The Questionable Authority

Dr. Michael Egnor is, once again, trying to explain why evolution isn’t important to medicine. This time he’s responding to Mark Chu-Carroll’s post on Tautology. In his latest post, Egnor continues to challenge the conventional wisdom that an understanding of evolution in general and natural selection in particular is essential to understanding and dealing with the phenomenon of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

Here’s his latest statement along those lines:

Mark, your dad’s illness didn’t happen because his doctor didn’t know enough about random mutation and natural selection. Our battle against bacterial resistance to antibiotics depends on the study of the intricate molecular strategies bacteria use to fight antibiotics, and our development of new antibiotics is a process of designing drugs to counter the bacterial strategies. We use molecular biology, microbiology, and pharmacology. We understand that bacteria aren’t killed by antibiotics that they’re resistant to. We understand tautologies. Darwin isn’t a big help here.

Thus far, Dr. Egnor has only discussed the phenomenon of bacterial resistance in general. I’m going to present a pair of real, specific, and relatively recent scenarios where I think an understanding of evolution by natural selection has played an important role in public health debates involving appropriate uses of specific antibiotics. My question – and challenge – to Dr. Egnor is this: can you explain why an understanding of evolution by natural selection was really not important in these specific cases? If you cannot, can you please explain why you still believe that an understanding of evolution by natural selection is irrelevant to medicine?

The first case is one that I wrote about back in 2005. I just reposted the material over to this blog if you want to read about the case in detail. If you don’t, here’s the Cliff Notes version:

There were a couple of antibiotics (fluoroquinolones) that were being used to treat E. coli infections in poultry. Due to the logistical difficulties involved in treating individual birds under typical farming conditions, the antibiotics were administered by adding them to the water supply for the birds, and giving them to the entire flock. The FDA became concerned about the effect that this treatment method would have on another bacteria – Campylobacter. Campylobacter does not make birds sick, but it can make people sick. Specific mutations have been identified in Campylobacter that can make the bacteria resistant to fluoroquinolones, and other studies have shown that those mutations do not make the bacteria that have them less fit when fluoroquinolones are absent. The FDA believed (correctly) that adding those antibiotics to poultry water supplies acted as a selective pressure that favored antibiotic-resistant strains of Campylobacter, and, because the same class of antibiotic is used to treat Campylobacter infections in humans, ordered that the drugs be removed from the market.

I’m having a hard time seeing how that series of events could reasonably be described as anything other than an application of our understanding of evolution by natural selection to a potential public health problem. Dr Egnor, do you have an alternative explanation?

The second case is more recent, and has been discussed at length here at Scienceblogs. This one involves the pending approval by the FDA of a veterinary usage of cefquinome to treat respiratory disease in cattle. A number of groups, including the AMA and some of the folks at the FDA’s human medicine side, are arguing very strongly against this approval. Why? Because cefquinome is a 4th-generation antibiotic that is used to treat drug-resistant bacterial illnesses in humans. A good bit is known about how resistance to these antibiotics evolves, and the AMA (et al.) are very concerned that administering the drug to cattle will create more environments where the evolution of resistance to cefquinome is selectively favored.

Again, to me this looks like a very clear, and very simple, application of the principle of evolution via natural selection to public health. I was under the impression that public health is part of the medical field – but maybe I’m just being fooled by all the public health departments at med schools. Any thoughts, Dr. Egnor?

Comments

  1. #1 G. Shelley
    March 17, 2007

    I’m beginning to think that Dr Egnor has a very strange idea of what evolution is – Nothing to do with changes in populations, molecular biology or anatomy.

  2. #2 Orac
    March 17, 2007

    I’m disappointed. I’m pretty sure that I’ve fired more broadsides at Egnor’s ignorant statements about evolution and medicine than anyone, and he hasn’t deigned to respond to me yet. Maybe I’ll have to e-mail him with a list of links to posts in which I mentioned him and give him my real name.

    In any case, I, too, challenged Dr. Egnor to put up or shut up about his claim that the design inference has contributed to the “best” medical research, that using the design inference produces the best teaching, and that Darwinism isn’t just neutral or useless to medicine but that it “hurts you” as a surgeon if you think about it and take it seriously.

  3. #3 afarensis
    March 17, 2007

    I would like to know just what he means by:

    Our battle against bacterial resistance to antibiotics depends on the study of the intricate molecular strategies bacteria use to fight antibiotics…

    Aren’t those strategies shaped by natural selection?

  4. #4 Orac
    March 17, 2007

    Yes. Absolutely.

    By the way, I’m going to repost my challenge to Dr. Egnor every day, starting tomorrow morning (you know, like Egnor’s mind held hostage, day 2), and continue to do so until either he answers or I get bored and decide that I’ve made my point (which could take a while). I encourage Mike to do likewise.

  5. #5 Mike Dunford
    March 17, 2007

    Yeah, I should have mentioned that I wasn’t the only person challenging him to respond to specific claims. I like the idea of a brief daily repost – sounds like fun.

    It’s definitely more fun than the multiple regression midterm I’m working on right now.

  6. #6 Orac
    March 17, 2007

    It could be a meme! ;-)

    In any case, tomorrow’s post will be a little longer, to lay out the challenge explicitly, and after that I’ll just post brief daily posts of a sentence or two linking back to the challenge.

  7. #7 Art
    March 17, 2007

    Is Egnor really implying that mutation and selection are not mechanisms operative in the development of antibiotic resistance in populations of bacteria? That is what his latest screed seems to be saying.

    That’s a pretty scary opinion for an MD to have.

  8. #8 G. Shelley
    March 17, 2007

    Is Egnor really implying that mutation and selection are not mechanisms operative in the development of antibiotic resistance in populations of bacteria? That is what his latest screed seems to be saying.

    No, I think he’s saying that isn’t what he means by evolution. In much the same way that he dismissed the information papers when he claimed that evolution couldn’t produce “information”

  9. #9 Alexey Merz
    March 17, 2007

    In other words, “evolution” means what Egnor wants it to mean – no more and no less. Of course, by so doing he distances himself from both serious debate and any semblance of scientific professionalism.

  10. #10 Ichthyic
    March 17, 2007

    That’s a pretty scary opinion for an MD to have.

    it’s even scarier coming from someone who is the head of the neurosurgery dept. at Stony Brook, who also teaches biomedical ethics courses, and promulgates his misunderstandings and blantant lies there too.

    I’m really suprised that nobody from Stony Brook has commented on Egnor’s behavior, especially considering the excellent ecology and evolutionary biology dept. that is also at Stony Brook. maybe he’s emeritus status for the next year?

    truly, pressure should be put on Stony Brook to clarify whether they support his statements in general.

    I’m sure they don’t, but they sure as hell have been quiet about it.

    stony brook’s contact information for both the neurosurgery and evo bio depts. are readily available online.

    just a note, Futuyma himself actually resides in the ecology and evo bio dept. there, and GC Williams is an emeritus in that dept. as well.

    It’s been too long for them to remain silent any further.

  11. #11 afarensis
    March 17, 2007

    Orac – it was a rhetorical question. I have one going up tomorrow that I can convert to an Egnor Challange, so count me in.

  12. #12 Orac
    March 17, 2007

    Heh.

    Maybe it could be the next Buzz in the Blogosphere. ;-)

  13. #13 Torbj÷rn Larsson
    March 17, 2007

    Our battle against bacterial resistance to antibiotics depends on the study of the intricate molecular strategies bacteria use to fight antibiotics

    Seeing that Egnor believes in frontloaded mechanisms, it would be good to see him:

    - use a “pathetic level of detail” in describing them completely and where the description of them reside in the pathogens
    - explain why contingent mechanisms are seen
    - explain why new mechanisms are seen

    before we take his word on his “just so” stories.

  14. #14 MartinC
    March 18, 2007

    His recent Discovery Institute podcast interview about antibiotic resistance and evolution was particularly jaw dropping. He took up a position so extreme that even Kent Hovind – who has accepted bacterial ‘micro evolution’ in response to antibiotics – would have been on OUR side in a debate (now that is seriously scary considering Egnor is a senior Medic).

  15. #15 SteveF
    March 18, 2007

    It seems as if you good doctor is ignorant of a vast amount of literature. Here are a few examples (cross-posted to Mark’s blog) – the list is pretty much endless:

    Woodford, N. and Ellington, M.J. (2007) The emergence of antibiotic resistance by mutation. Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 13, 5-18.

    The emergence of mutations in nucleic acids is one of the major factors underlying evolution, providing the working material for natural selection. Most bacteria are haploid for the vast majority of their genes and, coupled with typically short generation times, this allows mutations to emerge and accumulate rapidly, and to effect significant phenotypic changes in what is perceived to be real-time. Not least among these phenotypic changes are those associated with antibiotic resistance. Mechanisms of horizontal gene spread among bacterial strains or species are often considered to be the main mediators of antibiotic resistance. However, mutational resistance has been invaluable in studies of bacterial genetics, and also has primary clinical importance in certain bacterial species, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Helicobacter pylori, or when considering resistance to particular antibiotics, especially to synthetic agents such as fluoroquinolones and oxazolidinones. In addition, mutation is essential for the continued evolution of acquired resistance genes and has, e.g., given rise to over 100 variants of the TEM family of beta-lactamases. Hypermutator strains of bacteria, which have mutations in genes affecting DNA repair and replication fidelity, have elevated mutation rates. Mutational resistance emerges de novo more readily in these hypermutable strains, and they also provide a suitable host background for the evolution of acquired resistance genes in vitro. In the clinical setting, hypermutator strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa have been isolated from the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients, but a more general role for hypermutators in the emergence of clinically relevant antibiotic resistance in a wider variety of bacterial pathogens has not yet been proven.

    Roumagnac, P. et al. (2006) Evolutionary history of Salmonella typhi. Science, 314, 1301-1304

    For microbial pathogens, phylogeographic differentiation seems to be relatively common. However, the neutral population structure of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi reflects the continued existence of ubiquitous haplotypes over millennia. In contrast, clinical use of fluoroquinolones has yielded at least 15 independent gyrA mutations within a decade and stimulated clonal expansion of haplotype H58 in Asia and Africa. Yet, antibiotic-sensitive strains and haplotypes other than H58 still persist despite selection for antibiotic resistance. Neutral evolution in Typhi appears to reflect the asymptomatic carrier state, and adaptive evolution depends on the rapid transmission of phenotypic changes through acute infections.

    Nilsson, A.I. et al. (2006) Reducing the fitness cost of antibiotic resistance by amplification of initiator tRNA genes. PNAS, 103, 6976-6981.

    Deformylase inhibitors belong to a novel antibiotic class that targets peptide deformylase, a bacterial enzyme that removes the formyl group from N-terminal methionine in nascent polypeptides. Using the bacterium Salmonella enterica, we isolated mutants with resistance toward the peptide deformylase inhibitor actinonin. Resistance mutations were identified in two genes that are required for the formylation of methionyl (Met) initiator tRNA (tRNAi)(fMet): the fmt gene encoding the enzyme methionyl-tRNA formyltransferase and the folD gene encoding the bifunctional enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate-dehydrogenase and -cyclohydrolase. In the absence of antibiotic, these resistance mutations conferred a fitness cost that was manifested as a reduced growth rate in laboratory medium and in mice. By serially passaging the low-fitness mutants in growth medium without antibiotic, the fitness costs could be partly ameliorated either by intragenic mutations in the fmt/folD genes or by extragenic compensatory mutations. Of the extragenically compensated fmt mutants, approximately one-third carried amplifications of the identical, tandemly repeated metZ and metW genes, encoding tRNAi. The increase in metZW gene copy number varied from 5- to 40-fold and was accompanied by a similar increase in tRNAi levels. The rise in tRNAi level compensated for the lack of methionyl-tRNA formyltransferase activity and allowed translation initiation to proceed with nonformylated methionyl tRNAi. Amplified units varied in size from 1.9 to 94 kbp. Suppression of deleterious mutations by gene amplification may be involved in the evolution of new gene functions.

    Courvalin, P. (2005) Antimicrobial drug resistance: “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future”. Emerging Infectious Disease, 11, 1503-1506.

    Evolution of bacteria towards resistance to antimicrobial drugs, including multidrug resistance, is unavoidable because it represents a particular aspect of the general evolution of bacteria that is unstoppable. Therefore, the only means of dealing with this situation is to delay the emergence and subsequent dissemination of resistant bacteria or resistance genes. Resistance to antimicrobial drugs in bacteria can result from mutations in housekeeping structural or regulatory genes. Alternatively, resistance can result from the horizontal acquisition of foreign genetic information. The 2 phenomena are not mutually exclusive and can be associated in the emergence and more efficient spread of resistance. This review discusses the predictable future of the relationship between antimicrobial drugs and bacteria.

    Denamur, E. et al. (2005) Intermediate mutation frequencies favor evolution of multidrug resistance in Escherichia coli. Genetics, 171, 825-827.

    In studying the interplay between mutation frequencies and antibiotic resistance among Escherichia coli natural isolates, we observed that modest modifications of mutation frequency may significantly influence the evolution of antibiotic resistance. The strains having intermediate mutation frequencies have significantly more antibiotic resistances than strains having low and high mutation frequencies.

  16. #16 Dr Edo McGowan
    March 18, 2007

    I would like to introduce a somewhat parallel avenue as a tangent to this discussion.

    The posting notes that——— “The FDA became concerned about the effect that this treatment method would have on another bacteria – Campylobacter. Campylobacter does not make birds sick, but it can make people sick. Specific mutations have been identified in Campylobacter that can make the bacteria resistant to fluoroquinolones, and other studies have shown that those mutations do not make the bacteria that have them less fit when fluoroquinolones are absent. The FDA believed (correctly) that adding those antibiotics to poultry water supplies acted as a selective pressure that favored antibiotic-resistant strains of Campylobacter, and, because the same class of antibiotic is used to treat Campylobacter infections in humans, ordered that the drugs be removed from the market.——- ”

    Interestingly, the current issue of EID (Vol 13, #3, Mar 2007 at p. 462) carries a paper by Mercado, et al, indicating that C. hominis was identified as a species capable of infecting the respiratory tract. So, whether or not one agrees with or disagrees with Dr. Egnor we do live in a Newtonian world where hard things bumping into hard things causes a reaction.

    Here is thus the reaction that I want to discuss because it may shed some light on all this. If C. hominus is shed to sewage and sewage sludge, aka biosolids, is then top-dressed onto irrigated pasture (a common practice) with cattle returning at 30 days (hardly enough washout time for many pathogens) then we are likely to see these microbes being introduced into the gut flora of cattle, thence potentially the respiratory tract. At slaughter, wash from these systems is often sewered.

    Also, to the extent that poultry waste is sewered (I’m not sure that this is the case), these may then be transferred to the mix of organisms that one typically finds within sewer plants. The rates of genetic exchange within sewage is impressive and well documented. It occurs between non-related species, genera, and even between kingdoms.

    Within the same EID, the Canadians (I like Canadian data because of the robustness of their base) are now showing that multi-drug resistant E. coli has gone to community acquired status, that women are 5 X more likely impacted, and because of the plasmid size, the therapeutic options are limited.

    Pruden, et al (see cites below) notes that antibiotic resistant genes (ARGs) represent a greatly understated public health risk. These are very small in size, generally missed by both wastewater and water plant treatment processes, robust enough to survive typical oxidation processes used in potable water, thus ending up in the potable water systems.

    Once ingested, the genetic material may be transferred to normal flora, and subsequently to pathogenic bacteria found in humans or animals, making later treatment with particular antibiotics ineffective. Theoretically, a single bit of this genetic information is sufficient to convert the gut flora into a lending library for antibiotic resistance. Also one must consider transfer of genetic information from these organisms to more robust organisms as highlighted by Sjolund et al. (2005) [2] indicating that resistance in the normal flora, which may last up to four-years, might contribute to increased resistance in higher-grade pathogens through interspecies transfer.

    These authors go on to note that since populations of the normal biota are large, this affords the chance for multiple and different resistant variants to develop. This thus enhances the risk for spread to populations of pathogens. Once transferred, the multiplication within the gut sees the eliminated feces going to sewage and there is then created a revolving door. The stuff gets back into the environment and background soil bacteria become lending libraries. These bacteria are thus able to colonize environmental niches, and animals, including humans.

    Vancomycin, a somewhat dangerous antibiotic, and until recently, reserved as he drug of last resort, is now given as a standard pre-op prophylactic because the background levels of CA MRSA are so high. This will soon see resistance developing and the genetic information that confers such resistance is carried on very small ARG packets.

    Furthermore, there is crossed resistance. For example, vancomycin resistance may be maintained by using macrolides [2]. Thus of the various question posed here, one might wonder— do we have a revolving door here? Are sewer plants: 1, compounding resistance issues that come back into hospitals, and 2, if so, with the now almost standardized use of vancomycin as a pre-op prophylactic, will we see the rapid demise of this drug along with the development of CA VRE and other serious pathogens? Thus, is CA MRSA a consequence of mixing through sewer plants derived from HA MRSA?

    This then brings me to the crux of this letter. There are now sufficient papers within the peer reviewed literature to demonstrate that current water quality standards fail to protect the community health. Further, there are published works demonstrating that antimicrobial resistance is generated within the current sewer processing and this is not eliminated but transferred into the environment once being discharged from these sewer plants.

    Pruden, et al [1] as well as Firl, et al, [3] and Kinney, [4] each separately note the pass-through of either the pathogens, their genetic material or the pharmaceuticals that may either initiate resistance or maintain such. These papers, in part, reiterate the findings of Kummerer, [5] and others [6]. These need to be eliminated and the question, how well does your system do so? Currently, the locals and states rely mainly on EPA’s determinations. These determinations are inaccurate. Title 22 of California is no better. Thus by maintaining that they are meeting standards, sewer plants are reluctant to shift off this position. They may claim that they are protecting the public health, but in reality they fail to do so. The standards upon which wastewater is regulated can not see many of the pathogens entering a sewer plant. Nakamura and Shirota [7] note that as the wastewater moves farther along within treatment, the greater the level of resistance and multi resistance. McGowan [8] has commented on this situation and noted that sewer plants are unable to effectively treat this material. Further this thus raises the question of whether or not CA & HA are actually from the same source as developed within the processing of sewage. Chitnis [9] and others have demonstrated that the levels of serious pathogens arising from hospitals are comparatively large and are sent to these plants.

    1. Pruden, A.; Pei, R.; Storteboom, H.; Carlson, K. H. Antibiotic Resistance Genes as Emerging Contaminants: Studies in Northern Colorado. Environ. Sci. Technol.; (Article); 2006; 40(23); 7445-7450.
    2. Sjolund et al. (2005) Emerging Infectious Diseases (Vol. 11, # 9, Sept 2005 @ p. 1389 et seq),
    3. Sara Firl. The Importance of Municipal Sewage Treatment in the Spread of Antibiotic Resistance, 106th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology
    May 21-25, 2006, Orlando, Florida
    4. Kinney CA, et al. Survey of Organic Wastewater Contaminants in Biosolids Destined for Land Application. ES&T 10.1021/es0603406 CCC, web pub 9/13/06.
    5. Kummerer K. Resistance in the environment. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2004 Aug;54(2):311-20. Epub 2004 Jun 23.
    6. Al-Ahmad A, Daschner FD, Kummerer K. Biodegradability of cefotiam, ciprofloxacin, meropenem, penicillin G, and sulfamethoxazole and inhibition of waste water bacteria. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 1999 Aug;37(2):158-63.
    7. Nakamura and S, Shirota H. Behavior of drug resistant fecal coliforms and R plasmids in a wastewater treatment plant] Nippon Koshu Eisei Zasshi 1990 Feb;37(2):83-90.
    8. McGowan, E. Comment on “Antibiotic Resistance Genes as Emerging Contaminants: Studies in Northern Colorado. ES&T. 27 Feb 07. http://pubs3.acs.org/acs/journals/toc.page?incoden=esthag&indecade=0&involume=0&inissue=0
    9. V. Chitnis, D. Chitnis, S. Patil, and Ravi Kant. Hospital effluent: A source of multiple drug-resistant bacteria Received 5 February 2000; revised accepted 28 July 2000
    Environ. Sci. Technol., 40 (23), 7445 -7450, 2006. 10.1021/es060413l S0013-936X(06)00413-5
    Web Release Date: August 15, 2006
    Copyright ┬ę 2006 American Chemical Society
    Antibiotic Resistance Genes as Emerging Contaminants: Studies in Northern Colorado
    Amy Pruden,* Ruoting Pei, Heather Storteboom, and Kenneth H. Carlson
    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523
    Received for review February 20, 2006
    Revised manuscript received July 10, 2006
    Accepted July 17, 2006
    Abstract:
    This study explores antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) as emerging environmental contaminants. The purpose of this study was to investigate the occurrence of ARGs in various environmental compartments in northern Colorado, including Cache La Poudre (Poudre) River sediments, irrigation ditches, dairy lagoons, and the effluents of wastewater recycling and drinking water treatment plants. Additionally, ARG concentrations in the Poudre River sediments were analyzed at three time points at five sites with varying levels of urban/agricultural impact and compared with two previously published time points. It was expected that ARG concentrations would be significantly higher in environments directly impacted by urban/agricultural activity than in pristine and lesser-impacted environments. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detection assays were applied to detect the presence/absence of several tetracycline and sulfonamide ARGs. Quantitative real-time PCR was used to further quantify two tetracycline ARGs (tet(W) and tet(O)) and two sulfonamide ARGs (sul(I) and sul(II)). The following trend was observed with respect to ARG concentrations (normalized to eubacterial 16S rRNA genes): dairy lagoon water > irrigation ditch water > urban/agriculturally impacted river sediments (p < 0.0001), except for sul(II), which was absent in ditch water. It was noted that tet(W) and tet(O) were also present in treated drinking water and recycled wastewater, suggesting that these are potential pathways for the spread of ARGs to and from humans. On the basis of this study, there is a need for environmental scientists and engineers to help address the issue of the spread of ARGs in the environment.

  17. #17 Faid
    March 18, 2007

    I suppose that, at this point, everyone’s waiting for Dr. Egnor to lose his patience and scream out what he [i]really[/i] thinks:

    “THAT’S JUST [b]MICRO[/b]EVOLUTION!”

    I’m sure he understands what such a statement would do to his credibility as a scientist, though, so he still constrains himself for the time being.

    But for how long?

  18. #18 Larry Fafarman
    March 18, 2007

    Why can’t scientists just see Darwinism as a kind of hokey concept that is not necessarily true but that is nonetheless sometimes useful in guiding research? As an engineer, I know that engineers often use analytical methods that are non-intuitive and often even counter-intuitive — e.g., imaginary numbers and complex-plane vectors are used in the analysis of AC circuits, and in the Joukowski transformation of conformal mapping, rotating cylinders are used to determine the aerodynamics of fixed-wing airfoils.

  19. #19 Larry Fafarman
    March 18, 2007

    Faid ( March 18, 2007 04:21 PM ) said,

    I suppose that, at this point, everyone’s waiting for Dr. Egnor to lose his patience and scream out what he [i]really[/i] thinks:

    “THAT’S JUST [b]MICRO[/b]EVOLUTION!”

    I’m sure he understands what such a statement would do to his credibility as a scientist, though, so he still constrains himself for the time being.

    Actually, the difference between microevolution and macroevolution is widely recognized, even among Darwinists.

    The Afarensis blog gives an example of the macroevolution concept in medical research — see
    http://scienceblogs.com/afarensis/2007/03/16/egnor_at_it_again/#more

  20. #20 THobbes
    March 18, 2007

    Great. Someone else with no appreciation for how evolution really works (or even how it’s defined–no one is a “Darwinist” anymore) sees fit to comment. Your comments do not speak highly of your understanding of evolutionary theory.

    Also, the link provided does not address macroevolutionary change as the fundamental driving force of the research, but evolutionary change, period. The debate over macroevolutionary/microevolutionary change is to some extent contrived (particularly the way that creationists define them), but even recognizing that the two are distinct, this is not the case here.

    Oh, and posting the same thing multiple times does not make it true, or any more relevant.

  21. #21 MarkP
    March 18, 2007

    Why can’t scientists just see Darwinism as a kind of hokey concept that is not necessarily true but that is nonetheless sometimes useful in guiding research?

    Because they aren’t motivated to treat a theory as less credible than it is merely because it offends other people’s religious sensibilities, even if those religious sensibilities are relabelled as “intelligent design”.

  22. #22 Larry Fafarman
    March 19, 2007

    THobbes ( March 18, 2007 07:48 PM ) said,

    Great. Someone else with no appreciation for how evolution really works (or even how it’s defined–no one is a “Darwinist” anymore) sees fit to comment.

    That’s par for the course — often one of the first things Darwinists do in responding to a critic of Darwinism is to accuse the critic of ignorance.

    Actually, the correct statement is that no one is just a plain “evolutionist” anymore, because that term has become virtually meaningless. The following kinds of people accept one or more of the principles of evolution theory, e.g., changes through time, common descent, and evolution driven solely by natural genetic variation and natural selection: atheistic evolutionists, theistic evolutionists, intelligent designists, punctuated equilibriumists, old-earth creationists, day-age creationists, “front-loaded” (“prescribed” to John A. Davison) evolutionists, and what-have-youists. To me, Darwinism is the traditional evolution theory that says that evolution was driven solely by natural genetic variation — mostly random mutation — and natural selection.

    Also, the link provided does not address macroevolutionary change as the fundamental driving force of the research, but evolutionary change, period.

    The link does discuss interspecies relationships, and those concern macroevolution.

    Oh, and posting the same thing multiple times does not make it true, or any more relevant.

    Oh, and this is the first time that I posted these ideas in this comment thread. So where’s the big repetition?

    MarkP ( March 18, 2007 10:25 PM ) said,

    “Why can’t scientists just see Darwinism as a kind of hokey concept that is not necessarily true but that is nonetheless sometimes useful in guiding research?”
    Because they aren’t motivated to treat a theory as less credible than it is merely because it offends other people’s religious sensibilities, even if those religious sensibilities are relabelled as “intelligent design”.

    This not just about religion but is also about science. For example, many scientists who consider themselves to be Darwinists are accepting “front-loaded” evolution, which is more compatible with ID than with traditional Darwinism. An example of “front-loaded” evolution is in the Panda’s Thumb article titled “RNA Designed to Evolve?” — note the word “designed.”

    The suppression of ID by means of censorship and persecution is unscholarly and anti-intellectual. It is noteworthy that of the law journal articles I have found that concern the Kitzmiller case (in this list of articles on my blog), most have criticized Judge Jones’ decision to rule on the scientific merits of ID.

  23. #23 Larry Fafarman
    March 19, 2007

    THobbes ( March 18, 2007 07:48 PM ) said,

    Great. Someone else with no appreciation for how evolution really works (or even how it’s defined–no one is a “Darwinist” anymore) sees fit to comment.

    That’s par for the course — often one of the first things Darwinists do in responding to a critic of Darwinism is to accuse the critic of ignorance.

    Actually, the correct statement is that no one is just a plain “evolutionist” anymore, because that term has become virtually meaningless. The following kinds of people accept one or more of the principles of evolution theory, e.g., changes through time, common descent, and evolution driven solely by natural genetic variation and natural selection: atheistic evolutionists, theistic evolutionists, intelligent designists, punctuated equilibriumists, old-earth creationists, day-age creationists, “front-loaded” (“prescribed” to John A. Davison) evolutionists, and what-have-youists. To me, Darwinism is the traditional evolution theory that says that evolution was driven solely by natural genetic variation — mostly random mutation — and natural selection.

    Also, the link provided does not address macroevolutionary change as the fundamental driving force of the research, but evolutionary change, period.

    The link does discuss interspecies relationships, and those concern macroevolution.

    Oh, and posting the same thing multiple times does not make it true, or any more relevant.

    Oh, and this is the first time that I posted these ideas in this comment thread. So where’s the big repetition?

    MarkP ( March 18, 2007 10:25 PM ) said,

    “Why can’t scientists just see Darwinism as a kind of hokey concept that is not necessarily true but that is nonetheless sometimes useful in guiding research?”
    Because they aren’t motivated to treat a theory as less credible than it is merely because it offends other people’s religious sensibilities, even if those religious sensibilities are relabelled as “intelligent design”.

    This not just about religion but is also about science. For example, many scientists who consider themselves to be Darwinists are accepting “front-loaded” evolution, which is more compatible with ID than with traditional Darwinism. An example of “front loaded” evolution is in the Panda’s Thumb article titled “RNA Designed to Evolve?” (note the word “designed”) see —
    http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/03/rna_designed_to.html

    The suppression of ID by means of censorship and persecution is unscholarly and anti-intellectual. It is noteworthy that of the law journal articles I have found that concern the Kitzmiller case (in the list labeled “Expert opinions about Kitzmiller” on my blog, which is linked to my name below), most have criticized Judge Jones’ decision to rule on the scientific merits of ID.

  24. #24 Raging Bee
    March 19, 2007

    The suppression of ID by means of censorship and persecution…

    Please provide specific examples of such “censorship and persecution.” And don’t even try to bring up Sternberg — his entire sob-story has already been proven a fabrication.

  25. #25 ThomasHobbes
    March 19, 2007

    But you are ignorant, Larry–willfully ignorant. It’s not as though well-meaning people haven’t laid out the facts about evolution in front of you many times before, and it’s not as though you haven’t dismissed them contemptuously without consideration. I would never call a man ignorant if I didn’t have a good reason for doing so. In this case, however, all that’s left is to call a spade a spade–your ignornace is ignorance, plain and simple.

    Good luck finding people who still subscribe to “Darwinism,” regardless of how you define it. The fact that you define it in a particular way doesn’t mean that people will be rushing to embrace it. Don’t hold your breath.

    And yes, macroevolution–interspecies relationships have variously been described as the purview of microevolution, macroevolution, and just plain evolution., depending on who you’re talking to and what you’re talking about. You can’t simply throw out a statement like, “It’s macroevolution!” and expect us to trust you that it’s accurate.

    Oh, and you’ve posted the first comment in other blogs as well (Afarensis, I believe). That was what I was referring to. It’s no more true over there than it is over here.

  26. #26 MarkP
    March 19, 2007

    This not just about religion but is also about science. For example, many scientists who consider themselves to be Darwinists are accepting “front-loaded” evolution, which is more compatible with ID than with traditional Darwinism.

    It will be about science when the creationists/IDers actually do some science. Until then it is religion.

    “Front-loaded evolution” is just another semantic ploy to sneak religious suppositions into science. It is vacuous on it’s face, and is compatible with ID only insofar as it is religion dressed up with sciency terms.

    Get with reality Larry, nobody has defended “traditional Darwinism” for decades.

  27. #27 Ginger Yellow
    March 19, 2007

    “I’m having a hard time seeing how that series of events could reasonably be described as anything other than an application of our understanding of evolution by natural selection to a potential public health problem.”

    Don’t be silly, Mike. That’s not evolution by natural selection. That’s a response to a molecular strategy executed by a bacterium. You see, the FDA knew that the clever bacteria would notice the antibiotic and change their genetic structure to compensate. It would then accelerate its reproduction, while the stupid bacteria would just die off. See, nothing to do with evolution at all.

  28. #28 Eamon Knight
    March 19, 2007

    So, is Egnor saying that the bacteria’s “molecular strategy” to evade antibiotics is intelligently designed? Fair enough, I suppose, but I’m not sure what it says about the putative designer — that he/she/it/they has an inordinate fondness for E.coli? (With large vertebrates being, presumably, designed as habitat for same).

  29. #29 Ed Darrell
    March 19, 2007

    The suppression of ID by means of censorship and persecution is unscholarly and anti-intellectual.

    Ooooooh, now there’s the pot calling the shiny copper teakettle black!

    No one is proposing censorship of ID. In fact, this entire thread is dedicated to getting ID to uncensor itself, to make a statement, to explain itself.

    Fafarman is probably one of those guys who thinks natural selection is random, too, having never figured out that “random” is the opposite of “selection.”

    In 18 years, we’ve had two ID papers published in juried journals. Neither paper proposes any problem with evolution theory, neither paper proposes an alternative hypothesis to evolution.

    No one has to censor ID. There’s nothing to say, and ID advocates refuse to say anything when given the virtual microphone, or when put under oath.

    Can we put that canard to bed, Larry? It’s ID advocates and other creationists who keep trying to censor evolution. Like that current nut in Tennessee’s state senate.

    Refusal to do experiments, publish results, and then call for school boards to censor evolution is unscholarly and anti-intellectual, as well as stupid. Please try to get the basic facts straight.

  30. #30 Ichthyic
    March 19, 2007

    Larry Farfromsane has a long history of posting various inaninities from holocaust revisionism to his very own theories on “falling stars”, and especially loves to obsess about the kitzmiller case.

    without going into detail (I will if asked), your best bet is simply not to engage him. He’s already been banned from 3 blogs that I know of, and likely many more.

    seriously, don’t waste your time.

  31. #31 Kristjan Wager
    March 19, 2007

    Please try to get the basic facts straight.

    Uhmmm….. Ed, you are talking to a guy who believes in Intelligent Design….

  32. #32 Kristjan Wager
    March 19, 2007

    Oh, and to give an idea of the dept of Larry’s stupidity, I can mention that he seems to think that not linking to someone is the same as censorship – this quote is from his blog:

    This is a new low on the scales of censorship and quote mining — trying to prevent readers from seeing the contexts of quotations or paraphrases.

    So if you, like MarkCC, don’t link to someone, you are not only censoring someone, you are actually trying to prevent people from seeing the original quote.

    This comes from a guy who belongs to a crowd of people who frequently quotemine and misquote others. In recent times, PZ Myers was misquoted by the DI, whom Larry seem to think are the shining example of how to conduct yourself.

  33. #33 Larry Fafarman
    March 20, 2007

    (http:// prefixes removed from links to prevent the comment from being filtered as spam)

    Raging Bee said,

    Please provide specific examples of such “censorship and persecution.”

    As for censorship, have you ever heard of Kitzmiller v. Dover? Yes, I know that was not really censorship, just like Of People and Pandas was not really a banned book. Remember that one? Wikipedia would not recognize Pandas as banned because the American Library Association did not. The ALA hocused-pocused that Judge Jones never expressly banned Pandas and that the book was only mentioned in a statement that was banned. Then I pointed out that the ALA rules say that a book that was only “challenged” as part of a curriculum qualifies for the ALA list of banned books and that the Kitzmiller complaint demanded that Pandas be removed from classrooms, and the ALA still would not budge. Then I pointed out that the ALA’s own records showed that the book was previously “challenged,” and the stubborn jackasses at the ALA still would not budge! Then the clowns at Wikipedia rewrote the whole banned-book article rather than concede that Pandas qualified as a banned book under the old article’s rules! Doublespeak has finally arrived.

    As for examples of persecution, some of those are here —
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2005/12/academic_persecution_of_scient_1.html

    And don’t even try to bring up Sternberg — his entire sob-story has already been proven a fabrication.

    Proven a fabrication? By whom? You mean Ed Brayton? Hahahaha — the guy who banned me permanently from his blog because he disagreed with my literal interpretation of a federal court rule? I wrote this limerick about him (I know it is normally not OK to insult people on this blog, but this limerick has poetic license) –

    There once was a blogger named Ed,
    who was known as a stupid fathead.
    The stuff he did write,
    on his blogging site,
    was like a balloon filled with lead.

    ThomasHobbes said,

    It’s not as though well-meaning people haven’t laid out the facts about evolution in front of you many times before, and it’s not as though you haven’t dismissed them contemptuously without consideration.

    I never dismiss anything without consideration (though I might dismiss some things contemptuously). And I have laid out the weaknesses of evolution in front of others many times and they have dismissed them.

    Oh, and you’ve posted the first comment in other blogs as well (Afarensis, I believe). That was what I was referring to.

    Oh, and you have never posted the same idea on different blogs?

    Mark P. says,

    “Front-loaded evolution” is just another semantic ploy to sneak religious suppositions into science.

    Are you saying that the evolution described in PvM’s article “RNA Designed to Evolve?” is not front-loaded evolution? Where does the term “designed” come from?

    Get with reality Larry, nobody has defended “traditional Darwinism” for decades.

    Yet people buy Darwinian knick-knacks like “I-love-Darwin” T-shirts and Darwin bobble-heads and celebrate Darwin Day with parties, sermons, Darwin look-alike contests, Darwin & Lincoln essay contests, parodies of Christmas carols, and what have you.

    Ed Darrell said,

    Fafarman is probably one of those guys who thinks natural selection is random, too, having never figured out that “random” is the opposite of “selection.”

    I never said that natural selection is random. Now you are putting words in my mouth.

    No one has to censor ID.

    Then why is it being done?

    t’s ID advocates and other creationists who keep trying to censor evolution. Like that current nut in Tennessee’s state senate.

    Hell, that Tennessee guy is a piker. Did you read about the guy in Georgia who claimed that evolution is part of an ancient Jewish religious cult and therefore should be banned from public schools? LOL As the saying goes, sometimes the best defense is an offense! See —
    im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2007/02/evolutionism-called-part-of-ancient.html

    Icky-thickheaded moaned,

    Larry Farfromsane has a long history of posting various inaninities from holocaust revisionism to his very own theories on “falling stars”, and especially loves to obsess about the kitzmiller case.

    You’re still kicking that dead horse about falling stars? I long ago accepted the explanation given on the meteors discussion group. As for my “inanities” about the holocaust, why don’t you come over to my blog and try to refute them? You are just a big bag of hot air.

    your best bet is simply not to engage him.

    Isn’t it amazing that like flies drawn to honey, people can’t resist the temptation to engage me?

    He’s already been banned from 3 blogs that I know of

    And guess who got me kicked off of Pharyngula by starting a flame war by gossiping about my private life?

    and likely many more.

    Only Darwinist bloggers are sufficiently intolerant to ban me.

    Kristjan Wager said,

    Uhmmm….. Ed, you are talking to a guy who believes in Intelligent Design….

    I never emphasized ID. On my own website, I emphasize non-ID criticisms of evolution, like criticisms concerning co-evolution.

    Kristjan Wager said,

    So if you, like MarkCC, don’t link to someone, you are not only censoring someone, you are actually trying to prevent people from seeing the original quote.

    You are making it hard for them to see the original quote because they have to find the website on their own. I will change “trying to prevent” to “making it hard.”

    PZ Myers was misquoted by the DI

    PZ was not misquoted — the original quote is right here –

    http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/06/a_new_recruit.html#comment-35130

    whom Larry seem to think are the shining example of how to conduct yourself.

    Wrong — I was very critical of the DI’s Casey Luskin’s refusal to grant Edward Humes, the author of “Monkey Girl,” a full interview.

  34. #34 MarkP
    March 20, 2007

    Larry: Are you saying that the evolution described in PvM’s article “RNA Designed to Evolve?” is not front-loaded evolution?

    What part of “just another semantic ploy to sneak religious suppositions into science” is unclear? When you have actual evidence that anything was designed by God, er, the Intelligent Designer ™, then by all means write up a paper in the peer-reviewed literature and collect your Nobel prize. Until then, it is just so much odious religious vapor.

    MarkP: Get with reality Larry, nobody has defended “traditional Darwinism” for decades.

    Larry: Yet people buy Darwinian knick-knacks like “I-love-Darwin” T-shirts and Darwin bobble-heads and celebrate Darwin Day with parties, sermons, Darwin look-alike contests, Darwin & Lincoln essay contests, parodies of Christmas carols, and what have you.

    Gee, one is a scientific theory, the other is a man. The scientific theory has undergone considerable revision since it was proposed by that man, as science is wont to do when new data arrives. Contrast this with religious conjectures like Intelligent Design, which are intransigent in the face of new and contradictory evidence.

    We who operate in a world of tentative knowledge and data have no trouble revering a man who made significant contributions to science while acknowledging that much of his theory has been revised or superceded. We revere Newton even though his theories were supplanted in many ways by Einstein’s. That is the nature of the scientific process, one foreign to supporters of ID like yourself, who see things in absolute all-or-nothing authoritarian terms, and not coincidentally, miss out on the, ahem, complexities of the real world.

  35. #35 Raging Bee
    March 20, 2007

    As for censorship, have you ever heard of Kitzmiller v. Dover? Yes, I know that was not really censorship…

    ‘Nuff said. Go to bed, Larry.

  36. #36 Raging Bee
    March 20, 2007

    As for why you were banned from Ed’s blog, Larry, it was because you pretended to be other people, including Ed and even your own brother, and your real brother had to step in and explain your mental-health problems, and Ed decided (and most of his readers agreed) not to let his blog become a place where an obvious mental cripple could embarrass himself and his family.

  37. #37 W. Kevin Vicklund
    March 20, 2007

    Are you saying that the evolution described in PvM’s article “RNA Designed to Evolve?” is not front-loaded evolution? Where does the term “designed” come from?

    That’s exactly what we, PvM, and the author of the paper in discussion are saying – that it is not front-loaded, but rather an emergent phenomenon of scale-free networks. The term “designed” was introduced by the Beavis-and-Butthead ID crowd, whose idea of research is “hey, Behe, he said ‘designed’ hehehe”.

  38. #38 Larry Fafarman
    March 20, 2007

    MarkP: Get with reality Larry, nobody has defended “traditional Darwinism” for decades.

    Larry: Yet people buy Darwinian knick-knacks like “I-love-Darwin” T-shirts and Darwin bobble-heads and celebrate Darwin Day with parties, sermons, Darwin look-alike contests, Darwin & Lincoln essay contests, parodies of Christmas carols, and what have you.
    MarkP: Gee, one is a scientific theory, the other is a man.

    If I were trying to avoid being called a “Darwinist,” I would not be doing those things.

    Raging Bee said,

    As for why you were banned from Ed’s blog, Larry, it was because you pretended to be other people

    Absolutely false. I was posting under my email prefix, LarryFarma, at the time, but I was not pretending to be other people on Ed’s blog. As I said, I was banned because I disagreed with Ed. I posted my answer to Ed on my own blog at –
    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2007/03/comments-censored-elsewhere-new-feature.html#c2753919959400074362

    Furthermore, Fake Dave is not my brother.

    Are you saying that the evolution described in PvM’s article “RNA Designed to Evolve?” is not front-loaded evolution? Where does the term “designed” come from?
    That’s exactly what we, PvM, and the author of the paper in discussion are saying — that it is not front-loaded, but rather an emergent phenomenon of scale-free networks.

    Well, PvM created confusion by never really answering the question that he raised in the title. And then the highly technical discussion over at Uncommon Descent added to the confusion. Anyway, it appears that RNA is “designed” in some way to evolve.

    Also, regarding my questions about meteors, a meteor shower is usually incorrectly or ambiguously defined as a bunch of meteors that “originate in,” radiate from,” or “emanate from” the constellation for which the shower is named. So I asked how this could be, and it was explained to me that a meteor shower is correctly defined as a bunch of meteor trails whose directions appear to radiate from the constellation, though the trails begin all over the sky. So my question generated a better definition of meteor showers. I was also wondering about the effect of gravity on the directions of meteors in a shower and was told that this effect already had a name, “zenith pull,” and that the effect is small. Of course, to you unscholarly, anti-intellectual Darwinists, I only asked some stupid questions.

  39. #39 MarkP
    March 20, 2007

    If I were trying to avoid being called a “Darwinist,” I would not be doing those things.

    Yes Larry, but you guys are getting slaughtered in this battle, and I’m not in the habit of taking suggestions on strategy from someone I’m beating. The biologists think your biology is crap, the mathematicians think your math is crap, the physicists think your physics is crap, and judging from the ass-whuppin you took in Dover, the judges think your law is crap too. Your school board electees usually last only as long as it takes for them to royally screw up, or get outed, and they are gone.

    So pardon me for not taking your opinions on these matters too seriously: smarter, more dedicated, more objective people disagree with you in droves, and that isn’t going to change any time soon. So just scream “conspiracy!” and go home, you know you want to.

  40. #40 Ichthyic
    March 21, 2007

    And guess who got me kicked off of Pharyngula by starting a flame war by gossiping about my private life?

    well, that’s nothing like what actually happened, but I’ll take credit for getting your baloon-head booted from Pharyngula.

    I must admit to a bit of schadenfreude; it was quite enjoyable watching you meltdown for the umpteenth time.

    In fact, I might get a kick out of watching it yet again.

    so might RB, evidently.

    Furthermore, Fake Dave is not my brother.

    LOL, that’s because, as we all know, “Fake Dave”, was YOU. It was pretty easy to tell when your real brother came into the thread to give you a backhand and ask for lenience from the rest of the posters there.

    are you SURE you want to revist that YET AGAIN?

    I’m sure the thread is still there, in all its glory…

    you really should take your brother’s advice to heart.

  41. #41 W. Kevin Vicklund
    March 21, 2007

    Correct. Fake Dave is not your brother, Fake Dave is you (and for some reason you believe that pointing out that you falsely posted as your brother on a public forum is gossiping about your personal life). The real Dave Fafarman, who is your brother, has been posting on the internet for over a decade from the same email he used when posting on Ed’s blog. That email is also associated with a Dave Fafarman who posted his home address and employment data. The home address associated with that work record matches up with the address associated with the email. That address also matches the home address of one David Fafarman who has a brother named Larry Fafarman who has a home address that matches Larry’s acknowledged address, according to certain genealogical records I had access to at the time. Furthermore, Dave has been in contact with me via that email and confirmed he is indeed Larry’s brother and did in fact post on Ed’s blog. So the only question that remains is why does Larry feel compelled to lie through his teeth over this issue, thereby damaging whatever iota of integrity he might have had remaining?

    As for his “literal interpretation” – he is trying to argue that you can get a case dismissed for “failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted” by explicitly admitting that relief can be granted for that claim!

    NB: offering the maximum relief that can be granted is an offer of judgement – see Rule 68 – and moves the case into the realm of Rule 12(b)(1) for the purposes of dismissal, as there is no longer a justicable “case or controversy” – the courts are unable to offer any greater relief – a fact I pointed out to Larry and he dismissed without consideration and which is supported by by both binding and persuasive precedent. Despite Larry’s wishful thinking, a party is never obligated to accept an out-of-court private offer except under Rule 68, which requires the offering party to pay reasonable attorney fees. But Larry is overlooking something – a claim for attorney fees is a claim for which relief can be granted, so his scheme is in fact NOT offering the maximum possible relief. Furthermore, if he tries to have the court order the other party to accept the offer, the offer becomes a court ordered settlement, which under Supreme Court binding precedent is sufficient to award attorney fees. Finally, the type of offer Larry is promoting can’t be made under Rule 68 once trial begins (or within ten days of the start of the trial). Any way you slice it, Larry’s scheme falls short of legal reality, and with good reason – the law was purposefully written to prevent the very abuse Larry is trying to promote.

  42. #42 Ichthyic
    March 21, 2007

    I swear, Kevin, it’s like Larry is Dracula and you are Van Helsing! How many times is it now that you have completely shredded his lies and misstatements about the Kitzmiller case?

    100? 200?

    heck it seemed like more than that on just PT even!

    Isn’t there the argumentative equivalent of some kind of silver stake or something to rid the world of this blood sucking menace once and for all?
    ;)

  43. #43 Larry Fafarman
    March 21, 2007

    Mark P said,

    If I were trying to avoid being called a “Darwinist,” I would not be doing those things.

    Yes Larry, but you guys are getting slaughtered in this battle, and I’m not in the habit of taking suggestions on strategy from someone I’m beating.

    You wish. I have never seen dogmatic Darwinism in as much trouble as it is today.

    Icky Thickhead said,

    I must admit to a bit of schadenfreude; it was quite enjoyable watching you meltdown for the umpteenth time.

    Schadenfreude for what? PZ’s ban attracted a lot of traffic to my blog.

    A quarrel that I had on another blog was not relevant to the discussion on PZ’s blog. You are just a gossiping scumbag. And you lousy Darwinists can sure dish it out but you sure as hell can’t take it.

    Kevin Vicklund wheezes,

    Furthermore, Dave has been in contact with me via that email and confirmed he is indeed Larry’s brother and did in fact post on Ed’s blog.

    Either you are a big liar or Fake Dave is taking you for a ride.

    Despite Larry’s wishful thinking, a party is never obligated to accept an out-of-court private offer except under Rule 68, which requires the offering party to pay reasonable attorney fees. But Larry is overlooking something — a claim for attorney fees is a claim for which relief can be granted, so his scheme is in fact NOT offering the maximum possible relief.

    Kevin the pettifogger strikes again. An attorney fee award is not even an issue in many court cases because under the so-called “American system” each party often pays its own way (civil rights cases are an exception because a law provides for attorney fee awards in those cases). Also, the Supreme Court ruled in Buckhannon Board & Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources, 532 U.S. 598 (2001) that a claim that the lawsuit caused the defendant’s voluntary cessation of the challenged action does not entitle the plaintiff to an attorney fee award. And what if the out-of-court settlement offer includes an offer to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees and court costs? What then?

    Furthermore, if he tries to have the court order the other party to accept the offer, the offer becomes a court ordered settlement, which under Supreme Court binding precedent is sufficient to award attorney fees.

    The court cannot order the plaintiff to accept the offer. All I am saying is that the court can dismiss the case if the plaintiff refuses an offer that would provide relief equal to or greater than the maximum relief that could be granted by the court.

    Finally, the type of offer Larry is promoting can’t be made under Rule 68 once trial begins (or within ten days of the start of the trial).

    Offers and acceptances of out-of-court settlements at any time in the course of litigation happen all the time — and these settlements often include the payment of attorney fees and court costs.

    Anyway, the big issue here is not who was right, myself or Ed Brayton — the big issue is that Ed kicked me off his blog permanently because I disagreed with him.

  44. #44 Raging Bee
    March 21, 2007

    PZ’s ban attracted a lot of traffic to my blog.

    It also attracted a lot of explicit refutations — none of Larry’s posts that I’ve read have escaped being smacked down and debunked. (His own brother smacked down his post about that Holocaust-denial confab in Iran.) But for Larry, it’s not about saying anything useful or relevant — it’s all about getting attention, which is the only power Larry will ever have in a real world he never understood.

    Anyway, the big issue here is not who was right…

    Larry says that regularly — as regularly as he’s proven wrong. The fact that he doesn’t consider whether he’s right a “big issue” speaks volumes about his mindset.

    …the big issue is that Ed kicked me off his blog permanently because I disagreed with him.

    No, the big issue is that Larry is a lying crank with serious reality issues, who has nothing better to do than drone on endlessly about irrelevant minutiae long after he’s been proven wrong on the central issues.

    The weak mind is like a microscope: it magnifies small things and can’t handle big ones.

  45. #45 MarkP
    March 21, 2007

    I have never seen dogmatic Darwinism in as much trouble as it is today.

    “Darwinism”, as has been repeatedly pointed out, has been dead for almost a century. Gone, finito. Darwin himself would need years of study to get abreast of the latest in evolutionary theory. This fact lays waste to your projection of science as dogmatic. Dogma, like creationism/intelligent design, doesn’t change as science does.

  46. #46 Raging Bee
    March 21, 2007

    I had to do a double-take with this one:

    Either you are a big liar or Fake Dave is taking you for a ride.

    Um…Larry, the only “Fake Dave” I know of is YOU, posting as your brother. Are you now suggesting that a boogeyman of your own imagining is somehow influencing my actions?

    I really shouldn’t make fun of the mentally ill, but this is both hilarious and pathetic.

  47. #47 Larry Fafarman
    March 21, 2007

    Raging S.O.Bee moaned,

    PZ’s ban attracted a lot of traffic to my blog.

    It also attracted a lot of explicit refutations — none of Larry’s posts that I’ve read have escaped being smacked down and debunked.

    That’s just bullshit.

    (His own brother smacked down his post about that Holocaust-denial confab in Iran.)

    Fake Dave is not my brother — and why should I pay any particular attention to what my real brother thinks, anyway?

    Also, there was nothing to “smack down” in that post — I just reported the facts.

    Anyway, the big issue here is not who was right…

    Larry says that regularly — as regularly as he’s proven wrong. The fact that he doesn’t consider whether he’s right a “big issue” speaks volumes about his mindset.

    …the big issue is that Ed kicked me off his blog permanently because I disagreed with him.

    No, the big issue is that Larry is a lying crank with serious reality issues, who has nothing better to do than drone on endlessly about irrelevant minutiae long after he’s been proven wrong on the central issues.

    Ed only made an unsupported assertion — I backed up my claims with facts and logic. The readers never got to see my rebuttal of Ed’s comment because Ed refused to post my rebuttal.

    I really shouldn’t make fun of the mentally ill

    The mentally ill ones are those who fabricated the Fake Dave hoax.

    MarkP. said,

    I have never seen dogmatic Darwinism in as much trouble as it is today.

    “Darwinism”, as has been repeatedly pointed out, has been dead for almost a century.

    Some of the Darwinian dogmas are still with us — for example, opposition to “front-loaded” (“prescribed” to John A. Davison) evolution. And worship of Darwin is bigger than ever.

  48. #48 Raging Bee
    March 21, 2007

    And worship of Darwin is bigger than ever.

    BUT…

    I have never seen dogmatic Darwinism in as much trouble as it is today.

    O-o-o-kay…

  49. #49 Raging Bee
    March 21, 2007

    Ed only made an unsupported assertion — I backed up my claims with facts and logic.

    And Ed — and many others on his and other blogs — carefully refuted your logic, and showed how your facts failed to support your claims.

    The readers never got to see my rebuttal of Ed’s comment because Ed refused to post my rebuttal.

    “The readers” got to see DOZENS of posts by you, interminably repeating the same old oft-refuted claims, before your brother explained your mental-health problems and Ed finally gave up on treating you as a sane adult. Stop pretending you never got a fair hearing — you’re not fooling anyone anywhere.

  50. #50 MarkP
    March 21, 2007

    Some of the Darwinian dogmas are still with us — for example, opposition to “front-loaded” (“prescribed” to John A. Davison) evolution. And worship of Darwin is bigger than ever.

    Opposition to “front loaded” evolution is based on the fact that it is not a scientific proposition. It’s religion dressed up as science. Even if Darwin had never existed, that idea would still be resisted. But thanks for showing how vapid your claim of Darwin dogma is.

    Worship? Everyone you would accuse of that would gladly tell you, in detail, and at length, all the things Darwin either got wrong or was ignorant of. If that is “worship” to you, you have a very strange idea of what worship is.

  51. #51 Larry Fafarman
    March 21, 2007

    Raging S.O.Bee said,

    Ed only made an unsupported assertion — I backed up my claims with facts and logic.
    And Ed — and many others on his and other blogs — carefully refuted your logic, and showed how your facts failed to support your claims.

    Here is how Ed’s friend Dan “carefully refuted” my logic:

    Larry, I’m the friend who teaches constitutional law. I’ve stayed out of this until now, because all I can really add is “Larry, you’re a fucking idiot.” I’m not going to engage in a protracted discussion with you, Larry, because you are so plainly impervious to the truth that it is pointless. You know nothing about constitutional law. You know nothing about the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. You know nothing about Rule 12(b)(6). You know nothing about summary judgment. You know nothing about mootness. You know nothing about voluntary cessation. You are, in short, a know nothing with a computer and Internet access. If a law student made the argument you made above regarding a consent decree and summary judgment on a final exam, the student would fail the exam. And no, Larry, we’re not even talking “well, there are arguments on both sides” wrong. Or “there is a good faith argument to be made” wrong. We’re talking mind-numbing, babbling idiot, mouth-breathing, you-couldn’t find-your-ass-with-two-hands-and-a-map WRONG. So wrong, it’s painful to read. So wrong, I feel like I need to scrub my brain after reading one of your incoherent ramblings.

    – from http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/04/answering_fafarman_on_the_dove.php#comment-68126

    A very scholarly reply.

    If a law student made the argument I made, he probably would have been told to go to the head of the class.

    “The readers” got to see DOZENS of posts by you, interminably repeating the same old oft-refuted claims,

    My argument about FRCP Rule 12 was brand new — I had just introduced it.

    Raging S.O.Bee, you are so full of living crap that it is coming out of your ears. You just lie, lie, and lie, and then lie some more.

    MarkP said,

    Some of the Darwinian dogmas are still with us — for example, opposition to “front-loaded” (“prescribed” to John A. Davison) evolution. And worship of Darwin is bigger than ever.
    Opposition to “front loaded” evolution is based on the fact that it is not a scientific proposition. It’s religion dressed up as science.

    How is Darwinism less religious than front-loaded evolution? Both Darwinism and front-loaded evolution are based on the idea that the origin of life is unexplained and that evolution then proceeded without guidance. And PvM’s idea that RNA was “designed” to evolve is a front-loaded evolution idea. If you are a true Darwinist, then your mind is closed to the idea of front-loaded evolution.

    Also, I heard that Darwinian dogma led to a misinterpretation of the origin and purpose of “junk DNA.”

    Worship? Everyone you would accuse of that would gladly tell you, in detail, and at length, all the things Darwin either got wrong or was ignorant of. If that is “worship” to you, you have a very strange idea of what worship is.

    Is there an Einstein Day? Kelvin Day? Maxwell Day? Is there any other big celebration of a scientist’s birthday?

  52. #52 MarkP
    March 21, 2007

    Larry said: How is Darwinism less religious than front-loaded evolution?

    “Darwinism” posited no magical beings due to either lack of evidence, or definitions of which place the question outside the realm of science, whichever is the case. For that matter neither does the modern theory of evolution, which is far more relevant to the discussion here. “Front-loaded” evolution does, thereby making it religious.

    Both Darwinism and front-loaded evolution are based on the idea that the origin of life is unexplained and that evolution then proceeded without guidance.

    False. Evolutionary theory deals with the history of life once it began. Abiogenesis is the field that studies the beginning of life. If the abiogenesis problem were solved today, it would not effect evolutionary theory one whit. So once again Larry, it is painfully obvious you haven’t even the most basic understanding of the subject here.

    And PvM’s idea that RNA was “designed” to evolve is a front-loaded evolution idea.

    The point of PvM’s post was to show how stupid the “front-loaded” argument is! Do you even read these articles you link to, or do you just link to anything containing the words “front-loading”?

    Also, I heard that Darwinian dogma led to a misinterpretation of the origin and purpose of “junk DNA.”

    You are talking to yourself again Larry. Careful doing that in public.

    Is there an Einstein Day? Kelvin Day? Maxwell Day? Is there any other big celebration of a scientist’s birthday?

    There is a celebration of George Washington’s birthday. Do we worship him too? Ever see anyone kneel down and raise their arms in Darwin’s name?

    I’m sorry Darwin’s theory upset your little world Larry, really I am. But stamping your foot right next to the kid that doesn’t want to accept the nonexistence of Santa Claus isn’t gonna get the job done.

  53. #53 Larry Fafarman
    March 22, 2007

    MarkP said,

    Larry said: How is Darwinism less religious than front-loaded evolution?

    “Darwinism” posited no magical beings due to either lack of evidence, or definitions of which place the question outside the realm of science, whichever is the case.

    When asked how life originated, the Darwinists answer, “goddidit.” When asked how the evolutionary mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection were created, the Darwinists answer, “goddidit.” When asked how RM + NS could have created all the complexity and diversity that we see in organisms today, the Darwinists answer, “goddidit.”

    And PvM’s idea that RNA was “designed” to evolve is a front-loaded evolution idea.

    The point of PvM’s post was to show how stupid the “front-loaded” argument is!

    PvM’s article did not say much of anything.

    Is there an Einstein Day? Kelvin Day? Maxwell Day? Is there any other big celebration of a scientist’s birthday?

    There is a celebration of George Washington’s birthday.

    There is no longer a George Washington’s birthday — there is just a Presidents’ Day. It is mainly just a day off from work. I am not aware of any parties, sermons, etc. in celebration of Presidents’ Day.

    I’m sorry Darwin’s theory upset your little world Larry, really I am.

    I’m sorry too. Really I am. And I’m also sorry that anti-Darwinism upset your little world.

  54. #54 Raging Bee
    March 22, 2007

    Is there an Einstein Day? Kelvin Day? Maxwell Day? Is there any other big celebration of a scientist’s birthday?

    Larry has always been amazingly hung up on the idea that the “Darwinists” he so despizes might be celebrating something, and having a good time, without regard to Larry’s opinions. This is probably due to the fact that Larry’s own life is so empty and miserable that all he can do is seethe with resentment at those whose lives are more enjoyable than his. Of such stuff is fundamentalist intolerance made.

  55. #55 W. Kevin Vicklund
    March 22, 2007

    Larry pettifogs thusly:

    Is there an Einstein Day? Kelvin Day? Maxwell Day? Is there any other big celebration of a scientist’s birthday?

    Birthdays of various famous people or entities that I have celebrated (most of the scientists on the list were celebrated during my college years):

    Einstein Day (with the physics college)
    Buckminster Fuller Day (the structural engineering college)
    ??? (I can’t remember the ME college’s celebration)
    Maxwell Day
    Tesla Day
    Westinghouse Day
    Edison Day
    MLK, Jr. Day
    Robert Burns Day
    Independence Day
    Washington Day
    Lincoln Day
    Presidents Day
    St. Patrick Day

    and at least a dozen more that escape me. And yes, I’m an electrical engineer.

  56. #56 Ginger Yellow
    March 22, 2007

    “Is there an Einstein Day?”

    Yes. Several.
    And of course there’s a Fara-day.

  57. #57 Larry Fafarman
    March 22, 2007

    Kevin Vicklund said,

    Birthdays of various famous people or entities that I have celebrated (most of the scientists on the list were celebrated during my college years):

    None of these celebrations approach Darwin Day as a shameless pagan bacchanalia.

    And yes, I’m an electrical engineer.

    Huh! And I thought that you were a pettifogging attorney.

  58. #58 MarkP
    March 22, 2007

    Larry projected thusly: When asked how life originated, the Darwinists answer, “goddidit.” When asked how the evolutionary mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection were created, the Darwinists answer, “goddidit.” When asked how RM + NS could have created all the complexity and diversity that we see in organisms today, the Darwinists answer, “goddidit.”

    Thanks for making it clear beyond any doubt that you are either making this up as you go, lying, or truly mentally ill. I’m done. Take care of yourself Larry.

  59. #59 Ginger Yellow
    March 22, 2007

    “None of these celebrations approach Darwin Day as a shameless pagan bacchanalia.”

    Ha! If only Darwin Day were a shameless pagan bacchanal, I might celebrate it. Sadly it’s nothing of the sort.

  60. #60 Raging Bee
    March 23, 2007

    None of these celebrations approach Darwin Day as a shameless pagan bacchanalia.

    Who told you that, Larry — the same “Christian” propagandists who told you that witches have sex with the Devil, Jews eat Christian babies, Spongebob and Tinky Winky are gay, and the Hololcuast didn’t really happen? With intel like that, it’s no wonder you’re such a pathetic mess.

  61. #61 Martin Wagner
    March 25, 2007

    None of these celebrations approach Darwin Day as a shameless pagan bacchanalia.

    ROTFL! Now I’ve read the funniest thing from an evolution denier ever!

    If anyone wants to see how we in Austin celebrated this “shameless bacchanalia,” click here. Be careful! What will all the strippers, golden calves, and fossil sex, it’s definitely not work-safe!

    Larry is truly in need of the guys in the white coats with the butterfly nets. Whatta wackjob!

  62. #62 W. Kevin Vicklund
    March 27, 2007

    Sorry it took so long to respond. Unlike Larry, I’m gainfully employed as an engineer, and I’ve been working overtime the past week to get a project out the door today. Plus a death in the family.

    Despite Larry’s wishful thinking, a party is never obligated to accept an out-of-court private offer except under Rule 68, which requires the offering party to pay reasonable attorney fees. But Larry is overlooking something — a claim for attorney fees is a claim for which relief can be granted, so his scheme is in fact NOT offering the maximum possible relief.

    Kevin the pettifogger strikes again. An attorney fee award is not even an issue in many court cases because under the so-called “American system” each party often pays its own way (civil rights cases are an exception because a law provides for attorney fee awards in those cases).

    Nice piece of pettifoggery, Larry. Whether other cases provide for attorney fees is trivial and irrelevant to this case (pettifoggery: making unscrupulous and trivial legal arguments). But to be more specific than I really need to be, Rule 68 requires the offering party to pay costs, and there is well-established Supreme Court and Circuit Court precedents that when statutes permit attorney fees to be collected as costs, Rule 68 requires attorney fees to be included in the costs. For this argument, it is sufficient to note that attorney fees would be required by Rule 68.

    Also, the Supreme Court ruled in Buckhannon Board & Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources, 532 U.S. 598 (2001) that a claim that the lawsuit caused the defendant’s voluntary cessation of the challenged action does not entitle the plaintiff to an attorney fee award.

    A holding that only applies to cases in which damages are not claimed. In fact, Buckhannon clearly held that claims for damages can not moot a case:

    And petitioners´┐Ż fear of mischievous defendants only materializes in claims for equitable relief, for so long as the plaintiff has a cause of action for damages, a defendant´┐Żs change in conduct will not moot the case.10 Even then, it is not clear how often courts will find a case mooted: ´┐ŻIt is well settled that a defendant´┐Żs voluntary cessation of a challenged practice does not deprive a federal court of its power to determine the legality of the practice´┐Ż unless it is ´┐Żabsolutely clear that the allegedly wrongful behavior could not reasonably be expected to recur.´┐Ż Friends of Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 189 (2000) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). If a case is not found to be moot, and the plaintiff later procures an enforceable judgment, the court may of course award attorney´┐Żs fees.

    Damages include nominal damages (and remember that Buckhannon cites that Farrar v. Hobby established that even nominal damages is enough to award attorney fees), and therefore this case could not be mooted on voluntary cessation. And notice the “absolutely clear” bit that the wrongful behavior would not recur? The events surrounding their election made it crystal clear that a significant portion of the defendant community was determined to continue the wrongful behavior if given the chance. The new board would be perjuring themselves to even make that claim. The only way to guarantee that the behavior would not recur would be to make it enforceable through a judgement or a court-ordered consent decree. And Buckhannon had something to say about that as well:

    These decisions, taken together, establish that enforceable judgments on the merits and court-ordered consent decrees create the ´┐Żmaterial alteration of the legal relationship of the parties´┐Ż necessary to permit an award of attorney´┐Żs fees.

    As a reminder, here is what Larry originally wrote on Ed’s blog:

    So I think that Judge Jones would have had grounds to declare the case moot if the new board had (1) rescinded the ID policy and (2) offered to sign a consent decree to not re-instate it.

    So the case wouldn’t be mooted under voluntary cessation due to the nature of the elections, it couldn’t be mooted due to the nominal damages claim, and the consent decree would be sufficient to award attorney fees. The new board simply had no way to avoid paying attorney fees (temporarily leaving aside the issue of refusal Larry brought up), and thus the only “benefit” they would have derived would have been to avoid an opinion being issued, which clearly would have been against their campaign goals and interests.

    And what if the out-of-court settlement offer includes an offer to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees and court costs? What then?

    First off, I’d like to note this is more pettifoggery by Larry – the whole point of his argument was to avoid paying attorney fees. I’ll treat this in more detail lower down, but I’ll pose a question in response. What purpose would offering full relief including attorney fees fulfill? The reason for encouraging early settlement is to prevent the case from going to trial and unnecessarily depleting the resources of the court. But the trial was already concluded, and only a couple of briefs in reply to the amici curiae remained, meaning that the attorney fees remaining to be incurred would be negligible. Since they could not avoid attorney fees, and the cost of making the post-trial motion would only add to the attorney fees, the only outcome would be to prevent a ruling from being issued. How would this benefit the new board?

    Furthermore, if he tries to have the court order the other party to accept the offer, the offer becomes a court ordered settlement, which under Supreme Court binding precedent is sufficient to award attorney fees.

    The court cannot order the plaintiff to accept the offer. All I am saying is that the court can dismiss the case if the plaintiff refuses an offer that would provide relief equal to or greater than the maximum relief that could be granted by the court.

    I challenge you to find a precedent that actually supports your contention. The actual precedent is that the if defendant makes an offer that provides maximum or greater relief and the plaintiff refuses, the case is dismissed and a judgement is entered in favor of the plaintiff, including the award of costs. Therefore, under Buckhannon, attorney fees are awarded. This of course is predicated on the offer being made as a timely Rule 68 Offer of Judgement. If it is not made as a Rule 68 Offer of Judgement, the court can do nothing. Also, in Evans v. Jeff, the Supreme Court noted that an attorney’s decision on whether to accept an offer that gives greater relief than his class action clients would receive via trial but didn’t allow for attorney fees was merely an ethical decision (the issue was whether the district court was obligated to award attorney fees or refuse to approve the settlement because of the waiver – the Supremes said no because it was an ethical decision on the part of the attorney whether or not to accept the offer). While it is only dicta, it is a strong indication that a defendant can not force a dismissal by offering maximum relief to the plaintiffs but withholding attorney fees from plaintiffs counsel.

    And again, I note that the scheme you were promoting did not, in fact, offer “relief greater than or equal to the maximum relief that could be granted by the court” since it did not include attorney fees, which were a legitimate claim for which relief could be granted.

    Finally, the type of offer Larry is promoting can’t be made under Rule 68 once trial begins (or within ten days of the start of the trial).

    Offers and acceptances of out-of-court settlements at any time in the course of litigation happen all the time — and these settlements often include the payment of attorney fees and court costs.

    More pettifoggery from Larry. Of course offers can be made and accepted at any time. But I said defendants can’t make an offer under Rule 68 once trial begins. And Rule 68 is the only route by which defendants can force penalties on plaintiffs for refusing an offer (except for certain statutory allowances that do not apply to this case). Again, the purpose of encouraging settlements is to avoid trial.

    And again, I point out that unless the new board was able to avoid paying attorney fees, it was in their best interest to obtain a ruling. First, it would be a violation of an explicit campaign promise to not get a ruling – one week before the elections, they announced in a public meeting that they would wait until after Jones issued a ruling before deciding whether to rescind the policy. Second, not obtaining a ruling or a binding court order (ie, triggering the Buckhannon requirements) meant that they couldn’t guarantee that the ID policy wouldn’t be re-instated after future elections. Third, if they did try Larry’s scheme and failed, they would lose negotiating power to reduce the amount of fees – and they knew that they would fail, and thus they would violate part of their implicit campaign, to reduce the cost of the case as much as possible.

    Anyway, the big issue here is not who was right, myself or Ed Brayton — the big issue is that Ed kicked me off his blog permanently because I disagreed with him.

    No, he kicked you off for pettifoggery.

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