REPOST: OOPS! They did it again!

This is a repost from the old ERV. A retrotransposed ERV :P

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science have a special online edition focused on the place of evilution in medicine.

Shorter Michael Egnor:


Hat tip to Pharyngula.

Oops. Dr. Egnor, Mr. Professor of Neurosurgery, doesnt seem to have learned a lesson from Mr. 99. And now hes going to get made fun of by a 23 year old girl, too. Someone get a Ziploc bag for his testicles.

Really, it’s a funny question. Think about it. Would anyone sponsor an essay contest on ‘Why I would want my doctor to study anatomy’ or ‘Why I would want my doctor to study physiology’? Of course not, because we all know that these kinds of science are important to medicine. Is evolutionary biology important? If it is, why do they have to ask the question?Because assholes like you are telling kids that they dont need to know evolution to be a physician. If there were school boards insisting that children shouldnt learn anatomy in school (wouldnt be surprised. just sayin) and neurosurgeons claiming that they never learned muscle or skeletal anatomy and they can operate on brains JUST FINE, then we would consider sponsoring such a contest.

A fantastic reason to sponsor such a contest is to encourage kids to actually pay attention in their bio classes when the teacher/prof is talking about evolution. You know, what you didnt do, Egnor. The surviving pre-med bio majors in my class were loathed to take required courses such as ecology (what does a pre-med care about deer and invasive species?), but if they took their heads out of their own butts for a second they would have realized that they were ‘studying’ epidemeology, aetiology, etc.

Another reason would be to get these kids to transmit this information to their parents. Like Ive said over and over and over, Average Joe Creationists slide right off that Creationist-Wagon when they realize how evolution is directly connected to their quality of life. Its not just about ‘dogs turning into cats’– its about Mom not having to go on chemo when she gets breast cancer because her genotype matches the cancer that can be treated with radiation alone. Its about inventing new drugs and vaccines to make our lives better. Get high school kids to write about these kinds of real-world benefits, and suddenly Mom and Dad dont mind evolution being in the curriculum anymore. Might even be inclined to start fighting against Creationism.

Gee, why would ID Creationists be upset at a contest like this?

Doctors don’t study evolution. Doctors never study it in medical school, and they never use evolutionary biology in their practice. There are no courses in medical school on evolution. There are no ‘professors of evolution’ in medical schools. There are no departments of evolutionary biology in medical schools.

No, honey, replace ‘doctors’ in that paragraph with ‘you.’ Not all doctors are as stupid as you, even I have to admit. Evolution was implied in all of my ‘medical’ courses in undergrad– everyone had already taken intro biology courses thick on evolution, so words were used in immunology, virology, pharmacology, etc that implied you already had a firm understanding of the basics. By Egnors logic, I wasnt required to take an advanced evolutionary biology course as a biology major- therefore evolutionary biology isnt used in biology.

You know, this essay is more telling of Egnors pathetic performance as an undergrad, rather than an essay on ‘Evolution in Medicine.’ I read on Oracs blog that Egnor was a bio-chem major. My apologies to hard working bio-chem majors out there (hell, my boss was one), but from my experience, bio-chem majors were the bio majors that couldnt pass the evolution intensive upper-level biology courses, so they took upper-level chem instead. I know its a cliche stereotype, but Egnors fitting the bill beautifully at this point…

If you needed treatment for a brain tumor, your medical team would include a physicist (who designed the MRI that diagnosed your tumor), a chemist and a pharmacologist (who made the medicine to treat you), an engineer and an anesthesiologist (who designed and used the machine that give you anesthesia), a neurosurgeon (who did the surgery to remove your tumor), a pathologist (who studied the tumor under a microscope and determined what type of tumor it was), and nurses and oncologists (who help you recover and help make sure the tumor doesn’t come back). There would be no evolutionary biologists on your team.

Wait, you include the physicist who designed the MRI, but conveniently forgot to mention the biologists that made the pharmacologists drug design possible? Do you know what ‘basic research’ is, Egnor? You know, those of us that figure out what genes do, what viruses look like, etc so ‘clinical researchers’ can figure out how to treat diseases? Wanna show me one basic research paper that doesnt require evolution? I mean do you think clinical researchers and pharmacologists figure this stuff out through magic? What the hell? And what do you think those pharmacologists test their drugs on before they give them to humans? Why do you think animal testing (though it has its limitations) works? Again, magic?

And I take this comment personally, in particular, because as some of you might know, one of my projects (epigenetic control of ERVs) spawned an idea for increasing the efficacy of traditional cancer therapies. Yeah, Egnor, Im using evolution to help treat cancer, including brain tumors. God youre arrogant.

I am a professor of neurosurgery, I work and teach at a medical school, I do brain research, and in 20 years I’ve performed over 4000 brain operations. I never use evolutionary biology in my work.

No, you dont know how youve used evolutionary biology in your work. And you dont care that you dont know. That makes you an arrogant idiot, not someone children should look up to.

Would I be a better surgeon if I assumed that the brain arose by random events?

No, you would be a better surgeon if you actually paid attention in your classes as an undergrad. Kids know stuff you dont know, Mr. Professor of Neurosurgery. Kids. 18 year old kids. Yeah, lets all listen to what you have to say.

Of course not. Doctors are detectives.

No, youre a mechanic. Sorry. PhDs are detectives. PhDs are explorers. PhDs seek out new life and new civilizations. You fix brains. PhDs tell you how to do it. Specifically, PhDs that paid attention in undergrad tell you how to do it.

I do use many kinds of science related to changes in organisms over time. Genetics is very important, as are population biology and microbiology. But evolutionary biology itself, as distinct from these scientific fields, contributes nothing to modern medicine.

Theyre all connected, if not the same damn thing. Genetics means nothing without evolutionary biology. Not a damn thing– unless hes suggesting we create knock-out human babies to figure out what all of our genes do. And what the hell do ERVs in our genome say about evolution?

Move those goal-posts, Egnor. Good full-body workout.

Without using evolutionary theory, doctors and scientists have discovered vaccines (Jenner, in the 18th century, before Darwin was born), discovered that germs cause infectious diseases (Pasteur, in the 19th century, who ignored Darwin), discovered genes (Mendel, in the 19th century, who was a priest and not a supporter of Darwin’s theory), discovered antibiotics, and unraveled the secrets of the genetic code (the key to these discoveries was the discovery of the apparent design in the DNA double helix). Heart, liver, and kidney transplants, new treatments for cancer and heart disease, and a host of life-saving advances in medicine have been developed without input from evolutionary biologists.

Okay, ignoring the fact that all the people involved with discovering DNA is a double helix were atheistic Evilutionists, Egnor is spouting shit Ive already covered. You should read my blog, Egnor– save you some shame! Yes, stumbling around and randomly smacking into solutions to our medical problems without understanding why or how those solutions work, nor how to improve upon those random discoveries is SO much better than using evolution. How long would it have taken us to figure out the impact of ERVs on cancer without evolution, Egnor? You want a number on how many mutations it takes to turn a ‘monkey’ into a ‘man’? I want a number, in years, for how far back our technology would be without evolution. When would you have discovered the importance of ERVs and cancer, Egnor? Never? You think the answer might be never? Maybe? Jerk.

No Nobel prize in medicine has ever been awarded for work in evolutionary biology.

Oh now youve moved from asshole/jerk to just plain idiot. What the hell do you think siRNA is, genius? siRNA runs down to almost the root of the Tree of Life. Wow youre smart, Mr. Professor! UGH I get so damn angry when people who have more experience, who Im supposed to learn from, can teach me nothing. Worse than that– I know things that they are supposed to know. Its pathetic.


  1. #1 TBnsuch
    January 27, 2010

    Wow, the passion is tangible. Well done.

    Steve Novella just threw up a post on Evo in medicine on science based medicine blog.

  2. #2 Lurker
    January 27, 2010

    LAWL. Classic. Why are all ID’ers such complete and total tools?

    It can’t just be random, you know… they have to be jerkasses by design.

  3. #3 CuCO3
    January 27, 2010

    No mathematician, either, but I bet (hope!) the team can do their sums.

  4. #4 Johnson B. Long
    January 27, 2010

    Evilution is right becuase Evolution only exists in the numbness of the left brain. Evolution, like global cooling changed to global warming changed to just global climate change is all a bunch of hooey. Nothing more. Prove evolution and maybe then we “total fools” will believe you.

  5. #5 Tyler DiPietro
    January 27, 2010

    The periodic table is right because chemistry only exists in the numbness of the left brain. The periodic table, like ether theory changed to relativity changed to the special and general theories of relativity is all a bunch of hooey. Prove the periodic table and maybe then we “cumfarts” will believe you.

  6. #6 dexitroboper
    January 27, 2010

    “johnson b long”, what a dick.

  7. #7 Vene
    January 27, 2010

    Johnson, buy a random biology textbook. Read it. You’ll find all the evidence you need. I recommend Campbell and Reece’s appropriately named “Biology.”

    Oh, wait, that costs money and requires effort on your part. Oh well, it’s easier to just attack well-established science in ignorance than actually learn anything.

  8. #8 Tyler DiPietro
    January 27, 2010

    Shit, I didn’t even look at his name. Consider me trolled. :(

  9. #9 Stephen Bahl
    January 27, 2010

    Gravilety is right buecaes Gravity exists only in the numbness of the left brain. Gravity, like the billiard ball model changed to the plum pudding model changed to the planetary model changed to the electron cloud model is all a bunch of hooey. Nothing more. Prove gravity and maybe then we “cdesign proponentsists” will believe you.

  10. #10 TotallyUncool
    January 28, 2010

    Plum pudding is right because I’m hungry.

  11. #11 MarkW
    January 28, 2010

    Slight defence of biochem here if you don’t mind. In my (1 year of undergrad biochem) experience, the truism that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” is even more true of biochemistry. Hell, the discipline as a whole couldn’t exist if evolution were untrue!

    OK I’m sure the creos will come out with that “same designer, same design” crap but there is no reason to expect everything to run on the same biochemical framework other the simple and obvious truth: common descent.

  12. #12 Ritchie Annand
    January 28, 2010

    Personally, what I want to know is whether KAP1 can prevent this repost from multiplying out of control!

    Same designer, same design is something that the creationists could go and try to prove. After all, the “designs” should show random mutations off in relatively random directions and not, say, arrange themselves in mostly-Linnaean taxonomic fashion, right?

    They all stop at the point of bare plausibility, though, it seems. Even their must-vaunted RATE project went off and admitted that radioactive decay would make the earth SEEM old, and thus the decay rate had to be faster in past, but that causes heat troubles, but they’re sure someone will figure it out.

    It’s aggravating reading their ‘papers’ – they throw lots of “maybe” scenarios out there, and “God must haves” (one of these days, I will get over the God-induced magnetic moment k, but no time soon) in spots to prevent them from stopping before the requisite number of pages, but it almost always ends in idle speculation. If it doesn’t, then it’s often based on one of their own papers that ended in idle speculation. It has all the solid research of people sitting in their armchairs trying to figure out where all the frost giants have got to.

    Sarfati is a grandmaster at stuffing idle speculation into a small book. Did you know that mere idle speculation can dismiss decades of research? Well, now you know.

  13. #13 SecularDad
    January 28, 2010

    Andrew Wakefield is finally getting some of the press he deserves. I can’t believe he still has supporters.

  14. #14 Cain
    January 28, 2010

    OT for this post but not for this blog.

    I was thinking about HIV today and started to wonder if there is a selective pressure toward reduced virulence.

    My thinking is that since aggressive strains cause symptoms sooner they are likely to be caught by MDs sooner. Further, high virulence strains will kill faster even with diagnosis and treatment. These two affects together give a higher virulence strain a much shorter amount of time to silently burn through a population.

    Conversely, a relatively lower virulence strain is likely to have a longer time to infect others before it is detected and treated. After detection its host will be around longer to facilitate accidental or careless transmission (unprotected sex, needle sticks, broken condoms…yada… yada…yada).

    Of course since HIV is a quasi-species I don’t know if there can be a pressure toward lower virulence. All it takes is one nasty bugger popping its head up from within the species pool to ruin everyone’s fun.

    My question is, If ERV and her cohorts aren’t successful in finding a vaccine or cure for HIV could we just wait a few thousand years and end up with something like *Herpes or HPV?

    * I know both are horrible but my point is they are not AIDS. Please do not berate me on that point.

  15. #15 TBnsuch
    January 29, 2010

    That is an excellent thought. Indeed, a general theme in virology and infectious disease the trend of a pathogen to become less pathogenic, persisting within a host while causing minimal damage (EBV, HSV etc). It is never beneficial to kill the host! We see this in zoonotic diseases (HIV-1 technically is not classified as a zoonotic disease, but did originate from SIV)like Hantaviruses. Hantaviruses display a long co-evolutionary history with their respective rodent reservoirs (see Kang 2009). In these rodents, hantaviral infection is persistent, but (mostly) asymptomatic. When we incur on rodent habitats, hantaviral infection causes a rare, severe disease with high mortality (no human to human transmission). It can be easily seen, that in order for hantavirus to spread from human to human, and persist within the human population, its pathogenicity must move towards lesser virulence.

    It is also the case that virulence can directly relate to the spread of disease. Bordetella pertussis dumps a load of toxins inorder to promote coughing, and thus the spread of pertussis. But this has more to do with the definition of a virulence factor than the evolution of pathogens.

    HIV fits well into the first category. Although it is true that HIV may eventual co-evolve with humans into a less virulent disease, this will take a long time and culling of a large part of the worlds population. Obviously it is impractical, and most importantly, unethical to sit back and not treat people or not search for new vaccine strategies in the hopes of this situation to resolve.

    Evolution has nothing to do with medicine, indeed.

  16. #16 EricLR
    January 29, 2010

    heheheh re:biochem. My Ph.D. is from the biochem department, but I can’t stand most of biochem. However, there is no “cell and molecular bio” department at my uni.

  17. #17 Cain
    January 30, 2010

    @15 TBnsuch
    Thanks for taking the time to write out such a thorough response!

  18. #18 Bronze Dog
    January 31, 2010

    Funny thing about our troll’s mention of “global cooling”: Let me get this straight: ONE paper about the next ice age coming in about 20,000 years constitutes scientific consensus on imminent global cooling?

    According to the global warming deniers, yes. Because individual, out-of-context papers/conversations/etcetera are more real than masses of evidence.

    Anyway, back on evolution: What’s the alternative? The Random Theory of Randomness (A.K.A. Creationism)? Sorry, randomness can’t be used to make predictions the way evolution can.

    Of course, Creationists love to use random dumb luck as an “explanation” for all those great predictions that came true for evolution.