Respectful Insolence

Geez, I might as well just put a paper bag over my head right now around my fellow ScienceBloggers.

You’ve heard me lament before about the woeful ignorance about biology and evolution common among all too many doctors. (You haven’t? Well check here, here, here, and here.) Heck, you’ve even heard me lament about it just a few days ago, my irritation being piqued by a physician by the name of Dr. Geoffrey Simmons.

Now, as if to rub my face in it, Dembski’s crew over at Uncommon Design have made me aware of an orthopedic surgeon named David A. Cook, M.D., who’s adding to my embarrassment. As usual, they make a lot of his qualifications (“Intelligent design” advocates seem particularly impressed by credentials, even if those credentials have little or nothing to do with disciplines that study evolution). For example, he was AOA (Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Society, memberships to which are only given to the top medical students), graduated first in his class, and earned a Merck Award and an Upjohn Award. All definitely very impressive. He also scored the 99th percentile on his certifying examination for Board certification in Orthopedic Surgery. That’s also impressive, but I found it very odd that he mentioned this tidbit, because most surgeons simply say they are Board-certified; they rarely, if ever, mention the percentile they finished at. Basically, if you’re a Board-certified surgeon, no one really cares what percentile grade you got on the qualifying exam, especially not 14 years later. (Heck, almost no one puts their Board exam scores on their CV; doing so would probably provoke ridicule.) To me, Dr. Cook’s mentioning his Board exam score that can only be to try to impress the rubes with how smart he is and thus convince them that somehow he must know what he is talking about when he starts pontificating on evolution. (In other words, “Trust me, I’m a doctor who scored in the 99th percentile on my Board exam.) Dr. Cook also published six clinical papers that don’t look all that impressive, including case reports like this and one case series on MRI of the knee, plus a review article.

All of the above indicates that Dr. Cook is very likely an excellent orthopedic surgeon. But none of it represents adequate qualifications to persuade me to take him seriously when he comments on evolution, and the harping on all of his qualifications appear to be nothing more than a transparent attempt to give him an air of scientific authority when blathering about evolution that, based on the content of what he writes, he clearly does not have or deserve:

Dr. Cook is a graduate of Vanderbilt, home of one of the first IDEA chapters in the nation. I asked him not to be shy about his accomplishments, because people like him are the ones who most effectively communicate to the world that a person can be quite literate in science and still question Darwinian evolution. His example empirically disproves the false claims of Dawkins, Harris, KCFS, NCSE, and others who insinuate that exposure to criticism of the Darwinian orthodoxy will deteriorate scientific understanding.

The only thing Cook’s example “empirically proves” is that it is possible to be an accomplished surgeon and sound like a complete ignoramus when talking about evolution.

Of course, it always amazes me how, on the one hand ID advocates claim that ID is “science” and that, oh, no, it doesn’t have anything to do with their religion at all–perish the thought!–while on the other hand they can’t seem to resist using religious language when discussing their beliefs. In the case of Dr. Cook, his development of “disbelief in Darwinism” is described as a “post-Darwinist conversion,” beginning:

I believed in Darwinian-type evolution up through undergraduate and more or less through medical school. What else was there? My church does not take a position on the subject. We believe that “Man was created in God’s image,” but how God went about it is unspecified. The spectrum of beliefs on this topic among church members spans nearly the entire range; we are only required to accept that God was involved and behind it somehow. I used to just vaguely believe that “evolution is how He did it.”

I always know I’m dealing with a creationist when he refers to “Darwinism” when expressing “skepticism” about evolution. (It’s as if the scientific discoveries of the last 140 years supporting the theory of evolution never happened; here’s a hint, dude: It ain’t 1859 anymore.) And, indeed I am. Of course, he’s representing himself as scientifically literate and therefore more authoritative than your run-of-the-mill ID’er by pumping up his irrelevant qualifications. Indeed, it’s fascinating to see how ID’ers fawn over him in the comments. One commenter points out that being an orthopedic surgeon is hardly a qualification to be taken seriously about evolution, and he’s attacked. The most risible reply comes from a commenter named jpark320 (comment #14), who says:

1) Well I’d have to say this is crazy! Find me a doctor who doesn’t know molecular biology…

2) I think it is very inaccurate to compare Dr. Cook or any physician with a layman in biochemical understanding.

3) Would it be fair to characterize a Ph.D’s understanding of Human evolution abysmal b/c he doesn’t understand the person on a systems lvl?

4) Most Ph.D researchers don’t have any more detailed knowledge of evolution in general. They only have extra knowledge one disease process or pathway (compared to an MD).

5) I’m confident Dr. Cook understands biochemistry.

His confidence in doctors in general and Dr. Cook in particular is truly touching (and naive). Very typical of the medical student that he is. He will come to know better. At least I hope he will.

I graduated from medical school the same time as Dr. Cook did (and took honors biochemistry while doing it), and I can assure jparks that there are many physicians who do not understand molecular biology. Indeed, I was amazed at how simplified the biochemistry I learned was compared to the graduate level biochemistry that I had taken during my undergraduate years. Also, molecular biology has progressed markedly in the 20 years since Dr. Cook graduated (the only reason I keep so up-to-date on it is because I’m an academic surgeon and scientist; the vast majority of physicians forget it as soon as they no longer need it). Besides, orthopedic surgeons, particularly nonacademic ones, are not known for their detailed understanding of molecular biology; they are known for their knowledge of the anatomy of the musculoskeletal system and their skill at repairing bones with power tools and cartilage, tendons, and occasionally nerves and blood vessels with finer instruments. (Indeed, they frequently have to consult their medical colleagues to deal with even fairly straightforward medical problems.) An, sadly, it’s not just orthopedic surgeons who are prone to embarrassing themselves pontificating about evolution. The bottom line, unfortunately, is that most nonacademic physicians in day-to-day practice (and even some in academic practice) do not know anything other than a watered-down basic version of molecular biology, and some don’t even understand that all that well. Dr. Cook may actually understand something about molecular biology (although his writing makes me sincerely doubt that he, in fact, does), but you can’t assume that, just because he is a doctor, he must understand molecular biology.

In any case, Dr. Cook couldn’t resist diving into the same, old tired ID canards in describing the beginning of his “conversion from Darwinism” in medical school:

The more I learned [about the human body], the less sense it made to me that such an incredibly complex, incredibly integrated on all levels entity could possibly have arisen as a result of chance, no matter over what time period and no matter what selection mechanisms were involved. There are just way too many examples of processes, structures, and functions that are not only amazingly complex themselves, but engage in incredibly coordinated cooperation with other parts and functions. Any physiological process you can think of is this way, bone homeostasis being the currently most familiar to me because of my specialty of orthopaedic surgery; how could the amazing feedback system among the intestine, liver, kidney, and bone have arisen without some sort of coordinating agency? Gross anatomy is the same way on a macro level; muscle, nerve, vascular, bone, and joint systems all mesh in an elegance of function.

And when you expand the question to the whole of life it becomes mind-boggling: fish, insects, birds- did you ever look at an ant under a microscope? What awesome little machines they are. And that’s only on the outside. And supposedly primitive creatures like sharks turn out to have sensory and surveillance equipment to put the CIA to shame.

I began questioning fellow classmates and a few professors. By what possible sequence of events could this amazing symphony of form and function have arisen through chance processes? I received no satisfactory answers. The ones who even took the question seriously assured me that there were experts and specialists in the field out there who understood it all, it had all been investigated, and Darwinism was the answer. Just because we students didn’t understand it didn’t mean no one did. I could rest assured that somebody knew all that.

Obviously, Dr. Cook didn’t ask the right people, and, as we now know from my previous rants, it’s quite possible that most of his medical school professors didn’t understand evolution any better than he. Indeed, poor understanding of evolution among medical students is becoming increasingly a problem. I’d be willing to bet that Dr. Cook almost certainly did not ask a bona fide evolutionary biologist to explain how such structures could have come to be. (He should talk to Ivan Schwab about how the eye evolved, for instance. Dr. Schwab is an ophthalmologist and an afficianado of evolutionary biology who writes widely about evolution, particularly as it pertains to the eye). In any case, his reasons for doubting, as with most creationists, boil down to an argument from personal incredulity. In essence, because he can’t understand, believe in, or envision a way that complex structures or biochemical pathways or whatever could have evolved to a state of such exquisite complexity, he conclude that these structures must have been “designed.” science be damned. I always find this sort of argument from ID creationists to be the height of hubris myself, as the person making such an argument comes off as though saying: If I can’t see how this structure evolved, then it must have been designed. Of course, as a fellow surgeon, I’m well aware of the hubris of surgeons and have to be on guard, lest I start to exhibit that most distasteful quality. It’s also an argument that’s profoundly anti-scientific, a God of the gaps argument that goes: Because we don’t yet understand how this or that structure evolved, it must have been “designed.”

Not too impressive for someone with such otherwise impressive credentials in orthopedic surgery. Only an ID’er would think that an orthopedic surgeon with no special training in evolution would be any more knowledgeable about it than the engineers that they are so fond of trotting out to support their pseudoscientific garbage.

ADDENDUM: Oh, no, Dr. Cook did it again in the comments! See comment #32:

Regarding human limb development, the hand is truly an amazing piece of engineering: Just in the finger, the balanced interplay of the extensor complex with both flexor tendons and the beautiful dynamic balancing and coordinating act the lumbrical muscles do (MP flexors, IP extensors; what a great design to facilitate overall function) is an example of irreducible complexity,. Remove just one component and the whole thing is grossly handicapped and dysfunctional.

The opposable thumb is another marvel, from the saddle joint of the first carpometacarpal articulation to the coordination of the thenar muscles with the extrinsic extensors, abductors, and long flexor. It is truly a symphony of inter-related form and function.

The knee is another marvel of coordinated complexity. It also contains an excellent example of structures, the menisci, which were considered nofunctional vestigial remnants like the appendix only a few decades ago but which are now known to be essential for normal functioning and preservation of articular cartilage.

I do not believe there is any way these structures, or any of the other very many examples in the human body, could have arisen by any conceivable pathway of DNA mutation or any of the described rearrangment mechanisms.

I do not buy Dawkins’ hand-waving invocations of incrementality; the more you look at how DNA actually works the less believable those explanations are. And for a whole structure such as these to have arisen as one “mega-mutation” as some have suggested is just ludicrous.

Straw men about evolution (the whole “mega mutation” bit) piled on top of arguments from personal incredulity.

Get me burlap sack. A paper bag won’t be enough to hide my embarrassment.

ADDENDUM #2 1/18/2007, 7 PM: Welcome Dr. Cook to the party in the comments. I have to finish tomorrow’s installment of Your Friday Dose of Woo; so I won’t have time to much in the way of his points until tomorrow night at the earliest (more likely over the weekend sometime); so in the interim I leave in to the capable hands of my readers to try to explain to him where he’s gone wrong. Be nice, now. He already thinks I’m excessively insolent and insufficiently “respectful,” as it is just because I pointed out that, however good a surgeon he may be, he doesn’t understand evolutionary theory or molecular biology very well (he obviously hadn’t read posts like my Reply to a 14-year-old Creationist, Cancer and Fate, or perhaps this, this, and this):

Let’s start with this:

Perhaps you can explain, in molecular biological terms, listing the stepwise sequence of DNA changes (simplified, of course, so my poor moronic brain can grasp it), which occurred to bring about the development of a hand, finger, or knee from, say, the paw or limb of a lemur-like precursor (or whatever form you wish to posit as mammalian (making it easy on you; no need to go back to jellyfish or something which didn’t even have limbs) ancestor to humans.

Of course, if Dr. Cook is as intelligent as he seems, he must realize that hundreds, if not thousands, of papers have been written on the evolution of the vertebrate limb, and that such an answer is very hard to boil down into a palatable blog post. He’s also doing what ID advocates frequently do and demanding that every last detail be spoon fed to him. Fortunately, we probably don’t have to go back to jellyfish. Another invertebrate, namely Drosophila (fruit flies), will do. ;-)

Comments

  1. #1 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    January 18, 2007

    1) Well I’d have to say this is crazy! Find me a doctor who doesn’t know molecular biology…

    Don’t take it personally, but I once heard a biology professor refer to M.D.s as “bone mechanics.”

  2. #2 Joe
    January 18, 2007

    I don’t think ONE bag over your head is going to do it.

  3. #3 ERV
    January 18, 2007

    Aw now common– Really you shouldnt feel embarassed yourself, though I appreciate you, as a physician, speaking out against physicians behaving badly.

    We get this in the PhD world too– people who are very good at memorizing things (as I suspect Mr. Cook is, if hes being honest about his boards) are terrible at synthesizing the information and connecting information from different classes. They can tell you all about topics X, Y, Z, but they cant connect “I learned A in ecology, which is connected to B in anatomy, which is connected to C in cell, which is connected to X in genetics, which is connected to Y in biochem.”

    He might have memorized quite a bit of molecular biology at some point, but he obviously doesnt know what to do with the information in his head (“I cant figure out how ___ could have evolved.”).

  4. #4 pough
    January 18, 2007

    I always find this sort of argument from ID creationists to be the height of hubris myself, as the person making such an argument comes off as though saying: If I can’t see how this structure evolved, then it must have been designed.

    Exactly what I’ve always said. And to make it worse, it’s a combination of hubris and ignorance. What’s the deal with parading your ignorance as proof and being extra proud of it? You’re not the one who should wear a paper bag in shame.

  5. #5 Joe McFaul
    January 18, 2007

    I’m sure glad that an M.D. left this mess for you to clean up.

    I’d sure hate to think that any of my fellow lawyers would *ever* stoop so low as to claim that ID is actully science.

  6. #6 Left_Wing_Fox
    January 18, 2007

    Well, I think I have something that might allow you to regain some face. I ran into the progressive Canadian version of WorldNutDaily.

    http://www.agoracosmopolitan.com/headline_news.html

    As a Canadian liberal, I say; “Pass the sack, eh?”

  7. #7 Lisa
    January 18, 2007

    I attended a lecture given by a surgeon yesterday on his research into fibromatosis. He has virtually no grasp of the basic science behind the mechanism of fibromatosis. This does not make him a bad surgeon, in fact, he is one of the top surgeons in his speciality. I don’t pick my doctors based on whether or not they can clone a plasmid.

    Unfortunately, the general public cannot make this distinction. They trust that since an MD is trained in the sciences, he can be trusted when it comes to this stuff.

  8. #8 Alison
    January 18, 2007

    But. . .but. . .but. . .Orac, YOU’RE just an MD who knows not a thing about evolutionary biology, either! So saith Dembski hisself!

    One thing that investigating all this IDiocy has done for me is make me question credentials and investigate links and citations for quote-mining. It’s amazing how advanced degrees and “evidence” from studies can be used to “prove” things that just aren’t true. Journalists are trained to get to the meat of a story within the first few sentences of an article, and people have learned that they don’t have to look much further than that. This has paved the way for people to cherry-pick for support for their lies – they know that only a few people are going to check sources or investigate. If the guy has letters after his name and says what they want to hear, that’s all they need to know.

  9. #9 David A. Cook, M.D.
    January 18, 2007

    Nice to meet you too, Orac.

    It’s easy to see where the “insolence” of your site name comes from, but I’m wondering about the “respectful” part.

    I wonder if you have misunderstood the point and purpose of the piece at Uncommon Descent: I was asked for a summary account of my disillusion with neo-Darwinian dogma, which is what I provided. I was not asked for, nor did I provide, a treatise on molecular biology. Nor have I claimed particular expertise in that area. I do hope you had fun, however, knocking over that straw-man.

    I’m sorry you found the 99th percentile bit offensive. I was asked “not to be shy.” You may ignore it.

    I was not aware that any of my papers were available online, thanks for the links. I agree that none have been earth-shakingly impressive, though one you do not link has been cited a number of times by other authors.

    Your rant boils down to three tiresomely familiar accusations:
    1. You’re a creationist
    2. You don’t understand science
    3. All the really smart people believe in Darwinian-style evolution.

    I used to go into more detail in my answers, but frankly it’s getting old.
    Very briefly:

    1. Define the term “creationist” and I’ll tell you if it applies to me; don’t just use it as an epithet. Name calling ill-becomes someone who wishes to appear to be presenting a rational argument.

    2. I understand science as well as anyone with my credentials and years of post-graduate self-study could be expected to. If I don’t find neo-Darwinian dogma believable or understandable, how do you expect the “rubes,” as you so charmingly call the people you’re trying to convince, to understand it? Take your word for it, maybe? Because of your superior credentials, perhaps? Maybe by the sweet reasoning tone you use to make your arguments?
    I did believe it as an undergraduate. Why would I change my mind? Hmmmm…that’s a hard one. Convinced by a fuller understanding of the evidence perhaps?

    3. I agree that most scientists believe in the standard dogma. But there are plenty of really smart people who don’t. More all the time. Don’t you just hate that?

    Perhaps you can explain, in molecular biological terms, listing the stepwise sequence of DNA changes (simplified, of course, so my poor moronic brain can grasp it), which occured to bring about the development of a hand, finger, or knee from, say, the paw or limb of a lemur-like precursor (or whatever form you wish to posit as mammalian (making it easy on you; no need to go back to jellyfish or something which didn’t even have limbs) ancestor to humans.

    I have a colleague who works at the same hospital I do who is a committed Darwinist (as the term is commonly used, I know it’s imprecise). We have some good discussions. I enjoy it. I enjoy it because we share a mutual respect for the other’s intelligence, reasoning powers, and points of view. Something to think about while you’re composing your next rant.

    David A. Cook, M.D.

  10. #10 natural cynic
    January 18, 2007

    I’m curious as to why Dr. Cook rhapsodizes so much about the wonderful complexity of the body when he is the one who repairs all of the anatomical “mistakes”?

    He is the one who repairs ACLs and he doesn’t think about how the knee could have been more efficiently designed? It’s easy to see why his “research” is only descriptive.

  11. #12 Nat
    January 18, 2007

    If my thumb is truly ” a symphony of inter-related form and function.” Then why do I have to strap it up so heavily to stop spraining it everytime I’m playing sport?

    Thus my telegram to ‘god’

    Dear God

    You are a crappy ‘designer’ STOP Please STOP

  12. #13 Pi Guy
    January 18, 2007

    “He might have memorized quite a bit of molecular biology at some point, but he obviously doesnt know what to do with the information in his head (“I cant figure out…

    I was dying to get to the end of the comments to say pretty much the same thing. In physics, it’s not uncommon to hear the students, professors, and scientists alike say something to the effect of “It’s a good thing that I didn’t have to memorize anything. If I can’t think through a problem, I’m sunk.” IMLessThanHO, the thinking is the key difference between scientist and those fields in which it is applied (essentially, memorized) by non-scientists such as medical doctors, engineers, auto mechanics (Orac has made this comparison before b/w the physician and the mechanic; I think that it’s pretty apt), software engineers, etc.

    I’m not saying that they aren’t smart, logical (well, okay, maybe not so much – the good orthopod obviously isn’t familiar with the logical fallacy known as argument from authority) or decent people. I’m saying that they are at a distinct disadvantage in debating the merits and pitfalls of evolutionary theory with, say, Richard Dawkins. On the other hand, when my knee finally needs to be replaced, I won’t go to Dawkins for advice.

  13. #14 Justin Moretti
    January 18, 2007

    I can understand why hard scientists would find ID attractive. The more I read about what I will poetically call the wonders of the universe, large (planetary) and small (cellular-level biological down to subatomic), the more I occasionally think about what a beautifully put together work of art it is… It would be nice to be able to talk to the artist.

    However, if I’m going to believe in a God who gave His special creation (us) the ability to appreciate and investigate the world around us, that would also mean being ruthlessly honest about accepting what my observations told me. And it seems to me that what human observation is telling us about the universe is that it really does run itself pretty well. If there is a Somebody behind all this (or even several Somebodies), then in terms of their capabilities they are as close to God as makes no difference. But that doesn’t mean that it is the God.

    If you are going to look for some sort of pattern in the Universe to suggest a sentient prime mover, then IMO your science needs to be doubly rigorous. If I truly, rigorously believed in a doctrine of Intelligent Design, I could not be more disgracefully ashamed at the antics of those who claim to champion the cause, because they are not practising science at all. If there is a God, then He is a polymath scientist-engineer on a level that defies comprehension, and he would not approve of the amount of superstitious misunderstanding and malicious bullshit that surrounds His achievements.

  14. #15 Ab_Normal
    January 18, 2007

    Nat: Sing it! I’ve had bilateral deQuervain’s tendonitis for almost a year now, and I’m about ready to chew my thumbs off and see if I can start over with new ones… intelligently designed MY ASS.

  15. #16 Alison
    January 18, 2007

    Not too many asses are intelligently designed, either. I know mine isn’t.

  16. #17 MarkP
    January 18, 2007

    Well, to turn the good doctor’s rhetoric back on him, I don’t see how such a detailed rendition of the standard ID talking points, right down to using the same red-flag terms like “Darwinisn”, could have evolved through independent study. It seems much more reasonable to believe it was designed by someone who already knew what they wanted it to look like.

  17. #18 khan
    January 18, 2007

    Let’s not forget:
    Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
    Ulnar Nerve Entrapment
    Adhesive Capulitis

    And don’t get me started on knees and that whole jury-rigged spinal column.

  18. #19 Joe McFaul
    January 18, 2007

    Dr, Cook, while you’re here, maybe we can take this opportunity to attempt to shed some light on the subject. I’d (respectfully) ask you two questions:

    1. You said, correctly, “Define the term “creationist” and I’ll tell you if it applies to me.”

    You are not a young earth creationist, so I remove that from consideration entirely. I define “creationist” to be anyone who belives that some supernatural interference is required at certain points in life’s evolution in the past 400 million years to explain life’s diversity and complexity today. Stated alternatively, evolution through entirely natural means is impossible to explain the diversity of life and all of the complexity we see in life today.

    Under that definition are you a creationist?

    2. In your article posted on Uncommon Descent, you stated, “‘Irreducible complexity’ is a magnificently concise term for what I’d been observing and I wish I’d thought of it myself. The bacterial flagellum is just one, and not even the most complex, example of many myriad structures and functions that this concept applies to.”

    Can you identify 10 examples of these structures?

  19. #20 Darrel
    January 18, 2007

    Just as Jusin mentions looking at life at molecular level, one is in awe of the amazing complexity present in biological systems. The biochemical pathways of metabolism are fantastically complex, with a staggering amount of regulation of proteins, or the amazing process of DNA replication. I start to see some semblance of design present…
    That is until I look down at my abdomen and see my appendectomy scar, and laughingly toss such notions of design away.

  20. #21 David A. Cook, M.D.
    January 18, 2007

    Orac: “Of course, if Dr. Cook is as intelligent as he seems, he must realize that hundreds, if not thousands, of papers have been written on the evolution of the vertebrate limb, and that such an answer is very hard to boil down into a palatable blog post. Fortunately, we probably don’t have to go back to jellyfish. Drosophila (fruit flies) will do. ;-)”

    Then you likely realize the difficulty of boiling down all the information which does NOT support mutation and natural selection into a palatable blog post.
    I haven’t before seen Drosophila proposed as a direct ancestor to humans. I suppose you’re going to cite all the monsters which have been created by torturing that poor creature’s genome as evidence of evolutionary progress.

    Contorting what’s already there doesn’t count: You have to list, in order, the stepwise mutations, deletions, transpositions, duplications, or whatever other currently known mechanisms of DNA change have actually occured to produce the information necessary to code for a human limb. If you want to start with Drosophila, OK (I know you aren’t really proposing Drosophila as a human ancestor. At least I think you’re not.)

    But Drosphila will do. Supposedly we at some point developed from something far less like us than a fruit fly. As I understand it, Drosophila’s genome is very well sequenced. The human genome has also recently been sequenced. You should have no difficulty explaining the sequence of progressive beneficial changes which must have accumulated over the generations to change one set of DNA code into the other. You have a start and an end. The middle is the easy part, most authors will agree.
    While you’re at it how about a statistical calculation of the likelihood that this sequence of events could occur without being swamped or lost by random drift, chance, back mutation, selection cost, probability selection, phenotypic noise etc. at each generational step.

    I will stipulate that I don’t keep up on papers on the evolution of limbs. But I suspect that if a real demonstrable pathway from one form to another had been discovered it would be front-page news.
    I will further stipulate that your expertise in molecular biology exceeds mine. Please stop beating the straw out of that poor man.

    But that’s not the point and I never claimed otherwise, did I? If your expertise and understanding is so great you should be able to explain one straightforward evolutionary pathway in terms I can understand.

    BTW I signed my real name to my post. Why did you change your real name at the beginning of it? It’s hard to respect someone who won’t sign his name to his assertions. Newpapers, for e.g. won’t publish anonymous letters.

    David A. Cook, M.D.

    p.s. I’m on call this weekend beginning tomorrow at a very busy ER. Also I’m trying to work on another book and I’ve already vowed no more posts on another board until I’m finished with the rough draft. So I’m not willing to make this a lengthy relationship. I am looking forward to the understandable evolutionary pathway for a human limb via a mathematically plausible sequence of random events you’re going to outline.

  21. #22 ERV
    January 18, 2007

    Cook: Perhaps you can explain, in molecular biological terms, listing the stepwise sequence of DNA changes (simplified, of course, so my poor moronic brain can grasp it), which occured to bring about the development of a hand, finger, or knee from, say, the paw or limb of a lemur-like precursor (or whatever form you wish to posit as mammalian (making it easy on you; no need to go back to jellyfish or something which didn’t even have limbs) ancestor to humans.

    Mr. Cook, if youre trying to establish ethos on this topic, it would probably be best if you didnt use arguments from Talk Origins “Index of Creationist Claims”.

    And, if you want to play “How do you explain” games, how do you explain endogenous retroviruses, sir? You might have memorized what they are, but what do they tell us? Common then, apply your ‘knowledge’.

    Im glad you found a profession where you can contribute to society, as I have no desire to be a surgeon and Im probably going to tear my ACL at some point, but your not going to positively effect any field of biological research if you dont accept evolution. If you disagree with that, I happily await your link to a PubMed article that uses your creation myth as a foundation for a novel cancer therapy, a way to create an HIV vaccine, anything.

  22. #23 David A. Cook, M.D.
    January 18, 2007

    Ab_Normal: Shouldn’t people prone to DeQuervain’s disease have been selected out of the population generations ago? Who, after all, would want to reproduce with someone who whines about it for a year? :)
    Even perfectly designed machines wear out and fail, especially if they’re abused. Self-reproducing machines which have been accumulating deleterious mutations over thousands of generations will wear out even faster.

  23. #24 Boo
    January 18, 2007

    I understand science as well as anyone with my credentials and years of post-graduate self-study could be expected to. If I don’t find neo-Darwinian dogma believable or understandable, how do you expect the “rubes,” as you so charmingly call the people you’re trying to convince, to understand it?

    If you can confuse science with dogma, then no, you don’t understand science.

  24. #25 David A. Cook, M.D.
    January 18, 2007

    Joe McFaul:

    1. I do not believe that random mutation and natural selection are sufficient to explain the origin and development/progression of life on this planet. I believe they are looking less likely all the time, the more we learn. For example, the poly-functional, poly-constrained nature of DNA seems to make it impossible to produce any improvement by mutation; a change in one function, even if beneficial, will necessarily result in harm to the other function(s) of the same strand. I admit I’m no sort of academic expert on this or any area of molecular biology, but I can understand the concepts when they’re explained to me. Perhaps Orac will expound on this for us.
    Regarding my personal beliefs, since you ask so nicely: I believe a much better naturalistic explanation for life, which explains the fossil record, highly conserved DNA, close sequence matches between distantly related species, and other difficulties of evolution much much better than the neo-Dariwinian synthesis, is panspermia. I thought it was another new-age type nutcase idea when I first heard it, but I’ve read quite a bit on it and I now think it needs to be taken very seriously. You can read up on it here: http://www.panspermia.com/ and I highly recommend anyone interested in this topic, which should be everyone reading this, do so.
    Regarding my personal religous beliefs: I do not think they are really relevant to a discussion on the scientific merits of mutation and natural selection, but I do not wish to seem coy, so I will state that I do believe that divinity had a part in life on this planet.
    Note that panspermia neither requires nor excludes a Creator. I’m frankly surprised the naturalistic materialists haven’t been all over this.

    2. I could, but I’m not going to. I’ve got other and better things to do, this isn’t my blog, I didn’t start this discussion, and I’m not here to perform on command.

    ERV:
    I’ve no idea what you’re talking about with your comment on “Talk Origins Index” I’ve not looked at that. Any similarity is coincidental.
    On retroviruses: I don’t explain them. I don’t have to. I’ve read something about them lately but I can’t remember where and I’m not going to go looking now. See #2 above.
    Developing cancer treatment, HIV vaccines etc. do not depend at all on acceptance of neo-Darwinism as the explanation of life on earth.
    “your creation myth” ???? Just what myth would that be? Perhaps you should read a little more carefully, and watch your assumptions.

  25. #26 Rich
    January 18, 2007

    “Even perfectly designed machines wear out and fail, especially if they’re abused” – oh yeah? Which machines are those then? You seem to have a very weak notion of ‘perfect’.

  26. #27 ERV
    January 18, 2007

    Just what myth would that be? Perhaps you should read a little more carefully, and watch your assumptions.

    Yes, its all a grand coincidence that YECs, OECs, and IDCs all use the ‘Well, well, how do you explain ____??? I cant explain ____ so no one can or will!!’ Yes, no one knows about the Wedge Strategy.

    *yawn*

    Sorry, the readers of ScienceBlogs are well aware of the history of Creationism. This isnt a discussion in front of Average Joes who dont know the game. Playing coy isnt becoming for someone your age and gender.

    And yes, if you are an ID Creationist, you have to explain endogenous retroviruses. Lets play a game– Since you ‘used to be a Darwinist’, you know how I think, right? You know how to see data through a ‘Darwinists’ eyes. Why do you think I brought up endogenous retroviruses? What do you think I think they mean? Just as a game, guess!

    And you were the one who said, quote, “I agree that most scientists believe in the standard dogma. But there are plenty of really smart people who don’t. More all the time. Don’t you just hate that?” So, that means the ‘standard dogma’, as you put it, is wrong. That means that there should be a body of research that uses ID Creationism to do real world research. Real world research that not only explains why evolution works even though its wrong, but research that explains more and works better than evolution. Where is it? Why did you say that, if you have no papers to back up your claim? I might as well say “All ID Creationists have been convicted of at least 5 murders” and proclaim “I could, but I’m not going to. I’ve got other and better things to do, this isn’t my blog, I didn’t start this discussion, and I’m not here to perform on command” when someone asks me for a source for my claim. Back up your claims, or retract them.

  27. #28 ERV
    January 18, 2007

    Id also like to add that I am exactly the sort of person you should be trying to convert to ID Creationism, Mr. Cook. Im a 23 year old microbiology student, and my research focuses on precisely what you proclaim is evidence for ID Creationism: watching evolution at the molecular level. Tell me what you know, sir, and you will have another researcher converted. A researcher who actually publishes things. You know as well as I do that Im a slave to data, so show it to me.

    (Thanks for letting us play, Orac :) Its not often you get to have your comments heard on a DI post)

  28. #29 David A. Cook, M.D.
    January 18, 2007

    Rich: Hmmmm. Perhaps “well-designed” would be better for purposes of discussion, since a definition of “perfect” is slippery.
    Think of any fine machine you care to. The 5.7L turbocharged LS1 engine in my Camaro, for example. Even with the best maintenance and care it’s going to wear out eventually. If I engage in regular drag racing it will wear out quite quickly. This does not mean that it wasn’t designed, and designed well. Even “perfect,” for what it is, when it was first built.

    natural cynic:
    I missed your comment earlier. I do have a few ideas about how the human body could be better designed. If I ever get the chance, I plan to take it up with the designer.
    The knee isn’t one of them, BTW. I can’t think of a better way to balance two long sticks end to end with such a beautiful balance of flexibility, stability, strength, and the ability to heal many (not all certainly) types of damage to itself.

  29. #30 Bronze Dog
    January 18, 2007

    Just to chime in quickly:

    “Irreducible Complexity” isn’t a problem for evolution. There are multiple paths to reach it like loss of scaffolding, duplication errors turning into new parts, and so on and so forth. The core problem with IC is that it absurdly assumes evolution can’t subtract, just like fake information theory assumes evolution can’t add.

    Even if evolution couldn’t come up with IC structures, that wouldn’t be a problem: It’s logically impossible to determine if a structure is genuinely IC: All you can claim is that you haven’t yet thought of a way to reduce it.

  30. #31 Boo
    January 18, 2007

    Think of any fine machine you care to. The 5.7L turbocharged LS1 engine in my Camaro, for example. Even with the best maintenance and care it’s going to wear out eventually.

    That’s no problem. All you have to do is put two 5.7L turbocharged LS1 engines in a room with soft lights and Barry White music, and they will mate and produce a new 5.7L turbocharged LS1 engine. After all, ID has demonstrated that mechanical machines are perfectly analogous to biological “machines,” right?

  31. #32 David A. Cook, M.D.
    January 18, 2007

    ERV:
    Take a deep breath, and let it out slowly.

    Let’s look at your “logic.” You state:
    “…So, that means the ‘standard dogma’, as you put it, is wrong. That means that there should be a body of research that uses ID Creationism to do real world research. … Where is it? Why did you say that, if you have no papers to back up your claim?…”

    Why did I say what, exactly?
    You have invented a claim for me and then demanded that I fulfill it.

    I will try one time to straighten you out:

    Just because the “standard dogma” is looking more and more wrong does not mean, logically, that there must be an established alternative already in place.
    If someone carried out an experiment that disproved one hypothesis, would you demand that they provide a proven alternate before rejecting the one that the evidence was against? Of course not. You’d expect them to design another experiment and keep looking for a better explanation.

    Your assumption that “That means that there should be a body of research that uses ID Creationism to do real world research” is just plain wrong and logically indefensible.

    Your attempt to turn this illogical statement of yours into a claim of mine is ridiculous.

    People who do not accept the neo-Darwinian synthesis have written about retroviruses. Look it up yourself if you’re interested in their viewpoint. I’m not here to do your homework for you. I’m not trying to convert you, either. Look at all sides and make up your own mind. Perhaps you can find something interesting here: http://www.panspermia.com/virus.htm

    Your use of the term “ID Creationism” is a dialogue-killing technique called “labeling” and is a distinct detriment to productive discussion. I am trying to be patient because you are young, but if you can’t be civil and respectful I will not waste any more time on you.

  32. #33 David A. Cook, M.D.
    January 18, 2007

    Boo: “After all, ID has demonstrated that mechanical machines are perfectly analogous to biological “machines,” right?”

    Really? When did that happen?

  33. #34 Joe McFaul
    January 18, 2007

    Thank you for your responses Dr. Cook.

    I don’t find creationist to be an ad hominem at all. There are a number of creationsists who cheerfully self identify. I applaud them for their intellectual honesty, even if I consider them msitaken scietifically and theologically. The only people who consider “creationist” to be an insult are those who are attempting to conceal their creationism, usually Discovery Institute hacks.

    You do forthrightly concede that you see evidence of intentional “design” in the evolution of life on earth, but you attribute this to directed panspermia, not necessarily a “god” or “gods.”

    As Arthur C. Clarke observed, there is no meaningful way for humans to distinguish between a deity and a sufficently advanced technological civilization. If you care to propose a way to distinguish directed panspermia brought to us from a tehcnologically advanced civilization, and panspermia broght on by supernatural means, I’d be interested to hear of it. Until you can do so, you are a creationist., specifically, genus creationist, species panspermia.

    As a lawyer, my job is is to translate peopel’s evasions into plain English.

    As translated, here are your answers to my questions:

    (1. Are you a creationist?)

    Yes.

    (2. Can you identify 10 examples of “many myriad” these structures?)

    No, I can’t. Despite the opportunity to educate people, despite your own claim that such structures are “myriad,” despite your claim that you have actually thought long and hard about this subject, despite your claim that you are interested in having people keep open minds, despite your concern that panspermia has not been not taken seriously, you still have no suggestions, even off the top of your head.

    Frankly, your response was an inartful evasion. Those kinds of evasions are typical of ID proponents and is why you have been justly ridiculed on this blog.

    Do you want to reconsider your answer to question 2?

  34. #35 Chris
    January 18, 2007

    Seen as David Cook wants a complete step by step guide to the evolution of the human hand I assume that he will, in the interests of fairness, be providing the complete design blueprints and construction methods used to design and manufacture the myriad of complex systems we see today. Including how the intelligent designer was designed.

  35. #36 Blake Stacey
    January 18, 2007

    ERV’s use of the term “ID Creationism” is a succinct way of summing up a plain, undeniable fact. As John Jones was wise enough to point out, “Intelligent Design” is nothing more than creationism superficially disguised with scientific-sounding talk.

    If acknowledging this fact is a “dialogue-killing technique”, it can only be that one side of the “dialogue” is not actually interested in discussion.

  36. #37 Andy
    January 18, 2007

    I am a little confused by why ID and darwinism are being discussed in the same context. Please correct me if I am wrong in any way.

    I am sorry if I am not clear, I am not very good at expressing myself. Here we go:

    The collection of scientific knowledge is based on the gathering and study of observable, empirical, measurable evidence. (of course that leads to debate of what constitutes evidence and what doesn’t, but let’s ignore that for now)
    -The theory of evolution is supported by current observable, empirical, measurable evidence.
    -Intelligent design is not supported by current observable, empirical, measurable evidence.
    Therefore, when debating whether one theory or the other is more valid within a scientific context, evolution is always (until somebody provides sufficient evidence in support of intelligent design) the winner. Hold your horses, I’m not done yet.

    I agree that the idea of ID appears to be far more plausible. I personally believe that the universe was designed. I also believe in evolution. The two ideas are not mutually exclusive. The difference is that one is science, the other is not. Only one should be taught as being ‘right’ in science classes. Both theories can (and should be) be taught and discussed in school. That is not to say that either should be accepted as the only possible way.

    You can’t argue the merits of one against the other because the ideas work within completely different systems of belief. Evolution is science. ID is (theology? Depends on your own understanding, I guess, since there’s so much variation here). The two systems rely on different axioms. When one set of axioms are considered, evolution is the superior, whereas under a different system ID is better. Under a third, both may well be compatible.

    One day, science may bring us far enough as to be able to prove or disprove something to the exclusion of all other possibilities (although I really, really doubt it, because it’s impossible as long as there is the possibility of unknowns – and how do you disprove the existence of unknowns?). But as it is, working within different sets of assumptions, both sides will be convinced that they are the correct one and an argument on the matter will not produce a satisfactory answer.

    This Darwin vs ID thing is becoming a theological war, with plenty of ad hominem thrown both ways. It is becoming academia’s version of “pirates versus ninjas, which is more awesome?”. Give that a little thought.

    Andy, 12th Grade, Canada

    P.S. No, I am not saying all ideas and beliefs are equally right. If you got that idea (and I can see why that might happen) I’d be happy to explain what I mean in greater detail. (email me or something)

  37. #38 ERV
    January 18, 2007

    Intelligent Design is the offspring of classical Christian Creationism. If you think that is ‘offensive’ then perhaps you are the one who should be doing your homework, especially before giving your seal of approval to ID Creationism. You should start with Google-ing “cdesign proponentsists”.

    You also might want to look up the many quotes from the Dover trial where ID proponents insisted that ID Creationism wasnt a negative statement. In your defense of their lack of research, you realize you admitted that IDC, in fact, is? What do you know that Behe doesnt? Which is it? Do you have proof for your views, or do you only have evidence against evolution? Either way, post it.

    And you didnt answer my question. Why do you think I brought up endogenous retroviruses?

    As long as you post anything from PubMed that supports your views, you are more than welcome to throw a temper-tantrum because a 23 year old girl was ‘mean’ to you on a blog.

  38. #39 ERV
    January 18, 2007

    *big grin*
    Good job Andy! I know youre just playing here for fun, but you should look up each of Mr. Cooks claims. Figure out why he made them. Is he missing something? Did he make a jump where you cant even hop? Is the claim even correct? etc. That is an excellent exercise for training yourself to be a thinker, not a memorizer, like we talked about earlier in this thread.

  39. #40 Boo
    January 18, 2007

    I am a little confused by why ID and darwinism are being discussed in the same context.

    Do a google search on Wedge Document. In a nutshell, ID is an attempt to harness the perceived authority of science as a weapon in the culture war. It is not science itself ID proponents are interested in (hence the complete lack of interest of ID proponents in doing actual research regarding ID), it is only the perceived authority science grants as a political weapon. They love appeals to authority, lists of “Darwin doubters,” essays piled on essays, but no actual tests, or even hypotheses that could lead to tests. Everyone who acknowledges evolution is a “materialist,” even if they aren’t.

    Rather than priates vs. ninjas, it’s more like, see this guy running around Japan in black pajamas assassinating people? He’s a pirate. In fact, he’s more of a priate than that guy over there on the ship with the parrot and eyepatch. Schools should teach about how pirate clans sneak around cities at night in black pajamas. No, I can’t demonstrate that ninjas are pirates, but calling Blackbeard a pirate is a “just so story,” so schools should teach the controversy.

  40. #41 David A. Cook, M.D.
    January 18, 2007

    Joe McFaul: “As a lawyer, my job is is to translate peopel’s evasions into plain English.”

    Translation: “As a lawyer, my job is to twist people’s statements into what I want them to mean.”

    Andy: Look up the claims of the Darwinist’s too. See what intelligent, educated people who don’t agree with them are saying about them, and why. Don’t accept one side’s definitions of the others; there is plenty of name-calling emotional accusations to go around.
    An intellectually honest person will look at all sides of an issue and not be afraid to go where the evidence leads. Let the ID people speak for themselves; don’t buy the simple-minded caricatures you see here.
    Same for the other side, but make sure you are careful to differentiate between the evidence and the interpretations and inferences drawn from the evidence. Most of these people can’t tell the difference themselves.

    ERV: Unless you live in Great Britain, calling a surgeon “Mr.” is inappropriate and once again demonstrates your ignorance of the basic principles of useful dialogue, the first of which is respect for the other person and their motive of achieving understanding.
    Even if you are in Great Britain you have no excuse, it’s obvious from our host’s initial tantrum against me that I’m in the U.S., and should be accorded the courtesies of my home country.
    You appear immature and unwilling to learn and hence unworthy of any more time wasted.

  41. #42 Andy
    January 18, 2007

    Re: ERV, Dr. Cook

    Thank you for your comments and advice! I am taught to always think critically (theory of knowledge) that I take, and from what I’ve noticed what’s interesting is that while often both sides of an argument will claim to be critical, scientific thinkers who strive for objectivity – at the same time they end up disagreeing and attack everything but the argument of the other side.

    Also I realize that my post wasn’t entirely on-topic; I just felt that it was odd that intelligent design and evolution are argued as if it was ‘one or the other’ when that is not the case (please prove me wrong). I mentioned this because I see a lot of people who don’t appear to recognize that. It was not a comment on whose argument is more valid and why.

    Again, I am seeing a lot of ad hominem remarks being made (by both sides) when little is being said to address the issue. When an ad hominem remark is made, even when disguised as a question of ‘authority’ (still counts as ad hominem, in my opinion) it is difficult not to respond in a like manner, and the argument spirals into something ugly and completely off topic.

    Re: Boo

    Thank you for the tip; your explanation makes it easy to see why certain organizations might pass off ID as a scientific theory in order to push certain religious agendas. I guess my question really was whether the two ideas should be discussed together in the same scientific context when that is impossible? (I don’t mean refuting evolution, that doesn’t require any mention of ID) Why do scientists allow this to go on?

  42. #43 Revered Viceroy Chalmers-tang.
    January 18, 2007

    Dr. Cook, creationists are famous for making unsubstantiated claims. Perhaps by offering some of the many, many irreducably complex forms you are familiar with you can steer the dailogue in a constructive direction?

    Many thanks.

  43. #44 Orac
    January 18, 2007

    Dr, Cook:

    Oh, please.

    Don’t tell me you’re really going to get all petulant just because ERV didn’t use the title “Dr.” when addressing you and in essence threaten to use it as an excuse to dismiss him. It doesn’t reflect well on you at all, frankly. We’re all informal here; even in real life, I rarely insist that people use my title, the only time being when an employee of the cancer center where I work is addressing me in front of a patient. From my point of view as a fellow surgeon, your insistence on being addressed as “Dr.” in the comments of a blog strikes me as rather odd, much the way your listing your Board exam percentile did.

    Be that as it may, given the names I’m likely to be called over at Uncommon Descent now that your new buddy DaveScot linked back here (yes, I knew about that very quickly), I would bet that my blog is the height of civility in comparison. In fact, here’s a word of friendly advice, one surgeon to another: You really ought to consider very carefully if you really want to be too closely associated with someone as nasty as DaveScot; it’ll only end up making you look bad. Really. I mean this as a friendly and–dare I say it?–respectful warning. I’d be willing to bet that you don’t know very much about his past online activities.

    Even ID adherents don’t seem to think very highly of Dave because of his past antics. Why do you think he so eagerly tried to “out” me? (Hint: It wasn’t because he wanted to engage in the sort of mutually “respectful” discussion that you claim to value so highly.) Rather, he thought it would intimidate me into silence or that it would be retribution for my criticizing UD posts twice in a week’s time. He thought wrong; all it did was amuse me, so utterly predictable was it. I call it “predictable” because it’s what lots of cranks do when I tick them off. Besides, my “real” name has been fairly well known in the blogosphere for well over a year now.

    Finally, I find it a bit disingenuous of you to demand that I produce a detailed, step-by-step descriptions of basically every genetic change that led to the evolution of the mammalian limb to your satisfaction and according to your vague standards that (I suspect) are unattainable; yet you seemingly exempt yourself from having to produce much in the way of evidence to support your “post-Darwinist” views.

    Heck, you can’t even produce for us more than one example of “irreducible complexity” (the bacterial flagellum), even though you yourself stated in the original piece you wrote for UC that provked my little article that there are “myriad” examples of IC in nature. (Perhaps you didn’t really mean “myriad.”) In that, Joe had you pegged exactly, which is, I suspect, why you got snippy with him and accused him of twisting your words. So, let’s turn your own attitude and statement about, for a moment, shall we? In order to see if you‘re worth my “wasting my time with” trying to explain what is known thus far about the evolution of the mammalian limb, perhaps you could answer me this: If there are indeed “myriad” examples of irreducible complexity, why is it not child’s play for you to come up with at least a few more examples, even if not the ten examples requested by Joe? (What’s good for the goose is good for the gander in my book.) Can you come up with more? Why not?

    Oh, and by the way, newer science has shown that the bacterial flagellum is not a good example of irreducible complexity. Perhaps I’ll explain how we know that sometime.

    Right now it’s late.

  44. #45 Chris Harrison
    January 19, 2007

    Dr. Cook seems to think that “irreducible complexity” is tantamount to “cannot evolve”. He is mistaken, as a previous poster has pointed out(gene duplication, ratcheting, scaffolding etc.).
    Interestingly, IC is a prediction of evolutionary theory made by Herman Muller in 1918. He coined the term “interlocking” rather than “irreducible” complexity in his paper “Genetic Variablity, Twin Hybrids and Constant Hybrids, in a Case of Balanced Lethal Factors”, by Hermann J Muller, in Genetics, Vol 3, No 5, Sept 1918, pp 422-499.

    Since Dr. Cook admits that intellectually honest people “look at all sides of an issue and not be afraid to go where the evidence leads”, then I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to read this page as well: http://www.talkreason.org/articles/Suboptimal.cfm

    So what then, Dr. Cook, is a genuine problem for evolution, excuse me, “Neo-Darwinian dogma”?
    As far as I can tell, your disbelief lies squarely on personal incredulity.

  45. #46 Dhaeron
    January 19, 2007

    There is a nice example of the (possible) evolution of an irreducibly complex system to be seen here:
    http://udel.edu/~mcdonald/mousetrap.html
    It illustrates very clearly that irreducibly complex is not the same as unevolvable, which of course demolishes the claims by IDist that IC systems are disproof of or at least a problem for modern evolutionary theory.
    It gains humrous qualities due to Behe himself using a mousetrap as an example of an IC system. (Which is, i believe, the reason this was chosen by the author)

  46. #47 Davis
    January 19, 2007

    Contorting what’s already there doesn’t count: You have to list, in order, the stepwise mutations, deletions, transpositions, duplications, or whatever other currently known mechanisms of DNA change have actually occured to produce the information necessary to code for a human limb.

    Whereas you, apparently, only have to make claims (without any evidence put forth) that such and such is too complex to have evolved. Tell me, how do you measure complexity? How much complexity is too much to evolve?

    For example, the poly-functional, poly-constrained nature of DNA seems to make it impossible to produce any improvement by mutation; a change in one function, even if beneficial, will necessarily result in harm to the other function(s) of the same strand.

    What about some known examples of beneficial mutations? Some of these clearly contradict your claim, as four of the six show no negative effect. One of the remaining can only be judged to be beneficial or harmful if you specify the environment. Actually, it’s more correct to say that’s the case for any mutation, though we’d consider the others beneficial in many environments.

    (Since you seem to concern yourself with titles, feel free to call me ‘Dr.’ I mostly treat it as a joke myself.)

  47. #48 Andrew Dodds
    January 19, 2007

    David -

    The idea of paspermia is fairly interesting, so let’s have a look at their FAQ: (http://www.panspermia.com/faq.htm). I’ll do it in order ’cause it’s a lot of copying and pasting otherwise..

    (1) There are several viable models for the emergance of life from complex chemical systems. Criticizing the ‘RNA World’ – which is not a particulatly strong hypothesis – doesn’t really cut it.

    (2) The probability is certainly not ‘effectively zero’, unless you believe that every research avenue has been exhausted.

    (3) Basically says that CE can’t explain the origin of life; in which case why bother with it?

    (4) Not content with rejecting evolution, let’s reject the big bang as well.. dosen’t actually fix the ‘life had to start somewhere’ problem but does sweep it under the carpet. So we’ve now declared both abiogenesis AND cosmology to be wrong without bothering with alterative explanations.

    (5) It is in fact possible (although highly unlikely given the timeframes) that bacterial spores arrived from space; cross contamination of Earth and Mars appears very likely indeed. However, this does not invalidate the neo-darwinial synthesis, merely gives an alterative to abiogenesis, or at least shifts it to a different place and time.

    (6) False. The claim was later retracted on the grounds that the structures could easilt be formed abiogenecally.

    (7) This is a false dichotomy; if space seeding works, then the hypothesis that life originated on earth and then seeded mars – a short hop away – or vice versa – is near certain and certainly NOT evidence for cosmic seeding.

    (8) Special pleading..(see above). Extradorinary claims require extraordinary evidence, not just the plae that evidence will emerge some time soon.

    (9) This isn’t a problem, although survival in high radiation environments on cosmic timescales (As opposed to low radiation enviromments for just a few million years) seems a stretch.

    (10) Is OK, but not exactly stong evidence in favour.

    (11) Ammino acids are formed in space by inorganic processes and hence should be found at trace levels on most sterile bodies. Where life exists, of course, free ammino acids will quickly be metabolised.

    (12) Rebranding..

    (13) This is the classic microevolution/macroevolution false dichotomy. If (as is stated) one gene can turn into two with similar functions, then what is to stop these two genes themselves duplicating and separately evolving, and so on. What stops this process producing any arbitary protein or set of proteins?

    (14) Interesting.. since we se in (13) the the genomes will change anyway, how on earth do you direct the insertion of new genes? Not only is this hard when you *know* the target genome, but to produce complex, well specified effects by adding genes to an unknown genome is impossible!

    (15-16-17) For this to be a viable theory, you can’t just invent novel genes drifiting in from space in a particular order for no reason.. and the idea that these will do much by random insertion is a bit hopeful to say the least.

    (18) ‘The math makes it unlikely’. Only if you assume that evolution dosen’t happen.. Without the filter of natural selection, you don’t get evolution.

    (19) This hypothesis takes a supposed problem with the origin of new genes as a major plank of evidence, yet refuses to give an origin itself. If the lack of a plausable mechanism for gene origin is reason to abandon a hypothesis, then ‘Cosmic Ancestry’ is self-refuting.

    (20) Not crazy, just poorly read.

    ‘Rarely asked questions about darmwinism’.

    (1) See (as an example) http://www.gla.ac.uk/projects/originoflife/html/2001/menu.htm

    The idea of a ‘RNA World’ is probably wrong, as is the whole ‘prebiotic soup’ mechanism. But there are several more sophisticated hypotheses, which are strangely ignored..

    (2) Although possible traces of life go back up to 4.2Ga, this still leaves around 300 million years. I doubt that more than 0.1% of that would actually be required.

    (3) First, doing research by asking newsgroups cannot be considered comprehensive. Second, the question is simply one of ‘can novel information arise in computer simulations’, in which case the answer is yes.

    (4) Is meaningless.

    (5-6) Science does not consider Earth to be a biologically closed system as some sort of Dogma. Just provide some evidence first..

    Basically, you seem to be saying that a hypothesis for which the only evidence seems to be ‘problems’ with evolution is preferable to evolution, despite this hypothesis deliberately claiming no knowledge of the origin of life, or of proteins, and implicitly denying the big bang because of this. To put it in medical terms would be ( for instance) to claim that if a treatment only works 95% of the time, it means that any other treatment (even one with no supporting evidence whatsoever) must be considered equivilent! Madness.

  48. #49 Boo
    January 19, 2007

    Why do scientists allow this to go on?

    Because they do not control the media and all local US school boards, which is where this battle is being fought. IDists actually have very little interest in convincing the scientific community but quite a lot of interest in convincing the public that they are beginning to have influence in the scientific community, again only for the perceived authority this can generate with the public. Do a google search on “Project Steve”. The scientific community fights back because they do not wish to see the process of science education corrupted. (And, unfortunately, some like Dawkins do seem to see this as a (nonviolent) war to destroy religion)

    In a sense, IDists are the ultimate corner cutters. They want the authority of science, but they want to skip that pesky actually-developing-hypotheses-and-testing-them part. They want ID taught in schools, but they want to skip that pesky actually-establishing-ID-as-legitimate-science part. They assume that criticizing evolution automatically supports ID, skipping over that pesky actually-establishing-any-positive-content-for-ID part. Read through the Uncommon Descent blog and try to find any proposals for research that would either a- provide some kind of evidence about a designer, or b- provide some kind of evidence about the designer’s design process.

  49. #50 Thony C.
    January 19, 2007

    Mr. Cook and I may call you that because I’m British! To claim that the motor of a Camaro or of almost any other American car for that matter is a fine piece of engineering just proves that you are as ignorant of automotive engineering are you appear to be of the current theories of evolution.

  50. #51 Jud
    January 19, 2007

    Dr. Cook said: “Perhaps you can explain, in molecular biological terms, listing the stepwise sequence of DNA changes (simplified, of course, so my poor moronic brain can grasp it), which occured to bring about the development of a hand, finger, or knee from, say, the paw or limb of a lemur-like precursor (or whatever form you wish to posit as mammalian (making it easy on you; no need to go back to jellyfish or something which didn’t even have limbs) ancestor to humans.”

    Excellent descriptions of stepwise evolutionary changes in particular structures (though not specifically from lemur to human), related to specifically described changes in gene expression are set forth at length in Sean B. Carroll’s book, “Endless Forms Most Beautiful.” I’m certain, Dr. Cook, that you are quite busy, but if you can find the time to read it, I think the information in Carroll’s book will repay you handsomely for that time.

  51. #52 wrg
    January 19, 2007

    While you’re at it how about a statistical calculation of the likelihood that this sequence of events could occur without being swamped or lost by random drift, chance, back mutation, selection cost, probability selection, phenotypic noise etc. at each generational step.

    How about explaining why that particular sequence of events is especially important? By dealing cards, I can very rapidly arrive at some sequence of hands so improbable that I should easily be able to convince the typical probability-abusing creationist that it could not possibly have happened on Earth. That doesn’t mean that the hands have any real significance or that they prove magic. Biological systems have had enough time and enough participating actors to produce lots of apparently unlikely outcomes. They had to end up with something, after all.

    Aside from seeming an onerous task (if taken seriously), this request of yours is hardly helpful except for creationists looking to show off puffed-up numbers.

  52. #53 ERV
    January 19, 2007

    The 5.7L turbocharged LS1 engine in my Camaro, for example. Even with the best maintenance and care it’s going to wear out eventually.

    ROFL!!! The Pinto has been upgraded to a 5.6L turbocharged LS1!!!

    Lame.

    And lets see, you cant pretend to be indignant over “ID Creationists” anymore, because you know we know about the Wedge and cdesign proponentsists. So now youre going to pretend to be indignant over “Mr.”? Oh how convenient that being indignant prevents you from backing up any of your own claims!

    Lame.

    You want respect, Mr. Cook? Back up your claims, admit where youve erred.

  53. #54 Orac
    January 19, 2007

    In a sense, IDists are the ultimate corner cutters. They want the authority of science, but they want to skip that pesky actually-developing-hypotheses-and-testing-them part. They want ID taught in schools, but they want to skip that pesky actually-establishing-ID-as-legitimate-science part. They assume that criticizing evolution automatically supports ID, skipping over that pesky actually-establishing-any-positive-content-for-ID part.

    In all fairness, I don’t recall Dr. Cook ever mentioning that he wants ID taught in public schools as science. I doubt he advocates that. At least I hope he doesn’t.

  54. #55 Orac
    January 19, 2007

    Excellent descriptions of stepwise evolutionary changes in particular structures (though not specifically from lemur to human), related to specifically described changes in gene expression are set forth at length in Sean B. Carroll’s book, “Endless Forms Most Beautiful.” I’m certain, Dr. Cook, that you are quite busy, but if you can find the time to read it, I think the information in Carroll’s book will repay you handsomely for that time.

    I was going to suggest that book as well.

    Also, if Dr. Cook wants to learn about the genetics of limb development and evolution, he needs to do some reading about homeobox genes, particularly the HOX cluster. HOX genes are highly conserved and regulation of their temporospatial expression is a major determinant of body plans in organisms ranging from invertebrates (Drosophila) to humans.

    Some articles:

    Holland et al., Hox Genes and Chordate Evolution. Dev. Biol. 173:382-395 (1996)

    Pearson et al., Modulating HOX gene functions during animal body patterning. Nature Rev. Genet. 6:893-904 (2005).

    J. Garcia-Fernandez, The genesis and evolution of homeobox gene clusters. Nature Rev. Genet, 6:881-892 (2005).

    Veraksa et al., Developmental Patterning Genes and Their Conserved Functions: From Model Organisms to Humans. Mol. Genet. Metabol. 69:85-100 (2000).

    There are many others. And let’s not forget the role of Pax genes in eye evolution and Nkx2.5-type genes in heart patterning. The molecular basis of pattern formation and evolution is a fascinating topic.

  55. #56 John B
    January 19, 2007

    a side-note to the main argument with the ID doctor.

    Chris Harrison,

    Since Dr. Cook admits that intellectually honest people “look at all sides of an issue and not be afraid to go where the evidence leads”, then I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to read this page as well: http://www.talkreason.org/articles/Suboptimal.cfm

    thanks for the link, I hadn’t read this before. Two things jumpe dout at me that i thought were very relevant to this conversation:

    … a more reasonable statement is that simplicity points to design while complexity as such points to chance (more about this in Perakh 2004).

    I’ve been doing a little research on the role of simplicity as heuristic in scientific progress, so it was interesting to see it pop up here. (the ‘as such’ in the quote is important)

    Dembski asserts that ID does not imply a smart designer (Dembski 2001). Designer can even be stupid, says Dembski

    … what the hell? I can’t believe anyone would say something so wierd.

    Anyway, thanks again for the link to that brief article.

  56. #57 Graculus
    January 19, 2007

    Dr Cook… I’ll play. I am not a doctor, BTW.

    1. Define the term “creationist” and I’ll tell you if it applies to me;

    Someone who does not accept common descent without supernatural interference.

    2. I understand science as well as anyone with my credentials and years of post-graduate self-study could be expected to.

    I expect that people whose credentials and years of post-graduate self-study in evolutionary biology and molecular biology might have a far better understanding of it than you.

    If I don’t find neo-Darwinian dogma believable or understandable, how do you expect the “rubes,” as you so charmingly call the people you’re trying to convince, to understand it?

    I’m a liberal arts major, and I understand it. Being a bone mechanic doesn’t grant you any special insight into Chaos math, Hox genes, population biology or genetics.

    Take your word for it, maybe?

    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the concept of repeatability and prediction/observation. It’s how science works. Are we to discard this principle on your word, maybe?

    3. I agree that most scientists believe in the standard dogma. But there are plenty of really smart people who don’t. More all the time. Don’t you just hate that?

    Being really smart in one’s field does not grant immunity from believing stupid things in another. Newton thought that you could turn lead into gold. Tesla thought that vitamin C could cure cancer.

    Perhaps you can explain, in molecular biological terms, listing the stepwise sequence of DNA changes (simplified, of course, so my poor moronic brain can grasp it),

    Perhaps you could use the Google. I would suggest searching PubMed with the term “Sonic Hedge Hog” (SHH).

  57. #58 Orac
    January 19, 2007

    1. Define the term “creationist” and I’ll tell you if it applies to me;

    Someone who does not accept common descent without supernatural interference.

    Actually, I don’t think you have to postulate “supernatural” interference, just interference by an intelligent agent, to be correctly called a “creationist.” For example, there are some creationists who think that aliens were the “designer,” like the Raelians. Dr. Cook himself has said that he is partial to panspermia as an explanation.

    That being said, given his past statements I don’t think it’s unfair to characterize Dr. Cook as a creationist.

  58. #59 Graculus
    January 19, 2007

    Actually, I don’t think you have to postulate “supernatural” interference, just interference by an intelligent agent, to be correctly called a “creationist.” For example, there are some creationists who think that aliens were the “designer,” like the Raelians. Dr. Cook himself has said that he is partial to panspermia as an explanation.

    Raelian “aliens” are supernatural, despite the verbiage.

    And Dr Cook is not arguing panspermia, because that is a reference to non-terrestrial OOL (Origins of life, a different discussion entirely), and he asked about digit development. That means that he thinks that humans, or at least hominids, were plunked down here “already done”.

  59. #60 Andrew Dodds
    January 19, 2007

    Graculus -

    Well, panspermia (in the way presented on the linked site) in unclear on this point. Since there is no definition of where the gap is between ‘Minor changes that are allowed to exsiting genes’ and ‘Major changes that are not allowed to happen’, it’s hard to tell, but if limb development is part of this, then presumably the gene or set of genes for limb development drifted in from space at just the right time to be absorbed (complete and functional) for the fish-amphibian transition.

    No origin is given for these genes. Indeed, given this it basically is ID, except we’ve moved the designer from direct gene alteration to putting genes in bacteria/viruses and shooting them at earth in comets. It dosen’t actually solve the basic problem..

  60. #61 slpage
    January 19, 2007

    Dear Dr. Cook,

    With your in-depth knowledge of hand and limb anatomy, perhaps you could pinpoint just what structures in the paw of a lemur-like precursor you have such difficulty in accepting the evolutionary changes in that produced the extant human version, according to your knowledge of evolution brought about by your years of self-study (say – if I spend a few years self-studying medicine, can I consider myself an expert physician?).

    Specifically, perhaps you can name the anatomical structures that lemurs (or lemur-like precursors, if you prefer) do not have which we do (or vice-versa), or anatomical alterations that cannot be explained as differences in proportion and not ‘kind.’
    Surely, as you are so stymied as to how this might have possibly occurred via evolution, you should have a handy list of such structures.

    Additionally, it would be informative if you could explain how many mutations you believe it must take to alter the form of one of these structures such that evolution could not possibly account for it.

    Also – and I know this is a bit much – but perhaps you can explain how these things were designed and implemented if they did not arise naturally. Specifically, I would like to see the step-by-step processes – supported with empirical evidence, of course – that your Intelligent Designer engaged in such that your scenario is more palatable and plausible than that of standard biology.

    And please do not be ashamed to use technical terminology and citations in the peer-reviewed literature – I have a doctorate in anatomy and cell biology earned in the dept. of anatomy at a medical school, at which one of my duties was to teach remedial and prepatory classes to medical students.

    Thanks.

  61. #62 Graculus
    January 19, 2007

    No origin is given for these genes. Indeed, given this it basically is ID, except we’ve moved the designer from direct gene alteration to putting genes in bacteria/viruses and shooting them at earth in comets. It dosen’t actually solve the basic problem..

    Well, no, because the bacteria and viruses couldn’t survive the conditions necessary to bring them to Earth, not to mention how the hell they got onto the asteroid/comet in the first place. Not to mention what the hell use a bacteria has for limb development genes tha are almost exactly like the ones that already exist. It’s worse than voodoo.

    The only semi-legit version of panspermia is that organic molecules, which do form in space, may have been brought to Earth during the LHB (Late Heavy Bombadment, roughly 4 billion years ago). There are still a lot of problems with getting the concentrations required into the right conditions to produce life, even if they survived the impact and subsequent environment, but it is at least grounded in evidence (space junk has come to earth with organic molecules intact). Life seems to have arisen very quickly (geologically speaking) after the LHB.

  62. #63 ERV
    January 19, 2007

    Orac: Some articles:

    Holland et al., Hox Genes and Chordate Evolution. Dev. Biol. 173:382-395 (1996), etc

    Hell, HOX genes are discussed in my introductory genetics textbook! Example #2948574 of Creationists misunderstanding the difference between something being unknown, and something being unknown to them.

    However, I think I found a point where both he and I can agree. In his essay, he recited the usual “Man was created in God’s image” phrase. If his god is made of gag, pol, and env, then I can actually say I agree with that statement.

  63. #64 Richard Simons
    January 19, 2007

    David Cooke said

    You have to list, in order, the stepwise mutations, deletions, transpositions, duplications, or whatever other currently known mechanisms of DNA change have actually occured to produce the information necessary to code for a human limb.

    To prove you can drive from New York to San Francisco, you have to list in order all the movements of the accelerator and brake pedals, the precise amount that the steering has to be turned at any time and the duration of these activities, all the roadside signs and any stops that are made. If you can’t do this, it clearly demonstrates that the only way to get from New York to San Francisco is by taking the train.

  64. #65 J-Dog
    January 19, 2007

    “That being said, given his past statements I don’t think it’s unfair to characterize Dr. Cook as a creationist.”

    Orac – Thanks for the correction. I believe in giving him his due also: Let it stand then, that “Herr Doctor Cook” is a lame-brained,Camaro-owning anti-ecologist, easily duped, alian-believing, smarmy transpermianite, IDiot. Thank you. That is all.

  65. #66 Chris
    January 19, 2007

    An interesting tangent: While there are several M.D.s that deny evolution, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a veterinarian doing so. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that they already have experience with more than one species and can thus see the interrelationships between them? It would pretty convincingly demonstrate common descent of closely related species, at least, and from there it’s not far to universal common descent.

  66. #67 MattR
    January 19, 2007

    I couldnt read the whole blog before posting, (sorry have to change solutions soon, but i must say that there is no possible way at this time to elucidate every aspect of how evolution formed an opposable thumb…heck, we are just now scratching the surface on how gene expression in the brain differs btwn. humans and chimps.

    That said…just becuase we can’t yet describe every aspect of how a complex system evolved doesnt mean we dont have enough viable evidence at this point to make a logical conclusion that evolution is in fact happening.

  67. #68 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 19, 2007

    As all IDists tend to do, Dr. Cook requires some unattainable proof (at this point) yet can not produce a single working testable theory for ID.

  68. #69 Jay
    January 19, 2007

    Dr. Cook, meet PubMed. PubMed, meet Dr. Cook.

    evolution limb mammal produces 1441 references dating back to 1963. Knock yourself out.

    I swear, if we could simply teach creationists how to use PubMed, it would save everyone an awful lot of time.

  69. #70 jba
    January 19, 2007

    “As all IDists tend to do, Dr. Cook requires some unattainable proof (at this point) yet can not produce a single working testable theory for ID.”

    And then stops commenting when people wont let him get away with it.

  70. #71 S. Rivlin
    January 19, 2007

    Dembski has produced on his blog a website of physicians who regect Darwinism (http://www.pssiinternational.com/).
    The majority of them, by far, are from Florida, 34/186(whatever that means). Interestingly, there are no scientists on that list. I wonder if these rejectionists do not allow scientists to join them because they think that a physician only list carries more weight, or that they invited scientists to join, but no one did.

  71. #72 Boo
    January 19, 2007

    To prove you can drive from New York to San Francisco, you have to list in order all the movements of the accelerator and brake pedals, the precise amount that the steering has to be turned at any time and the duration of these activities, all the roadside signs and any stops that are made. If you can’t do this, it clearly demonstrates that the only way to get from New York to San Francisco is by taking the train.

    You’re forgetting, Mr. Simons, that the theory of Intelligent Traveling does not specify a destination, or a mode of transport, or stops, gas, lunch breaks etc. It merely looks for signs of intelligance in people’s locations.

  72. #73 Hyla Picta
    January 19, 2007

    There are voices in the “intelligent design” wilderness that may actually be getting somewhere – by changing minds rather than preaching to the choir. A book has recently been published by the (deceased) science writer Robert Schadewald. Bob had always wondered why some people extend their views of reality beyond the evidence, or deny the common reality and create their own.

    Bob talked with, cooresponded with, debated, and delved into the minds of formidable flat-earthers, creationists, ID proponents, and notable crackpot scientists. Bob was booted out of the Flat Earth Society (yes, it still exists) for his spherical tendencies, and was a frequent counterpoint at various creationism conferences. The point is, Bob actually “debated” them in the old-fashioned style of respectful debate. And he often won.

    His new (posthumous) book, “Worlds Of Their Own: Insights into PseudoScience from Creationism to The End Times”, delves into the minds these fringe thinkers and explores the ‘evolution’ of their unorthodox ideas.

    Bob’s essays shine an intense light on the reasoning, the (dis)honesty, the facts, and the bizarre histories behind various pseudosciences. He dissects the issues to find a common basis for these beliefs, and shows us how modern-day ID proponents plan to co-opt our public education and government.

    The publisher’s web site for this book is:
    http://www.sangfroidpress.com/worlds.htm

  73. #74 Dangerous Bacon
    January 19, 2007

    Says Dr. Cooke: “Your use of the term “ID Creationism” is a dialogue-killing technique called “labeling” and is a distinct detriment to productive discussion.”

    Yo, Mr. Pot. Kettle. Black. The term you object to is far more accurate than “Darwinist” or “Neo-Darwinist”, both of which (as Orac pointed out) are transparent attempts to link your opponents to 19th-century thought, while ignoring the vast body of evidence that has accumulated since then in support of evolution.

    Excuse the use of “Mr.”, but I think you’re being overly touchy about demanding everyone use a professional title when addressing you, when you’ve already conceded that you are dealing from a limited knowledge base when it comes to molecular biology and evolution. As a physician, I don’t expect everybody to call me “Doctor” when it’s not in the context of my field of expertise.

    In fact, I’ve noticed that people are touchiest about professional protocol (this bears on the 99th percentile stuff as well) when they are uneasy about views which are generally derided in the world of science. This is especially true in the world of alt medicine, where “Doctor” can mean anything from a med school degree to having forked over a couple hundred bucks to an online diploma mill.

    Proclaiming that you’re in the 99th percentile on a board exam is even more embarassing than the next most blatant example of professional puffery with which I’m acquainted (posting a framed certificate declaring that you’re a Diplomate of the National Board of Medical Examiners – something everybody gets for passing a series of unchallenging step exams in med school). You don’t happen to have that one hanging on your office wall, Dr. Cooke? :)

  74. #75 Dr. tonyl
    January 19, 2007

    Mr. Cook:Unless you live in Great Britain, calling a surgeon “Mr.” is inappropriate and once again demonstrates your ignorance of the basic principles of useful dialogue, the first of which is respect for the other person and their motive of achieving understanding.

    You know, I instantly lose respect for anyone who insists on being referred to as Doctor (outside of a professional setting). I generally make it a point to call such egotists “Mr.” or at least insist that they call me doctor as well (I do have a PhD after all) while simultaneously telling everyone else to call me by my first name (or Mr.).

  75. #76 Berlzebub
    January 19, 2007

    Mr. Cook said:
    Think of any fine machine you care to. The 5.7L turbocharged LS1 engine in my Camaro, for example. Even with the best maintenance and care it’s going to wear out eventually. If I engage in regular drag racing it will wear out quite quickly. This does not mean that it wasn’t designed, and designed well. Even “perfect,” for what it is, when it was first built.

    It would appear that Mr. Cook’s views on “perfect” (or as he conveniently changed it to, fine) are as erroneous as his grasp of biology and evolution. I would not consider any machine that only operates at 20 percent efficiency as a fine example. Electric engines are a much better example. However, since all of his arguments are over a hundred years old, I’m not surprised he would propose an example that will be outdated, if not obsolete, in the next fifty years.

    -Berlzebub

  76. #77 Boo
    January 19, 2007

    Well, I have a Master’s degree, so I should be called Master. No, Mistress. No, too kinky. How about Her Royal Grand Poobahness?

  77. #78 Stephen
    January 19, 2007

    Dr. Cook, you say that “ID has some very important things to say about life”. Could you provide us with an answer to any one of the following questions about ID, together with a brief summary of the supporting evidence. A convincing answer to any one question would (I suspect – I don’t have the right to speak for others) greatly enhance people’s opinion of you here.

    - when did the ID take place?
    - where did the ID take place (i.e. in what environment)
    - who was the designer and how did he/she/it originate?
    - how did the designer acquire the ability to design life?
    - what mechanism was used for transferring the design to living cells?
    - was the design transferred to one organism, several organisms or all organisms of the species involved?

    I await your answer with interest.

  78. #79 David A. Cook, M.D.
    January 19, 2007

    You people have demonstrated just about every negative stereotype of “Darwinists” (you know what I mean by that) you are accused of by those opposed to you, up to and including name-calling:

    “lame-brained,Camaro-owning anti-ecologist, easily duped, alian-believing, smarmy transpermianite, IDiot”

    Yeah, that’s the way to tell me! Way to demonstrate your superior intelligence.

    You are no different from any other insular group of True Believers; led by a nameless pastor, reflexively hostile to challenges to your belief system.
    People claiming to champion science should cultivate open minds. Just what are you afraid of?

    I’ve wasted enough time on people who don’t know how to converse with people who disagree with them.

    Your “Orac”le’s initial criticism of me was that I did not understand molecular biology. His sycophants were told to show me where I went wrong. (How do they understand it better than I? There’s certainly no clue in any of their posts) No one has been explaining anything about molecular genetics and plausible evolutionary pathways. Wasn’t that the issue and your assignemt? The only things I’ve been shown so far are minds being held resolutely closed against any notion challenging their already-held beliefs.
    I understand science well enough to know that this is not how it progresses.

    Instead of the explanations of molecular biology promised, all I’ve seen is a litany of sneering challenges to me to defend some facet of what they think ID is about.

    Until you people can get a clue and stay on topic I am wasting my time.

    Trying to manipulate me into setting up targets (IC examples) for you to snipe at is not increasing anyone’s understanding of molecular biology, people.

    Read my type:
    My position is that life did not arise and develop by the neo-Darwinian synthesis theory of Mutation and Natural Selection.

    My position is NOT that ID is the be-all and end-all complete explanation. Of course it isn’t. One of the few here who seems to have a clue is the 12th grader. Of course there are other alternatives. My favorite, which I mentioned before, is panspermia. (It doesn’t do your case any good to bash panspermia either, folks; the question is whether you can defend and support your own position, get it?)

    I believe ID has some very useful things to say and has a lot of potential and should be taken seriously. But just bashing ID does not win any points for your side.

    Darwinism is in trouble. If you want to rescue it you would be best served by shoring it up, instead of knocking down whatever comes to replace it. Kicking down your neighbor’s house isn’t going to prevent the collapse of your own.

    Your job, at which you have utterly failed, was to provide evidence that I am wrong about Mutation and Natural Selection being insufficient to explain life.

    Challenging ID is not the same thing, folks! Lots of people are rejecting M&NS who care nothing for ID.
    I REJECTED MUTATION AND NATURAL SELECTION AS THE EXPLANATION OF LIFE BEFORE EVER I HEARD OF ID. Maybe even before there was an ID; I’m not clear about its origins.

    If you want to convince me that I was wrong you’re going to have to defend M&NS (“Darwinism” as the term is commonly used) and make me understand why M&NS can explain life. Is that clear enough? Sneering that I don’t understand science isn’t it!

    I should have researched your anonymous guru before I came on here, unwittingly thinking that as a fellow surgeon he might be a reasonable person whom I could develop a dialogue with. I should have realized from the condescending ridicule of his original post that this was naive of me.

    Here is a list of other doctors who reject M&NS:

    http://www.pssiinternational.com/

    More targets for your fearless anonymous leader.
    Why are increasing numbers of doctors and other educated people rejecting the position you hold so dear?

    One last try at reason, ON TOPIC:

    There are people in the field of genetics who are rejecting M&NS. A plant geneticist, J.C. Sanford, of Cornell, has recently written a book explaining, on a level understandable by regular folks, the known mechanisms of DNA change and why they cannot explain evolutionary progress. I suspect Dr. Sanford understands molecular genetics at least as well as your fearless leader. Read the book. Just do a search on Amazon. The man is an atheist who has converted to Christianity. This alone should give a thoughtful person pause.

    After reading up on the anonymous leader of this herd of independent thinkers, I understand better why his followers are the way they are.

    As A final point (I will be surprised if your leader allows all of this to post):

    Ask yourselves why you are willing to follow a person who insists on not telling you who he is.

    Would the lawyer(s) in the group accept testimony from a witness who instisted on remaining anonymous?

    You can find your hero’s name and some information about him at Dembski’s Uncommon Descent website. You’ll note right away that Dr. Dembski’s real name and picture are at the top of the site.

    For info. on the owner of this blog you’re putting so much faith in, who won’t even tell you who he is: see here

    http://www.patsullivan.com/blog/2005/09/orac_unmasked_a.html

    These people imply that he’s not even really a surgeon. What kind of surgeon are you, “Orac”?

    Excerpts from the site:

    “Orac’s secret identity is secret no more. And man, has he been a nasty boy. What a slimey sleaze.
    No wonder he kept his identity secret. See what he has been doing on the web & his affilication with the Renses/Ratbags.

    Now he loses all his credibility.
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t136864.html
    http://www.mesotheliomaresource.org/news/alternative-health/alternative-health-p-9016-4.htm
    http://www.medicalconversation.com/showthread.php?t=56548
    http://www2.ca.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/m/michael.david/ftp.py?people/m/michael.david/2001/michael.0109
    http://www.ianag.com/health/archive/index.php/t-555193.html
    http://www.groupsrv.com/science/viewtopic.php?p=535231

    Another excerpt:

    “We have both spent way too much time trying to defend what we believe are highly plausible reasons for numerous things that we believe on Orac’s blog, only to then be ridiculed and attacked personally, all the while ignoring and dodging our arguments.

    (There are many others who have experienced this as well.)

    Orac believes what he believes and has every right to express that. We happen to think he is very biased, closed-minded, and often just plain wrong. He also loves to call people terrible names assasinating their character instead of simply stating why he disagrees. And I don’t think I’ve ever see him concede any point, ever! (It is not unlike the near total breakdown in civil discourse at the national political level.)
    The “unmasking” is still appropriate because at least now we know who and what we are dealing with.”

    Like I said at the beginning, I perhaps should have read up a bit before wandering in here.

    I leave with my opinion about Darwinism unchanged, and further disillusioned about his followers.

    If anyone here has a shred of impulse for independent thought and inquiry left (Andy, and maybe a few others), there is a discussion going on about molecular genetics and its difficulties for M&NS here

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/1974#more-1974

    It includes respectful acknowledgment of opposing views, something sadly lacking on this site, the malignancy of which I no longer choose to tolerate.

  79. #80 ERV
    January 19, 2007

    Disgusting. Are you all reading the comments over on DaveScots thread?

    Gee Sal Cordova! Strange how I, a virologist, have never gotten crap from an evolutionary biologist for discussing evolutionary biology! Strange how my university, a very small place with limited resources, thought it was a wise investment to create a dual biology/mathematics program! Those evolutionary biologists thought it wise to consult mathematicians! So strange, its almost like your making shit up, Sal!

    And I thought maybe Mr. Cook wasnt posting because hes not a research biologist, who has a few minutes to check a blog while their Western is transferring, but Ol Cook had no difficulties finding the time to post at UD where none of us are allowed to post!

    Let me pretend to act surprised at your oh so sophisticated behavior.

    Science is a candle in the dark. And like cockroaches, you people run back to the safe, dark haven of ignorance whenever a room is lit.

    So I challenge you one last time, Cook. Post your references, or admit you are either in error or simply a liar.

  80. #81 slpage
    January 19, 2007

    While there are several M.D.s that deny evolution, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a veterinarian doing so.

    I know of one – Randy Wysong. He wrote the terrible creationist book “The Creation Controversey” in the 1970s. AMong the many zany things he claims in it is that sceintists already did ‘create life’ in the lab, but it is really an example of Intelligent Design (called, at the time,of course, creation) because the scientists added the ingredient KNOW-HOW (caps in original).

    It was the first use that I am aware of the all-purpose escape clause, now employed gingerly my many many IDcreationists, that any lab experiment that demonstrates or supports evolution REALLY support IDcreationism because an Intelligence had to design the experiment, make the computers/lab equipment used, etc.

    Pathetic, but a very common ‘rebuttal’.

  81. #82 yiela
    January 20, 2007

    I have one question for creationists.
    How does creationism (ID or whatever) contribute to science?
    My understanding is that science must figure things out that can be used repeatedly and make predictions about what will happen, all in the real world. That’s why people (governments, industry etc) are willing to pay to have it done. That’s why people use the scientific method when they want to figure out why something happens or how to do something. It has to work. How does creationism do this? If the eye is designed by whatever/whoever, so what? How does that help you understand how eyes work so you can understand what goes wrong with them or how to fix them? As far as science is concerned it doesn’t matter if there is an intelligent designer or not unless that information is useful in some way. It’s just irrelevant. Believe whatever makes you feel good but science is about what works.

  82. #83 Boo
    January 20, 2007

    As Cook demonstrated, creationism/ID/Darwindoubting is not supposed to contribute to science. That’s why if you keep persisting in asking for actual evidence they’ll eventually storm off in a huff, as just witnessed.

  83. #84 Crandaddy
    January 20, 2007

    Yiela, you ask a fair question, and I’d like to offer a brief response if I may. ID is different from such hard sciences as chemistry or biology in that it invokes intentional explanations for natural phenomena instead of mechanistic reductionist explanations. I, personally, don’t see how it could aid in understanding the workings of a biological structure such as the eye or how to treat its problems, but I don’t see how naturalistic evolution could provide any elucidation in this regard, either. ID is a diachronic inference to the best causal explanation. In a broader sense, it is an investigation to see if intentional explanations are truly expendable when accounting for the cause of a phenomenon.

  84. #85 Orac
    January 20, 2007

    Dr. Cook (that is, if you bother to read this, given that you’ve gone a way in a huff):

    If you bother to come back to read this, I have a few things to say in response:

    First off, several of the posters have told you where you (and ID) are wrong in specific areas and in “respectful” terms; you simply choose not to listen. Second, I did “respectfully” (but apparently not “respectfully enough”) try to address you again in the comments, modulating my tone, so that I could get you a response before the weekend and point you to several sources where you could find the information that you requested. You ignored that completely. Third, I am not a “leader” of any sort here. I just write stuff for my personal hobby (my blog) and let people respond (or not) as they will. In fact, I allow virtually anyone to comment here almost completely unfettered, including people who vehemently disagree with me (like you, for instance, whom I gave essentially unfettered opportunity to rebut my original criticisms and those of my readers) and including even people who truly despise me (like John Best, a regular who shows up whenever I post about vaccination or autism, and, yes, even Pat Sullivan before he got all pissy). The consequences of that are that sometimes things get a little rough-and-tumble in the comments, and sometimes people even attack me in a rather nasty way (like you just did with your parroting of that reference to Rense.com, but more on that later).

    In marked contrast, at Uncommon Descent, comments are strictly moderated and never a strong criticism of intelligent design is permitted. Were our positions reversed, I’d never be allowed to defend myself on UD, as you were here; I’d have been banned as soon as I ramped up the criticism, no matter how “respectful. The difference could not be more striking and could not show more clearly just who is more committed to free and open debate. (Hint: It ain’t the ID advocates at UD.) You seem to think that I control what my readers say and should somehow step in to protect you from the more vociferous of them. That’s not how things work around here. The only “censorship” that I exercise here occurs when I detect anything that might be libelous, and occasionally I’ll step in when personal animosities get too heated. That’s about it. I tell you all this because I sense that you are a newbie to the online world (you seemed surprised at my pointing out PubMed references to your papers, for one thing). So it is understandable that you may not have understood.

    Finally, I’m very disappointed in your last comment. It shows a distinct willingness to believe the worst in people, to smear first and think later, the very thing you decry in me and some of the commenters here. I find it very ironic indeed that, for someone who so loudly trumpets how much he craves “respect” (even becoming indignant when his proper title is not used), you sure didn’t show much to me in your most recent comment, even after I had clearly tried to moderate my tone a bit , having detected your offense.

    Your insinuation that I am not who I say that I am and your wondering “what kind of surgeon” I am were particularly transparent ad hominem attacks. If you bothered to read the “About” section of this blog and visited Pat Sullivan’s blog (which you cited), you should know what kind of surgeon I am; that is, if you bothered to click the links there. In any case, you uncritically swallowed and then regurgitated a lot of crap from a mercury mother reposted to Pat Sullivan’s blog about me, specifically that I am supposedly somehow affiliated with Rense.com, a conspiracy-mongering site prone to Holocaust denial and antisemitism. That smear that you parroted is very transparent and very wrong. The reason my name showed up in such places is not because I am some sort of racist, Nazi, or anti-Semites (which is what the mother was trying to suggest and you were apparently trying to propagate to discredit me). Rather, it is because of my long history of countering online Holocaust denial since 1998 or so (see here for how I got involved in this). Indeed, you can find my footprint in even nastier places than what Pat Sullivan spewed if you look a bit harder; there was a time several years ago when I used to delve deeply into the darker places of Usenet to confront Holocaust deniers and racists. It was while doing that that I first started using a pseudonym (for obvious reasons, I hope), and I just continued doing it. When I started blogging, I adopted the same pseudonym. It is a useful device that keeps my professional life somewhat separate from my little hobby. As I say in the “About” section:

    Orac’s “real” identity is an open secret, but he nonetheless keeps using the Orac pseudonym because (1) he doesn’t want his blog to be the first thing that comes up when patients Google his name; (2) he has a long history on the Internet under this particular pseudonym; and (3) he likes it.

    Sorry if you can’t deal with that, but, really, your whining about my supposed anonymity is disingenuous at best in the light of DaveScot’s post. Ask yourself this: If someone as clueless as DaveScot can find out who I am, ask yourself, what does that say about my concern about my anonymity? If I were that concerned about it, I would have adopted a different pseudonym when I started blogging and protected it zealously, making sure there was no way to link it to my real name.

    Finally, I see that the reaction you received to your comments on UD and here surprised and angered you. Your reaction suggests to me that you are a newbie in this debate. Newbies charge in here and in other sites dedicated to science over pseudoscience and are shocked when they’re not as warmly received as they think they deserve to be. The reason, I suspect, is because most of them have never encountered any serious or strong criticism of their ideas before. (UD is a warm, fuzzy environment for you, isn’t it?) Many of us have heard all the same tired old ID arguments before and have tried to explain why they are in error again and again. We get tired of seeing the same canards boldly trumpeted over and over. We’ve also seen many of the tactics like the one you yourself used. For example, demanding to be spoon-fed a step-by-step molecular mechanism of the evolution of the limb while being unable or unwilling to provide any sort of similar evidence (as exemplified by your inability to produce more than one example of irreducible complexity) is a classic example of how ID advocates frequently demand exceedingly exacting standards of evidence from proponents of standard evolutionary theory while exempting themselves from anything approaching that level of scientific rigor. Those of us involved on the debate on the pro-evolution side have seen this sort of thing enough times that we sometimes get a little testy when we see it popping up again in someone claiming to want to “examine all sides of an issue.” Personally, I get a little testy when I see fellow physicians making the same old pseudoscientific ID claims, the reason being that it contributes to the impression many basic scientists have that we physicians don’t really understand science or can’t be “real scientists.” As someone with both an MD and a Ph.D., I straddle two worlds and catch fire from both, but what really irritates me are comments denigrating physicians in general for their lack of understanding of science. When I see a fellow surgeon giving them ammunition, it ticks me off.

    That is why I went off on Dr. Simmons and then you.

    Just be glad that P.Z. Myers of Pharyngula or Larry Moran of Sandwalk didn’t notice you first; I’m a pussycat compared to them. At Myers’ site in particular, the commenters would have eaten you alive, given your inability to make anything resembling a coherent argument defending ID. Around here, we’re quite mellow by comparison.

    In any case, best of luck in your endeavors, whatever they may be. Try to view this whole thing as a bit of “tough love.” Hopefully it will make you think a bit more about ID and perhaps even come up with better answers to the criticisms that will continue to come your way if you persist in your current course. As it stands now, you’ve shown yourself to be woefully unprepared to handle substantive criticisms of ID or even online debates. Or perhaps the shock will lead you to question whether ID is as compelling as you presently think it is. At least, I hope so. If you bother to come back, I’ll be happy to engage you in whatever debate you want. I will not, however, be shackled to any conditions dictated by you anymore than you would be shackled to any conditions that I might propose.

  85. #86 Orac
    January 20, 2007

    I, personally, don’t see how it could aid in understanding the workings of a biological structure such as the eye or how to treat its problems, but I don’t see how naturalistic evolution could provide any elucidation in this regard, either.

    Don’t say that to ophthalmologist Dr. Ivan Schwab.

  86. #87 Davis
    January 20, 2007

    I’ve wasted enough time on people who don’t know how to converse with people who disagree with them.

    My, you’re selective in your response. Many of us provide substantive criticisms of your position (I know I provided evidence that directly contradicts one of your claims), and instead you decide to respond to the occasional ad hominem appearing in the thread.

    As Orac noted, you seem somewhat new to such online discussions. If you want to engage in substantive debate, you need to be prepared to ignore comments meant simply to insult. Welcome to the internet.

  87. #88 Joesph Crook
    January 20, 2007

    Mr. Cook, if you are serious at all, take a week and sit down with a couple of the papers cited. Then come back if you have any serious questions.

  88. #89 Graculus
    January 20, 2007

    Oh dear, Orac, you are have lost your credibility because you lay the smack down on Holocaust deniers and anti-vaxxers. The horror.

    I really wich the creationistas would get a new tactic, this “throw out a few baseless assertions and run back under the rock” thing is getting boring.

    C’mon Dr Cook, tell us why you think that mutation and selection cannot be responsible for the current diversity of life on Earth. Be specific.

  89. #90 Joseph O'Donnell
    January 20, 2007

    I REJECTED MUTATION AND NATURAL SELECTION AS THE EXPLANATION OF LIFE BEFORE EVER I HEARD OF ID.

    Bearing in mind you admitted in your first post that you don’t actually understand the area yourself anyway, this means absolutely nothing and doesn’t do your credibility any good.

  90. #91 Joseph O'Donnell
    January 20, 2007

    It includes respectful acknowledgment of opposing views, something sadly lacking on this site, the malignancy of which I no longer choose to tolerate.

    In reference to Uncommon descent, this really does demonstrate you’re completely and utterly clueless. You are aware that Uncommon descent would never permit you to defend yourself in the manner you have here, because they ban anyone who disagrees with their views almost on sight. It’s just a collection ground for sycophants and nothing more.

  91. #92 pough
    January 20, 2007

    Read my type:
    My position is that life did not arise and develop by the neo-Darwinian synthesis theory of Mutation and Natural Selection.

    And that’s why you’re a waste of time. Not because you’re stepping outside the bounds of dogma, in a delightfully free and superior way, but because nobody outside of creationist circles claims that life arose via M&NS, nor does anyone outside those circles claim that M&NS is the only game in town. So congratulations on having escaped a dogma that doesn’t exist, but it’s terribly unimpressive; even embarrassing.

    Might I suggest a brown paper bag?

  92. #93 ERV
    January 20, 2007

    Computers and the intrawebz are hard to use for some old people. Cook was so concerned about being patient with me because Im young, perhaps we should be patient with him because hes old. *snort*

    Now, perhaps you could earn a bit of that respect you so desire by admitting your error, Cook? Im sure Orac is used to those kind of attacks, but since you are so concerned about civility an apology is most defiantly in order. Maybe then we could get an acknowledgment of ID Creationisms roots? Maybe a few links to PubMed in there too? Maybe?

    Again, thanks for letting us have some fun, Orac. But this is more of a train wreck than I was anticipating… Now I remember why I never click on UD links…

  93. #94 Orac
    January 20, 2007

    Computers and the intrawebz are hard to use for some old people. Cook was so concerned about being patient with me because Im young, perhaps we should be patient with him because hes old. *snort*

    “Old”?

    Careful.

    Dr. Cook graduated from medical school only one year before me, which means he’s probably no more than a year or so older than I am! ;-)

  94. #95 Bronze Dog
    January 20, 2007

    Think I’ll keep this thread in mind: Cook seems to be a good source of inspiration for the Doggerel series.

    Think the next one I’ll do is something along the lines of “I demand respect!”

    As if you can get respect by demanding it. Respect is earned. Pretending that you’ve already won the debate with some canards and double standards that have already a bunch of indexed and referenced rebuttals isn’t the way you do it.

  95. #96 ERV
    January 20, 2007

    *laugh!*
    Dont worry, Orac! Well put you in a home when you start going senile so you wont make a fool of yourself on the internet!!

    hehehe Oh, and Cook doesnt fancy himself to be a newbie:
    “I have a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and an M.D. I have been engaged in the debate over the teaching of evolution for many years, in public and private, in newspapers and the internet, in various classes, etc., and am very familiar with the arguments on the major sides (there are more than two).”

    lol! Debated evolution for many years, yeah, we know. We know cause you used a TO claim, Cook. We know cause you dont know the information is kids textbooks. We know you have not only been ‘debating evolution for many years’, but you have failed to keep up to date with information thats standard for undergraduates now. lol!

  96. #97 Thony C.
    January 20, 2007

    Mr Cook: If you can’t stand the heat then stay out of the kitchen. (Pun very much intended!)

    If you will allow a small word on title etiquette on which you seem to lay so much importance. Whilst it is common practice in German speaking countries and the USA to address all holders of a doctoral degree with the title of “Dr” in Britain this title was traditionally reserved for medical practioners irrespective of whether they are holders of a doctoral degree or not, all other academics being addressed as “Mr” irrespective of the grade of their accademic qualifications. I say traditionally because in the last twenty years or so Britain has moved towards the German usage with all holders of a doctorate being addressed as “Dr”. So contrary to your claim you would in fact, as a medical practitioner, be addressed as “Dr” in Britain.

  97. #98 Davis
    January 20, 2007

    Whilst it is common practice in German speaking countries and the USA to address all holders of a doctoral degree with the title of “Dr” in Britain this title was traditionally reserved for medical practioners irrespective of whether they are holders of a doctoral degree or not, all other academics being addressed as “Mr” irrespective of the grade of their accademic qualifications.

    If you’re willing to go back far enough (say, the Middle Ages), “doctor” in its academic sense is more traditional — this use of the title predates its use for physicians. The word is simply just Latin for “teacher,” after all. So it almost seems anti-traditional, if this fact about its usage in the UK is true.

  98. #99 Jess
    January 20, 2007

    I followed each one of the links that are meant to dis-credit Orac.

    Anyone who rolls with Peter Bowditch is just fine by me.

  99. #100 David A. Cook, M.D.
    January 20, 2007

    Personal to Orac:
    I did notice your moderated tone. Thank you.

    “First off, several of the posters have told you where you (and ID) are wrong in specific areas and in “respectful” terms; you simply choose not to listen.”

    -As I, apparently unsuccessfully, tried to make clear, I’m not here to defend ID. That’s not my job. I came here to defend myself from your attack.

    “In marked contrast, at Uncommon Descent, comments are strictly moderated and never a strong criticism of intelligent design is permitted.”

    -There is a current discussion about the “evolutionary speed limit” which includes at least one person who disagrees. It’s a good one.

    “The only “censorship” that I exercise here occurs when I detect anything that might be libelous, and occasionally I’ll step in when personal animosities get too heated. That’s about it. I tell you all this because I sense that you are a newbie to the online world…”

    -I have been a semi-regular participant on four Boards for a number of years. Only very recently at UD. On one of the other boards, in which I have participated the longest, evolution is the most frequent topic I engage in, the other boards being focused on other issues. (I am very much in the minority on that Board too, BTW, and none of them are creationist sites.)
    The most useful and productive discussions come when the debate is moderated to keep people on topic and off personal attacks. This does not happen here, which is my reason for leaving.

    “…(you seemed surprised at my pointing out PubMed references to your papers, for one thing). So it is understandable that you may not have understood.”

    - I have not even thought of those old papers for years, except for the review article on AC injuries which I hand out to patient with that condition as a source of information. It never occurred to me to see if they were online. I listed them at UD only because my publications were requested. I do use medline.
    - I understand that blogs are not the same as moderated boards. The same principles of civil discourse are still necessary for useful dialogue, and would improve yours, IMO.

    “Finally, I’m very disappointed in your last comment. It shows a distinct willingness to believe the worst in people, to smear first and think later, the very thing you decry in me and some of the commenters here.”

    - Before I deleted it, the original last comment of my last post was a suggestion that I could be wrong about you, and an invitation for you to email me privately. I admit I was dissuaded by what I read on your critic’s site, and deleted it before hitting the post button.

    “Your insinuation that I am not who I say that I am and your wondering “what kind of surgeon” I am were particularly transparent ad hominem attacks.”

    -It wasn’t mine it was the other guy’s. It did give me pause to mightily wonder, however. I am still curious as to what kind of surgeon you are.

    “…uncritically swallowed and then regurgitated a lot of crap…”

    - didn’t regurgitate, quoted. There is a difference.

    “Finally, I see that the reaction you received to your comments on UD and here surprised and angered you. Your reaction suggests to me that you are a newbie in this debate.”

    - A little surprised by the gratuitous vehemence, illogic, name-calling, inability to stay on-topic or even recognize the topic, ridicule, etc. etc. etc.. But not angered. Life’s too short. It takes way more than this to get me angered.
    -As noted I have been off and on online in the evolution debate for several years. I have had guest columns in the newspaper several times over about 10 years on the subject which I then defended in the ensuing deluge of letters-to-the-editor.
    Before someone makes the accusation I can see coming; I do not participate in the creationist sites. I look in on them only infrequently when someone somewhere else links to something. The Board I participate in the most regularly tilts toward your side of things on this issue. Also as noted I believe that a fairly moderated debate is essential to dialogic progress. You don’t have that here. The Board I’m a semi-regular on does, which is why I stay, even though I’m definitely in the minority opinion there.

    “(UD is a warm, fuzzy environment for you, isn’t it?)”

    - I’ve only been there a few months. They are certainly more friendly than you folks. They answer their respectful critics respectfully, from what I’ve seen so far. Again, see the “speed limit” discussion. Respectful answers are not a feature of your site.

    “Many of us have heard all the same tired old ID arguments before and have tried to explain why they are in error again and again.”

    - I have heard all the same tired old Darwinist arguments before….
    -Did you get the part where I did not come to make ID arguments?

    “For example, demanding to be spoon-fed a step-by-step molecular mechanism of the evolution of the limb while being unable or unwilling to provide any sort of similar evidence”

    - A believable mechanism is going to be required before I’ll accept the stepwise evolution of limbs or anything else.
    - See my response to ERV: A fully formed replacement theory is not necessary to reject one for which evidence is insufficient. If you find something not true; you go looking for the truth, you don’t demand it be provided as a prerequisite for rejecting the false.

    “(as exemplified by your inability to produce more than one example of irreducible complexity)”

    -There are many examples, IMO. But that’s not the issue. This was an attempt by your side to derail the discussion and make me defend something, instead of you folks defending Darwinism. (Or whatever you want to call your position. I saw my use of that term criticized but didn’t see what you would prefer instead.)

    “…the reason being that it contributes to the impression many basic scientists have that we physicians don’t really understand science or can’t be “real scientists.””

    - You seemed to be making that claim yourself in your initial attack on me.

    “…given your inability to make anything resembling a coherent argument defending ID”

    -Sigh. How many times do I have to say it? Go back and read my last “last” (heh, this time I really mean it;)) post: I am not here to defend ID. I’ve been at UD for only a few months. I have read some of their books, and found them intriguing. I think they’ve been getting a bum’s rush. I am sympathetic to their cause. BUT the ID guys (Dembski, Behe, et. al.) do a far better job than I could ever do at defending their position. MY position is that I have found Darwinism (M&NS or whatever you want to term it) no longer convincing to me as an explanation of life. MY favorite alternative is some form of panspermia.

    “As it stands now, you’ve shown yourself to be woefully unprepared to handle substantive criticisms of ID…”

    - Bigger sigh. See above. It’s not about ID. I’m not an ID defender. I’m an ID sympathizer. I’ll let others who understand it better do the defending.

    As it does seem that you can be reasonable, I invite you, if you wish, to email me at the address I have provided.
    What I would most like to see from your side at this time is an answer to the arguments made in Dr. J.C. Sanford’s book on Genetic Entropy. He seems to understand molecular genetics pretty well. I don’t see any flaws in his arguments but also recognize that I’m not knowledgeable enough in that field to recognize any that may be there.
    Caveat: I did think the book was not very well organized, not particularly well-written, often used imprecise language, and failed to define some key terms. But looking past all that, his arguments on genetics seemed pretty convincing. He is a recognized expert on genetics. If you choose to provide a critique, please do not go off on his having converted to Christianity and including a plug for same at the end of the book, or on his only understanding plants, etc.. That is irrelevant to his arguments about genetics. Please address his arguments, if you choose to take the time.
    I understand if you do not wish to take the time. I too have much that’s more important to occupy my few free hours.
    As I said before, I am not coming back here publicly. There’s too much crap to wade through. It’s not worth my time. I do appreciate your effort at reason and civility.

  100. #101 Douglas Watts
    January 20, 2007

    Well the ads used to say 4 out of 5 doctors smoke Camels, so i guess that means cigarettes don’t cause cancer.

  101. #102 Thony C.
    January 20, 2007

    “If you’re willing to go back far enough (say, the Middle Ages), “doctor” in its academic sense is more traditional — this use of the title predates its use for physicians. The word is simply just Latin for “teacher,” after all. So it almost seems anti-traditional, if this fact about its usage in the UK is true.”

    In the Middle Ages the title “Doctor” was, in general, only used for somebody who had been awarded a doctoral degree at a university, the third and highest degree awarded. The first degree was the bachelor’s a general certificate of education roughly equivalent to a modern American high school diploma. The second or higher degree was the master’s which was the qualification necessary to be allowed to teach undergraduates at the university. Only a small number of scholars then proceeded to the highest degree of doctor which usually took between seven and ten years and qualified the holder as an expert in one of three disciplines; theology, law or medicine. A doctorate in an other subject was not possible.

    If you had read the Wiki article you tagged, you would have seen that the anglophone habit of addressing all medical practitioners as “Doctor” is a product of the 19th C.

  102. #103 Douglas Watts
    January 20, 2007

    Many people might be incredulous if told that virtually every atom in the Universe and in our bodies heavier than beryllium (atomic number 4) was created by supernovae explosions; and that without supernovae the Universe would consist almost solely of hydrogen and helium.

    And they would probably be incredulous if told that all of the atoms in our body except hydrogen have literally been aggregated into our existing forms and organs by the collapse of vast interstellar clouds under the influence of gravity to later form solar systems of rocky planets including the one we live on.

    Now THAT sounds truly ridiculous and preposterous.

    Yet true.

  103. #104 jody
    January 20, 2007

    Bigger sigh. See above. It’s not about ID. I’m not an ID defender. I’m an ID sympathizer. I’ll let others who understand it better do the defending.

    Dr. Cook, while I realize you’ve stopped reading here, I just had to point this bit out. How does that bumper sticker go? “I’ve made up my mind, don’t confuse me with the facts.”

    Everything I’ve read from you on this site is basically an emotional argument of yours justified on educational grounds. From your appreciation of the beauty of the human form, to car engines, to your rejection of Natural Selection in Evolution, it all reads as a feeling, backed up by choice, though incorrect, data, and polished by an achievement, your M.D.

    Your methodology isn’t scientific, the dispassionate and critical analysis of the world, but rather psychological. It’s the funky way we Humans convince ourselves that our feelings are true by the judicious use of select thoughts and facts as supports.

    While I’m sure you believe you have good reasons for your beliefs, you’ve provided noevidence that such is the case.

  104. #105 ERV
    January 20, 2007

    Wow! All that and not one apology or an admittance of error!

    *LAUGH!*

  105. #106 Interrobang
    January 20, 2007

    Maybe I’m picking up on this more than the scientists in the crowd here (I’m a writer with a background in rhetoric), but pough, the commenter above who mentioned the abiogenesis issue, still hasn’t managed to attract the attention of our erstwhile guest.

    Pough said ” nobody outside of creationist circles claims that life arose via” mutation and natural selection. As I understand it, which is admittedly not to the level of most of the crowd here, evolutionary theory doesn’t talk about the origin of life per se; that’s a different bailiwick altogether.

    It also seems as though Dr. Cook is a little confused in what he believes, as well, since he claims that he doesn’t believe that mutation and natural selection account for the origin of life (they don’t), but he also doesn’t seem to believe in either common ancestry or speciation over time. At the same time, he claims to believe that panspermia accounts for the origin of life on Earth. Now, unless you first posit that a spacegoing whatever disgorged all earthly flora and fauna intact and in their present forms, there seems to be a conflict between these paradigms.

  106. #107 Narc
    January 20, 2007

    A believable mechanism is going to be required before I’ll accept the stepwise evolution of limbs or anything else.

    A believable mechanism is going to be required before I’ll accept that Alzheimer’s disease is due to brain degeneration rather than the true mechanism: corruption of the soul. Basically a parallel statement.

    Yet no one reasonable really doubts (that I’m aware of) that Alzheimer’s is due to a completely natural, biochemical process, even if we don’t totally understand it or what causes it.

    Why the difference?

  107. #108 Davis
    January 20, 2007

    If you had read the Wiki article you tagged, you would have seen that the anglophone habit of addressing all medical practitioners as “Doctor” is a product of the 19th C.

    Which was exactly my point. I was arguing the same position.

  108. #109 Boo
    January 20, 2007

    It also seems as though Dr. Cook is a little confused in what he believes, as well, since he claims that he doesn’t believe that mutation and natural selection account for the origin of life (they don’t), but he also doesn’t seem to believe in either common ancestry or speciation over time. At the same time, he claims to believe that panspermia accounts for the origin of life on Earth. Now, unless you first posit that a spacegoing whatever disgorged all earthly flora and fauna intact and in their present forms, there seems to be a conflict between these paradigms.

    Don’t tell me you’ve never read Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

  109. #110 yiela
    January 20, 2007

    Crandaddy,
    You say ” ID is different from such hard sciences as chemistry or biology in that it invokes intentional explanations for natural phenomena instead of mechanistic reductionist explanations.” I agree. Because what you say is true then ID is not science. Science is defined (partially anyway) by the use of natural, factual evidence.
    I also agree with you when you say “I, personally, don’t see how it could aid in understanding the workings of a biological structure…”
    Where we disagree is where you don’t see how how evolution is any better at contributing to science. I’m not a scientist so my examples are going to be limited to my own real world experience and I”m sure are not the best out there.
    I breed dairy goats. ID has nothing to offer me that will help me reach my breeding goals, deal with genetic diseases or anything else. Even my rudimentary understanding of natural selection helps me make selective breeding decisions that will “improve” my animals. There is a genetic disease called G6S. I won’t go into detail here but by having a very basic understanding of genetics I can prevent this disease from occurring in my animals (Since offspring must have two parents be carriers to be affected I can test bucks only and only use non carriers. The test is expensive so by testing bucks only I can keep costs down while preventing occurrence of the disease). It is my understanding that G6S is a fairly recent mutation and only occurs in one breed of goat (the breed I have, which is only a little over 100 years old). Of coarse there is the common example of antibiotic misuse leading to resistant bacteria. Resistance is also the case with parasites and misuse of de-wormers. Evolution provides a model that predicts what will happen when you misuse antibiotics or de-wormers and makes it posible to understand and better deal with parasites and infections. Even if evolution were “wrong” it is much more useful than ID which does nothing to help me deal with these common livestock issues.
    It’s true that a lot of people that raise animals don’t understand evolution (often to their detriment), but vets do, veterinary researchers do and so do companies that make antibiotics, de-wormers, vaccines etc. So, these “unbelievers” benefit from evolution even if they don’t believe it.
    Evolution is science because it is based on evidence and because it works in the real world. ID is not science and it’s not useful.

  110. #111 Troublesome Frog
    January 20, 2007

    I tend to agree with Dr. Cook that the discussion here has been surprisingly and unnecessarily combative. It’s one thing to be harsh (even being unnecessarily harsh can be forgiven in the heat of the moment), but it’s quite another to go out of your way to be disrespectful just to get a rise out of your opponent. Nevertheless, I have to comment on this:

    Trying to manipulate me into setting up targets (IC examples) for you to snipe at is not increasing anyone’s understanding of molecular biology, people.

    This misses the core failing of IC. IC is a logical claim that there are some structures that cannot possibly have evolved via currently accepted mechanisms. It’s exclusive. It’s a theorem taken without proof. Behe has suggested a number of systems that demonstrate IC, and in each case, a possible pathway has been suggested–a counterexample proving without a doubt that the particular system is NOT irreducibly complex.

    That people who support the idea of irreducible complexity cannot posit an IC system that resists counterexamples suggests strongly to me that the whole concept of IC is not as powerful as its supporters suggest.

  111. #112 Ivan
    January 20, 2007

    For example, the poly-functional, poly-constrained nature of DNA seems to make it impossible to produce any improvement by mutation; a change in one function, even if beneficial, will necessarily result in harm to the other function(s) of the same strand. I admit I’m no sort of academic expert on this or any area of molecular biology, but I can understand the concepts when they’re explained to me. Perhaps Orac will expound on this for us.

    Well, that neglects the fact that there are several mechanisms by which an organism can obtain a duplicate copy of a gene. Once you have two copies of a gene, you can mutate one to obtain a new function while the other retains the original function. Easy!

  112. #113 Christian
    January 21, 2007

    As a nitpick, the Camaro has never been turbocharged from the factory. Unless the good Dr. has been playing a bit. But, in keeping with the spirit of Behe, if the good Dr. would care to give a step by step analysis of how GM did turbocharge his particular Camaro?

  113. #114 Christian
    January 21, 2007

    Gross, I just read his conversion to “intelligent design”. OK, doctors study everything that impacts the organism as it is now, and do research from that starting point. They normally really don’t get much of the “how it got that way” education. Vandy should be hanging their heads for this graduate.

  114. #115 Thony C.
    January 21, 2007

    “Unless you live in Great Britain, calling a surgeon “Mr.” is inappropriate and once again demonstrates your ignorance of the basic principles of useful dialogue, the first of which is respect for the other person and their motive of achieving understanding.”

    In my little sermon on title etiquette I was actually in error as to what the esteemed Dr. Cook was referring in his little rant quoted above. In the British hierarchical hospital system senior consultants (that is those at the very top of the greasy pole) are as a mark of deference and respect addressed as “Mr.” instead of just “Dr.” like their medical inferiors. As, according to his grandiloquent CV over at UD, he is in private practice it is not possible to say whether he has the right to claim this honour or not!

  115. #116 Graculus
    January 21, 2007

    I tend to agree with Dr. Cook that the discussion here has been surprisingly and unnecessarily combative.

    I tend to notice that Dr Cook cherry-picked the combatative posts and ignored the polite ones.

    It also seems as though Dr. Cook is a little confused in what he believes,

    Yeah. He doesn’t believe that life arose by natural processes AND he doesn’t believe that the diversity of life is explainable by natural processes. What he hasn’t addressed is what he does believe, and his *specific* (not warm fuzzies) reasoning for not accepting mutation and selection.

    “nobody outside of creationist circles claims that life arose via” mutation and natural selection. As I understand it, which is admittedly not to the level of most of the crowd here, evolutionary theory doesn’t talk about the origin of life per se; that’s a different bailiwick altogether.

    A bit of a quibble here. While evolutionary biology does not deal with OOL, abiogenisis apparently did involve mutation and selection on a chemical level. Evolutionary biology kicks in when we have “a cell and genes”, but it wasn’t instantaneous.

  116. #117 Thony C.
    January 21, 2007

    Whilst over at UD I took the time to read the whole of the debate, which the good doctor had so fulsomely, praised in his condemnation of the uncouth plebs present on this forum, doing so I discovered that we had all been underestimating the genial medicus. Not only is our orthopaedic surgeon an expert on evolution capable of dismissing the efforts of the worlds leading biologists for the last 150 years without even having had the benefit of the requisite education but he is even more of a genius in the field of palaeontology and anthropology! But let the good man speak for himself:

    “Found it. It was a letter to the editor in March 2001. The paper had taken the editorial stand that no alternatives to Darwinism should be allowed to be taught in the schools and this skull was another proof of the truth of Darwinism and the triumph of science over the forces of superstition.
    I wrote this in response (I could have made it longer but they’re very strict about length limits. The did publish a guest column I wrote another time which set off a real storm):

    “The recent front-page story on the ancient skull discovered in Kenya, and your editorial of March 24 about it, are perfect examples of the tautological reasoning which cripples real advances in the study of the origins of life. There is nothing about that skull itself, taken without preconceived assumptions, to suggest that it is an ancestor of modern humans.
    Here is how it goes; an anthropologist discovers an old skull or skeleton. Since he knows that humans descended from earlier primates, he immediately interprets the old bones as probable ancestors of humans. He then announces that he has discovered more evidence that humans descended from primates. The media and uncritically thinking masses then accept the discovery and the inference as if they were the same thing.
    The whole body of so-called evidence for human evolution arose the same way. I include DNA matching and the rest of it, not just old bones. It is evidence for evolution only because it was interpreted as evidence by people who assumed it was evidence. This is tautology; circular or repetitious reasoning. It leads back to the initial assumption without really going anywhere in between.
    What was actually discovered in Kenya was a very old primate skull. Period. Everything after that is inference. To me it looked like a gorilla, or other great ape. How many great ape skulls have been left lying around Africa over the years?
    This type of circular reasoning is so ingrained in orthodox evolutionary dogma that unfortunately most don’t even notice they’re doing it, but it plays out predictably every time a discovery like this is made. Watch for it next time.”

    I have not changed my opinion since I wrote that. Evidence is always interpreted based on the presuppositions of the observer. Often really significant results are tossed because they don’t fit what was expected.
    Often what we “know” prevents us from learning anything new.”

    Without the bother of many years of study in palaeontology and anthropology and advanced training in anthropoid primate bone analysis the brilliant doctor is able from the comfort of his sofa in Layton to expose the claims of the experts in Kenya as the groundless babbling of a heap of lazy ignoramuses. Man how I wish that I was that clever!

  117. #118 radar pangaean
    January 21, 2007

    >Dr, Cook:

    > Don’t tell me you’re really going to
    > get all petulant just because ERV didn’t
    > use the title “Dr.” when addressing you
    > and in essence threaten to use it as an
    > excuse to dismiss him.

    I know of exactly two people who raise that issue. Dr. Cook, and Dr. James Dobson. Is that a co-incidence? :-)

  118. #119 Tony Jackson
    January 21, 2007

    Who is J.C. Sanford?

    From Wikipedia:

    “Formerly an atheist, in the mid-1980s Sanford and his present wife Helen went through a marital crisis, which strongly led him to becoming a born again Christian and a young earth creationist. More recently, he has written a book entitled Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome (2005)in which he claims that the genome is deteriorating and therefore could not have evolved. Sanford’s claims have received little attention from the scientific community, and have not been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

    An advocate of intelligent design, in 2005 Sanford testified in the Kansas evolution hearings on behalf of intelligent design, during which he denied the principle of common descent and “humbly offered … that we were created by a special creation, by God.” He also stated that he believed the age of the Earth was “Between 5,000 and 100,000″ years.”

    Come on Dr Cook, is that really the best you can do?

  119. #120 Joe McFaul
    January 21, 2007

    “I tend to agree with Dr. Cook that the discussion here has been surprisingly and unnecessarily combative….

    *********

    That people who support the idea of irreducible complexity cannot posit an IC system that resists counterexamples suggests strongly to me that the whole concept of IC is not as powerful as its supporters suggest.”

    Exactly why I politely asked Dr. Cook twice to identify a few of the “myriad” (his word choice) examples of biological systems that could not have evolved. Two other commenters also asked him essentially this question. I think he just feigned insult instead of answering a direct question. He could have shut us all up with just a couple of examples. But you’re right, there aren’t any. Even Behe refuses to offer any examples.

  120. #121 Robster
    January 22, 2007

    Dr. Cook,

    While you’re at it how about a statistical calculation of the likelihood that this sequence of events could occur without being swamped or lost by random drift, chance, back mutation, selection cost, probability selection, phenotypic noise etc. at each generational step.

    Such a statistical discussion of probability is only useful if you assume that it all happened at once. As evolution of the limb occurred over aeons of years, the stats don’t really mean anything. Each individual step can occur seperated by time, and thus, we only concern ourselves with the chance of an individual mutation.

    I do not believe that random mutation and natural selection are sufficient to explain the origin and development/progression of life on this planet. I believe they are looking less likely all the time, the more we learn.

    I assume that you value honesty, including the commandment against bearing false witness. If so, how can you make comments like this? More evidence for evolution is found constantly, yet ID and creationism have no evidence. Zip. Nada.

    This one of the biggest failings of creationism, regardless of what guise it takes. New earth, old earth, or trojan horse ID. They all lie about the evidence and make claims about a nonexistant controversy within the scientific community. Apparently, keeping people from believing in godless evolution is more imporant than being truthful.

    If someone wants to believe that some outside force pushed evolution in one direction or another, that is their business. If they want to believe that force was one god or another, that is their business. But trying to pass this off as science…

    If this is the limit of your argument against evolution, then your book will be a scientific failure. Suggesting that we refer to Sanford’s book is laughable. Sanford’s claims that the genome is deteriating via entropy, making evolution impossible is not valid in view of the scientific evidence, ignoring many disciplines, including physics. Sanford has made useful contributions, but his book is not among them. If there was anything of value, it would have been published in peer reviewed journals.

    And please reply to me with the honorific Dr.

    Nobody else has to, but if you are going to be an ass about it, then I will be too.

  121. #122 Troublesome Frog
    January 22, 2007

    I tend to notice that Dr Cook cherry-picked the combatative posts and ignored the polite ones.

    Agreed. I still say that it’s best not to be unnecessarily abusive, if for no other reason than it gives people who are clearly losing the debate a way to “win” by taking the “high road” and leaving.

  122. #123 neil
    January 22, 2007

    he is an ortho surgeon, I dont know about the states but most other specialties take the piss out of the orthopedic surgeons. Even makes it into the text book, ” orthopedic surgeons are black&decker men with a passing acquaintence with medicine” (How to survive anaesthesia BMJ Publishing)

  123. #124 M
    January 22, 2007

    Stepping into the honorifics debate to correct Thorny C – it’s not all hosptial consultants who are ‘Mr’, just surgeons. I think it’s to do with the fact that surgeons and doctors were once separate professions; the Royal College of Surgeons having it’s origins in the ‘Company of Barber-Surgeons’, and that distinction has been somewhat retained. I could be wrong of course.

    The Consultants I’m most in contact with are paediatricians, who respond to most things. Such as ‘Oi, you with the comedy socks!’ and ‘You have funny hair’. Titles do not last long round children.

  124. #125 Inoculated Mind
    January 22, 2007

    p.s. I’m on call this weekend beginning tomorrow at a very busy ER. Also I’m trying to work on another book and I’ve already vowed no more posts on another board until I’m finished with the rough draft. So I’m not willing to make this a lengthy relationship.

    “Dr. Cook” sure seems to be spending a lot of time hanging around here and writing for someone who claims to be too busy to hang around. I’ve run into this kind of excuse before, a creationist contacted me, and when I asked him to support his argument, he said he was in the military and was just about to ship out, so he couldn’t respond yet. Then, a week later, I got half of his response, plus another email titled: “oops”

    Dr. Cook, I suspect that you are being less than truthful. You are asking Orac to do your homework for you. Where is all your precious evidence against evolution? Let me know where your practice is, so I can make sure no one I know goes there. I’d rather get the medicines that are based off of evolution. They’re intelligently designed.

  125. #126 slpage
    January 22, 2007

    My position is that life did not arise and develop by the neo-Darwinian synthesis theory of Mutation and Natural Selection.

    Ah, the thin-skinned whiner speaks for us to remove all doubt.

    Neo-Darwinism has nothing to do with ‘life arising’.

    The conflation of abiogenesis with evolution is standard creationist misinterpretation/misinformation/ignorance.

    Ah – and whats this? Why, the old ‘this guy is an expert, and he doubts Darwin’ routine? Oh, and let’s not forget to add the standard ‘witnessing’ tactic – why he even used to be an atheist!:

    A plant geneticist, J.C. Sanford, of Cornell, has recently written a book explaining, on a level understandable by regular folks, the known mechanisms of DNA change and why they cannot explain evolutionary progress. I suspect Dr. Sanford understands molecular genetics at least as well as your fearless leader. Read the book. Just do a search on Amazon. The man is an atheist who has converted to Christianity. This alone should give a thoughtful person pause.

    Bullshit.

    Sanford is a horticulturist whose understanding of evolutionary genetics is on par with Sally Cordova’s.

    You’ve been taken, Doc. Apparently your amazing board scores are no shield against being taken in by things you think you undersstand better than you do, especially when it can act to prop up your a priori position.

  126. #127 Doc Bill
    January 22, 2007

    I’m sorry I missed such an exciting thread! Thanks to SLP who posted this link at the KCFS.org website forum.

    It seemed to me the discussion was over early on, after the precise Joe McFaul (well done!) delivered the coup de grace to Creationist Cook. Clearly for all of Creo Cook’s cogitating on the subject he’s not even a very good creationist. And to jump on to a thread full of real scientists demonstrates a certain lack of caution in the good doctor.

    So, the Cook brings a can of whup-ass to the party then complains when we open it? How sad!

    As for Joe’s question regarding naming things that are irreducibly complex, I offer my teenage daughter as Exhibit A. If anybody could explain how such a creature could arise in Nature, I’m all ears.

    Cheers.

    p.s. I was in the 99.9th percentile.

  127. #128 pough
    January 22, 2007

    As for Joe’s question regarding naming things that are irreducibly complex, I offer my teenage daughter as Exhibit A. If anybody could explain how such a creature could arise in Nature, I’m all ears.

    If you weren’t a part of it, it’s time to kill the milkman. Or are you saying that it was “unnatural” sex?

  128. #129 Joe McFaul
    January 22, 2007

    Ahh….teenage girls. A species somewhat related to humans and undeniable irreducibly complex. But can we say that the teenage girl is “intelligently designed?” Anybody who demands to be driven to the mall in one sentence and then complains about overbearing parents in the next can’t be intentionally designed that way. There must be some as yet undetermiend survival strategy at work.

    Doc Bill, I wish you the best.

  129. #130 ERV
    January 23, 2007

    Actually, Id just like to thank Cook for getting me to finally realize that I am finally too old to be playing with baby Creationists like him. He would be an excellent chew toy for an undergrad, or a non-biologist just learning about biology, but I am just waaaay past playing with the guys who quote T.O.s Index.

    At the same time, I dont think that PhDs should ever engage Creationists, as it gives a fake legitimacy to their idiocy, and makes the Creationist feel far more important than he really is (“Oooh look at me! Im a nobody, but Im debating a real life scientist!”). So I have decided to spend my remaining years as a student hunting down idiotic Creationist Claims about viruses, in the hopes of bettering myself as a virologist, and correcting claims that might be too specific for others to catch.

    Took me 5 seconds on a Google search to find this crap, and a full 2 days to get censored and banned here.
    Im having fun again :D

  130. #131 Ab_Normal
    January 23, 2007

    Skipping to the end to say: Dr. Cook, if that’s your bed side manner, I hope to hell I never get a doctor as bad as you. Your understanding of chronic pain and disability seems to be deficient, as well as your fundamental humanity. Kindly piss off and never address me again.

  131. #132 mc2
    January 23, 2007

    Just an aside of the title issue, do I go around calling my self researcher McCormick or scientist McCormick or does my father-in-law call himself by the title engineer or my brother-in-law lawyer, of course not that would be silly. So why is the case of a doctor (as a profession) different?

    Now as for those that have a doctorate (and an MD is not a doctorate as far as I know it is entirely equivilent to the mB chB degrees we hand out here in NZ, ie Batchelor’s degrees albeit two of them (medicine and surgery), and similar in the UK) they have earned the right to the title doctor.

    In other words you can be a doctor and that is laudable but if you want the title show me the thesis.

    Rob

  132. #133 secondclass
    January 23, 2007

    The man is an atheist who has converted to Christianity. This alone should give a thoughtful person pause.

    He’s also a YEC. If Dr. Cook is so impressed with Dr. Sanford, then why hasn’t Dr. Cook embraced YECism?

  133. #134 Bronze Dog
    January 23, 2007

    The man is an atheist who has converted to Christianity. This alone should give a thoughtful person pause.

    Not if he can’t give good reasons for his conversion.

  134. #135 Robster
    January 23, 2007

    His conversion also has nothing to do with the quality of his data. The evidence stands or fails without him. In this case, fail. That Dr. Cook thinks this should give us pause demonstrates weak reasoning skills.

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