming resistant. GMO crops such as BT corn etc., new antibiotics, are all managed using evolutionary principles to slow down the emergence of resistance in the target pests.

Evolution also predicts that monocultures would have problems with pathogens. Which they do.

Evolution has also predicted that emerging diseases would be a problem. IIRC, humans now make up 50% of the large animal biomass on this planet. A plum target for any enterprising disease. A guy wrote a book a few decades ago predicting that emerging diseases would arise to fill that niche. When HIV appeared, he says he thought that would be it. Later he said he is still waiting.

It’s possible that 21st century medicine might short circuit the next rounds of epidemics. In the evolutionary arms race, we now have a new tool, called intelligence.

That is why the creo attack on science and biology is so stupid. Knowledge of evolution only matters if you want to eat, stay well, and live a long time.

And the contribution of the fundies to anything positive is…..????? I mean aside from murdering a few MDs here and there, taking up space on message boards demonstrating their ignorance, lack of education, lack of sanity, and ability to lie, while trying to overthrow the US government. And oh yeah, making Xians look like idiot slime molds.

Comment #201986

Posted by Frank J on August 30, 2007 12:13 PM (e)

hoary puccoon wrote:

Presenting creationism (or, for that matter, Hindu cosmology or any other religious doctrine) to public school children in the guise of science is a violation of the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution, and an infringement of the rights of parents to give their children the religious instruction they believe is best.

The activists, at least of the ID variety, have figured out a way around that – alas too late for Dover: Just “critically analyze” (actually misrepresent) evolution, and conveniently exempt all other failed alternatives from critical analysis. Of course there’s that nagging problem of “all the same players,” that Judge Jones was astute enough to put on record. But even if there were all new players, with no connection to “cdesign proponentsists,” the curious singling out of evolution, and the misrepresentation, while not necessarily legal problems, would be completely unacceptable for science education anywhere, not just public schools. And sooner or later that would catch up to them.

Pardon me for helping anti-evolution activists, but here’s how they can get their pseudoscience taught in public school science class: Without any mention of creation or design, “critically analyze” both evolution and some “naturalistic” alternative that “looks a lot like creationism,” namely that of Schwabe or Senapathy. With little trouble students can see that the “weaknesses” of evolution do not necessarily support the conclusions of the alternative, or anything remotely like it. Then they can easily see that, while evolution has many strengths, the alternative, which denies common descent, has no strengths at all, and far more weaknesses than evolution. The teacher can then show that the “weaknesses” of evolution invariably require cherry picking evidence, baiting and switching concepts (e.g. evolution vs. abiogenesis), redefining terms (e.g. “macroevolution”) or liberal quote mining. But no such manipulation is needed to show the fatal flaws of the alternative. Most students will then privately conclude that “creationism” has been refuted, and many will also conclude that anti-evolution activists are trying to pull a fast one.

Of course anti-evolution activists would never allow that much honesty and openness, so my help will be refused.

Comment #201987

Posted by raven on August 30, 2007 12:23 PM (e)

Nice story to fit the facts. Predict what species will look like to 1,000,000 years. Science can predict the future, not just “explain” the past. Evolutionism is a religion, not science.

That is simple. A million years from now, the biosphere will be different. Many species will have produced decendant species even if they themselves are still around. Evolution occurs every day all around us. Why do you think you look different from your parents and siblings?

The creo prediction is also simple. Nothing will happen because evolution doesn’t exist. We will just lose species to extinction with no replacements as the biosphere runs down to nothing. Most of them also fervently believe and hope god will show up real soon and murder everyone and sterilize the earth so they can stop trying to live their miserable, empty, meaningless lives.

The exact path of future evolution is contingent on countless future events few of which we can know about and most of which we can’t even guess about.

Comment #201991

Posted by Science Avenger on August 30, 2007 12:37 PM (e)

Harold said:

Look at all the meaningless big words.

My favorite was “comparation”.

GV asserted:

Plus, his “experiment” in his backyard is not statistically valid, as any statistician will tell you.

Well, I’m a statistician, and I would say no such thing. Are you a statistician? Do you even know how to express statistical validity? Or is this just more comparation from the ignorant peanut gallery.

And as has been asked before, what is it with conservatives and the obsession with scare quotes? The experiment was a real experiment, not sort of an experiment.

I’m beginning to believe these guys do this to cover for their lack of evidence backing the insinuation that the word in question is somehow not as it has been presented. So what better way to sow doubt without having to support your claim than by just putting scare quotes around every word with which you disagree.

Comment #201993

Posted by raven on August 30, 2007 12:51 PM (e)

I’m beginning to believe these guys do this to cover for their lack of evidence

Naw, these are just trolls. Probably not even cultists much less Xians.

The moderators really need to do some weeding of the PT garden. My 4 emails from two diferent mail programs all got bounced so it looks like their email system is not functioning.

Comment #201998

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 30, 2007 1:06 PM (e)

Science can predict the future, not just “explain” the past.

One other thing: As even you admit, science explains the past.

Now, what is the simple reason that ID and creationism aren’t science? Because they explain nothing about the past, merely saying that things are a certain way because God, or “the Designer”, made it that way, which isn’t even close to a “design explanation” (we have at least partial explanations for why designers make things as they do, at least in the great majority of “real cases” of design). ID makes absolutely no useful predictions about the future, either, but most certainly it doesn’t tell us why the geological column is as it is, nor why “genetic clocks” correlate fairly well with the fossil evidence.

Modern evolutionary theory is the only explanation for the success of the DNA clock, for only it predicts that mutation rates will be fairly steady as well as providing the raw material for change. ID tells us absolutely nothing about evolution, except that we’d better quit questioning the ways of the “Designer”.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Comment #202003

Posted by Lars on August 30, 2007 1:10 PM (e)

harold wrote:

But it is a nice, simple example of relatively short term natural selection. Creationists were upset by that. Creationists denied it. Now you have to deal with it.

When have creationists ever denied natural selection? From what I’ve read, natural selection (shifts in proportion of heritable traits in a population, due to differential reproduction) is completely uncontroversial. If you have examples of creationists saying NS does not occur, please give citations.

What is disputed by creationists is the claim that natural selection + random mutation, without any input from a personal creator, produced new organs, body plans, cellular machines, wings, and eyes. Observations of melanism in peppered moths contribute nothing to answering that question.

I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively. Getting from shifts in the proportion of light moths and dark moths within a species to the origin of new species (and higher taxa all the way up!) requires a big leap. Even if that leap is justified, it is not justified by the peppered moth experiment. So the “it’s still a moth” objection deserves to be answered without scorn. But if scorn is all you have… maybe it’s time to reconsider your conclusions.

Comment #202007

Posted by raven on August 30, 2007 1:37 PM (e)

I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.

We have several times. Look at the fossil record. The earth is covered with fossils, in places miles deep. Look at the DNA sequence data, anatomy, embryology, and so on.

Macroevolution is just microevolution X N. There is a little more to it with species selection etc. but that will do.

If that isn’t enough, you stay up for the next few million years and watch. We have other things to do.

You are just making the argument from incredulity or ignorance. “I can’t see how my foot evolved from a fin so god exists.” Great, glad to hear it. You are done now, god is proven and you can go out and play.

Comment #202008

Posted by harold on August 30, 2007 1:44 PM (e)

Lars

harold wrote:

But it is a nice, simple example of relatively short term natural selection. Creationists were upset by that. Creationists denied it. Now you have to deal with it.

When have creationists ever denied natural selection? From what I’ve read, natural selection (shifts in proportion of heritable traits in a population, due to differential reproduction) is completely uncontroversial. If you have examples of creationists saying NS does not occur, please give citations.

First of all, if you don’t deny natural selection, then you have no reason to comment on this thread.

You must have very poor reading comprehension. The point of this thread, the point of my post, is that creationists denied this specific example of natural selection. And now you have to deal with it. With this example. Different peppered moth coloration traits were selected for in different environmental conditions. Do you really have the nerve to claim that creationists haven’t denied and attacked this simple example of natural selection?

I don’t appreciate having my meaning twisted.

Of course, twisted meaning or not, I easily can provide you with a link of a creationist denying the role of natural selection. Indeed, I can provide you with one of a creationist denying/distorting natural selection in general, as he denies this example in particular. You could have found it yourself.

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-desig…

By the way, of course you deny natural selection if you’re a creationist. Or you deny genetics, biochemistry, cell biology and molecular biology. Or you deny both. You have to deny one or the other.

Comment #202009

Posted by harold on August 30, 2007 1:51 PM (e)

Lars -

By the way, I said this to one of the other creationist posters.

You are, most likely, an individual dedicated to a fantasy of a harsh, authoritarian “Biblical rule” in the US (if you bother to dispute this I will merely embarrass you by forcing you to either answer or ignore questions about individual “issues”). You entertain the delusion that parroting the style of legal and academic discourse, in a meaningless way, will help you to manipulate others and gain power.

It was confirmed by lack of denial the first time. I suspect it’s true of you as well. Speak up and deny it and prove me wrong, if you can, but remember, I will press for specifics.

Other creationists out there to whom this applies, consider it addressed to you as well.

I support your right to believe and express garbage, of course.

Comment #202010

Posted by Henry J on August 30, 2007 1:53 PM (e)

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”

It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, Neoptera, Pterygota, Insecta, Hexapoda, Arthropoda, Bilateria, Animal (Metazoa), and Eukaryote.

Er, so what?

Comment #202011

Posted by hoary puccoon on August 30, 2007 2:04 PM (e)

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–
As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years. The answer is, evolution simply doesn’t work that fast. I’m sure you’re familiar with the base-pairing mechanism of DNA, which insures that a DNA copy will be quite close to the original. On top of that, the cell has natural mechanisms to catch any errors that do occur. On top of THAT, any mutations that aren’t caught by the error-correction, and that result in a very different phenotype, generally don’t survive to reproduce (in other words, they are weeded out by natural selection.) Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.
To expect a species to change into some radically different kind of animal in 160 years is like expecting a cross-country hiker to move as fast as a jet plane. In the time it takes a jet plane to fly over a hiker, there won’t be any evidence that the hiker is traveling. But if you come back a week later, the hiker could be a hundred miles down the trail.
The trouble is that creatures who live at most a hundred years can’t come back ‘a week later’ in geologic time. We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results. And the results all point to living creatures changing very slowly, but very radically, over long periods of time.

Comment #202032

Posted by Peter Henderson on August 30, 2007 3:15 PM (e)

Here’s the explanation for the above research Nick, straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak:

http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/aroundtheworld…

When I was a teacher back in Australia (in the 1970s), this was claimed to be one of the best examples of evolution in action. But I always explained to my students that this was just an example of natural selection in action—which has nothing to do with molecules-to-man evolution.

Well, an evolutionist has revived the peppered moth research and claims to have verified the initial conclusions. This is being touted once again as great evidence for molecules-to-man evolution—but read the article carefully. It has NOTHING to do with evolution, per se—it is just an example of numbers of variations of a kind of moth changing because of birds that eat them. AiG has many articles on its website explaining natural selection and that it is NOT molecules-to-man evolution.

So there you have it: “But they’re still just moths”

I’d love to see someone like yourself Nick, debate Ham. It would be interesting to witness the outcome. I know respected scientists like you refuse to do so, but such an exercise done well would speak volumes to Christians who are being fed this type of nonsense from Ham and others.

Comment #202035

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 30, 2007 3:21 PM (e)

Hoary puccoon, while I am reliably informed that the name of the little Cambrian arthropod Sanctacaris translates into something along the lines of, er, “Holy Shrimp,” I am also reliably informed (via Wickipedia) that “originally Sanctacaris was called informally ‘Santa Claws’.”

I concede that my petard is now at a higher elevation that formerly it was.

Even a pinhead learns something new everyday.

Though creaIDiots do their best to buck this trend.

Comment #202053

Posted by fnxtr on August 30, 2007 4:27 PM (e)

S.P.H:

I just finished reading SJG’s “Wonderful Life”, and yes, ‘sanctacaris’ was indeed intended to translate “Santa Claws”.

Comment #202069

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on August 30, 2007 4:59 PM (e)

Mary MG

Mary MG wrote:

Predict what species will look like to 1,000,000 years. Science can predict the future, not just “explain” the past. Evolutionism is a religion, not science.

You have a peculiar definition of prediction, which has nothing to do with scientific predictions from theory. And a peculiar term for evolutionary biology.

Theory predict which observations we can make whether those observations are made yesterday or tomorrow. But no theory can predict the future, i.e. describe what will happen in every detail. And that, incidentally, is a prediction. :-)

First, one prediction from quantum mechanics is that fundamental processes have a statistical description. QM combines determinism in the form of causal and irreversible action of wavefunctions with nondeterminism in the form of stochastic outcomes of observations.

Second, one prediction from classical mechanics is that non-integrable processes have an unpredictive outcome. Chaos and similar phenomena prohibits predicting “the future” of specific configurations of objects in every detail. (For example, you can see which configurations will or will not be part of a strange attractor in chaos. But you will not be able to predict the trajectory the object follows.)

Evolutionary biology is a science by any definition - accepted by biologists and other scientists. Among other predictions it makes is that we can’t predict which traits will survive in the future, just precisely because we can’t predict the future of environments, populations et cetera in detail.

There are some predictions pertaining future life we can make though.

First, single cell life has always been the largest, most successful populations. This will likely continue.

Second, the biosphere will degrade on a time scale of 10^9 years due to increased heat flow from the sun. It will be a competition between our sun or the impending galactic collisions with Andromeda when we merge at about 2*10^9 years doing us in, if nothing else has. (We know that the atmosphere itself will last that long, so it’s not the problem here.)

So there you have it, two simple predictions on species.

Comment #202071

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on August 30, 2007 5:12 PM (e)

Ehrm, um, oops - I read some other commenters complain that comments are mounted in spite of error messages that used to mean they don’t pass the comment script.

Oh, well, at least the last copy got the broken link fixed.

Steviepinhead wrote:

Wickipedia

Not to hoist an uncomfortable petard any higher, but I propose we take this half-formed suggestion all the way to “Wickedpedia”. I’m sure the creationist agrees on public license formats. :-P

[But perhaps it was meant to be Vickipedia? She sure is a fickle girl in spite of showing off some alluring, um, articles.]

Comment #202081

Posted by Science Avenger on August 30, 2007 5:43 PM (e)

Lars said: I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.

OK, try this on for size. All this argument amounts to is a semantic game. You can still apply the term “moth” to what you see. So what? It’s just a word, it doesn’t define reality.

I can refuse to call those beings “chimps”, “humans” and “gorillas” and instead call them all “apethings”. By what standard would you call that wrong? They’re genetically 95% identical, and that’s enough. But there is no significance to me doing so.

See, when you say “it’s still a moth”, the question begged is “how do you define ‘moth’?”, and what is your answer? Unless you are going to use the porn defense (I can’t define it but I know it when I see it), the only way you can objectively define the term is genetically. But no two moths are genetically identical, so that leaves you drawing an arbitrary line across the genetic landscape, so it is basically meaningless.

The other standard is the interbreeding standard, but creationists are loathe to allow this because 1) it destroys their notion of “kinds”, and 2) evolution across this macro threshold has been observed both in the wild (finches) and in the lab (guppies, fruit flys).

Comment #202087

Posted by AC on August 30, 2007 6:23 PM (e)

Lars wrote:

Getting from shifts in the proportion of light moths and dark moths within a species to the origin of new species (and higher taxa all the way up!) requires a big leap.

No, it requires a vast number of small leaps, similar to that which would change a moth’s coloration. This is a critical concept for understanding evolutionary theory.

A mutant light-colored moth offspring might merely be a dark-colored moth, but its descendants, far into the future, might be something quite different. Or they might still be “just moths”. It depends on the variables that drive evolution.

Comment #202103

Posted by Lars on August 30, 2007 7:14 PM (e)

First, let me say that I appreciate that several people responded to my comment in a short time. Let it not be said that my questions were ignored.

harold wrote:

lars wrote:

harold wrote:

But it is a nice, simple example of relatively short term natural selection. Creationists were upset by that. Creationists denied it. Now you have to deal with it.

When have creationists ever denied natural selection? From what I’ve read, natural selection (shifts in proportion of heritable traits in a population, due to differential reproduction) is completely uncontroversial. If you have examples of creationists saying NS does not occur, please give citations.

First of all, if you don’t deny natural selection, then you have no reason to comment on this thread.

My reason for commenting is that this moth study is being overwhelmingly presented as a victory for Darwinism, i.e. for the proposition that NS+RM produced the full variety of life on earth; yet the study only shows that NS occurs. This is a common, misleading conflation in the debate. Again, I believe the great majority of creationists (and ID proponents) would affirm that NS occurs.

You must have very poor reading comprehension. The point of this thread, the point of my post, is that creationists denied this specific example of natural selection.

I admit I apparently (assuming your present explanation of your point is true, which I do assume) misunderstood your point. I think it was a natural interpretation (the antecedent of “it” was somewhat up for grabs), but I cede that you meant something different. And I agree that the (initial) point of this thread was what you say it was.

And now you have to deal with it. With this example. Different peppered moth coloration traits were selected for in different environmental conditions. Do you really have the nerve to claim that creationists haven’t denied and attacked this simple example of natural selection?

I know that many creationists, and some Darwinists, have attacked the peppered moth example for various reasons, e.g. for the flaws that Majerus himself still admits it had. So no, I do not claim that creationists haven’t attacked the peppered moth example. It’s NOT clear to me that creationists have attacked the peppered moth story as an example of NS. They attacked the initial study, e.g. for the flaws that Majerus himself still admits it had. So, do I claim (until I see evidence to the contrary) that creationists haven’t denied that the peppered moth story is an example of NS. Of course a few could have, but I haven’t seen any examples, and I’ve seen many examples of creationists who affirm NS in general.

I don’t appreciate having my meaning twisted.

An unintentional misunderstanding. Happens to all of us; debate about hot topics certainly requires patience. I apologize though, for taking you as saying something you didn’t mean. Assuming you didn’t. But your next paragraph makes me think my interpretation was somewhat justified.

Of course, twisted meaning or not, I easily can provide you with a link of a creationist denying the role of natural selection. Indeed, I can provide you with one of a creationist denying/distorting natural selection in general, as he denies this example in particular. You could have found it yourself.

As it happens, I read that post when it came out. And I don’t see a creationist denying NS there. If you could quote the lines that you believe represent a creationist denying NS, we can proceed from there.
If the “creationist” you’re referring to is Sal Cordova, the closest thing I see is him saying that NS is not responsible for the variety of forms of dogs, nor for the variety of living things in general. He says (citing Mae Wan Ho) that “Natural selection is the enemy of diversity” and innovation… not that NS does not occur.
If this is what you’re referring to, your allegation is a common Darwinist conflation of a straw man (“NS does not occur”) with non-Darwinism (“NS+RM is not responsible for the variety of living things”)…. which was the point of my original comment (and GV’s): Darwinists are crowing that this is a defeat for creationists. At best, it may be a defeat for anyone who attacked the bird-predation hypothesis. I haven’t read up enough on that area to know which creationists, if any, did that. (Hooper, described by Matzke as a New-Ager, is unlikely to be a creationist, certainly not a prototypical one.) I’m willing to allow that some creationists may have been wrong about bird predation. But my point is that Majerus’ talk blows his results way out of proportion in a typical Darwinian way: his observations, which merely demonstrate NS, are called “The Proof of Evolution”.

By the way, of course you deny natural selection if you’re a creationist. Or you deny genetics, biochemistry, cell biology and molecular biology. Or you deny both. You have to deny one or the other.

I’m having a hard time isolating specifics out of this to respond to. I don’t believe a creationist has to deny that NS occurs (few if any do), or that genes exist and are hereditary, etc. E.g. Behe (whom you would probably label a creationist) doesn’t deny any of those things. If you could lay out specific propositions (what part of genetics?) that you believe are incompatible with creationism, or if you could explain why you think a creationist must deny that NS occurs, I will try to respond.

By the way, I said this to one of the other creationist posters.

You are, most likely, an individual dedicated to …

It was confirmed by lack of denial the first time. I suspect it’s true of you as well. Speak up and deny it and prove me wrong, if you can, but remember, I will press for specifics.

Other creationists out there to whom this applies, consider it addressed to you as well.

Harold, this is McCarthyesque thought-police mentality. It doesn’t say much for your confidence in the evidence for your arguments. I have some suspicions about your philosophical commitments too, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to use them to dismiss any arguments that you put forward on logical or empirical grounds.

Comment #202204

Posted by Christophe Thill on August 31, 2007 3:29 AM (e)

Lars:

“Getting from shifts in the proportion of light moths and dark moths within a species to the origin of new species (and higher taxa all the way up!) requires a big leap.”

Oh does it? I can think of quite a few reasonable scenarios. Of course they involve some sort of “big leap”, but nothing extraordinary.

What if the polluting factories closed everywhere, replaced by clean ones, except in one region (for cost reasons, let’s say)? The white moths would regain dominance almost everywhere, perhaps even driving the black ones to extinction. The polluted zone would keep a black population. Both populations would be separated geographically, and stop mixing. Once reproductive isolation is there, you can count on some well known process (adaptation, genetic drift…) tu accumulate differences on each side, until two new species are there.

And what if one of the two varieties became “racist”, was afraid of the other one and refused to mate with it? Same result.

And what if the fall season became extremely rainy, washing away all the grime? The black variety would mostly live its adult life during the drier times, and hide (or die) after it. And that would be when the white moths enter the stage and have their mating season. Again, two new species at the end of the road.

But there’s one thing I would like to know. It seems that the black moth appeared in mid-19th century, as some sort of mutation (I’m not a pro, this might not be the exact word, but it looks like one to me). What happened to the white moths? Did they go somewhere else, find some niche, or disappear completely? And when they reappered, was it a new mutation, or did they just come out of hiding, or back from holidays? I think it’s an interesting point, but I don’t have this information.

“I don’t believe a creationist has to deny that NS occurs”

Well, it all depends on what you call “natural selection”. Bringing back again the Mayr refrence, it is useful to remnd that not everybody agree on the term. Creationists will likely admit a “corrective” selection, that weeds out ill-shaped and grossly unfit individuals. They have for centuries. But the “creative”, properly Darwinian selection, the one that shapes new species little byllittle (see above), of course they reject.

Comment #202210

Posted by hoary puccoon on August 31, 2007 3:39 AM (e)

At least Lars acknowledged in a general way that some of us tried to give thoughtful answers to his questions. That’s better than no acknowledgment at all. It still leaves me thinking that he wasn’t really interested in why moths can’t turn into something radically different in a few decades. But it’s a lot better than not even knowing if the creationist bothered to check back, which is the usual response I’ve had.

On a similar topic, Frank J gave a long, thoughtful response to something I wrote, which I never acknowledged. Yes, it would be fine if the evolution-creation debate could be taught honestly. Student would undoubtedly come away impressed with the evolution side. A fact I find interesting, which apparently is mentioned by some teachers, is that scientists had already given up on the bible as literal, scientific truth by the end of the 1700’s, decades before The Origin of Species– in fact, before Charles Darwin was born. The conflict between evolution and a literal interpretation of the bible was generated in the 1890’s, after Darwin died. So the idea that disproving some aspect of evolution proves the literal truth of the bible is a red herring in every way.

Comment #202253

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 31, 2007 6:50 AM (e)

I know respected scientists like you refuse to do so, but such an exercise done well would speak volumes to Christians who are being fed this type of nonsense from Ham and others.

they aren’t being FORCE fed. one wonders why they CHOOSE to listen to obvious hucksters and idiots like Ham, and refuse to listen to the people who actually do this kind of research for a living.

i swear, it’s like a whole bunch of morons got together and decided to let the town idiot construct all the buildings, instead of listening to the advice of an actual building contractor.

bottom line, it’s BEEN DONE, and you’re wrong, it doesn’t make a lick of difference to the people who would choose to listen to Ham in the first place.

Comment #202255

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 31, 2007 6:55 AM (e)

Again, I believe the great majority of creationists (and ID proponents) would affirm that NS occurs.

then why are they always so anxious (see Jonathan Wells, for a recent example), to prove something that “only shows natural selection” is a “hoax”, eh?

you don’t understand how evolution works, you don’t understand the creationist mindset, and you have a long way to go before getting clear on either, evidently.

good luck with that.

Comment #202257

Posted by Jon Fleming on August 31, 2007 6:57 AM (e)

QABS wrote:

From what I understand, these moths do rest on tree trunks, when fraudulent researchers glue them there and photograph them.

Actually, there are no known cases off fraudulent researchers gluing moths to tree trunks.

But Majerus’ research, as exposed in the tables and photos of his PowerPoint presentation now available from his site makes it clear that they do rest on tree trunks of their own volition.

Comment #202264

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 31, 2007 7:06 AM (e)

Actually, there are no known cases off fraudulent researchers gluing moths to tree trunks.

the origins of the myth that Kettlewell glued moths to tree trunks to somehow “fudge” his data came from a picture in the original article where he had evidently pinned/glued a moth to a tree in order to get a clear picture for the article.

had absolutely NOTHING to do with any of the actual data collected for the original article.

so, no, there was no fraud committed.

Comment #202267

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 31, 2007 7:25 AM (e)

My reason for commenting is that this moth study is being overwhelmingly presented as a victory for Darwinism,

and yet, if you had the slightest bit of reading comprehension, you would see that it is in fact, not being presented that way at all.

it’s just another case example among literally thousands.

it was just an early one, that’s all.

It’s the CREATIONISTS that give this all the hype, since it is a common example found in many textbooks, along with lots of others, btw.

and, no, you are giving far too much credit to creationists when you even THINK that they had the same issues with kettlewell’s study that majerus did.

so, if you wonder why people are getting pissed off at you, no need to wonder - you are misrepresenting EVERY SINGLE ISSUE on both sides, no less.

Comment #202277

Posted by Jon Fleming on August 31, 2007 8:13 AM (e)

David Stanton wrote:

I’m sure the new paper will document exactly what the substrates involved were and their relative importance. So what?

I’ve extracted a few high points and pictures from the script and presentation and posted them at PPT file and data now available.

The documentation is as you expected.

Comment #202286

Posted by David Stanton on August 31, 2007 8:36 AM (e)

Jon,

Thanks for the info. From the data one can easily determine the exact proportion of moths resting on specific substrates. Of course, as I pointed out earlier, this is completely irrelevant. No matter where they rest, moths will be subject to bird predation against a background that could be altered by industrial soot. Just another red herring creationist ploy to try to obsure the fact tht this is solid research with a verified result.

One more time, just to be clear: this is one example of one process that is sometimes important in evolution. It doesn’t matter if the author originally overstated the importance of this one piece of work. It doesn’t matter whether selection is the only process important in evolution or not. It doesn’t matter if the moths are still moths or not. Selection is real and the results of this experiment are real. Deal with it. Or better yet, do your own research on the topic.

Comment #202291

Posted by raven on August 31, 2007 8:40 AM (e)

My reason for commenting is that this moth study is being overwhelmingly presented as a victory for Darwinism,

Peppered moths is one tiny data point in millions and millions. After 150 years the data set is so large and overwhelming no one person even knows how large it is.

If you have ever seen anyone die of an infectious disease or cancer, chances are high they were a victim of Darwinian evolution of the pathogen. Chemo and radiation can work well to kill tumor cells. Almost always a few genetically resistant cells survive and repopulate the patient. Surprise, the survivors are now resistant to whatever they were treated with before. Eventually when all options are exhausted, the patient dies. This process of metastatic cancer cell evolution is expected, planned for, and kills about 1/2 million people in the USA every year.

What is famous about Peppered Moths is that it is an example of Xian cultist creo LYING. Creos always lie. How else are they going to pretend that a few pages of bronze age mythology that is completely wrong on the facts represents a very old, very complicated, very large universe.

Comment #202314

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 10:09 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take that as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to, see above] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

We see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.”

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

Christophe Thill wrote:

So, actually, whenever we hear someone, creationist or not, using such arguments as “they’re still moths”, “it’s still a dog”, etc, we know that this person has no idea about what a species is and, therefore, can be said to know nothing about biology. And we should ask “what do you mean by that?” and force the person to explain their muddled concepts, until complete embarrassment is reached…

Jumping to the conclusion that your opponents are ignorant is a good way to get them to stop listening to you. But I agree that asking them what they mean (and listening to the answer) can be very helpful in moving forward.

If you asked me what I meant by that (my reference to the “it’s still a moth” comment) I would say it has little to do with species.

Let me concede, first, that I (like many creationists) was once pretty firm on the idea that species cannot arise by NS+RM alone. Now, having learned more about the lack of consensus on how a species is defined, and the amount of variation that RM+NS does appear to be capable of given the experimental evidence (see Edge of Evolution re: malaria), I think it’s conceivable that the tiny changes that can accumulate by evolution could result in a difference that might get labeled as a species change. I don’t know if it’s happened, but until I learn more I’m open to the possibility that it has.

The point remains, Darwinian evolution claims that not only species, but all the higher taxa originated simply via RM+NS. This claim is unsupported by the peppered moth example, yet the latter is labeled “The Proof of Darwinian Evolution.” This is what I mean by, “It’s still a moth,” and this concern remains unaddressed. I would have more confidence in the honesty of Darwinism proponents if they would admit that the title of Majerus’ talk is a false claim; or would explain why it is not false. (And weaseling about the meaning of “Darwinian evolution”, to say that it doesn’t necessarily involve natural origin of higher taxa or new complex systems, is just another way of dodging the issue.)

Even though the question of species is not as central to the controversy as, say, phylum, species is the easiest level at which to raise the question, since Darwin put that term in his famous title. However I hope we can agree that quibbling over the definition of species does not address the main controversial question: could complex new systems arise solely via RM+NS?

Comment #202321

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 10:17 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

We see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.”

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

Christophe Thill wrote:

So, actually, whenever we hear someone, creationist or not, using such arguments as “they’re still moths”, “it’s still a dog”, etc, we know that this person has no idea about what a species is and, therefore, can be said to know nothing about biology. And we should ask “what do you mean by that?” and force the person to explain their muddled concepts, until complete embarrassment is reached…

Jumping to the conclusion that your opponents are ignorant is a good way to get them to stop listening to you. But I agree that asking them what they mean (and listening to the answer) can be very helpful in moving forward.

If you asked me what I meant by that (my reference to the “it’s still a moth” comment) I would say it has little to do with species.

Let me concede, first, that I (like many creationists) was once pretty firm on the idea that species cannot arise by NS+RM alone. Now, having learned more about the lack of consensus on how a species is defined, and the amount of variation that RM+NS does appear to be capable of given the experimental evidence (see Edge of Evolution re: malaria), I think it’s conceivable that the tiny changes that can accumulate by evolution could result in a difference that might get labeled as a species change. I don’t know if it’s happened, but until I learn more I’m open to the possibility that it has.

The point remains, Darwinian evolution claims that not only species, but all the higher taxa originated simply via RM+NS. This claim is unsupported by the peppered moth example, yet the latter is labeled “The Proof of Darwinian Evolution.” This is what I mean by “it’s still a moth,” (admittedly a very abbreviated phrase and ambiguous without context, but it has now been explained) and this concern remains unaddressed. I would have more confidence in the honesty of Darwinism proponents if they would admit that the title of Majerus’ talk is a false claim; or would explain why it is not false. (And weaseling about the meaning of “Darwinian evolution”, to say that it doesn’t necessarily involve natural origin of higher taxa or new complex systems, is just another way of dodging the issue.)

Even though the question of species is not as central to the controversy as, say, phylum, species is the easiest level at which to raise the question, since Darwin put that term in his famous title. However I hope we can agree that quibbling over the definition of species does not address the main controversial question: could complex new systems arise solely via RM+NS?

Comment #202322

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 10:19 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

We see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.”

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

Christophe Thill wrote:

So, actually, whenever we hear someone, creationist or not, using such arguments as “they’re still moths”, “it’s still a dog”, etc, we know that this person has no idea about what a species is and, therefore, can be said to know nothing about biology. And we should ask “what do you mean by that?” and force the person to explain their muddled concepts, until complete embarrassment is reached…

Jumping to the conclusion that your opponents are ignorant is a good way to get them to stop listening to you. But I agree that asking them what they mean (and listening to the answer) can be very helpful in moving forward.

If you asked me what I meant by that (my reference to the “it’s still a moth” comment) I would say it has little to do with species.

Let me concede, first, that I (like many creationists) was once pretty firm on the idea that species cannot arise by NS+RM alone. Now, having learned more about the lack of consensus on how a species is defined, and the amount of variation that RM+NS does appear to be capable of given the experimental evidence (see Edge of Evolution re: malaria), I think it’s conceivable that the tiny changes that can accumulate by evolution could result in a difference that might get labeled as a species change. I don’t know if it’s happened, but until I learn more I’m open to the possibility that it has.

The point remains, Darwinian evolution claims that not only species, but all the higher taxa originated simply via RM+NS. This claim is unsupported by the peppered moth example, yet the latter is labeled “The Proof of Darwinian Evolution.” This is what I mean by “it’s still a moth,” (admittedly a very abbreviated phrase and ambiguous without context, but it has now been explained) and this concern remains unaddressed. I would have more confidence in the honesty of Darwinism proponents if they would admit that the title of Majerus’ talk is a false claim; or would explain why it is not false. (And weaseling about the meaning of “Darwinian evolution”, to say that it doesn’t necessarily involve natural origin of higher taxa or new complex systems, is just another way of dodging the issue.)

Even though the question of species is not as central to the controversy as, say, phylum, species is the easiest level at which to raise the question, since Darwin put that term in his famous title. However I hope we can agree that quibbling over the definition of species does not address the main controversial question: could complex new systems arise solely via RM+NS?

Comment #202323

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 10:21 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

We see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.”

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

Christophe Thill wrote:

So, actually, whenever we hear someone, creationist or not, using such arguments as “they’re still moths”, “it’s still a dog”, etc, we know that this person has no idea about what a species is and, therefore, can be said to know nothing about biology. And we should ask “what do you mean by that?” and force the person to explain their muddled concepts, until complete embarrassment is reached…

Jumping to the conclusion that your opponents are ignorant is a good way to get them to stop listening to you. But I agree that asking them what they mean (and listening to the answer) can be very helpful in moving forward.

If you asked me what I meant by that (my reference to the “it’s still a moth” comment) I would say it has little to do with species.

Let me concede, first, that I (like many creationists) was once pretty firm on the idea that species cannot arise by NS+RM alone. Now, having learned more about the lack of consensus on how a species is defined, and the amount of variation that RM+NS does appear to be capable of given the experimental evidence (see Edge of Evolution re: malaria), I think it’s conceivable that the tiny changes that can accumulate by evolution could result in a difference that might get labeled as a species change. I don’t know if it’s happened, but until I learn more I’m open to the possibility that it has.

The point remains, Darwinian evolution claims that not only species, but all the higher taxa originated simply via RM+NS. This claim is unsupported by the peppered moth example, yet the latter is labeled “The Proof of Darwinian Evolution.” This is what I mean by “it’s still a moth,” (admittedly a very abbreviated phrase and ambiguous without context, but it has now been explained) and this concern remains unaddressed. I would have more confidence in the honesty of Darwinism proponents if they would admit that the title of Majerus’ talk is a false claim; or would explain why it is not false. (And weaseling about the meaning of “Darwinian evolution”, to say that it doesn’t necessarily involve natural origin of higher taxa or new complex systems, is just another way of dodging the issue.)

Even though the question of species is not as central to the controversy as, say, phylum, species is the easiest level at which to raise the question, since Darwin put that term in his famous title. However I hope we can agree that quibbling over the definition of species does not address the main controversial question: could complex new systems arise solely via RM+NS?

Comment #202324

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 10:24 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

We see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.”

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

Christophe Thill wrote:

So, actually, whenever we hear someone, creationist or not, using such arguments as “they’re still moths”, “it’s still a dog”, etc, we know that this person has no idea about what a species is and, therefore, can be said to know nothing about biology. And we should ask “what do you mean by that?” and force the person to explain their muddled concepts, until complete embarrassment is reached…

Jumping to the conclusion that your opponents are ignorant is a good way to get them to stop listening to you. But I agree that asking them what they mean (and listening to the answer) can be very helpful in moving forward.

If you asked me what I meant by that (my reference to the “it’s still a moth” comment) I would say it has little to do with species.

Let me concede, first, that I (like many creationists) was once pretty firm on the idea that species cannot arise by NS+RM alone. Now, having learned more about the lack of consensus on how a species is defined, and the amount of variation that RM+NS does appear to be capable of given the experimental evidence (see Edge of Evolution re: malaria), I think it’s conceivable that the tiny changes that can accumulate by evolution could result in a difference that might get labeled as a species change. I don’t know if it’s happened, but until I learn more I’m open to the possibility that it has.

The point remains, Darwinian evolution claims that not only species, but all the higher taxa originated simply via RM+NS. This claim is unsupported by the peppered moth example, yet the latter is labeled “The Proof of Darwinian Evolution.” This is what I mean by “it’s still a moth,” (admittedly a very abbreviated phrase and ambiguous without context, but it has now been explained) and this concern remains unaddressed. I would have more confidence in the honesty of Darwinism proponents if they would admit that the title of Majerus’ talk is a false claim; or would explain why it is not false. (And weaseling about the meaning of “Darwinian evolution”, to say that it doesn’t necessarily involve natural origin of higher taxa or new complex systems, is just another way of dodging the issue.)

Even though the question of species is not as central to the controversy as, say, phylum, species is the easiest level at which to raise the question, since Darwin put that term in his famous title. However I hope we can agree that quibbling over the definition of species does not address the main controversial question: could complex new systems arise solely via RM+NS?

Comment #202326

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 10:36 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism over a long period of time… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about proofs. I’m just repeating Majerus’ wording. But the objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

Comment #202327

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 10:38 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism over a long period of time… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about proofs. I’m just repeating Majerus’ wording. But the objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

Comment #202328

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 10:39 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism over a long period of time… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about “proofs.” I’m just quoting Majerus’ wording. But the “it’s still a moth” objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

Comment #202329

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 10:42 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism over a long period of time… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about “proofs.” I’m just quoting Majerus’ wording. But the “it’s still a moth” objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

By the way, I’ve been trying to post this reply many times, and I keep getting an error. Is it just me? There is a red-outlined box that looks like it’s supposed to give the text of the error message, but there’s nothing in it. However I have no problems getting a preview. Are my posts too long?

Comment #202330

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 10:44 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism over a long period of time… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about “proofs.” I’m just quoting Majerus’ wording. But the “it’s still a moth” objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often ignored for being inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

By the way, I’ve been trying to post this reply many times, and I keep getting an error. Is it just me? The error page says “An error occurred”, and below there is a red-outlined box that looks like it’s supposed to give the text of the error message. But there’s nothing in the box. However I have no problems getting a preview. Are my posts too long?

Comment #202333

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 10:53 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism over a long period of time… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about “proofs.” I’m just quoting Majerus’ wording. But the “it’s still a moth” objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often ignored for being inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

By the way, I’ve been trying to post this reply many times, and I keep getting an error. Is it just me? The error page says “An error occurred”, and below there is a red-outlined box that looks like it’s supposed to give the text of the error message. But there’s nothing in the box. However I have no problems getting a preview. Are my posts too long?

Comment #202336

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 10:58 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism over a long period of time… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about “proofs.” I’m just quoting Majerus’ wording. But the “it’s still a moth” objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often ignored for being inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

By the way, I’ve been trying to post this reply many times, and I keep getting an error. Is it just me? The error page says “An error occurred”, and below there is a red-outlined box that looks like it’s supposed to give the text of the error message. But there’s nothing in the box. However I have no problems getting a preview. Are my posts too long?

Comment #202349

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 11:24 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism over a long period of time… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about “proofs.” I’m just quoting Majerus’ wording. But the “it’s still a moth” objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often ignored for being inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

By the way, I’ve been trying to post this reply many times, and I keep getting an error. Is it just me? The error page says “An error occurred”, and below there is a red-outlined box that looks like it’s supposed to give the text of the error message. But there’s nothing in the box. However I have no problems getting a preview. Are my posts too long?

Comment #202356

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 11:43 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism over a long period of time… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about “proofs.” I’m just quoting Majerus’ wording. But the “it’s still a moth” objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often ignored for being inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

By the way, I’ve been trying to post this reply many times, and I keep getting an error. Is it just me? The error page says “An error occurred”, and below there is a red-outlined box that looks like it’s supposed to give the text of the error message. But there’s nothing in the box. However I have no problems getting a preview. Are my posts too long?

Comment #202360

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 11:46 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism over a long period of time… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about “proofs.” I’m just quoting Majerus’ wording. But the “it’s still a moth” objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often ignored for being inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

By the way, I’ve been trying to post this reply many times, and I keep getting an error. Is it just me? The error page says “An error occurred”, and below there is a red-outlined box that looks like it’s supposed to give the text of the error message. But there’s nothing in the box. However I have no problems getting a preview. Are my posts too long?

Comment #202362

Posted by Mark Duigon on August 31, 2007 11:56 AM (e)

Regarding prediction in science:
I just read an item (Science magazine, subscription required) about the reconstructed ancestral protein study by Ortlund, Bridgham, Redinbo, & Thornton. Thornton was quoted, “That really blew our minds, that we were able to predict the functional effect of these mutations that occurred over 400 million years ago.”

Comment #202363

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 11:57 AM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism over a long period of time… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about “proofs.” I’m just quoting Majerus’ wording. But the “it’s still a moth” objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often ignored for being inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

By the way, I’ve been trying to post this reply many times, and I keep getting an error. Is it just me? The error page says “An error occurred”, and below there is a red-outlined box that looks like it’s supposed to give the text of the error message. But there’s nothing in the box. However I have no problems getting a preview. Are my posts too long?

Comment #202373

Posted by QuestionAndBeSkeptical on August 31, 2007 12:22 PM (e)

Mark Duigon wrote:

Thornton was quoted, “That really blew our minds, that we were able to predict the functional effect of these mutations that occurred over 400 million years ago.”

Sounds as useful as a model of the stock market that can predict stock prices on any date for any stock, so long as that date occurred in the past.

Comment #202378

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 31, 2007 12:26 PM (e)

Next thing on your agenda, Lars: learn not to push the “Post” button fourteen zillion times.

While this interface occasionally gets cranky, and I have occasionally complained about it, it’s not that cranky.

Seeing your repeated inability to comprehend that the peppered moth is NOT held up by “evolutionists” as the be-all and end-all proof of “macro-evolution” REPEATED over and over goes beyond crankiness into sheer blackboard skreeking rudeness.

Then there’s your inability to comprehend what’s claimed to be “congruent” and not about the various methods of tracking common descent.

Then there’s your quote-mining of Gould and insistence on paying obeisance to many-times debunked con artists…

Then there’s…

well, one could go on and on.

But you already did, so let’s not.

Bettinke? Oh, Bettinke?

Comment #202385

Posted by Science Avenger on August 31, 2007 12:47 PM (e)

Lars said:

What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

Because no one has, as yet, come up with any evidence that there is anything to stop that from occurring. If I demonstrate I am able to walk across the street, it is justified to conclude that I can walk across town, until evidence to the contrary appears. Quaint stories in dusty old books that mention “kinds” don’t count.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified.

What’s obvious about it? It is only unjustified because of the fact that gravity pulls us back to where we started. It is such facts that are missing from creationist objections to macroevolution.

Comment #202386

Posted by Science Avenger on August 31, 2007 12:52 PM (e)

Questionandbeskeptical said:

Sounds as useful as a model of the stock market that can predict stock prices on any date for any stock, so long as that date occurred in the past.

But it isn’t limited to the past, it is just limited to the near future. That, and what makes something a scentific prediction isn’t when the outcome occurred, but rather when the outcome was known. For example, the prediction that tiktaalik would be found right where the scientists found it, was a good validation of evolutionary theory, irrespective of the fact that the fossil was millions of years old.

Contrast this with ID, which makes no predictions at all, except when they hear the answer first.

Comment #202387

Posted by ben on August 31, 2007 12:53 PM (e)

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified.

Obviously, since you only have something to jump off of the first time.

How about the better analogy of changing a digital image one pixel at a time? Is it an unjustified extrapolation to posit that one might change a picture of a bacteria into a picture of an elephant by this process?

Comment #202393

Posted by Glen Davidson on August 31, 2007 1:05 PM (e)

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified.

The typical “science by analogy” method of pseudoscience.

Of course the real lesson from Lars is that one can’t climb a flight of stairs because no one can step up 10 feet.

To be sure, there are phenomena which are not cumulative, but just as surely, the IDCist doesn’t bother with the fact that genetic changes accumulate, nor indeed with the fact that not all small genetic changes are phenotypically small.

But I guess we can’t marvel that pseudoscientists don’t discuss science properly.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Comment #202396

Posted by bob on August 31, 2007 1:13 PM (e)

Lars,

The analogy you give is incorrect. We know about gravity and we know that jumps aren’t additive. One jump does not add to another. Mutation are additive. Once a mutation is fixed in the population, it is in all members of the population. So if I could jump twelve inches off the ground and stay there, and then jump again, then yes, I could reach the moon.

Yes, this demonstrates evolution perfectly. It show that the change in the accumulative phenotype of a population is a result of differential survival of individuals in the population.

bob

Comment #202399

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 1:19 PM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

Exactly… (See the “So What?” section of Wells’ response to Majerus’ talk.)
The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. I can then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation of the same mechanism over a long period of time… moon travel = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about “proofs.” I’m just quoting Majerus’ wording. But the “it’s still a moth” objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often ignored for being inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

By the way, I’ve been trying to post this reply many times, and I keep getting an error. Is it just me? The error page says “An error occurred”, and below there is a red-outlined box that looks like it’s supposed to give the text of the error message. But there’s nothing in the box. However I have no problems getting a preview. Are my posts too long?

Comment #202400

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 1:23 PM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that the theory predicts evolution will happen slowly. What I am asking is how we know we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, I can jump 12 inches into the air. One might then extrapolate from that to claiming I can reach the moon by gradual accumulation via the same mechanism over a long period of time… travel to the moon = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about “proofs.” I’m just quoting Majerus’ wording. But the “it’s still a moth” objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often ignored for being inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

By the way, I’ve been trying to post this reply many times, and I keep getting an error. Is it just me? The error page says “An error occurred”, and below there is a red-outlined box that looks like it’s supposed to give the text of the error message. But there’s nothing in the box. However I have no problems getting a preview. Are my posts too long?

Comment #202402

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 1:29 PM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor variation is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that Darwin’s theory predicts that major changes will take a long time (millions of years). What I am asking is how we know that we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, most people can jump 6 inches into the air in under 2 seconds. One might then extrapolate from that to claiming one can reach the moon by gradual accumulation via the same mechanism over a long period of time… travel to the moon = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about “proofs.” I’m just quoting Majerus’ wording. But the “it’s still a moth” objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often ignored for being inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

By the way, I’ve been trying to post this reply many times, and I keep getting an error. Is it just me? The error page says “An error occurred”, and below there is a red-outlined box that looks like it’s supposed to give the text of the error message. But there’s nothing in the box. However I have no problems getting a preview. Are my posts too long?

Comment #202407

Posted by David Stanton on August 31, 2007 1:42 PM (e)

Lars wrote:

“Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems …”

For the thirteenth time, yes that is exactly what the evidence indicates. Please read the Talk Origins archive entitled 29 Evidences for Macroevolution. If, after reading that, you can still make this claim, I guess someone might care to discuss it with you, or not. In any event, as long as you continue to ignore all of the evidence you should not be surp[rised if some label you as ignorant. And since this has already been pointed out to you many times, some will choose to label you willfully ignorant.

Can you come up with one single reason why mutations should not be cumulative? Can give one reason why random mutation and natural selection could not produce anything new? Can you give any reason why unequivical demonstration of one of the most important processes in evolution is not evidence for evolution? Can you give any reason why you couldn’t be bothered to check to see that your post had made it through after the first ten attempts before you tried another three times?

Could someone pleas remove the twelve repeat posts from this thread. Is this behavior against the rules or not?

Comment #202442

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on August 31, 2007 3:44 PM (e)

Lars: For future reference, comments containing more than 4 links are held for moderation.

Comment #202452

Posted by hoary puccoon on August 31, 2007 4:18 PM (e)

Lars–

Okay, so you reposted numerous times. I have problems with computers, too.

The particular point I made which you disagreed with was saying, “the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations… give precisely congruent results.”

Perhaps I should have said, “highly correlated results.” In fact, when any two of these dating techniques disagree, red flags go up all over the place, and scientists immediately go to work finding out why there’s a discrepancy. The last three links you gave are examples of the kind of issues that arise.

Those examples are pretty mild, incidentally, compared with the fights that went on when, IIRC, Sherwin Washburn and Allan Wilson in Calif. (I’m doing this off the top of my head) declared the human-chimp split occurred around 5 million years ago. At that time, everyone was sure that Ramapithicus, at 25 or so million years old, was a human ancestor. But the scientists fought it out, until Ramapithicus’s own discoverers uncovered evidence that it was ancestral to orangutans, not humans. The subsequent convergence on 5 or 6 million years ago for the human-ape split (based on all three dating techniques) was a true agreement, not scientists forming a politically-motivated united front.

In contrast to the scientists’ efforts to– literally– turn over every stone to make sure they’re correct, you’re offering an analogy that is simply wrong. I hope you’ll be willing to admit that and drop it. Evolution really is more like the hiker who goes a long way by taking millions of tiny steps than like someone going to the moon by taking millions of tiny jumps. The hiker can go a long way up– but only if there’s a mountain there to climb, step by slow step. And s/he can go a long, long way North or South, into very different terrain. It just takes time.

I probably can’t respond to anything you post in return because I have a very busy weekend ahead, but I hope you take this post in the constructive spirit in which I intended it.

Comment #202454

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 4:19 PM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor variation is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that Darwin’s theory predicts that major changes will take a long time (millions of years). What I am asking is how we know that we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, most people can jump 6 inches into the air in under 2 seconds. One might then extrapolate from that to claiming one can reach the moon by gradual accumulation via the same mechanism over a long period of time… travel to the moon = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about “proofs.” I’m just quoting Majerus’ wording. But the “it’s still a moth” objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often ignored for being inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

By the way, I’ve been trying to post this reply many times, and I keep getting an error. Is it just me? The error page says “An error occurred”, and below there is a red-outlined box that looks like it’s supposed to give the text of the error message. But there’s nothing in the box. However I have no problems getting a preview. Are my posts too long?

Comment #202461

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 4:42 PM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor variation is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that Darwin’s theory predicts that major changes will take a long time (millions of years). What I am asking is how we know that we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, most people can jump 6 inches into the air in under 2 seconds. One might then extrapolate from that to claiming one can reach the moon by gradual accumulation via the same mechanism over a long period of time… travel to the moon = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about “proofs.” I’m just quoting Majerus’ wording. But the “it’s still a moth” objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often ignored for being inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples. So “precisely congruent results” does not stand up to scrutiny.

By the way, I’ve been trying to post this reply many times, and I keep getting an error. Is it just me? The error page says “An error occurred”, and below there is a red-outlined box that looks like it’s supposed to give the text of the error message. But there’s nothing in the box. However I have no problems getting a preview. Are my posts too long?

Comment #202501

Posted by Henry J on August 31, 2007 7:22 PM (e)

The point is this shift in proportions within a population of a minor phenotypic change is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

No, it’s not, as several people have already pointed out. It is but one of the huge number of pieces of evidence for the ToE. A theory is supported not by single data points, but by consistent pattern(s) across all the relevant data points formed by the evidence.

Henry

Comment #202509

Posted by David Stanton on August 31, 2007 7:55 PM (e)

Lars wrote:

“precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould); and molecular evidence from DNA is often ignored for being inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here).”

Are you serious? Are you aware of all of the fossil evidence and all of the genetic evidence regarding the evoluton of Cetaceans?

Why do you think transitional forms and genetic dats is relevant to a discussion about moths? You just couldn’t find any way to dismiss the evidence for natural selection so now you are trying to move on to something else.

Comment #202511

Posted by David Stanton on August 31, 2007 8:02 PM (e)

Great, now there are fifteen copies of this nonsense.

Comment #202513

Posted by David Stanton on August 31, 2007 8:09 PM (e)

Lars,

Have you ever heard of Cetaceans? Do you know that all of the fossil evidence and all of the genetic evidence are consistent and that all of the evidence points to the fact that Cetaceans are descended for Artiodactyls? How do you explain the concordance of independent data sets? Why do you insist on trying to change the subject from microevolution in moths to macroevolution? Do you really not believe in natural selection?

By the way, Nick’s point was that something new was produced by random mutations in the moths and it was an adaptive change in some generations as well. Why do you deny that random mutation and natural selection can have cumulative effects? Why do you use inapproproiate analogies to support your ideas instead of evidence?

Comment #202534

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 9:43 PM (e)

HenryJ wrote:

Re “I see people (metaphorically) rolling their eyes at the “it’s still a moth” objection. But I haven’t seen anyone respond to it substantively.”
It’s also still Lepidoptera, Endopterygota, … and Eukaryote.
Er, so what?

The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor variation is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, Lars, here goes, without sneering–

Thank you! This gives me some hope that I am not just wasting my time here.

As Nick Matzke points out, “black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, and black moths spread out from the Manchester region as if from a point origin.”

OK… but I don’t see how this relates to my comment.

So, what you are really asking about is why moths haven’t turned into something completely different in the last 160 years.

No… I understand that Darwin’s theory predicts that major changes will take a long time (millions of years). What I am asking is how we know that we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

For example, most people can jump 6 inches into the air in under 2 seconds. One might then extrapolate from that to claiming one can reach the moon by gradual accumulation via the same mechanism over a long period of time… travel to the moon = jumping x N. But the extrapolation is obviously unjustified. A ladder or staircase would help, if it can be plausibly shown that the staircase exists and is navigable (no big gaps) to the destination. Responding to Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable and others, Behe goes into this topic in detail with the staircase analogy in Edge of Evolution. In order to avoid rehashing tired arguments, maybe it would be best to take Behe’s staircase chapter as a starting point. (I’m sure EoE has been trashed here, but the Darwinist reviews I’ve seen so far [e.g. the Dawkins NYT review that Cordova was responding to] fail to address his points.)

However, I think many would agree that this blog comments area is a noisy place to continue an orderly discussion, and usually too short-lived to get very far in a debate. I would very much like to follow up with individuals who are open to patient debate. My email is larsspam at huttar dot net. Or if you can recommend a quieter blog forum where we can continue this conversation, that would be fine too.

Given those three conditions, evolution should be expected to proceed very slowly, by a gradual accumulation of tiny changes. And that’s exactly what we do see.

Yes, we see tiny changes. We see gradual accumulation of a few of them. What we don’t see is formation of whole new systems; yet the moth is touted as “the proof of evolution.” So I agree with you that what we see with the peppered moth is consistent with what one can expect from the evolutionary hypothesis. But then, so is a rock sitting in the dirt… it doesn’t contradict Darwinism in any way. However the “it’s still a moth” objection isn’t about consistency; it’s about the “Proof of Evolution” claim. Majerus didn’t title his talk, “The Peppered Moth: Consistent with Darwinian Evolution.”

(Some will be bothered by the word “proof”, and I agree, empirical science is rarely about “proofs.” I’m just quoting Majerus’ wording. But the “it’s still a moth” objection still holds when people claim that the peppered moth experiment demonstrates or supports evolution.)

We have to rely on the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations. As it happens, these three completely different measures give precisely congruent results.

HP, I trust you’re not trying to be dishonest here; but “precisely congruent results” would be a very tough claim to try to defend. You have no doubt heard that there are serious problems with the paucity of transitional forms in fossil record (see Gould on the lack of support for gradualism; or h-e-r-e on the sudden appearance of almost every animal phylum ever to exist, in the lower Cambrian layer of the fossil record); and molecular evidence from DNA is often ignored for being inconsistent with all plausible phylogenetic hypotheses (Nelson gives references here). Despite the three lines of evidence you refer to, evolutionary biologists are often in the dark regarding the evolutionary age of a particular species or of particular genetic information. See here, here, and here for examples of major surprises and unknowns in the evolutionary timeline. You can’t have “precisely congruent results” when you don’t have data, and especially when you have data that disagrees with the theory’s predictions.

By the way, I’ve been trying to post this reply many times, and I keep getting an error. Is it just me? The error page says “An error occurred”, and below there is a red-outlined box that looks like it’s supposed to give the text of the error message. But there’s nothing in the box. However I have no problems getting a preview. Are my posts too long?

Comment #202541

Posted by Lars on August 31, 2007 9:58 PM (e)

Oh great… I see now that I’ve posted umpteen copies of my comment. Apologies, everybody. Mea maxima culpa.

I’m pretty sure that after the first error or two, I checked to make sure my comment hadn’t appeared on the page. I guess either I had failed to refresh, or else my comments only started getting posted after subsequent submissions.

Any chance of getting a moderator to delete all copies of that post but the last? I kept updating it as I went along. Thanks…

Again, apologies to everybody for the noise. I am duly embarrassed and repent in dust and ashes.

Comment #202551

Posted by PvM on August 31, 2007 10:54 PM (e)

No… I understand that Darwin’s theory predicts that major changes will take a long time (millions of years). What I am asking is how we know that we can extrapolate from minor changes to major ones just by multiplying time.

By careful observations that show how evolutionary processes over these time frames take place following Darwinian routes. By showing that genetic networks and proteins are highly open to Darwinian evolution. While of course far more complex than showing a change in a single nucleotide, science has shown how macroevolution has unfolded.
An exciting finding is how variation in regulatory genes can introduce evolutionary change

Comment #202553

Posted by PvM on August 31, 2007 10:57 PM (e)

on the sudden appearance of almost every animal phylum ever to exist, in the lower Cambrian layer of the fossil record

Sudden is a misleading concept, in fact most of these appearances can be traced back to earlier times. In fact, Valentine, one of the foremost experts on the Cambrian and often misquoted by creationists, has argued that Darwinian processes seem to very well explain the Cambrian explosion. Remember, the Cambrian extends over millions if not tens of millions of years. A careful analysis of thsee fossils shows how the many ‘phyla’ were quite similar in many aspects.

Comment #202554

Posted by PvM on August 31, 2007 10:59 PM (e)

The point is: this shift in proportions within a population of a minor variation is touted as “the proof of evolution”. More below about extrapolation from the evidence to the evolutionary claim…

It is touted as ‘a proof of evolution’ in other words, it shows that evolution happens and explains what mechanisms play a role. However, the suggestion that science ends here is clearly misleading.

Comment #202676

Posted by Lars on September 1, 2007 9:28 AM (e)

HP, thanks for your reply. I appreciate your constructive and generous attitude.

hoary puccoon wrote:

Okay, so you reposted numerous times. I have problems with computers, too.

:*S

The particular point I made which you disagreed with was saying, “the fossil record, the physics of radioactive decay, and the internal evidence of DNA mutations… give precisely congruent results.”

Perhaps I should have said, “highly correlated results.”

Thanks.

In fact, when any two of these dating techniques disagree, red flags go up all over the place, and scientists immediately go to work finding out why there’s a discrepancy. The last three links you gave are examples of the kind of issues that arise.

Those examples are pretty mild, incidentally, compared with the fights that went on when, IIRC, Sherwin Washburn and Allan Wilson in Calif. (I’m doing this off the top of my head) declared the human-chimp split occurred around 5 million years ago. At that time, everyone was sure that Ramapithicus, at 25 or so million years old, was a human ancestor. But the scientists fought it out, until Ramapithicus’s own discoverers uncovered evidence that it was ancestral to orangutans, not humans. The subsequent convergence on 5 or 6 million years ago for the human-ape split (based on all three dating techniques) was a true agreement, not scientists forming a politically-motivated united front.

OK. I’m not familiar with the Washburn-Wilson/Ramapithicus fight. What I do know is that whenever I hear news about data that contradicts what you would expect from evolutionary theory… for example, when genes for complex systems are discovered to have been present long before they were expressed (as in shark ancestors having Hox gene function for fingers, or sea anemones having vertebrate-like introns), evolutionists express surprise but never allow the obvious question: is the theory wrong? Indeed, as shown here, they are careful to distance themselves from any possibility of non-Darwinian heresy… a disclaimer that would not be necessary unless you’re publishing evidence that goes against the theory and you’re afraid of the repercussions.

you’re offering an analogy that is simply wrong. I hope you’ll be willing to admit that and drop it.

I hope I would be willing to drop it if it were shown to be wrong or unjustified.

But I doubt the analogy is really what’s up for dispute, since Dawkins uses essentially the same analogy in Climbing Mount Improbable: you can’t jump or climb straight up the cliff side of a mountain to the top, but if there is a gradual sloping path, the climb is quite possible given enough time.

What we more likely disagree about is whether gradual sloping path(s) leading to the summit exist and are navigable. One can certainly imagine a mountain where there is no such navigable path … arguably Mount Everest is one, unless you have special equipment for rock climbing and cold weather survival. The moon is a more clear-cut example: we certainly cannot reach it by jumping, but we can reach it by other mechanisms.

Taking this back to the issue at hand, Majerus has shown that jumping occurs, and has called it The Proof of Travel to the Moon (or the Summit of Everest if you prefer). If he had called it A Possible Mechanism for Travel to the Moon, that would be different. But since he (and Darwinists in general) claim that Darwinism is not only possible but true (“unassailable”, “undeniable”, “fact”, etc.), the scientific community should require some evidence of a staircase / hiking trail. If there is not clear evidence of such a navigable staircase, an unbiased scientist should be open to the possibility that the summit / the Moon was reached by other mechanisms. And even if such evidence did exist, an unbiased scientist should admit that Majerus’ title is unjustified.

I probably can’t respond to anything you post in return because I have a very busy weekend ahead,

Understood… I’m in the same boat. Would like to correspond on email though, where the pace can be slower.

but I hope you take this post in the constructive spirit in which I intended it.

Yes indeed. I obviously still don’t agree with your position, but I’m greatly encouraged that there is a possibility of discussing the evidence in a reasonable way.

Comment #202700

Posted by David Stanton on September 1, 2007 10:56 AM (e)

Lars,

Sorry for my harsh tone. I thought you were doing that on purpose. The same thing obviously happened to me, so it is likely that you are completely blameless. There seems to be some problem with the text you are using. When I cut and pasted from your post my post did not go through (at least not right away). I have no cut and paste in this post, we’ll see if it goes through.

In any event, you seem to have drastically underestimated the vast volume of genetic evidence for macroevolution. If I were you, I wouldn’t trust any nonsense I read on creationist websites. This is a very complex field of science that requires years of study in order to properly understand. For now, let’s just say that your characterizations are wildely inaccurate.

I would recommend the Talk Origins archive concerning plagarized errors and Cetacean evolution as a good starting point. It contains rebuttals of common creationist talking points.

Comment #202703

Posted by David Stanton on September 1, 2007 11:11 AM (e)

Lars Wrote:

“What I do know is that whenever I hear news about data that contradicts what you would expect from evolutionary theory… for example, when genes for complex systems are discovered to have been present long before they were expressed (as in shark ancestors having Hox gene function for fingers, or sea anemones having vertebrate-like introns), evolutionists express surprise but never allow the obvious question: is the theory wrong?”

With all due respect, that doesn’t even make any sense. If scientists were afraid of evidence disproviing their theory, why whould you have ever heard of these results in the first place? The truth is that scientists, in general, are sincerely seeking the truth and are always willing to revise their theories in the light of new evidence. That is in fact the way in which science has progressed for hundreds of years now.

No real scientist has any strong emotional investment in any particular theory (unless perhaps it is their own). Any scientist that I know, (including myself), would be more that happy to disprove Darwin’s ideas. That is how you become rich and famous in science.

The truth is that many of the discoveries in biology have caused Darwin’s ideas to be refined and extended over time. The truth is that random mutation and natural selection has never been disproven as a mechanism for micro and macroevolution despite repeated attempts. Not bad for a hundred and fifty year old theory proposed before the beginning of modern genetics.

Why do you think that Hox genes in sharks is a problem for “Darwinism”? Why do you think that introns in anemones is a problem for evolutionary theory? Why do you think this data was published in the first place if scientists are so afraid of it?

Comment #202709

Posted by David Stanton on September 1, 2007 11:18 AM (e)

Lars,

As has already been pointed out, your analogy is fundamentally flawed. Mutation and selection are cumulative processes. You do not have to start over at the beginning every time as you do when you jump. This is a creationist fallacy, don’t but into it.

What sequence do you think it would be impossible to produce given enough rounds of mutation and selection? Are you aware of all of the molecular mechanisms that increase genetic variation? Are you aware of all of the different types of selection and their complex interactions? Why do you think that your analogy is better that the analogy of walking across the country?

Comment #202717

Posted by David Wilson on September 1, 2007 12:08 PM (e)

Mats wrote:

Let’s see:
1. There were black moths and white moths in the beginning (different ratios)

In the beginning “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” (Genesis 1:2). I see nothing there about any moths at all, white or black, being present “in the beginning”. If, by “beginning”, however, you are referring to a time shortly before the proportion of dark moths began to increase, then I would be very interested to know what your evidence for this claim is. There is no known record in the (quite extensive) entomological literature of the 17th or 18th century (or earlier) of anyone having observed a dark peppered moth before the turn of the 19th century. According to E.B. Ford, in the 4th edition of his book Ecological Genetics (p.329), there is a a single specimen of the dark peppered moth in the William Jones collection in the Department of Entomology at Oxford University which is known to have been captured before 1811. This is by far the earliest date of capture known for any specimen of dark peppered moth.

We can infer from the moth’s subsequent history that some dark peppered moths probably did appear from time to time before the start of the industrial revolution, but also that their descedents (if any) would have quickly died out. And for all we know the frequency of their appearance may have been as low as one every decade or so.

nickmatzke wrote:

Actually, the population always included black moths and white moths

This is probably false….

Careful. The mutation rate to the Carbonaria allele might well have been high enough to maintain a small percentage of black moths in the population at all times. If the percentage were sufficiently low, there is no reason to expect that early entomologists would have detected them.

Black moths were completely unknown until a single example was collected in 1848 I think, …

See above. The oft-quoted date of 1848 is derived from a letter of one R.S.Edelston to the 1864-65 issue of The Entomologist (vol 2, p.150). I have a photocopy of this, which reads as follows, in its entirety:

Amphydasis betularia. — Some sixteen years ago the “negro” aberration of this common species was almost unknown; more recently it has been had by several parties. Last year I obtained the eggs of a female of the common form, which had been in cop. with a “negro” male : the larvae I fed on willow, and this year had some remarkably pretty aberrations, the connecting-link between the “negro” and the usual form, but far before either as regards beauty : I placed some of the virgin females in my garden, in order to attract the males, and was not a little surprised to find that most of the visitors were the “negro” aberration : If this goes on for a few years the original type of A. betularia will be extinct in this locality.

We can see from this that Edelston must have become aware of the existence of the black moths some time around 1848, but whether he captured any, or, if he did, how many, appears to me to be pretty much pure conjecture (or perhaps the effect of Chinese whispers in the transmission of the story).

Comment #202719

Posted by J. Biggs on September 1, 2007 12:12 PM (e)

Lars, I believe that your repost reaches a new PT record. (I counted 24 similar posts). Does anyone else find it strange that Lars can be constructed out of SALvadoR. Lars’s posts remind me of Sal’s so much that I have a hard time believing they are different people, but I could be wrong. My apologies Lars if I am.

Comment #202729

Posted by CJO on September 1, 2007 1:03 PM (e)

David Stanton wrote:

Mutation and selection are cumulative processes.

Yes, but more fundamentally, evolution is an iterative process. I said in an earlier comment, “iterative not cumulative,” but that probably should have been “not just cumulative.” (I can’t think of a good antonym for “iterative.” “One-step process,” I guess –but maybe there’s a term that gets at the distinction I’m trying to make?)

Creationists exploit the blurring of this distinction with their bad analogies like jumping (Lars) or elasticity (QaBS).

As far as the somewhat surprising findings of “advanced” regulatory sequences in “primitive” genomes, perhaps Lars would share his views on how, exactly, this is a problem for evolution, and what, exactly, creationist explanations make of it. Like all creationist argumentation, it sounds to me like “heads I win, tails you lose.” If there are no precursor structures, the creationist says “Aha! de novo creation.” If there are precursors, we are treated to “frontloading” or “common design.” Lacking a unified picture (well, childishly denying that one exists), creationists are free to make it up as they go along, while scientists have to do the hard (but infinitely more interesting) work of fitting the pieces into a coherent whole and actually, you know, explaining things.

Comment #202824

Posted by Henry J on September 1, 2007 7:43 PM (e)

One can certainly imagine a mountain where there is no such navigable path […]

There probably are unclimbable “mountains” on the genetic “landscape” - but unless there’s some evidence that something is on the top of one of them, why worry about it?

If there is not clear evidence of such a navigable staircase, an unbiased scientist should be open to the possibility that the summit / the Moon was reached by other mechanisms.

Is there evidence that scientists in general aren’t willing to consider such things, if actual evidence for them were to actually be described and verified? Of course they won’t seriously consider such a thing just because somebody speculates about it - one needs the relevant evidence first.

Henry

Comment #202896

Posted by Science Avenger on September 2, 2007 1:53 AM (e)

Lars said:

If there is not clear evidence of such a navigable staircase, an unbiased scientist should be open to the possibility that the summit / the Moon was reached by other mechanisms.

I know of no scientist who isn’t open to other possibilities. The question is whether some particular possibility has provided any evidence making it science-worthy. Has it been stated in an objective way? Is it consistent with the findings in other fields? Has it been subjected to falsifiable testing? If the answer to all three is no, and further, if it’s true that the questions of the nature of the possibility are deemed off limits to inquiry, then no, this possibility is not going to be treated very seriously.

That is, if I posited that some biological feature, say, oh I don’t know, a bacterial flagellum, just to pick something weird, had appeared, not by virtue of evolutionary processes, but rather by being beamed onto the bacteria via Spock’s lab from the Starship Enterprise, there would be many questions to answer as to how this transporter works, where this ship came from, and so forth. Dodging such questions sets off the pseudoscience alarms.

I also note with interest that you didn’t address my argment against the “A moth is still a moth” equivocation. Not unexpected really, I’ve yet to have a creationist deal with it.

Comment #203955

Posted by Richard Boyne on September 4, 2007 10:20 PM (e)

I’ve been thinking a lot about that whole “still a moth” argument. When you think about it, all the decendants of the peppered moth should be considered “just moths” for the sake of monophyly. If not, then “moth” would be a paraphyletic group, assuming it isn’t already. Also, that trip to the moon analogy is perhaps not as accurate as it could be, since evolution is not directed to one point. It would be better to say that an accumulation of tiny steps could take you to many other points in the solar system - a bit like adaptive radiation. Anyway, that’s enough of me me being pedantic.

Comment #204001

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 5, 2007 1:26 AM (e)

OK. I’m not familiar with the Washburn-Wilson/Ramapithicus fight.

of course not.

doubtless you aren’t familiar with 99.9999% of the actual scientific debate that has gone on in the field of evolutionary biology and paleontology within the last 10 years, let alone the last 150.

you CAN fix that, but i rarely find your type truly interested in the actual science. Instead, you prefer to pound your fists on your spit-glued soapbox.

so why should anyone care about what you *think* about science again?