The jokes write themselves.

Oklahoma City Engineering Club invited ‘Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education‘ big-wig Vic Hutchison at their next meeting. It was actually kind of nice– Biologists make fun of the engineer–>Creationist connection (aka the Salem Hypothesis), and here in OKC we have an engineering group happy to hear about biology! They even had Dr. Fincke speak a while back! Yay!

Yeah, you know that couldnt last.

The Creationists in OKC Engineering Club finally had enough. They threw a tantrum, and Vic was ‘disinvited’ from speaking.

I regret to inform you that I must cancel your talk at the Oklahoma City Engineering Club for May 3, 2009. The officers have determined that it is not their desire to have controversial subjects presented at our luncheons. After your talk was announced, another member insisted on having a rebuttal speaker on intelligent design.

Gawd I feel so awful for the pro-science folks in their group. You know they have to be mortified… Not just not inviting another ‘evolander’, they actually had to disinvite Vic.

As to the Creationists: BAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWW LOL! Sorry science wont conform to your ignorance like an engineering club. So sad *sarcastic frowny face*

Comments

  1. #1 John Danley
    May 3, 2009

    Engineers and lawyers have been some of the worst culprits of miseducation, misdirection and foisting biased ignorance on gullible public audiences.

    Shame on teh tards.

  2. #2 John Danley
    May 3, 2009

    I should preface by saying creotard-specific white collar professionals and “professors”.

  3. #3 SVN
    May 3, 2009

    I never heard of the Salem hypothesis until now. I noticed that an abnormal amount of engineers were god-fearing sheeple but thought it was just an Oklahoma thing. That explains a lot of things…like my ex…damn.

  4. #4 Comrade PhysioProf
    May 3, 2009

    You’d think engineers would have a decent grip on motherfucking reality. I guess not.

  5. #5 Darek
    May 3, 2009

    I’m curious as to how many bio-engineers belong to that club. Or were they disinvited as well?

  6. #6 The Curmudgeon
    May 3, 2009

    Among the creationists I track while watching various state controversies over the issue, I notice an amazing number of dentists (Texas, Florida, and Kansas) active on the ID side. If you look at the Discoveroids’ list of “scientists” who are “skeptical” of evolution, there are a load of political science types (who imagine that they can re-design the world) and also various types of computer scientists. Several physicians too. I guess even a Neanderthal can deliver a baby or lance a boil without knowing evolution.

  7. #7 Uncephalized
    May 3, 2009

    The Salem Hypothesis makes me sad, because it casts unfortunate aspersions on my chosen career. I don’t wanna get labeled creationist just cuz I wanna design fun machines and stuff!

  8. #8 a lurker
    May 3, 2009

    “You’d think engineers would have a decent grip on motherfucking reality. I guess not.”

    Why? Most engineers probably at most have had a single freshman course in biology and have probably forgotten most of it. And I suspect that there are still quite a few intro biology classes that don’t emphasize evolution like they should and get lost trying to teach a tad from a zillion subfields from biology instead of actually understanding the field as a whole.

    Of course Salem notwithstanding, I think we can be sure that the percentage of creationists among engineers is much smaller than the public at large–just as it is for medical doctors.

  9. #9 D. C. Sessions
    May 3, 2009

    You’d think engineers would have a decent grip on motherfucking reality. I guess not.

    It’s the way things work. People who can do math and logic go into engineering, and those who can’t settle for biology instead.

  10. #10 Mind Over Splatter
    May 3, 2009

    Heaven (at least engineering clubs) forbid, that college students broaden their horizons or be exposed to new or controversial types of thought.

    “those who can’t settle for biology instead.” . . .waiting for the day I see a vaccene for f-ing anything come from an engeneer. I’d trust one to fix my AC, but I’d be more likely to trust a Boy Scout with a broken long bone.

  11. #11 Jim Thomerson
    May 3, 2009

    I would expect very few engineers have to have had a university level biology course. Engineering cirricula are generally very rigidly structured and do not include biology. The same is generally true of physics, chemistry, math and computer science cirricula.

  12. #12 Tyler DiPietro
    May 3, 2009

    It’s sort of sad to see that creationists have established themselves as such a vocal minority in the engineering community. They make the field as a whole seem ignorant, retrograde and second-rate.

    “Engineering cirricula are generally very rigidly structured and do not include biology. The same is generally true of physics, chemistry, math and computer science cirricula.”

    Which just goes back to the fact that people shouldn’t assume expertise in fields outside of their specialty. I wouldn’t expect my views on evolution to be authoritative in comparison to a practicing biologist, any more than I’d expect a practicing biologist to properly analyze the average-case efficiency of heapsort.

  13. #13 Egaeus
    May 3, 2009

    I’ve also noticed that in my experience, engineers seem more prone to religion, pseudoscience, and/or conservatism. I thought that perhaps it was just coincidence, but I guess the problem is more widespread than I thought. You wouldn’t believe the idiocy I’ve heard from engineers who don’t believe in global warming.

    My hypothesis is that it’s due to the nature of engineering education. You have to be just as intelligent to make it through engineering as through science. You learn about science, and you learn lots of interesting results, and can make lots of cool stuff with those results, but you never really learn how to do science. So while you’re probably reasonably smart, you never had that real science education, and assume that your simplistic view of whatever science field must be right, and that your strawman arguments (and arguments from ignorance, etc.) against it are reasonable.

    Of course, I’m also tired of idiots in “scientific” blogs’ comments talking out of their asses about how their cell phones couldn’t possibly affect an airplane’s electronics when they have no idea what they’re talking about, so it works both ways. Being so incompetent that you don’t know that you’re incompetent is a problem for everyone outside their field(s) of expertise.

  14. #14 BioinfoTools
    May 3, 2009

    I just have to stand up for the cross-disciplinary types! –

    From post 9: People who can do math and logic go into engineering, and those who can’t settle for biology instead.

    From post 12: any more than I’d expect a practicing biologist to properly analyze the average-case efficiency of heapsort.

    Don’t forget there are scientists who mix disciplines ;-)

    Any good computational biologist will have looked at heapsort in detail. (Count me in. I developed a faster heapsort while trying to improve the software I was developing during my Ph.D. in computational structural biology, but didn’t realise the algorithm was novel until the same algorithm was published later…)

    Any epidemiologist, phylogeneticist, or a number of other disciplines will know both mathematics and biology.

    There are biologists with a distinctly physical (as in ‘of physics’) bent, too, e.g. structural biology (NMR spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, STEM researchers, etc., etc.

  15. #15 D. C. Sessions
    May 3, 2009

    I would expect very few engineers have to have had a university level biology course. Engineering cirricula are generally very rigidly structured and do not include biology. The same is generally true of physics, chemistry, math and computer science cirricula.

    True, it comes at a price. Those subjects have a minimum graduation requirement of 132 hours, and all of the out-of-major electives are dedicated to humanities and social sciences to satisfy the “balance” concerns [1]. The prerequisite chain is totally inflexible, too — you’re practically handed a class schedule for the whole four years, and any deviation costs you time to graduate.

    Adding another science class means piling on classload that doesn’t get anywhere towards graduation. So don’t expect many to do it. Those of us who did paid a premium for it one way or another.

    That said, many of us do. Which is why it’s so — curious — to see people who go ballistic over race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. stereotypes so flagrantly spouting them here.

    [1] Which makes the fact that it’s possible to completely avoid algebra in other majors kind of curious — but I digress.

  16. #16 Egaeus
    May 3, 2009

    Yes, it’s true that most engineers do not take biology. My EE science required curriculm consisted of Chem 1, Physics 1 and 2, and a certain number of math/science electives. Biology wasn’t high on the popularity list. Regardless of having taken biology or not, you don’t really learn science in lower division classes, but mainly facts and results.

  17. #17 D. C. Sessions
    May 3, 2009

    BioinfoTools, the lab called. Your sarcasmometer is overdue for recalibration.

  18. #18 Karen
    May 3, 2009

    As a former engineer (soon-to-be-geologist) and the spouse of an engineer, I’ve noticed a tendency for engineers to think they are polymaths. Most will happily form an opinion on any subject, regardless of whether he is sufficiently educated in that subject, and most other engineers will, too. The good ones will change their opinion based on exposure to contradictory data. The bad ones will dig in their heels and stick to their uninformed guns.

  19. #19 vhutchison
    May 3, 2009

    Perhaps, being trained to be designers, ID appeals to many engineers. The Salem Hypothesis has some validity – just look at the number of engineers on the DI’s list of the 700 so-called ‘scientists’ that support ID. AT OU the College of Engineering has at least four faculty members that are creotards – more than any other college. But, there is a YEC in physics (high energy specialty) and one (now retired) in statistics.

    However, let’s not paint all engineers as being of closed minds, etc. My son is a civil engineer and thinks much like I do. Thus, I can not condemn them all, even after being the one expelled!

  20. #20 Tyler DiPietro
    May 3, 2009

    RE: BioinfoTools,

    I certainly didn’t mean to give the impression that cross-disciplinary types didn’t exist, sorry if I did. What I meant to convey was that those who lack sufficient training in a given field shouldn’t assume their opinions on said field’s subject matter are well-informed.

    Computational biologists aside, most computer scientists are not well-trained in biology. For the most part I’d trust them to tell me about the asymptotic behavior of an algorithm or expound the advantages of static typing for compiler performance, I wouldn’t trust them to judge the merits of evolutionary theory.

  21. #21 Jason
    May 3, 2009

    I have a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. In all my countless hours of study, including two separate undergraduate degrees, I can tell you I never took a college level biology course. My last course in biology was as a sophomore in high school.

    Regardless of having taken biology or not, you don’t really learn science in lower division classes, but mainly facts and results.

    I can personally attest to this statement. I took several years of physics and chemistry, but mostly thought of science as a collection of truths and facts that was to be learned. I didn’t put a lot of thought into HOW we came to know such things. For sure I did experiments in lab, but I never thought of it like I was trying to investigate the world, instead it was more like just observing what we know to be true. It didn’t help that my other undergraduate degree was mathematics, where things are derived more then they are experimentally investigated.

    It wasn’t until several years after school that I had a eureka moment about investigating the world via the scientific method. And the authors to be thanked for this revelation where John R. Taylor and Chris D. Zafiratos in their work, Modern Physics for Scientists and Engineers. After spending several pages deriving the time independent Schrodinger equation, the authors note “Like us, Schrodinger had no way to prove that his equation was correct. All he could do was argue that the equation seemed reasonable and that its predictions should be tested against experiment” (193) (emphasis mine)

  22. #22 Sean McCorkle
    May 3, 2009

    @ 9

  23. #23 melior
    May 4, 2009

    waiting for the day I see a vaccene for f-ing anything come from an engeneer. I’d trust one to fix my AC, but I’d be more likely to trust a Boy Scout with a broken long bone.

    Careful there, don’t let that jerking knee hit you in the chin! The Salem hypothesis says less about engineers than it does about creationists.

    As for that broken leg, you might be surprised to learn that biomedical implants are designed by… wait for it… biomedical engineers.

  24. #24 Sean McCorkle
    May 4, 2009

    (sorry for the previous empty post -hit submit accidentally)

    @9 – I switched from scientific computing in physics to bioinformatics about a decade ago, and before that I did a PhD in astrophysics, so I’ve crossed two “scientific culture” boundaries. I came from fields that looked (and still to some degree continue to look) down their noses at biologists because of the lack of mathematical prediction and modeling.

    I will say this: biologists, especially the ones I work with, are the best logicians I know. They need to have the inference skills of Sherlock Holmes. They need to be able to sift through and critically evaluate enormous amounts of data from countless experiments of their own and countless publications in numerous journals, and understand the very complex and different conditions under which the experiments were made, and be able to filter out unreliable or inconsistent data. By comparison, physicists have it easy – a few calculations consistent with observations is often sufficient for publication. That biological understanding is more qualitative than quantitative makes the analysis much more difficult and means biologists have to work very hard to make their case.

  25. #25 William Wallace
    May 4, 2009

    Engineers have to take the hard sciences. This explains why so many engineers are creationists.

  26. #26 Who Cares
    May 4, 2009

    I’m an engineer (that is the literal translation of the title I got at graduation, the English certificate calls it a bachelor without the of science part). And I have to agree with Jason in post 21, you get facts and such but not a lot of the underlying theory.
    I got lucky that I got snapped up by a prof (with enough other titles to make a title dropper cry) who wanted to start his own business. I informally learned the scientific method and the underlying theories for his invention thanks to his ingrained habit of teaching and explaining.

  27. #27 JP
    May 4, 2009

    As many here have said, we engineers get a lot of facts thrown at us, but not much science. Doesn’t help that bio isn’t a core field for engineers and few take it.

    That said, many engineers actually practice the scientific method while debugging/fixing things, but they don’t realize it. Although I’m just a engineering grad student, I try to teach the use of the scientific method in the debugging/fixing process. It’s amazing how much more effective students become once they start forming their own hypotheses as to why something doesn’t work and how it might be made to work.

    As for William, I’m afraid the ‘hard’ sciences don’t touch on evolution at all. However, physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, etc., point to a universe orders of magnitude older than 6000 years.

    Plus, I’m happy to report that engineers are starting to respect evolution. There are a number of interesting examples of evolutionary algorithms resulting in novel solutions to engineering problems. The Evolvable Systems Group at NASA Ames is a leader in this area.

  28. #28 Sean McCorkle
    May 4, 2009

    Engineers have to take the hard sciences. This explains why so many engineers are creationists.

    Biology is a hard science.

  29. #29 Albatrossity
    May 4, 2009

    Very amusing. I wonder how I managed a PhD in Biology (emphasis in biophysics and biochemistry) without learning any math.

    The lesson here is not to compare rigor in educational tracks, but to understand that ALL educations are incomplete. I understand that, and would not tell an engineer how to design a bridge, or a circuit, or a biofermentor. I’d appreciate it greatly if they would quite telling me how to model evolution, and particularly if they would understand the nature of consilience in the evidence in support of evolution. Stick to what you know, otherwise your ignorance is showing for the whole world to see.

  30. #30 Ian Musgrave
    May 4, 2009

    William Wallace wrote @25

    Engineers have to take the hard sciences. This explains why so many engineers are creationists.

    Well, to echo Sean’s comment, Biology is one of the so called “hard sciences” (because of a high reliance on quantifiable experimental data), and our Public Health students certainly think it is hard. A typical biology student will have had to have done at least the minimum of physics and chemistry that engineers do (I teach both Science/Biology students and Engineers). I vividly remember my first year chemistry theory class, which was almost pure quantum mechanics (which I loved, it made chemistry make sense).

    But of course, “taking the hard sciences” is not the same as being a scientist, being able to calculate a thermodynamic equation is not the same as being able to formulate a hypothesis, design an experiment to test it, and interpret the results of those tests. Let alone critically evaluate scientific results far outside your own field. This is not to imply engineers are unable or unlikely to think critically, the engineers I teach certainly are (but none of them are creationists). But like most people, engineers (excluding of course, research engineers) generally do not approach the world with the same critical mindset that research scientists do.

    If by “not hard sciences” you mean “little advanced maths”, think again. Most biology involves significant maths (much to the distress of the students who thought they could avoid maths by doing biology).

    From the intricacies of gene distribution in population dynamics, to the maths of ecosystems, to epidemiology, to the horrible non-linear equations or drug receptor interactions (my speciality – random association ternary state models anyone?) and non-linear pharmacokinetics. And anyone who’s ever dealt seriously with single nucleotide polymorphisms and disease deals with a level of maths way above the norm (and these people are the lest likely to be creationists).

    We, who deal with biology day to day, design, carry out and interpret experiments, make predictions based on numerical biology, know that creationism is rubbish.

    And Sean’s comment at @24, about needing the inference skills of Sherlock Holmes. I spent the last part of today trying to work out why a certain fluorescent chemical is not loading into our target cells, when all the chemistry says it will. Still haven’t solved the puzzle, but I will.

  31. #31 techskeptic
    May 4, 2009

    It does make me sad, to hear that this happens so often that there is an internet law on it. I have a PhD in engineering and I am hardly a creationist, although I do admit, one of the other PhDs in my group was a YEC. Nice guy….now he works for the CIA, cute huh?

    I have to agree with Tyler DiPietro, as far as I can tell its truly a vocal minority.

  32. #32 nate
    May 4, 2009

    An engineering undergrad program is prolly the most taxing of all undergrad programs, however its almost more of a vo-tech education rather than a true university experience because its so focused. Other than the few gen ed classes everything is engineering from day 1 of your freshman year.

    We studied mucho Chemistry, Physics, and Math but nothing to do with life sciences for sure. While I’ll agree that the labs were more about confirming things we already knew, I personally feel like I learned how science works and to respect the methodology. Working as a designer for years its pretty obvious that most good designs evolve from trial and error over time and that adaptation of old designs to work for new situations is the bread and butter of engineering. Evolution makes simple elegant sense to me.

    Engineers are an arrogant bunch for sure. We NEED to know how things work. Perhaps we’re not taught to value the unknowns enough, be open-minded about new ideas, or even how to be skeptical enough.

  33. #33 Sean McCorkle
    May 4, 2009

    Just to clarify my remark about biology being more qualitative than quantitative, I wasn’t trying to imply that biologists are non-mathematical or less-mathematical, not by any means. Rather, the sheer complexity of modeling even the simplest biological systems make anything physicists, engineers, astrophysicists look trivial in comparison.

    Biological problems are INCREDIBLY complicated. One numerical model of a bacteriophage (T7) that I had seen involved something like 700 detailed rate-balance equations, and that was almost a decade ago. I’m sure its grown in complexity since then. Only in the last few years have folks started attempting the MUCH more complicated systems of cells because of the availability of supercomputers. That kind of work is only getting off the ground now.

    Before cellular systems can be modeled, the metabolic pathway maps have to be determined. In eukaryotic cells most of the pathways are unknown. There are thousands and thousands of genes whose functions are still a mystery. To establish just ONE new connection between two proteins, can take months or years of careful experimentation and involves understanding the system under a host of contextual conditions (cell type, environment, state etc.). The folks that sit down and isolate and work out, through reductionist reasoning, simple interactions out of these strongly connected, complex webs certainly have my respect.

  34. #34 Nemo
    May 4, 2009

    Osama bin Laden.

    Hard-core religious nut.

    Engineer.

    Dunno if he’s actually a creationist, though.

  35. #35 Militant Agnostic
    May 4, 2009

    I am baffled by engineers who have fallen for “Intelligent Design”. You have to be either totally clueless about anatomy and biology or not know good design if it bit you on the butt to think the vertabrate eye, human spine or the human knee are intelligently designed. We engineers don’t take any biology past high school, but these thimgs are obvious to any owner/operator of a human body.

    I use evolutionary algorithms to match oil/gas well pressure buildups. Just like biological evolution they result in non optimum solutions if they don’t start from the “right” place.

  36. #36 Charlie
    May 4, 2009

    ;3;

    As an engineering student, this saddens me. I had to take a biomaterials unit and it’s fairly obvious looking at structures that the stuff must have come from an evolutionary process (then again, I had a UK education and evolution and all sorts was included at a detailed level at highschool). And I’ve been an atheist for all of my life, so this shit just makes me angry.

    (Bio problems are very complicated. Just get down to which bacteria is needed for ‘biological cement’ to bond to bones for example, just a whole bunch of factors needed to get to understand what order the process needed to be in).

  37. #37 Prometheus
    May 4, 2009

    There are fields of engineering that allow for engineers to sustain their childhood conditioning but even those areas require a great deal of jamming your fingers in your ears and screaming lalalalalalala.

    There is far too much geology in petroleum engineering, too much Combinatorial Chemistry in chemical engineering too much biology in environmental engineering etc..

    You almost never see this kind of nonsense in any forensic engineering because if P.E.s aren’t obsessive autodidacts it becomes too easy for an opposing witness to find blind spots.

    The guys with their fingers in their ears tend to be “bulb runners” (the M.I.T. Whirlwind and its clones employed five hundred tubes that were run to the edge of failure before each set of calculations so one early computer engineer had the miserable task of running around with a shopping cart and finding/replacing all the burn-outs) they do very essential but tedious calculations and repetitive test to fail experiments. The other engineers don’t f*ck with their crazy because they need their data/work.

    These guys tend to crawl up the academic ladder by slow and steady perseverance. Ed Blick wound up as an associate dean that way and he is probably the young earther behind this latest tard fiasco.

    As for the first comment to wit:

    “Engineers and lawyers have been some of the worst culprits of misseducation, misdirection and foisting biased ignorance on gullible public audiences.

    Shame on teh tards.”

    What’s the line…..fool me twice?

    The greater scientific community has shown a rather snide distaste for playing to the crowd.

    In the meantime the fetus fetishising fundies use legalisms to do what they do best i.e. persuade.

    Not smart.

    This is what is great about ERV. She is works her butt off to make beautiful, persuasive and accessible arguments to ordinary folks when called upon to do so without some bullshit caveat to massage the neck of whatever Presbyterian minister is flogging “Two different kinds of truth” to make his green fees.

    Even our beloved Dawkins blows when it comes to being an effective legalist.

    He caught it after remonstration by the crowd, but once mused about criminalizing bad ideas on this forum…….oooooops.

  38. #38 William Wallace
    May 4, 2009

    . . .waiting for the day I see a [vaccine] for f-ing anything come from an [engineer].

    Waiting for the day that PZ Myers designs an MRI, doppler effect ultrasound, EKG, pacemaker, avionic control system, etc., etc.

  39. #39 Eric Saveau
    May 4, 2009

    #38 Wacky Wally-
    Analogy fail. As fucking usual with you. PZ Myers isn’t going around claiming that MRI’s are a fraud, that ultrasounds are a hoax, that EKG’s don’t report meaningful data, that pacemakers cause heart problems, or that avionic control systems are damaging to aircraft. Nor are any other evolutionary biologists or biology professors that I’m aware of. Even for you, this act of projection is horrifically pathetic.

  40. #40 William Wallace
    May 4, 2009

    PZ Myers isn’t going around claiming that MRI’s are a fraud, that ultrasounds are a hoax, that EKG’s don’t report meaningful data, that pacemakers cause heart problems, or that avionic control systems are damaging to aircraft. Nor are any other evolutionary biologists or biology professors that I’m aware of.

    ???

    First, all of these devices are potentially dangerous.

    Second, even the FDA advises, with only the weakest basis in science, against memento sonograms of unborn children.

    Third, their operation is based on easily demonstrated and reproduced science. I can take you to the lab and spend as much time as necessary until you’re able to replicate the results. Contrast to macro evolution, which cannot be reproduced in the lab*.

    Fourth, their operation doesn’t require atheists to give up their atheism, or religious people to give up theirs.

    Fifth, engineers do not demand schools teach Maxwell only.

    But, worst of all for your retort, the response was to the ~engineers don’t make vaccines, i.e., save lives.

    And on that count, it was entirely valid. Engineers, even creationist engineers, do work that saves lives. Abbie’s work has potential, but let’s not denigrate the engineer’s contributions to life extending technology.

    *Well, maybe if you count plants, bacteria, or viruses, you might be able to demonstrate some sufficiently watered down definition of speciation.

  41. #41 Tyler DiPietro
    May 5, 2009

    “Well, maybe if you count plants, bacteria, or viruses, you might be able to demonstrate some sufficiently watered down definition of speciation.”

    WTF does this even mean, “watered down definition of speciation”? Speciation that isn’t when populations vary to the point of reproductive incompatibility?

  42. #42 nate
    May 5, 2009

    Perhaps engineers are just the only ones in the creationist’s camp that are arrogant enough to proclaim their profession as some kind of evidence to their authority. The great majority of creationists are from the uneducated hoards whereas people with education in science itself aren’t too likely to pitch a tent with them. That only leaves a few disciplines with “sciency” educations that are not unlikely to be creationists. A sales clerk certainly isn’t going to make a point to announce their profession when promoting I.D. as a legitimate educational pursuit.

    Nate B.S.M.E. ;)

  43. #43 Ian Musgrave
    May 5, 2009

    The EKG was designed by physiologists (biologists), not engineers. The Pacemaker was invented independently by a cardiologist (biologist) and an engineer who had retrained as a biological researcher and was working on hypothermia. Ultrasound for medical imaging was developed by biologists, not engineers. MRI was invented by a medical doctor and research scientist building on the work of a chemist and physicist.

    So, William Wallace’s major examples are actually inventions of biologists (although one had engineering training), not engineers.

  44. #44 Prometheus
    May 5, 2009

    Ian Musgrave wrote at #43

    “The EKG was designed by physiologists (biologists), not engineers.”

    Not exactly. It was the culmination of the work of many physiologists and physicists (working in the area now described as electrical engineering).

    The same with pacemakers

    The Lidwell and Booth pacemaker owed origin to a physicist/physiologist( electrical engineer) pairing

    ….and the Hopps/Bigelow

    ….and the Bakken/Lillehei

    …..and the Elmqvist/Senning, the Greatbach/……………..you get the idea.

    As for the sonogram, it is just a medical application of topographic sonar so I guess you can give credit to the U.S. war department R and D division for that.

    I think the whole debate is ludicrous (consider the source).

    I have tried to find the fundamental disconnect that makes William Wallace come up with such strange knee jerks and what makes his attempts to explicate the history of science so poor because they seem to come from the same place.

    I suspect it is the proposition that science is better informed by the disproved hypothesis than the confirmed one. It seems to irk him and he treats it as a twisted indictment or indicator of a fundamental failing. I know many people with that same approach. Their greatest objection to evolutionary theory and science in general, is a lack of (for want of a better word) tidiness.

  45. #45 Eric Saveau
    May 5, 2009

    Ahhhh, Wally, Wally, Wally…

    ???

    Strangely, this inarticulate admission of non-comprehension is the most intelligent thing you’ve ever posted.

    First, all of these devices are potentially dangerous.

    Gosh, really? That never occurred to me. And I’m sure it never occurred to Abbie or any of her colleagues who, after all, only deal with perfectly harmless things like mutating infectious pathogens.

    Second, even the FDA advises, with only the weakest basis in science, against memento sonograms of unborn children.

    And…?

    Third, their operation is based on easily demonstrated and reproduced science.

    Like biology.

    I can take you to the lab and spend as much time as necessary until you’re able to replicate the results. Contrast to macro evolution, which cannot be reproduced in the lab follows from easy-to-understand population genetics and is observed in nature.

    Fixed that for you.

    Fourth, their operation doesn’t require atheists to give up their atheism, or religious people to give up theirs.

    The same is true of understanding evolution, as, for example, Ken Miller demonstrates. And…?

    Fifth, engineers do not demand schools teach Maxwell only.

    Just as learning biology doesn’t mean pretending that nothing has been learned since Darwin published his findings in 1859. But you already know that, of course. You really need some new material, Wally; this isn’t even a good try.

    But, worst of all for your retort, the response was to the ~engineers don’t make vaccines, i.e., save lives.

    Worst of all for your feeble attempt at a comeback, no one was pretending otherwise. See below –

    And on that count, it was entirely valid. Engineers, even creationist engineers, do work that saves lives. Abbie’s work has potential, but let’s not denigrate the engineer’s contributions to life extending technology.

    This is a wonderful illustration of fail. I appreciate the contributions of dentists to our lives; they make a very positive impact, even life-saving sometimes. But when Lenny Horowitz, a dentist, gets criticized for using his credentials to justify conspiracy-mongering over HIV the criticism is valid. Dentistry, however valuable, is not a sufficient base of expertise from which to dismiss the whole of virology, epidemiology, and microbiology. Similarly, claiming expertise in engineering is insufficient to dismiss the findings of generations of biologists. See Heinlein.

    And all this points right back to my retort above.

    Well, maybe if you count plants, bacteria, or viruses, you might be able to demonstrate some sufficiently watered down definition of speciation

    The only “watering down” with regard to biology is being done by creationists to justify their self-serving lies.

  46. #46 Eric Saveau
    May 5, 2009

    Argh. Strike-through tag fail. Apologies, everyone.

  47. #47 Ian Musgrave
    May 5, 2009

    Prometheus at #44 wrote:

    Not exactly. It was the culmination of the work of many physiologists and physicists

    This is true (and also chemists, don’t forget the chemists). Any invention relies on a large amount of predecessor work. But the point is that Williams account of these inventions being engineer derived or initiated is wrong (I know that was also your point, you wished to point out the complexity of any invention chain, this also applies to the bionic ear, invented by biologists, but at the end of a long chain of physical and biological discovery).

    Us biologists can be a handy bunch though, don’t underestimate us. In my time I’ve designed and built an EKG for mouse hearts and various flow cell chambers (anyone working in old style electrophysiology had to build their own amplifiers, I just used someone else’s).

  48. #48 Sean McCorkle
    May 5, 2009

    I can’t quote any figures but in terms of sheer numbers of prevented deaths I think one type of engineer wins out: not electrical engineers but rather civil engineers, specifically those who originated city sewage systems. That’s got to have saved many many millions of lives, far more than saved by pacemakers, EKGs, MRIs etc.

    It would be interesting to see numerical estimates. I bet that the biologists who developed vaccines and treatments for formerly widespread diseases like smallpox and cholera have saved an even greater number of lives.

  49. #49 Ian Musgrave
    May 6, 2009

    I can’t quote any figures but in terms of sheer numbers of prevented deaths I think one type of engineer wins out: not electrical engineers but rather civil engineers, specifically those who originated city sewage systems.

    This is correct, the provision of clean drinking water, has saved far more lives than any pacemaker or such.

    Still, it took a medical doctor, John Snow, to remove the Broad Street pump handle, and demonstrate that cholera was transmitted by infected water (he did this by statistics, rather than removing the pump handle).

    To convert this finding into effect sewerage and clean water delivery systems required Doctors, primary research biologists, chemists and engineers to all work together. Physiologist, physicians, research scientists (biological chemical etc) and engineers of all stripes are at their best when working as equal partners.

  50. #50 Prometheus
    May 6, 2009

    My sister the environmental engineer/hydrologist and father the reverse osmosis desalinization chemical engineer will be pleased to know in what high regard their water work is held.

    I think the most remarkable advances are often interdisciplinary, particularly when they culminate in a single individual (DaVinci’s engineering by day and anatomical exploration by night springs to mind).

    That being resolved, we return to the real problem that may be posed if we accept the Salem Hypothesis.

    To what extent does a disconnect from the most essential proposition of biology, by some engineers, impede or prevent the kind of astounding advances that are the result of coordination between biological science and engineering?

    To what extent is “evolution denialism” by solid talented engineers like Ed Blick a wrench in the works?

    Can their denialism be regarded as ethical if it impedes efforts to improve the human condition?

  51. #51 Bob
    May 6, 2009

    Well, it’s certainly good to get solid verifiable evidence that all Oklahomans are chittering feebleminded death cultists. Surely the grand mal ignoramus James Inhofe, hatemonger extraordinaire Sally Kern, Oral, Anal, Vestigial and all the other gibbering flat-earthers in the Roberts clan, and at least one thin-skinned Bible-whomper in the OKC Engineering Club are representative of the entire population of the lopsided football-crazed dustbowl state immortalized by Steinbeck. Ah, Okies – is there not a group more worthy of Tornado Alley?

    Congratulations – you’re the proud winner of the Greg Laden Memorial Overgeneralizing Asshat Award! (Contact Matt Nisbet for a quote on custom framing.)

    No matter how you slice it, every subset of humanity has its share of cranks. Biologists have their Michael Behe, physicists have their Frank Tipler, mathemeticians have their David Berlinski and William Dembski, nude models have their Jenny McCarthy, actors have their Tom Cruise, painters have their Adolf Hitler, and Republicans have dibs on the rest of crankdom.

    But here’s a question for you and I hope you take some time to think it through: is it really helpful to alienate a group of people who are for the most part on your side, i.e. the side of reason, empirical reality, and physical naturalism, all for some cheap shots, sour grapes, and a fleeting bit of catharsis?

    Ever wonder why we always seem to be playing defense to offensive Creationists? Maybe because any time there might be a time for building a coalition and developing mutual lines of support across disciplines, somebody has to take the easy, cheap, and oft-inaccurate shot at those stupid Texans/Kansans/Okies/Southerners/Americans/engineers/people-who-are-not-me.

    When Greg (and to a lesser extent PZ) lets loose the occasional “Texans sure are a pack of TARDs – haw, haw!”, it makes me question whether (as a Texan, at the time) I should donate a few bucks to Al Franken or El Tinklenberg (vs Michele Bachmann) during the general election (Texas was a lost cause and there was no sense in putting good money after bad.) Why should I give two shits about someone else’s problem – even when I’m ostensibly fighting the same fight for the same reasons – when all I get from them is a bunch of insults-by-association? Give me a reason not to flip off you and the rest of those fighting the good fight in Oklahoma the next time Kern or Inhofe or another of your seemingly-endless supply of Christian troglodytes decides to drop a turd in the punchbowl of legislation or public education. You are not helping.

    You know what might help, though? It seems like the majority of engineers in the OKC Engineering Club are in favor of actual science but unfortunately their spineless leader acquiesced to a vocal minority of ignorant douchebag(s.) Maybe someone ought to see how prevalent Creationism is within the OKC Engineering Club, maybe by trying to make some friendly contacts and getting the inside scoop. Maybe some bad press can force the issue – should the OKC Engineering Club go on record as kowtowing to a discredited vocal minority rather than standing for established science and good science education, the bedrock of the engineering profession? What does that say about the quality of Oklahoma engineers? Would they rather be popular than right?

    Engineers don’t generally do well under the spotlight of public scrutiny, at least outside their narrow field of expertise, and even then. There seems to be one guy (not all OKCEC members) who is responsible for this decision. Make his (and only his) life uncomfortable to reinforce that it’s not appropriate to put science behind offending the professionally offended class (i.e. biblical literalists.) Drive a wedge between the general membership and the few influential whiners.

    And if it turns out that the majority of the OKCEC members are mouthbreathing Jesus freaks, well, point this out too. Loudly. Fuck ‘em. Faith-based decision-making has no place in the realm of structural mechanics, fire protection, radiological analysis, and a thousand other engineering specialties that society depends on for protection. I seriously doubt that’s the case given that the invitation to Hutchison was made at all, but I’ll entertain the possibility that more than a tiny fraction of engineers or Oklahomans are that stupid.

  52. #52 Sean McCorkle
    May 7, 2009

    … required Doctors, primary research biologists, chemists and engineers to all work together. Physiologist, physicians, research scientists (biological chemical etc) and engineers of all stripes are at their best when working as equal partners.

    an important lesson – bravo Ian. We can be so much more than the sum of our parts.

  53. #53 Eric Saveau
    May 7, 2009

    Bob,

    You need to re-read the post. Abbie never made the sweeping generalizations you attribute to her. She specifically stated that it was her understanding that a creationist subset of the engineers’ club hijacked the the group sufficiently to bend its agenda to their will, and expressed sympathy for the pro-science membership of said group. It has been further noted in this thread that there is a statistical tendency among engineers to buy into creationist BS, but not that this means all engineers are creationists.

    Your concern, however, is noted.

  54. #54 slpage
    May 11, 2009

    “People who can do math and logic go into engineering, and those who can’t settle for biology instead.”

    I always get a kick out of this sort of sentiment, for it shows:
    1. An ignorance of the typical biology curriculum (ours, for example, requires math up through calculus and statistics and a year of physics)
    2. An over reliance on the perceived import of “logic”
    3. An over reliance on the perceived import of math
    4. The arrogance inculcated into engineering students during their education

    I’ve had the odd engineering student in my bio classes over the years. Most have been more concerned with their grade than understanding the material, and one was more concerned that one of my test questions may not have been grammatically correct than he was about doing poorly on the exam. Logic and math.

  55. #55 slpage
    May 11, 2009

    “Engineering cirricula are generally very rigidly structured and do not include biology. The same is generally true of physics, chemistry, math and computer science cirricula. ”

    That is true. The mechanical engineering curriculum here, for example, has no free electives at all. The electrical/computer engineering curriculum has spotrs for 3 electives, but all are designated as humanities/social science.

    The curricula come across as very vocationally-oriented.

  56. #56 scarab
    May 11, 2009

    Any mechanical engineers in the room?

    Could you have a look at this and say what you think of it?

    http://www.trueorigin.org/knee.asp

    To me this is an arch building problem and has the usual arch building answer: use a scaffold.

    Knees have a tough joint capsule that is sufficient to hold the knee together until other structures evolve. We see the intermediate structures in other animals.

    Here’s an article from 1938 that shows a suggested evolutionary sequence.

    But I’d like to ask the engineers how critical is the shape of the curved surfaces of the lateral condyles?

    I would suspect that a 4 bar hinge with flexiable cruciate tendons would work with almost any shape that was smoothly convex. Am I wrong? Wouldn’t the points where the cruciate tendons cross just change as the knee moves so that everything just works? (you can tell I’m not an engineer as I don’t know the language)

    From the article:

    One important feature of the four-bar hinge is that the instantaneous centre of rotation approximately coincides with the cross-over point of the cruciate ligaments. This cross-over point moves as the joint opens and closes so that the knee does not have a fixed point of rotation, as does a simple pivot joint. The knee joint is a particularly sophisticated kind of four-bar hinge, because the cruciate ligaments are not rigid and have to be kept taut by the rolling action of the bones.

    He says that the instantaneous centre approximately coincides with the cross-over point.

    If the fit is only approximate then that suggests to me that the fit isn’t critical.

    As for his point about keeping the knee taut: wouldn’t this just happen with pretty much any reasonable convex surface?

    Have I missed the point? What do you engineers make of this?

  57. #57 Arthur Hunt
    May 12, 2009

    “Well, maybe if you count plants, bacteria, or viruses, you might be able to demonstrate some sufficiently watered down definition of speciation.”

    !!!

    LOL.

    So, I guess the best way to discuss biology is to ignore the vast, overwhelming majority of all life on earth.

    WW, there’re reasons that creationist and ID-inspired science is rightly and properly laughed out of classrooms. You’ve given us a perfect example.

  58. #58 Uncephalized
    May 20, 2009

    scarab: I haven’t sat down to do the math and don’t much feel like it at the moment (it’s summer vacation, damnit!), but I can comment on it in an intuitive way. That trueorigin piece describes the four-bar hinge of the knee in such a way as to imply that the ligaments are rigid members. If that were true, there would be a need for an exact curvature fit of the bones in order to match the natural rotational path of the assembly. Visualize building the joint entirely out of inflexible steel rods and you’ll see what I’m talking about–there would be only one way for the joint to move and in order for the contacting bones to stay in contact the whole time, their surfaces would have to match that motion precisely.

    But ligaments can stretch, and AFAIK that stretchiness is variable depending on size and composition of the ligament. So as long as the curvature is a reasonably close fit to the “natural”, rigid path, the ligaments will stretch to accommodate it and everything will be just fine.

    Which brings up an interesting thought of its own–the closer that curve fit is, the less the ligaments will be required to stretch in order to have full motion. The less they are required to stretch, the stiffer they can be. Stiffer/thicker/stronger ligaments likely make for tougher, more difficult-to-dislocate joints (at least, that sounds reasonable to me). I wonder if there is any variation between species or individuals in the curvature of the knee bones with regard to fit to the rotational path of the knee. My hypothesis would be that if there is, those species with behaviors placing higher stresses on the knee joint, e.g. cheetahs, will have a better-fitted knee geometry and concomitantly stiffer knee tendons. Anybody want to test it?

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