ID folks make numerous assertions said to represent scientific challenges to conventional evolutionary theory. These claims are uniformly wrong, which is one of the reasons scientists generally ignore them.

But ID folks also claim that adopting a design perspective could lead to great progress in science, if only scientists would take off their materialist blinders. There is an acid test for all such claims: Go discover something! Writers are fond of saying “Show, don’t tell,” and that adage applies very well here. If your perspective is so useful, then prove it by discovering something the conventional methods had overlooked.

Every once in a while an ID proponent claims to have done such a thing, but such claims invariably crumble after even the briefest examination. So I read with interest this post from ID hack and Dembski lackey Denyse O’Leary. It’s title: Nine Predictions, if Intelligent Design is True.

Golly! That’s a lot of predictions. Now, typically when scientists talk about a prediction of a theory, they are talking about something they can use to guide their research. Give a paleontologist a region of the world and rocks of a particular age, and they can tell you with considerable precision what sorts of creatures you ought to find in the fossils. We saw a dramatic example of this in 2006 with the discovery of Tiktaalik. Paleontologists were searching for a fossil with certain characteristics, and they had a good idea of where to look for the best chance of finding one as the result of evolutionary thinking. That is just one example. It is not difficult to come up with many more.

Can ID do anything like that? Of course not. If it could, it would have taken over as the dominant paradigm in biology long ago. This hasn’t stopped various ID folks from trying to pretend otherwise. Let’s have a look at O’Leary’s efforts.

Here’s one she was so proud of, she even cross-posted it over at Dembski’s blog:

Complete series of transitional fossils will not usually be found because most proposed series have never existed. Eventually, researchers will give up on ideologically driven nonsense and address the history that IS there. They will focus on discovering the mechanisms that drive sudden bursts of creativity.

Here’s another:

No account of human evolution will show a long slow emergence from unconsciousness to semi-consciousness to consciousness, let alone that consciousness is merely the random firing of neurons in the brain. However consciousness got started, it appeared rather suddenly and it permanently separates humans from our genetic kin, however you want to do the gene numbers and however much time researchers spend coaxing monkeys to stop relieving themselves on the keyboard and type something meaningful.

Get the idea? O’Leary’s predictions look an awful lot like foot-stomping, arm-folding and head shaking. You will search her nine predictions in vain for any hint of something scientists can actually use in their research.

Evolution showed everyone that heredity was a subject of vital importance. Countless generations of creationists prior to Darwin overlooked that point. (Yes, I’ve heard of Mendel. And no, one lonely monk performing a handful of simple experiments does not count.) It is evolution that changed paleontology from the dreary business of bland description to the vital field of science it is today. Evolution gave paleontologists guidance as to how to do their work, and found itself enriched by what the paleontologists found. The same could be said for every branch of the life sciences. That’s what useful theories do.

And here comes O’Leary to tell everyone that a century and a half of unambiguous usefulness should be discarded. Why? Because she is not convinced. Okay, what should scientists be doing instead? Nothing. What sorts of research or experiments are suggested by a design perespective that would not be undertaken with a more conventional perspective? Nothing.

The most generous explanation is that O’Leary does not understand what is being asked when sicentists ask for predictions stemming from ID. In addition to the purely negative predictions I have mentioned so far, O’Leary gives some postive predictions. After her petulant remarks about transitional forms, for example, she writes:

Positive prediction: Discovering the true mechanisms of bursts of natural creativity may be of immense value to us, especially if we need to undo some significant harm to our environment.

That, folks, is not a prediction in the scientific sense. Of course, I agree that uncovering the mechanisms of natural creativity could be a useful endeavor, which is why I note with pleasure that biologists have been busily doing just that for quite some time now.

And the one about consciousness?

Positive prediction: We will focus on what consciousness can do, especially in treatment of mental disorders. Yes, a drugged up zombie is better than a suicide, but only because the zombie isn’t technically dead. Why stop there?

Well, that’s just great. Millions of people are able to get on with their lives because medication allows them to keep their illnesses in check. To O’Leary they’re all just drugged up zombies who are only technically alive. That’s pretty tasteless and stupid, even for an ID proponent.

As for the treatment of mental disorders, drugs have been inordinately effective while “focusing on what consciousness can do” has led to nothing. I wonder why that is? And does taking a design perspecitve help us find treatments for mental disorders? O’Leary doesn’t tell us.

ID is a complete dead-end scientifically. It just sits there and does nothing. For scientists this an even greater defect than being wrong. An incorrect perspective might still lead you to something useful and interesting, even if just the discovery that our perspective needs to be changed. ID doesn’t even do that.

Comments

  1. #1 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    January 20, 2008

    I read through these “predictions” at Sandwalk, and struggled to differentiate them from predictions by an astrologer or someone like that. Someone that doesn’t know science, but knows it is wrong. And then wants to re-define it.

  2. #2 Jon McKenzie
    January 20, 2008

    Most of those positive predictions just amount to, “ID will come up with something at some point. Just you wait!”.

    I especially like Denyse’s reply to her only commenter:

    Oleg, if I could backdate my predictions to 1998, before I ever thought much about the intelligent design controversy, don’t you think I would? Today is all I have so I start today.

  3. #3 Stanton
    January 20, 2008

    Yes, I’ve heard of Mendel. And no, one lonely monk performing a handful of simple experiments does not count.

    Actually, he would have counted, except for the fact that the abbot who succeeded Mendel after his death agreed with church authorities in that puttering around in a garden with pea plants was behavior unbecoming of a man of the cloth, and burned all of Mendel’s journals and notes. They would have had Mendel’s report destroyed, too, but, it was already published and still in circulation.

    Positive prediction: Discovering the true mechanisms of bursts of natural creativity may be of immense value to us, especially if we need to undo some significant harm to our environment.

    That, folks, is not a prediction in the scientific sense. Of course, I agree that uncovering the mechanisms of natural creativity could be a useful endeavor, which is why I note with pleasure that biologists have been busily doing just that for quite some time now.

    Is she saying that by studying Intelligent Design, we can magically create species to replace the ones that we’ve driven into extinction?

  4. #4 Hawks
    January 20, 2008

    The thing about predicting something is that you have to give at least a descent justification for why you predict x rather than y, z or ~x. So, O’Leary’s claim such as:
    Complete series of transitional fossils will not usually be found because most proposed series have never existed.
    is laughable since there is NOTHING about ID that says ANYTHING about the designer not making smoothish transitions (a la evolution) when designing new life forms. IDists often seem to think that just because ID says that evolution can’t explain things such as gaps in the fossil record, ID also claims that there SHOULD be things such as gaps in the fossil record. It’s an obvious logical fallacy they seem to have no problem with.

  5. #5 Glen Davidson
    January 20, 2008

    On the plus side, she didn’t claim that complexity of organisms is predicted by ID, unlike what Behe and Dembski attempt to claim.

    On the minus side, nothing on that list is predicated on the present claims made about “the designer” (none, or at least they try to keep it at none), let alone on anything that we know about design. Actual design would involve combinations of rationality, purpose, the lack of evolutionary processes, novelty, and perhaps borrowing of the sort that we do not see in vertebrates.

    They cannot predict anything that we’d really expect of design processes, because genuine marks of design do not occur in biology, save where we have left our marks on organisms.

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

  6. #6 rimpal
    January 20, 2008

    Can’t help but agree with the opinion that a lot of social sciences contain dressed up theology. How can you scientifically engage with non-empirical entities? If the objective is to establish the existence of free-will, how can you assume the existence of what you set out to establish? Gibberish. Now if only Denyse would be IDCreos’s expert witness at the next trial.

  7. #7 tinyfrog
    January 20, 2008

    Good catch Hawks. I was thinking the same thing. And, besides, didn’t Behe once say something along the lines that God is a tinkerer? It seems to me that “tinkerers” would create transitionals. Another laughable “prediction” of ID is that all junk DNA has a use. But, why it it necessary to believe that God made sure every piece of DNA has a purpose? I recently read an article by an IDist that claimed that psuedogenes exist because God reused DNA “code” from other organisms, but it might no longer have a purpose in the modern organism. With that logic, they no longer have a need for every bit of DNA to do something useful.

    So, you’re absolutely right in saying that IDist’ predictions often take the form of evolution predicts “X”, therefore, ID predicts y, z or ~x.

  8. #8 UAB
    January 20, 2008

    Wow, and here I’ve been using evolutionary theory to improve the frequency and quality of my dating and sex life, not to mention improve my understanding of history, all for nothing.

    Geez, it was working for me too.

  9. #9 Sean Walker
    January 20, 2008

    This is uglier than the discussion of ATP synthase on uncommon descent.

  10. #10 Chris Bell
    January 20, 2008

    There are times that I feel a little sympathetic for these people. They really believe that God did it, and negative “predictions” are all they can offer. It’s sad to watch them embrace a philosophy (science) that rules out their beliefs. It’s like watching someone beat their head against a wall.

  11. #11 Steve Reuland
    January 20, 2008

    No account of human evolution will show a long slow emergence from unconsciousness to semi-consciousness to consciousness, let alone that consciousness is merely the random firing of neurons in the brain. However consciousness got started, it appeared rather suddenly…

    That’s odd. I could have sworn that consciousness comes from non-consciousness every time an infant develops into an adult, and that it most certainly does not “appear suddenly”. But I guess no one should expect O’Leary to know about such cutting edge observations.

  12. #12 chezjake
    January 20, 2008

    Eventually, researchers will give up on ideologically driven nonsense and address the history that IS there.

    We can hope that will apply to so-called ID “researchers,” but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    Meanwhile, what will it take to convince these cretins that evolution and the scientific method are *not* ideologies?

  13. #13 T. Bruce McNeely
    January 21, 2008

    No account of human evolution will show a long slow emergence from unconsciousness to semi-consciousness to consciousness, let alone that consciousness is merely the random firing of neurons in the brain. However consciousness got started, it appeared rather suddenly…

    That’s odd. I could have sworn that consciousness comes from non-consciousness every time an infant develops into an adult, and that it most certainly does not “appear suddenly”. But I guess no one should expect O’Leary to know about such cutting edge observations.

    Posted by: Steve Reuland

    That happens to me every morning when the fzzkin’ alarm clock goes off.

  14. #14 Doc Bill
    January 21, 2008

    The original question on Dembski’s site was:

    “… can you or they provide any samples of things that intelligent design theory has predicted, which researchers have later determined to be true?”

    Past tense. To date. What has ID (in the past 20 years, say?) predicted that has been determined to be true.

    That’s the question. Not, what will ID do or what can ID do, but what has ID done. What’s the track record.

    After 180+ comments on Dembski’s blog and NO RESPONSE FROM Dembski who posed the challenge, Denyse provides even less of an answer.

    Thus, so far, after a week of hemming and hawing the final tally for ID is …

    … drum roll please! …

    NOTHING!!!!!!

    Thank you Dr. Dr. Dembski for demonstrating to the entire world that the sum total of ID results to date is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

  15. #15 Richard Simons
    January 21, 2008

    O’Leary’s post was prompted by one on UncommonDescent that asked for examples of ID predictions that have been validated. After reading about 150 posts I failed to see even one post that actually addressed the question.

    Some of the commentators are trying to come up with predictions, but they do not know that a scientific prediction is along the lines of ‘If we look at A and B under conditions Z and Y we expect to find Z’. Instead, they are producing horoscope-type predictions of a ‘There will be increasing problems with Darwinism’ nature. Although I knew their ideas are vacuous, I had not realized that they are such utterly clueless nincompoops when it comes to science.

  16. #16 Mike
    January 21, 2008

    Complete series of transitional fossils will not usually be found because most proposed series have never existed. Eventually, researchers will give up on ideologically driven nonsense and address the history that IS there. They will focus on discovering the mechanisms that drive sudden bursts of creativity.

    Given that some of those on UD try to say that Intelligent Design is not opposed to evolution or common descent, just a purely naturalistic explanation of it, doesn’t this, her prized prediction, not follow from Intelligent Design? Ah, the vacuity of Intelligent Design strikes again.

  17. #17 H. Humbert
    January 21, 2008

    Although I knew their ideas are vacuous, I had not realized that they are such utterly clueless nincompoops when it comes to science.

    If they weren’t clueless nincompoops, they wouldn’t be IDers.

  18. #18 Bobby
    January 21, 2008

    Clearly, since we know the universe was intelligently designed, ID Theory predicts exactly what we see!

    Whatever that turns out to be…

    No account of human evolution will show a long slow emergence from unconsciousness to semi-consciousness to consciousness, let alone that consciousness is merely the random firing of neurons in the brain. However consciousness got started, it appeared rather suddenly and it permanently separates humans from our genetic kin, however you want to do the gene numbers and however much time researchers spend coaxing monkeys to stop relieving themselves on the keyboard and type something meaningful.

    Even the most rudimentary familiarity with the cognitive abilities of other living animals tells you that she doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about. (As if that matters to proponents of ID.)

    IMO our progress in understanding animal “thought” and behavior during the past half century is one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time.

    ID is a complete dead-end scientifically. It just sits there and does nothing.

    ID isn’t *supposed* to do anything — other than to convince hoi polloi that whatever form of creationism they believe in has scientific support.

  19. #19 Bobby
    January 21, 2008

    O’Leary’s post was prompted by one on UncommonDescent that asked for examples of ID predictions that have been validated. After reading about 150 posts I failed to see even one post that actually addressed the question.

    Small wonder. Scientific predictions come from hypotheses, and ID doesn’t deal in hypotheses.[*] It deals in facile “proofs” that God exists.

    [*] OK, maybe they have “Some unknown being with unknown capabilities and unknowable motives did something (of no interest!) that makes the universe different than it would have been otherwise.” Good luck deriving any predictions from that.

  20. #20 jeh
    January 21, 2008

    DO’L or WD have no idea how to construct an experiment to test their “predictions.” They (and this is also true of many of the contributors over at UD) haven’t spent a single day in the laboratory actually *doing* science. But as armchair scientists, they have the hubris to tell practicing scientists how to interpret their work. They have no idea of the mental *and* physical effort it takes to do good science–to go in at 3 am to collect a key data point, or to repeat an experiment until the results are convincing–not just to you–but to your peers. And what really burns me is that a scientist like Behe knows what a testable prediction entails, yet is unwilling to do the work to test his predictions, because it is a “waste” of his time.

    But they have a limitless capacity to misinterpret the data obtained by working scientists. Their co-option of the results of the ENCODE study are a case in point. But as is often the case, the science marches on … destorying their “interpretation.” A key paper that puts these results in perspective will soon be published in Nature. A good summary of this paper is over at Ars Technica in their science section under “Organisms awash in useless RNA.”

    Every Idist should be made to read Platt’s 1964 paper “Strong Inference,” published in the journal Science. I know scientists that require their graduate students to read and put its principles into practice. And at least one of these is a HHMI fellow, and by far is the most successful scientist that I know.

  21. #21 Bobby
    January 21, 2008

    What this does show is that the IDologists are listening to our criticisms and are really keen on patching up their illusion of doing science in order to make those criticisms go away. We pointed out that they don’t publish in the peer reviewed literature, and they started a fraudulent campaign of making it look like they do. We pointed out that they don’t do any actual research, and they founded the Biologic Institute (and fired the spokesman who spoke to honestly about what they were up to). We pointed out that ID “theory” doesn’t make any predictions, and we get this kind of drivel.

    Expect all this to continue until the money runs out.

  22. #22 trrll
    January 21, 2008

    This is par for ID/creationists. When challenged to come up with a testable prediction from ID or creationism, it is invariably either

    1) Something that is already known to be true
    2) Some variant of “Natural selection will never be able to explain X”
    3) Some variant of “In the future, we will prove that we are right and evolution is wrong.”

    EVen Behe, who is arguably the only real biologist in the ID/creationist camp (which is probably why he has been embraced by them, even though some of his views, such as his acceptance of common descent are anathema to many ID/creationists) when challenged in the Dover trial, was unable to come up with anything any better than “Biologists will never manage to get a bacterium to evolve a flagellum in the laboratory.”

  23. #23 Timcol
    January 21, 2008

    Firstly, O’Leary doesn’t even answer the question. The question was what predictions HAS ID made that have come true. She obviously decided to come up with a bunch of airy-fairy future predictions. On her blog somebody poited this out and she got quite uppity with them! (humility has never been her strong suit). Pretty sad for somebody who considers herself such a top-notch journalist.

    Positive prediction: We will discover the functions of many brain areas whose functions we did not know before.

    Positive prediction: We can have a better grasp of what consciousness does and how it relates us to our environment.

    Positive prediction: Better health care for people with complex illnesses

    Well, duh, one doesn’t have to be a prophet to realize that these are all likely to come true and it will be thanks to conventional science already happening based on evolutionary theory, and absolutely NOTHING to do with ID.

    Looks like O’Leary is rightly already getting a lot of flack for her post. To me it looks like she just came up with these from the top of her head with no foresight and no editing. In other words, a pile of sloppy, crap…

    I read her blog regularly, and every once in a while she’ll come up with a total fatuous clunker that takes your breath away. This is one of those occasions.

  24. #24 Caledonian
    January 21, 2008

    let alone that consciousness is merely the random firing of neurons in the brain.

    Bwa? Neuronal firing is a subtle process with feedback loops on multiple levels of analysis, taking low-level systems that operate in a probabilistic fashion and using them to construct elegant and ornate patterns of patterns. To the degree that we understand how our behaviors arise from these systems, we know that there is profound structure.

    And she calls this most intricate computational device in the known universe ‘random’?!

    Well, maybe her neurons fire randomly. It would explain a lot…

  25. #25 Bobby
    January 21, 2008

    More on the Theory of Intelligent Design:

    Here’s a link to a PDF that is supposed to be the Discovery Institute’s “A Briefing Packet for Educators”: http://www.ntskeptics.org/creationism/discovery/ID_Org_Educators_Packet.pdf

    (I say “supposed to be”, because I didn’t get it from the DI. Please let me know if you don’t think this is the real thing.)

    It gives two versions of the Theory of ID:

    Page 4: The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

    That’s a claim about whose explanation is best, not a theory or a hypothesis. Maybe we could say that it “predicts” that ID will actually prove to be the better theory?

    (Lurkers should notice that calling natural selection an undirected process is foolishness, since in the theory of evolution natural selection *is* a process that directs evolution.)

    Page 6: Is Intelligent Design a Scientific Theory?
    Yes. The scientific method is commonly described as a four-step process involving observations, hypothesis, experiments, and conclusion. ID begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI). Design theorists hypothesize that if a natural object was designed, it will contain high levels of CSI. Scientists then perform experimental tests upon natural objects to determine if they contain complex and specified information. One easily testable form of CSI is irreducible complexity, which can be discovered by experimentally reverse-engineering biological structures to see if they require all of their parts to function. When ID researchers find irreducible complexity in biology, they conclude that such structures were designed.

    Where to start with that load of misinformation?

    1) ID doesn’t begin with any observation that intelligent agents produce CSI. Last I heard, only Dembski can detect CSI, and he has never formally demonstrated it in any biological system. He needs to define it well enough for other people to detect it, before anyone starts claiming that it has been observed as the product of some process.

    2) What the heck is a designed natural object???

    3) The assumption (not observation!) that intelligent agents produce CSI does not actually imply that a designed object will contain high levels of CSI, as stated. (That implication would require a hypothesis that intelligent agents *always* put high levels of CSI in *everything* they design.)

    4) IDologists have never performed experimental tests on natural objects to determine whether they “contain” CSI. (Dembski pretends to in his book, but offers more handwave than analysis. And it certainly didn’t involve any experimentation!)

    5) Irreducible complexity is not a kind of CSI as defined by Dembski. (They’re welcome to redefine CSI, but they need to actually do it, rather than just claiming that IC is a form of it.)

    6) Even if you treat IC as a form of CSI, their stated hypothesis does not actually predict that ID will *necessarily* produce IC, nor that any detected IC is *diagnostic* of ID. I.e., detecting IC tells us nothing useful about their stated hypothesis.

    7) Regarding dignosis, IC was a predicted result of evolution before the Discovery Institure ever started offering this kind of argument. (Even if you ignore all the other problems with the “theory” described above, detecting IC would not test the ID hypothesis, because the existing theory predicts it too. You might as well hypothesize “if dogs are intelligently designed, they will usually have four legs”.)

    8) AFAIK, IDologists don’t experimentally reverse engineer biological structures to see if they require all their parts to function. They merely take Behe’s word for it that this or that has IC. (And in some cases he has been shown to be wrong.)

    9) The conclusion described in their final sentence is a non sequitur, even if you ignore all the other problems with their “theory”. (The stated hypothesis does not claim that *only* ID can cause IC.)

    They could have done better by stating the hypothesis “Intelligent design sometimes results in CSI”, though they’d need to define CSI in a way that other researchers could actually detect it. Or they could say “Intelligent design sometimes results in IC”, but the competition already predicted the same thing; such a “prediction” would be useless as a way of testing the hypothesis.

    What they actually argue (which is not what they stated in their description of ID theory above) is the hypothesis “*Only* ID can result in x”, where x is CSI, IC, a privileged planet, etc. From that hypothesis they could actually predict “No undesigned object can feature x”. However, they would need a rigorous definition of design (does evolution count as design?) and a rigorous definition of x (how much CSI is in the arrangement of the stuff on my desk?). A *useful* prediction would also require choosing an x that competing explanations do not also predict.

    But even then I’m not sure the hypothesis is falsifiable. Given their no-nuttin attitude toward who the designer is, what the designer’s capabilities are, and even what “design” means, how could anyone ever demonstrate that something with x is *not* designed?

    Of course they aren’t interested in such things; they just want to convince people that their favorite version of creationism has scientific support. Otherwise they might have stated something clear and useful about the Theory of ID in their Briefing Packet for Educators. Can you imagine a professional scientific body producing such a Briefing Packet with such sloppy thought and expression regarding their field?

  26. #26 XYZ
    January 21, 2008

    I think that the purpose of Michael Behe’s book “The Edge of Evolution” was to “predict” that Darwinian evolution is unlikely to produce substantial changes in unfavorable situations by showing that it has limited ability to produce change in favorable situations. Behe reasons that if the Darwinian mechanisms of random genetic variation and natural selection have limited observed ability to produce change in highly favorable situations, i.e., microevolution in enormous populations of simple organisms with very short generational times, then it is very unlikely that those Darwinian mechanisms can produce huge changes in highly unfavorable situations, i.e., macroevolution in small populations of very complex organisms with long generational times. Behe, by showing that microevolution is limited, challenges the notion that microevolution is unlimited and that macroevolution is merely an extension of microevolution.

    I think that Behe and others have been making important contributions to ID, but I am no big fan of ID myself. I don’t even like the name because it implies the existence of a supernatural designer, and then people start asking who the designer is and what the designer looks like. I am more interested in the mystery of the co-evolution of total co-dependence of two different organisms, e.g., bees (or other pollinators) and flowering plants. Such co-evolution presents problems not only for Darwinian evolution but also for front-loaded evolution and even ID. In such co-evolution, unlike in evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., water, land, air, and climate, there may be nothing to adapt to because the corresponding co-dependent traits may be initially absent in the other organism, and also pre-adaptation would be fatal because of the total dependence on the corresponding traits in the other organism. Darwinists have not even conceded that co-evolution presents much greater difficulties than does evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment.

    Another challenge to evolution is the natural occurrence of isolated groups of the same species of aquatic freshwater organisms — e.g., fish and aquatic plants — in different lakes, rivers, and streams that apparently were never connected to each other.

    Also, IMO something need not make predictions to be considered scientific. Merely showing the weaknesses in scientific theories can be scientific without making predictions.

    As for Denyse O’Leary’s “predictions,” some of them are not really predictions at all because they can never be proven true, though some could conceivably be proven false. Also, some of her “predictions” are like the “fortunes” in Chinese fortune cookies — not really fortunes but just advice or maxims.

  27. #27 Ginger Yellow
    January 21, 2008

    Has any IDer addressed in good faith (I know, I know) the conflict between not constraining the designer and making testable predictions. I don’t personally believe that any of the prominent IDers are arguing in good faith, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there who are. Surely they must realise that they can’t make useful, testable predictions without making some assumptions about the designer and/or the design mechanism.

  28. #28 Christophe Thill
    January 21, 2008

    A fine example of cluelessness if there ever was one. Sentences including the words “we will” or “may be” have nothing to do with scientific predictions. And between “no transitional fossils will usually be discovered because the proposed series never existed” and “no transitional fossils will usually be discovered because fossilisation is a rare and difficult process”, how does Mrs ID propose to decide ? Also, “[the researchers] will focus on discovering the mechanisms that drive sudden bursts of creativity” doesn’t say it all : an ID scientist (if there ever was such a thing) would be glad to discover the “fingerprints of the Creator”, but would never dare to go more in depth about exactly what happened, and how.

  29. #29 Opisthokont
    January 21, 2008

    XYZ: There is no “mystery” inherent to coevolution. It is merely a positive feedback loop. Species A takes consistent advantage of a trait of species B. This need not be anything special, just something that species B has or does that is used by other species (not necessarily just species A). Species B evolves an exaggerated or specialised version of that trait — something more successful at taking advantage of whatever traits species A is using that make species B so useful to it. At the same time, species A evolves a more sophisticated and specific version of the trait that it uses to take advantage of species B — and so on. Each generation of each species is more tightly adapted to take advantage of the other species, and eventually each is committed to take advantage of the other. That is all that there is to coevolution.

    (It is of course possible that one species can develop a dependence on another without the reciprocal dependence developing (as often occurs with parasites, although their hosts often coevolve defences against the parasites as well). This too can develop into a coevolutionary situation, if the other species later develops a dependence on the species that has already committed itself.)

    I am curious to know what you mean by traits that “may be initially absent in the other organism”. Plants had pollen before flowers evolved, and many insects like to consume plants’ sap. Plants direct a lot of resources to reproductive organs, so sap would not be in short supply near where pollen would be produced and required. I could go on from here, but it does not take much imagination to come up with an obvious evolutionary scenario for the evolution of flowers. As for specificity between species, all that is required is any genetically transmitted preference on the part of the insect for one plant over another, and any genetically transmitted capability for a plant to attract one species of insect more than another — and these certainly exist. The feedback loop that I described above merely requires that and time, and coevolution is inevitable in the absence of other factors.

  30. #30 Ex Partiot
    January 21, 2008

    read her predictions and she lucky if she could predict Sunday comes after Saturday

  31. #31 Ian
    January 21, 2008

    In which we learn that O’Leary had a cow…!

  32. #32 Ian
    January 21, 2008

    So-called intelligent so-called design always results in CSI if CSI means “crime scene investigation” because what these IDolators are doing is a crime. It’s a crime which real scientists are then forced to waste time investigating and addressing so as not to give ID a free pass..

  33. #33 Matt Penfold
    January 21, 2008

    “Another challenge to evolution is the natural occurrence of isolated groups of the same species of aquatic freshwater organisms — e.g., fish and aquatic plants — in different lakes, rivers, and streams that apparently were never connected to each other.”

    I can only assume such an objection was made by someone who did not birds exist. Birds are a well known method by which both flora and fauna can spread.

  34. #34 Ravilyn Sanders
    January 21, 2008

    Denyse could not even predict the correct spelling of the word header, (Says I am not changing the hedder [sic] for tech reasons ;-)

    Great fun reading the clueless IDers trying to come up with predictions. It clearly shows that they have never done any science and they believe scientists follow like sheep their leaders.

    The ID people are hiding the predictions made by ID when it was ruling philosophy of thought. For example ID predicted that telescopes were instruments of Satan.

    With Design, everything is designed and everything has a purpose. What is the purpose of the eyes? God gave us eyes so that we could see his Creation. So what about the telescope, that shows something bigger or nearer than it really is? It is a visual lie. It lies about the Magnificent Creation. It must be an instrument of Satan. Looking through a telescope is misuse of God given eyes. So reasoned a bishop and refused to look through a telescope Galileo was trying to sell to him.

    [Paraphrasing from memory. The source is the book, “The Discoverers”, by Daniel Boorstein, Chief Librarian and a Pulitzer prize winning historian]

  35. #35 Ravilyn Sanders
    January 21, 2008

    Misspelled his name and failed to clarify that he was the Chief Librarian for the Library of Congress .

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Boorstin

    The book The Discoverers is selling in half price books and other used book stores for less than 10$. It was a best selling book, so many copies are floating around. A must read for anyone trying to understand the mindset of people and philosophers before science came along. Should send choice excerpts to the Florida Education Board.

  36. #36 ivy privy
    January 21, 2008

    Meanwhile, a post entitled Does Darwinism predict anything? was closed without explanation on an ID blog after only 3 days, although at least several substantive responses were still waiting in the queue for approval.

  37. #37 Ron Okimoto
    January 21, 2008

    I think that it is clear that ID predicted, at least, one thing. If the IDiots did not predict that ID was going to be a failure they would not have cooked up the replacement scam back in 1999, and they would not have run the bait and switch scam on the Ohio rubes in 2003. ID had enough predictive power to allow them to do what they have done. The replacement scam is being perpetrated by the same guys that ran the ID scam and it doesn’t even mention that ID ever existed in it’s public face.

  38. #38 Jesse
    January 21, 2008

    I was having a hard time not imagining O’Leary speaking with a store-bought Jamaican accent while recounting her ‘predictions’.

    This woman is like a cross between Ms. Cleo and Ms. Anne Elk (Monty Python reference): complete ignorance with a marketing spin to sucker in those whom are more intellectually void than a door stop.

  39. #39 Foggg
    January 21, 2008

    Posted by: Bobby 12:46 AM

    Even the most rudimentary familiarity with the cognitive abilities of other living animals tells you that she doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about. (As if that matters to proponents of ID.)

    One observed characteristic of IDiots is that the more ignorant they are on a subject, the more they talk about it.

    This leads to the positive prediction that O’Leary should have written an entire book on the subject of consciousness — and low and behold, she has.
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Spiritual-Brain/dp/B000UZPH2Q/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1200929009&sr=8-4

  40. #40 Sean Walker
    January 21, 2008

    Wow, no big surprise here.

    I commented that ID made no real predictions and that I really wondered how they were going to distinguish between Fossils being rare because it is a stochastic process and rarely happens to certain types of creatures as opposed the “massive” creative effort that ID “predicts” gag… Of course I can’t remember the exact tone of what I wrote, it was probably very blunt. However, guess what… never made it to the comments section Denyse’s blog!

    Teaching the controversy only applies to Evolution I guess.

  41. #41 Leni
    January 21, 2008

    It’s great to see you back, Jason! Hope it isn’t to long before we hear more from you.

    Matt Pennfold wrote, in response to XYZ:

    I can only assume such an objection was made by someone who did not birds exist. Birds are a well known method by which both flora and fauna can spread.

    Or possibly wind, although perhaps not as much for aquatic species (although some algae species do produce spores that might travel this way).

    Or the fact that topography changes, sometimes separating populations of a species. Events like floods can also transport them, while perhaps not as far as a migrating bird it is easy to see how a flood plain might affect the surrounding area, and so on. Over several millions of years of temperature and topography changes it isn’t difficult to imagine how an isolated aquatic species might be able to propagate. I can also imagine that river drainage basins like large lakes or even saltwater bays could work as networks for species to migrate up other rivers, and still other lakes. I’m not even familiar with this topic and I can think of several ways this could occur.

    Still, specific examples from XYZ might have been better, since these are just examples of how it might have happened.

    Last, as Hawks and others noted above: none of this results as a prediction of ID. If these things can not be addressed within an evolutionary framework (which I think would be a cynical prediction at this point), ID would certainly not be able to step up and fill in the gaps. At least not with anything approaching a coherent scientific explanation.

  42. #42 Hipple, Rev. Paul T.
    January 21, 2008

    Until you alleged scientists come up with a rational alternative to The Flood, which you cannot unless you See the Work and Word of God with a truely open mind, your words of derision will be ignored by simple people who want to understand His creation in all of its Glory no less than you. BTW, in a vision from Him, He showed me that The Good Mrs. O’Leary will one day become an internationally recognized Professor of Christian Astrology, for doing Good Things in His name.

  43. #43 Ravilyn Sanders
    January 21, 2008

    Am I feeding a troll? Well Rev Paul T Hipple, the Global Flood was real and the scientists have documented it very well.
    It happened at the end of last ice age, 9000 BCE (or 11,000 years ago) and almost all cultures recorded it. Including the semetic tribes of Israel. One small difference, it was not brought about by 40 days and 40 nights of rain. Just 1000 years of melting of the glaciers. It was not big enough to submerge Mt Arrarat, just about 300 feet rise in sea levels. That is all. And except for the scriptures in Indo-Aryan languages (Thorah, OT, NT, Quaran, Gilgamesh Legends, Hindu Flood legends) all other cultures record the rising of sea level as a natural phenomena without any moralizing. Only in these languages it is reported as a sudden catastrophic event, caused by God as punishment for immoral world. The speculation is that the proto-Indo-Aryan speaking settlement/civilization was abruptly scattered by this Flood event and the folk memory is recorded in these scriptures. The best candidate for the location of this proto-IndoAryan tribe is in the north/eastern shores of the black sea. Black sea would have been disconnected from the Mediterranean and it could have even been a fresh water lake. But it could have even been a catastrophic flood in
    Tigris and Euphrates.

  44. #44 David vun Kannon
    January 21, 2008

    Prediction: Commenter XYZ is either Larry Fafarman or a reader of his blog (but not the comments), based on the exact quote of Larry’s post on freshwater species being a problem for evolution and the topic of co-evolution.

  45. #45 Leni
    January 21, 2008

    It sounded more coherent than Larry usually does, didn’t it? It’s definitely trying to be a concern troll though.

    I just figured it was easier to answer the charges since they were so trivial.

  46. #46 Bobby
    January 21, 2008

    Until you alleged scientists come up with a rational alternative to The Flood

    Scientists came up with a rational alternative to the flood a couple of hundred years ago. Namely, no such thing ever happened.

    Are you unfamiliar with that alternative? Do you have some reason to be dissatisfied with it, other than the fact that it isn’t consistent with your religious beliefs?

  47. #47 pough
    January 21, 2008

    1. Folks, Hipple is a satire.

    2. XYZ’s comments sounded familiar, so I did a search. Sure enough, the same stuff was posted as Andy H on Panda’s Thumb and people were referring to him as “Larry”.

    http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/02/entomologists-u.html#comment-74379

  48. #48 XYZ
    January 21, 2008

    Opisthokont said ( January 21, 2008 6:39 AM ) —

    XYZ: There is no “mystery” inherent to coevolution. It is merely a positive feedback loop.

    That is what I mean — a typical nonchalant, pooh-poohing, “elementary-my-dear-Watson” Darwinist response to a perplexing problem with evolution. A pig that suddenly sprouts wings can fly immediately. However, a pig that suddenly develops an alimentary canal that will only digest nectar will not survive if there are no nectar-producing plants around. You won’t even concede that the co-evolution of co-dependence is at least more difficult than evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., water, land, air, and climate.

    (It is of course possible that one species can develop a dependence on another without the reciprocal dependence developing (as often occurs with parasites, although their hosts often coevolve defences against the parasites as well).

    I am talking about the co-evolution of total co-dependence. In the evolution of other kinds of interspecies relationships — e.g., parasitism and commensalism — an immediate evolutionary response from the other species is not required.

    I am curious to know what you mean by traits that “may be initially absent in the other organism”. Plants had pollen before flowers evolved, and many insects like to consume plants’ sap.

    You are ignoring the complexity of the interspecies relationships involved. The flowers have special colors and scents to attract pollinators and sometimes have pollen that can be carried only by pollinators — for example, some flowers have “buzz” pollination, which requires the vibrations of pollinators’ wings to shake the pollen free. As for the insects, they don’t consume sap just because they “like to” — they are dependent on the sap for survival.

    The feedback loop that I described above merely requires that and time,

    At the very least, the difficulties of co-evolution greatly slow down an evolutionary process that has only a few million years to take place.

    Matt Penfold said (January 21, 2008 9:03 AM) —

    “Another challenge to evolution is the natural occurrence of isolated groups of the same species of aquatic freshwater organisms — e.g., fish and aquatic plants — in different lakes, rivers, and streams that apparently were never connected to each other.”

    I can only assume such an objection was made by someone who did not birds exist. Birds are a well known method by which both flora and fauna can spread.

    The birds can carry the flora and fauna only short distances and can spread them only by accidentally dropping them in another body of water.

    Spreading freshwater species by means of tornadoes has also been suggested — but it doesn’t seem that birds and tornadoes are alone capable of accounting for all the spreading of freshwater species.

    Yet another problem with evolution is the propagation of beneficial mutations by means of sexual reproduction.

  49. #49 Epistaxis
    January 21, 2008

    Discovering the true mechanisms of bursts of natural creativity may be of immense value to us, especially if we need to undo some significant harm to our environment.

    Pray for speciation.

  50. #50 Dave S.
    January 21, 2008

    XYZ = Larry, how many times does the co-evolution thing have to be explained to you? It must be half a dozen times now (I’ve done it twice, including on this very blog), and every time you come back with the exact same assertions as if no-one has ever said a word about it to you.

  51. #51 MrG (Greg Goebel)
    January 21, 2008

    I went through Ms. O’Leary’s comments somewhat
    swiftly, lacking the time or inclination to
    dig into them, but (as often happens in reading
    Darwin-basher literature) one jumped out of the
    page and grabbed me by the nose:

    “We will learn more about the real nature of our
    universe and our place in it, and how best we can
    explore it when we accept the fact that it
    didn’t ‘just happen’.”

    I sat there and blinked at that, thinking: “But
    I thought that was what ID was all about. Instead
    of JUST SO stories, ID provides JUST HAPPENED
    stories.”

    I can suspend judgement on the rest. After reading
    that I wasn’t inclined to expend any more effort
    on it.

  52. #52 it's contraction
    January 21, 2008

    “It’s title”

  53. #53 Ritchie Annand
    January 21, 2008

    Yet another problem with evolution is the propagation of beneficial mutations by means of sexual reproduction.

    Hardly. Sexual reproduction, while very expensive on the face of it, is one of the best means for good genetic variations (good here meaning more appropriate for survival and reproduction in the current environs) to be able to decouple themselves from bad genetic variations.

  54. #54 David Marjanovi?
    January 21, 2008

    (My name doesn’t display correctly because I’m posting from a Mac here.)

    Page 6: Is Intelligent Design a Scientific Theory? Yes. The scientific method is commonly described as a four-step process involving observations, hypothesis, experiments, and conclusion.

    Not one mention of falsifiability or parsimony… <sigh>

    ——————

    A pig that suddenly sprouts wings can fly immediately. However, a pig that suddenly develops an alimentary canal that will only digest nectar will not survive if there are no nectar-producing plants around. You won’t even concede that the co-evolution of co-dependence is at least more difficult than evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., water, land, air, and climate.

    You are the one who has to concede something — to yourself: your own ignorance.

    Just because you haven’t seen the research doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    Now, look: Most or all pollinating insects eat pollen, too, not just nectar. Pollen was available in huge quantities long before flowers existed. Imagine such a pollen-eating insect… if it recognizes flowers from afar, it will have an advantage in finding pollen, and if this trait is inheritable, it will have an evolutionary advantage. Got that so far? Good. Now, the plant will also have an advantage: instead of going to the trouble of eating a flower empty, pollen-eating insects fly from one flower to the next and scoop the most easily available pollen off. In the process pollen gets stuck in their hairs and whatnot and is thus spread from plant to plant. So, the better the insects recognize flowers, the better is it ascertained that the plant will be pollinated. The evolutionary advantage is obvious, isn’t it? This makes a feedback loop that results in petals, fragrance, and all that jazz. Now imagine a mutation that makes the plant secrete water and sugar in the flower. Result? The insect has an advantage, because nectar is as close to pure energy as food can get (and any idiot can digest it — it’s just sugar). The plant has an advantage, because it needs to produce less pollen (the proteins and sporopollenins are complicated and energy-intensive to make) for the same effect. In short, the insect gains a guaranteed food source, and the plant gains a guaranteed pollinator. What’s difficult to understand here?

    Really, you act as if you had read nothing on that topic that was published after 1859.

    for example, some flowers have “buzz” pollination, which requires the vibrations of pollinators’ wings to shake the pollen free. As for the insects, they don’t consume sap just because they “like to” — they are dependent on the sap for survival.

    And? In the first case, inevitable vibrations from landing shook the pollen free so often that the plant eventually was able to rely on this. This is no different from how we (apes) get vitamin C from our food so often that we are able to rely on it and were able to drop the production pathway for vitamin C. All mammals except us and the guinea pigs still can produce it.

    In the second case, start with an insect that consumes sap because it likes to and has such a great supply of it that it doesn’t need to eat anything else, so that it has no disadvantage if it loses the ability to eat anything else (but see above under pollen), and in fact has a slight advantage because it doesn’t need to waste energy growing and maintaining a longer gut and producing many different digestive enzymes.

    This is not even worthy of Sherlock Holmes. It’s trivial.

    At the very least, the difficulties of co-evolution greatly slow down an evolutionary process that has only a few million years to take place.

    Not that it matters (what I’ve outlined above can certainly evolve fast), but where did you take “only a few million years” from? Aren’t we talking about several tens of millions of years, the entire “middle” part of the Cretaceous?

    In the evolution of other kinds of interspecies relationships — e.g., parasitism and commensalism — an immediate evolutionary response from the other species is not required.

    This is nonsense. If you have a parasite and can’t do anything against it, you get sick if not dead.

    In fact, the hypothesis exists that the recent increase in allergies comes from our immune system being adapted to the presence of parasites, which are now lacking due to modern hygiene and medicine: the immune system is hyperactive because it is adapted to parasites downregulating it. That many parasites downregulate the immune system is a fact, and that the immune reaction to parasites is done by the same cells as allergic reactions (eosinophils, mast cells) is also a fact.

    The birds can carry the flora and fauna only short distances

    Yeah, and? Show me one case of a distance that is too large.

    and can spread them only by accidentally dropping them in another body of water.

    Nonsense. The birds in question — ducks, for example — actually land in the water.

    Spreading freshwater species by means of tornadoes has also been suggested

    Don’t get ridiculous. In places where tornadoes exist, this is certainly a factor, but in most places they simply don’t occur.

    Yet another problem with evolution is the propagation of beneficial mutations by means of sexual reproduction.

    Give me your e-mail address, and I’ll send you the PowerPoint slides of a university lecture (as a pdf) that answers this question.

    Also, IMO something need not make predictions to be considered scientific. Merely showing the weaknesses in scientific theories can be scientific without making predictions.

    You forget that establishing that evolution is wrong and establishing that ID is right is not the same thing. Both could be wrong, for example. Trying to poke holes in the theory of evolution is fine, it just doesn’t do anything positive for ID. For instance, it doesn’t offer any way to distinguish ID creationism from Hindu creationism.

  55. #55 David Marjanovi?
    January 21, 2008

    Sexual reproduction, while very expensive on the face of it, is one of the best means for good genetic variations (good here meaning more appropriate for survival and reproduction in the current environs) to be able to decouple themselves from bad genetic variations.

    Plus, it means that mutations don’t have to happen in the right order and in a single ancestor-descendant lineage. It speeds evolution up quite impressively.

  56. #56 Timcol
    January 21, 2008

    Meanwhile, here’s the latest gem from O’Leary in response to a comment about her “predictions”:

    “As for my predictions, I am simply waiting to see if they pan out. I only argue about such things with publishers.”

    This was in response to a comment arguing that her predictions did not really cut it from a scientific perspective.

    But in the bizarre world of ID, science really doesn’t matter too much – it’s all about PR. Who cares what actual, real scientists think – as long as her publisher think they can make a buck out of her nonsense, then that’s what really counts!

    She has also turned off comments (she always does when the going gets hot) and has made some bizarre comments about ‘fogies’ needing to get a life etc. (apparently, she has one). I really don’t know why even bothers with comments, as far as I can tell, most comments never make it, and the ones that do are disdainfully dismissed in her usual haughty manner.

    I don’t know if she gets just how plain wacko she sounds at times – but then she is a Catholic, so I guess she’s used to believing all sorts of bizarro things…

  57. #57 Paul Flocken
    January 21, 2008

    ID is a complete dead-end scientifically. It just sits there and does nothing. For scientists this an even greater defect than being wrong. An incorrect perspective might still lead you to something useful and interesting, even if just the discovery that our perspective needs to be changed. ID doesn’t even do that.

    An excellent example of an incorrect perspective was the luminiferous ether that ostensibly conducted light waves through the vacuum. The search for it led to many experiments, the crowning example being the Michelson-Morley experiment. The perspective was wrong though, that experiment failed to find what it was looking for, and that was actually far more interesting and successful at pushing science forward than a positive result would have been.

  58. #58 mark
    January 21, 2008

    They will focus on discovering the mechanisms that drive sudden bursts of creativity.

    I can help Denise on this. I get my sudden (if rare) bursts of creativity after consuming copious amounts of beer or wine.
    Is O’Leary related to Sylvia Browne? I can imagine prediction no. 10: “I see something with an ‘E’…’Edward?’…’Elvis?’…oh, it’s getting clearer…’Evinrude!’ Teeny-weeny Evinrudes!”

  59. #59 Shebardigan
    January 21, 2008

    Larry opined:
    “A pig that suddenly sprouts wings can fly immediately. ”

    In a pig’s eye.

    For an animal to be capable of powered flight, wings are the final (outermost) characteristic of interest. Said porker would need a seriously revamped metabolism and a considerable number of neural system upgrades, not to mention significant musculoskeletal workovers in a number of areas.

    Even a glider pig would need considerable re-engineering, starting from the strictly terrestrial model.

  60. #60 XYZ
    January 21, 2008

    David Marjanovi? said (January 21, 2008 2:53 PM) —

    You are the one who has to concede something — to yourself: your own ignorance.

    Speak for yourself.

    You are missing my point. Adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., water, land, air, and climate, can produce an immediate evolutionary advantage in natural selection. In contrast, co-evolutionary adaptation to another organism’s corresponding trait that does not exist locally (even if that corresponding trait exists, existed, or will exist at another place and/or time) produces no evolutionary advantage and may be fatal if the adaptation requires the local existence of that other organism’s trait. If the corresponding traits in both organisms are fatal in the absence of the corresponding trait in the other organism, then co-evolution may be virtually impossible. At the very least, co-evolution is much more difficult than evolutionary adaptation to water, land, air, climate, etc..

    In the first case, inevitable vibrations from landing shook the pollen free so often that the plant eventually was able to rely on this.

    The vibrations are from the wing beating — not from landing.

    This is no different from how we (apes) get vitamin C from our food so often that we are able to rely on it and were able to drop the production pathway for vitamin C.

    The inability to produce vitamin C provides no evolutionary advantage in natural selection — and is an evolutionary disadvantage to people who get scurvy.

    In the second case, start with an insect that consumes sap because it likes to and has such a great supply of it that it doesn’t need to eat anything else, so that it has no disadvantage if it loses the ability to eat anything else (but see above under pollen), and in fact has a slight advantage because it doesn’t need to waste energy growing and maintaining a longer gut and producing many different digestive enzymes.

    Sheesh — that’s an evolutionary advantage, even just a slight one?

    The birds can carry the flora and fauna only short distances
    Yeah, and Show me one case of a distance that is too large.

    A few miles can be too large — a fish can live for only a few minutes out of water. And what is the likelihood that the bird will drop the fish in another body of water? And what about aquatic plants?

    In places where tornadoes exist, this is certainly a factor, but in most places they simply don’t occur.

    So now you are arguing for me.

    In the evolution of other kinds of interspecies relationships — e.g., parasitism and commensalism — an immediate evolutionary response from the other species is not required.

    This is nonsense. If you have a parasite and can’t do anything against it, you get sick if not dead.

    A species may be able to live with the parasite, and even if the parasite would eventually cause extinction of a species, that species may still have some time to develop resistance to the parasite. In contrast, some cases of co-evolution of co-dependence require immediate local evolutionary adaptation by the other organism.

    Nonsense. The birds in question — ducks, for example — actually land in the water.

    Ducks don’t eat fish and probably swallow their plant food before reaching another body of water.

    Give me your e-mail address, and I’ll send you the PowerPoint slides of a university lecture (as a pdf) that answers this question.

    I didn’t activate PowerPoint on my computer. I didn’t activate any of the Microsoft Office programs because I don’t use them.

    it doesn’t offer any way to distinguish ID creationism from Hindu creationism.

    I am getting tired of seeing “ID creationism.” There is nothing in the bible about irreducible complexity, bacterial flagella, blood-clotting cascades, etc..

    Ritchie Annand said (January 21, 2008 2:28 PM) —

    Sexual reproduction, while very expensive on the face of it, is one of the best means for good genetic variations (good here meaning more appropriate for survival and reproduction in the current environs) to be able to decouple themselves from bad genetic variations.

    I read somewhere that sexual reproduction breaks up favorable gene combinations that have accumulated through natural selection.

  61. #61 Chris Noble
    January 21, 2008

    There is only one single prediction from ID.

    At any point in time there will be phenomena that cannot be explained by the current formulation of evolutionary science.

    It is also a truism. It is true for every branch of science. In fact it is a defining point of science. IN contrast, there is no phenomenom that ID cannot “explain” with ##God did it##.

  62. #62 Jonathan Vos Post
    January 21, 2008

    On a smaller time scale:

    “No account of human evolution will show a long slow emergence from unconsciousness to semi-consciousness to consciousness”

    This is merely introspective anecdotal evidence, but it sure feels to me as if I emerge from unconsciousness to semi-consciousness to consciousness every morning when I wake up in bed.

    I recently tested this more rigrously by having emergency major abdominal surgery in a hospital. I’m home now, 3rd day, after 9 days in said hospital. BUT:

    It sure felt to me as if I emerged from unconsciousness to semi-consciousness to consciousness in the Recovery Room as the anaesthetic wore off. My throat was sore where a nasal-gastric tube had been shoved without me conscious to assist by swallowing. I was in pain, though numbed by a narcotic painkiller. Also annoying, they did not know where my eyeglasses were, and I’m very near-sighted. The Recevery Room was a sci-fi blur.

    Point is: unconsciousness to semi-consciousness to consciousness would seem to be a transition performed by almost everyone about once a day.

    How does ID “explain” that?

    Or does it deny that I wake up?

  63. #63 Opisthokont
    January 21, 2008

    XYZ:

    Coevolution is not all that perplexing — it just requires two things to interact over evolutionary time. The same thing happens with more general relationships: predators may become faster or acquire better senses, and their prey may get better camoflage. (There is a name for this: the Red Queen hypothesis. It has been around for a good few decades now.) The only difference between that and coevolution is the fact that the coevolving traits are relevant only to one other species. There is nothing particularly special about that.

    If that does not convince you, look at it from the organism’s perspective: it is all about environment. Your predators are as much a fact of life as the rocks, sky, water, or whatever abiotic components of your environment are relevant. Any vairable heritable trait that improves your ability to leave fertile offspring will be selected for. Your environment evolves. Coevolution merely means that there is something in that environment that happens to produce offspring that are more suited to your needs than it is itself.

    Your hand-waving dismissal of my point is indicative of a failure to grasp something more fundamental about evolution: it is a process. Creationists claim that there are no transitional fossils, but in fact all fossils are transitional (except for the infinitesimally small set right before a mass extinction). Living things are always evolving into other things. What looks now like an inextricably linked pair of species are the descendants of two less tightly linked species, which are themselves the descendants of two species that happened to have some ecological relationship, which could well be descendants of two species that had no interaction whatsoever.

    Meanwhile, you say that you are tired of ID being referred to as creationism. The fact that ID buzzwords are not mentioned in the Bible does not mean that it is not creationism. You will find plenty of Muslims who are also creationists, and a good number of Hindus, the latter of whom have no particular regard for the Bible or the Koran. Creationism is not tied to any one religion.

    The operational definition of creationism is the belief that at least some species, or features of species, had a separate abiotic origin from others. The only ID proponents that can make any respectable claim not to be creationists are those who accept common descent (the principle that all extant life evolved from a single population). (So far as I know, Michael Behe is the only major ID proponent who agrees with that. I have read a fair amount of speculation about the reaction that he would get if that fact were more widely known amongst the rank-and-file ID crowd.) A non-creationist ID would posit divine intervention (or something equivalent) in evolution in at least one point in history, but that would be indistinguishable from plain theistic evolution. Even asserting something like human “ensoulment” requires that souls were created — thus, creationism. So unless you are willing to affirm that God guides evolution in ways completely consistent with a universe in which there is no God, you are a creationist.

    Your understanding of genetics is at least in part correct: genetic recombination does break up favourable gene combinations, but it also generates them. That is why it is called “recombination”. Favourable gene combinations are selected for just as are individual genes, and under the right circumstances (selection plus a number of caveats too boring to list here), they will be retained in the course of evolution.

    Finally, some ducks do in fact eat fish. Some ducks perch in trees. Do not underestimate the duck — or anything else in nature. It is a fabulous world out there.

    I must go and eat something now, as it is my dinnertime. I will probably try to include some vitamin C. Good night!

  64. #64 Benjamin L. Harville
    January 21, 2008

    In the next O’Leary post she makes it clear that ID is all about writing books for her. I left a comment thanking her for her honesty but I doubt it will make it through moderation.

  65. #65 Yip Heartburn
    January 21, 2008

    Denyse O’Leary wouldn’t know a scientific prediction if it bit her on the ass.

  66. #66 Hawks
    January 21, 2008

    1. At http://www.arn.org/docs/dembski/wd_isidtestable.htm, (written in 2001)Dembski states:

    Yes, intelligent design concedes predictability. (The quote is NOT out of context).

    Has he changed his mind?

    2. (A not so serious point)
    Since evolution would find it REALLY hard explaining how a house fly could give birth to a pig, does this mean according to ID logic that ID predicts that house flies will give birth to pigs?

  67. #67 XYZ
    January 22, 2008

    Opisthokont said (January 21, 2008 8:01 PM) —

    Coevolution is not all that perplexing — it just requires two things to interact over evolutionary time. The same thing happens with more general relationships: predators may become faster or acquire better senses, and their prey may get better camoflage.

    I specifically said that I was talking only about mutually beneficial co-evolution, where immediate evolutionary adaptations from the other organism may be required. In parasitism, predator-prey relationships, commensalism, etc., there is benefit to one of the organisms without an adaptation from the other organism (in fact, in parasitism and predator-prey relationships, it is better for the first organism if there is no adaptation from the second organism).

    Creationists claim that there are no transitional fossils, but in fact all fossils are transitional

    Creationists don’t claim that there are no transitional fossils — creationists just claim that there are missing links. And no, not all fossils are transitional — a fossil of a species that existed or has existed virtually unchanged for millions of years is not transitional.

    The fact that ID buzzwords are not mentioned in the Bible does not mean that it is not creationism.

    But no bible buzzwords are mentioned in ID either.

  68. #68 John Phillips, FCD
    January 22, 2008

    XYZ: Actually, if you read the wedge document (courtesy of the Discovery Institute and Phillip E Johnson, the prime pushers of IDiotism) you will see plenty of holy babble buzzwords and how their ultimate aim is a theocratic US. Getting IDiotism accepted as science and into the science classroom is simply one of the first steps. The wedge document showing that IDiotism is purely a political strategy rather than a scientific undertaking. As can be seen by their attempts to simply rubbish TOE rather than by doing any actual research themselves. But somehow, I get the feeling you already know all this.

  69. #69 Ginger Yellow
    January 22, 2008

    “Creationists don’t claim that there are no transitional fossils”

    So how do you explain this Answers in Genesis chapter entitled “There are no transitional fossils”?

  70. #70 Ginger Yellow
    January 22, 2008

    Or CreationWiki’s comment that “Creation scientists state that evolutionists have had over 140 years to find a transitional fossil and nothing approaching a conclusive transitional form has ever been found and that only a handful of highly doubtful examples of transitional fossils exist”?

  71. #71 Ginger Yellow
    January 22, 2008

    Trueorigin.org talks of “the myth of fossil transitions” and purports to explain why the assertion that “there are no transitional fossils” is “quite correct”.

    I could go on.

  72. #72 XYZ
    January 22, 2008

    Trueorigin.org talks of “the myth of fossil transitions” and purports to explain why the assertion that “there are no transitional fossils” is “quite correct

    OK, the creationists don’t believe in evolution and therefore might say that there are no true transitional fossils. But there are fossils that give the appearance of being transitional, e.g., Tiktaalik and Archaeopteryx.

  73. #73 Foggg
    January 22, 2008

    XYZ(aka Larry Farfarman):

    The birds can carry the flora and fauna only short distances. …
    A few miles can be too large — a fish can live for only a few minutes out of water. And what is the likelihood that the bird will drop the fish in another body of water? And what about aquatic plants?
    Ducks don’t eat fish and probably swallow their plant food before reaching another body of water.

    Unbelievevable bio-stoopidity.

    Has Larry ever heard of eggs? Does he know the meaning of totipotent plant cells?
    Fish eggs and individual plant cells can cling very well, thank you, to the feathers, legs and feet of aquatic birds. Which are ubiquitous and consist of far more than ducks and geese. In fact there are numerous ecological studies documenting and tracing the microflora/fauna attached to waterfowl.

    But the characteristic duality of massive bio-ignorance coupled with colossal arrogance are crank anti-evolutionists’ stock-in-trade. Larry has had a long past and a longer future.

  74. #74 Mary H
    January 22, 2008

    The latest issue of The Skeptic pointed out that the Templeton Foundation has offered millions of dollars to fund experiements that will demonstrate ID. In two years there have been no applications for these grants. IDers complain that they are shut out of scientific research because there is no money, but when there is money they still don’t do any research. Hummm I wonder why?

  75. #75 Daniel Gaston
    January 22, 2008

    Regarding the evolution of consciousness that’s a pretty complex field, and one I am only really passingly familiar with. But don’t we use things like the mirror test for self-recognition as a rought guide to studying consciousness in non-human animals. If I remember correctly Orangutans pass this almost 100% of the time, the same as humans; while chimps only do so about 50% of the time. Yet chimps are considered by most objective standards to be more intelligent. (i.e. Intelligence and Consciousness are two separate things). If this rough guide is any indication then “half conscious” beings already exist, and are in fact closer related to us then another fully conscious primate.

    O’Leary, as usual, is full of crap and has no knowledge of what science has actually discovered and learned over the last several decades, especially in emergent fields.

  76. #76 dale
    January 22, 2008

    This is like reading Ken Ham’s new scientific “journal.”

    Of course, it is only Ham’s fundie believers that read that stuff and if one of the “scientists” says, The finosco imbrated skeletal remains prove that evolution didn’t happen, they all go running around telling all their friends that evolution did not happen. When asked why, they say that scientists have now shown this to be true. Problem is that there an awful lot of them clueless bastards.

  77. #77 trrll
    January 22, 2008

    am getting tired of seeing “ID creationism.” There is nothing in the bible about irreducible complexity, bacterial flagella, blood-clotting cascades, etc..
    Ritchie Annand said (January 21, 2008 2:28 PM)

    Perhaps, but before the term “intelligent design” was coined, there were plenty of people who called themselves “creationists,” but who were not Biblical creationists. Indeed, I have yet to hear a single idea or argument from ID people that was not previously used by people who identified themselves as creationists.

    Moreover, as Barbara Forrest has so thoroughly documented, the people who first promoted the use of the term “intelligent design” were the same people who previously defined themselves as “creationists.” She even identified an “intermediate form” between the two terms, “cdesesign proponentists,” clearly demonstrating how the term “creationism” evolved into “intelligent design.” And considering that all “intelligent design” proponents believe in the sudden creation of at least some forms of life, which is after all the fundamental concept of creationism, I think that we are on solid ground in regarding ID as a form of creationism.

  78. #78 XYZ
    January 22, 2008

    Foggg ( January 22, 2008 10:22 AM ) —

    Unbelievevable bio-stoopidity.
    Has **** ever heard of eggs? Does he know the meaning of totipotent plant cells?
    . . . . But the characteristic duality of massive bio-ignorance coupled with colossal arrogance are crank anti-evolutionists’ stock-in-trade. ***** has had a long past and a longer future.

    You Darwinists just turn people off with your supercilious insults and condescension. I noticed that you didn’t insult the Darwinists who responded to my comments without making the points you did. You made some good points but I am reluctant to dignify your abusive comment by responding to them, but I will.

    Fish eggs and individual plant cells can cling very well, thank you, to the feathers, legs and feet of aquatic birds.

    I looked up the subject of fish eggs and found that some fish bear live young (I already knew that because I used to fish) but the fish that bear live young are mainly saltwater. I also found that some fish eggs are sticky but others are not, so there is the question of how some fish eggs cling to the bodies of birds. I presume that there are also some aquatic plant seeds or totipotent cells that are not designed to cling to the bodies of birds. Also, such haphazard transfer of species might not be enough to establish viable new populations.

    In researching this subject, I found the following interesting example of eggs that can survive passage through the digestive tracts of birds:

    http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-2427.2000.00547.x?cookieSet=1&journalCode=fwb

    An interesting case is the golden trout — considered to be a subspecies of rainbow trout — which occurs in only a few places in California. There is the question of how the golden trout managed to maintain its isolation — the introduction of rainbow trout causes dilution of the golden trout’s genes.

    And there is still the unexplained mystery of co-evolution.

  79. #79 Dave S.
    January 22, 2008

    It’s only a mystery to you Larry.

  80. #80 trrll
    January 22, 2008

    XYZ opines:

    Also, IMO something need not make predictions to be considered scientific. Merely showing the weaknesses in scientific theories can be scientific without making predictions.

    This is a particularly revealing remark, because all scientific progress comes from testing predictions. Indeed, if you think that you are “showing the weaknesses” in a scientific theory, but are unable to articulate those supposed weaknesses in the form of a prediction that can be tested by experiment or observation, then you aren’t showing anything at all, just engaging in empty verbiage. An idea or argument that does not lead to predictions is invariably a scientific dead end.

    I think that the purpose of Michael Behe’s book “The Edge of Evolution” was to “predict” that Darwinian evolution is unlikely to produce substantial changes in unfavorable situations by showing that it has limited ability to produce change in favorable situations.

    This is very typical of the ID/creationist notion of what a prediction is. It includes all of the key features:
    a) It is not a “prediction” about the evidence at all, but just a hand-waving assertion. No experiment or observation is proposed to test the prediction
    b) It has a couple of built-in escapes–“unlikely” and “substantial”–so no matter how much evidence of evolutionary change is found, they can always insist “that’s not substantial enough,” or “OK, so maybe it happened in those cases, but you’ve got to find a lot more to demonstrate that it is likely.”

    Creationists don’t claim that there are no transitional fossils — creationists just claim that there are missing links.

    Unfortunately, that makes it totally vacuous, since there is no conceivable mechanism for preserving every single transitional form, so “missing links” are expected under evolutionary theory. Of course, “no transitional fossils” would be a prediction (a wrong one, but a prediction nevertheless). But in its typical horror of saying anything definitve, ID goes for, “There may be transitional fossils or there may not, and we have no way of saying which will be missing and which will not.”

  81. #81 Michael Ralston
    January 22, 2008

    “XYZ” (since you apparently believe your name to be a curse word … well … whatever.) …

    … have you considered that pretty much every case of co-evolution consists of two organisms, each of which has some trait the other organism depends on … but that other, moderately similar organisms, DO NOT?

    Thus, there is a simple explanatory path with no mystery involved.
    Step one: One organism develops some trait that to it has either no selective effect (neutral drift) or a small positive one.
    Step two: The other organism acquires the ability to exploit this trait IN ADDITION TO whatever mechanism it previous relied on.
    Step three: The first organism “discovers” some trait of the second organism proves advantageous – but again, not yet necessary.
    Step four: One of te two organisms involved acquires dependance on the other organism’s previously-mentioned trait, a process which typically provides an advantage via specialization; only being able to consume a very specific diet, for instance, is advantageous if that diet is always available. A flower only releasing pollen to a specific type of insect is advantageous if that insect already preferentially visits that kind of flower, since it means less pollen wasted on insects that go to different kinds of flowers afterwards. And so on.
    NOTE: At this point, one organism REQUIRES the other, but that organism merely BENEFITS from the first one.
    And then, step five: The organism which didn’t acquire specificity to the other one now does so, for much the same reasons as noted before.

    To make the possible chain of events clearer, here’s a “just so story” for the evolution of a flower that requires a very specific kind of insect, and an inspect that requires that very specific kind of flower.

    First, we start with two organisms: A plant that simply releases pollen, and an insect that eats the sap from most plants.

    Now, our plant acquires some kind of unique characteristic around the areas where the most pollen is released – which are also very sap-heavy. This is a neutral mutation in and of itself, but could well be linked to beneficial mutations – perhaps this distinctive characteristic is the result of something that makes the plant produce more pollen.

    Well, if our insect now acquires the trait of tending to feed off of such specific areas of plants, that’s advantageous; it finds sap-heavy areas more frequently, thus gets more food, etc etc.

    Note: This is also advantageous for the plant. It gets pollen stuck to the insectsn more frequently … yay! Better reproduction.

    Now, the plant “wants” the insects to land on the pollen-producing areas. So at this point, making them more distinct – specifically, in any way that will lead to exploiting quirks of the insects such as to make them land there more frequently – is good. This is enough to get visually distinctive flowers, but won’t get us “buzz pollination” or any of that type of thing yet.

    Likewise, our insects benefit from evolving to be better able to recognize flowers – and possibly even from being better able to recognize SPECIFIC flowers, since that means less wasted time on things that just look like a flower.

    Well, now we have a species of insect that preferentially feeds off of the sap at a specific flower, and a species of plant that has evolved to be highly attractive to that species of insect.

    Both of them are capable of surviving without one another – but both of them can “count on” the presence of the other.

    Now, any mutation that plant has which leads it to be less likely to release pollen onto OTHER insects without significantly reducing the probability of releasing pollen onto this insect is good; As long as this insect is around, the plant will be wasting less pollen, and thus be more efficient.

    Meanwhile, if this insect starts mutating to lose the ability to feed off of other plants, it has reduced metabolic costs, either by not producing certain kinds of complex body parts, or by not producing various types of enzymes, or what have you. Meanwhile, it’s not suffering any negative consequences of this function loss – since it can still feed off of the plant it was preferentially feeding off of ANYWAY.

    Iterate this a few times, and you end up with a plant that REQUIRES a specific insect to reproduce, and an insect that REQUIRES a specific plant to survive.

    And yet, each step requires changes in only one species at a time, and if the mutations for the next step didn’t happen, would be perfectly stable.

    So … why is coevolution a problem, again?

  82. #82 Leni
    January 22, 2008

    Oh please Michael! You can’t possibly expect us to believe that! It could never happen that way. At least not more than maybe once, according to my calculations. ;)

    More seriously, I noticed that Larry minimizes one explanation at a time without ever taking the big picture into account. If he can make it seem as if a particular mechanism couldn’t be the dominant mechanism, then he can dismiss it without considering that it is one of several contributing mechanisms acting over billions of years. Of course sticky eggs aren’t going to be the only way, nor is it going to be the only way even for species with sticky eggs. But sticky eggs, wind, topography changes, flooding, estuaries, water flow between bodies of water, connecting rivers, etc, all acting together form a very different and more complete picture than the one Larry wants to consider.

  83. #83 Timcol
    January 23, 2008

    Looks like Denyse O’Leary is now playing the martyr card at UD:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-old-order-changes-amid-a-storm-of-abuse/

    Apparently all us poor atheists are just angry-as-hell about the imminent collapse of atheism which of course is really masking our true rebellion against Jesus and his Daddy. And all the IDers are True Saints for holding the faith and suffering all of the awful persecution and abuse from the demonic atheists. Or something like that.

    Whatever it is, it is clear that O’Leary has no intention of actually entering into an honest, proper discussion of her ideas. Go try it – make a comment on her blog that’s polite, reasonable and well argued – only rarely will it be published. I don’t think we should resort to ad hominem attacks, but it’s easy to see why many of us do.

  84. #84 MartinM
    January 23, 2008

    Apparently all us poor atheists are just angry-as-hell about the imminent collapse of atheism

    Now that’s as clear a case of projection as you could ever hope to see.

  85. #85 Collin Brendemuehl
    January 23, 2008

    Will you reconcile the materialistic determinism requisite for evolution with the concept of free will?
    I’ll await your answer.

    Collin
    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com

  86. #86 MartinM
    January 23, 2008

    Well, apart from the facts that a) evolution does not require determinism, and b) you haven’t even bothered to coherently define ‘free will,’ that’s a perfectly good challenge.

  87. #87 FSTDT Friend
    January 23, 2008

    Collin’s questions; two answers:

    “Word salad anyone?”

    or

    “Bruce here is in charge of Hegelian philosophy and Bruce here is in charge of the sheep dip.”..

  88. #88 Blake Stacey
    January 23, 2008

    It’s funny that on the one hand, we can be told that evolution requires “materialistic determinism”, while on the other, people are wailing, “Darwinists just assume everything fell together by chance!”

  89. #89 SLC
    January 23, 2008

    Re XYZ

    Mr. XYZ is none other then Ed Braytons’ favorite whackjob, Larry Fafarman who trolls on several blogs spreading his version of horsepucky. He has been banned on Mr. Braytons’ and Mr. Dunfords’ blog and Prof. Rosenhouse should also ban him on this blog as he has nothing to contribute except to provide unintended hilarity.

  90. #90 Collin Brendemuehl
    January 23, 2008

    MartinM,
    Define freedom in any sense you wish, and then let me know how you came to your conclusions. And please do this in the light of the existence of only the natural world (matter-energy).
    IOW, I don’t know that the answers are quite as silly as FSTDT seems to think.

  91. #91 Ginger Yellow
    January 23, 2008

    I wouldn’t normally feed the troll, but since the thread has already veered off track, what the hell.

    1) We don’t know that the universe is deterministic. Quantum effects blah blah blah.

    2) Even if it’s not deterministic, that has no bearing on free will. What makes a decision “caused” by a quantum fluctuation any more free than a determined one?

    3) I don’t don’t think free will exists in the woolly, classical sense of a free floating will that is magically free of cause and effect, yet still guides our actions.

    4) I do think it exists in the sense that certain things called selves, possessed by certain living creatures, can meaningfully be said to make choices.

    5) Those choices, however, are reliabily but unpredictably determined by (more or less) the sum of biological predispostion, past experiences and present stimuli.

    To sum up: free will as commonly understood is more or less an illusion, but it’s an illusion of a kind useful morally and legally. Treating people as independent moral agents engenders moral behaviour.

    Having fed the troll, I must now chastise him. Colin, it’s very bad form to jump into a long thread, post an off-topic question and demand an answer. Don’t be surprised if people get angry with you or call you a troll.

  92. #92 W. Kevin Vicklund
    January 23, 2008

    SLC: Larry has already been banned.

    I read somewhere that sexual reproduction breaks up favorable gene combinations that have accumulated through natural selection.

    The biblical creationist that you mention and link to on your blog is inaccurate. As I have pointed out several times on your blog -in fact showing you the results of my own numerical analysis- the net effect of sexual reproduction is that there are more offspring with one or both traits than the previous generation. Why do you keep repeating what you have been shown is false? It makes you a liar.

    In researching this subject, I found the following interesting example of eggs that can survive passage through the digestive tracts of birds:

    In his usual inability to comprehend what he’s reading, Larry links us to an article titled “Fish as vectors in the dispersal of Bythotrephes cederstroemi: diapausing eggs survive passage through the gut” For those who can’t tell immediately what is wrong with Larry’s description of the article, it is about how the eggs of a crustacean can survive passage through the digestive tract of fish, not birds. This is typical of Larry’s scholarship. Despite the fact that he constantly demands that his opponents need to “show me” he rarely provides any support for his arguments, and when he does, the support usually says something quite different than what he claims.

    An interesting case is the golden trout — considered to be a subspecies of rainbow trout — which occurs in only a few places in California. There is the question of how the golden trout managed to maintain its isolation — the introduction of rainbow trout causes dilution of the golden trout’s genes.

    Just because something can happen doesn’t mean that it will happen. The golden trout was a population of rainbow trout that got trapped in a single watershed in the Sierra Nevadas due to glaciation and tectonic activity about 70,000 years ago. Physical barriers such as waterfalls and many miles of separation prevented the main trout poulatin from mixing. Subsequently, other barriers within the watershed (known as the Golden Trout Wilderness) such as waterfalls created subpopulations. About 10,000 years ago, Lake Tulare became connected to the San Joaquim drainage system, which allowed coastal rainbow trout to hybridize with the golden trout in the main Kern River, producing golden rainbow trout. The southern fork of the Kern River, the Golden Trout Creek, and the Volcano Creek remained isolated, preserving the golden trout phenotype. After some time, barriers again arose downstream of the watershed (dating at least to the drainage of Lake Tulare, if not before) preventing coastal trout from gaining access to the watershed, until humans started introducing them to the area.

    Note that there were several instances where isolation was only temporary, despite Larry’s assertations that this is an “unreasonable explanation.”

  93. #93 Collin Brendemuehl
    January 23, 2008

    Ginger Yellow,

    The core question concerns the legitimacy of ID vs the legitimacy of evolutionary biology. I think there are some particular characteristics of naturalism that deserve reconsideration. If these questions can be so easily dismissed without consideration, then it would seem that the fundamental position may be weak, or at least that the proponents do not know how to adequately defend their position.

    This goes far beyond trolling. Trolling is for trouble-makers. Hard questions and thoughtful, well-considered answers are for people who care about their position.

    You’ve taken the compatibalist position. That’s the regular response. It seems a little difficult to support since it’s impossible to step outside of our system and observe it objectively.

    Let’s be civil and enjoy some good conversation.

    Collin

  94. #94 SLC
    January 23, 2008

    Re W. Kevin Vicklund

    Unfortunately, Mr. Fafarman changes monikers and IP addresses to insinuate himself in various blogs. Probably, the only way to keep his crap off this blog is to do what Ed Brayton does which is to physically remove any comments he leaves. I doubt that Prof. Rosenhouse has the time to do the same.

  95. #95 Ginger Yellow
    January 23, 2008

    “The core question concerns the legitimacy of ID vs the legitimacy of evolutionary biology.”

    No it doesn’t. This thread is about the empirical predictions that ID does or does not make.

    “I think there are some particular characteristics of naturalism that deserve reconsideration.”

    Evolutionary biology is not the same as naturalism. There are many, many evolutionary biologists who believe in the supernatural. Nothing about evolutionary biology requires a belief in philosophical naturalism, or vice versa, except in so far as evolutionary biology is by far the best explanation for the diversity of life in a naturalistic universe.

  96. #96 SLC
    January 23, 2008

    Re Collin Brendemuehl

    Mr. Brendemuehl is confusing the concepts of methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism. The former is science, the latter is philosophy. Read Prof. Barbara Forrests’ testimony at the Dover trial for a more complete explanation.

    The reason why ID is not a scientific theory is very simple. A scientific theory must satisfy three principals.

    1. It must be explanatory; IDs’ explanation is god did it. That violates the principal of methodological naturalism because it explains nothing.

    2. It must be predictive; ID predicts nothing because the outcome of any experiment or observation can be explained by god did it.

    3. It must be falsifiable; ID is not falsifiable because it is not possible to falsifiable the notion that god did it.

  97. #97 Sastra
    January 23, 2008

    Well, heck, I’m no scientist, but even I can do better than Ms. O’Leary. Here are MY predictions:

    Prediction 1: By focusing on areas hitherto unknown, astronomers will discover clearly legible words, phrases, and even sentences spelled out by stars. Since these stars are far apart from each other, and the messages can be read on earth, the best explanation is that an Intelligent Designer of Enormous Power is trying to communicate with us. Failure to find such messages counts against ID.

    Prediction 2: Studying the DNA of religious leaders will reveal messages written in teeny tiny letters readable only by electron microscopes. These messages couldn’t “just happen” because they will make extremely accurate predictions of historical events which will be fulfilled within the lifetime of the first discoverers. Failure to find these messages will count against ID.

    Prediction 3: Psychokensis and Out of Body Experiences will be proven in rigid, replicable laboratory situations, demonstrating mind-body duality and the mechanism that drives sudden bursts of creativity . The failure to confirm the mind’s ability to move matter through Thought and disassociate itself from brains will count against ID.

    Prediction 4: Species will prove far more resilient than believed, and those which are currently endangered will suddenly increase in number without being born to previous members of the species, fully intact, well adapted to pollution, and able to do without food and water for long periods. The failure of a species to thrive against all odds counts against ID.

    Prediction 5: We will focus on what consciousness can really do by discovering that the Power of Positive Thought and Visualization can create measurable, predictable, replicable effects in controlled settings, thus establishing immaterial mind forces as capable of magically acting upon matter for the betterment of mankind. The failure of Wishful Thinking counts against ID.

    Prediction 6: Brain areas involving telepathic and clairvoyant abilities will be discovered and confirmed in controlled laboratory settings. A failure to confirm this counts against ID.

    Prediction 7: The relationship between the mind and the brain will be discovered to be an optional one, allowing difficult mental disorders to be addressed through transplanting the mind into a new brain. A failure to achieve this successfully counts against ID.

    Prediction 8: Alternative forms of energy healing involving a “life force” will be verified and mainstreamed into physics, thus allowing better health for people with complex illnesses. Failure to confirm Vitalism and faith healing will count against ID.

    Prediction 9: When any man in any culture beats his wife, a loud, booming voice from the sky will announce “I SAY YOU SHOULDN’T BEAT YOUR WIFE!” Failure to confirm this counts against ID.

    Prediction 10: ID research scientists will eagerly get to work setting up experiments to test my first 9 predictions. Complaints that “This is not how we test ID” because, while positive results will certainly count FOR ID, negative results will not count AGAINST it, will count against ID.

    There. I think that’s a lot more science-y.

  98. #98 Collin Brendemuehl
    January 23, 2008

    Ginger Yellow,

    This thread is about the empirical predictions that ID does or does not make.
    And that’s not about legitimacy? Of course it is.

    …except in so far as evolutionary biology is by far the best explanation for the diversity of life in a naturalistic universe.
    But don’t classic and neo-Darwinian systematics require origins in a purely material universe? Don’t they require spontaneous generation of life? Your caveat seems to be your surrender.

    SLC,
    Science and philosophy cannot be separated. (We have the same situation in theology.) The construct that we know as the Scientific Method is first a philosophical method based on a set of presuppositions about the observable world around us.
    We know that not everything in science is subject to The Method. Much of quantum physics and cosmology are based upon mathematical computation and the parts computed to exist are never observed. Verificationism in science left two decades or so ago, but apparently not enough recognize the situation.
    Cosmologists like Carl Sagan and physical scientists like Newton generally mixed science and philosophy. It’s just a part of history.

    The problem with Dembski’s book (I’m surprised how few have actually read it) is that he mixed two elements which should have been kept separate. Dembski’s material on information was a useful criticism of the presumed randomness required by the naturalist. His injection of the Cause should have been a separate piece.

    Your criticism in point #1 is useful. I don’t think ID should be seen as a “scientific” theory, but it should also not be discounted. It makes a very suitable Popperism, if the naturalist is willing to face a hard question.
    Your understanding of ID seems a little weak. “God did it” is too easy a target. The mathematics are a little more difficult, if you’ll take the challenge. At this point, all of the criticisms of the math (that I’ve read) have been criticism by possible exception rather than falsification.
    BTW, you begged the question badly, assuming that methodological naturalism is currect.

  99. #99 SLC
    January 23, 2008

    Re Colin Brendemuehl

    “Science and philosophy cannot be separated. (We have the same situation in theology.) The construct that we know as the Scientific Method is first a philosophical method based on a set of presuppositions about the observable world around us.”

    Mr. Brendemuehls’ argument is with Prof. Forrest, a professional philosopher, not with me. I suggest that Mr. Mrendemuehl read her testimony at the Dover trial and the proffer which she submitted in support of that testimony. She makes very clear the difference between methodological and philosophical naturalism (the latter is actually a fancy term for atheism). As a matter of fact, it is perfectly possible to be a methodological naturalist and a philosophical theist (e.g. Ken Miller, Francisco Ayala, Francis Collins, etc.)

    “But don’t classic and neo-Darwinian systematics require origins in a purely material universe? Don’t they require spontaneous generation of life? Your caveat seems to be your surrender.”

    It really gets rather tiresome to repeat this over and over again but the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and the evolution of life are three entirely separate concepts which have nothing to do with each other. The theory of evolution in no way, shape, form, or regard required the spontaneous generation of life and in fact makes no assumption in that regard. It has nothing to do with any theory of how life originated. Period, end of story. Only the creationists conflate the two for the purpose of sowing confusion.

    “We know that not everything in science is subject to The Method. Much of quantum physics and cosmology are based upon mathematical computation and the parts computed to exist are never observed. Verificationism in science left two decades or so ago, but apparently not enough recognize the situation.”

    Quantum mechanics makes testable predictions which can be observed. For instance, the theory of quantum electrodynamics predicts a value of the anomalous magnetic moment of the electron which agrees with experimental observations to 1 part in 10 trillion! The theory of evolution makes testable predictions which can be observed. For instance, the hypothesis that apes and humans have a common ancestor requires that a pair of ape chromosomes must have merged in order to explain the difference between the 48 chromosomes that apes have and the 46 chromosomes that humans have. This has been observed as ape chromosomes 2 and 12 have been identified with human chromosome 2. ID makes no testable predictions.

    “Cosmologists like Carl Sagan and physical scientists like Newton generally mixed science and philosophy. It’s just a part of history.”

    What Issac Newton thought is irrelevant as he lived 400 years ago when the scientific revolution was in its infancy and nobody had any conception of methodological naturalism. As for Carl Sagan, I am not aware that any philosophy he had in any way, shape, form, or regard affected his scientific claims.

    “The problem with Dembski’s book (I’m surprised how few have actually read it) is that he mixed two elements which should have been kept separate. Dembski’s material on information was a useful criticism of the presumed randomness required by the naturalist. His injection of the Cause should have been a separate piece.”

    Prof. Dumbskis’ book has been completely discredited. As an example, see for instance commentaries by Prof. Jeffery Shallit or the author of this blog.

    “Your understanding of ID seems a little weak. “God did it” is too easy a target. The mathematics are a little more difficult, if you’ll take the challenge. At this point, all of the criticisms of the math (that I’ve read) have been criticism by possible exception rather than falsification”

    The mathematical concepts introduced (e.g. specified complexity) by Prof. Dumbski are not an argument for ID but an argument against evolution. I don’t have to take the challenge. Prof. Shallit and the author of this blog among others have taken the challenge and have shown Dumbski for the phony that he is.

  100. #100 XYZ
    January 23, 2008

    trrll said ( January 22, 2008 6:10 PM ) —

    Indeed, if you think that you are “showing the weaknesses” in a scientific theory, but are unable to articulate those supposed weaknesses in the form of a prediction that can be tested by experiment or observation, then you aren’t showing anything at all, just engaging in empty verbiage.

    Ideas need not make predictions to be considered scientific. For example, look at punctuated equilibrium — it is just a philosophical criticism of gradualism. A lot of the study of biological origins is just philosophy.

    It is not a “prediction” about the evidence at all, but just a hand-waving assertion. No experiment or observation is proposed to test the prediction

    LOL — and you think there is not a lot of “hand-waving” in Darwinism?

    First, we start with two organisms: A plant that simply releases pollen, and an insect that eats the sap from most plants.

    You are already begging the question by assuming at the beginning that there are already plants that produce sap and insects that eat sap (or nectar). But producing sap or nectar is of no benefit to the plant.

    Even in cases of mutually beneficial co-evolution where there is no total co-dependence (i.e., the organisms cannot survive without each other), a mutation producing a co-dependent trait in one of the organisms is of no benefit in natural selection unless the corresponding co-dependent trait is locally present in the other organism. In contrast, a pig that sprouts wings can fly immediately, as I have already pointed out. You are missing my point. Even where mutually beneficial mutations occur in two kinds of organisms, those mutations may occur many miles and/or many years apart and so are not going to do either organism any good — at least not any immediate good. And it may be virtually impossible for co-evolution to produce total co-dependence. You Darwinists have not even explicitly conceded my point that mutually beneficial co-evolution, even if not impossible, can be far more difficult and much slower than evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., water, land, air, and climate. You are implicitly conceding that point by suggesting long, convoluted pathways for co-evolution.

    Kevin Vicklund driveled,

    SLC: Larry has already been banned.

    Dunghills Kevin Vicklund and SLC are again pointing fingers and making insults and ad hominem attacks.

    For those who can’t tell immediately what is wrong with Larry’s description of the article, it is about how the eggs of a crustacean can survive passage through the digestive tract of fish, not birds.

    OK, I missed that point. But maybe what passes through the gut of a fish can also pass through the gut of some birds. And if the eggs cannot pass through a bird’s gut, that is one less way that eggs can be carried by birds from one body of water to another.

    The golden trout was a population of rainbow trout that got trapped in a single watershed in the Sierra Nevadas due to glaciation and tectonic activity about 70,000 years ago. Physical barriers such as waterfalls and many miles of separation prevented the main trout poulatin from mixing.

    But I thought that fish and their eggs were supposed to be carried from one body of water to another by birds and tornadoes.

    SLC drivels,

    Probably, the only way to keep his crap off this blog is to do what Ed Brayton does which is to physically remove any comments he leaves. I doubt that Prof. Rosenhouse has the time to do the same.

    Or maybe the good professor is concerned about the reputation of his blog. Who would want to come to a blog to see just one side of a debate?

    Another important point is that it would be unconstitutional to have these discussions in a public school science classroom.

  101. #101 W. Kevin Vicklund
    January 23, 2008

    You are already begging the question by assuming at the beginning that there are already plants that produce sap and insects that eat sap (or nectar). But producing sap or nectar is of no benefit to the plant.

    Yeah, just like producing blood and milk is of no use to mammals. Sap is like blood to plants – you need a refresher course on biology, Larry. It is rich in nutrients, and thus a prime target for insects. Unless, of course, a plant can produce something more nutritious that an insect, when harvesting it, doesn’t harm the plant. Especially if the plant can turn that into a benefit, such as a lure for insects to come and distribute its germ cells to similar plants…

    Even in cases of mutually beneficial co-evolution where there is no total co-dependence (i.e., the organisms cannot survive without each other), a mutation producing a co-dependent trait in one of the organisms is of no benefit in natural selection unless the corresponding co-dependent trait is locally present in the other organism.

    Similarly, a mutation that produces a trait that relies on a feature of the “fixed” environment is of no benefit in natural selection unless the corresponding feature is locally present in the environment. Your objection is turned upon itself.

    In contrast, a pig that sprouts wings can fly immediately, as I have already pointed out. You are missing my point.

    No, your point is inapt.

    Even where mutually beneficial mutations occur in two kinds of organisms, those mutations may occur many miles and/or many years apart and so are not going to do either organism any good — at least not any immediate good.

    Similarly, the necessary feature in the environment may be present, but too far away to do the organism any good.

    And it may be virtually impossible for co-evolution to produce total co-dependence.

    Then again it might not. “I’m from Missouri, you’ll have to show me” that it is impossible. Bald assertion without supporting data or at least a coherent hypothesis does not count as showing me.

    You Darwinists have not even explicitly conceded my point that mutually beneficial co-evolution, even if not impossible, can be far more difficult and much slower than evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., water, land, air, and climate.

    Well, that would be because evolutionary theory predicts that co-evolution is less difficult and much faster than evolutionary adaptation to “fixed” features of the environment. It’s like you’re demanding that we concede that you’re more likely to find a pair of pants that fit in a store that carries only one size than you are to find a pair that fits in a store with multiple sizes and a tailor. A land-locked pig that is born with gills instead of lungs will be just as dead as a pig only able to digest nectar in a place without nectar. Of course, nothing in evolution or co-evolution suggests that we would expect either to spontaneously arise in a well-established population.

    You are implicitly conceding that point by suggesting long, convoluted pathways for co-evolution.

    No, we are just informing you of the way co-evolution actually works. Evolutionary adaptation to “fixed” features works in exactly the same way, except it takes even longer. Do you even understand what a positive feed-back loop is?

    Dunghills Kevin Vicklund and SLC are again pointing fingers and making insults and ad hominem attacks.

    Says the person who initiated the pointing of fingers, insults, and ad hominem attacks. Watch the settings on those irony meters, folks.

    But I thought that fish and their eggs were supposed to be carried from one body of water to another by birds and tornadoes.

    And once again, Larry proves he is incapable of reading for comprehension. Just because something can happen doesn’t mean that it will. Of course, it’s been two weeks and you still haven’t been able to show us even one example of a “natural occurrence of isolated groups of the same species of aquatic freshwater organisms — e.g., fish and aquatic plants — in different lakes, rivers, and streams that apparently were never connected to each other.” There is no evidence that this dilemma even exists in nature, let alone that there are more cases than could easily be explained by the various mechanisms described above. Show me.

  102. #102 SLC
    January 23, 2008

    Re XYZ

    Ed Brayton has a message for Mr. Fafarland. Take a long walk on a short pier.

  103. #103 Caledonian
    January 23, 2008

    physical scientists like Newton

    Newton was not a scientist, physical or otherwise. He was a ‘natural philosopher’, an intellectual movement that eventually developed into science, but it lacked the rigorous standards later adopted. Which is why he was so into alchemy and numerological theology.

  104. #104 Ginger Yellow
    January 24, 2008

    “This thread is about the empirical predictions that ID does or does not make.
    And that’s not about legitimacy? Of course it is.”

    *sigh*

    This blog is about the legitimacy of evolution and ID (and mathematics and chess). This thread is about a particular aspect of the debate, one which has nothing to do with naturalism. If you want to discuss naturalism, find a thread about it. There are many, many such threads in the blogosphere. Look through the ScienceBlogs links till you find one. It’s extremely annoying when creationists barge into every single thread demanding answers to off topic questions that have been discussed at length elsewhere. If we wanted to discuss every single aspect of theism/atheism and evolution/creationism in every single thread, we’d just have one enormous thread like John A Davison. This is why I called you a troll. It’s classic troll behaviour, no matter how “civil” you think you’re being.

    We’re done here, unless you want to suggest any predictions that ID makes.

  105. #105 MartinM
    January 24, 2008

    It’s funny that on the one hand, we can be told that evolution requires “materialistic determinism”, while on the other, people are wailing, “Darwinists just assume everything fell together by chance!”

    Sometimes, it’s even the same person:

    the materialistic determinism requisite for evolution

    Dembski’s material on information was a useful criticism of the presumed randomness required by the naturalist

  106. #106 Collin Brendemuehl
    January 24, 2008

    That the forms of naturalism are not quite so distinct as one would be led to believe should be clear to anyone who reads the field instead of engaging in name-calling (“Dumbski”). While the terms certainly differ in definition, the application of the terms, as they would in any other field, overlap significantly. A simple Google search yields good results:
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=+Forrest+methodological+naturalism
    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/naturalism/
    http://www.metanexus.net/Magazine/tabid/68/id/10028/Default.aspx
    The two fields, science and philosophy, cannot be separated. To presume their complete distinction is naive.

    Only the creationists conflate the two for the purpose of sowing confusion.
    Again no. The distinction that you drew, that one could be a type of theist and a type of naturalist at the same time is the very same confusion.

    Who here has seen a quantum element? Nobody. Effects have been observed, through experimentation that was preceded by calculation, but not by visual inspection. You can cling to verificationism all your might, but it’s just not there.

    Enjoy,

    Collin

  107. #107 XYZ
    January 24, 2008

    Kevin Vicklund driveled,

    Sap is like blood to plants – you need a refresher course on biology

    I didn’t know what was meant by “sap.” The sap in stems and tree trunks is often inaccessible to insects and insects don’t spread pollen by consuming this sap.

    It is rich in nutrients, and thus a prime target for insects.

    Maple sap, for example, is not “rich” in nutrients — 40 gallons of maple sap must be boiled down to make one gallon of maple syrup. Also, it is necessary to cut the bark to collect the maple sap and the sap flows only within a narrow range of temperatures near freezing.

    There is also the nectar that collects at the bottoms of flower cups — does that nectar serve any purpose for the flower?

    mutation that produces a trait that relies on a feature of the “fixed” environment is of no benefit in natural selection unless the corresponding feature is locally present in the environment.

    But air and climate are everywhere and either land or water is everywhere.

    In contrast, a pig that sprouts wings can fly immediately, as I have already pointed out.
    No, your point is inapt.

    It’s just a hypothetical example to illustrate my point — “when pigs fly” is a popular expression.

    Similarly, the necessary feature in the environment may be present, but too far away to do the organism any good.

    Wrong. Air and climate are present everywhere, and wherever you are there is either land or water. Special types of land and water, e.g., deserts, plains, mountains, fresh water, and salt water — also cover large areas.

    And it may be virtually impossible for co-evolution to produce total co-dependence.
    Then again it might not.

    If both co-dependent organisms have traits that absolutely require the existence of corresponding co-dependent traits in the other organism, then co-evolution might be virtually impossible. It might be possible that at one stage in the evolution of bees they had the ability to consume both nectar and other foods, but that is another very difficult evolutionary step, and why aren’t such dual-food bees here today (sort of like the question, “if we evolved from monkeys, then why aren’t the missing links here today?”)?

    . . .evolutionary theory predicts that co-evolution is less difficult and much faster than evolutionary adaptation to “fixed” features of the environment. It’s like you’re demanding that we concede that you’re more likely to find a pair of pants that fit in a store that carries only one size than you are to find a pair that fits in a store with multiple sizes and a tailor.

    That is a stupid analogy. If your size is very unusual, it is more likely that it isn’t made at all or is not available where you are. And who is the “tailor” — the “intelligent designer”?

    Evolutionary adaptation to “fixed” features works in exactly the same way, except it takes even longer.

    That’s bullshit.

    Says the person who initiated the pointing of fingers, insults, and ad hominem attacks.

    More bullshit. My comments were quite civil until you and that other dunghill SLC came along.

    But I thought that fish and their eggs were supposed to be carried from one body of water to another by birds and tornadoes.
    Just because something can happen doesn’t mean that it will.

    But I thought that fish eggs were supposed to easily attach to the bodies of birds, and with all those thousands of years, rainbow trout should have been transplanted to the habitat of golden trout.

    Of course, it’s been two weeks and you still haven’t been able to show us even one example of a “natural occurrence of isolated groups of the same species of aquatic freshwater organisms — e.g., fish and aquatic plants — in different lakes, rivers, and streams that apparently were never connected to each other.”

    I don’t have to give examples — they are all over the place.

    Dunghill SLC driveled,

    Re XYZ

    Ed Brayton has a message for XYZ. Take a long walk on a short pier.

    I have a message for you. I can take a long walk on a short pier because I have the sense to turn around — something that you and Fatheaded Ed lack.

  108. #108 SLC
    January 24, 2008

    Re XYZ

    The problem with Mr. Fafarman is that he breaths out but he doesn’t breath in.

  109. #109 SLC
    January 25, 2008

    Re Collin Brendemuehl

    1. On the subject of the connection, if any, between philosophical naturalism and methodological naturalism, I am afraid that Mr. Brendemuehl and I will have to agree to disagree, hopefully not disagreeably. My position is that the ability of philosophical theists such as Prof. Ken Miller to do science (i.e. methodological naturalism) is proof that the notion that the two are inseparable is false. In this regard, I also disagree with Prof. Richard Dawkins with whom Mr. Brendemuehl is apparently in agreement.

    2. “Who here has seen a quantum element? Nobody. Effects have been observed, through experimentation that was preceded by calculation, but not by visual inspection. You can cling to verificationism all your might, but it’s just not there.”

    I don’t have the slightest idea what Mr. Brendemuehl is talking about here. What is mean by the term “quantum element?” If he means that nobody has ever observed an electron by visual inspection, so what. Nobody has ever observed a black hole by visual inspection. As a matter of fact, the theory of quantum mechanics precludes the observation of an electron by visual inspection as its position and momentum cannot be simultaneously observed with infinite precision. And, as a further matter of fact, a black hole cannot be observed by visual inspection.

    3. There appears to be a disconnect between Mr. Brendemuehls’ interpretation of my comment, “Only the creationists conflate the two for the purpose of sowing confusion.” That comment refers to the distinction between evolution and origin of life, not to any philosophical issue. The fact is that there is no connection between origin of life and evolution.

  110. #110 Collin Brendemuehl
    January 25, 2008

    SLC,
    I do thank you for being agreeable.

    1. Yes, I would agree with Dawkins, at least in principle. But clearly not with his conclusions.

    2. The point was that dependence upon the scientific method must be tempered.

    3. I didn’t misunderstand it at all. The fact is that there is no connection between origin of life and evolution. This would be a bit obscurantist.

  111. #111 trrll
    January 25, 2008

    Ideas need not make predictions to be considered scientific. For example, look at punctuated equilibrium — it is just a philosophical criticism of gradualism. A lot of the study of biological origins is just philosophy.

    Nonsense. Punctuated equilibrium can be (and has been) tested in computer models of evolution, and by genomic studies reconstructing evolution.

    LOL — and you think there is not a lot of “hand-waving” in Darwinism?

    In a real scientific subject, ideas begin with “handwaving” and progress to testable hypotheses. The distinguishing characteristic of nonsense/nonscience is that the progression from vague ideas to experimental tests never occurs.

    You are already begging the question by assuming at the beginning that there are already plants that produce sap and insects that eat sap (or nectar). But producing sap or nectar is of no benefit to the plant.

    Sap has no benefit to the plant? Are you kidding? Do you even bother to consult a basic biology text, or even spend a couple of minutes with Wikipedia before making these ridiculous assertions?

    Even in cases of mutually beneficial co-evolution where there is no total co-dependence (i.e., the organisms cannot survive without each other), a mutation producing a co-dependent trait in one of the organisms is of no benefit in natural selection unless the corresponding co-dependent trait is locally present in the other organism.

    So what makes you think that the mutations have to occurs simultaneously? Let’s say that there is a mutation to an insect that causes it to visit red flowers more frequently (to eat pollen, and as a result it picks up some of the pollen and spreads it around. There will then be a selective advantage to a variant of that plant that is red. More red plants mean more pollen for the red-preferring insects, giving them a greater selective advantage. But the insect eats a some of the pollen, so there is a selective advantage for red plants that leak a bit of sap that the insect can eat that instead of the pollen. Which increases the selective advantage for insects that prefer that plant. Which increases the selective advantage to plants that secrete a bit of extra sugar into the sap. Etc. After a certain point, that variety of insect is visiting that particular plant almost exclusively. At this point, insect genes that are required to recognize and interact with other plant varieties begin to be lost by drift, or by mutations that confer other, more useful functions on those genes. Meanwhile, plant traits needed to attract other pollinators are lost by the same mechanism, and you end up with a case in which each requires the other to survive.

    You Darwinists have not even explicitly conceded my point that mutually beneficial co-evolution, even if not impossible, can be far more difficult and much slower than evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., water, land, air, and climate.

    Not only is it not difficult, it is extremely likely. The fact that each organism is evolving to enhance its ability to interact with the other creates a powerful positive feedback, so adaptation will proceed much more rapidly than for the one-way interaction with physical features of the environment. Coevolution is the expected outcome any time any two organisms have mutually beneficial traits–an explanation is required if it doesn’t occur. For example, the question has been raised of why acorns have not evolved to become more palatable to humans, given that humans sometimes harvest acorns for food, and it is advantageous to a plant to have its seeds spread around. One suggested hypothesis is that the squirrels already do such a good job of spreading acorns around that people simply can’t compete.

  112. #112 trrll
    January 25, 2008

    Colin Brendemuehl:

    Science and philosophy cannot be separated. (We have the same situation in theology.) The construct that we know as the Scientific Method is first a philosophical method based on a set of presuppositions about the observable world around us.

    I would say rather that the scientific method is an empirical set of procedures that has evolved through a kind of social selection that rewards individuals whose methods of investigation result in discoveries that lead to improved capacity to manipulate and predict the natural world. The practice of science is no more dependent upon philosophy than auto mechanics, although trying to figure out why these particular procedures have been so empirically successful poses interesting questions of philosophy.

  113. #113 SLC
    January 25, 2008

    Re Collin Brendemuehl

    1. The fact that the theories of the origin of life and the evolution of life are separate and distinct is not obscurantist in the least. At the present time, there is a theory of the evolution of life which is accepted by the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community, if not by Mr. Brendemuehl, while there is, at the present time no theory of the origin of life which has widespread acceptance. I would predict that within the next 10 to 20 years, such a theory will emerge as life will be created in the laboratory from organic chemicals.

    2. “The point was that dependence upon the scientific method must be tempered.”

    I have no idea what this statement means. Tempered by what? If Mr. Brendemuehl is trying to say that somehow an inference made from observations is less scientific then the observations themselves, then I am afraid he is seriously in error.

    Incidently, I did mosey over to Mr. Brendemuehls’ blog and discovered, not at all to my surprise,that he is a multiple denier. He not only denies the theory of evolution but also denies global climate change. I haven’t been able to determine if he also denies the relationship between HIV and AIDS. He also appears to be a big supporter of the war in Iraq. In addition, he opposes abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Further, he is less then enthusiastic about the ACLU and also appears to be less then enthusiastic about homosexual rights, apparently believing that homosexuals are pederasts because of the scandal in the Catholic Church.

    All in all, I would say that his views are at variance with virtually everybody who posts comments on this blog, including Dr. Plait. That’s okay, provided he, unlike so many of his co-religionists, forbears to enforce his views on others by force of law. I would suggest he might try Ed Braytons’ blog at

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches

    where many of these church/state issues are discussed. I think his thoughtful approach might be welcome over there, even though, as here, virtually all the commentors and Mr. Brayton will disagree with him.

  114. #114 Jim
    January 25, 2008

    Colin Brendemuehl-
    I fail to see how there was an evasion of clarity on SLC’s part by distinguishing between abiogenesis & evolution. In fact, I believe that there is a whole group of religious people that can accept evolution without a problem precisely because evolution says nothing about the origin of life. Or maybe I missed your point?

  115. #115 Michael Ralston
    January 25, 2008

    Well, I tried. At least I know for myself now that Larry is a liar and not merely ignorant. Although I must admit it’s impressive how blatant the creationists will be about their lies.

    Most of Larry’s stuff isn’t worth responding to, since it’s been explained time and time again, but I will explain why we don’t see any dual-food bees, or any of the “transitional monkeys” or whatever.

    It’s really very simple: The dual-food bees are not as good at survival without pollen as non-pollen-eating-bees (because they’re looking for pollen, and otherwise wasting energy), and they’re not as good as survival with ample pollen as pollen-only-eating-bees (because they’re producing all the other digestive enzymes and stuff that aren’t worth it anymore).

    Now, when there was pollen but no pollen-only bees, the dual-food bees had an advantage over non-pollen bees; they could eat pollen! In times of ample pollen, this was an obvious advantage.

    But now that there are pollen-only bees, we would only expect to see dual-food bees if there were environments which cycled between pollen and no-pollen in a way that made food storage and other such “obvious” adaptations don’t work well.

    Now note: That was a prediction.
    Punctured Equilibrium also makes predictions, contrary to the false claims I’ve seen on this thread.

  116. #116 Collin Brendemuehl
    January 25, 2008

    SLC,
    I expected more civility, as promised earlier, than what you just expressed.
    I don’t deny global warming. But I differ with the matter of cause and have gotten valuable information from geologists that varies greatly from the conclusions of climatologists. It’s all science, but the scientific community is not a monolith on the conclusion of cause.
    I do read Mr. Brayton over at TalkToAction, from which I have been prohibited from making any posts. For some the possibility of variant conclusions is not open to discussion. I may mosey over to the other area for more dialogue.
    HIV/AIDS denial? That’s a cheap shot. And erroneous.
    With regard to your other points, they are certainly off-topic for this thread and I don’t want to cause any distraction by pursuing them any further, whether correct or incorrect.

    Trill,
    A good primer on the relationship between religion, science, and philosophy is Roy Clouser’s The Myth of Religous Neutrality published by Notre Dame Press.

  117. #117 jo5ef
    January 25, 2008

    The Phlogiston theory of combustion has more scientific credibility than ID.

  118. #118 trrll
    January 26, 2008

    I didn’t misunderstand it at all. The fact is that there is no connection between origin of life and evolution. This would be a bit obscurantist.

    What, specifically, is obscurantist about the fact that the hypothesized mechanisms for the origin of life are totally different from the mechanism of evolutioin?

  119. #119 SLC
    January 26, 2008

    Re Collin Brendemuehl

    1. I am sure that Mr. Brendemuehl will find that Mr. Brayton will be quite open to his ideas over at the latters’ blog. Mr. Brayton is quite open to dissenting views over there (although he has little patience with nutcases like Larry Fafarman who specialize in personal insults). I am unfamiliar with TalktoAction but I suspect that Mr. Brayton has no control over the commenting rules there.

    2. Let me apologize if I have misstated Mr. Brendemuehls’ position on global climate change. Apparently, his position is that, indeed, the earth is being subject to global warming but that the theory that it is being caused by human action is as yet unproven.

    3. I admit that the reference to HIV/AIDS is something of a cheap shot. However, it should be pointed out that many of those who deny evolution and global climate change (or the human contribution thereof) are also HIV/AIDS deniers (e.g. many of Prof. Dumbskis’ colleagues at the Discovery Institute such as Philip Johnson and Jonathan Wells; I don’t know what Prof. Dumbskis’ position on the matter is).

    4. Mr. Brendemuehl complains that I have gone off topic by pointing out some of his positions on topics such as the Iraq war. Fair enough. However, I think that the readers of his comments on this blog are entitled to be made aware of where he is coming from, namely a conservative, religious position on the issues. Unfortunately, it is my experience (and that of many of the readers of this blog, including Prof. Rosenhouse) that the world view of such individuals has an unfortunate tendency to color their views on purely scientific issues. As an example, on an earlier thread on this blog, I and others engaged in a rather pointless discussion with a young earth creationist calling himself JonS whose views on purely scientific issues rested entirely on his strict fundamentalist interpretation of the Hebrew and Christian bibles.

  120. #120 Collin Brendemuehl
    January 26, 2008

    No harm in practicing either a simple genetic fallacy or a bit of guilt by association. Na. Not a bit. It’s quite amazing how some in Science can so easily dismiss Logic as they seek Truth. Again, an obscurantist in principle.

  121. #121 SLC
    January 26, 2008

    Re Collin Brendemuehl

    There’s an old saying that I like to quote, namely that birds of a feather flock together. Thus, although guilt by association is rather looked down on in these politically correct days, there is something to it. Here, I am going to go off topic again and discuss Mr. Brendemuehls’ defenses of Governor Huckabee over at his blog. Actually, considering that Governor Huckabee is something of an economic populist who often sounds like John Edwards, and that Mr. Brendemuehl is rather conservative in his economic views, I must say that I find this rather interesting. However, I wonder if Mr. Brendemuehl is willing to defend Governor Huckabee from the charge of association with racists, as per the attached link.

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/01/huckabee_wows_white_supremacis.php#commentsArea

  122. #122 Jim
    January 26, 2008

    I wonder why Collin Brendemuehl is being an obscurantist regarding his obscurantist statement. What is the subtle argument that has two acknowledged & different disciplines of inquiry converging so as to become one? If your answer in any way suggests that groups which subscribe to one usually subscribe to the other then you can’t reasonably complain about some of your other convictions being raised here.

  123. #123 Collin Brendemuehl
    January 26, 2008

    At this point I will not feed the trolls.

  124. #124 SLC
    January 26, 2008

    Re Collin Brendemuehl

    “At this point I will not feed the trolls.”

    Ah, Mr. Brendemuehls’ feelings are hurt. He shouldn’t let the door hit in in the posterior on his way out.

  125. #125 trrll
    January 26, 2008

    2. Let me apologize if I have misstated Mr. Brendemuehls’ position on global climate change. Apparently, his position is that, indeed, the earth is being subject to global warming but that the theory that it is being caused by human action is as yet unproven.

    That puts him only at stage II of global warming denial

    Stage I: The globe is not getting any warmer
    Stage II: OK, maybe it’s getting warmer, but it’s not our fault
    Stage III: OK, maybe it’s getting warmer, and maybe it’s our fault, but there’s nothing we can do about it
    Stage IV: Global warming is good for you.

    Most of the brighter denialists seem to have moved on to stage III or IV by now.

  126. #126 XYZ
    January 27, 2008

    trrll said (January 25, 2008 6:26 PM ) —

    Nonsense. Punctuated equilibrium can be (and has been) tested in computer models of evolution, and by genomic studies reconstructing evolution.

    These are very crude computer models and are not dependable.

    Sap has no benefit to the plant? Are you kidding? Do you even bother to consult a basic biology text, or even spend a couple of minutes with Wikipedia before making these ridiculous assertions?

    As I said, I didn’t know what was originally meant by “sap.” Sap in stems and tree trunks is often inaccessible to insects, does not aid in the transfer of pollen when gathered or consumed by insects, and may be of low nutritional value (e.g., 40 gallons of maple sap must be boiled down to make one gallon of maple syrup).

    So what makes you think that the mutations have to occurs simultaneously? Let’s say that there is a mutation to an insect that causes it to visit red flowers more frequently (to eat pollen, and as a result it picks up some of the pollen and spreads it around.

    You are making a lot of a priori assumptions here. Why are there insects that visit flowers? Why are there flowers? Why are there red flowers?

    There will then be a selective advantage to a variant of that plant that is red.

    Only if there happens to be red-preferring insects in the same area at the same time. You are missing my point. I said that in co-evolution, unlike in evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., water, land, air, and climate, there may be nothing to adapt to because the corresponding co-dependent trait in the other organism may initially be locally absent.

    The dual-food bees are not as good at survival without pollen as non-pollen-eating-bees

    The ability to consume different types of food is actually a survival advantage.

    I was referring not just to pollen-consuming bees but also nectar-consuming bees.

    SLC said ( January 26, 2008 9:00 AM ) —

    I am sure that Mr. Brendemuehl will find that Mr. Brayton will be quite open to his ideas over at the latters’ blog. Mr. Brayton is quite open to dissenting views over there

    You are full of crap and you know it. Fatheaded Ed Brayton is very intolerant of commenters who disagree with him. You know that right now he is arbitrarily censoring my comments over there — and you are applauding him for doing it.

  127. #127 Michael Ralston
    January 27, 2008

    The ability to consume different types of food is not a survival advantage if one type of food is generally inferior and the other type of food is always available. (Or sufficiently close to that that the selective disadvantage of being unable to find food in those occasions is weaker than the selective disadvantage of whatever overhead is required to be able to consume both types of food.)

    Or do you really think that omnivores ALWAYS have an advantage over carnivores and herbivores?

    Or are you merely being disingenuous because you absolutely will not admit to being wrong?

  128. #128 SLC
    January 27, 2008

    Re XYZ

    I see that the schmuck Larry Fafarman is back under his XYZ moniker with more crap.

    “You are full of crap and you know it. Fatheaded Ed Brayton is very intolerant of commenters who disagree with him. You know that right now he is arbitrarily censoring my comments over there — and you are applauding him for doing it.”

    Mr. Baryton is intolerant of Mr. Fafarman because Mr. Fafarman is a whackjob who has nothing of consequence to say about any subject. Mr. Fafarmans’ mother must be very proud of him.

  129. #129 SLC
    January 27, 2008

    Re Ed Brayton

    Just to prove that Mr. Fafarman is a lying piece of horse manure, I am posting a link to a thread on Mr. Braytons’ blog in which a number of commentors have had the temerity to disagree with him, myself included, and have not had their comments censored or removed.

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/01/tiger_woods_and_reflexive_poli.php#more

  130. #130 Collin Brendemuehl
    January 27, 2008

    Trill,
    There are other alternatives.

    *It is getting warmer. It’s a normal geologic occurance.
    History channel provided a good summary of the science about a year ago.

    Collin

  131. #131 trrll
    January 27, 2008

    These are very crude computer models and are not dependable.

    I find them pretty persuasive, but that is beside the point; computer models can always be improved. The point is that punctuated equilibrium is a testable hypothesis, not some vague philosophical maundering.

    As I said, I didn’t know what was originally meant by “sap.”

    Obviously. Which is why I asked, “Do you even bother to consult a basic biology text, or even spend a couple of minutes with Wikipedia before making these ridiculous assertions?”

    Sap in stems and tree trunks is often inaccessible to insects, does not aid in the transfer of pollen when gathered or consumed by insects, and may be of low nutritional value (e.g., 40 gallons of maple sap must be boiled down to make one gallon of maple syrup).

    It doesn’t matter if it “often” inaccessible–those won’t be the cases that coevolve relationships with insects feeding on secreted fluids. There are certainly plenty of examples where plant sap or other secretions is accessible. As for the nutritional value, a small insect doesn’t need a lot of nutrition. If the energy value is greater than the energy cost of obtaining it, it can provide a selective advantage to the insect. And if the insect carries pollen, that provides a selective advantage to plants that secrete more nutritious sap. It of course aids in the transfer of pollen if the sap happens to collect close to the plant’s anthers.

    You are making a lot of a priori assumptions here. Why are there insects that visit flowers?

    Insects need to find nutrients, some, for example suck sap by penetrating the stem of the plant. So there are good reasons for insects to visit plants of various kinds. And if a particular plant happens to secrete a bit of sap, the insects that go to that particular plant will have a selective advantage.

    Why are there flowers? Why are there red flowers?

    A flower is a reproductive organ. Organisms that lack reproductive organs are not able to reproduce. There is a substantial selective disadvantage to being unable to reproduce. And of course, it doesn’t have to be red–it could be any trait that an insect is capable of recognizing. However, plants make light absorbing (which means colored) pigments of many kinds. Why? Because plants are in the light business–it is a major source of energy.

    Only if there happens to be red-preferring insects in the same area at the same time.

    Correct. But it doesn’t have to be color. It could just as well be some other trait that a particular insect strain happens to prefer. Insects need to recognize plants, since that is a source of food. And due to nervous system mutations, different insect strains will be attracted by different types of plants. It could be color, size, shape, texture, smell–any of a thousand traits which are going (just due to random variation) to be more attractive to some insects than others. There will always be some insects that prefer something. And if being visited by those insects is beneficial to the plant, then mutants in which that trait is intensified–whatever it might be–will have a selective advantage.

    I said that in co-evolution, unlike in evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., water, land, air, and climate, there may be nothing to adapt to because the corresponding co-dependent trait in the other organism may initially be locally absent.

    This would be a valid objection if a particular trait is required. But as we’ve seen, it is not a particular trait–it can be any trait for which there exists random variation in its attractiveness to various strains of insects. So in the unlikely event that there is zero population variance in the degree to which insects are attracted by the color red, then perhaps it will be yellow plants and yellow-preferring insects. Or tall plants and tall-preferring insects. Or any of thousands and thousands of other possibilities.

  132. #132 Collin Brendemuehl
    January 27, 2008

    SLC,
    Some communities have their own resident trolls. They’re accpeted within the general fold of the blog topic but act with the same irrationality as XYZ. Your fallacious post is a prime example.

  133. #133 trrll
    January 27, 2008

    Trill,
    There are other alternatives.

    *It is getting warmer. It’s a normal geologic occurance.
    History channel provided a good summary of the science about a year ago.

    That’s global warming denial stage II: “OK, maybe it’s getting warmer, but it’s not our fault.”

    Climate scientists have so definitively demonstrated that it is not a normal occurrence (do you really mean geological? volcanoes can make it cooler, but I can’t think of any plausible geological event that will make it hotter) that most of the denialists are moving on to stages III and IV. Didn’t you get the memo?

  134. #134 SLC
    January 27, 2008

    Re Collin Brendemuehl

    “Some communities have their own resident trolls. They’re accpeted within the general fold of the blog topic but act with the same irrationality as XYZ. Your fallacious post is a prime example.”

    I assume that Mr. Brendemuehl is referring to my birds of a feather flock together post and is objecting to the theory of guilt by association. I would agree that this theory is often fallacious. Thus for instance, I at one time belonged to the American Physical Society, as does Prof. Fred Singer, who I consider to be a world class denier (e.g. smoking and cancer, CFCs and the ozone layer, global warming) but obviously I am not guilty of being a whackjob by the association. As another example, my PhD thesis adviser was an old earth creationist (who, by the way, greatly resembled Mr. Brendemuehl in his political and religious views); the fact that I associated with him does not make me an old earth creationist. On the other hand, Presidential candidates Mick Huckabee and Ron Paul have associated themselves with a number of racist organizations, Huckabee as noted in the link to a thread on Ed Braytons’ blog and Paul through his association with Don Black, the founder of the antisemitic stormfront organization. In these cases, I am afraid that the guilt by association theory is very much apropos.

  135. #135 Jon S
    January 27, 2008

    SLC says “As an example, on an earlier thread on this blog, I and others engaged in a rather pointless discussion with a young earth creationist calling himself JonS whose views on purely scientific issues rested entirely on his strict fundamentalist interpretation of the Hebrew and Christian bibles.”

    Come now, the discussions weren’t entirely pointless. Anyway, to be more accurate, my views rest on a plain reading of scripture by letting scripture interpret scripture.

  136. #136 SLC
    January 28, 2008

    Re Jon S

    I see that Mr. Jon S is still reading this blog. Just for the information of Mr. Brandemuehl, in addition to being a young earth creationist whackjob, Mr. Jon S finally admitted that he is a Christian dominionist and theocrat. I suggest that Mr. Jon S mosey on over to Mr. Brandemuehls’ blog where he will find little support for his dominionist views.

  137. #137 XYZ
    January 28, 2008

    SLC barfed,

    Mr. Baryton is intolerant of Mr. ****** because Mr. ****** is a whackjob who has nothing of consequence to say about any subject.

    Then barfed,

    Just to prove that Mr. ****** is a lying piece of horse manure, I am posting a link to a thread on Mr. Braytons’ blog in which a number of commentors have had the temerity to disagree with him, myself included, and have not had their comments censored or removed.

    You dunghill, you are so full of living crap that it is coming out of your ears.

    trrll said (January 27, 2008 5:39 PM) —

    I said that in co-evolution, unlike in evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., water, land, air, and climate, there may be nothing to adapt to because the corresponding co-dependent trait in the other organism may initially be locally absent.

    This would be a valid objection if a particular trait is required.

    Particular traits often are required. And substitute traits often do not exist locally, either.

    Collin Brendemuehl said —

    Some communities have their own resident trolls. They’re accpeted within the general fold of the blog topic but act with the same irrationality as XYZ.

    How have I been irrational?

    “I’m always kicking their butts — that’s why they don’t like me.”
    — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

  138. #138 SLC
    January 28, 2008

    Just so everybody knows about Mr. Larry Fafarman, aka XYZ I am including a comment made by Mr. Brayton on a thread on his blog in response to one of his moronic comments.

    “I think I’m going to leave this comment from Larry up. It’s such a perfect example of both his ridiculous legal theories and his mental illness that it seems a shame to delete it. I especially have to laugh when he pretends not to know who this Larry person is and then the rest of the post admits to being him. And the punchline: he’ll still convince himself that’s not the case. Then again, with his long history of creating sock puppets and pretending to be people, he may not have any idea who he actually is at this point or which voice in his head is in control at the moment.

    The funny thing is, he actually did email Barrett Moore’s attorney with his theory that by censoring his comments I’ve shown a “reckless disregard for the truth” under the standards of NY Times v Sullivan. I suspect the attorney reacted the same way everyone else does when they get Larry’s incoherent rants in email form – nod, smile, hit the delete button. You see, the phrase “reckless disregard for the truth” is a term of art in libel law and it has a specific meaning. One shows a reckless disregard for the truth when they intentionally disseminate information they know to be false. And that is why Moore has no real intention of suing us, because he knows damn well that he can’t show any such thing. Every single claim we make is documented and on the record. How do we know that Barrett Moore was not a military intelligence officer as he claims? Because we have a Pentagon public affairs officer from the department that keeps track of personnel records who searched every single database they have, including the classified ones, and who committed to us in writing that Moore never served, that he was in ROTC and that was it. So much for that “reckless disregard for the truth” argument.

    The upshot of all this is clear: Larry Fafarman needs serious therapy. His obsessive compulsive nature subverts any chance his mind has of forming even a mildly accurate picture of reality. He creates these bizarre legal theories, none of which have ever won anything in court, and he sits in his house all day long desperate for people to listen to him. So he spams every blog and forum with his lunatic ideas and gets banned, then in his mind he is converted into Don Quixote, bravely tilting at all the dragons windmills that do him such injustice. He doesn’t have delusions of grandeur so much as he has delusions of relevance. And he convinces himself that he’s on the verge of winning against we who torment him so. He’s gonna be added to the legal team that is threatening to sue me and bring me down, or he’s going to convince ScienceBlogs to fire me. It’s alternately amusing and sad, and sad only because there is a real person at the other end of this pathetic behavior and he really is nuts. Not just a little clueless or “kooky” but genuinely mentally ill and in need of psychological help.

    Posted by: Ed Brayton | January 25, 2008 9:31 AM”

  139. #139 trrll
    January 28, 2008

    Particular traits often are required. And substitute traits often do not exist locally, either.

    Not for coevolution to start. It doesn’t matter what insect trait attracts an insect to a plant. It doesn’t matter what trait of the plant provides a benefit to the insect.

  140. #140 Michael Ralston
    January 28, 2008

    To note: There are numerous traits which are “generally” selectively neutral, but given the existence of other organisms whose actions are in some way beneficial, are no longer neutral.

    The color of a plant is such a thing – plants don’t hide (for obvious reasons), and they produce all kinds of wacky chemicals for various reasons; some of these may well have pigmentative side-effects, by sheer chance.

    From the evolutionary perspective, as far as I’m aware, we have no real reason to expect anything much in the way of flower shapes – they seem to be pretty selectively neutral.

    So … imagine for a moment that cows just randomly had a preference for defecating near flowers that were squarer. Note – this preference wouldn’t affect the cows much. It’d be pretty neutral to them. But it would be a noticeable selective pressure on flowers near cows to be squareish, so as to get more fertilizer.

    Now, this isn’t coevolution – the cows don’t get much of a benefit out of the flowers, and the square-defecation trait is unlikely to ever become fixed because it’s neutral. (Now, some neutral traits do get fixed. But even then, they’re less likely to stick around unless they become non-neutral.) So this won’t get a rigid lockstep mechanism of the sort we see in the relationship between flowers and insects.

    So why is there a difference between the two cases? Simple: insects and plants provided one another with advantages even before they really got co-evolving; when plants spread their pollen primarily on the wind, insects could still accelerate the spread. And before plants provided easily-accessible nectar in their flowers, insects would drink sap from wherever it was most accessible, which would commonly be in the vicinity of pollen production – since that takes a lot of energy near the surface of the plant.

    So … any trait of EITHER that tends to tighten their relationship is relatively beneficial. Insects have a random color preference that doesn’t mean much? Well, once flowers start randomly varying in color – suddenly, those flowers that are of colors that appeal to insects have an advantage, and those insects that prefer colors found primarily in flowers have an advantage as well. And then the diversity gets lost; instead of different insects of the same species preferring different colors, all the, say, bees prefer red, perhaps. And then, that loss of diversity becomes a “trait”.

  141. #141 XYZ
    January 28, 2008

    SLC, you lousy dunghill, Fatheaded Ed Brayton’s comment from his own blog is grossly off-topic here. But if you are going to be off-topic here, I am going to be off-topic here too by posting my response to Ed’s comment. This response was originally posted on Ed’s blog, but Ed censored it in order to give the false impression that he won the debate.

    ======================================

    You see, the phrase “reckless disregard for the truth” is a term of art in libel law and it has a specific meaning. One shows a reckless disregard for the truth when they intentionally disseminate information they know to be false.

    Term of art, term of fart. Your definition is not even the same as the one in Findlaw:

    reckless disregard of the truth

    Variants: or reckless disregard for the truth

    1: disregard of the truth or falsity of a defamatory statement by a person who is highly aware of its probable falsity or entertains serious doubts about its truth or when there are obvious reasons to doubt the veracity and accuracy of a source. (example omitted — emphasis added)

    2: a reckless lack of attention to the truth that misleads or deceives another (as a magistrate)
    (example omitted)

    There is not even anything in there about “disseminating” information or “knowing” information to be false.

    Another legal dictionary gives the following definition of “reckless disregard”:

    n. gross negligence without concern for danger to others. Actually “reckless disregard” is redundant since reckless means there is disregard for safety. (emphasis added)

    “Danger”? “Safety”? Those terms are not necessarily involved in a libel situation.

    Also, the syllabus of New York Times v. Sullivan doesn’t just use the expression “reckless disregard of the truth” — it also speaks of “reckless disregard of whether” the alleged defamatory statement “was true or false” —

    Held: A State cannot, under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, award damages to a public official for defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves “actual malice” — that the statement was made with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard of whether it was true or false. Pp. 265-292.

    I assert that reckless disregard of whether something is true or false is different from reckless disregard of the truth. You can have a reckless disregard of whether a statement is true or false just by ignoring or suppressing evidence or arguments that tend to show that the statement is false, so the maxim that truth is an absolute defense against charges of libel does not necessarily hold (indeed, the truth might just be a lucky — for you — coincidence). Also, there might not be any absolute truth or falsity in a statement but the truth of falsity may be a matter of opinion — an example is the controversy over whether the term “officer” should include “non-commissioned” officers. The answer could be no if one uses the classifications “officers and enlisted personnel.”

    Also, another legal term — “actual malice” — is involved here.

    Anyway, the law is constantly evolving and so you should not pedantically rely on legal definitions of terms. The courts might very well extend the meanings of “reckless disregard of the truth,” “reckless disregard of whether [something] is true or false,” or “actual malice” to include going out of one’s way to try to suppress rebuttals of alleged defamation. As I said, the courts probably would not expect you to spend your own time and/or money to disseminate such rebuttals, but the courts might very well expect you to not go out of your way to try to suppress such rebuttals, as by censoring such rebuttals posted on your blog. The posting of visitors’ comments on this blog does not cost you a red cent of your money or a nanosecond of your time. In Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, the Supreme Court upheld a Fairness Doctrine rule requiring a broadcaster to provide air time — which costs the broadcaster time and money — free of charge for rebuttals of personal attacks. So as I said, Moore & Co. might be able to nail you without proving that any of your allegations are false.

    Anyway, do you want to be the guinea pig for testing my ideas here?

    So you say that “Larry” has contacted Moore’s attorney. That may or may not be true — I don’t know. Given your history of lying, there is a strong possibility that that is untrue. Anyway, neither Larry nor I have any control over what Moore and his attorneys do. Any decision of theirs to not use my ideas here does not imply that those ideas are wrong.

    Anyway, on to the allegations against Moore.

    Because we have a Pentagon public affairs officer from the department that keeps track of personnel records who searched every single database they have, including the classified ones, and who committed to us in writing that Moore never served, that he was in ROTC and that was it.

    How could your “Pentagon public affairs officer” release information from “classified” databases?

    As for your statement that “he was in ROTC and that was it,” you said in another post that he was a sergeant in the Reserves.

    As for your claim that Sovereign Deed is a “private military contractor,” your attorney firm’s letter to Sovereign Deed said,

    “The widely-understood definition of a private military contractor is a company that provides services typically provided by the government or the military. We stand by our description of Sovereign Deed as a private military contractor because it proposes to provide services akin to what the government, military or National Guard would typically provide in a disaster response.”

    That’s not my definition of “private military contractor.” Under that loose definition, such businesses as private hospitals, private security-guard companies, and private insurance companies could be classified as “private military contractors.” To me, private military contractors have contracts with the government to provide goods or services to the military. Where is Sovereign Deed’s contract with the government to provide goods or services to the military?

    I see that Ed’s toady SLC is here too.

  142. #142 SLC
    January 28, 2008

    Re XYZ aka Larry Fafarman

    We would all be interested to know what Mr. Moores’ attorneys thought about Mr. Fafarmans’ contributions. I would have liked to be a fly on the wall when they finished reading them. As much as they may be shysters, I certainly hope that none of them had a heart attack from laughing so hard.

  143. #143 XYZ
    January 29, 2008

    SLC, you are just a big bag of fart gas. You are unable to answer any of the points that I raised.

  144. #144 XYZ
    January 29, 2008

    You Darwinists’ explanations of co-evolution are either too simple — you vaguely describe it as “mutual evolutionary pressure” or “evolution within populations” or something like that — or too complicated, describing scenarios of co-evolution that are very specific and complex. I try to keep my discussions in-between. As Einstein said, things should be as simple as possible but no simpler. Also, in your very complex examples, you are trying to prove co-evolution by giving examples, and a mathematics professor of mine pointed out that nothing can be proven by examples because we can never run out of examples (at least not in mathematics).

    First, the kind of co-evolution I am discussing is the co-evolution of absolute co-dependence, where the two organisms become completely mutually dependent on each other for survival. I am not talking about the kinds of co-evolution where the adaptation of only one of the organisms is necessary — e.g., parasitism, predator-prey relationships, commensalism (where one organism benefits and the other is not affected), and amensalism (where one organism is harmed but the other is not affected). I am also not talking about mutually beneficial relationships that are convenient but not essential for survival of the two organisms, e.g., the relationship between the crocodile and the crocodile bird. The bird eats parasites on the crocodile. The bird gets food and protection from predators and the crocodile gets rid of parasites. However, presumably the crocodile and the bird could survive without each other.

    Now as I have been saying, in this co-evolution of absolute co-dependence, there may be nothing to adapt to because the necessary co-dependent trait(s) in the other organism may be locally absent or might not even exist at that time anywhere. In contrast, some physical features of the environment, e.g., water, land, and air, and even some particular subtypes of these features, e.g., land in the form of mountains, forests, deserts, plains, etc., cover very large areas and so are readily available for adaptation by very large numbers of organisms. It is conceivable that an organism can make a non-fatal “adaptation” to a non-existent co-dependent feature in another organism — I gave the example of the bee that could consume both nectar and other kinds of food. However, such an adaptation would be of no advantage in natural selection if the corresponding co-dependent trait does not exist in the other organism.

  145. #145 Dave S.
    January 29, 2008

    XYZ “Larry” asks –

    How have I been irrational?

    One example is your continuing to deny you are Larry Fafarman even when everyone else on the planet, including illiterate Mongolian horse herders who have never heard of the Internet, knows its you.

  146. #146 XYZ
    January 29, 2008

    How have I been irrational?

    One example is your continuing to deny you are Larry Fafarman even when everyone else on the planet, including illiterate Mongolian horse herders who have never heard of the Internet, knows its you.

    Considering the extent to which Larry Fafarman has been persecuted, how would that be irrational?

  147. #147 SLC
    January 29, 2008

    Re XYZ aka Larry Fafarman

    “Considering the extent to which Larry Fafarman has been persecuted, how would that be irrational?”

    Ah, pooooooooor baby.

  148. #148 Dave S.
    January 29, 2008

    Considering the extent to which Larry Fafarman has been persecuted, how would that be irrational?

    Are you saying it is you Larry, that you have been lying all along? Yes or no will do.

    Larry by the way hasn’t been persecuted. He (and by he I mean you) has his own blog, doesn’t he? Has anyone from the government tried to take that away from you? Has anyone come to your parent’s house to arrest you? People like you make a mockery out of real persecution. Just like that movie coming out about ID will make a mockery out of it.

  149. #149 Ginger Yellow
    January 29, 2008

    “SLC, you are just a big bag of fart gas.”

    Gee, I can’t think why anyone would ban you. You always raise the tone of comment threads with your insightful comments.

  150. #150 trrll
    January 29, 2008

    Now as I have been saying, in this co-evolution of absolute co-dependence, there may be nothing to adapt to because the necessary co-dependent trait(s) in the other organism may be locally absent or might not even exist at that time anywhere.

    Conclusion–not every single pair of organisms will co-evolve absolute co-dependence. And indeed, they don’t. But it is very easy to see how it can happen, and the process can get its start in thousands of different ways. All that is needed is two organisms that exhibit mutually beneficial traits (and there are innumerable ways in which that basic condition can be met). Once that occurs, there will be a selective advantage to any mutation, on either side, that enhances that benefit.

    If the process goes far enough that neither organism needs to interact with any other, then the traits that are required to interact with other organisms will inevitably be lost by drift.Your error is in assuming that co-dependence must happen in one step, when in fact it is a stepwise progression, beginning with only a loose association and a small selective advantage, and progressing gradually toward an exclusive relationship.

  151. #151 XYZ
    January 29, 2008

    Ginger Yellow said,

    “SLC, you are just a big bag of fart gas.”

    Gee, I can’t think why anyone would ban you. You always raise the tone of comment threads with your insightful comments.

    Please notice who started the insults and the ad hominems here (I am trying to introduce usage of ad hominem as a noun).

    trrll said — January 29, 2008 1:28 PM

    Conclusion — not every single pair of organisms will co-evolve absolute co-dependence. And indeed, they don’t. But it is very easy to see how it can happen, and the process can get its start in thousands of different ways. All that is needed is two organisms that exhibit mutually beneficial traits (and there are innumerable ways in which that basic condition can be met).

    There are not thousands of ways that the process can get started — there are just a few very unlikely ways. I gave the example of where an insect develops the ability to consume nectar while retaining the ability to consume other foods — the insect would then lose the ability to consume other foods so that we would not know that it once had that ability (I am also assuming that we do not discover this dual-food ability in fossil insects). Another example would be where a plant had pollen that could be scattered by the wind at one time of the year and then be carried by insects at another time of the year (insect-carried pollen often adheres too strongly to the plant to be scattered by the wind), and that plant would also have to lose that dual-carrier pollen trait.

    Your error is in assuming that co-dependence must happen in one step, when in fact it is a stepwise progression, beginning with only a loose association and a small selective advantage, and progressing gradually toward an exclusive relationship.

    Even if the co-evolutionary steps are gradual, they would still have to occur in the same locality in both organisms in order to provide a benefit in natural selection and so relatively few organisms would have the opportunity to adapt. Furthermore, all of the steps would have to occur in the same populations — the steps could not be split up among different populations. In contrast, some fixed physical characteristics of the environment — e.g., water (saltwater and freshwater), air, and different types of land — occur over very large areas and so very large numbers of organisms have the opportunity to adapt to these characteristics.

    The needs of co-evolution actually compound the difficulties presented by intelligent design. ID says that creation of a potentially beneficial co-dependent trait is unlikely and the needs of co-evolution greatly reduce the likelihood that such creation will produce a benefit. There can even be irreducibly complex sets of co-dependent traits, further reducing the possibilities for co-evolution.

    Actually, my wording was too mild, and I made it too mild to try to avoid being falsely accused of exaggeration. Since I assumed that the simultaneous existence of the corresponding co-dependent traits in both organisms is necessary for survival of either organism, what I should have said was, instead of using the word “may,” is the following: “in this co-evolution of absolute co-dependence, it is very likely that there is nothing to adapt to because the necessary co-dependent trait(s) in the other organism is extremely likely to be locally absent.”

    You Darwinists have yet to concede that co-evolution is at least a much more difficult and much slower process than evolutionary adaptation to water, land, air, etc..

  152. #152 trrll
    January 29, 2008

    There are not thousands of ways that the process can get started — there are just a few very unlikely ways. I gave the example of where an insect develops the ability to consume nectar while retaining the ability to consume other foods — the insect would then lose the ability to consume other foods so that we would not know that it once had that ability (I am also assuming that we do not discover this dual-food ability in fossil insects).

    What makes this unlikely? An insect that feeds normally on plant sap or other fluids does not need to “develop” the ability to consume nectar–it already has the ability to do so. This is a widespread trait in many insects. If the nectar is such a good source of nutrients (which doesn’t has to be the case initially; it can develop gradually by coevolution) that the insect no longer bothers to feed on other sources, then the theory of natural selection predicts that it will eventually, by mutational drift, lose the ability to feed on other sources. One would expect to be able to identify evolutionarily related insects that retain the ability to consume other nutrients (which is true).

    Another example would be where a plant had pollen that could be scattered by the wind at one time of the year and then be carried by insects at another time of the year (insect-carried pollen often adheres too strongly to the plant to be scattered by the wind), and that plant would also have to lose that dual-carrier pollen trait.

    Same mechanism. If the insect becomes the dominant means by which the pollen is distributed, then the theory of natural selection predicts that the ability to spread pollen by other means will tend to be lost due to mutational drift. Again, this doesn’t have to be very efficient at first. The insect just has to carry enough pollen to give a selective advantage to plants visited by that kind of insect.

    Even if the co-evolutionary steps are gradual, they would still have to occur in the same locality in both organisms in order to provide a benefit in natural selection and so relatively few organisms would have the opportunity to adapt.

    You seem to have the notion that all of the plants and all of the insects are initially genetically identical, and they have to wait for the lucky happenstance of mutually beneficial mutations occurring in the same place. This is a fundamental misconception, and reveals a lack of understanding of genetic variance.

    In reality, irtually all traits have some genetic variation in all populations. It is virtually certain that some plant strains will secrete sap of a higher nutritional content than others. Similarly, insects will exhibit some degree of genetic variation in their preference for different types of plants. And this will be the case everywhere. Likewise, there will be variance in such factors as the “stickiness” of the pollen. There is no waiting for mutations to occur, because the variance is already there. It may well be that initially only small subpopulations will interact (those plant variants that secrete the best sap, and those insects that are good at recognizing those plants), but since they have a selective advantage from the association, there will be more and more of them every generation, and with the growth of the population, there will be more and more opportunities to accumulate additional traits that enhance that association.

  153. #153 Michael Ralston
    January 29, 2008

    Also, in your very complex examples, you are trying to prove co-evolution by giving examples, and a mathematics professor of mine pointed out that nothing can be proven by examples because we can never run out of examples (at least not in mathematics).

    STOP LYING.

    This is an outright lie and you HAVE to know it.

    In math it is trivial to prove some things by example.

    If you wish to prove that something exists … you merely need to demonstrate one example.
    If you wish to disprove a claim that something CANNOT exist … you merely need to demonstrate one example.

    You said something is impossible – so we provide a very specific example, because being too general allows wiggle room to claim “Well, maybe that can’t work.”

    And yes, we’re very vague when we talk about the factors that are present in every single instance of coevolution … because we have to be vague to be sufficiently general.

    And what I presented is in fact a scenario for the evolution of absolute codependance. It starts by producing simple advantage via simple coadaptation – not codependance, but co-adaptation, then it specializes to either restrict the organisms who can exploit the co-adaptive feature to the co-adapted partner, or to avoid the metabolic costs associated with generality. Once both partners do this, they are now co-dependent.

    Is that sufficiently general yet nonspecific to satisfy you?

  154. #154 Michael Ralston
    January 29, 2008

    Oh: And we can’t generally discover the dual-food ability in fossil insects, because there aren’t very many (insects aren’t good at fossilizing for various reasons), and because being dual-food would primarily vary from not being dual-food in that it has additional digestive enzymes – which also don’t fossilize.

  155. #155 Bullet
    January 30, 2008

    The more I see darwinian proponents, the more I believe ID.

  156. #156 Michael Ralston
    January 30, 2008

    Bullet: Because one should always judge proposed explanations for things by the politeness or lack thereof of the proposers, instead of the accuracy or lack thereof of the explanation, right?

  157. #157 MartinM
    January 30, 2008

    Because one should always judge proposed explanations for things by the politeness or lack thereof of the proposers, instead of the accuracy or lack thereof of the explanation, right?

    Right! And that’s an especially intelligent position to take when all you’ve contributed to the conversation is a snide one-liner.

  158. #158 XYZ
    January 30, 2008

    Michael Ralston said ( January 29, 2008 7:55 PM ) —

    Also, in your very complex examples, you are trying to prove co-evolution by giving examples, and a mathematics professor of mine pointed out that nothing can be proven by examples because we can never run out of examples (at least not in mathematics).

    In math it is trivial to prove some things by example.

    OK, you’re right — some things in mathematics can be proven by example. The professor was talking about a specific mathematical rule that could not be proven by example.

    And yes, we’re very vague when we talk about the factors that are present in every single instance of coevolution … because we have to be vague to be sufficiently general.

    The problem is that you Darwinists are usually either too vague or too specific when discussing co-evolution. You either talk in very vague terms like “mutual evolutionary pressure” or “genetic variance in populations,” or you give very complex, specific scenarios of co-evolution. Einstein said, “things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.” You are usually trying to make things either too simple or too complicated — I am trying to find a happy medium.

    Again, my main point is that a mutation that produces a potentially beneficial co-dependent trait in an organism is initially confined to a small area and hence relatively few organisms of other kinds have a quick opportunity to benefit by having a corresponding mutation if one is required. This is a problem even if the co-evolution could proceed in a gradual, stepwise fashion that allows the mutated organisms to survive even if there is no immediate local corresponding mutation in the other kind of organism. If neither kind of organism can survive without a corresponding mutation in the other kind of organism, then co-evolution is nearly impossible. In contrast, a pig born with flying apparatus anywhere in the world can fly immediately without needing a corresponding mutation in another organism — it is not as if an atmosphere to fly in were confined to just one small area and/or just one tiny window of time.

    Michael Ralston ( January 29, 2008 8:20 PM ) —

    And we can’t generally discover the dual-food ability in fossil insects, because there aren’t very many (insects aren’t good at fossilizing for various reasons), and because being dual-food would primarily vary from not being dual-food in that it has additional digestive enzymes – which also don’t fossilize.

    Well, some insects are well-preserved in amber — did you see the movie “Jurassic Park”? LOL

    You Darwinists have not yet even conceded that co-evolution is at least potentially much more difficult and much slower than evolutionary adaptation to water, land, air, etc..

    Also, I want to note that this discussion that we are having here could be illegal in the classrooms of the Dover Area school district of Pennsylvania. Judge Jones’ decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover said, inter alia,

    . . . .we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants . . . from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution . . . .

  159. #159 trrll
    January 30, 2008

    Again, my main point is that a mutation that produces a potentially beneficial co-dependent trait in an organism is initially confined to a small area and hence relatively few organisms of other kinds have a quick opportunity to benefit by having a corresponding mutation if one is required. This

    However, this is nonsense. Your error is in supposing that co-evolution requires a particular mutation in each “partner” to get started, but all that is required is genetic variation in the applicable traits. All populations have pre-existing genetic variance in any trait that you can measure, and this is true everywhere you look. This genetic variation is due to a large number of pre-existing mutations. Genetic studies have shown that very many individual mutations can contribute to genetic variance in a trait, so the notion that particular mutations must be present in the same place is nonsensical. Genetic variance is already present everywhere.

    You Darwinists have not yet even conceded that co-evolution is at least potentially much more difficult and much slower than evolutionary adaptation to water, land, air, etc..

    No, because that is not what the theory predicts. For the reason described above, natural selection predicts that co-evolution will be ubiquitous, although it will not necessarily result in obligatory mutualism. The “arms race” between a pathogen and its host is also a form of co-evolution.

    Also, I want to note that this discussion that we are having here could be illegal in the classrooms of the Dover Area school district of Pennsylvania. Judge Jones’ decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover said, inter alia,

    If classroom time in basic science courses was taken up with extensive discussion of every crackpot notion, there would be no time to study actual science.

  160. #160 XYZ
    January 30, 2008

    trrll said,

    Again, my main point is that a mutation that produces a potentially beneficial co-dependent trait in an organism is initially confined to a small area and hence relatively few organisms of other kinds have a quick opportunity to benefit by having a corresponding mutation if one is required.

    However, this is nonsense. Your error is in supposing that co-evolution requires a particular mutation in each “partner” to get started, but all that is required is genetic variation in the applicable traits.

    Not only may particular mutations in both “partners” be required to start the co-dependent relationship, but particular mutations in both partners may be required to continue development of the co-dependent relationship.

    Also, even if the “applicable traits” are pre-existent, those traits would not do the organisms any good unless those traits are present in both organisms at the same place and the same time, and that would be unlikely if those traits exist in only small geographical areas and/or in very short time windows in both organisms.

    All populations have pre-existing genetic variance in any trait that you can measure, and this is true everywhere you look. This genetic variation is due to a large number of pre-existing mutations.

    These “pre-existing” mutations are limited to those mutations that are not fatal in the absence of corresponding co-dependent traits in other kinds of organisms. And even when these “pre-existing” mutations are not fatal in such absence, these mutations provide no advantage — and may be harmful even if non-fatal — in such absence and hence are not likely to cover large geographical areas.

    In contrast, air is everywhere and water (salt water and fresh water) and different kinds of land — e.g., forests, deserts, plains, and mountains — cover very large geographical areas and so offer adaptational opportunities to very large numbers of organisms.

    The “arms race” between a pathogen and its host is also a form of co-evolution.

    I specifically said that I was not talking about parasitic and predator-prey relationships, which might not require immediate adaptations from the victim species. The victim species might be able to survive indefinitely without adapting or might not have to make an immediate adaptation if it cannot survive indefinitely without adapting.

    Also, I want to note that this discussion that we are having here could be illegal in the classrooms of the Dover Area school district of Pennsylvania. Judge Jones’ decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover said, inter alia,

    If classroom time in basic science courses was taken up with extensive discussion of every crackpot notion, there would be no time to study actual science.

    Maybe discussing “crackpot” notions might help develop the students’ critical thinking skills, as opposed to just spoonfeeding Darwinism to the students.

  161. #161 Jim
    January 30, 2008

    Einstein said, “things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.” You are usually trying to make things either too simple or too complicated — I am trying to find a happy medium.

    Just so you know, because watching you repeat this over & over is unnerving; the law of parsimony is a well known heuristic maxim in science. It’s stated origin is usually attributed to the 14th century logician, William of Ockham. Everyone else in the science community knows it as Ockham’s razor. Einstein was great too.
    Now, feel free to go back to looking foolish about evolution.

  162. #162 Dave S.
    January 30, 2008

    Looks like the one needing his critical thinking skills looked at is you Larry. You swallow your own musings as fact, hook line and sinker, with nary a second thought.

  163. #163 trrll
    January 30, 2008

    Not only may particular mutations in both “partners” be required to start the co-dependent relationship, but particular mutations in both partners may be required to continue development of the co-dependent relationship.

    Also, even if the “applicable traits” are pre-existent, those traits would not do the organisms any good unless those traits are present in both organisms at the same place and the same time, and that would be unlikely if those traits exist in only small geographical areas and/or in very short time windows in both organisms.

    Repeating the same false claim does not make it true. Every known trait exhibits genetic variance. So in any organisms in any place that interact in any way, there will be genetic variance at the same place and at the same time in those genetic traits that affect that interaction. So the notion that evolution has to wait for particular mutations to occur is just nonsense. The genetic variance that serves as the basis for natural selection is present everywhere at all times.

    These “pre-existing” mutations are limited to those mutations that are not fatal in the absence of corresponding co-dependent traits in other kinds of organisms. And even when these “pre-existing” mutations are not fatal in such absence, these mutations provide no advantage — and may be harmful even if non-fatal — in such absence and hence are not likely to cover large geographical areas.

    Obviously. Nobody has ever proposed that organisms go to obligatory mutualism in a single step, so we are not talking about mutations that would be fatal in the absence of some specific trait in the other organism. The loss of the ability to live without the other organism is a late step after an exclusive (but not obligatory) relationship has developed–the loss of unused traits by genetic drift. What we are talking about is natural, pre-existing variation in such traits as the preference of an insect for visiting one sort of plant as opposed to another, the nutritional content of sap and pollen, the position of anthers and stamen, the stickiness and amount of pollen, the volatile substances (“scents”) released by a plant, its physical characteristics such as size, shape, and color, etc., etc. All of these are traits in which there is natural, preexisting genetic variation. Traits that produce a selective advantage–such as by attracting an insect whose natural behavior tends to spread that plant’s pollen, or visiting a plant that provides good nutrition in the form of pollen, sap, or nectar will increase in the population.

    Moreover, in the case of a pollinator, the process of accumulating traits that promote the interaction is predicted to go particularly rapidly, for an obvious reason. Consider two plant variants of the same species that attract a species of insect for different reasons. Perhaps one has an attractive scent and one provides good nutrition. Since an insect is likely to visit both, it will cross-pollinate them, increasing the number of plants in the next generation will have both insect-attracting traits and that thus have a high probability of being more insect-attractive than either of the parent strains. So rather than a single big mutation that has a massive effect on behavior, we are talking about the gradual accumulation of multiple pre-existing traits. Each one alone has only a modest effect on the interaction between the two species (and thus dose not require any specific immediate adaptation by the other species), but natural selection over thousands and thousands of generations will favor the accumulation of traits that work together to promote a beneficial interaction.

    The more attractive a particular type of plant is to a type of insect, the less advantage there is to the insect of maintaining traits that enable it to utilize other kinds of plants. Similarly, the more a plant’s pollination is carried out by a particular strain of insect, the lower the genetic advantage from maintaining traits that attract different kinds of insects–thereby increasing the likelihood that those now-unnecessary traits will be lost by genetic drift. Thus, one would expect, simply on the basis of evolutionary theory, that there should be many examples of plants developing an exclusive or even obligatory relationship with a particular type of pollinator.

    I specifically said that I was not talking about parasitic and predator-prey relationships, which might not require immediate adaptations from the victim species.

    Neither type of coevolution requires immediate adaptation from both species–in both cases, natural selection acts upon the preexisting genetic variation in those traits that influence the interaction, whether it is harmful or beneficial.

    Maybe discussing “crackpot” notions might help develop the students’ critical thinking skills, as opposed to just spoonfeeding Darwinism to the students

    There are plenty of real, current debates and controversies in science for students to practice their critical thinking skills upon, without the need to rummage around in the dustbin of long-abandoned wrong ideas.

  164. #164 XYZ
    January 30, 2008

    Jim moaned ( January 30, 2008 1:40 PM ) —

    Einstein said, “things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.” You are usually trying to make things either too simple or too complicated — I am trying to find a happy medium.

    . . . watching you repeat this over & over is unnerving

    Why do you find that “unnerving”? That is actually a verbatim or near verbatim quote from Einstein.

    It would have been nice that you recognized the similarity between Einstein’s above statement and “Ockham’s (or Occam’s) Razor,” but you spoiled it by complaining that the statement was “unnerving.”

    feel free to go back to looking foolish about evolution.

    I’m always kicking their butts — that’s why they don’t like me.”
    — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    trrll said (January 30, 2008 2:24 PM) —

    Every known trait exhibits genetic variance. So in any organisms in any place that interact in any way, there will be genetic variance at the same place and at the same time in those genetic traits that affect that interaction.

    Mutations are rare. Mutations that produce beneficial or potentially beneficial traits are much rarer still. And many traits that are potentially beneficial will be fatal or harmful if the environment does not immediately reward them. And even if a potentially beneficial mutation is not fatal or harmful, it will not spread rapidly if it is not rewarded. The existence of a pair of unlikely mutations in two different kinds of organisms in the same area at the same time is especially unlikely. This is true of small, gradual co-evolutionary steps as well as big co-evolutionary steps.

    Look at the long dissertation that you have to go through in an attempt to explain co-evolution. In contrast, I made the simple statement that a pig born anywhere in the world with flying apparatus can fly immediately, without exception. Yet you still haven’t even conceded that that is a simpler evolutionary process than co-evolution.

    There are plenty of real, current debates and controversies in science for students to practice their critical thinking skills upon, without the need to rummage around in the dustbin of long-abandoned wrong ideas.

    How is criticism of co-evolution theory a “long-abandoned wrong idea”? And even if it is, it often does not hurt to revisit such an idea — the idea can be rephrased, re-argued, or be reviewed in terms of recent discoveries.

  165. #165 Jim
    January 30, 2008

    Ok, after reading Mr Fafarman’s curious responses here I finally decided to visit his blog. It would be funny if it were not so sad. Folks, this man is delusional. Go over & check it out yourself. Try the blog entry “Casey Luskin slams Wickedpedia in magazine article” & his exchanges in the comments. It’s like watching the monkey with his fist stuck in the food jar.

  166. #166 trrll
    January 31, 2008

    Mutations are rare.

    Wrong. Each of us inherits an immense number of mutations from our parents, to which we add perhaps a couple of dozen new ones to pass on to our own children. It is because of all of these mutations that you and I look different, with different physical and intellectual abilities.

    Mutations that produce beneficial or potentially beneficial traits are much rarer still. And many traits that are potentially beneficial will be fatal or harmful if the environment does not immediately reward them.

    Wrong again. There was a time when it was thought that most mutations were harmful, but that was only because, prior to gene sequencing technology, harmful mutations were the easier to detect. Now that we can sequence genes, and make mutations to order, it is quite clear that most mutations have subtle effects or no effect at all. Many of these mutations have a marginal impact on fitness, but could turn out to be beneficial under specific circumstances change. For example, there is no inherent advantage or disadvantage if an insect prefers to visit yellow flowers or red flowers. But if the red flowers in a particular location happen to produce more nutritious pollen or nectar, the insects that prefer the red flowers will have an advantage. There will be more of that kind of insect in the next generation, which means that the red flowers will be visited more by pollinating insects, and the red flowers will be more common in the next generation. Which will increase the advantage to the insects that like red flowers. Which will increase the advantage to the red flowers. Etc. In another location, perhaps it will be the yellow flowers that happen to have a trait beneficial to insects, and the yellow flowers that coevolve with the yellow-preferring insects. No new or unlikely mutations required, just the genetic variance already present in the plant and insect populations.

    Look at the long dissertation that you have to go through in an attempt to explain co-evolution. In contrast, I made the simple statement that a pig born anywhere in the world with flying apparatus can fly immediately, without exception. Yet you still haven’t even conceded that that is a simpler evolutionary process than co-evolution.

    For that to be anything other than a stupid argument, you have to establish that pigs are in fact occasionally born with functional flying apparatus. In contrast, there has been study after study establishing that there is existing genetic variation, due to preexisting mutations, in pretty much any physical, behavioral, or biochemical trait that you can measure.

    How is criticism of co-evolution theory a “long-abandoned wrong idea”?

    Because it is based on obvious, well-known fallacies, as our discussion has shown.

    And even if it is, it often does not hurt to revisit such an idea — the idea can be rephrased, re-argued, or be reviewed in terms of recent discoveries.

    This is a bit like saying that astronomy classes should “revisit” the possibility that the earth does not really resolve around the sun. There are plenty of unresolved questions in evolutionary biology that are worthy of discussion, such as the relative importance of selection vs drift, the importance of gene exchange, the contribution of group selection. There is nothing to be gained from revisiting long-discarded fallacies.

  167. #167 XYZ
    January 31, 2008

    Each of us inherits an immense number of mutations from our parents, to which we add perhaps a couple of dozen new ones to pass on to our own children. It is because of all of these mutations that you and I look different, with different physical and intellectual abilities.

    But we are all still human, with the same basic limitations. For example, our eyes, unlike the eyes of bees, cannot see ultraviolet light. And we cannot turn nectar into honey.

    There was a time when it was thought that most mutations were harmful, but that was only because, prior to gene sequencing technology, harmful mutations were the easier to detect. Now that we can sequence genes, and make mutations to order, it is quite clear that most mutations have subtle effects or no effect at all.

    OK, so most mutations that are expressed in a non-subtle way are harmful. No big difference.

    For example, there is no inherent advantage or disadvantage if an insect prefers to visit yellow flowers or red flowers. But if the red flowers in a particular location happen to produce more nutritious pollen or nectar, the insects that prefer the red flowers will have an advantage.

    A preference for red or yellow flowers would generally be a disadvantage for both the bees and the flower color that is not preferred. And bees are attracted to the ultraviolet light that is reflected by flowers, not necessarily to the flower colors that are visible to us.

    For that to be anything other than a stupid argument, you have to establish that pigs are in fact occasionally born with functional flying apparatus.

    It was just an exaggerated example made to illustrate a point. The same principle applies to, say, the alleged evolution of reptiles into birds. The atmosphere, unlike potential co-dependent traits in other organisms, is always available for adapting to.

    Because it is based on obvious, well-known fallacies, as our discussion has shown.

    The alleged “fallacies” here are neither obvious nor well-known. And I have never seen a debate over co-evolution other than ones that I have started. It seems that most people think that intelligent design is the only scientific criticism of Darwinism.

  168. #168 trrll
    January 31, 2008

    But we are all still human, with the same basic limitations. For example, our eyes, unlike the eyes of bees, cannot see ultraviolet light. And we cannot turn nectar into honey.

    Which has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue of coevolution. Coevolution of plants and pollinating insects does not require plants to have anything other than the traits of plants or insects to have anything other than the traits of insects.

    OK, so most mutations that are expressed in a non-subtle way are harmful. No big difference.

    Also false. Most mutations have subtle effects that are not harmful. Mutagenic studies of proteins have revealed that proteins can be mutated in many places with only minor effects on function (and protein coding regions are probably the most sensitive region of the genome to mutation). And genomic studies have revealed that individuals carry huge numbers of mutations, and yet function normally. Basically, all of the subtle differences that make each of us an individual, slightly different from one another, are the result of mutations that increase diversity, but are not overtly harmful.

    A preference for red or yellow flowers would generally be a disadvantage for both the bees and the flower color that is not preferred.

    If some bees have a slight preference for red flowers and some prefer yellow flowers, there is no particular advantage or disadvantage for either the flowers or the bees–unless one flower provides better nutrition or other advantages than another. Your favorite color may be red, mine may be green. Does that put either of us at a disadvantage?

    It was just an exaggerated example made to illustrate a point.

    It is not an “example” of anything because nothing of the sort is known or expected to happen. As such, it is irrelevant to the issue at hand. Genetic variability is real and documented. The theory of coevolution does not depend upon sudden, dramatic mutations that would require both plant and insect to change simultaneously, and to suggest (by such an exaggerated example) that it does is at best ignorant, and at worst dishonest.

    The same principle applies to, say, the alleged evolution of reptiles into birds.

    Again, this is nonsensical. There is no “principle” here. Nobody is suggesting that reptiles became birds in a single mutation. And there are numerous fossils that exhibit features of both reptiles and birds.

    The atmosphere, unlike potential co-dependent traits in other organisms, is always available for adapting to.

    And insects and plants always have genetic variation for one another to adapt to.

    The alleged “fallacies” here are neither obvious nor well-known.

    They are well known and obvious to anybody who has even a decent high-school level grounding in evolution. The straw man argument you are trying to knock down is not even Darwinian–it is what is sometimes referred to as the “hopeful monster” mechanism of evolution. In Darwin’s theory, evolution was presumed to act by selection of pre-existing variation, not sudden de novo mutations.

    It seems that most people think that intelligent design is the only scientific criticism of Darwinism.

    Intelligent design is not scientific criticism of Darwinian theory because intelligent design is not science. Looking for “scientific criticism” of Darwinian theory is like looking for scientific “criticism” of the heliocentric solar system. As far as scientists are concerned, this is an issue that was resolved to essentially everybody’s satisfaction many, many years ago.

  169. #169 XYZ
    January 31, 2008

    Coevolution of plants and pollinating insects does not require plants to have anything other than the traits of plants or insects to have anything other than the traits of insects.

    Now you are talking utter nonsense.

    And genomic studies have revealed that individuals carry huge numbers of mutations, and yet function normally.

    The idea behind evolution and co-evolution is that evolving organisms do not function normally — they develop new traits.

    If some bees have a slight preference for red flowers and some prefer yellow flowers, there is no particular advantage or disadvantage for either the flowers or the bees–unless one flower provides better nutrition or other advantages than another.

    A bee’s preference for one visible-spectrum color or another (as I said, the bees may have no such preference, because they might rely exclusively on ultraviolet light) could have the effect of significantly reducing the bee’s food supply.

    It was just an exaggerated example made to illustrate a point.
    It is not an “example” of anything because nothing of the sort is known or expected to happen. As such, it is irrelevant to the issue at hand. Genetic variability is real and documented.

    I don’t know how much longer we can continue this debate when you totally misrepresent my statements. I was not talking about genetic variability. What I said was that the atmosphere, unlike potential co-dependent traits in organisms, is always there all over the world — even over the oceans, where we have flying fish — to give organisms the opportunity to adapt to it by developing the ability to fly.

    Nobody is suggesting that reptiles became birds in a single mutation.

    I didn’t suggest that, either. You are putting words in my mouth.

    And insects and plants always have genetic variation for one another to adapt to.

    The other organism’s necessary variation might not exist, might not be big enough, might not locally occur, or might be fatal or harmful in the absence of the corresponding co-dependent trait. Also, there could be irreducibly complex sets of corresponding traits involving different organs in the organisms — for example, the bee might need both the ability to see the flowers and the ability to digest nectar, and the flower might need both the ability to produce nectar and the color to attract the bees (as I said, the bees are attracted by ultraviolet light).

    They are well known and obvious to anybody who has even a decent high-school level grounding in evolution. The straw man argument you are trying to knock down is not even Darwinian — it is what is sometimes referred to as the “hopeful monster” mechanism of evolution.

    If you ask the average man in the street what “hopeful monster” means, it is unlikely that he is going to have any idea what in the hell you are talking about.

    Intelligent design is not scientific criticism of Darwinian theory because intelligent design is not science.

    ID is scientific. There is nothing in the bible about irreducible complexity, bacterial flagella, blood-clotting cascades, etc.. Anyway, we were not talking about ID here. And my criticisms of co-evolution theory could be true even if ID is false.

  170. #170 trrll
    January 31, 2008

    The idea behind evolution and co-evolution is that evolving organisms do not function normally — they develop new traits.

    Foraging for nutrients among plants is not a new trait for insects–it is a normal behavior. Spreading pollen is not a new trait. So we are talking about plants and insects doing more or less of something that they already do. There is nothing to indicate that coevolution cannot proceed based on the genetic variability in those existing functions.

    A bee’s preference for one visible-spectrum color or another (as I said, the bees may have no such preference, because they might rely exclusively on ultraviolet light) could have the effect of significantly reducing the bee’s food supply.

    As it happens, bees do have color vision. But remember, this is just one possibility out of very many. There are many other characteristics that can influence how frequently an insect visits a particular kind of plant–all of the thousands of permutations of color, shape, pattern, size, odor, etc. And in each of these, there will be genetic variability in insect preference that could serve to initiate a coevolutionary interaction. To a biologist, coevolution of relationships between pollinators and plants appears virtually inevitable.

    I don’t know how much longer we can continue this debate when you totally misrepresent my statements. I was not talking about genetic variability.

    Yes, that is your problem. You don’t want to talk about how scientists actually think coevolution works; you want to talk about a bizarre “hopeful monster” straw man that has nothing whatsoever to do with the theory of coevolution. Essentially your argument boils down to, “If coevolution had to work the way that nobody thinks it works, then it wouldn’t work!”

    What I said was that the atmosphere, unlike potential co-dependent traits in organisms, is always there all over the world — even over the oceans, where we have flying fish — to give organisms the opportunity to adapt to it by developing the ability to fly.

    And the answer is that the true basis of coevolution of such relationships is not rare mutations that have to fortuitously occur at the same place and time, but ubiquitous genetic variability that is always there in every species all over the world, on land and ocean.

    The other organism’s necessary variation might not exist, might not be big enough, might not locally occur, or might be fatal or harmful in the absence of the corresponding co-dependent trait.

    Once again, genetic variability has been found in every trait that can be measured. And it doesn’t have to be big to start with–even a slight selective advantage will amplify over multiple generations and repeated interactions. That’s the key thing about positive feedbacks–they result in amplification of small effects to produce large outcomes. So you don’t need some dramatic change to start with that would be “fatal or harmful in absence of some corresponding co-dependent trait.” As we’ve seen with multiple examples, coevolution can began with only slight selective advantages for particular genetic variants that interact with one another. Co-dependence would develop later on, after an essentially exclusive relationship has developed, by loss of no-longer-necessary traits. There is no point in the process in which it is necessary for both species to simultaneously make a sudden change.

    Also, there could be irreducibly complex sets of corresponding traits involving different organs in the organisms — for example, the bee might need both the ability to see the flowers and the ability to digest nectar, and the flower might need both the ability to produce nectar and the color to attract the bees (as I said, the bees are attracted by ultraviolet light).

    So now you are hypothesizing that the process begins with blind bees? You are really clutching at straws now. Are you really so desperate as to make such a ridiculous assumption? Vision, the ability to recognize and locate sources of food, and the ability to receive nutrition from plants is widespread among insects, so these clearly long predate the development of exclusive pollination partnerships. Plants inherently have to have color–it is part of being in the business of photosynthesis. They also have to have shape and morphology–all traits that can serve as a basis for recognition.,

    As for irreducible complexity, you are descending into complete fantasy. You might as well insist that the process requires unicorns. No confirmed example of irreducibly complex traits has ever been found. Indeed, some of the strongest candidates proposed by Behe have been proved not to be irreducibly complex.

    If you ask the average man in the street what “hopeful monster” means, it is unlikely that he is going to have any idea what in the hell you are talking about.

    I am not sure what the ignorance of the “average man on the street” has to do with anything. The point is that the notion that you are proposing is a well-known biological fallacy.

    ID is scientific. There is nothing in the bible about irreducible complexity, bacterial flagella, blood-clotting cascades, etc..

    It may surprise you to learn that whether or not something is in the Bible has nothing at all to do with whether it is considered scientific by scientists. However, ID is such obvious and arrant nonsense that it is hard to imagine anybody taking it seriously without some sort of overwhelming bias, so it is hardly surprising that the overwhelming majority of ID advocates seem have some sort of religious motive for wanting to disbelieve in evolution.

    Anyway, we were not talking about ID here. And my criticisms of co-evolution theory could be true even if ID is false.

    Yes, and perhaps pigs could fly if they had wings. But they don’t. And whatever your motivation for wanting to believe in them, your “criticisms” don’t make sense and aren’t even criticisms of actual coevolutionary theory, of which you clearly have no knowledge–they are criticisms of a straw man notion of your own devising.

  171. #171 Michael Ralston
    January 31, 2008

    A bee’s preference for one visible-spectrum color or another (as I said, the bees may have no such preference, because they might rely exclusively on ultraviolet light) could have the effect of significantly reducing the bee’s food supply.

    If and ONLY if the flowers of that appearance are dramatically inferior in food supply – in which case the bees will cease to have that preference, by a microevolutionary process not even hardline creationists can deny.

    If there are no flowers of that appearance, then by the very definition of “preference”, it can’t have a negative effect.
    After all, the word means that they PREFER flowers of that appearance – not that they ignore all other flowers even if those other flowers are the only ones to be found.

    Do you not know what words mean?

  172. #172 XYZ
    February 1, 2008

    trrll said (January 31, 2008 6:43 PM) —

    I don’t know how much longer we can continue this debate when you totally misrepresent my statements. I was not talking about genetic variability.
    Yes, that is your problem.

    No, that’s your problem when you misrepresent my statements and quote me out of context.

    And the answer is that the true basis of coevolution of such relationships is not rare mutations that have to fortuitously occur at the same place and time

    I never said that the mutations necessarily have to occur at the same place and time, though that might sometimes be true. You are putting words in my mouth. Basically, what I am saying is that the matching mutations in two kinds of organisms are likely to occur far apart in time and/or place, and as a result it is likely that the mutant forms of the two organisms will never meet, even assuming that the mutations are not fatal or harmful when the matching mutants are absent — and as I said, this is a problem even for gradual co-evolution. I don’t know how mamy times I have to explain this very simple concept.

    So now you are hypothesizing that the process begins with blind bees?

    No, I never said that — again you are putting words in my mouth. But the bees might be blind to certain colors of the flowers, including ultraviolet.

    Plants inherently have to have color — it is part of being in the business of photosynthesis.

    Only the green color of chlorophyll is involved in photosynthesis.

    No confirmed example of irreducibly complex traits has ever been found.

    Wrong. As I pointed out, there can even be irreducibly complex sets of co-dependent traits.

    Indeed, some of the strongest candidates proposed by Behe have been proved not to be irreducibly complex.

    Wrong again. Showing a similarity of traits does not necessarily show that they are not irreducibly complex.

    I am not sure what the ignorance of the “average man on the street” has to do with anything.

    He’s the one that you need to convince.

    It may surprise you to learn that whether or not something is in the Bible has nothing at all to do with whether it is considered scientific by scientists.

    Again, you are putting words in my mouth — I never said any such thing.

    And again, you are trying to prove co-evolution just by giving examples.

    Michael Ralston said ( January 31, 2008 7:52 PM ) —

    A bee’s preference for one visible-spectrum color or another (as I said, the bees may have no such preference, because they might rely exclusively on ultraviolet light) could have the effect of significantly reducing the bee’s food supply.
    If and ONLY if the flowers of that appearance are dramatically inferior in food supply – in which case the bees will cease to have that preference, by a microevolutionary process not even hardline creationists can deny.

    The bees might continue to have that preference because they cannot detect the other colors, or through force of habit or instinct. Force of habit or instinct can be very strong — for example, I have heard of clusters of bees starving to death just a few inches away from a supply of honey, because bees have an instinct to cluster together when it is cold.

  173. #173 trrll
    February 1, 2008

    I never said that the mutations necessarily have to occur at the same place and time, though that might sometimes be true. You are putting words in my mouth. Basically, what I am saying is that the matching mutations in two kinds of organisms are likely to occur far apart in time and/or place, and as a result it is likely that the mutant forms of the two organisms will never meet, even assuming that the mutations are not fatal or harmful when the matching mutants are absent — and as I said, this is a problem even for gradual co-evolution.

    Ooohhh. You aren’t saying that for coevolution to work, the mutations have to occur at the same place and time–you are saying that it won’t work because the mutations won’t occur at the same place and time. But turning it around does not make it any less wrong. So this is just another version of, “If coevolution had to work in a way that nobody believes it does, then it wouldn’t work.”

    The theory of coevolution does not propose matching mutations occurring at the same time. Rather, it acts upon genetic variance that is already present in the population, as a result of past mutations carried down through the generations–and which have therefore already been selected not to be fatal or harmful. And you have provided no evidence, or even a reasonable argument, that co-evolution would require the kind of matching mutations that you invoke.

    Only the green color of chlorophyll is involved in photosynthesis

    There’s an old saying, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.” It seems to be virtually a defining characteristic of ID/Creationists that they argue with made-up “facts.” It’s hard to tell to what extent it is outright dishonesty and to what extent it is intellectual laziness, but it boils down to contempt for the truth.

    First you try to argue that many plants don’t have sap (even though you had no idea what sap was). Then you claimed that bees can ‘t see colors. This time, I’m not going to bother explaining your mistake to you, I’ll just give you a hint: accessory pigments. Look it up.

    Wrong. As I pointed out, there can even be irreducibly complex sets of co-dependent traits.

    But in fact, the theory of coevolution does not depend upon any such thing, and there is no reason to believe this to be necessary for coevolution to occur. I’m surprised that you would invoke the notion irreducible complexity, considering how thoroughly it has been discredited. There is not a single confirmed case of a genuine irreducibly complex trait, as originally defined by Behe, in which if any one part of a system is missing, there is no selective advantage to the organism. Behe’s pet example, the bacterial flagellum, was exploded when other scientists showed that a partial set of homologous proteins can have a different cellular function. His claim that the immune system is irreducibly complex when examples of functional immune systems were found lacking some of the proteins that Behe thought were essential. More recently, his claim that certain types of protein-protein interactions were irreducibly complex was demolished when a graduate student pointed out evidence of recent evolution in HIV of that very kind of protein-protein interaction. Behe couldn’t even convince a conservative judge appointed by GW Bush that his notion of irreversible complexity made sense–his testimony was pivotal in ID’s loss in Dover.

    The bees might continue to have that preference because they cannot detect the other colors, or through force of habit or instinct.

    This is nearly as foolish as some of the blunders I noted above. Do you imagine that “force of habit or instinct” is somehow magic and exists independently of genetics? An “Instinct” is simply a behavioral preference genetically programmed into the function of the nervous system. A genetic preference (i.e. an instinct) that is harmful will be eliminated by negative selection (“microevolution,” in Michael Ralston’s words).

    In any case, you can’t dodge the issue by clutching at the notion that the “bees cannot detect other colors” (even if that were true, which it isn’t) because any organism must have some way of identifying its food source. So whatever characteristics of the plant the insect recognizes (size, shape, patter, color, odor, etc., etc.), there will be some genetic variance in the degree to which different insects will be attracted to those characteristics, and there will be some genetic variance in the degree to which different plants exhibit those identifying characteristics. And it is this ubiquitous genetic variation–not simultaneous mutations occurring in both plant and insect in the “same place and time”–that is the basis of coevolution.

  174. #174 Fred
    February 1, 2008

    Larry-
    You’re insane. What you wrote is on record here … you do know that, right? Here is the complete back-&-forth regarding that out-of-nowhere bible reference. Funny that you didn’t quote the entire exchange. You could say that you took it out of context:

    ID is scientific. There is nothing in the bible about irreducible complexity, bacterial flagella, blood-clotting cascades, etc..

    It may surprise you to learn that whether or not something is in the Bible has nothing at all to do with whether it is considered scientific by scientists.

    Why else would you invoke the bible here? You complained that it was taken out of context. Well, what was the context? You can’t make people guess then complain that they took it in some way other than how it’s rolling around in your head.

  175. #175 SLC
    February 1, 2008

    Re Fred & Trrll

    I find the patience of Mr. Fred and Mr. Trrll amazing. Their attempts to be civil and reasonable to a whackjob like Mr. Fafarman is beyond my comprehension.

  176. #176 Dave S.
    February 1, 2008

    See people, when Larry says something “might” happen or it “may” happen, what he really means is that it DOES happen, until it can be proven to his satisfaction that it does not. He only uses the less precise wording so that he can avoid actually producing any evidence.

  177. #177 XYZ
    February 1, 2008

    You aren’t saying that for coevolution to work, the mutations have to occur at the same place and time–you are saying that it won’t work because the mutations won’t occur at the same place and time.

    No, I didn’t say that — you are again putting words in my mouth. I said that it is unlikely that the matched mutant organisms will both exist at the same time and the same place, because mutations are rare and the two mutations are therefore likely to be widely separated in time and/or location, and until the two mutants meet the mutations will not confer any evolutionary advantage and hence the mutants are not likely to spread very rapidly. Also, as I said, the mutations may be fatal or harmful in the absence of the presence of the matching mutants. Your misquoting me forces me to repeat myself over and over.

    The theory of coevolution does not propose matching mutations occurring at the same time. Rather, it acts upon genetic variance that is already present in the population, as a result of past mutations carried down through the generations–and which have therefore already been selected not to be fatal or harmful.

    Mutations large enough to be very useful in co-evolution are likely to be fatal or harmful in the absence of the matching mutant forms of the other organism.

    Only the green color of chlorophyll is involved in photosynthesis

    There’s an old saying, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.”

    What? You are not claiming that my above statement of fact is wrong.

    I’m surprised that you would invoke the notion irreducible complexity, considering how thoroughly it has been discredited.

    The idea of irreducibly complex sets of co-dependent traits involving different organ systems in the same organism has not even been debated.

    Behe couldn’t even convince a conservative judge appointed by GW Bush that his notion of irreversible complexity made sense–his testimony was pivotal in ID’s loss in Dover.

    I am sick and tired of hearing about that fatheaded judge who showed extreme prejudice against the Dover defendants by saying in a commencement speech that his decision was based on his notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not “true” religions. He was obviously going to go out of his way to attack anything that he could possibly conceive of as being connected in any way to organized religion. And sheeeesh — it was just one judge’s opinion. You know where I think you can shove it.

    You are hopeless. You have not even conceded that co-evolution is at least likely to be more difficult and slower than evolutionary adaptation to air, water, and land.

  178. #178 trrll
    February 1, 2008

    No, I didn’t say that — you are again putting words in my mouth. I said that it is unlikely that the matched mutant organisms will both exist at the same time and the same place, because mutations are rare and the two mutations are therefore likely to be widely separated in time and/or location, and until the two mutants meet the mutations will not confer any evolutionary advantage and hence the mutants are not likely to spread very rapidly. Also, as I said, the mutations may be fatal or harmful in the absence of the presence of the matching mutants. Your misquoting me forces me to repeat myself over and over.

    Again, rewording the same fallacious idea does not making it any less wrong. This is yet another version of “If coevolution had to work in a way that nobody believes it does, then it wouldn’t work.”

    The point is that coevolution acts upon variation that is already present in the population–everywhere, at all times–harmless genetic variations that do not require a compensating mutation in the other organism. It does not depend upon two mutations appearing at the same place and time.

    Mutations large enough to be very useful in co-evolution are likely to be fatal or harmful in the absence of the matching mutant forms of the other organism.

    Once again, you are making up “facts” to suit your argument, quite obviously without bothering to check. There is a huge literature on the mathematics of evolution, and the amount of selective advantage needed can be calculated. In the unlikely event that you bother to actually educate yourself about the facts of the matter, you will find that even a small selective advantage multiplies rapidly over the generations. Basically, it works like compound interest. It is the same principle whereby casinos make huge profits even though they have only a small percentage advantage on each turn of the slot machine reels.

    What? You are not claiming that my above statement of fact is wrong.

    No, it is not fact that “Only the green color of chlorophyll is involved in photosynthesis.” Once again, you are making up “facts” to suit your argument. As you would know if you’d bothered to do even the most cursory research before shooting your mouth off.

    I am sick and tired of hearing about that fatheaded judge who showed extreme prejudice against the Dover defendants by saying in a commencement speech that his decision was based on his notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not “true” religions.

    He wasn’t prejudiced about them until he heard their stupid arguments. And you can’t fool me with your distorted version of what the judge said in the commencement speech–I looked up his actual words. (some of us actually do do our research)

    You are hopeless. You have not even conceded that co-evolution is at least likely to be more difficult and slower than evolutionary adaptation to air, water, and land.

    Why should I concede something that is so obviously false? I’ve pointed out multiple reasons why co-evolution–especially between plants and pollinators–is likely to be easier and faster than evolutionary adaptation to inanimate features of the environment.

  179. #179 Jim
    February 1, 2008

    Larry Fafarman-
    How the hell do you find the time to deny the holocaust when you’re so busy defecating over here?

  180. #180 XYZ
    February 1, 2008

    Fred driveled,

    Why else would you invoke the bible here?

    No, I didn’t invoke the bible — someone else raised the subject of the bible.

    SLC driveled,

    I find the patience of Mr. Fred and Mr. Trrll amazing.

    I am the one with amazing patience — I have to keep repeating myself because Trrll is always misquoting me.

    Dave S. driveled,

    See people, when ***** says something “might” happen or it “may” happen, what he really means is that it DOES happen, until it can be proven to his satisfaction that it does not. He only uses the less precise wording so that he can avoid actually producing any evidence.

    No — I use “might” and “may” to avoid being accused of being too positive or too certain.

    And where is the your evidence?

  181. #181 XYZ
    February 1, 2008

    Trrll moaned,

    Again, rewording the same fallacious idea does not making it any less wrong. This is yet another version of “If coevolution had to work in a way that nobody believes it does, then it wouldn’t work.”

    That’s the problem — “nobody” (or paraphrasing the Marlboro Filters ads, almost nobody) believes that co-evolution works that way, but that is the only way co-evolution can work. Co-evolution can’t work just by “mutual evolutionary pressure,” the way co-evolution is usually described.

    It does not depend upon two mutations appearing at the same place and time.

    You are absolutely impossible — you continue to misquote me even after I clarified my position. I did not say that the mutations themselves have to appear at the same place and time — I said that the “matched mutant organisms” have to appear somewhere at the same place and time. Here again is what I said:

    I said that it is unlikely that the matched mutant organisms will both exist at the same time and the same place, because mutations are rare and the two mutations are therefore likely to be widely separated in time and/or location, and until the two mutants meet the mutations will not confer any evolutionary advantage and hence the mutants are not likely to spread very rapidly. Also, as I said, the mutations may be fatal or harmful in the absence of the presence of the matching mutants.

    You said,

    No, it is not fact that “Only the green color of chlorophyll is involved in photosynthesis.” Once again, you are making up “facts” to suit your argument. As you would know if you’d bothered to do even the most cursory research before shooting your mouth off.

    What have you said here, idiot? Absolutely nothing! We were talking about flowering plants, and it is the green parts of the plants that are involved in photosynthesis. Do you always look up things before shooting your mouth off?

    Basically, it works like compound interest.

    Co-evolution cannot be reduced to compound interest.

    I’ve pointed out multiple reasons why co-evolution — especially between plants and pollinators — is likely to be easier and faster than evolutionary adaptation to inanimate features of the environment.

    Well, I think that says it all. There is no point in my continuing to debate you when you won’t even be reasonable.

  182. #182 trrll
    February 2, 2008

    That’s the problem — “nobody” (or paraphrasing the Marlboro Filters ads, almost nobody) believes that co-evolution works that way, but that is the only way co-evolution can work. Co-evolution can’t work just by “mutual evolutionary pressure,” the way co-evolution is usually described.

    Yet you have provided not one shred of evidence, not one rational argument that it cannot work that way.

    You are absolutely impossible — you continue to misquote me even after I clarified my position. I did not say that the mutations themselves have to appear at the same place and time — I said that the “matched mutant organisms” have to appear somewhere at the same place and time. Here again is what I said:

    No matter how you “clarify” it, it remains the same fallacy. There is no reason to believe that coevolution requires rare “matched mutant organisms” to appear at the same place and time, and every reason to believe that coevolution works via that natural genetic variation that is present in all traits, at all places and times.

    What have you said here, idiot? Absolutely nothing! We were talking about flowering plants, and it is the green parts of the plants that are involved in photosynthesis. Do you always look up things before shooting your mouth off?

    Yes, as a matter of fact, I do check my facts before making an assertion. That’s what distinguishes a person who debates honestly from somebody who makes up his own facts to suit his argument.

    I carried out a little experiment with you. Rather than explaining it to you, I simply let you know that your assertion that “Only the green color of chlorophyll is involved in photosynthesis” was incorrect. I even gave you the key words to make it easy for you to find out the answer for yourself. I verified that with those keywords would take you maybe 5 minutes to find the answer on the internet. Anybody with even a shred of intellectual courtesy would have found the answer long ago. But you seem steadfastly determined to cling to your own ignorance. It explains a lot about how you can seriously offer such patently ridiculous arguments.

    Co-evolution cannot be reduced to compound interest.

    Yes, and as I mentioned before, there is a large literature examining the mathematics of evolution in all its complexity. But considering that you couldn’t bring yourself to find out the truth about plant pigments, I knew that there was not even a remote change that you would ever bother to read the scientific literature that explains how a very small selective advantage can be amplified over generations to produce large effects. So I offered you a simple analogy. Although evolution is in may ways more complex than compound interest, they have a fundamental mathematical principle in common. Indeed, the same fundamental mathematics shows up anywhere in biology or physics where there is a positive feedback.

    Well, I think that says it all. There is no point in my continuing to debate you when you won’t even be reasonable.

    I accept your surrender.

  183. #183 XYZ
    February 2, 2008

    There is no reason to believe that coevolution requires rare “matched mutant organisms” to appear at the same place and time

    What a stupid statement! Of course the two organisms must appear at the same place at the same time — otherwise there is no species interaction!

    Rather than explaining it to you, I simply let you know that your assertion that “Only the green color of chlorophyll is involved in photosynthesis” was incorrect.

    I said that with regard to flowering plants, the statement is correct, and you have not shown otherwise. You are just playing games. What a jerk.

    Although evolution is in may ways more complex than compound interest, they have a fundamental mathematical principle in common. Indeed, the same fundamental mathematics shows up anywhere in biology or physics where there is a positive feedback.

    William Dembski discusses evolution in terms of mathematical principles. What do you find wrong with his ideas?

    I accept your surrender.

    Saying that you are full of crap is a surrender? LOL What a jerk.

  184. #184 Michael Ralston
    February 2, 2008

    Well, Larry, there’s no point debating you, since there’s no hope of convincing you, there’s no hope of you providing any new ideas, and by now there’s no audience for you to confuse with your lies.

    So when you define “reasonable” as “willing to accept my lies without challenging them”, then yes, saying there’s no point debating people when they won’t be reasonable is surrendering.

    Meanwhile, in the REAL world, you’re the one who’s not being reasonable.

  185. #185 Dave S,
    February 2, 2008

    Dave S. driveled,

    See people, when ***** says something “might” happen or it “may” happen, what he really means is that it DOES happen, until it can be proven to his satisfaction that it does not. He only uses the less precise wording so that he can avoid actually producing any evidence.

    No — I use “might” and “may” to avoid being accused of being too positive or too certain.

    LOL. Why did you block out the ‘Larry’ for Larry? Oh right, you’re not Larry and have no idea who he is, although you do answer to his name. *L*

    And where is the your evidence?

    You forget Larry, I’ve already gone over this same subject making much the same points as has been made here on this very blog. Obviously its pointless, as you keep making the exact same claims. I’d be more crazy than you to think another go would make any difference.

  186. #186 trrll
    February 2, 2008

    Is there anything more pathetic than a guy who makes a grand exit from a debate, declaring, “Well, I think that says it all. There is no point in my continuing to debate you when you won’t even be reasonable” …and then slinks back in trying to get the last word? And what a lame attempt, at that!

    There is no reason to believe that coevolution requires rare “matched mutant organisms” to appear at the same place and time

    What a stupid statement! Of course the two organisms must appear at the same place at the same time — otherwise there is no species interaction!

    Of course, the species interact, with genetic variance in the traits that influence their interaction–variance that it present everywhere, at all times. We are talking about your nonsensical claim that “matched mutants” of those species must occur at the same place and the same time.

    I said that with regard to flowering plants, the statement is correct, and you have not shown otherwise. You are just playing games. What a jerk.

    I think of it more of a test, to see if you were capable of learning, if you had even a shred of genuine intellectual curiousity. You failed.

    And no, it still is not correct that “Only the green color of chlorophyll is involved in photosynthesis.” I find it very revealing that, rather than doing the tiny bit of research needed to understand and correct your error–even with the keywords handed to you on a silver platter–you merely took a guess (a wrong guess, because confining your assertion to flowering plants does not make it right) and made another dogmatic assertion.

    William Dembski discusses evolution in terms of mathematical principles. What do you find wrong with his ideas?

    William Dembski has not worked on the mathematics of selection, so in this context he is entirely irrelevant.

    In a broader context, his attempt to apply mathematics to evolution is incoherent. Where the mathematics is correct, it is irrelevant to evolution. Where it is relevant to evolution, it is incorrect. Despite it being the keystone of his argument, he has failed to come up with a rigorous definition of “specified complexity,” that distinguishes it mathematically from measures of information defined by other mathematicians. His claim that the “No Free Lunch” theorem limits natural selection has obvious, basic errors that have been pointed out by numerous mathematicians, including the originator of the NFL Theorem. He insists that evolutionary processes have extremely low probability, but then fails to come up with any actual calculation of that probability. His rejects the numerous simulations that demonstrate that genetic algorithms based on natural selection are in fact capable of creating “design,” and do so with high probability, based on the argument that the programmers somehow managed to smuggle the information into the algorithm, but has failed to come up with any mathematical way of showing where that information resides in the program, or calculating the amount of supposed “information” in an algorithm and relating it to the amount of information that the algorithm is able to generate.

  187. #187 XYZ
    February 2, 2008

    you’re the one who’s not being reasonable.

    What is more unreasonable than saying that co-evolution is easier and faster than adaptation to the atmosphere?

    Oh right, you’re not Larry and have no idea who he is, although you do answer to his name.

    Who else could “Larry” possibly refer to, idiot?

    Is there anything more pathetic than a guy who makes a grand exit from a debate, declaring, “Well, I think that says it all. There is no point in my continuing to debate you when you won’t even be reasonable” …and then slinks back in trying to get the last word?

    The real debate about co-evolution is over — I am just responding now to your breathtaking inanity.

  188. #188 Leni
    February 2, 2008

    Larry, I notice you didn’t bother to explain why the compound interest analogy is false.

    Here it is again, with helpful bolding:

    Although evolution is in may ways more complex than compound interest, they have a fundamental mathematical principle in common.

    It’s an analogy, Larry. Exclaiming that it can’t do what it wasn’t intended to do is not a response, it’s an evasion.

  189. #189 XYZ
    February 2, 2008

    Although evolution is in may ways more complex than compound interest, they have a fundamental mathematical principle in common.
    It’s an analogy, Larry. Exclaiming that it can’t do what it wasn’t intended to do is not a response, it’s an evasion.

    It is often difficult or impossible to argue about a computer program because the computer just gives a result without showing how it arrived at the result, and often the details of the computer program’s method are either unavailable or hard to follow, with programming errors being hard to find. Sometimes a computer is a completely inappropriate means of approaching a problem — for example, Wesley Elsberry claims that his text comparison program can determine the extent to which two different texts have the same ideas, but that is of course ridiculous unless the texts are virtually verbatim copies of each other.

  190. #190 Fred
    February 3, 2008

    Larry-

    Fred driveled,

    Why else would you invoke the bible here?

    No, I didn’t invoke the bible — someone else raised the subject of the bible.

    In order to find anywhere in this thread where the bible has been mentioned before you did here one must read-up about 20 posts to find Hipple’s inane post about the flood & a few responding comments following. The argument here had nothing to do with that particular fart in the thread. You did invoke the bible at this point for no apparent reason, & you argue incoherently/dishonestly. I don’t know if it is intent (& therefore dishonest) or if it is your illness taking over. However, it is interesting watching a couple people take the time to explain straightforward concepts to you over-&-over in ways that a child could understand yet all you can do is stomp your feet, cover your ears, then sling your poo. Pathetic, really.

  191. #191 XYZ
    February 3, 2008

    Fred driveled,

    You did invoke the bible at this point for no apparent reason, & you argue incoherently/dishonestly. I don’t know if it is intent (& therefore dishonest) or if it is your illness taking over.

    It was David Marjanovi who brought up the subject of religion, dunghill. He said,

    Trying to poke holes in the theory of evolution is fine, it just doesn’t do anything positive for ID. For instance, it doesn’t offer any way to distinguish ID creationism from Hindu creationism.
    Posted by: David Marjanovi? | January 21, 2008 2:53 PM

    Then I answered,

    I am getting tired of seeing “ID creationism.” There is nothing in the bible about irreducible complexity, bacterial flagella, blood-clotting cascades, etc..
    Posted by: XYZ | January 21, 2008 5:59 PM

    And does it really matter who brought up the bible? Is that some kind of taboo subject here?

    it is interesting watching a couple people take the time to explain straightforward concepts to you over-&-over

    Yeah, “straightforward” concepts — like the concept that co-evolution is easier and faster than evolutionary adaptation to the atmosphere.

    in ways that a child could understand

    — like the child who pointed out that the emperor had no clothes.

  192. #192 Leni
    February 4, 2008

    Tell us why the compound interest analogy is false.

  193. #193 Fred
    February 4, 2008

    — like the child who pointed out that the emperor had no clothes.

    Umm, does it really need to be pointed out to you? … there is a difference between childlike innocence & willful childish ignorance.
    & how about that compound interest analogy?

  194. #194 PanDeism Fish
    February 10, 2008

    Have you heard of the Theory of PanDeism? The theory of PanDeism explains evolution without dispensing with God….

    In the beginning there was a higher power, Pandeism says, what we can call “God” for convenience…. God could not experience adversity (after all, what can present adversity to God) so God became the Universe…. and in becoming the Universe, Pandeism says, God set up the laws of physics that would basically make it extremely highly probable that complex molecular reactions would lead to reproducing life, that life would evolve through the process of natural selection to reach intelligence, and that this intelligent life would not only face adversity but would reflect upon it, and contemplate it, thus sharing that experience with us while remaining a nonintervening energy suffusive of the Universe….

    That is PanDeism in a nutshell!!

  195. #195 Kris
    July 16, 2008

    “In the beginning there was a higher power” maybe true maybe not.

  196. #196 Wesley R. Elsberry
    May 16, 2009

    Sometimes a computer is a completely inappropriate means of approaching a problem — for example, Wesley Elsberry claims that his text comparison program can determine the extent to which two different texts have the same ideas, but that is of course ridiculous unless the texts are virtually verbatim copies of each other.

    I don’t recall ever having made that claim. I used my text comparison program in order to demonstrate the extent of continuity of text over multiple drafts of a book, since the published version had been sanitized, and the particular content retained from earlier drafts. The earlier drafts were explicit in endorsing and promoting creation science. As in Shannon, meaning was not part of the analysis. It certainly required the reader’s discrimination to determine the import of the text identified as having been retained in later drafts, and I don’t think that I have ever claimed otherwise. What my program provided was an aid to making a complete survey of all such retained text, which is a non-trivial undertaking for a set of drafts such as I analyzed for Kitzmiller v. DASD. This made use of a computer an excellent and appropriate aid to analysis. For the earlier instance of analyzing Stephen Meyer’s paper and its predecessors, the task did not require even that level of scrutiny; the question at issue was simply the degree to which the final version borrowed from earlier versions. Plagiarism or self-plagiarism isn’t dependent upon whether particular ideas are incorporated in later works. And, again, the use of the computer in application to the problem was in that case most appropriate, contrary to the claim above by “XYZ”.

  197. #197 Facebook
    September 21, 2010

    hmm very job!

  198. #198 Facebook
    October 2, 2011

    I’m looking for thank you thank all persons who contributed all the issues existing in a place

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.