The Loom

The Wisdom of Parasites

Ampulex%20stinging.jpgI collect tales of parasites the way some people collect Star Trek plates. And having filled an entire book with them, I thought I had pretty much collected the whole set. But until now I had somehow missed the gruesome glory that is a wasp named Ampulex compressa.

As an adult, Ampulex compressa seems like your normal wasp, buzzing about and mating. But things get weird when it’s time for a female to lay an egg. She finds a cockroach to make her egg’s host, and proceeds to deliver two precise stings. The first she delivers to the roach’s mid-section, causing its front legs buckle. The brief paralysis caused by the first sting gives the wasp the luxury of time to deliver a more precise sting to the head.

The wasp slips her stinger through the roach’s exoskeleton and directly into its brain. She apparently use ssensors along the sides of the stinger to guide it through the brain, a bit like a surgeon snaking his way to an appendix with a laparoscope. She continues to probe the roach’s brain until she reaches one particular spot that appears to control the escape reflex. She injects a second venom that influences these neurons in such a way that the escape reflex disappears.

From the outside, the effect is surreal. The wasp does not paralyze the cockroach. In fact, the roach is able to lift up its front legs again and walk. But now it cannot move of its own accord. The wasp takes hold of one of the roach’s antennae and leads it–in the words of Israeli scientists who study Ampulex–like a dog on a leash.

The zombie roach crawls where its master leads, which turns out to be the wasp’s burrow. The roach creeps obediently into the burrow and sits there quietly, while the wasp plugs up the burrow with pebbles. Now the wasp turns to the roach once more and lays an egg on its underside. The roach does not resist. The egg hatches, and the larva chews a hole in the side of the roach. In it goes.

The larva grows inside the roach, devouring the organs of its host, for about eight days. It is then ready to weave itself a cocoon–which it makes within the roach as well. After four more weeks, the wasp grows to an adult. It breaks out of its cocoon, and out of the roach as well. Seeing a full-grown wasp crawl out of a roach suddenly makes those Alien movies look pretty derivative.

Ampulex%20emerging.jpg

I find this wasp fascinating for a lot of reasons. For one thing, it represents an evolutionary transition. Over and over again, free-living organisms have become parasites, adapting to hosts with exquisite precision. If you consider a full-blown parasite, it can be hard to conceive of how it could have evolved from anything else. Ampulex offers some clues, because it exists in between the free-living and parasitic worlds.

Amuplex is not technically a parasite, but something known as an exoparasitoid. In other words, a free-living adult lays an egg outside a host, and then the larva crawls into the host. One could easily imagine the ancestors of Ampulex as wasps that laid their eggs near dead insects–as some species do today. These corpse-feeding ancestors then evolved into wasps that attacked living hosts. Likewise, it’s not hard to envision an Ampulex-like wasp evolving into full-blown parasitoids that inject their eggs directly into their hosts, as many species do today.

And then there’s the sting. Ampulex does not want to kill cockroaches. It doesn’t even want to paralyze them the way spiders and snakes do, since it is too small to drag a big paralyzed roach into its burrow. So instead it just delicately retools the roach’s neural network to take away its motivation. Its venom does more than make roaches zombies. It also alters their metabolism, so that their intake of oxygen drops by a third. The Israeli researchers found that they could also drop oxygen consumption in cockroaches by injecting paralyzing drugs or by removing the neurons that the wasps disable with their sting. But they can manage only a crude imitation; the manipulated cockroaches quickly dehydrated and were dead within six days. The wasp venom somehow puts the roaches into suspended animation while keeping them in good health, even as a wasp larva is devouring it from the inside

Scientists don’t yet understand how Ampulex manages either of these feats. Part of the reason for their ignorance is the fact that scientists have much left to learn about nervous systems and metabolism. But millions of years of natural selection has allowed Ampulex to reverse engineer its host. We would do well to follow its lead, and gain the wisdom of parasites.

Update 2/4/06 4 pm: Greetings to visitors from Slashdot and Boing Boing and other kind linkers. Apologies for the slow load that comes with a surge in traffic. One nice thing about books is that you don’t need a server to turn the pages for you. So if you want more tales of parasitic majesty, check out Parasite Rex.

Update 2/13/06 1 am: Be sure to check out comments from one of the scientists who studies these beasts.

Update 2/15: Gal Haspel is now fielding questions in the comment thread, discussing new research on matters such as how the wasp knows where in the brain to put its stinger. Fascinating stuff. Please post any relevant questions for him. Bear in mind, though, that he’s a neuroscientist, not a theologian.

Many thanks, Gal.

Comments

  1. #1 jackd
    February 2, 2006

    Do you think the IDists and creationists will seize on the astonishing complexity of this story as one of their arguments? Seems hard to imagine it displacing the bacterial flagellum and mammalian blood clotting cascade.

  2. #2 gaw3
    February 2, 2006

    That second sting is amazing- how many evolutionary failures must there have been before the first momma wasp hit those particular neurons?

    Can the wasp take over any cockroach, or is it more a hummingbird-and-orchid kind of pair?

  3. #3 theo
    February 2, 2006

    Creationists are positively allergic to parasitism stories. Heck, they have a hard time dealing with predator-prey relationships.

    Why? Because it raises the question of whether a loving God would create such arbitrary animal misery, when alternatives are clearly possible. In a perfect world, old sheep would lay down and die, for wolves to eat. Nothing, it’s safe to say, would be paralyzed, brain-hijacked, then eaten from inside out.

    The usual dodge when it comes to human misery is to wave hands and mutter something about free will being so good that it outweighs all the suffering. It’s terrible theology; but more importantly, it doesn’t apply at all to animals, who (theologically speaking) don’t have souls or free will.

    On a side note, these types of parasitism stories contributed to Darwin’s loss of faith — in one of his notebooks, he argues along the lines I have here.

  4. #4 Stephen Uitti
    February 2, 2006

    As an engineer, sometimes engaged in reverse engineering, but with an interest in science, there is an easy comparison between science and reverse engineering. Not a formal definition, but engineers build things and scientists figure out how things work. The language isn’t quite kind enough though. If engineers ‘design’ things, then scientists must ‘sign’ them – but of course that’s a job for accountants.

  5. #5 John
    February 2, 2006

    Carl said, “We would do well to follow its lead, and gain the wisdom of parasites”.

    I believe women of our species already have – and it’s a story that sounds familiarly like my own marriage. Fortunately, they were unable to evolve to implant their babies in us, but lead us off to dungeons like zombies, they did.

  6. #6 Chamaree
    February 2, 2006

    When does the roach die? Sorry if this is a stupid question :)

  7. #7 joe
    February 2, 2006

    That is one cool critter. It’s common name is emerald cockroach wasp. Seems to me that laying it’s eggs directly inside of the cockroach would have been more evolutionarily expediant than evolving the neurotoxin and method that creates zombie cockroach baby food. Ofcourse it’s always a guess as to whether this may have evolved from that or vice versa etcetera.

  8. #8 Janne
    February 2, 2006

    gaw3: No need to assume “evolutionary failure” in not stinging the right spot. For a handwaving just-so story, just assume the head sting started as a way to kill a roach to ensure a very fresh, plump corpse for the larvae. Then, a slightly less violent sting would sometimes paralyze – but not outright kill – the host, making for even better conditions. And so, gradually, improvements in accuracy and specificity of the venom would make for better and better conditions for the larvae.

  9. #9 Creationist
    February 2, 2006

    Once again Carl demonstrates that an incredible imagination is vastly more important than any actual science background when hypothesizing evolutionary scenarios.

    Do you think the IDists and creationists will seize on the astonishing complexity of this story as one of their arguments?

    There are actually a number of books and DVD’s with amazing creatures that, in the eye’s of the creationist, defy evolution. I would not be surprised if this particular wasp – roach relationship were included in one of them.

    Creationists are positively allergic to parasitism stories. Heck, they have a hard time dealing with predator-prey relationships…
    The usual dodge when it comes to human misery is to wave hands and mutter something about free will…

    Actually the common response is something regarding original sin and a fallen world. Creationists are generally Bible-believing Christians and regard the fall of Adam as an actual event that dramatically altered the world and all of God’s creatures.

    Your claim demonstrates what is so often the case, that non-creationists haven’t the foggiest idea what creationists actually believe.

  10. #10 Lee
    February 2, 2006

    Actually the common response is something regarding original sin and a fallen world.

    Which was caused by free will, correct? I can assure you I’m quite familiar with creationist beliefs, and it seems to me that theo was absolutely correct.

    Creationists are generally Bible-believing Christians and regard the fall of Adam as an actual event that dramatically altered the world and all of God’s creatures.

    You’d better tell that to these guys:

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/02/davescot_steps_in_it_again_ort.php#more

  11. #11 Irrational Entity
    February 2, 2006

    The death issue always made me wonder why ID proponents would want their theory taught as science to a broad audience. Of course as Christians they can say Adam and Eve ate from the wrong tree and God punished everything, but they cannot teach that in science class. Without the Fall ID logically leads to a Designer who purposely set His creations up to kill each other, which hardly sounds like a benevolent deity who should be worshiped.

  12. #12 Creationist
    February 2, 2006

    Because it raises the question of whether a loving God would create such arbitrary animal misery, when alternatives are clearly possible. In a perfect world, old sheep would lay down and die, for wolves to eat.

    Theo paraphrases the tired claim “Why would a good God make a world with death and suffering.” His suggestion – that an old sheep should just lay down and die for the wolf – completely betrays his ignorance to the creationist view; in which there would be no death at all (not including plants and probably bacteria maybe even insects etc but a topic for a completely different blog). He goes on to offer the creationist defense as something about the value of freewill being greater than the tragedy of death and suffering. His suggestion seems to be that God envisioned and desired this worldly outcome (which of course He did not). Perhaps I’m misinterpreting his argument but if it resembles my interpretation it is completely ignorant of the creationist POV.

    I will hold to my original claim regarding Theo and if you are backing him I would apply the same criticism to you. Of course you can decide for yourself whether the claim is true…its your free will. A similar criticism is often directed at me regarding my understanding of evolution. I’m sure you, like myself, dismiss the claim out-of-hand regardless of its merit.

    …Without the Fall ID logically leads to a Designer who purposely set His creations up to kill each other, which hardly sounds like a benevolent deity who should be worshiped.

    I know nobody believes this but ID and creationism are not equals. Creationism is a sub-category of ID. Islamic creationists would certainly take issue with being equated to their Christian counterparts. It is possible to be an ID’er that doesn’t subscribe to any of the major religions. For example, the raelians or Francis Crick himself (co-discoverer of DNA) credit aliens as the solution to the complexity of life.

    If you separate the God of the Bible from ID, its possible to imagine any number of personalities for a god. How many of us played with a magnifying glass and burnt some ants. Movies about destruction and annihilation are immensely popular. That being said, is it really hard to imagine a designer that would enjoy a world with so much pain and suffering? In fact doesn’t that seem even more likely? Which world would you rather watch: the one with a lamb and a lion playing leap frog or the alternative with the lion whipping out his AK-47 and tearing the lamb to shreds. The argument about a good designer and an evil world is easily defended by the creationist – straight from the Bible, and it’s completely irrelevant if the creator is not the God of the Bible.

    Th “good designer – bad creation” argument is basically meant as a distraction from the actual subject. Once satisfied, someone will bring up the flat-earth myth as another distraction. Finally exasperated someone will fall back on the “mountains of evidence” without providing anything presently observable or demonstrable. When pressed, they’ll decline to answer and claim that providing any rebuttal would only fuel the “illusion” that the debate actually exists. Evolutionists should isolate the DNA responsible for this behavior and compare it with that responsible for the ostrich response to fear.

    Now i’ve seen the way this works and the remainder of this blog entry will likely focus on the ostrich :)

  13. #13 azcat
    February 2, 2006

    “Once again Carl demonstrates that an incredible imagination is vastly more important than any actual science background when hypothesizing evolutionary scenarios.”

    Does anyone know what Carl’s educational background is? Out of curiosity, I tried looking for it and only found honors and accolades for his writing but nothing about education.

  14. #14 NelC
    February 3, 2006

    Creationist, Francis Crick changed his mind about directed panspermia. See, for example, his Wikipedia entry. This is the kind of cherry-picking of facts that helps give IDists and creationists their terrible reputations.

    You seem to think that the Earth was created as an entertainment for a deity with the morals of an eight-year-old burning ants, is that right? Or possibly Alfred “Actors are Cattle” Hitchcock. Eh, as a theology, it doesn’t seem to have a lot going for it. I hope you’re not suggesting that we should overturn rationalism just to worship your cruel god.

  15. #15 Gary R Boodhoo
    February 3, 2006

    Your claim demonstrates what is so often the case, that non-creationists haven’t the foggiest idea what creationists actually believe.

    “Creationist”, to be honest, I don’t care what creationists believe. I’m a lot more concerned with the dangers of holding up ignorance as pride in a complex world.

  16. #16 ray
    February 3, 2006

    Are these wasps found in NYC? Every once in a while, I would see black wasps that I never saw anywhere else, in my apartment in NYC. Needless to say, we had a decent sized waterbug (what we would call the big roaches) population in the basement.

  17. #17 jordan
    February 3, 2006

    I’ve done some parasitology work and it is so facinating to see how closely the parasitoid is adapted to its host. The work I did focused on a fruit fly and a pteromalid. Two tiny critters but the wasp had no trouble finding its host, even when the host was transported and introduced to a new location. As a side note, the first picture looks like the roach and wasp are having a tickle fight. The roach looks like its grinning!

  18. #18 Creationist
    February 3, 2006

    As long as you don’t make claims, or anaylze creationist beliefs, theology or doctrine, it makes little difference to the debate, if you understand our point of view. Its just that before one starts speaking for, or attacking the creationist, one should first take some time to learn our side.

    Regarding Crick, I don’t know what he believes now about the origin of life on Earth. At one point, he published a book about panspermia and attributed some alien intelligence to the origin of complex life on Earth. Whether he changed his mind, or simply crumbled under the pressure of ridicule, or caught flak for giving fuel to the creationist, I can’t say. What is certain is that since the discovery of DNA and advances in the field of molecular biology, the complexity, that was such a hurdle to his believing in a completely naturalistic orgin for life on earth, has not been overcome, in fact, I believe its gone from a hurdle to a high jump. Besides Crick, there are certainly well respected scientists that entertain the possibilty that life originated first outside our own world. This is a direct reaction to the complexity of even the simplest fathomable life, combined with the miniscule amount of time (by evolutionary standards) for it to develop on Earth. And its not science by any definition.

    You seem to think that the Earth was created as an entertainment for a deity with the morals of an eight-year-old burning ants, is that right?

    I don’t believe I’m hiding the fact that I’m a creationist. I believe in the God of the Bible and His saving grace. That he sent His Son Jesus to die and atone for our sins…but I digress.

    I was simply pointing out that its easily possible to conceptualize a creator that doesn’t fit the benevolent mold into which he is always forced. Take away the bible, its explanation for death and suffering, and there is no reason to think a creator is good. Therefore, using this argument against ID holds no weight. There is no ID tenet that we should be worshiping the supposed intelligent designer, only that said designer was required to construct the complex life and universe. ID doesn’t seek to explain anything about the designer, that would be left to philosophy and religious discussions.

  19. #19 Creationist
    February 3, 2006

    As long as you don’t make claims, or anaylze creationist beliefs, theology or doctrine, it makes little difference to the debate, if you understand our point of view. Its just that before one starts speaking for, or attacking the creationist, one should first take some time to learn our side.

    Regarding Crick, I don’t know what he believes now about the origin of life on Earth. At one point, he published a book about panspermia and attributed some alien intelligence to the origin of complex life on Earth. Whether he changed his mind, or simply crumbled under the pressure of ridicule, or caught flak for giving fuel to the creationist, I can’t say. What is certain is that since the discovery of DNA and advances in the field of molecular biology, the complexity, that was such a hurdle to his believing in a completely naturalistic orgin for life on earth, has not been overcome, in fact, I believe its gone from a hurdle to a high jump. Besides Crick, there are certainly well respected scientists that entertain the possibilty that life originated first outside our own world. This is a direct reaction to the complexity of even the simplest fathomable life, combined with the miniscule amount of time (by evolutionary standards) for it to develop on Earth. And its not science by any definition.

    You seem to think that the Earth was created as an entertainment for a deity with the morals of an eight-year-old burning ants, is that right?

    I don’t believe I’m hiding the fact that I’m a creationist. I believe in the God of the Bible and His saving grace. That he sent His Son Jesus to die and atone for our sins…but I digress.

    I was simply pointing out that its easily possible to conceptualize a creator that doesn’t fit the benevolent mold into which he is always forced. Take away the bible, its explanation for death and suffering, and there is no reason to think a creator is good. Therefore, using this argument against ID holds no weight. There is no ID tenet that we should be worshiping the supposed intelligent designer, only that said designer was required to construct the complex life and universe. ID doesn’t seek to explain anything about the designer, that would be left to philosophy and religious discussions.

  20. #20 Creationist
    February 3, 2006

    As long as you don’t make claims, or anaylze creationist beliefs, theology or doctrine, it makes little difference to the debate, if you understand our point of view. Its just that before one starts speaking for, or attacking the creationist, one should first take some time to learn our side.

    Regarding Crick, I don’t know what he believes now about the origin of life on Earth. At one point, he published a book about panspermia and attributed some alien intelligence to the origin of complex life on Earth. Whether he changed his mind, or simply crumbled under the pressure of ridicule, or caught flak for giving fuel to the creationist, I can’t say. What is certain is that since the discovery of DNA and advances in the field of molecular biology, the complexity, that was such a hurdle to his believing in a completely naturalistic orgin for life on earth, has not been overcome, in fact, I believe its gone from a hurdle to a high jump. Besides Crick, there are certainly well respected scientists that entertain the possibilty that life originated first outside our own world. This is a direct reaction to the complexity of even the simplest fathomable life, combined with the miniscule amount of time (by evolutionary standards) for it to develop on Earth. And its not science by any definition.

    You seem to think that the Earth was created as an entertainment for a deity with the morals of an eight-year-old burning ants, is that right?

    I don’t believe I’m hiding the fact that I’m a creationist. I believe in the God of the Bible and His saving grace. That he sent His Son Jesus to die and atone for our sins…but I digress.

    I was simply pointing out that its easily possible to conceptualize a creator that doesn’t fit the benevolent mold into which he is always forced. Take away the bible, its explanation for death and suffering, and there is no reason to think a creator is good. Therefore, using this argument against ID holds no weight. There is no ID tenet that we should be worshiping the supposed intelligent designer, only that said designer was required to construct the complex life and universe. ID doesn’t seek to explain anything about the designer, that would be left to philosophy and religious discussions.

  21. #21 Lamb
    February 3, 2006

    Creationist, are you familiar with what a troll is? In regards to online discussions, you strike me as a troll. Or Tucker Carlson. Or both.

  22. #22 Great Omnipotent Tigger
    February 3, 2006

    Creationist: Positing a mysterious Designer (a God if I ever heard of one) prevents people from having to address the question of origins at all – God just is, and was, and ever shall be. This setting of questions outside the realm of reasonable discourse is the essence of religion. ANY philosophy or religion that does this does not belong in a science class, even if that philosophy is called science.

    Maybe we should try to get the students philosophy and religious discussion classes, which would encourage them to think and argue reasonably, rather than to emulate passive containers for teachers to fill with whatever they wish without question or protest.

  23. #23 theo
    February 3, 2006

    Creationist:

    Regarding Crick, I don’t know what he believes now about the origin of life on Earth.

    Francis Crick is deceased. Now that I’ve told you, maybe you should tell your friends in the Creationist movement. They don’t seem to be getting the message.

    Anyway, I am amused that you find the claim “Why would a good God make a world with death and suffering” “tired.” It is the fundamental paradox in all monotheistic religions, has given rise to more “heresies” than any other bit of Christian theology, and has given pause to theologians far more subtle than you.

    The “handwaving” argument I described is exactly “Augustine’s theodicy” — the dominant theological response, within Christianity, to the problem of evil.

    It doesn’t work. The idea that a “freely willed” choice made by Adam in the garden of Eden could lead to a “fallen world,” in which endless parasitism and suffering plagues innocent animals, is absurdly unjust.

    If you want to defend your position by dropping the idea of a just God, as you seem to be doing, that’s fine, although it would seem incompatible with your professed Christianity.

    And, let’s face it, it doesn’t matter whether it’s technically possible to believe that the world was designed by an unjust God. All the Intelligent Design advocates that matter in America are Christian, if not Moonie, and they want to have it both ways: just God, and suffering as a designed-in feature of life.

    Oh, and by the way, I admit I was a bit sloppy about the technical aspects of Edenic biology, and whether old sheep lay down to die for wolves (as CS Lewis portrayed, I believe, in the unfallen planets of his Space Trilogy) or “there would be no death at all (not including plants and probably bacteria maybe even insects etc.” That’s because couldn’t really care less. It’s a sterile theological question, the kind that substitutes for a scientific research program among Creationists.

  24. #24 Spike
    February 3, 2006

    A commentator of “Parasite Rex” on Amazon posted this:

    “…another species of trypanosome causes Chagas disease in South America, a disease that may have afflicted Charles Darwin.”

    Perhaps the parasites directed Darwin to develop his theory, which was eventually passed down to Carl Zimmer, which promoted him to write the book, which tells us who is -really- in charge!

    If memes are more like multi-celluar parasites than like viruses, then the creationist meme has been shedding its religionist appendages to better invade the intermediate host of science in an effort to be carried into the next intermediate host, schools, from whence it can infect human brains and make them more pliable to infusions of dogma!

    Oh! The humanity!

  25. #25 Wolf
    February 3, 2006

    I AM a classroom teacher. I teach my kids Evolution–the scientifically based kind. (AKA the only kind.) Kids’ beliefs belong to themselves, not to me, and I tell them this.

    Anyone who wants to believe that a god-figure created all of this is welcome to do so–however, in the classroom or in public presentation, it’s pointless. Science can say nothing about unprovable postulates! No respectable–or respectful–scientist will leap off into a realm where they do not belong and say that god does not exist. There is no way to prove such a statement. Nor can you “prove” that mythical figures did not engineer everything so that it LOOKS like evolution occurred. (I do love Flying Spaghetti Monsterism … http://www.venganza.org)

    In case you’re wondering, there’s no doubt in any well-educated scientist’s mind that it does, in fact, “look” like evolution occurred. The reason you hear that there’s mounds of evidence which is not then provided to you (the Creationist) is that … the evidence is housed in this top-secret facility named “Any Accredited Biology Class of any University in the World”. When you first learn about the Theory of Gravity, all you learn is that things fall down. When you get to college you learn about the orbital motion of planets and galaxies and the Big Bang and … so much more about the Theory that you realize that you never understood it before.

    In a mutual gesture of respect, religion has every right to speak to unprovable postulates such as the existence of souls and gods and an afterlife, but it should not dictate to science what conclusions to draw from the facts.

    When the rock falls downward every time, and the planets orbit in regular patterns, we call it the Theory of Gravity and god and all the scientists and other human beings said “it is good.” When natural selection yields new species on a regular basis, when every fossil find and genetic discovery opens up a new window on the processes of evolution, we call it the Theory of Evolution and it is not “just a theory” in the same way that I have a theory that my auto mechanic is gipping me.

    Creationist, s/he of the ant-killing god; in the event you’re looking for evidence that the “creator” is good, you have only to look at Descartes’ writings of the 1600′s – later rehashed, digested, and updated for the modern audience by C. S. Lewis – for an almost mathematical proof of the requisite “goodness” of any god of ours.

    It is hard for people to grasp decentralized causation. In the human world, cause and effect implies Causer and Effected. I say read and my children do as I say. I hit the brakes and my car stops. Someone has to say what happens next. In the natural world, a thousand wasps in a field try to survive with very little neural network capacity, and once in a while an accident occurs that changes things. Accidents without causes, events without direction being able to shape the world is a concept beyond the grasp of many a scientist, much less laymen. It’s no wonder that so many Americans do not understand Evolution sufficiently to even have a CHANCE to “believe”.

  26. #26 theo
    February 3, 2006

    Anyway, it’s important to notice that IDers always use the same examples — clotting, eyes, flagellum (of nonthreatening bacteria) — and never talk about really interesting parasitic specializations, anglerfish lures, the diversity of venoms, insanely septic Komodo dragon bacterial colonies, etc.

    As we’ve seen from Creationist here, it’s because they can’t bring up these examples without committing to a malicious designer (or some version of multiple designers theory).

    ID is and has always been a fig leaf for Christian Creationists, and the idea that a designer (who IDers always, always, read as “God”) could be malicious is too cognitively dissonant for their audience to follow, which is why they try to ignore these problem cases as best they can.

    However, as Carl points out in his book, you can’t ignore parasitism. It’s possibly the most successful ecological niche on the planet today. I suspect IDers would all be much happier with a more philosophically coherent viewpoint such as theistic evolutionism.

  27. #27 Echilon
    February 3, 2006

    That’s one evil bugger. At least now if I see anyone walking round with a glazed look in their eyes for four weeks, then die and cockraches crawl out of their head, I’ll know why.

  28. #28 Ben
    February 3, 2006

    That’s because couldn’t really care less.

    I gathered that. Theo: I have never seen you in action before, but if there was an annual blog award for being obstinate, sloppy, pompous, rude, and completely ignorant of what you’re criticizing, you’d have clinched it with this comment thread. After years of research and writing on the subject, I feel comfortable saying that you wouldn’t recognize what you describe as “Augustine’s theodicy” if it came in the form of a wasp sting direct to the center of your cerebral cortex.

    My recommendation: Stop pretending to understand things that you just noticed printed on the fronts of books, and actually take the time to open them.

    As for this amazing little story, I think it shows us less about the nature of God, Eden, or the Fall of Man, but rather that such intricacies of nature truly reveal how very little we know or understand concerning the why and how of such activities, and what exactly (not theoretically) caused this creature to learn such a fascinating and deadly route to reproduction.

  29. #29 Anonymous
    February 3, 2006

    The roach is an outstanding survivalist. When the roach by it’s own will, eh will is a funny word to use, but anyway, when the roach by it’s own will eats all the wood in all the houses, it dies. Roaches of “evolutionary superiority”, have accomodated themselves to the envasion of houses, and the reclimation to the natural wooded invironment results in the death of the roach. Thereby the Roach is dependant oh human housing. A resulting of experimentation project was undergone to combine the living quarters on city blocks. In an effort to conserve space all the houses recieved additions which extended one into the other. The benifit for the community was the provision of easier and cheeper living conditions, being that there was no more yard, the landlords found that tending these interconected communities was much easier after the project had gone underway. However the rapid multiplication of the cockroach spieces [they no longer had to travel from seperate houses] led to there inability to move to new invironments freely. Thusly the cockroaches lost the survival instinct allowing there migration to a natural habitat, aka there primary weakness.

  30. #30 GK
    February 3, 2006

    The “Creationist” seems to wnat us to study the creationist side, when there clearly is none, since creation theory has never been formally proposed. Thus far, Creation theory is simply a bunch of “flaws” in evolution, such as the all too common bombadier beetle example. Almost all creationist arguements, the bombadier beetle included, are based on misrepresentations of the facts. All of this aside, creationism is based on a concept which non-christians do not share: If you can’t explain it perfectly, it must be god. This is a rediculous logical leap. So “Creationist”, you are only fooling yourself.

  31. #31 GK
    February 3, 2006

    Another comment: Creationist, your citation of Crick’s beleif of alient design as proof is an appeal to authority. Saying that Crick thought so doens’t proove your point. Besides, there are plenty of other scientists who don’t beleive in ID.

  32. #32 Edward T. Babinski
    February 3, 2006

    CREATIONIST’S “NO DEATH” CONJECTURE

    “No death…before ‘the Fall?’” What about accidental death? Was the movement of every “pre-Fall” creature finely choreographed? Did monkeys swing wildly in trees but never crush an insect on a branch nor upset an insect egg nor bird egg in the process? Did a curious monkey never pick up an insect or egg out of curiosity and accidentally crush or drop it. No large herbivore ever tried to take a bite out of a much tiner critter that looked green enough to eat, nor accidentally ingested it because it was on the leaf it was already chewing and swallowing? Did sharks hunger solely for seaweed and carefully spit out even the tiniest fish that might inhabit the seaweed out of which the shark bit an enormous mouthful? No mistaken swallowing of any tiny live fish at all by much larger fish? What about a large animal galloping along and breathing heavy and accidentally inhaling an insect? Did Brontosauruses dodge every breathing thing underfoot with each gargantuan step, including ants, beetles, worms, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals? Did spiders assist in the release of any insect that flew haphazardly into their webs?

    I guess the deaths of plant cells (that every breathing creature in Genesis 1 was commanded to eat “for food”) does not count, just the deaths of animal cells. But plant and animal cells both have a nucleus, cytoplasm and cell wall. (Never mind about the question of whether or not single celled “plant-i-mals” like the Euglena–that have both plant chlorophyll and a flagellar “tail” on the end with which to move around like an animal–lived or died.)

    Also…”without death” a single bacterial cell that divides every twenty minutes would multiply to a mass four thousand times greater than the earth’s in just two days.

    A single oyster, left to its own devices, produces more than one-hundred-twenty-five million eggs in a season. That’s more than enough oysters, if none died in eight years, [10 to the 89th power number of oysters] to crowd the water out of the oceans and make it cover the earth.

    If all the eggs from one mother housefly lived, she would produce more than five trillion offspring in just one season.

    A sunfish sometimes lays three hundred million eggs.

    A female sea turtle lays a hundred or more eggs.

    About one hundred million sperm cells are found in each cubic centimeter of human ejaculate.

    There are equally bountiful numbers from the world of seed-bearing plants.

    Speaking of death, how about decay, no decay either? I want to know, did Adam and Eve digest their vegetarian dinners? I once read a debate between two young-earth creationists in which one said that Adam had to break down his food and that meant that the second law of thermodynamics (breakdown, hence decay) had to have already been in effect because without it chemical reactions that involved breaking down molecules would not follow. In fact not even the existence of “friction” would follow without the second law already being in effect. Talk about a slippery world.

    And if Adam and Eve digested their green plant dinners did they also fart as vegetarians do today? Did they defecate? Did their feces stink? How about their armpits? Did God feel the least bit obliged to give Adam and Eve the recipe for soap? In other words, wouldn’t Adam and Eve have been “ashamed” of any number of things long before they were “ashamed” to discover they were “naked?” Or, as Adam once put it, “Eve, pick some of those soft leaves next time, I’m getting chaffed!”

    So if creationists insist that the original creation was so perfect there was “no decay.” One might retort with, “No decay my ass!” Or should I say, “Adam’s ass?”

    Feel free to visit my website sometime, and read my testimony about leaving the creationist fold, and why geologists saw no reason in the rocks left to continue to support the idea of “Flood geology” before Darwin was even born.

    Sincerely,
    Edward T. Babinski

  33. #33 theo
    February 3, 2006

    Ben @ RedState –

    I’d like to return the favor with an award for excessive ad hominem argumentation by a “prominent right-wing blogger,” but I’m afraid that, as usual, Powerline and Hindrocket have you beat.

    Perhaps my summary of Augustine’s “On Free Choice of the Will” isn’t nuanced enough for your taste. That’s fine. This obviously isn’t the place for that discussion.

  34. #34 theo
    February 3, 2006

    So why do IDers rarely address parasitism? ID advocate Georgia Purdom points out that one of ID theory’s biggest deficits (relative to old-school Creationism) is that it emphasizes the Designer, not man’s sin, as the author of evil.

    This is where an ID advocate can lose their crypto-Creationist audience.

    So what does top ID advocate William Dembski do? In “Intelligent Design is not Optimal Design” he attempts to evade that problem by, essentially, revealing his Creationist roots and blaming designed evil (“dysteleology”) on the fallen world.

    But at this point, Dembski’s argument is just another link in the long, sad history of Creationist apologetics for dysteleology, because animals must have been designed in an unfallen, non-evil state. And what does an unfallen mosquito do with its stinger? What did unfallen cats do with their carnivorous teeth and hunting instincts? What about unfallen anglerfish? Unfallen Bacteria and their Type III injection systems? Not to mention all of Edward Babinski’s examples in comment #32? When it comes to parasitism, ID has no answers to give.

  35. #35 Leopardesse
    February 3, 2006

    Very interesting! I already have the book “Parasite Rex” in my “to read” pile – this may move it closer to the top! I saw an interesting documentary in which Snails became Zombies in a similar way.

  36. #36 alex
    February 3, 2006

    Hi, just to say that this is a tremendous cruelity. These are sentient beings…

  37. #37 Cayte
    February 3, 2006

    This article raises a tantalizing question in my mind. Is there more than romantic flapdoodle in the 19th century idea that disease and creativity are linked? Could it be triggered as an unintended side effect of parasite manipulation?

    Several controversial books investigate the idea of such a link, The Great Pox and The Great Plague. I’m reading Thomas Mann right now and he also explores the theme through the characters of Hans Castorp and Adrian Leverkuhn.
    Does a new story need to be written, this time from the point of view of Treponema pallidum and Mycobacterium tuberculosis? Also why does treponoma continue to wreak havoc when it is no longer infective and presumabley an evolutionary dead end?

  38. #38 Biolchemical Engineer
    February 4, 2006

    As a biochemist and engineer, I’ve spent the last 5 years studying biological systems at a level that most of you I assume will never see. Suffice to say that anyone who honestly believes that random chance can generate the structures that I have studied is either purposely blinding himself or just plain stupid. I won’t try to defend stuff like fallen creation and the changes wrought by the fall because I don’t understand them and I figure I won’t get the answers until I can ask the designer. I’m sure enough in my scientific method to say “I don’t know” and be satisfied with continuing to look for answers. Ascribing everything I see to a random chance event though seems to be at least as nonproductive as ascribing everything I see to the unseen hand of a Creator and probably more unproductive, because if its wrong then you add a whole list of falsehoods to its creation. As for arguements in this list, well its pretty obvious that the two sides are pretty well set and both sides at least marginally “get” each other, but the evolutionists in the room really should get a handle on what ID really is before they go labeling it. Read some decent research papers. Especially the work into information theory.

    -M.Wilson

    P.S. theo “And what does an unfallen mosquito do with its stinger?” first off, a mosquito doesn’t have a stinger it has a proboscis, and assuming that it looked exactly the same pre and post fall then it would use its proboscis for the same thing that male mosquitos do right now every day. Drink plant fluids from plants.

    P.P.S. arguing on the internet is like running in the special olympics, even if you win you’re still retarded. these discussion boards about creation and evolution do nothing but increase antagonism between the sides, because you don’t change peoples minds with randomly quoted facts and papers and opinions, you change peoples minds by meeting and teaching them in person. so all of you have fun arguing on the internet!

  39. #39 Ernie
    February 4, 2006

    It’s possible to believe in ID and not be religious. I am such a person. I don’t necessarily believe in a divine Creator, but as far as I can see it’s just silly to dismiss the idea of an intelligence at work in creation. Or put another way, who should have the burden of proof, the ID folks or the other side? It doesn’t seem obvious to me.

  40. #40 Another biochemist
    February 4, 2006

    Just like to say, as a Biochemist myself (University of Manchester BSc Hons, 1998) I am dismayed by Biochemical engineer’s comment that ‘to say that anyone who honestly believes that random chance can generate the structures that I have studied is either purposely blinding himself or just plain stupid’.

    Dude, Natural Selection is NOT just random chance – you should know that. Furthermore everytime you do an EMBL or BLAST search for DNA homologues, do you not find a sh*t load of evidence for common decent staring you in the face.

    I worked with a fundamentalist christian PhD plant biochemist and he was the unhappiest guy I know. He ardently believed in the literal word of the bible, yet he couldn’t reconcile his belief with what he saw every day in the lab

  41. #41 Chamberlin
    February 4, 2006

    biochemical engineer: It’s not random chance. That’s not what evolution proposes. Evolution involves causality, which is anything but random; a noodle will never evolve into a rock. Complexity does not logically prove or even imply design, nor does it even begin to disprove evolutionary theory.

    creationist: It doesn’t bother you that the idea of an omniscient god paired with free will is impossible? If God knows everything (ignoring for now that he’d have to also know ignorance and thus contradict himself,) then he logically knows the future. If he knows the future, while he may not have necessarily written the future himself, it is the one and only future. How can there be free will if all of your actions are set in stone before you’ve ever even been born?

  42. #42 Mister Snitch!
    February 4, 2006

    Such blithe assumptions about “natural selection”. Please explain exactly how this stinger “evolves”? Does the first step in the process involve a stinger that does nothing, or is used for some other purpose? Why does that innovation succeed and get passed along, if it does not advance its possessor?

    Or do the stinger and venom somehow arrive together, in an evolutionary leap? If the venom has to “evolve”, then the venom that does nothing and the venom that kills are not passed along, and those wasp strains die off, right?

    What about the leap in brain-surgery skills that allow the wasp to perform an operation which, as you say, even scientists don’t understand? If the first generation of wasps prematurely kill their roaches, how do they reproduce to pass their imperfect skills along? Or do they all die off until that one wasp gets it right? That would be the “natural selection” claim – that millions of wasps keep at this until one succeeds and reproduces, and that this is all more or less accidental. It can only be chance selection since the wasps who fail are not around to teach the next generation what went wrong, are they? No, some superwasp has to have the venom, the stinger, and the right technique all fall into place at once, because she can’t inherit unsuccessful skills from wasps that don’t reproduce, and there are no wasp brain surgery schools.

    How do the insects even know what a ‘brain’ is, where it is, and what to do when it finds it? (If you say “instinct” you’re begging the question. We’re talking “natural selection” here. These insects have to figure this out. No mysteries of nature allowed – this is science.) Do we have generations of wasps trying vainly to affect roaches through their thoraxes and dying off, allowing the brain surgeons to win out? Do we then have only the best brain surgeons surviving? That again seems to be the natural selection claim. But why don’t we see such things all the time? Why don’t we see species trying things they have no hope of accomplishing? Why don’t we see apes attempting to copulate with gazelles to breed faster apes? Why don’t we see other species attempting and failing at learning brain surgery, since it works so well for the wasps? Where are the documented cases of species trying to gain new skills, which is what we are talking about here? Natural selection tells us this must go on constantly for millions of years in countless instances. It must be happening all over the place.

    Why did these insects keep puzzling out a procedure of which they have no understanding, when there are simpler and more reliable ways to survive and reproduce? Do they have “hopes” of eventual success, like doctors who develop difficult surgeries which seemed impossible to their predecessors? Is that what we are being asked to believe here? Or do we just need to have “faith” in science when we encounter things we do not understand and cannot explain?

    “Faith” in science when it begs such indulgences is no more and no less credulous than “faith” in a creator who allows for evolutionary changes on an initial design.

  43. #43 Turner
    February 4, 2006

    On the whole question of intelligent design, since we’re way the hell off-topic, I’m going to quote a friend of mine with whom I had a passing conversation about the fact I’d seriously damaged the ACL in my knee.
    He had a female friend who worked in a multi-use office building. Among the various folks renting space in this building was a dentist.
    This dentist was a Fundamentalist. His belief was that his work was to repair the damage that sin had done to the world.
    He did, however, offer free dentistry (or reduced cost, I honestly forget which) to the tenants of the building, as part of his rental agreement.
    One afternoon, one of said female friend’s coworkers came busting back into the office and said ‘hide me’.
    As it turns out, the dentist was going on about his Intelligent Design-like thesis regarding dentistry, and the patient, all unwitting, asked ‘why then do the two tendons that hold your kneecap in place on your knee run parallel rather than crossing as an X across the patella, which would secure it against a far greater degree of shock?’
    And the dentist lost his nut all over the place on that question.

    In my humble opinion, this tale defines precisely where intelligent design and science meet.

  44. #44 Scott
    February 4, 2006

    So our choices are…what?
    Believe that a succession of interconnected
    events forced changes over (what we perceive as)
    vast stretches of time…?

    …or that the cozmik wizard said,”KAZAM!”, and there it was.

    While both explanations are mind-boggling, only one of them is for children.

  45. #45 Joy Ride
    February 4, 2006

    So let’s say that natural selection was not at work in the creation of this particular wasp, and that it was in fact the result of intelligent design.

    Now please explain to me why I would worship an entity that would create such a wasp. Maybe a better term for this kind of creationism is ‘fucking sadistic design’.

  46. #46 Ben
    February 4, 2006

    Theo: only someone of a certain disposition would link to the blog of a former paid consultant for the Howard Dean campaign as unbiased proof of anything.

    You, clearly, are of that disposition.

  47. #47 Leion
    February 4, 2006

    Does that mean that with the correct neuron injection, we can take over any human, any animal?
    This is scary.

  48. #48 David
    February 4, 2006

    Congratulations Mister Snitch! Amidst the incredulous fog of your post, you’ve hit the crux of the matter: the essence of scientific study is understanding.

    Creationism and intelligent design deserve no place in curricula of science because they have no interest in deepening our understanding of the natural world.

  49. #49 Mister Snitch!
    February 4, 2006

    “Now please explain to me why I would worship an entity that would create such a wasp. Maybe a better term for this kind of creationism is ‘fucking sadistic design’”

    “why then do the two tendons that hold your kneecap in place on your knee run parallel rather than crossing as an X across the patella, which would secure it against a far greater degree of shock?”

    This is always the response: We cannot have been created, because I see fault in the design. (Usually foul language is involved, as that always helps advance any position.)

    There are two rebuttals: (1) Life is so complex that we cannot understand the higher purposes of its design. Indeed, human history is littered with examples of our hubristic belief that we had unlocked some puzzle, only to learn the answer was more complex still. Despite this, human arrogance persists (as demonstrated in many comments on this board).

    Rebuttal two is far simpler: Let’s see YOU do it.

  50. #50 David
    February 4, 2006

    Congratulations Mister Snitch! Amidst the incredulous fog of your post, you’ve hit the crux of the matter: the essence of scientific study is understanding.

    Creationism and intelligent design deserve no place in curricula of science because they have no interest in deepening our understanding of the natural world.

  51. #51 Mister Snitch!
    February 4, 2006

    “Now please explain to me why I would worship an entity that would create such a wasp. Maybe a better term for this kind of creationism is ‘fucking sadistic design’”

    “why then do the two tendons that hold your kneecap in place on your knee run parallel rather than crossing as an X across the patella, which would secure it against a far greater degree of shock?”

    This is always the response: We cannot have been created, because I see fault in the design. (Usually foul language is involved, as that always helps advance any position.)

    There are two rebuttals: (1) Life is so complex that we cannot understand the higher purposes of its design. Indeed, human history is littered with examples of our hubristic belief that we had unlocked some puzzle, only to learn the answer was more complex still. Despite this, human arrogance persists (as demonstrated in many comments on this board).

    Rebuttal two is far simpler: Let’s see YOU do it.

  52. #52 Mister Snitch!
    February 4, 2006

    “Congratulations Mister Snitch! Amidst the incredulous fog of your post, you’ve hit the crux of the matter: the essence of scientific study is understanding.”

    I ask questions you cannot answer, so you resort to tired insults to stifle debate. This demonstrates beyond doubt that you are the sole party seeking greater understanding. What a credit to the scientific method.

  53. #53 Roomba
    February 4, 2006

    That is just creepy. Like smting out of alians. but it is strange how the wasp started to learn this in the first place.

  54. #54 donkeykong
    February 4, 2006

    Evolutionism is a very stupid religion.
    A bunch of idiots claiming that if you don’t believe exactly what they believe this year you are stupid, you can’t belive what they believed 10 years ago cause thats discredited and you would be an idiot to believe that. And further more if you believe ANYTHING different you are a bible thumping religious zealot and religion is not science.

    But where is the real scientific debate regarding an alien race that evolved somewhere else starting earth’s life or helping it along during the cambrian explosian etc. A real scientific mind must admit that for earth to meet all of its extreamly un-probable events the introduction of a designer would simplify things

    Where is the parallel universes interacting model? If earth could be infected with life via parallel interaction with a universe seeming with life that would also explain many of the near impossible events that evolutionism believes in.

    If only science was truely practiced we could all agree that we don’t know. But as long as the evolutionism religion is practiced in our class rooms admitting that we don’t know is deemed not science.

  55. #55 Brian
    February 4, 2006

    re donkeykong:

    Your post actually highlights the problem: If ID is correct in thinking it knows enough about the mechanisms of evolution to calculate the growth of complexity over time (a very dubious claim), it is a possibly true statement that there has not been enough time on earth to evolve to our current state.

    IF all of the above is taken as true, then panspermia or aliens from other planets must be the mechanism that extends the timeframe.

    But, as you kindly phrase yourself, the origin of the panspermia or the aliens must have themselves “evolved” on some, far older, world.

    Therefore the time-constraint argument from ID does not lead inevitably to supernatural causation, but to yet more evolution in a differnet locale. Supernatural causation is not science. Theology should never enter into a scientific discussion on the merits of evolutionary theory.

    If ID provides for anything, it provides further motivation for scientists to unravel the details of evolution (slowly checking off evolution scenarios that ID’ers thought “too complex”, like the eye).

    Keep your god out my my children’s classroom.

  56. #56 David
    February 4, 2006

    “I ask questions you cannot answer…”

    I’m not trying to answer the questions you posed because I’m not an evolutionary biologist, and have not studied Ampulex Compressa. To attempt to provide an answer without the benefit of profound knowledge in the area would be unscientific. It’s perplexing that people, often with little to no knowledge of a variety of scientific disciplines (most commonly evolutionary/molecular biology and astrophysics), believe that their lack of understanding provides the foundation for the proposition of a novel theory.

    “…so you resort to tired insults to stifle debate.”

    I encourage debate, but it does not consist of simply picking holes in anothers’ thesis without being able to provide one of your own, particularly when your own understanding of the theory you attack is so woefully inadequate.

    If you are genuinely interested in debating the issue, I recommend you inform yourself of the process of natural selection. Read “Climbing Mount Improbable” by Richard Dawkins.

  57. #57 Rob Levy
    February 4, 2006

    I have a suggestion for how this evolved. The initial sting to the cockroach would obviously make the cockroach’s escape part of its brain light up like crazy. If the wasp then goes to find the most active part of the cockroaches brain, i’d imagine this would be the escape area. I believe there are simple rules which build up to create complex systems. These simple rules, like the active neuron sensor, help to create shortcuts to how a creature evolves. If you look at the recent darpa challenge, involving the teaching of a car how to drive across unfamiliar terrain, it managed to convince the team it was working by using just the rule of keeping the grass equally distant on the right and the left. It hit a bridge and swerved so the guy onboard had to grab the wheel! But the point is simple rules can lead to complex seeming actions.

  58. #58 Wayne
    February 4, 2006

    Spiders that raise and harvest mice? The scariest thing I’ve seen along these lines, on a David Attenbourough documentary (which I have no link to and no other info on, except I remember seeing it on TV some years ago), was a species of large spider that raised mice for food. The spiders took care of the mice and harvested them like we do with livestock.

    Do you have any info on this?

  59. #59 reader
    February 4, 2006

    It is not too difficult to imagine how such a precise parasitic behavious could have been evolved.

    Imagine the following steps happening, assuming there are already some roaches and wasps with some stinging ability.

    1. The wasps sting is deadly to the roach, so some wasp generation starts to use it to kill roaches to lay their eggs beside it.

    2. The wasps are comparatively big to the roach, so they are able to drag the roach corpse to a safe place before laying the eggs.

    4. Some mutated generation has learned (by evolution) that a sting to the head is more deadly than a sting to the body.

    5. Some mutated generation has a defect in the toxic and the sting in some cases causes the roach to die very slowly, over the course of a few days. The eggs beside the roach have a better chance, as their “food” is fresher.

    6. The “low-toxic sting to the head”-ability and the “deadly-sting-to-body”-ability recombine through evolution and both abilities are present in some generation.

    7. A new wasp learns to use both kinds of stings precisely.

    8. The weak sting develops more precisely over time so as to prolong the roach’s life, yet make him not move on its own.

    So I have a hard time believing an ID theory if it is quite obvious how over the course of a few million years small changes can accumulate to same pretty “amazing feats of nature”.

  60. #60 Anonymous
    February 4, 2006

    Mr Snitch!, here is my attempt at answering all of your questions. I’m an electronic engineering student at the University of Manchester so some of my biology knowledge is lacking and mostly educated guesswork. I did get a B at GCSE however.

    Any function providing an advantage for a creature in terms of keeping that animal alive will increase the lifespan and therefore chances of reproduction.

    The stinger may evolve because it used to have a different function, for example, a stabber which then becomes connected to a venom supply. Alternatively, the venom may happen first, with the advantage being that it is less appealing/kills predators who evolve not to eat it. Either way, the two parts are advantageous individually. A fast way of getting the two parts together is for a wasp with each feature to mate. The offspring may not have the venom linked to the stabber, but it can evolve that later. It already has the defence and attack of its sstrongest parents.

    If the wasp constantly measures the level of electrical activity, once its shut down, it knows its job is done.

    An attraction to movements of a certain type would indicate which bit is the head. By looking at itself and its mother/brother/birth host it can figure out that the bit its looking out from is the bit from which it views the world, or it could just go by strongest electrical impulse. When stabbing the leg (the fast bit) it conducts its brain juice through its body. It then smells its brains and goes for the stab. Alternatively, I don’t know, but at least each theory is dis/provable! We see cross breeds like ligers and others. They are sometimes infertile, sometimes they go on to breed subspecies (cant think of an example but i saw one at a zoo once honest!) Some other animals may perform “brain surgery” or the complexity of the cockroach may be low enough for it to be the only animal on which it works. Again, i don’t know, but i like hypothesising! Gorillas learnt to open coconuts using two distinct methods (smashing from a height + tools)in two different locations. A new offspring is born which finds itself endowed with a huge smashing tool for opening nuts which it eats. Does it climb to the top of a tree like its parents to throw down the nuts to open them, or just pow them there?

    Faith in science involves a hypothesis which suggests a way in which it can be proved or disproved whether or not it is currently possible to perform the test. Faith in a religious context involves belief with no possible test except for the evidence of contradiction of which there is loads. Science also allows simple models to be used to represent the real world for use in calculations. This is because our understanding of the world is understandably incomplete. These simplified systems may have experimental flaws when used in certain ways but enable the correct result to be calculated if used according to the way they are meant to be. 9.8 m/s/s is only a good enough value for gravity on the earths surface. The true gravitational formulae is imposible to calculate exactly because it would be neccessary to accomodate all bodies in the universe at one time. The advantage of science is that refinements can be made based on experimental evidence and renewed hypothesys made. If these are then tested on new values and found to work, the formula can at least partially speak for itself.

  61. #61 Anonymous
    February 4, 2006

    I think what ID people miss is that creatures have been on this rock for a long, long time. With so many creatures breeding so frequently over such a long period of time, even the 1-in-a-trillion chances are near certain.

  62. #62 bliksem
    February 4, 2006

    Oh, good grief.

    So, non-existant matter had the ability to bring itself into existance.

    Give me a break, please.

    The next time you mutter “Oh my God”, I trust that it will not be because you are facing Him.

  63. #63 Terza Roma
    February 4, 2006

    For gawd’s sake can’t we for once have a discussion about biology without someone bringing up creationism? I know I speak for the rest of the scientific world when I say to you Americans WE DON’T #$^@-ING CARE! Stop hogging the Internet with your retarded gibberish, will you.

  64. #64 Murffy
    February 4, 2006

    Jumping in with what I hope isn’t a too obvious point.

    Evolvable hardware I think shines some light on the evolution/complexity thing and reinforces some good points already made. The field of evolvable hardware is a line of research where evolutionary algorithms are used to design things. If you Google it, you’ll find a lot of interesting stuff.

    One experiment at the University of Sussex in England used reconfigurable chips to design a logic ciruit that could distinguish a particular audible tone. They started with a crude design and with each generation they added random mutations, throwing out ones that didn’t improve the design and keeping those that did. (They also kept those that didn’t seem to help one way or another, and they mated designs – good ones with mediocre ones etc.)

    The long and short of it is that after about 5000 permutations, they ended up with with an astonishingly efficient design. I think the circuit was using something like 36 logic nodes to distinguish the tone whereas the best human design used about 110. What’s more, the researches didn’t know how it worked. It didn’t seem possible, yet it did work.

    All this is very interesting in and of itself but there’s a general point to pulled from it. If this kind of sophistication can be achieved after only 5000 permutations, what kinds of things are possible after countless trillions of permutations churning along countless trillions of simultaneous paths? Given that, it seems to me, the complexity we see in the biological world should come as no surprise.

    I believe Frances Crick was fond of saying: “Evolution is cleverer than you are.”

  65. #65 disgusting
    February 4, 2006

    This is just purely disgusting. They should kill things like this. Just image if the wasps were bigger! ::shudder::

  66. #66 Kafka
    February 4, 2006

    I had a dream that I was a cockroach, and that wasp Ann Coulter stuck me with her stinger, zombified my brain, led me by pulling my antenna into her nest a Fox News, and laid her Neocon eggs on me. Soon a fresh baby College Republican hatched out, burrowed into my body, and devoured me from the inside. Ann Coulter’s designs may be intelligent, but she’s one cruel god.

  67. #67 Ecce Homo, ergo est.
    February 4, 2006

    Atheist In The Woods

    An atheist was taking a walk through the woods, admiring all that the accident of evolution had created. “What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!” he said to himself.

    As he walked alongside the river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look, just in time to see a 7-foot grizzly charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder & saw the bear closing in on him. He tried to run even faster, so scared that tears were coming to his eyes. He looked over his shoulder again, and the bear was even closer.

    His heart was pumping frantically as he tried to run even faster, but he tripped and fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up and saw the bear right on top of him raising his paw to kill him.

    At that instant, he cried out, “Oh my God!”

    Just then, time stopped… The bear froze; the forest was silent; even the river stopped moving. A bright light shone upon the man, and a voice came out of the sky, saying, “You deny My existence all of these years; teach others I don’t exist; even credit My creation to a cosmic accident, and now do you expect Me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?”

    The atheist, ever so proud, looked into the light and said, “It would be rather hypocritical to ask to be a Christian after all these years. But could you make the bear a Christian?”

    “Very well,” said the voice.

    As the light went out, the river ran, the sounds of the forest continued, and the bear put his paw down. The man breathed a sigh of relief. Then the bear brought both paws together, bowed his head and said: “Lord, I thank you for this food, which I am about to receive.”

    (http://www.myfortress.org/Jokes.html)

  68. #68 God
    February 4, 2006

    Would you people please stop arguing? I can and do create whatever I want, and the fact that I chose to set the wheel spinning and let natural selection take over after that is my business, not yours.

    Go be nice to each other, okay? I sent one of my kids to tell you that, and you aren’t listening, Instead it’s bicker, bicker, bicker all the time.

    Next time, I tell you, I’m going to design Life intelligently instead of relying on hit-or-miss evolution.

  69. #69 Damien
    February 4, 2006

    Wayne: you might have seen *The Future is Wild*, on speculations of what future life might look like. I think 100 million years in the future included spiders farming mice (the last mammals left in that world.) I haven’t heard of real spiders farming mammals, though some can hunt small birds or mammals.

  70. #70 Angela
    February 4, 2006

    Creationist, Ernie, et.al.

    The internet is very complex…it has no designer…or rather everyone who uses it can said to be a designer (intelligent or otherwise).

    Dennet likens religion to a virus. I’ve heard others liken it to a parasite. I think both analogies apply.

    It is difficult to explain complicated scientific concepts to a person indoctrinated by religion, just as advanced math cannot be understood by those who haven’t mastered the basics–and thanks to religion few have. I find this sad, because science, like math, is a great tool for understanding, advancing knowledge, making predictions and solving problems.

    Francis Crick, in his book “The Astonishing Hypothesis”, pointed out that there is no such thing as a soul. Yes, it feels like we have a “soul” but it also seems like the world is flat and unmoving. Humans are so easily made stupid by believing they have a soul–it opens up the door for ridiculous claims about how one is going to suffer eternally unless one believes the right way. The fact is no one can suffer without a brain. Not understanding something does not make it “magic”. If something is too complex for you to understand, attributing it to god, fairies, demons, etc. is utterly childish.

    I find creationists and the like scary. These faith based beliefs are the same beliefs that allow some leader, warmonger, fearmonger, etc. to define something as “evil”. The sheep dash behind this leader in a quest to eradicate this “evil”. It is the notion behind every war–where concrete live are destoyed for an abstraction. Religion makes people stupid and it builds a brain not amenable to science (often afraid of knowledge).

    Truth is not afraid to be challenged, explored, questioned, dissected, etc. And if you find evololutionists arrogant or not understanding of a creationist viewpoint, perhaps you ought to consider the flipside. Evolutionists usually have far more knowledge and information regarding this subject on their side, but they can’t begin to get a religious person to understand because that person has been indoctrinated and is afraid to bite from the “tree of knowledge”. Moreover, religious people spawn more children who are likely to be just as ignorant as their parents. And religious people want to influence what my child learns in school.

    I was once a religious person with all the same beliefs. I wasn’t stupid…it just never occurred to me that my leaders could be wrong. I was trusting. I had been indoctrinated well by my parents who had the best of intentions do doubt. But by reading and asking the right questions and letting the evidence tell the story–I found a far more wonderous and satisfying understanding of this world and this life–the only one I’m going to have. And I am greatful for a brain which allows me to understand, share, and add to the latest scientific discoveries. All things that we have in our life that generations past would find “miraculous” are things brought to us by science–gps, computers, airplanes, etc.

    Few neurologists or bioligists of any note believe in the soul. It is well documented that feelings of both ecstacy and agony and experiences take place in the brain. Without a functioning brain, there are no feelings–no consciousness. We know this, because we can actually see it on brain scans and influence it with shocking the brain, chemical substances, and the use of strong magnets (persinger helmet). Moreover, much has been learned from those who experience seizures and those who have brain damage. There is nothing which can experience hellfire, 72 virgins, or endless bliss–without a brain, a person doesn’t exist. And it would be the burden of any person making such a claim to show some smattering of evidence to prove otherwise.

    We cannot prove god or souls don’t exist, because you can’t prove a negative. We can also never prove that fairies, and pixie dust doesn’t exist, (thought I’m certain trolls exist in cyberspace).
    We also can’t disprove Scientology or the beliefs of Moonies…but that doesn’t mean they are any less likely to be true than what any other religion is claiming.

    Your own thinking must evolve before you can understand evolution. I couldn’t explain the internet to someone who doesn’t have at least some general understanding about computers and digital transmission of data, right? But that doesn’t make it “magic”.

    Angela

  71. #71 Ecce Homo, ergo est.
    February 4, 2006

    How does the science explain the miracles?

  72. This is superb.
    I am normally not into this kind of stuff but i read every word with interest.
    I might have thought it would be a woman wasp wanting to get a man and lead him round to feed off him.
    Evolution,, maybe there is a lot more to come and it is a bit of a scary story if you think more about it.

  73. #73 mike
    February 4, 2006

    wow, great article! this is truly incredible…

    #59 – great post

  74. #74 The Truth
    February 4, 2006

    God has injected the venom of creationism into your cockroach brain, and look where it has led you!

  75. #75 Ecce Homo, ergo est.
    February 4, 2006

    “The Universe is apparently a rational, observable and understandable physical manifestation of eternity, which is a newly emergent scientific fact that has profound implications.”
    (http://www.stanford.edu/~afmayer/docs/Lecture2Signed.pdf)

  76. #76 Garnet Hertz
    February 4, 2006

    Jeez… I need to somehow exploit this for an update to my Cockroach Controlled Mobile Robot project… maybe a “Wasp-Controlled-Cockroach-Controlled Mobile Robot”… Hmmm… *rubs-hands-together-in-evil-scheme-way*

  77. #77 Anonymous
    February 4, 2006

    All of you, just stop with the arguing about Creationism and what not. It’s really, really pointless. Just stay on topic because you’re not going to explain the entirety of the human experience in one fell-swoop from the comfort of your home. Chances are, if you try that, you’ll just end up looking stupid, no matter who you are.

    I think it’s cool that there’s a parasite like this at all in the world. It’s interesting and fun. Why do you have to belabor it with the pointless routes of circular logic? Just sit down, shut up and try not to take it all so personally. Just enjoy yourself.

  78. #78 R&R
    February 4, 2006

    All of you bickering about Creationism, just stop trying to explain the entirety of the human experience from the comfort of your home, you’re not going to do it and you most certainly aren’t going to win. Sit down, shut up and enjoy the bug-feature without belaboring it with circular logic.

  79. #79 theo
    February 4, 2006

    Biolchemical Engineer:

    Whatever your personal beliefs, I respect your view that “I’m sure enough in my scientific method to say ‘I don’t know’ and be satisfied with continuing to look for answers.”

    But the idea that evolution is “random chance” is an incredible straw man. Natural selection is the most powerfully loaded set of dice ever (not) devised.

    And regarding mosquitoes, the stinging (female) variety of mosquito has a specialized skin-cutting barbed stylet at the end of its proboscis. It’s entirely unnecessary for drinking nectar, but rather well adapted for parasitism.

    Ben from Redstate.com:

    Nearly everything you’ve written so far is either an insult, a partisan attack, or raw bluster. Do you have anything intelligible to present?

    By the way, if you had actually read the link, you would have seen that
    Hindrocket admitted that he sent the email.

    Coram Deo indeed.

  80. #80 Kegger
    February 4, 2006

    “If something is too complex for you to understand, attributing it to god, fairies, demons, etc. is utterly childish.”

    Well, to be fair, it’s not childish; it’s tradition.

    –Been done for centuries, boy-o. Won’t stop anytime soon.

    Play the God card and you’ll always win…at least in your own head.

  81. #81 Random Passer By
    February 5, 2006

    As I’ve come to understand it a “miracle” is something we as a collective race have created to explain that which we currently cannot. It’s conception was brought about by our desire to fill in the gap of “Whoa! what caused that?” or some similair question of inquiry into an event.

    As a race we fear that which we do not understand. (or atleast the majority of the population does)

  82. #82 Jonathan Magnus
    February 5, 2006

    Hey, as long as someone can freely admit that a couple of molecules that get into the wrong place have more surgical skill, more anatomical knowlege and a better understanding of chemistry than any Evolutionist has or ever will have then Evolution is fine by me. The Evolutionists believe that a couple of molecules got together and decided to create life. After millions of years of Science, Humans cannot create even the simplest life. The most advanced of Human creations generally are poor imitations of what a couple of molecules decided to do all on their own.

  83. #83 c
    February 5, 2006

    In place of a Trackback….

  84. #84 Realist
    February 5, 2006

    Angela, never have I heard a counter-religious point made so well. I agree with you in whole. Religious doctrines, and the zealots who follow them have no right to tell us what to do, or believe in. We cannot prove (or disprove) that which we do not know. To fill it–by which I mean the unknown–with anything is fine, but come on people; we’ve proved the real cause of many things, stop worshipping lies of your faith as to how they work, and accept the truth, the REAL truth!

  85. #85 Ecce Homo, ergo est.
    February 5, 2006

    Why do the miracles only happen among saints, the ones who believe from their whole soul and reason that God exists?

  86. #86 Dave
    February 5, 2006

    Interesting to see how quickly the conversation turned from the wasp and its tricks to trying to discredit ID theory. You know, science has it’s roots in man trying to figure out how things work and how God made them. Somewhere along the way science took a left turn and became all about trying to explain God out of the equation. That alone seems to be irrational enough to make any true scientist raise an eyebrow.

    The discussions usually digress as this one did, ending up with the evolutionists trying to discredit God by questioning why he did what he did, if he did it, forever ignoring the question at hand.

    I was once a hard-core evolutionist, but the one thing that made me question what I was told was true and believed was true was the question of how it all began. Any explanation I found for the origins of the universe or of life fell short. Without an uninitiated initiator, none of it can be explained adequately.

  87. #87 Dave
    February 5, 2006

    Why do the miracles only happen among saints, the ones who believe from their whole soul and reason that God exists?

    Because the recipient of a miracle fails recognize it as such does not make it less a miracle.

  88. #88 Tim
    February 5, 2006

    Hey guys,

    How did this go from a nice, beautiful description from zombie inducing wasps into a wild, crazy debate between creationism and evolution? It’s too metaphysical a topic to be a part of scientific thinking. Let’s leave observation to bloody observation since that’s where science belongs. When scientists debate creationists, they themselves sound like religious preachers.

  89. #89 Ecce Homo, ergo est.
    February 5, 2006

    Did God create the parasites (such as that wasp) or they are the result of the evolution of the world after the original sin, when the order was disturbed?
    A human can use his skills to make the good or to make the evil, he has the FREEDOM TO CHOOSE … Is that also valid for non-humans, a wasp for instance?

  90. #90 Damn, son!
    February 5, 2006

    Another article described the process, saying that the wasp actually dragged the roach, but Carl’s seems to imply that the wasp has direct control over the roach’s physical action. Which is it? Dragging, I wouldn’t be surprised to see (well, maybe a little) but actually taking control of the motor functions of another creature sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie.

    As far as creationism/ID vs. evolutionism goes, I’d say that the existence of this species pretty definitively proves that God’s just as tired of the roaches as we are.

  91. #91 Dave
    February 5, 2006

    Did God create the parasites (such as that wasp) or they are the result of the evolution of the world after the original sin, when the order was disturbed?
    A human can use his skills to make the good or to make the evil, he has the FREEDOM TO CHOOSE … Is that also valid for non-humans, a wasp for instance?

    Why is it such a stretch to accept that parasites are one of God’s creations? And why is it assumed that what the wasp does is bad?

    The wasp needs to reproduce, and God dreamed up and created a really cool method for it to happen. How is the wasp using the roach any different than people using animals for food. That is certainly not an evil.

  92. #92 Ecce Homo, ergo est.
    February 5, 2006

    It is supposed that people didn’t eat animals before the original sin…
    Certainty is not that easy to possess…
    What’s the evil?

  93. #93 supersling
    February 5, 2006

    I have two thoughts here. 1 on the science, the other religion:

    1. It does not matter whether you believe that a great creator of some form on some dimension created this all either by speaking it into existence or by some other means, or you believe that all of the right components came together out of this vast empty, burning, space that we are floating through. Perhaps one was the tool of the other. Who knows, none of us ever will. Even trying to make the argument one way or the other is wasteful. None of us truly know. We only choose to believe

    The point is, regardless of where we came from and how we got here, we are all miracles, floating on a miraculous ball in a miraculous universe.
    We must all now move on and create a world race that honors the miracle of our existense.

    2. My theory about why the wasp does what it does is this. If the wasp just killed the roach and injected its egg, there are some negative posibilities. a) The roach could be consumed by some other creature before the larvae could mature b) the larvae could (possibly) be poisoned by its mother’s venom when it consumes its host.

    However, by making it a zombie and taking the roach to a ‘safe’ place, the wasp is giving its offspring he best opportunity for survival.

  94. #94 Anonymous
    February 5, 2006

    Even trying to make the argument one way or the other is wasteful. None of us truly know. We only choose to believe.

    Too true; neither evolution nor intelligent design can be proven, so what it comes down to is faith. Which begs the question, is believing in a Creator God any more of a stretch than believing that a wasp with such refined behaviour could evolve through blind chance?

    I think that God is the easier sell. By far.

  95. #95 Anonymous
    February 5, 2006

    [quote]Maybe a better term for this kind of creationism is ‘fucking sadistic design’”[/quote]

    Am I the only one who finds it rather odd we’re applying a human sort of morality to this wasp?

    ‘Sadistic’ is hardly a term I would apply to an animal – there’s no malicious intent. Sure, it’s a little creepy, but spiders are plenty creepy also.

  96. #96 supersling
    February 5, 2006

    “I think that God is the easier sell. By far.”

    I don’t agree. They are equally improbable and therefore so is your existence.

    This next question is not intended as anti-religous, just pro-thought. In fact, I hope that there is a creator, I think that would be quite nifty indeed. And regardless, I certainly do everything in my power to avoid making he, she or it angry.

    My question to you though is this, Do you believe in ghosts? Do you accept the possibility that I don’t exist in your dimension at all? Perhaps I am a spirit manipulating electrons to create this post. If you believe that a creator is “an easier sell” then you must readily and eagerly accept this possibility. For in a universe that can be spoken into existence, anything is possible. I could be made of rice pudding.

    I hope that anything is possible. I just accept that it is very likely that I’ll not know until the end of this lifetime, and possibly not even after that.

  97. #97 Tim Wayne
    February 5, 2006

    She apparently use ssensors along the sides of the stinger to guide it through the brain, a bit like a surgeon snaking his way to an appendix with a laparoscope.

    I understand why the wasp is referred to as a “she”—the wasp is laying an egg. But why, in the very same sentence, does the author switch pronouns for describing the surgeon? As in, “snaking his way…” Is the author suggesting that to be a surgeon is to be a male?

    I don’t understand. Someone please explain this to me.

  98. #98 Anonymous
    February 5, 2006

    [quote]‘Sadistic’ is hardly a term I would apply to an animal – there’s no malicious intent. Sure, it’s a little creepy, but spiders are plenty creepy also.[/quote]

    But not as creepy as clowns.

    As for science, I believe that Asimov said this once:
    Fools have said
    That knowledge drives out
    wonder from the world;
    They’ll say it still, though all
    the dust’s ablaze
    with miracles at thier feet.

    As for Intellegent Design, I have to go with this chaps spin on it.
    http://abstractfactory.blogspot.com/2005/10/only-debate-on-intelligent-design-that.html

  99. #99 Lee
    February 5, 2006

    In my opinion, evolutionists and creationists are too busy supplying answers to promote good science which is based on posing good questions.

    For instance, I am curious:

    Why hasn’t the ubiquitous cockroach simultaneously evolved a means to avoid being wasp food?

    It seems that such close parasite-host relationships would be very unsustainable over time. A simple evolutionary advancement in the cockroach could result in many starving wasps.

  100. #100 SIMpLIFY
    February 5, 2006

    The reason the Creation Theory and Evolution Theory are being debated is because both are THEORIES. A problem, however, is that BOTH have just about the exact same evidence to support them.
    Faith is, “a firm belief in something for which there is no proof” -This applies to both sides.
    What about the evidence? the fossil records? isn’t that proof enough?
    It is evidence, yes (and for both sides), but not proof. No one was there @ the beginning of life, thus no one can substantially PROVE either side.
    The reason evolution is taught in school is because it deals with the tangible world, and what COULD, PERHAPS, have happened.

    Darwin wasn’t there @ the beginning, he didn’t see the universe being formed, thus, he had to look at “evidence” of “natural selection” to draw his conclusions and concoct a theory. The THEORY of evolution isn’t completely bulletproof though. (see next paragraph)

    To support the evolutionary theory, Darwin knew there must be intermediary “missing links” (part bird, part reptile) in the fossil record to support his theory. That is why Darwin suggested these “missing links” would be found if the layers of the earth were inspected more closely. In The Origin of Species, Darwin states, “If my theory be true, numberless intermediate varieties, linking most closely all the species of the same group together must assuredly have existed… consequently evidence of their former existence could be found only amongst fossil remains.” (179) However, Darwin was aware the fossil record did not contain any intermediary “missing links”. That is why he devoted a special chapter in The Origin of Species to fossil records. In the chapter, Darwin asks, “Why, if species have descended from other species by fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? But, as by this theory, innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the Earth?”(172)
    Darwin said intermediary species could be found if the fossil record were examined more carefully. However, after 150 years of palientologists examining fossil records, intermediary species or “missing links” are still not found.

    “If numerous species belonging to the genera of families, have really started into life all at once, the fact would be fatal to the theory of descent with slow modification through natural selection” -Darwin in The Origin of Species by Natural Selection.
    so, fossil records are consistant in showing there was no intermediary species and, even if there were, a reptile with almost wings would certainly not survive (be bulky) thus, survival of the fittest would not happen, thus a bullet in the THEORY ( this point can still be debated).

    But, even if the fossil record evidence is logical, that’s still not proof!
    That is right. EVOLUTION IS ONLY A THEORY, there is substantial evidence, but since no one was there in the beginning, no one can PROVE anything.

    Creationists are not able to PROVE their theory either. They have EVIDENCE (which is just about the same evidence as evolution, but with a different POV) but no one has gone back in time and found out what happened, thus it is not PROVEN.

    MAIN POINT – THERE’S EVIDENCE FOR BOTH SIDES (the exact same evidence with different viewpoints), THE PROBLEM IS, EACH SIDE IS SAYING THE OTHER SIDE IS WRONG (BY USING THE SAME EVIDENCE) . I CAN ASSURE YOU, DEBATING WILL NOT CHANGE THE OTHER SIDE’S Point Of View .
    However, ever since schools have switched to teaching evolution (changed around the 1930′s and 40′s), there has been a consistant struggle to say “who is right” and “who is wrong”. But, I mean, come on, you really think it’ll end with one side saying, “I give up, you are right”? Of course not. I think schools should keep teaching evolution as a PLAUSIBLE explanation of where life began and say it is only a THEORY that only uses tangible evidence within the scientific realm since evidence is still debatable and there is no PROOF (no one has gone back in time and checked to see what happens). I think they also should put a small paragraph in the text that science is fallable, and, if new research arises (like, they find out there is a God – that’ll be the day!) that TOTALLY SLAUGHTERS evolution, that they will update the text :D

    You have your own point of view I trust you will make your own conclusions.

  101. #101 supersling
    February 5, 2006

    “It seems that such close parasite-host relationships would be very unsustainable over time. A simple evolutionary advancement in the cockroach could result in many starving wasps.”

    My answer may not be supported by the science of evolution, but it seems to make sense…

    It seems to me, that evolution would not have the opportunity. Once the roach learns of this relationship, it is killed and does not have the opportunity to pass the ‘information’ along to future generations.

    Again… this could be totally and completely wrong in every meaningful way. :-)

  102. #102 Anonymous
    February 5, 2006

    The reason the Creation Theory and Evolution Theory are being debated is because both are THEORIES. A problem, however, is that BOTH have just about the exact same evidence to support them.

    This is a profoundly ignorant and stupid statement. Evolution has a great deal of objective evidence to support it. Each new bit of DNA that is sequenced adds to the evidence of common descent, for example.

    The evidence for creationism is old moldy stories written in prescientific age. Moreover, there are a number of these stories that are mutually contradictory, so we know that, as a class, this evidence is unreliable. Ockham’s razor, applied to the phenomenon of human religious belief, suggests the simplest explanation is that they’re all equally invalid. Evolution escapes because of the qualitatively different way it originates — as deductions from observations of the physical world, not argument from authority.

  103. #103 Daldianus
    February 5, 2006

    What an amazing, and eerie, story! That’s why I like this blog so much.

    As for the resident creationist trolls: Come on, kids, go play elsewhere. And dream about miracles and saints and the like without annoying us. Thank you.

  104. #104 Lee
    February 5, 2006

    “It seems to me, that evolution would not have the opportunity. Once the roach learns of this relationship, it is killed and does not have the opportunity to pass the ‘information’ along to future generations.”

    I seriously doubt the roach could consciously control it’s own evolution by “willing” its continued existence. Once it exists it cannot change its own genetic code. Thus, you are correct in that even a smart roach may still die.

    However, what if a spurious mutation results in a cockroach immune or resistant to the toxin, or results in the alteration of the chemical signals that that wasp uses to identify its prey. Such a roach might then survive to pass on this useful trait.

  105. #105 Dan S.
    February 5, 2006

    Sigh – and maybe A. compressa is really a genetically engineered creature introduced from a future timeline as a pre-emptive strike against the evil cyborg roachbot overlords! Oh, why did they have to start meddling with Cockroach Controlled Mobile Robots? Why couldn’t they have left well enough alone?!

    Does this sort of speculation really help explain anything, at least in a scientific sense? Nope? There you go.

    However, some of the anti-evolution comments do reveal misunderstandings in what evolutionary biology says and does. For example, Mister Snitch’s attempt to paint our waspy friend’s exploits as an example of irreducible complexity, Biochemical Engineer’s idea of evolution as sheer randomness, and Creationist’s jab (hopefully not with a stinger to the brain!) at Carl’s “incredible imagination” and proposed lack of actual science background, missing both Carl’s job – science writer, not researcher – and the real way these sorts of evolutionary hypotheses can be evaluated. There are some very good responses to these misunderstandings – maybe someone would want to sum it up in a single post?

    “Why hasn’t the ubiquitous cockroach simultaneously evolved a means to avoid being wasp food?”
    Or at least, it would be interesting to see what defenses the cockroach might have – behavioral, etc. . . I dimly remember reading about a poor wasp(?)-paratisized ant species that freaks out when said wasp starts hovering around . . .

    (and the number of wasp species engaged in this sort of behavior suggests, for someone who doesn’t know anything about wasp taxonomy, the plausibility of modeling how this decidedly creepy adaptation could have evolved)

    “I believe women of our species already have . . . Fortunately, they were unable to evolve to implant their babies in us”

    Um, John? Isn’t it sort of the other way around? (except for the whole same-species thing). And yes, I know, it’s a funny.

    There is so much grist for the horror/scifi mill here . . . .!

  106. #106 Dan S.
    February 5, 2006

    Simplify does get, somewhat, the general idea why we should teach science in school, as it deals with the tangible world . . .

    But the rest – sigh.
    “Just a theory” – check.
    Evolution having something to do with the origin of the universe – check.
    No-one was there in the beginning, so we can’t prove it! – check (the equivalent would be: we weren’t present to see the crime go down, so even with all the evidence I guess we have to let him go.)
    No transitional fossils- Check.

    I’m pretty sure any bio textbook in use will cover to some degree the idea that science is an imperfect and limited -albeit very powerful – process, not an infalliable form of revelation.

    _______

    Look, take supersling. As far as I can tell, they’re polite, sincere, involved, modest – and don’t seem to have even a basic knowledge about of evolution (sorry – no offense meant – I’m amazingly ignorant about all sorts of simple things), presuming a sort of roach cultural evolution instead of seeing how natural selection might work.
    We’re facing a big failure of science education here. We have to do better.

    The whole neurosurgery angle is particularly creepy – imagine if something could do that to people – render them safely immobile, yet avoid the starving-to-death problem – maybe even get them to comsume more, to help maintain a bountiful home for the growing offspring . . .

    [turns around slooowly, stares at television with an expression of growing horror. Suddenly the camera cuts away, mecifully sparing us the horror that comes next . . . ]

  107. #107 RedFish
    February 5, 2006

    ” 70. Angela.”
    this may seem inapropriate but I love you;) or at least I love that comment you left:)(no 70), I actually copied it so that I can read it once in a while or show it to friends:).

    Ecce Homo, ergo est.:
    What the heck are you doing here? you have not said anything worth reading since you came in..
    at least every other creationist in here tries to explain what they belive in.

    About the wasp:
    thats incredible, Very interesting, I will surf the net for more such knowledge:) thnx alot for the great artical Carl Zimmer.

  108. #108 Creationist
    February 5, 2006

    “Evolution is only a theory”

    This is the problem; Evolution is mislabeled as a theory. In science, the term “theory” carries a lot more weight than when your Uncle Eddy starts giving his surefire way to win at blackjack. In actuality, evolution is merely an overblown hypothesis.

    Evolutionists love the argument that evolution is only a theory. They jump on it by comparing it to the Theory of Gravity. I absolutely guarantee you’ll never hear a physicist defend the soundness of the theory of gravity by drawing comparisons with evolution. As theories go they are apples and oranges. The study of gravity has led to thousands of useful equations that allow for everything from faster cars to the identification of planetary objects light years away based solely on their gravitational effect on the star they orbit. Where are the evolutionary equations that predict the future with mind-boggling accuracy? or even reasonable accuracy? or at all? There are none. Evolutionary equations are derived circularly. For example, the evolutionist compares chimp and human dna, somehow quantifies the difference, and attempts to translate that into the number of mutations necessary to account for that difference. Then they suppose, based on highly debated fossils and whatever else can be tossed in, that the common ancestor for the chimp and human existed 3 million years ago. They take the number of mutations divide it by the number of years and come up with a mutation rate. Could this be less scientific? Try applying the same mutation rate to other “close” evolutionary relatives it doesn’t work.

    Of course a common excuse is that evolution is too slow and gradual of process to have predictions validated. Well then, even if valid, of what use is it as a scientific theory.

    —————————-
    For the record…you’ll have to scroll up to the top for verification…This current episode of the debate began in the first and third comments, presumably by evolutionists, although its only a theory. Admittedly I was the first to offer a defense for my side, but more often than not on this blog an evolutionist makes the first move.

    —————————-

    Carl is only a science writer. And yet, while not paid for it, many contributors here might be considered science writers (by the most lenient standards to be sure). Contributors on both sides are belittled for their lack of scientific qualification. While Carl is exalted as some sort of science deity whenever he plugs a new book or article. I’ve got nothing against Carl. I’ve read and enjoyed 3 of his books. I think he is a very entertaining writer, especially within a subject that doesn’t always lend itself to entertainment. One need only read a couple chapters of a Dawkin’s books to appreciate Mr. Zimmer. My point, simply, is that evolution is a field that requires a great imagination to fill in the gaps. Consider the common question: How could an organ as complex as the eye, evolve by natural selection acting upon undirected random mutations? The answer is invariable an imaginative story with very little actual evidence to support it. It’s just a fact. Consider the number of mutations that would have to occur to transition a freckle into an eye. It would be vastly beyond current science to enumerate even a miniscule fraction of those steps with any accuracy. Whether fact or fiction aside, the entire proposed scenario in every instance is complete imagination.

    Finally, I’m sure we’ll never hear Carl’s educational background. People that are proud of it flaunt it, those who fear it will hurt their credibility, don’t. He’s a science writer perhaps with a degree in journalism, or creative writing. This won’t help his case any more than it helps mine if you to know my degree is in computer information systems.

  109. #109 Dan S.
    February 5, 2006

    Once more, with links to TalkOrigin’s lovely Index of Creationist claims (for folks of any view who aren’t familiar with the actual scientific claims/rebuttals/evidence)
    * Just a theory?. Claim CA201
    * Evolution cannot be proved? Claim CA202
    No-one was there in the beginning, so we can’t prove it? Claim CA221
    No transitional fossils? Claim CC200 and the TalkOrigins Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ – although this hasn’t been updated for almost a decade now!
    A reptile with almost wings would certainly not survive? Claim CB921.2

    My apologies to supersling, who gives an example of how natural selection might work in post #93 “However, by making it a zombie and taking the roach to a ‘safe’ place, [instead of just killing it] the wasp is giving its offspring he best opportunity for survival”.

    The soundtrack for this post being, of course, Zombie by The Cranberries:
    “In your head, in your head, Zombie, Zombie
    In your head, what’s in your head Zombie”

  110. #110 GK
    February 5, 2006

    Creationist: Explain then why evolution explains 99% of the fossil record, is compatable with every other aspect of science, and is capable (unlike creation) of explaining the common DNA shared between all organisms. Evolution is a fact. Evolution theory is an explanation for the fact. It was at one point a hypothesis, but it has been confirmed by the fossil record and by studying existing animals. Creationism is an overblown religious beleif, not even an overblown hypothesis

  111. #111 Cabe
    February 5, 2006

    This is pretty amazing. If we are eventually able to learn the specifics this could mean the possiablity of enhanced medical tools (sensors) and medicines. Even if not, it’ll still be pretty damn cool.

    As far as the whole debate going on right now. I personally (not that it matters) am buddhist. Well, most of my beleifs stem from buddhism. I wasn’t born that way (baptised Lutheran), but who’s counting?

    I personally find (from the more enlightened people from each school of thought, be it ID, creation or evolution) that most have better ideals than beleifs. I think the ideal is better than the beleif. The ideal lends more for closeness to their creator or their heart than any teachings can. And honestly, as long as you are close to what you beleive, feel that bond and don’t let your beleifs mold you, but you mold your beleifs, that is what truly matters.

    No one truely knows what happens when we are ‘created’ or when we die. Any number of possibilities exist, be it a Heaven, Promise Land, true enlightment, reincarnation or just returning to the soil, life ending as quick as it began. There is still so much we do not know and once people realize that mabey we can obain the one goal. The betterment of humanity.

    Most beleifs can be viewed as ‘parasites.’ They rely on people to ‘grow’ and they sometimes can cause harm to the population (religous wars). However I beleive it is up to the single person on how religion is established, weather it can have a parasitic (the types of people who state ‘it is the one true beleif, religion, ideal and all others are wrong’ without consideration of others.) or symbiotic (beleive in their ideals but consider others or toloerate others without pushing their agenda or ideals forcivly) relationship.

    Yea, my spelling sucks.

  112. #112 curious
    February 5, 2006

    Perhaps someone can tell me which part of the article was about god? I seem to have missed it. I thought it was about zombie cockroaches.

    Do the wasps ask the cockroach who created them and if they are wrong they turn them into zombies? Are we next? I suggest that two of you go into a room with the wasps and whoever comes out as a zombie was wrong. Provided that the zombie doesn’t eat you, could you tell me who was right? I don’t want to be a zombie
    .

  113. #113 Dan S.
    February 5, 2006

    “Perhaps someone can tell me which part of the article was about god? I seem to have missed it. I thought it was about zombie cockroaches.”
    Ah, you see, if you just sent away from the Evil Atheistic-Darwinistic-Materialistic Conspiracy Secret Spy Decoder Glasses, you too would be able to read the secret between-the-lines message telling us that religion is nonsense*, life is meaningless, and we should all run around getting divorces, having sex, and filing frivolous lawsuits**! Only $5.95 +p&h!

    Although Zombie Cockroach God is just a cool title for something . . .

    In the show Stargate SG-1, there’s a race of alien parasites that take over human hosts, controlling their behavior, etc., and convincing various civilizations that they are actually gods . . .
    Just sayin’ . . .

    * Well, actually, that part’s PZ.
    ** Hey, don’t look at me, look at the Wedge Strategy . . .

  114. #114 Dan S.
    February 5, 2006

    “Perhaps someone can tell me which part of the article was about god? I seem to have missed it. I thought it was about zombie cockroaches.”
    Ah, you see, if you just sent away from the Evil Atheistic-Darwinistic-Materialistic Conspiracy Secret Spy Decoder Glasses, you too would be able to read the secret between-the-lines message telling us that religion is nonsense*, life is meaningless, and we should all run around getting divorces, having sex, and filing frivolous lawsuits**! Only $5.95 +p&h!

    Although Zombie Cockroach God is just a cool title for something . . .

    In the show Stargate SG-1, there’s a race of alien parasites that take over human hosts, controlling their behavior, etc., and convincing various civilizations that they are actually gods . . .
    Just sayin’ . . .

    * Well, actually, that part’s PZ.
    ** Hey, don’t look at me, look at the Wedge Strategy . . .

  115. #115 Dan S.
    February 5, 2006

    Oops, sorry for the double post. It’s just that a wasp flew in and stung me while I was clicking . . . and now I feel very . . . calm. Oh, look, it’s tugging my hand . . . it must want me to follow it . . . let’s see where we go . . .

    Actually, I kinda hope that Zimmer doesn’t have an incredible imagination. I know if I wrote a whole book about parasites, I would wake up screaming at least once every night . . .

  116. #116 GK
    February 5, 2006

    Right on Cabe. I admire buddhist ideals, but I lack the dedication to become one…so I will remain an athiest/quaker hybrid. Anyway, while all of the arguements are philosophically good as you said, there is only one which fits our material world, and that is evolution. Philosophy only applies to itself. If we apply Philosophy to science, nothing will get done, because it is philisophically plausible that we are all brains hooked up to simulators and just don’t know it.

  117. #117 g
    February 5, 2006

    Hi my name is g and I am 12 years old, this is very cool and if I ever left y basement I’d try to be a scientist.

  118. #118 Dan S.
    February 5, 2006

    “.so I will remain an athiest/quaker hybrid.”
    Didn’t the President speak out against such things in the State of the Union address?
    (/joke)

    good point about brain-in-vat/Matrix kinda thinking. Look at everyday life – specifically, things that are both a)important and b) and able to be influenced by human action in a clearly understandable way – and you see people generally making the kind of assumptions that constitute a sort of baseline folk science. We don’t generally run into traffic, do nothing about the major project we are responsible for at work, not bother planting crops/filling the car’s gas tank, etc.

  119. #119 Creationist
    February 5, 2006

    Explain then why evolution explains 99% of the fossil record, is compatable with every other aspect of science, and is capable (unlike creation) of explaining the common DNA shared between all organisms

    A big chunk of the mountain of evidence for evolution is the fossil record, but the fossil record is only consistent with evolution when one uses evolution to interpret the fossil record. Now I don’t know where you’re pulling this 99% idea, but if it were the case, its because its circular.

    Scientific claims aginst evolution are also rooted in the fossil record, and not just in that 1%. The fossil record is much more consistent with creation. The earliest bat in the fossil record is a complete bat with all indications of complete sonar system in tact. Its the same with every other fossil. This is where evolutionists start making excuses. That ancestors are soft bodied and therefore unlikely to fossilize. How does this support evolution? It doesn’t its an excuse. Punctuated equilibrium is a huge theoretical excuse to explain why transitions are not found in the fossil record. You can’t say “well its very unlikely that any ancestral or transitional fossils will be found due to the nature of fossils and rapid, isolated transitions. And that’s exactly what we find – a lack of transitional fossils – therefore the Evolutionary hypothesis must be factual!” Lack of evidence doesn’t necessarily condemn a theory, but it surely cannot be used as evidence in favor of the theory.

    Common DNA is equally compatable with creation. Isn’t it logical that a similar function would be handled by a similar part? Using computers as an analogy (and keeping it simple), a good designer trys to keep the code consistent, same language, same terminology, reusable functions, etc.

    To get philosophical and crazy consider this. If it all just happened naturally without a designer why aren’t there a few different genetic codes? Given the time available (without adding infinite universes and other excuses to hide the problems) abiogenesis must not be as improbable as it seems, and must in fact be quite probable, so why didn’t it happen a couple of times creating multiple genetic codes.

    Don’t confuse a worldview’s ability to interpret evidence as proof that it is accurate.

  120. #120 another theory
    February 5, 2006

    I don’t fully hold with evolution but I can see where the aspects have applied in defining life. I will not accept creationism.

  121. #121 Dave
    February 5, 2006

    It is difficult to explain complicated scientific concepts to a person indoctrinated by religion, just as advanced math cannot be understood by those who haven’t mastered the basics–and thanks to religion few have.

    Oh please, Angela. I certainly hope you’ve thought things through better than that. Some of the revered fathers of science were dyed in the wool Christians, and their curiosity about God’s creation was what spurred them on to new discoveries. Most Christians that I know reject evolution not because of doctrinal obedience (I know of no such doctrine, by the way) but rather because evolution leaves so many unanswered questions. Or rather evolutionists throw wild hypothoses with no underlying proofs around trying to answer those questions.

    The problem I have with evolutionists is that they bend over backwards trying to explain how things could’ve happened without God’s initiation or intervention. I’ve learned to see right through that, and it tends to minimize my trust in anything they have to say.

  122. #122 Dan S.
    February 5, 2006

    Oh, Creationist, creationist . . .

    “The earliest bat in the fossil record is a complete bat with all indications of complete sonar system in tact. Its the same with every other fossil. ”

    I believe you’re right about the bat, which frankly isn’t a surprise – early mammal fossils are, I think, pretty rare, being pretty small and not incredibly common in life before a certain point. This isn’t weaseling out – this is the kind of thing that working scientists deal with – quality and reliability of data. There’s an entire branch of paleontology that deals with what happens to remains after things die (they tend to get bounced around a lot, more or less, except in special circumstances). Bats are small, kinda-fragile creatures. I know at least some early-ish fossils come from conditions where preservation was really exceptional, far beyond what you usually get.

    I mean, if you really think scientists are just hiding behind excuses: in college I got to work on data from a ~900 year old Aleut burial cave. The conditions preserved things very well (although there had been a lot of damage from foxes, etc. There were many wooden artifacts – kayak pieces and paddles, bowls, etc. – intricately woven grass textiles, human remains, etc, and one or two things of stone. Under normal conditions, we’d have had one or two pieces of stone and maybe bones. The past is hungry. We’re generally lucky to get even a few unrepresentative scraps.

    Nevertheless, while it’s certainly not guaranteed, I’m going to make a prediction, which is at some point someone will probably find a proto-bat fossil, showing an organism that is not a complete bat,and indicating descent from an earlier non-bat lineage. (And creationists will jump up and exclaim that it’s not really a transitional fossil, either because it’s just not a bat or because it is.)

    Yep. After all, that’s what happened in many other cases. It is most definitely not “the same with every other fossil”! I double-dog-dare you to visit TalkOrigins’ Transitional Vetebrate Fossil FAQ and then explain how your statement still stands (all made up?). It doess point out that we know very little about bat evolution. But as a whole, the fossil record doesn’t support any sort of outright creation hypothesis. For example, we find fish, and then we find things that look like fishy amphibians, and then we find amphibians (and fish as well) – a transition that Zimmer discussess in “At the Water’s Edge,” with some fossil evidence that comes from right here (Pennsylvania). This matches up with evolution. Not so much with Creation (one could argue progressive creation – it’s not at all clear why a creator would work this way, but then we hit the having-to-read-God-or-aliens’ minds problem and can’t really get anywhere).

    “Common DNA is equally compatable with creation. Isn’t it logical that a similar function would be handled by a similar part”
    Ok – although this does throw us into the realms of theo- or xenopsychology again – should we assume that God/IDing Aliens/etc. were logical? How do we know what a good Designer would be? What arrogance to assume that the Creator would be just a scaled-up version of some guy in a workshop (yes, to a degree it’s a natural human response, a way of building bridges to that which, if it exists, is fundamentally beyond our knowledge – but it’s kinda close to assuming that gods will run around acting just like people) But then how do you account for weird random stuff being shared, things that don’t seem to have anything to do with similar functions – and shared in ways that match what we would expect given evolution? (I’m phrasing this badly ’cause I don’t really know that much – anyone help?)

    So – why couldn’t God have used evolution? Seriously. Why?

  123. #123 Rationality
    February 5, 2006

    I got sick of the childish out-and-back 7 comments in, so I didn’t finish reading them all, and I was really only skimming the last few I looked at.
    But, you see which side needed throw out an offense in the very first comment on this article, with absolutely no content in the comment related to the article. This is a fear response and it is very revealing in any context. It’s like the guy in the locker room who pulls people’s towels off – he’s just trying to make sure he hasn’t got the smallest member in the class, because he’s pretty sure that he does. Atheists and evolutionists are pretty sure they’ve got the smallest members, so they go around yanking IDer’s and Creationist’s towels.
    The problem is that a Creationist does not need to disprove or deseat Evolution to validate his beliefs in his own mind. His beliefs are fulfilling because religion is fulfilling, they validate his life whether or not they’re true in the end (which cannot be proven or disproven). This enrages evolutionists because they can’t understand it, to their own chagrin.
    Instead of a silly little pecker fight over the origins of life, why don’t we read the article and say, “gee, that is very interesting. Aren’t there wasps or flies who lay eggs in the heads of red/fire ants in a similar way? Are these insects related to this wasp?”
    And, oh yeah, I’m a “driveby” poster, so if you have some profound remark to shoot back, you’ll need to e-mail it to me as well as post it here. That’s opticaldischarge@yahoo.com

  124. #124 Dan S.
    February 6, 2006

    “The problem is that a Creationist does not need to disprove or deseat Evolution to validate his beliefs in his own mind”

    Oh, ok. That’s good.

    But then why are so many trying to . . .?

    And maybe the unfortunate instant-thread-derailing has less to do with poorly-endowed evolutionists and more to do with the current ID fight?

    But agreed, it is very interesting. There definitely seems to be a whole lot of parasitic-ish wasps around, as was mentioned above – maybe later I’ll try to round up some info . . .

  125. #125 Joseph Hertzlinger
    February 6, 2006

    If I understand Theo correctly, God is a sadist for violating the rights and autonomy of … cockroaches?

    I suppose that means anybody who steps on an insect (or leads a cow to slaughter) is condemned to H*ll…

  126. #126 Creationist
    February 6, 2006

    Hey Dan, from PA eh? Happy about the steelers? I wasn’t very happy with them two weeks ago. But I’m happy for them now. No grudges here!

    why don’t we read the article and say, “gee, that is very interesting.

    No doubt the blog topic is very interesting regardless of one’s worldview. But without the current debate there’d be maybe 9 comments. I’m just trying to help Corante and Carl generate some hits so they can get some ad clicks and make some money off this thing. Believe me Carl wants this debate on his blog. When the debate begins to quiet, he himself will include a creationist jab in his post.

    I mean, if you really think scientists are just hiding behind excuses

    I know it comes across as if I believe scientists have this evil conspiracy going but I don’t feel that way at all. Scientists, along with everyone else, study the universe based on thier worldviews. I think most agree that the fossil record is fairly sparse considering the potential number of things that have died in the past. There’s nothing wrong with using that as an excuse for rationalizing the lack of transitions. But, at that point, one must recognize that science has left the building. Drawing conclusions based on evidence that should or may exist rather than evaluating what actually exists is the opposite of science. I’ve been through the talkorigins transitions page (but not tonight), and didn’t feel it satisfied the criticism. Admittedly I haven’t read every single article on there. Some I don’t think i need to since they are covered completely in Carl’s books. But I’ll check it out agian to make sure I didn’t miss something. I do know that identifying the supposed evolutionary transitions involves very subjective arrangement of the fossils. You in turn might check out http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/re2/chapter8.asp , not real long probably good for a laugh if you don’t learn something.

    Regarding your fishy amphibian example. As I recall, the famous coelacanth, a major player in Carl’s book is still walkin or swimmin or whatever today very much the same as the archaic fossil. Now I understand that just because some offspring branches off because of some mutation doesn’t mean that all offspring follow that path but come on. If the same creature undergoes virtually no evolutionary change at all, while its brother’s family line accumulates so many mutations that its difficult, or nearly impossible, to recognize its roots, how does evolution explain that. Well of course it explains it just fine because it’s such a plastic hypothesis, but to me it lacks logic. How can the rate of mutation be so ridiculously different. And no rebuttals about the coelacanth not being a true ancestor just a distant relative. The point is its remained unchanged for about 350 million years.

    We’ve debated here before Dan, And I’ll admit your pretty good, I’d say better than me. But my task is easier, because my side is right. …And God could have…but He didn’t.

  127. #127 JTP
    February 6, 2006

    Someone brought up DNA and how it’s complexity gives rise to the possibility of ID being a valid theory…

    Didn’t some scientist recreate the building blocks of DNA with electricity and early forms of gas that were present on the Earth with life first emerged?

    (By the way: I’m Catholic and I could give a shit about any of this. Whether God made evolution, whether evolution is whatever, whether God IS science and math or the creator of those, is irrelevant to me. At the end of the day, I hold to what Galileo, Newton, and Einstein all claimed, science can only answer so much. So, a religion in Creationism, a religion in Evolution, it’s all religion because you’re defending it. So why even talk about it? *hypocrite*)

  128. #128 Who's Your Daddy?
    February 6, 2006

    So, who created God?

    …and why is it unsuprising that Creationism-literalists always dodge the fun questions?

    Omnipotence vs. free will?

    Why do they get to pick and chose which parts of the Book of Sun God Worship (fun with word origins!) are to be taken literally?

    Why are Creationism and Evolutionary theory mutually exclusive to literalists? (As was explained earlier.. evolution is a fact, the process and explanation of that fact is the only thing truly in question or otherwise debatable).

    Is it not presumptive and equally arrogant to presuppose how a creator might have arranged the universe? I think so.

    OT: Why is there always that one retard (granted, it was early on in this thread) that doesn’t grasp that Islam is an offshoot of Judeo-Christian origins and therefore follows the same monotheistic “God” belief? That’s just being wilfully ignorant.

    More OT: Why is it ok for agenda-laden men to hold a vote on what religious texts, oral traditions and quasi-political tomes are to be included in the Book of Sun God Worship, while others not following accepted political leanings are excluded (1600 years ago and counting?)

    Anyway.. you kids keep on playing in the sandbox together. If you don’t mind, please don’t fling your god-poo my direction, and please keep it out of public education (you know, the place where our government shall establish no religious belief or practice above any other?)

    P.S. Freaky article. Cool, but disturbing.

  129. #129 Who's Your Daddy?
    February 6, 2006

    BTW.. love the retard that compared Gravitational Theory study to Evolutionary Theory study. Would that logic have applied previous to the discovery/exploration of Gravitational Theory as well?

    You’re wasting perfectly good oxygen the rest of us could be using.

  130. #130 JTP
    February 6, 2006

    “and please keep it out of public education”

    Well, I’d have to agree with that.

    If the State was to allow 15 minutes of religion in the classroom then it would only be fair to allow 15 minutes of science during Sunday worship at a church.

    And I doubt many Protestants would like that. Catholics wouldn’t give a shit (except it would confuse the hell out of us because it wouldn’t be ritualized into our Mass…yet…). I betcha’ you could get them to back off if you proposed that sort of deal.

  131. #131 supersling
    February 6, 2006

    “presuming a sort of roach cultural evolution instead of seeing how natural selection might work”

    Dan S. – 1st No offense taken. 2nd I think that you may have misunderstood me a bit. True, I do lack much knowledge of evolution… easily repaired. However, is it not true that some evolutionary changes are circumstance based, i.e. fish who live in caves and lose their eyes, etc.? That was the type of evolutionary change that I was referring to.

    It seems that what you were saying is that a more likely scenario for this type of change would be that a random genetic mutation would result in a structural or chemical change that would cause the roach to be more resistant in some manner to the attack of the wasp, yes?

  132. #132 Emily Sommer
    February 6, 2006

    Wow. Crazyness… I always love hearing about these crazy insects that do crazy, amazing things with venom/toxins (brains failing me… can´t think of the correct word…).

    ANYHOW, much thanks for the info, I´ll be checking this site more often, as it looks as though you´ve got a bunch of other cool posts up aswell =)

  133. #133 Dan S.
    February 6, 2006

    “Happy about the steelers? I wasn’t very happy with them two weeks ago. But I’m happy for them now. No grudges here!”
    You’re a better person than I . . . : )

    ” Scientists, along with everyone else, study the universe based on thier worldviews.”

    True enough, though I would add ‘. . and methodologies’, and note that within specific limits, they’ve been astonishingly, even inconceivably successful (it’s hard for folks for scientifically-oriented societies to realistically imagine life without its benefits (and problems)). Don’t forget, process of knowing, not just body of facts.

    >apropros of nothing – NPR was just talking about the used spacesuit that was dumped out in space to study – potential uses for old spacesuits? is that for real? Jeez, we just litter everywhere we go – but its radio transmitter apparently can be still heard at 145.990 on shortwave radiosIndex to Creationist Claims CC200.1 – transitional fossils – discusses general fossil facts) – not considering the potential number of things that have died. Given what we know about fossilization – the remains need to end up in circumstances where they’re not destroyed with months (at best, years), they then need to be fossilized, they then need to avoid getting melted, crushed, etc., they need to end up right where people can find them (road construction, etc. has been a major boon to paleontologists!), they need people to find them, they need to end up with people who either understand what they are or give/sell them to someone who does, and then finally they need to be studied instead of sitting in a museum drawer for posterity – it’s only thanks to the vast stretches of time and huge number of creatures that we have more than two,

    “But, at that point, one must recognize that science has left the building. Drawing conclusions based on evidence that should or may exist rather than evaluating what actually exists is the opposite of science.”

    But that’s not what’s going on here. You can make predictions that based on what you know we should expect something else to exist/happen, which is what was done with cosmic background microwave radiation – if there was a big bang, you should have this – and, it turns out, we do. All that stuff about science’s predictive powers – here it is. That’s what Darwin was doing – if my ideas are correct, we should find transitional fossils. And we do. Not just lying all over the place – look, there’s an Acanthostega in the toilet! A whale-with-legs walkin’ down the street! – but there.

    One major point is that science doesn’t get perfect information or ready-made answers. Nobody digs up a fossil labeled – transitional between species A and B – dated so-and-so mya (well, except for one time, and the practical jokers involved have been discliplined . . . -no, I’m making that up, but it should happen) That’s not how it works. (Zimmer’s water’s edge book does a good job of pointing this out, as you mention – science ed. that glosses over this point does people a major disservice – not just by misrepresenting the subject and encouraging either thoughtless acceptance or disillusioned rejection, but by presenting it as a chunk o’ knowledge to memorize, rather than a process of discovery that even regular folks can participate in (at least in some fields).

    But yeah, it’s discovery, not revelation. This isn’t just limited to science. Medicine, law, police work, military intelligence, shopping – all sorts of practices deal with imperfect information. The detectives on Law and Order, for example, usually have all sorts of absent facts, but work around it using other lines of evidence. No play-by-play videotaped coverage of the crime? ok, but we have motive and forensic evidence and receipts showing they did this and that there then . .

    Same with science. Working scientists don’t sit around saying, well, we’re basing evolution on the fact that there should be transitional fossils, and we just know that one day we’ll find them! Instead there are multiple lines of evidence, and the fact that they generally agree is a very strong point in favor . .

    “Regarding your fishy amphibian example.”
    Ha!

    As I recall, the famous coelacanth, a major player in Carl’s book is still walkin or swimmin or whatever today very much the same as the archaic fossil. . . . If the same creature undergoes virtually no evolutionary change at all, while its brother’s family line accumulates so many mutations that its difficult, or nearly impossible, to recognize its roots, how does evolution explain that. ”
    Index to Creationist Claims CB930.1 (Coelacanth: A Living Fossil) – although you acknowledge some of the points in your comment.

    Good question. To find the answer (as far as we know) we’re going on a virtual field trip . . . to Joe’s Hardware.

    Joe’s Hardware, in the small community of C___, has a little plaque announcing that it has been in business since the early years of the century. It doesn’t look like it’s changed much since then. The aisles are claustrophobically narrow, and the shelves crammed with a bewildering assortment of things. There are bins filled with a impressive number of variations on the basic idea of “nail” and “screw.” In many cases, finding what you need requires either a map or a native guide. Luckily, all you have to do is ask for help; if the person you ask doesn’t know, your request will be communicated by the high-tech method of them shouting towards the back “Hey, John! This guy needs a . . ”

    Now, Joe’s Hardware has changed over the years. Some of these changes are relatively important – for example, there’s been variations in goods carried. Some are much less so – a new mouse skeleton up in the attic, a different pattern of litter behind that shelf where nobody sweeps. In an overall sense, though, a lot has changed the same.

    Now, you can find Joe’s Hardware all across the country – Joe’s isn’t always called Joe’s, of course. Sometimes it isn’t even a hardware store. Sometimes the surrounding community has been left -relatively – behind – things just haven’t changed that much. Sometimes Joe’s is part of a whole bunch of olde-tyme-y stores, and not changing is itself a change, or at least a (conscious) adaptation. Perhaps next week a Home Depot is going to go up down the road. But until then, remember, a #3 quarter-inch squigglebob can be found halfway down aisle 4.

    Why should the coelacanth change? Evolution doesn’t require it do just for the sake of doing so. (I’m sure that if we found ancient coelacanth DNA, there would be differences, some effectively neutral – having pretty much the same – or no – result, and others having to do with all sorts of technical & obscure details – but let’s agree that all in all, a coelacanth’s great-greatetcetcetcetc. grandma wouldn’t look all that different. Obviously something about being a coelacanth works. Evolution isn’t a chance process of chaotic, random change. You’re never going to see a coelacanth giving birth to kittens (at least without serious editing). Evolution isn’t some mystical drive towards something. What natural selection means is that you get variation with a population of organisms, and the ones who are best suited to current conditions will do better, reproductively-speaking. In a lot of situations, those lucky ones are going to look a lot like their parents (although possibly with something boring like a slight biochemical difference somewhere that means they’re somewhat less likely to die of a certain illness). Sometimes they’re really going to look a lot like their parents. Other times, especially if the organism’s environment is changing, or it’s come up -genetically -with a nifty innovation – not so much. (The Questionable Authority has an interesting recent post on stabilizing selection that’s more or less relevent to this)

    There’s no reason to assume the mutation rate is any different for coelacanths – they’re just unknowingly following that old adage: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    (Which, if I understand correctly, helps explain why you get these amazing adaptive radiations when organisms move into an ‘empty’ environment, either because of migration/new land ala oceanic islands, or because of mass extinctions. Everything’s open. Joe’s probably would do crappy trying to open a ‘Joe’s Cd’ store if there’s a Tower Records down the street, but if every other business went out of business, you’d end with all sorts of Joe’s ___ (well, probably not, but only because stores don’t reproduce. Except Walmart – bringing us back to the whole parasite thing). You seem to get a pretty long lag time (multi-million-year?) since after all, a lot of niches, either biologically or economically, rely on other niches being filled – ecological diversity has to sort of bootstrap itself up . . .

    There’s research being done trying to pinpoint what parts of the human genome have experienced heavy selective pressure – in other words, trying to find out how we became human. How to be human is another question, one that we have to try to answer with religion/philosophy/ethics/etc. When people mix up the two, we never seem to get anywhere good.

    “We’ve debated here before Dan, And I’ll admit your pretty good, I’d say better than me.”
    Aww, stop it!
    I’m not good – I hardly know anything.

    ” I’ve been through the talkorigins transitions page (but not tonight), and didn’t feel it satisfied the criticism. ”
    Ok. Why not? (I do wish they would update it, and put in pretty pictures . . .)

    ” But my task is easier, because my side is right.”
    Well, we disagree on that. But really, it’s alright. I mean, I can’t not argue: left alone in a locked room, I’ll start debating with myself, but as long as you don’t try to influence public policy in a way that damages science education, etc., that’s cool.

    But I really think you need to be more definite, more self-assured. You don’t want to sound all self-doubting and wishy-washy : )
    (/joke)

    …And God could have…but He didn’t.”
    How do you know?
    __________

    Who’s your Daddy asks: “Why are Creationism and Evolutionary theory mutually exclusive to literalists?”
    Well, that makes sense. If you insist on a strictly literal reading of the Bible (as that is defined by biblical literalists in this time and place) you can’t have evolution. You can’t have most of modern science, either, and you end up having to reconcile things that arguably can’t be logically reconciled, and read literally things that almost certainly weren’t meant to be read literally (although it is my understand that most literalists do have room for figurative interpretations in some cases?), and you end up turning a rich and multileveled story of great beauty and power into a science textbook, but hey . . . what can ya do?

  134. #134 Dan S.
    February 6, 2006

    All my posts are hitting some sort of filter and being held for approval! Wah!!!

    Not to say that any one here is missing much . . .

    Supersling – maybe it was just the terminology? Yep, there are blind cave fish – and other freaky mutant cave dwellers . . . It just sounded as if you were talking about a conscious move on the roach’s part – hey, I need to evolve to fight this thing!
    The way we normally use language (and in part, they way we think) runs us into trouble talking about this. Can’t be helped . .

  135. #135 The Sanity Inspector
    February 6, 2006

    Brrr! What a ghastly fate, even for a repulsive cockroach. Thanks for posting this interesting article.

  136. #136 Anonymous
    February 6, 2006

    Allright, the third comment down, part of it was “Why? Because it raises the question of whether a loving God would create such arbitrary animal misery”
    Theres a simple anwser to this is that before sin (ie: garden of eden)There was no misery, no pain, no death, but through mans transgression of sin, pain and things of the such were born. Dont use biblacal ideas if you dont know what the hell your talking about!

  137. #137 Anonymous
    February 6, 2006

    Hey, how’s this for a start? Disqualify yourself from entering an intellectual conversation about biblical ideas if you can’t spell biblical in the first place.

  138. #138 Dan S.
    February 6, 2006

    ” Dont use biblacal ideas if you dont know what the hell your talking about!”

    And don’t use grammar and spelling if you can’t – oh wait, never mind . . .
    (whatever, I’m not one to talk!)

    The thing is, there isn’t exactly a simple answer, at least not universally, to the problem of evil. It’s a question that has been debated within Christian theology (and outside it) for centuries. Wikipedia entry here.

    Ultimately, ‘things were great before sin’ isn’t science, and ‘eww, that’s horrible, how could there be a god?” isn’t science, just like the abstract Zimmer links to isn’t religion.

    It is amazing, though, the things there are in this world. Often creepy and disgusting, but amazing nonetheless . . .

    Is there a good relatively easy book anywhere focused on the evolutionary history of parasitism? I read Parasite Rex a while back – I have horrible book-recall, but I seem to remember it cast a wider net than that? – I could be wrong? (and if so, boy, do I look stupid now!) . . It would be interesting to read the story, as far as we can tell . . .

  139. #139 ich
    February 6, 2006

    man oh man , it dosent matter where you
    go to , theres always someone knocking
    Jesus. The good news is that christians arent
    killing people because of it.

    I would challenge anyone on here to
    get a hold of bob dutko @ wmuz radio
    in detroit and challenge him to a
    creation debate

    i guarantee you will lose

  140. #140 No ONe of Consequence
    February 6, 2006

    Man, I hate the term creationist. Complete misnomer.

    Let’s see if this clarifies, confuses, or is completely ignored:

    There is nothing in the Bible that contradicts macroevolution — the slow development of one species from another. Much of Christian Creationism is, from what I can tell, based on a significant misreading of Genesis (which describes the creation of the Solar System from the perspective of a scared-shitless goatherd, not the creation of the universe). I will not debate my position because it gets us tremendously off-topic. Well, even more than before. If you disagree, we can agree to disagree.

    The notion that God created the universe is in no way incompatible with natural selection under Christianity and Judaism. I will not speak for anything else here, though I have sources suggesting plenty of faiths are fine with the notion.

    The Creationist non-debate is fueled, from what I can tell, by a) people misreading Genesis and, thus, creating a heresy and b) strident and obnoxious athiests from in and outside the scientific community. Everyone else is caught in the middle: Christians who don’t misread Genesis, non-obnoxious athiests (scientists and otherwise) and so on.

    That is what I find to be the context here. Most of this stuff is debate on a non-contradiction. It’s like two people fighting over whether they shall buy a car with a steering wheel or one with an engine.

    Okay, all that being said, I should point out that evolution (which I buy) does have a serious problem: microevolution. I have a biology background. My understanding is that the reactions that make up the transcription/translation process of DNA have basically nil chance of occuring spontaneously. Same with the citric acid cycle. The former is DNA transcripting to RNA which translates to protein, which folds (prompted by other proteins) and is cut (prompted by other proteins) into proteins that control the transcription of DNA and the translation of RNA. There’s no beginning there. Getting this to start up spontaneously with (say, hypothetically) a reaction mass the size of the universe (with hypothetical Earth gravity, temperature, etc.) still leaves you with a massively improbablity. I don’t have the numbers with me now (and I freely admit that the math would be difficult for me now — I was never good at calculus). That’s what I read, though. Scientists rarely talk about it, unfortunately. I went to a distinguished college, but we concentrated on the practical and the immediate. Challenging evolution wasn’t on the syllabus: evolution is just far too useful for a biologist as a conceptual tool.

    Now, getting lipids to chain up into something looking like a cell membrane isn’t too hard, I understand. Correct me if I’m wrong, but someone did do a “primordial soup” experiment where they managed to get a lipid bilayer to “spontaneously” form, right?

    But starting DNA, etc., or metabolism, is a tall freakn’ order. And if you figure out how to do it in an energetically favorable reaction, send me the chemistry and your address. You’ll quietly disappear and I will be the greatest scientist known to man.

    This is a flaw in evolutionary theory. It should be noted that it IN NO WAY BOLSTERS CREATIONISM. They are quite independent. Whether or not the first bacteria developed from a chemical reaction (of vanishingly small probability given our current understanding) has nothing to do with whether or not a sentient being created the universe.

    Another point of clarification. The “Fall” that brings nature into imperfection is, as I understand it, the fall of *Lucifer*, not man. The second Fall sucked for us. The First Fall, sucked for everybody, and it happened long, long, long before we were on the scene. This is my understanding — it reconciles a lot of the problems I saw upthread.

    People do bad things. That’s one problem. The world sucks. That’s a different problem with a different source.

  141. #141 Jason L.
    February 6, 2006

    I believe in an explanation.

  142. #142 Ecce Homo, ergo est.
    February 6, 2006

    About the truth, it’s written that Jesus said:

    “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said.”

    The question is, to whom sent Jesus the Spirit of the Truth, so that we can turn our eyes to them?

  143. #143 Sheila
    February 6, 2006

    Ewwww! and cool. I love the bit about the second sting that makes the roach a zombie. And the wasp leading it like a dog on a leash. Excellent!

    I came here from amazon. When I went there today, your blog popped up on the first page, presumably because I recently bought Parasite Rex and Soul Made Flash. I’m halfway thru the brain book and am loving it. Can’t wait to read the parasite book and then pass it on to my bug-loving nephew.

    And all you evolution/creation debators: it’s rude to debate religion unless the host signals his approval of such activity. If you did that at my house, well, no soup for you!

  144. #144 B. Spitzer
    February 7, 2006

    I got to see Ampulex compressa in action when I was doing my dissertation work in Costa Rica a few years ago. I just happened to notice a beautiful emerald-green wasp walking backwards across the forest floor, leading a cockroach by one antenna. I was baffled by the fact that the cockroach didn’t seem interested in escaping– a couple of times the wasp even flew off and came back, and the roach just waited for it.

    I was thrilled to run across an article on A. compressa a few months ago. I’d given up hope of ever finding out what it was that I’d seen.

    As an evolutionary biologist, I’m intrigued by the question of how this particular adaptation could have evolved. My reason for this post is to ask: does anyone out there know what wasps related to A. compressa do? Or how they subdue their prey? Or how their venom differs chemically from that of A. compressa?

  145. #145 JP
    February 7, 2006

    I would just like to say, that minus the occasional drift from social courtesy, this has to have been the most intriguing/educated listing of postings. I applaud all of you who coherently express yourselves and your ideas/beliefs. I am surprised that a blog concerning a natural process (proven by facts) can spark such a wide array of perspectives in the faith and science realms.

    So when mankind reduces the earth to a charred wasteland, and only the cockroaches will survive, will nature leave a couple of these wasp beauties behind? Then what?

  146. #146 john
    February 7, 2006

    Creationist – going back to Post #108 you said,

    “Finally, I’m sure we’ll never hear Carl’s educational background. People that are proud of it flaunt it, those who fear it will hurt their credibility, don’t. He’s a science writer perhaps with a degree in journalism, or creative writing. This won’t help his case any more than it helps mine if you to know my degree is in computer information systems”.

    Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times is one of the best writers on matters concerning the NBA. But he never played in the NBA or coached there so, really, should I pay any attention to what he has to say?

    I think we would agree that if someone has shown an expetise in an area, as Carl has in science journalism, then it’s a borderline ad hominen attack to question his education background, rather than sticking to a point-by-point rebuttal you may have to anything he writes.

  147. #147 Dan S.
    February 7, 2006

    Creationist –
    I wrote a long response to your post #122, but it seems to have been held (and then possibly eaten) by the blog . . . just one quick thing. The coelacanth-as-living-fossil is not an argument against evolution. Especially as long as environmental conditions are more-or-less the same . . . the mutation rate doesn’t change, it’s just that there’s selection for more or less the same thing [stabilizing selection].
    See: Index to Creationist Claims CC930.1: Coelacanth: A living fossil.

    No One of Consequence –
    “I should point out that evolution (which I buy) does have a serious problem: microevolution.”
    Huh! Usually people single out macroevolution – that’s a change! Anyway, what you seem to be talking about is neither, but rather abiogenesis – how life got started (or at least in the same ballpark). It’s a very big and complicated question. The easy-easy answer is that this isn’t evolution’s problem. However things got started up, they did, and evolution took it from there . . .
    CB090: Evolution without biogenesis

    More to the point – life probably didn’t start out with DNA – but I’m getting so far outside the dim, sputtering circle of light that represents the sum total of my knowledge and understanding that I’ll just drop this link (CCB015: DNA or protein: which came first) and this one (Wikipedia: Origin of life) and run back.

  148. #148 HalfABrain
    February 7, 2006

    If there really is a benevolent God, and if He did create this world for us, it is apparent that human death is not a huge tragedy in his mind. If there is a heaven we might go to after death, dying can’t be that big a deal. I mean, people die. That’s just how it is. Apparently Free Will is more important than death and suffering. I mean think about it — You’re going to spend a lot more time in heaven or hell as an immortal being than here as a mortal one.

    In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the reason there’s a “Thou shalt not kill” commandment is not as much that people dying is bad, but rather that in killing somone, you would be hindering their free will. Which IS bad.

    But apparently such commandments don’t extend to the animal kingdom. Telling a Tiger not to kill would be less than useless. The wasp hindering the free will of a cockroach by turning it into a zombie can’t be a major sin, can it?

  149. #149 Einstein
    February 7, 2006

    I believed in God. Now, I know Him.
    Would any of you call that ignorance?

  150. #150 dave
    February 7, 2006

    Voodoo bugs! Weeeeeeird!!

  151. #151 Ecce Homo, ergo est.
    February 7, 2006

    This finding can be used as basis for a new method for manipulation…
    Maybe it’s not a sin, just a disturbance in the order that was in the beginning created, having as cause the sin of a human… Does it mean that we should be enthusiastic with it? Or rather deep thinking about what a sin can do, to everything. Because we are all related to each other…
    I ask myself in swat degree a similar behavior already happens in humans, acting not out wisdom but out animality…

  152. #152 astronomer
    February 7, 2006

    good god. roses are red. the sky is blue. grass is green. wolves kill and eat sheep. wasps sting and eat roaches. the earth turns on its axis. people listen to music. flies regurgitate to eat. mosquitos drink blood.

    what came first, the chicken or the creator? we are all made of star dust much older than all of us, and we are simply to ‘small’ to grasp and understand it all. in the very least, we could at least do ourselves the favor of looking at things for what they are and not burn people at the stake because they look for objective answers that don’t jive with the church.

    we could at least look for evidence, objectively – making no “claims” but instead “demonstrate” – by not making BOGUS claims based on NO evidence. behind all of this is a need for the human race to mature as a whole. lets be honest here and not kid ourselves or “make up” explanations for life as we observe, exist and survive in it.

    we don’t know what started this, right? let’s leave it at that and keep looking and learning. creationism cannot be substatiated. evolution may not be right, but it’s what we know so far. based on facts. which, by the way, keep making religous thinkers revise their claims every few decades. for example: “oh, the world’s not flat? no way, those moving stars out there are planets? wait, we can fly to the moon? what’s this thing called DNA? heracy!”

    wow, people STILL do this.

    grow. embrace scientific research. it strives to find the answers, not lie. if it revealed there was a creator/designer, it would be the first to admit it and take pride in explaining how it is true. the fact is, science does not kid itself. it’s open minded, objective and truthful. there are just those who cannot “let go” of what they “need” to believe.

  153. #153 VeryEquiped
    February 7, 2006

    Theres an intelligence apparent in all living things, from a tree’s sap flowing into the roots in the winter to avoid freezing to parasites exploiting other designs. Theres an intelligence and you can argue all you want, but tell me where does this intelligence come from? What makes the trees sap flow into the roots, by what intelligence does it do this.

  154. #154 Ecce Homo, ergo est.
    February 7, 2006

    There have existed a lot of people, in the Church, creationists, who have embraced the scientific research…
    It’s not enough for one to simpli say “I believe”, to be a “creationist”, they have to dedicate their whole capacity, with sincerity, to”find” their Creator.

  155. #155 doo doo
    February 7, 2006

    story was too boring. Could have been said in one paragraph.

  156. #156 john
    February 7, 2006

    Well said, Astronomer (post #149).

    I’m an atheist. Does this mean I KNOW there is no god? Of course not. How could I? Neither I, nor all the science I give so much credit to could disprove its existance. I just don’t really CARE about something that is unknowable (short of faith – which I realize some consider “knowledge”). But EVERYTHING we have that makes our lives what they are in 2006 is due to science. All the knowledge we have is due to science. I want a better life. I want to learn more. I’m not going to learn it by just “believing in” something. Science proves things that are tangible. Science disproves things – even things that overturn earlier science. Because science embraces the truth – wherever it takes us.

    I don’t have a problem with people using religious beliefs to guide their moral behavior. But whatever your beliefs, you must be willing to adjust those beliefs to the knowledge that we constantly acquire. Thus, I believe religion does a decent job in giving Homo sapiens a moral compass and a terrible job of teaching them about the physical world. Leaders of the great religions of the world have an obligation to give spiritual guidance to their followers, whle instructing them to accept the physical knowledge that the sciences give us. As far as I know, the Dali Lama is the only one of these leaders to speak in this manner. More need to.

  157. #157 Creationist
    February 8, 2006

    Hey Dan just caught your delayed post and I didn’t want you to feel completely neglected.

    Just to clear up the whole literal bible thing. The preferred description would be that I and most mainstream creationists subscribe to a “plain reading” of the Bible. If the bible says “the sun rises,” its not implying the sun orbits the earth, anymore than your local weatherman is. When Jesus describes Adam and Eve as the first man and woman formed at the beginning of creation, He’s talking literally, about the first man and woman made right there in the first week.

    As for science and the Bible, generally, where the Bible touches on science, current mainstream science agrees. The main disputes are the age of the earth and the creation week.

    Also, just to make the point, talkorigins is so viscously biased that it lacks credibility in the debate. At least from the creationists perspective. Just as evolutionist’s lend little credibility to answersingenesis.org or icr.org or even trueorigins.org. Its similar to citing an editorial to make a point. I realize, sometimes they’re all we have (especially creationists).

    - not considering the potential number of things that have died. Given what we know about fossilization – the remains need to end up in circumstances where they’re not destroyed with months (at best, years), they then need to be fossilized,…

    No doubt bones are fragile. I picked up a bull skull a few years ago from my ranch in Colorado and sat it out in the front yard in Arizona, cause it looked really cool. Now I have a patch of white chalky stuff in my front yard…not cool. Fossils are a tough one to figure out since they need such a precise set of circumstances for preservation. Rapid burial in a flood seems to do the trick as good as anything…if only there were some record of a great flood in the past. This brings up the problem with the polystrata fossils (i.e. fossilized trees that cross multiple strata) in places like the grand canyon. But that’s for the geology blog I suppose.

    One major point is that science doesn’t get perfect information or ready-made answers. Nobody digs up a fossil labeled – transitional between species A and B – dated so-and-so mya

    Totally agreed. If the derived date of a fossil doesn’t fit the evolutionary mold, its adjusted or thrown out altogether. Eventually, after trying a couple methods if necessary, and playing with the margin of error, the date will always match up. Fossil dating is very subjective.

    When I said that “science has left the building,” I was referring to scientists modifying the hypothesis to fit the lack of transitional fossils. If you believe there is any other reason for the introduction of Punctuated Equilibrium your deluding yourself. Even if PE were true, it cannot include lack of evidence as evidence. Most predictions evolution makes and gets right are circular. Fossils are arranged, dated and interpreted according to the evolutionary hypothesis. Then the story is retold as evidence for evolution. The fact is creationists do the same thing, but I believe creationists are more forthcoming in admitting that interpretations are based on a worldview and therefore can’t be considered facts.
    —————-

    The coelacanth and the hardware store. I don’t like the analogy. I mean, I get it, I just don’t think it solidifies your point. But its tough to come up with good analogies for evolution since nothing else accomplishes so much with no help from the outside. Joe didn’t change his hardware store by choice. When they had the big rainstorm and the roof leaked, he fixed the roof. When the shelves fell down because little timmy was climbing on them, and the merchandise all ended up on the floor in the middle of the aisle, did he leave it there because of its greater visibility (a random mutation with a selective advantage). Finally do you think Joe’s great great etc will still be running that same store, in the same location, with the same little aisles, mechanical cash register and squeaky shopping carts… a million years later?

    The basic response to the living fossil challenge is that the habitat didn’t change so the creature didn’t change. First it’s a pretty big assumption that a habitat remained unchanged for 350 my’s. Second its pretty hard to believe that the creature was so well suited to the habitat that such an insignificant number of the millions of random mutations would hold a “selective” advantage or that they wouldn’t accumulate through drift and come up with some new valuable, amazing, feature. I mean look at those pathetic little legs and tell me evolution couldn’t find an improvement! Why did evolution just give up on these guys. “Evolution doesn’t require it [to change] just for the sake of doing so.” I would claim the opposite evolution does require it to change. The common, yet severely insufficient and simplistic, definition is change over time. The time is certainly there.

    Well, we disagree on that. But really, it’s alright. I mean, I can’t not argue: left alone in a locked room, I’ll start debating with myself, but as long as you don’t try to influence public policy in a way that damages science education, etc., that’s cool.

    I prefer the term debate, but I love it too. I can do just about any subject and just about any side. I’ve even switched sides on this one once or twice, but only to try and help a fellow creationist see the weakness in their logic.

    As far as the public policy, I don’t know how many evolutionists know this but, the official position of the major creationist organizations (and I think even the ID’ers) is that they don’t desire it in the classroom. We would prefer that evolution is covered fairly – including its criticisms. Honestly what would be the harm in pointing out the sketchy areas. Students in classes that have done so, have found the subject much more engaging because it challenges them to think. For example this blog gets 150 posts when the debate is introduced and maybe 10 on a good post without the debate.

    My personal preference for the American science classroom would be that it focused on useful science or operational science. The physics that puts rockets in space and the chemistry that blows things up (cause its cool) and the biology that identifies how systems work and what they do. Any focus on evolution would be on “natural selection” with clear honest descriptions of what kind of mutations are actually observed, mutations labeled “beneficial” would actually be explored to see what the true cause of the benefit is. The extension of natural selection to the unobservable (and not useful) dog to whale transition, for example, would be left out.

    I would challenge anyone with a walking fish, with “darwin” in the center, on the back of their car to actually read Origin of Species. Just so they know what it actually teaches. I’m working on it, I’m about a third of the way through and its really pretty funny. If I were ambitious, I’d edit out all of the stuff that is completely wrong and reduce it to a couple chapters. Then I’d eliminate all the repetitive statements and I could have a little pamphlet printed up.

    Okay It’s late and I’m obviously rambling now…

    ..And God could have…but He didn’t.”
    How do you know?

    Because the Bible tells me so!
    If evolution happened, God didn’t do it. Jesus confirms the creation story and if Jesus didn’t get it right then Jesus can’t help me out because He’d be reduced to some lunatic that died a horrible death for no reason.

  158. #158 john
    February 8, 2006

    Creationist, you have all of these THOUGHTS about why evolutionary therory is wrong, yet you are CURRENTLY about a third of the way through “Origin”? Interesting. There are endless “problems” with aspects of the therory. But as an overall explanation that life as it is on our planet has either gone extinct or changed, is as solid as a rock. You can point out all the individual inconsistencies you want, but it doesn’t change the FACT that life has evolved. It just proves that we don’t have all of the answers (and never will) about it. But you believe whatever you want.

  159. #159 astronomer
    February 8, 2006

    retort to “creationist”.

    i’d say jesus accomplished a lot and did not die in vain even if he was just a man like any other. he embraced women and taught forgiveness in a time when people were stoned on suspicion or beaten down because they are women. he reached people so deeply that he (inadvertently, i might add) started a new religion by merely asking that he, and his message, be remembered. he re-wrote the book, literally, on human morality. single handedly. i’m actually a big fan of jesus. what an incredible person/god, whatever you say he is/was. but that’s not the real issue here is it?

    we all admit that jesus was a jew right? in fact, he would not deny that he was the king of jews. did he look caucasian? as a man born in the middle east, i sincerely doubt it. here’s a good example of people taking what they want to believe and simply overlooking the reality and making it into what they want it to be.

    by the way, please don’t reference the bible. “because the bible tells me so!” there was so much more to ‘the bible’ than what you read today. constantine and other religious leaders met at the council of nicaea around 325-340ad and decided amongst themselves what stories would be included and what stories would be excluded from the bible. (i’ve always wondered, ‘who put them in charge?’) they then waged a campaign to destroy any of these so-called heretical stories. (stories of giants spawned by angels who raped women, and the like) thus, the rise of the inquisition, and so on and so forth.

    so, since jesus teachings of compassion and forgiveness, what have we as a human race managed to do? how many millions of people have been tortured and killed in HIS name by the church for no other reason than suspicion for being the cause of famine, or for being a witch, or for being a supposed heretic. and many of these heretics were people who had better explanations, more educated ideas about their world that did not jive with the ‘creationists’ of the time. how many millions of people died simply because false beliefs would not allow advancements in the understanding of the world around them. specifically medicine, food storage, sanitation and energy that could have been discovered sooner, if it were not for religious campaigns against logical, intelligent thinking.

    it’s way, way past the time that we depend on purely human, made up excuses and invented explanations for the way things are and have always been. do you really, honestly believe that noah and his family created an arc ( a… boat….) so big that it carried a male and female animal of every species on earth and saved them from a flood and later allowed them to repopulate the earth? and that god then created the rainbow as a promise to noah and mankind that he would never do such a thing again? god is like, oops, how mean of me, i shouldn’t have killed all the other people and animals on earth. here, every time you see this pretty rainbow, it’s a reminder to you that i won’t do that again. also, let’s remember that the church held as fact that the earth was flat at the same time it claimed noah’s story was true. modern genetics proves there would not be enough genetic diversity for this to work anyway, etc, etc.

    i might add that i have been taught, as a student of theology in the roman catholic church, that all of the stories in the old testament are false. not even the church claims they are true (anymore at least). they are ancient stories from a time of oral tradition. before anyone had written language, elders passed the stories down from generation to generation as explanations for why we are here an why things are they way they are. they had no clue about science. except for maybe how to build tools and start fires, etc. but they wanted explanations too.

    this is why i say we need to grow up. it’s time for us to stop looking for mystical explanations for things. the fact that anyone supporting creationism has to rule out logical findings and the best that science has to offer (while at the same time say that buddhists and muslims could not possibly be right in any explanation they may have – and will go to hell if they don’t convert) is foolishness.

    to teach science in school in ‘practical’ ways as you say, but leave out huge chunks of what science has discovered, simply because it doesn’t ‘jive’ with modern day “silence the heretics” religion, is not a doable compromise. the evidence for evolution is simply overwhelming as opposed to any argument that might try to find a tiny chink in its armor. and the evidence continues to grow.

    the fact that we have any fossils at all is incredible. there are maybe 4 or 5 partially complete tyrannosaurus skeletons in the world, and they existed on this planet for literally millions of years longer than we have been around. we’ve only been effectively looking for their bones for the last few hundred years, if that. your office building could be sitting on top of incredible evidence. the fact is, more and more evidence is found all the time that supports evolution. it is difficult to find, but the point is that the more we discover, the more the evidence is supported. and the more evidence that is supported, the more incorrect explanations have to be dropped. and in this case, religious explanation (that held isaac newton in prison) has been forced to ‘evolve’ into creationism (that realizes it has to acknowledge science) which has also ‘evolved’ now into intelligent design… to seem less religious.

    hm, as a proponent of evolution myself, perhaps i should step back and admire the will of “inventive imagination theories” to survive. what will they say when scientists find life in some place like europa (the ice covered moon of jupiter)? or some other world?

  160. #160 Kayode
    February 8, 2006

    any resemblance to anyone you know is coincidental

  161. #161 Anonymous
    February 8, 2006

    Ok, let’s start at the end:

    ” if Jesus didn’t get it [creation account] right then Jesus can’t help me out because He’d be reduced to some lunatic that died a horrible death for no reason.”

    Ah, the “lunatic, liar, or Lord” argument. Now, this is both a false choice/trilemma fallacy (there may be other options, e.g., accounts of his teaching may have been misunderstood or distorted in the intervening decades, he may have tailored his words to that place and time (“I come not to bring peace but a biology lecture?! – nah.), there may be non-literal speech being misinterpreted, etc.), and not really logically relevent (what we want or need to be true does not affect the universe, except through our actions).

    Nevertheless, I believe this statement helps explain why many creationists spend considerable time, energy, and intelligence throwing stones at science instead of helping explicate and glorify what may well be God’s creation (science can’t provide an answer either way here). Now, many Christians (to say nothing of countless members of other religions) don’t have this problem: they are able to reconcile matters in some fashion (ie, Genesis can be an allegorical account setting out humanity’s relationship and duties to God and the world, etc.) Young earth (and to a somewhat lesser degree, old earth) creationists, on the other hand, are forced to deny enormous chunks of modern science – ” The main disputes are the age of the earth and the creation week.” This isn’t just a matter of a few misinterpreted fossils, a few ideologically-blinkered scientists, or even an individual outmoded paradigm . Entire fields have to be flat-out wrong: almost all of geology, paleontology, archaeology,physical anthropology, genetics, evolutionary biology, developmental biology, etc., and others deeply, deeply flawed – physics, cosmology, astronony, meterology, etc (and since science isn’t a collection of facts, but an interwoven web of ideas and findings, if you start cutting threads, you do widespread damage). More specifically, the claim is that that all these fields are wrong – (wholly or in part) always in one specific direction: all these errors happen to support a single picture (both the age of the earth and evolution rely on mutiple reinforcing lines of evidence from various fields). At least implicitly, modern science isn’t held to be wrong in any other areas outside this specific picture – for example, it’s accepted that tiny creatures, cause many diseases – not witches, bad karma, etc. The only possible explanation is that most of modern science has to be rigged (consciously or not). Paleontologists (etc.) aren’t making best-guesses based on available evidence, evolutionary folks haven’t had debates over tempo and mode in a genuine attempt to scientifically explain the evidence – it’s all
    rigged. It’s all trickery. Not a one is scientifically honest.

    Well, I suppose it’s possible . . .

    “We would prefer that evolution is covered fairly – including its criticisms. Honestly what would be the harm in pointing out the sketchy areas. ”
    Well, this is a bit of a tricky one. Does fairly = current scientific consensus, including valid criticisms (not those considered entirely worthless by everyone in the disciplines involved, such as polystrata fossils)? Ok. Doing otherwise would be misrepresenting the subject – which is simply not controversial in modern science (many specific details are under debate, etc., like every other field) .
    But we’re not entirely out of the woods yet. There are numerous very complicated, detailed, obscure debates going on. Should we dump these on early adolescents spending a few days (if we’re really lucky) on the basics of evolution – especially since they’re pretty much incomprehensible without really good background knowledge? Nothing like this is done in any other high school courses, not the sciences, not english (deconstructionist lit crit in 9th grade? methinks not) – at most history classes might introduce some simple controversies between historians (as opposed to historical figures), but unless it’s a pretty progressive class, I think this will be limited to AP or honors classes (any h.s. history teachers here – am I right?) A religious analogy would be introducing high-level theological disputes to Sunday-schoolers.

    “My personal preference for the American science classroom would be that it focused on useful science or operational science. . . . The extension of natural selection to the unobservable (and not useful) dog to whale transition, for example, would be left out.”

    Hands-on, cool, obviously relevent science is important – no argument there. A single boom! can do the work of countless lectures in terms of engagement and interest. But you can overdo it – science classes really focused on the practical, beneficial, etc. are often aimed at students not expecting/expected to go further in science – at best, technicians or end-users, rather than researchers or innovators (whether this is a good thing is another issue). Evolution is an wildly sucessful overarching and unifying principle in biology, and the a-few-days-towards-the-end-of-the-year-with-luck model, the result of decades of creationist pressure and other science-ed. problems, is a travesty. Further watering it down would be worse. Another religious analogy woud be teaching about the Torah without any idea of the Jews as God’s chosen people, or the Christian Bible without any idea of Jesus as divine redeemer, etc.

    “I would challenge anyone with a [darwinfish] to actually read Origin of Species. Just so they know what it actually teaches.”

    Darn, don’t have one. Thing is, we don’t worship St. Darwin. Origin isn’t our holy book. It’s a scientific work, a nifty and seminal one, but it’s not sacred writ. He got some things wrong, and didn’t know about a ton of stuff (for example, genetics). For the last almost-15-decades working scientists in a wide array of fields have been taken Darwin and Wallace’s ideas, trying them out, refining them, discarding the bits that don’t work, mixing in decade after decade of new discoveries, and most of all constantly, constantly testing the results.

    Also, just to make the point, talkorigins is so viscously biased that it lacks credibility in the debate. At least from the creationists perspective.

    Yeah, it’s a problem – people ignoring each other’s sources. I’ve done it too. I’m mainly posting these for someone who might be reading along, undecided, and wants to learn more (or anyone decided who wants to either learn more or find out what to refute). Viciously biased? Well, a lot of it is simply straight science, so this may be one of those situations where reality is unfairly being biased. It’s not like they’re hiding creationist science, they’re just mustering real science in defense of, well, real science. Certainly the site is pro-science. When it comes to philosophical/theological arguments, you have a point, perhaps.
    From the ICC over there: (just giving addresses – it’s either links or length that is getting my posts bounced)
    Theology:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CH/CH102_2_1.html
    Creationist Claim CH102.2.1: Jesus refers to creation and flood as though they were literal, which shows that those stories were, in fact, literal.

    Geology:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC331.html
    Creationist Claim CC331:Polystrate fossils . .

    Back to Ampulex compressa, and posts #1 and #3 all the way up top. We have the wasp and what it does. Where do we go from there? For creationism/ID, it might be ammunition for an attack on evolution (too complex to evolve – what good is half a zombified cockroach?). It raises a kind of moral problem – how could a good God make a creation with such icky-ness?! which creationism might answer by reference to the Fall, etc. Medieval beastiary-makers could have had a splendid entry on it whereby it provided a moral lesson or analogy – man spiritually ensnared by Satan, only to be consumed from within and killed by sin . . .
    Here A. compressa being used to support or advance a specific theological world view (one with political implications vis-a- secular modernity), or to teach a lesson on how humans should behave. It’s serving a social purpose, being used to rely or uncover spiritual ideas.
    For modern science, however, A. compressa can tell us about the cockroach brain/metabolism ( with practical applications) – and perhaps even our own. This is the wisdom of parasites Zimmer is talking about. It can also tell us about the story of life – about the evolution of wasps and how it came to do such things – although this is going to be a detective story with an not-perfectly-certain ending, not a homily.

    VeryEquipped quipped: “Theres an intelligence apparent in all living things, from a tree’s sap flowing into the roots in the winter to avoid freezing ”

    Oh – oh. Does that mean cutting down trees is really killing intelligent beings?
    Lumber is murder! Lumber is murder!! … hey, that’s kinda catchy.

    Back to Creationist: “generally, where the Bible touches on science, current mainstream science agrees. ”
    I do not think this is the case. But so what? It’s clearly not meant to be a science textbook, otherwise it would have thrown in some things about bacteria and bread mold and plate tectonics and such like . . .

    Sorry about the pile of white chalky former-skull. How well-watered is your yard?

    (and no prob. with fossils being buried in floods. That’s how some of them formed – many covered by sediment carried by water in some way, although sandstorms, volcanic ash-falls, and the like have helped out . . . it’s just the implicit capital-F flood that’s a problem, what with lack of evidence. Although there may well be evidence for a flood that became the the Flood – did you hear about that?

  162. #162 Dan S.
    February 8, 2006

    oops – Anonymous #161 is me.

    But hey, Creationist, you’re reading Origin? Neat. One of these days I intend to do so . . . Voyage of the Beagle is fun, but I’m a sucker for travelogues . .

    Re: rewriting it – somebody did, actually – updated and all –
    Darwin’s Ghost: The Origin of Species Updated by Steve Jones

    From Library Journal
    Using recent empirical evidence, Jones (genetics, Univ. Coll., London) has updated Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (l859) so that the fact of organic evolution is both understandable and relevant to today’s general reader. He focuses on dogs, whales, snails, insects, bacteria, and, particularly, the AIDS retrovirus in order to illustrate the struggle for existence and descent with modification through genetic variation and natural selection. Special attention is given to social instincts, biogeography, biodiversity, and the evolutionary affinities among similar species through a common descent. The author stresses that all species and their environments are continuously changing (sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly), e.g., the organisms and their habitats on the Galapagos and Hawaiian Islands. Furthermore, since Darwin’s writings, serious problems with the theory of evolution are being solved in light of ongoing scientific discoveries in population genetics, geopaleontology, and radiometric dating techniques. Very informative and cogently argued, this book is an important addition to the natural history literature. Recommended for all science collections.
    -H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0345422775/sr=1-1/qid=1139428788/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-5613377-2386315?%5Fencoding=UTF8

  163. #163 Dan S.
    February 8, 2006

    Also –
    Creationist –
    Zimmer’s new post on Guanlong wucaii, the recently discovered primitive tyrannosaurid (as far as we can tell) talks about transitional fossils and demonstrates how one specific one is placed in real-world science – how we can tell it’s a primitive tyrannosaurid, etc. – along with a very interesting idea about sexual selection and what fossils might be able to tell us. I’m not taking this discussion over there, though . . .

  164. #164 Mary
    February 8, 2006

    Hey, enjoyed the story. No personal beliefs to tout, just enjoyed the story.

  165. #165 john
    February 8, 2006

    Dan S. -

    My compliments, especially on post #161 (perhaps you should stick to the pseudonym “Anonymous” if they are all going to be that good). There wasn’t a lot there that either hadn’t occurred to me or that I hadn’t read in some form elsewhere; but as a single cogent post that drives home the points in a few hundred words – brilliant.

    In fairness to Creationist though, I will take you to task on one thing. I really can’t believe that anyone who is deeply interested in evolution (or even in just trying to debunk it) would have failed to read “The Origin of Species”. It matters not at all that the sciences of the decades since have shown chunks of it to have missed by a step here and there. All of that science has been accomplished because of Darwin’s uncanny observations at a time when the tools of science as we know it were unavailable to him. On top of that, it is simply a classic book, full of memorable writing and has indeed “shook up the world”. Please read it! If not for the science – for the simple beauty of it.

    Some people believe Darwin never actually used the word “evolution” in Origin. In fact, he used a variation of the word. Allow me to give you a tasty tease for why you (and Creationist) SHOULD read the book. From the very last sentence of the book:

    “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved”.

  166. #166 Koen
    February 9, 2006

    Just a thought on ‘miracles’. Why do miracles always happen in front of people who already believe?
    I’m a staunch atheist; if God existed anyway, wouldn’t it make more sense for him to perform a miracle for me, in stead of a 12-year old Portuguese sheperd-girl with not enough food in her stomach? I mean, I’d be really impressed…

  167. #167 Rebecca
    February 9, 2006

    Was drawn to this site by the wasp-cockroach story, suprised by the ludicracy of the creation versus evolution debate that followed it, and outright offended by the following two comments:
    Comment no. 5. Quote:
    Carl said, “We would do well to follow its lead, and gain the wisdom of parasites”.

    I believe women of our species already have – and it’s a story that sounds familiarly like my own marriage. Fortunately, they were unable to evolve to implant their babies in us, but lead us off to dungeons like zombies, they did. End Quote

    And this: Comments no. 38 Quote
    P.P.S. arguing on the internet is like running in the special olympics, even if you win you’re still retarded. End Quote.

    Now, had those comments been racially prejudiced, rather than heterosexist and discriminatory towards disabled people, I’m sure people would have reacted. Why then, is this kind of offensive rubbish not challenged when published on the internet?

  168. #168 Marcia L. Neil
    February 9, 2006

    See the Archaeological Institute of America for faxed messages describing the effects and pheno-mena of a mucousal oracle-bead chronicle. It is very possible — probable, from my point of view — that both the cockroach and the wasp are carrying identical (matching) discrete historical images within their neural bulbs as a close encounter of a non-usual kind. Wasps fre-quent the area near an oracle-bead shrine site in Pennsylvania, whereas cockroaches are rarely seen among the beetle population in that northwest PA region. In addition, there is a coincidence of limestone use in the Americas as funerary monuments and as past pyramid-building materials, which can be used as a source of minerals necessary for life among small/micro-fauna — the wasps make their own nests from paper they make themselves, while the cockroaches infest human-made abodes. Insects can be conditioned to act and react in certain ways, as influenced among mammals — it is probable that the wasp has been behaviorally conditioned to target cockroaches.

  169. #169 worn
    February 9, 2006

    To all the above who posit this curious notion of “Intelligent Design” – don’t you realize that this “argument” was settled during the Enlightenment? OK, so the world is an almost infintely complex and amazing place, one that on the face of it seems a rather improbable and seems to demand in our small minds the existence of a creator (or “designer”, for those wolves who like wool garments). Well, this creator would in and of itself be a pretty complex and improbable thing, would it not? And if your logic is that complex and improbable things require a creator, then one must concede that the creator by definition requires a creator; this of course thus becomes an infinite regression. And if your explanation of this creator/designer is that he/she/it simply “is” – i.e., essentially existing without being actively created or designed – then why don’t you extend the same “logic” to the world? In short, the very reason stated for the belief in ID begs the question of where to stop.

    Methinks the ID crowd would do much better with their “arguments” by looking at the world in a different fashion – i.e., perhaps evolution is intelligent design.

    But as for the teological argument, there’s no “there” there, folks…

  170. #170 Anonymous
    February 10, 2006

    So. Everyone here really likes to hear themselves talk. I’m a Christian (aka Bible Thumping Religious Zealot, aka Totally Ignorant Fundamentalist, aka Really Stupid) and have no problem looking at evolution as a theory. A theory means it’s certainly not proven, but it also means it helps explain things that can be easily observed.

    I am not the same person I was 5, 10, 25 years ago, and since I’ve started living my life in a relationship with Christ, my life choices and such have changed. God is at work in my life – mental, emotional, physical, spiritual – to make change, to make me more like Jesus. In the same way, I have no trouble believing that God is at work in the rest of His Creation, visibly and invisibly, producing changes that we can see.

    Why can’t things in the “natural” world change? Stars collapse. Meteors crash and burn in the earth’s atmosphere. Entire species of animals disappear from the face of the planet.

    God knows this. God is glorified by this, even when we don’t understand it ourselves. I don’t think parasitic behavior makes God look “bad” or “evil.” I think it makes the nature of sin look obvious. We, humans, are parasites to each other all the time – emotionally, financially, physically. We may not have stingers or lay eggs in cockroaches, but so much of our “bad” behavior is shadowed in the natural world. That doesn’t mean we came from prehistoric goo, or that our anscestors resembled apes. It simply means that bad is bad, sin is sin, no matter where it is.

    So, I don’t think evolution is evil. I think believing it is a proven, infallible fact is a terrible way to live life. I would never want to be trapped in a cycle of “failures” and “chance.” Sure, I fail all the time, but my weaknesses are what lead me to rely on God’s strength. And that’s a good thing. Wasps can do whatever they want to cockroaches, little kids will still burn ants with magnifying glasses, and adults will never cease to enjoy arguing with each other.

    I just want to recognize evolution for what it is – a theory, an observation, and an often useful one at that. But, at the end of my day, God is still sovereign and everything is always going to be His first.

  171. #171 john
    February 10, 2006

    Anonymous (Post #170),

    While I, on the other hand, am an atheist, I have no problem with 90% of what you say/believe. You basically take the perspective that I encourage – believe what you want, but accept the science that is out there and reconcile your beliefs with that science. No one can disprove your Jesus. The only part I take some exception with is your hedging about “fact vs. thereory”. Evolution IS a theory. It IS also a fact. Please take five minutes to cut and paste this link into your browser and read this. It will clear things up for you, and then you can go on believing in your salvation and eternal life. Evolution doesn’t threaten that at all.

    http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/lenski.html

  172. #172 worn
    February 10, 2006

    Anonymous:

    You danced right up to the line but couldn’t quite put find the will to put your toe over. Once more: what if evolution is intelligent design? I would think as much of a creator who was omniscient enough to create a necessary few atomic building blocks and set an eons-long process in motion that ultimately results in humans (and such things as the works of J.S. Bach) as I would of the literal reading of the Bible’s creator just waving his hands and having the world materialize, formed whole. I would think a bit more of the former, actually. I can’t figure out why Christians get so caught up on this “ooze” and “apes” stuff and, furhermore, why it seems to stop their rational faculties cold. Look at it this way: in a sense the modern Ferrari sports car is descended from the lowly, pokey, cranky Model T. This fact, nor that their are still primitive Fords still in existence negate its the “Ferrariness”. And while not every change made to motor vehicles over the years is reflected in the modern car, it is the directed process of improving this creation that drives the change. The evolution of iginition systems from magnetos to distributors to solid state electronic to computer controlled isn’t chance. Sure, there may be an occasional mis-tep (can anyone say decades of leaded gas?) but on the whole these developments have a direction.

    Unless one has a fundamental need to cling to an absolutely literal reading of Biblical texts, rather than as figurative documents, there really isn’t a insurmountable disagreement between the idea of evolution and your conception of God.

    I say this as an agnostic, but one who most certainly is not trying to denigrate your beliefs, nor even be argumentative…

  173. #173 Rob
    February 11, 2006

    I can argue but i think its just 1 of God’s little expiraments for punishing us in the future for somthing my examples of this are-

    1.) God ,i think, loves the US because we keep the peace and spread justice just as he likes it. BUT! when we get lazy and or sinfull like before 9/11 (we were squandering our resources and becoming to much like rome was before it dies LAZY AND FATASSES!) becase if u think about it, after 9/11 we went after the evils in the world

    another example

    1960-1970- americans were not repecting sex so SUDDENLY we got the aids poping out of thin air

    so mabey god was expirementing for our next punshment for whatever

    A COLD THAT ATTACKS YOUR BRAIN AND MAKES YOU DIE SLOWLY AND UNCONCIOUSLY!

    but anyways i don’t fear such crap

    -a word from a 14 year old christian

  174. #174 Martin
    February 12, 2006

    I agree with a few things that have been recently posted, excluding Rob’s comment as it’s having nothing to do with the topic. Then again neither does this. I’m a Christian. I am also rather un-dogmatic about a extreme-literal approach to the Bible. I do however consider a literal approach to be best, example being, sarcasm to be read as sarcasm, and symbolism to be read as symbolism.

    I find that ID and Christian Creation have a lot in common, although ID doesn’t explain evil, pain and the like, because it doesn’t have to. It’s imperitive to see that this debate won’t end. Not until we both, remove our presuppositional lenses and look at the world we live in with pure open mindedness, not some pre-concieved notion of how the world is, and have our “evidence” fit that. Or reconcile animal pain with a good God.

    All I can say is all this is just speculation. We don’t know that an IDer didn’t create everything that is in the world, and furthurmore, ID has nothing to do with religious worship of this ID in any form it may take, but a strictly, or rather should be strictly, scientific theory. Scientific, because we can observe unique and complex life here on the planet, and theory, because we just don’t know.

    Where is the human on this scheme of evolution? I’d say we’re heading the way of the dinosaurs. Well, the poorest of us are. Don’t say the evolution has given us an “instinct” to help others in need to survive. That is a lie if all of us in America/Europe deny it and go on living for our own survival ignoring the impoverished and decimated countries that plague this world.

    I won’t be back to reply, seeing as this is quite an elusive thread. But I’m sure somebody will say something along the lines of “because they are starving your God doesn’t exist.” My response will be, “Because you say that starving is bad, you’re making a moral judgement, based upon an ultimate moral standard. You cannot make that statement unless God exists to back up the moral standard. Thus you have proven my point.”

    SOOOOoooo far off track, dude, animals are wicked cool!

  175. #175 Gal Haspel
    February 13, 2006

    After dedicating seven years of grad school to studying this amazing story I am happy to see that others find it interesting as well. Thanks, Carl! It is a mind-blowing story I never get tired of telling. If you ever get to the London zoo or Artis zoo in Amsterdam, they are on display and get to sting and manipulate a roach in front of live audience once a day.

    The traces of natural selection are obvious in the contrast of the insects’ behavior during the “hunt� scene. While the wasp is totally into it, approaching with quivering antennae and efficiently capturing and stinging the roach, the prey is oblivious to the danger. In fact, only after the wasp mandibles are holding its back, does the roach begin to struggle. This is because Ampulex is a very specialized predator, each female wasp hatched to eat a roach hunted by her mom (that had to be a good enough roach-hunter). The roach (Periplaneta americana) is a very generalized prey. It is hunted by many: birds, mammals, other insects, spiders, scorpions and flying shoes. Instead of adapting to each of these predators, roaches escape the subtle air movement exerted by an approaching object. Very few cockroaches are hunted by wasps and an evolutionary pressure apparently never arouse.

    To answer a few questions that came up along the comments:
    - The roach dies by being eaten by the larva. It takes about two days for the larva to be big enough to go inside the prey and then four to five more days for the roach to die. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=15864597&query_hl=6&itool=pubmed_docsum
    - This wasp Ampulex compressa (AKA “the jewel wasp�) only hunts for Periplaneta americana. We tried to introduce it with other cockroaches and even crickets but never got a wasp to sting anything else.
    - Ampulex compressa is not found in NYC. It is a tropical wasp (originally African, just like its prey (the misnomer P. americana)).
    - The stinger evolved from an ovipositor. We know that because of anatomical and developmental evidence in this other wasps. This can give the worried anti-evolutionists an answer to “what was the first step for a stinger?� One can easily imagine an ancestor wasp, using its ovipositor to deposit eggs on dead or weak insects (as some existing species) evolving into a similar wasp that also uses the same ovipositor to inject some of its own neuro-active chemicals into a candidate prey and then evolving the dedicated stinger from the ovipositor. On the other hand, one can choose not to imagine that.
    - The wasp pulls on the stung-roach antenna and walks backwards to its borrow. The cockroach is walking, sustaining its weight and even climbing up a branch following the wasp. The wasp does not control the limb-by-limb movement but rather directs the roach like a bull with a nose-ring.
    - “Why didn’t the cockroach evolve to escape the wasp?� as I explained above, the roach is preyed by many animals. Very few cockroaches are hunted by wasps and an evolutionary pressure apparently never arouse.
    - I do not know as much as I would like to about other Ampulicidae. Some of the do hunt insects but not much is known about their venom.
    - I loved Parasite Rex. There are a few more books out there. like

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0521644259/qid=1139877877/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/002-6157524-4656018?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0120844400/qid=1139877877/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-6157524-4656018?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

    I will be happy to answer more questions.

    Dr Gal Haspel

  176. #176 Dan S.
    February 14, 2006

    Yay! An informative and useful comment . . . I wish I could make those . .

    Huh. I’ve never thought about generalized prey before. Interesting.

    Any clues on how Ampulex zeros in on that specific species? And when you say orginally African – it’s spread elsewhere?

  177. #177 Gal Haspel
    February 14, 2006

    “Any clues on how Ampulex zeros in on that specific species?”
    Just a few clues: the wasp is diurnal, has big eyes and seems to be going straight towards an introduced roach. It’s harder for the wasp to find the roach when it is out of site. All suggesting visual cues. when a roach of a different species or a cricket was introduced the wasp would chase but let the roach go without stinging. I am not sure what the cues for that recognition are but they should be close range ones (olfactory cues, maybe).
    The sensory organs on the stinger that allow for the wasp to find the cockroach’s brain are still studied in the Libersat lab (Ben Gurion University, Israel) by Gal Ram, an excellent grad student. It was presented in the International Society for Neuroethology meeting. I hope he will be able to publish that aspect of the story soon.

    “And when you say orginally African – it’s spread elsewhere?”
    Yes. Ampulex compressa is pretty common all over the tropical regions: Africa, India and Pacific islands (I am not sure about S. America). Interestingly, it was introduced to Hawaii by FX Williams in 1941 as a bio-control measure for the cockroaches infesting sugarcane plantations. The wasps hunt very few roaches (about three a week in lab conditions) and are territorial so are no match to the roaches fertility. As much as I know, there are still both roaches and A. compressa in Hawaii (I am more than willing to go check, if sufficient funding can be found).

  178. #178 Joe
    February 14, 2006

    Gal,

    Thanks for contributing!

    A question for you. How does the wasp know where to place the stinger? You said that the sensory organs on the stinger are now being studied, but what is the nature of the sensory input?

  179. #179 Nic Nicholson
    February 14, 2006

    Thanks for the input, Dr. Haspel!

    Any clues as to what type of sensors are on the stinger? That is, are they mechanical, electrical, chemical?

    One would think that there would be a great deal of neural activity in the “escape” neurons of the roach brain while it is being attacked by the wasp. I wonder if the wasp could somehow sense this while it was probing with its stinger, helping it to find the correct spot for its sting.

    Are there any clues as to what senses the wasp uses so as to position itself to sting the head? (i.e. does it “feel” with its legs?) Is the sting always made with the wasp in the same orientation in relation to the roach? What I’m wondering is, if the roach were intentionally modified in some way, would the wasp still be able to sting the head? Clearly, that innate ability is somehow hard-wired into the wasp.

    Lots more questions, but I’ll stop there…

    nic

  180. #180 john
    February 14, 2006

    Dr. Haspel, I’d like to apologize for the behavior and questions of the other bloggers here. I’m sure you (like me) would to see this thread get “back on topic”. In that spirit, can you draw any reasonable correlation between the wasp and a creationist missionary?

  181. #181 Gal Haspel
    February 14, 2006

    Both Nic and Joe asked about the nature of the sensory organs on the stinger.
    As I wrote, this is an issue that is being investigated “as we speak� but I can share with you some of the preliminary results we got before I left the lab and some of what Ram presented in the meeting of the International Society for Neuroethology:
    - Using SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy) we saw bumps and depressions that resemble sensory organs scattered all over the stinger.
    - By cutting the tip of the stinger and dipping it in dye solution (a technique called backfilling) we were able to stain processes of neurons coming out of the stinger and into the wasp central nervous system.
    - When the stinger was treated with liquid nitrogen to inactivate the sensory organs, the wasps would try to sting the head for a very long time (more than 15 minutes while normally it takes about 1 min).
    - When Ram removed the brains of cockroaches (one can do that without killing them!), wasps would also sting the head for a very long time.
    - It is possible to record electrical signals from the neurons coming out of the stinger and introduce the stinger with chemical, mechanical and electrical stimulations. This will have to be done many more times before anything can be said about it.

    As Nic suggested, the best guesses are chemical, mechanical or even (which I find most exciting) electrical. It is probably a combination of those modalities. I will check with Ram who is much more up to date than I am and see if he has anything to add.

    Thanks for the questions.

  182. #182 Gal Haspel
    February 15, 2006

    Instead of answering John’s question, I will let you in on another interesting aspect of this story: the wasp sting to the roach’s head makes it groom for half an hour before becoming lethargic!
    It takes about half an hour for the “zombie like� lethargic state to take over. During that time, the wasp walks away and looks for a burrow nearby. The roach stays put and grooms extensively (roaches groom about one minute of any 30. After being stung the roach grooms about 25 min of the 30 min following the sting). We actually know that it is dopamine that can be detected in the venom that causes this effect (this is mostly the work of Aviva Weisel-Eichler with my help). Grooming can be induced by injecting dopamine or be blocked with dopamine blockers.
    What is this good for? We can only guess: maybe to keep the roach from straying away while the wasp looks for a burrow, maybe to deactivate the escape response until the lethargic state takes over (grooming has an inhibitory effect on escape) and maybe to give the wasp’s offspring a clean meal.

    For more details: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=10085268&query_hl=1&itool=pubmed_docsum

  183. #183 B. Spitzer
    February 15, 2006

    Dr. Haspel,

    Thank you for the details on the sensory apparatus of A. compressa. I can see I have some homework to do!

    By the way, you mention that A. compressa only seems to attack Periplaneta americana. I’m intrigued by this. The only time I’ve ever seen A. compressa in action– at least, from the behavior of the wasp and the cockroach, I can only assume that it was A. compressa– was in the wild in Central America. I don’t know what species of cockroach it had attacked, but it was certainly not Periplaneta americana. The cockroach was smaller than P. americana, and it was pale green.

    I wonder if I saw a different species of wasp. Or perhaps, in that area, A. compressa has shifted to a different host or hosts.

    What a strange and superb animal.

  184. #184 J. Peterson
    February 15, 2006

    As to Creationism or Darwinism, it is difficult to conceive that such a complicated and purposeful process could be the simple result of arbitrary confrontations of chance evolutions.

    We only decry this as an “evil” process from our own point of view. Frankly, I don’t think a god who could order such a magnificently intricate process would judge it good or bad. That is our perception. It just is a manifestation of destiny and free will.

    By the way, this must mean the wasps communicate and learn the process from wasps who figured it out in the first place. Or is knowledge, and process, and purpose, genetic?

  185. #185 Gal Haspel
    February 16, 2006

    B. Spitzer
    Thanks for the wasp-spotting comment. I never got a good answer about their existence in South and Central America. If the wasp you saw was indeed A. compressa then you could be correct regarding shifting to another host or maybe just becoming less selective. We could not test every species of cockroach.

    J. Peterson
    It is not difficult to conceive how such a complicated and purposeful process could be the consequence of natural selection. It is actually a very good example of a case where other wasps exhibit the behaviors that could be considered “transition states� (for example cause the initial paralysis but not the “zombie� state). Selection does not end in “perfect�, it transitions through “good enoughs�.

    The wasps cannot learn the process from wasps that figured it out in the first place. This is because when a new wasp hatches from a cocoon, her mom is gone and ideally (for her) there will be no other female wasps around. Yes. All this behavior is genetically coded. Isn’t nature amazing?

    Some of the papers are downloadable in Prof Fred Libersat’s “publication� page: http://www.bgu.ac.il/life/Faculty/Libersat/publications.html
    Among those a review of the story two years ago is here: http://www.bgu.ac.il/life/Faculty/Libersat/pdf/JCP.2003.pdf

  186. #186 Marcelo de Brito
    February 16, 2006

    Hello, Dr Haspel!!

    I would like to know if your investigations (and also your colleagues investigations) could tell us some cues how to use the knowledge got with Ampulex (and its mechanis to paralize its prey) to do suspended animation in humans.

    See you! :D

    Marcelo

  187. #187 Emily Sommer
    February 16, 2006

    So… maybe I`ve missed something above, but why does it take 30 minutes or so for the “zombie” state to take affect? What exactly does the wasp implant into the roach`s brain?

    Do other wasps and roaches have a similar relationship?? Is there anything else even remotely similar in other species??

    Thanks in advance!!

    Emily Sommer

  188. #188 Gal Haspel
    February 16, 2006

    Hello Marcelo de Brito!
    As much as I can tell, our findings regarding the wasp will not be directly applicable to human. However, neuroactive components of other venoms and toxins are regularly used for medical purposes. I strongly suggest against suspending anyone’s animation without his or her permission :)

    Emily Sommer:
    You did not miss anything, I was probably not clear: the wasp does not implant a device but rather injects venom directly into the brain (AKA head ganglia) of the cockroach. We do not know why it takes 30 min to kick in (any ideas will be welcomed).
    Other wasps do have similar (but not identical) relationships with their hosts but in many cases the host will be paralyzed or dead after the attack. To my knowledge, this is the most thoroughly studied case. As for other species: I can recommend Carl’s book “Parasite Rex�. I think I also referred to other books before but this one is the most fun read.

  189. #189 Theodore Price
    February 16, 2006

    Dr Haspel,

    Just an idea on why the roach grooms and then becomes inactive. The venom may be similar to amphetamine in that it causes a release of dopamine, stimulating the grooming behavior, followed by a neurotoxic effect which essentially shuts off all escape behavior (as described in the paper). It could be that the venom is taken up by monoaminergic neurons causing an intial release followed by toxicity or that the venom is a dopamine receptor agonist but overpowers the system into some form of excitotoxicity which shuts it down. Perhaps you’ve already tested this hypothesis??

  190. #190 Cayte
    February 16, 2006

    Has anyone ever explored whether the hallucinogenic plants create hallucinations that induce the consumer to act in a way that benefits the plant life cycle in some way?

  191. #191 Human7685113B
    February 17, 2006

    Believe it or not, I HAVE seen something do this to humans. It’s a rectangular creature that is typically 19 to 42 inches wide.
    It often has a black or gray shell, and derives most of its awesome power from its tail. As opposed to boring directly into the human’s brain in order to seize control, it does something infinitely more clever; it somehow entices the human being to voluntarily provide it electrical power.
    Over a time span that varies greatly from subject to subject but can include up to four or five consecutive hours for several days per week, it then turns the ensnared human into a zombie-like slave by displaying a shockingly simple-minded, pre-recorded program of video images with corresponding audio. Some subjects even choose to provide the creature the power necessary for repeated viewings of earlier programs.
    Incredibly, the creature does not require physical contact with the subject at any time. Nevertheless, the zombie-slave will soon be acting, speaking, and, most importantly, purchasing in accordance with the will of the creature. It’s power over the human being is simply unparalleled.

  192. #192 Gal Haspel
    February 17, 2006

    Theodore Price:
    Yes. The “monoaminergic-hypothesis” is one of our favorite mechanisms. As I wrote, we have supported that idea for the grooming behavior but not yet for the long lasting lethargic state. Injection of reserpine (that causes a massive release of monoamines) induces grooming followed by a lethargic state (more lethargic than the stung roaches, if I remember correctly). By the way, the lethargic state is reversible! In the lab we can take the cockroach away after it has been stung but not yet parasitized. Such a cockroach will gradually recover until within 3 weeks it will be indistinguishable from other (not stung) roaches.

  193. #193 Adam
    February 21, 2006

    Hi All

    Would be interesting to see, in molecular genetics terms, how long ago this little parasite-host relationship began. Is there any work happening on the phylogeny of the two and when the association began?

    As for Creationist claims it seems like a rather odd creation of a supposedly benevolent Maker. Darwin had serious doubts about a direct Creation because of Ichneumon wasps parasitising caterpillars, so I can’t imagine his reaction to this example would be any different.

    Young Earth Creationists don’t believe in animal death before the Fall so it doesn’t do them any good at all, unless God decided to be a sadist afterwards. Old Earth Creationists will doubtless say it’s a designed wonder but the fact their fiddling God should devise such intricate devices of insect torment counts against God being “good” in any human sense.

    Seems like the Blind Watchmaker makes more sense this time.

  194. #194 Gal Haspel
    February 22, 2006

    Hi Adam!
    indeed, it will be interesting to get an answer to the question: “how long ago this little parasite-host relationship began?”
    what method did you have in mind?
    lets say we get the phylogeny info on both. How can we tell when the association began?
    Fred’s lab does not have any molecular expertise currently but i am sure we can find someone that does if we come up with a way to do it.

    (and yes. it is hard to explain a system in which only one party is so “well designed” while the other is not. using “adapted” instead of “designed” makes it much more clear, i think.)

  195. #195 Dan S.
    February 25, 2006

    Can’t we all just start using our smart selves to theorize and think about our future? It’s nice to know where we’re from – you can know where you are going if you know where you are from. But our air is getting less and les breathable, the arctic is getting warmer and warmer, our drinkable water is getting more and more polluted: By 2050, I can say that the demand for fresh water will surpass its availability. So stop saving up for your sons/daughters’ tuition and start saving for the price of water, air and food!

    Perhaps I should be an activist!

  196. #196 Sky
    March 6, 2006

    Creationists have no “fear” of Parasite stories, nor of preditor stories. At least they shouldn’t.

    “Evil” (or anything you might consider unsavory) is itself a parasite. Without something “good” to start with, evil could not corrupt it. When non-believers try to prove there is no higher power, they often use value judgments of “bad” events to prove their point. Silly, because their examples just prove the point as does this story.

    The “wicked” wasp corrupts a well designed creature. Clearly there cant be too many stories like this one or the supply of food would just disapear altogether.

  197. #197 james
    March 21, 2006

    Dr. Haspel.

    I am writing a research paper and also doing a presentation on this wasp for my zoology class at the university and was wondering if there is a video clip of the wasp in action. Thanks for the help.

    James

  198. #198 Believer
    April 13, 2006

    Wow all of this constant bickering about creation vs evolution. Who’s right who’s wrong? As a Christian I feel I’m right most of you seem to think that makes me ignorant or foolish. The fact is I’d rather be foolish for God and have that relationship with my creator than not. I believe what I believe because I’ve experienced a living God working in my life.

    In addition, the Bible says that God’s Word is truth, so I believe it. Some of you might laugh and say that this sort of blind faith is just ignorance on my part. While I will pity you for not having a relationship with God and understanding what it is that increases my faith daily.

    This arguement will never stop it will always continue and the only way to find out will be at our deaths, when if I’m right I’ll be in heaven and if you’re right I’ll simply cease to exist.

    My God, is a just and loving God, in that even though we were sinners he died for us. Not just me but US. It is our free will to believe that or not. Just as it is in my right and free will to believe that He created us and that we are not just random dust that happened to form into this incredible world we live in.

    That is why there is never a win in this arguement. We will never Win because for us to do that would mean that everyone would experience God’s love and accept Him. You will never Win because as a Christian I could never see your point of view and believe that I am just an accident.

  199. #199 Holepuncher
    April 16, 2006

    Hi,

    Disclaimer: I only read up to comment 148.

    I just wanted to give you some background from a Christian perspective regarding the whole evolution/creation debate.

    You have to understand that the reason why Christians debate it so much is not to prove creationism, but because many people use their belief in evolution to deny the existence of God.

    Whether evolution is true or not does not really matter to me. God could still be real. Heaven and Hell could exist. And maybe they don’t, but just know that Christians believe they do exist and the direct reason they are trying to debate with you is not to disprove evolution. They are actually trying to help you to believe that there could be a God. They see evolution as a reason many choose to deny the existence of God. You must understand our ultimate motive. We are not trying to destroy science. We are not trying to force our opinions on you.

    We are trying to get you to choose God on your own. Why? Because we love you. We want you to go to heaven and not to hell. And for that to happen you must believe there is the possibility in the existence of God. This all might seem like tales of fairies and pixiedust to you but know that it is what we believe and that is why we debate. Not to fight with you and build antagonism, but because we are trying to help you. And you may not want it, but we still try because we don’t want you to go to hell. I can’t stand by and not say a thing since I believe with all my heart and mind that God wants you to go to heaven but you must believe in Jesus for that to happen. Creation / Evolution set aside, I hope that you search your heart because Hell (if real) sounds a lot worse than what happenned to that poor cockroach.

  200. #200 steve
    April 16, 2006

    great info. i was excited to read about such a creature that i was not previously aware of.

    i am a “believer”.

    i agree that this argument will never end. neither side can be 100% proven or disproven to the satisfaction of the other. i agree also, that a class being taught in school on evolution (or similar topics), should not breach creationism(or similar topics). after all, rarely does a heated debate on dangling participles break out in calc class. nor should it. i do think that institutions that offer evolution as a class should also off creationism as a class. many people, including myself, would probably take both – at the least for information sake.

    i offer no argument to my belief on the topic, since, if you’re not on my side already, you won’t accept it.

    i won’t be back to check this thread. i believe my email address has been included for all hate mail. 8)

    p.s. …the majority of the posts in this thread regarding creationism vs evolutionism make most of the posters sound… well…. close minded and ignorant. im not attacking anyone’s educational accomplishments – i see several “educated” people here, but really, taking that into consideration, most of you….on both sides of the argument….sound “offensively defensive”, and are making no ground in helping others to see your side.

    wow, i think i have mail already. 8)

  201. #201 Tim Fuller
    April 20, 2006

    If God is all powerful and knowing, then he would have known all along that Adam and Eve would do what they did. The Free Will argument is lame if you consider that an all knowing God would, by definition, know in advance that his creation would sin. Ergo, if we are sinners it was God’s plan and not our free will.

    Enjoy.

  202. #202 Eric Heupel
    April 22, 2006

    Wow! Interesting debate, but even more interesting science!

    Dr. Haspel Excellent papers. I’m glad I found Carl’s site and your participation. I am adding your (and your colleagues) papers on this wasp and cockroach pairing to my reading list. While my purposes would be only my own enrichment, I would like to echo James’ inquery into the availability of video. Especially after reading “Wasp uses venom cocktail to manipulate the behavior
    of its cockroach prey” and the pictures in there I am truly intrigued!

  203. #203 Photar
    May 1, 2006

    Whats a flying shoe? I’m googling up nothing.

  204. #204 philihp
    May 1, 2006

    what does it matter how the wasp came to be? the fact of the matter is the wasp simply *is*, and it’s incredibly fascinating to be aware of this now. thanks for a wonderful article!

  205. #205 Tom
    May 13, 2006

    I find it difficult to believe that Natural Selection could develope this type of behavior. I believe there factors involved that we do not yet understand, but Natural Selection? No Way.

  206. #206 Tom
    May 13, 2006

    I find it difficult to believe that Natural Selection could develope this type of behavior. I believe there factors involved that we do not yet understand, but Natural Selection? No Way.

  207. #207 Eric L.
    May 16, 2006

    As amazing as the Ampulex compressa certainly is, I disagree that “we would do well to follow its lead, and gain the wisdom of parasites.” I simply cannot see my wife pissing poison into the brain of an elephant, leading it back to my house, laying her egg on its belly, and allowing our newborn to chew a hole in the elephant and devour it’s innards until he grows to adulthood. As much fun as that sounds like it may be, I’d want a little more social interaction for my child. Now, I know what you’re going to say: “What could be stronger than the parasitoid-host bond?” I don’t know… But, what happens when my baby grows up and goes to college lacking those important “people skills”? It makes me sad just thinking about it.

  208. #208 max
    May 19, 2006

    The wasp slips her stinger through the roach’s exoskeleton and directly into the cockroach’s brain

  209. #209 trevor Nohcud
    January 4, 2007

    It is always amazing when you look at the function and apparent complexity of nature.
    So much of these interactions between host and prey often depends on chances and chance encounters between the two.
    Often hosts depend on specific prey and it often not a simple one event in the chain . Often there is a number of very specific steps.
    One can explain the success of the efforts and the parasitic species success as a matter of simple numbers and statistics.
    I.e if millions or hundreds of thousand of times this is done a certain number will succeed.
    Maybe so or maybe not – it is always more than amazing.
    Look at a female tick.
    She sits patiently on a blade of grass until a host with the right heat , humidity and carbon dioxide traits just comes by . And then she match latch on the host.
    Imagine if employers could find employees as determined and loyal as that ?
    What is not thought of is that there is often a benefit to the host species in some manner to there being preyed upon even if a number of their kind meet their demise.
    Viruses can often impart certain positive traits or attributes in host species through the implanatation of their dna into host species.
    Successfull species such as rats and mosquitoes while being despised are incredibly well designed species and should be appreciated as that.

  210. #210 Chad
    January 4, 2007

    This is straight out of a science fiction movie. It’s interesting how one insect can use the host of another for development. Great read.

  211. #211 ctrl
    January 4, 2007

    I will definitely be swatting more vigorously when a wasp buzzes by my ear next time!

  212. #212 spazzy mcgee
    December 20, 2007

    When I think of the mountain of sci-fi bits wherein aliens engage in insect behaviors (such as zombifying their kiddies’soon-to-be playpen) I have to wonder: are most sci-fi writers really into entomology, or are they just tapping into an innate human fear of possible buggy behaviors?

    And film aliens that look like assorted arthropods are just legion.

    Also, (they aren’t parasites, but) the first time I saw a panorpid fly, I was like, “whoa… there’s a baby alien/muppet on my arm.”

    (I really like panorpids.)