Pharyngula

“What evolution predicts…”

No three words are more pregnant with the promise of error in a conversation with a creationist than to hear them say “what evolution predicts…”. It’s practically a guarantee that you’re going to hear something bizarre and fundamentally erroneous — but it is at least a good start on identifying basic misconceptions. Orac has found a doozy, a creationist who goes on at remarkable length, building a house of cards on a few flimsy premises. He’s dealt with it thoroughly, so I just want to focus on one piece of Pat Sullivan’s deeply flawed understanding of evolution.

Imagine an area of town where a major real estate development is taking place. Over the course of the development, on any given day one would observe “incompleteness.” But there would come a time when it basically would be complete. Some stores will go out of business and a different store takes it’s place, but no big changes as a whole. If random macro evolution is responsible for what we see, why would it not be like a massive development where things NEVER appear finished or complete? What brought macro evolution to a halt? Could it be that it simply never happened?

To me this makes the “Cambrian Explosion” all that more troublesome for evolutionists. This refers to the fact that in the fossil record entire species suddenly appear totally complete. No transitional forms at all. This in total contradiction to what the theory of macro evolution seems would have predicted.

This is the crux of his argument against evolution: that he never sees any organisms that he recognizes as “incomplete”. His example is that he doesn’t see any three-legged cows with a fourth in the process of evolving.

You read that right. No three-legged cows, no evolution.

There is so much that is wrong with that whole argument. Here’s a partial list.

  • The immediate ancestor of the cow was four-legged. The last common ancestor of all mammals was four-legged. The last common ancestor of all tetrapods was four-legged. We have to go back several hundred million years to find a cow ancestor that was not four-legged, but we’ve got them. Of course, it was four-finned, not three-legged.

  • Evolution does not proceed by selecting for organisms that are partially constructed steps on the way to some future “complete” organism. Every transitional form must be fully functional; that’s what is predicted by evolution, and that’s what we see. The distant ancestor of the cow was a healthy, thriving population of fish-like forms with paddle-like fins. The fins were modified by evolutionary processes for hundreds of millions of years, but every intermediate step was viable and useful for locomotion. We see forms like this:

    i-317070f4db90df3b55f8534f268e8dad-tiktaalik_phylo.jpg

    Which one is supposed to be “incomplete”? Yet we can clearly see a pattern of change in this lineage from fish-like fins to amphibian limbs.

  • Biology doesn’t work the way creationists imagine it does: there isn’t some blueprint in the genome with a spot where the right hindlimb is sketched in. It’s all much more abstract, with a general to specific array of tissue specification that is dependent on interactions between cells and their environment. What we have in development is, for instance, an early establishment of bilateral symmetry, so that an operation that occurs on one side of the embryo will be mirrored on the other. It actually takes special additional mechanisms to break that symmetry; pairs of limbs are the default. This symmetry was established well over half a billion years ago, and we see its maintenance in modern organisms.

    Similarly, the metazoan lineage established a pattern of positional information along the axis using Hox genes, and within the vertebrate lineage some animals established anchors for serially repeated limb development, setting up fore- and hind-limbs. That pattern is also very hard to break; we have inherited a constraint that commits us to a tetrapod body plan.

    Sullivan’s line of argument here is a familiar one. It’s the same as Pinkoski’s, which compounded his misconceptions about symmetry with the bizarre idea that evolutionary changes were an act of will.

  • The notion that evolution can ever be “complete” is false. Evolution is not about progress towards some goal, but about near-constant change to circumstance. It doesn’t stop, and it hasn’t — we’re still changing, slowly. Are we now incomplete because future generations will differ from us?

  • The Cambrian Explosion is not troublesome, it is interesting. It suggests some concordance in the evolution of disparate lineages; within a broad span of time (millions of years), we see many metazoan forms expanding in size and developing harder and more easily fossilized body parts. There are plenty of transitional forms here, and what’s interesting is that many disparate phyla are changing in similar ways at roughly the same time, which suggests that there are coordinating macroevolutionary processes at work.

    But let’s not forget something else that’s important: the Cambrian Explosion seems to be a phenomenon of most importance to one group of organisms, the animals. One narrow group of organisms diversified at this time, but others, like the bacteria and plants and fungi, were doing their own thing. The fascination with the Cambrian is in part a selfish interest in our personal history.

See what I mean? The creationist has his own weird little fantasy version of what evolution predicts, and he has made what is actually to his mind a logical conclusion: that because the real world doesn’t look anything like what his version of evolution predicts, scientist’s version of evolution (which, of course, is nothing like his) must be wrong.

The hard part in addressing that complaint is that it requires going in and systematically dismantling his freakishly false version of evolution first, and then trying to build up a more accurate model in his head. It takes education — the kind of education poor Mr Sullivan should have been given in grade school, before his ideas calcified into this strange nonsense.

Comments

  1. #1 Stanton
    October 29, 2007

    And yet, we don’t see Creationists trying to make sense of the Cambrian Explosion whenever they try to use it to falsify evolution.
    I wonder why.

  2. #2 H. Humbert
    October 29, 2007

    He also says:

    The danger is to make the mistake in logic to infer macro evolution based on the reality of micro evolution. If true, we should be regularly observing both.

    Yeah-huh. That’s like saying “Rivers can move silt and sand, but not carve canyons. If they could, we should observe canyons forming all the time.” What timescales does this know nothing think evolution operates on, anyway? And he has the gall to call our thinking a mistake? What as ass.

  3. #3 Wikinite
    October 29, 2007

    I find that many creationists/IDists usually make the implicit assumption that evolution works off of some sort of teleology. The “great chain of being” concept is so thoroughly entrenched in their world view, that it is, at best, very difficult to properly convey this concept to them. They then declare victory when the make “predictions” based on faulty presuppositions that don’t jive with observation.

    The building analogy is such argument. People have a plan on how the building will end up before they begin constructing it. An end result is explicitly predetermined and worked towards, thus the idea of “incompleteness” has some validitly in reference to the building. Of course, the pre-determination presupposition doesn’t apply to evolution, so Sullivan’s argument falls apart before it even starts.

    Unfortunately, lots of modern science fiction (stargate and farscape to name a few) subscribe to this end-goal version of evolution.

  4. #4 arachnophilia
    October 29, 2007

    And yet, we don’t see Creationists trying to make sense of the Cambrian Explosion whenever they try to use it to falsify evolution.
    I wonder why

    because superficially* it’s about as close as you can get paleontologically to creatures “poofing” into existence. creationists don’t exist to make sense, the exist to point their fingers and say “LOOK GODDIDIT!”

    *by “superficially” i mean “if you haven’t bothered to do any research whatsoever.”

  5. #5 No More Mr. Nice Guy!
    October 29, 2007

    “Rivers can move silt and sand, but not carve canyons. If they could, we should observe canyons forming all the time.”

    The Grand Canyon was formed in a matter of days, during Noah’s flood. Seriously, some cretinists actually believe this.

  6. #6 Rey Fox
    October 29, 2007

    Imagine, if you will, a hypothetical situation that has absolutely nothing to do with evolution…

  7. #7 TheJerrylander
    October 29, 2007

    It is just a common problem of people to not be able to understand the concept of complex adaptive systems, which are certainly counterintuitive to conventional thinking regarding the imposition of structure.

    And what is it with these totally inadequate analogies? Can’t creationists see that they are spluttering nonsense? (Ok, that was rhetorical) Real-estate development? Excuse me, but if one looks at a given street corner in, let’s say, New York, there is a definite chance that it will have looked dramatically different 100 years ago from what it looks now…

  8. #8 miller
    October 29, 2007

    The three-legged cow reminds me of a line from Origin of Species. (citation)

    … thus a family of stags once existed with an antler only on one side; and if this had been of any great use to the breed, it might probably have been rendered permanent by natural selection.

    I laughed so hard when I read that. Yeah, Darwin really didn’t understand a thing about developmental biology. That’s no excuse for Pat Sullivan, of course.

  9. #9 Dave
    October 29, 2007

    there isn’t some blueprint in the genome with a spot where the right hindlimb is sketched in.

    But thats exactly what creationists will never get. Ultimately this is about the belief that mankind is the purpose behind creation. So whenever they think of evolution, they think in terms of it creating man, and that can only happen if there is some blueprint with man sketched in. The idea of man, and in particular, themselves, being happenstance is repugnant to them. They are God’s favorites. They are the reason this all is. So they had to be in there from the beginning.

  10. #10 Richard Wolford
    October 29, 2007

    Sullivan: pwned.

  11. #11 Stevie_C
    October 29, 2007

    Evolution is so fundamentally obvious to me that I can’t ever read these people’s interpretations. It’s always just so flat out backward and absurd that I can’t believe they think they really have an argument.

  12. #12 daenku32
    October 29, 2007

    I think roads are a better example. Been around for a very long time. Always evolving, always under construction. And we will always need roads..We’ll, at least until we have a flying De Lorean.

  13. #13 Mooser
    October 29, 2007

    How many times do I got to tell you! The only process the creationist can invoke, if he tries to move it away from the traditional Biblical creation myth, is a process which is analogized from the scientific and technical progress of humans! Which is ironic, cause the principles and procedures which undergird this progress are the same ones which have ferreted out some of the secrets of our and the earth’s history, ie. evolution, natural selection.
    Now, we analogise technical progress as an “evolution” but of course, it’s not. Two Personal computers don’t mate and produce a laptop, better adapted to its enviourment.

  14. #14 Marcos Vital
    October 29, 2007

    I wish creationists were the only people trying to explain “what evolution predicts…”. A few years ago I had the chance to look at this school book used to teach biology in Brazilian’s basic schools; there was an essay about the future of human evolution. With pictures! Click this link (there might bee some popups from imageshack, sorry), and you’ll all be able to see what we’re going to look like in the future generations:

    http://img49.imageshack.us/my.php?image=humanevolutionfh0.png

    Yep, this sort of clich alien guy is supposed to be “what evolution predicts…” for the future of human evolution! (for those who can’t see the pic, it looks like same old “big headed bald with big eyes and grey skin alien” stuff)

    Too bad I don’t know where to find the book so I could upload a better picture. Portuguese readers, however, can read this nice article about (hideous) mistakes in Brazilian’s teaching books:

    http://darwin.futuro.usp.br/site/doprofessor/livrodidatico.pdf

  15. #15 Moses
    October 29, 2007

    “Rivers can move silt and sand, but not carve canyons. If they could, we should observe canyons forming all the time.”

    The Grand Canyon was formed in a matter of days, during Noah’s flood. Seriously, some cretinists actually believe this.

    Posted by: No More Mr. Nice Guy! | October 29, 2007 2:08 PM

    I always think that’s funny. Because the real story is way, way cooler and we’re, to this day, observing it as the process continues to unfold.

  16. #16 Uber
    October 29, 2007

    2 things.

    first:

    The danger is to make the mistake in logic to infer macro evolution based on the reality of micro evolution. If true, we should be regularly observing both.

    This is the kind of, for lack a better term, stupid. Change is slow, but the inference that micro doesn’t equal macro is a strange distiction. Small changes over time equal big changes over longer periods of time. It’s so obvious one wonders what the problem is.

    second:

    It occurs to me none of this would be a problem if people where not indoctrinated from youth that the bible is some form of perfect document and must be revered. A bible that 90%+ of Christians never read.

    No one would not see the obvious nature of the science minus the above I think.

  17. #17 Mango
    October 29, 2007

    @Stevie C #11:
    Try to find some objectivity. It is useful to understand religion, and why religious people think the way they do. Even if you don’t care to engage in debate, there is value in understanding the viewpoint others take. Getting angry at creationism does nothing but increase your risk of coronary heart disease.

    As a side benefit, it also helps you better understand evolution. Sometimes the rebuttals to creationist arguments aren’t dead obvious (to me, anyway) and finding the answer can be a learning experience, both in fact, in logic, and in human nature.

  18. #18 Mango
    October 29, 2007

    @Uber #17:
    The distinction creationists try to make between micro- and macro- brings us to their claim that information can’t be created by random process. As far as I can tell, Werner Gitt is the originator of that argument — providing a delicious aptonym — though his explanation was somewhat nonsensical and it has since… well… *evolved* in the hands of other creationists.

    Richard Dawkins provided a useful rebuttal of that argument not long ago, I don’t have a link handy right now. But the gist of what they say is that ‘micro-evolution’ can only destroy information and ‘macro-evolution’ requires creation of information. To some extent they can evade clear contradiction of this claim by refusing to clearly define ‘information’. They appear happy to not have a clear definition as it allows them to take the premise as axiomatic.

  19. #19 Monado
    October 29, 2007

    Let’s see now… evolution predicts that there will be parasites. Check. Evolution predicts that when herbivores and insects eat plants, the plants will get tougher, shorter, spinier, or spicier, or more toxic. Yup. Evolution predicts that there will be a competition for resources such as sunlight, water, or organic carbon. Right. Evolution predicts that if insects fertilize their siblings after hatching in a group, there will be one male for every several females. True–refer to books by S. J. Gould. But if the insects fertilize their siblings before being born, there will be even fewer males, e.g. 1 in 15. Check — S.J. Gould again. Evolution predicts that there will be transitional forms. Yes–many. Evolution predicts that there will be a trade-off between looking flashy for mating and looking camouflaged for predators. Right, and can be measured mathematically in populations. Evolution predicts that the sex of bird that sits on the eggs will be more camouflaged. True.

    What’s not to like?

  20. #20 Brownian, OM
    October 29, 2007

    Nice work, Monado. In one post you provided more predictions by evolution that turned out to be true than predictions by the Bible that turned out to be true.

    Of course, all you had to do was to provide one.

  21. #21 Mango
    October 29, 2007

    @Monado:
    I’m not sure about some of those things. To say ‘Evolution predicts X’, it means if X is not true, then you’d have to revise the theory of evolution.

    If we didn’t have parasites, would we have to change the theory? Does the existence oof tall, weak, healthy, yummy plants challenge the current body of knowledge?

    To say these things can easily be explained by evolution is quite different. That doesn’t really count as evidence. Creationism can explain those things also, with three simple words (left as exercise to reader).

    I’ll agree that a fossil record of transitional forms is predicted. If we didn’t have gradually modified fossils from different eras, it would be hard to defend evolution.

    Some big predictions for me:
    – The existence of the phylogenetic tree
    – Junk DNA
    – Various properties of DNA itself, in particular properties of how it is copied and how duplication errors can appear

  22. #22 raven
    October 29, 2007

    These people aren’t interested in the truth or reality. They just want some rationalizations for their weird belief system. Whether it is correct or make sense is unimportant.

    The Cambrian explosion should present some problems for them. Since the YECs have condensed 3.6 billion years of life into 6,000, presumably in their model it should have taken a few weeks or months a few thousand years ago. And of course the species in the Cambrian are all extinct although evolutionists would say they left decendants. So how do animals living under water die in the Flood-Big Boat incident? Run over by a rampaging continent?

  23. #23 Brownian, OM
    October 29, 2007

    how do animals living under water die in the Flood-Big Boat incident?

    Clearly, Raven, they couldn’t run away from the hunting humans as fast.

    Oh, wait. You mean the underwater creatures? Well they…um…they…uh–

    JESUS DIED FOR YOUR SINS!!!!!!EVOLUTION IS JUST A THEORY!!!!!!!!!IF WE TEACH CHILDREN THAT THEY COME FROM ANIMALS THEN THEY’LL ACT LIKE ANIMALS!!!!TELETUBBIES SCARE ME!!!!!IF WE CAME FROM MONKEYS THEN HOW COME MONKEYS STILL EXIST AND WHY DID ONLY ONE OF THE STARS OF “BEDTIME FOR BONZO BECOME PRESIDENT”?!!!!!

  24. #24 CJO
    October 29, 2007

    If strip malls are built on vacant lots, then how come we still have vacant lots?

    See, I believe in micro-zoning, but macro-zoning is just a myth perpetuated by greedy real-estate developers who don’t want me to build a rapture-shelter.

  25. #25 SMC
    October 29, 2007

    […]WHY DID ONLY ONE OF THE STARS OF “BEDTIME FOR BONZO BECOME PRESIDENT”?

    I suspect that if you poke around, you will probably find a few places which claim that both of the stars of that movie have, indeed, become president as of now…

  26. #26 sil-chan
    October 29, 2007

    PZ: You almost make me want to study biology. Almost. You make it sound so interesting and amazing (and I am sure it is) but then I remember that I would pass out if I had to dissect something. After all, I couldn’t even dissect a worm in high school biology. *sigh*

  27. #27 Rey Fox
    October 29, 2007

    “So how do animals living under water die in the Flood-Big Boat incident? ”

    Well, fish aren’t animals, they’re fish! That’s why we can eat them on Fridays! Is there anything in the Bible about Noah having to fill the ark with aquariums for all the fish? No, because fish aren’t animals! Sheesh, some people just don’t get the simplest concepts.

  28. #28 jdb
    October 29, 2007

    Oh sure, PZ, I see all your fancy words and arguments. But where’s my crocoduck? I want a crocoduck!

    Signed,

    Kirk Cameron

  29. #29 jan andrea
    October 29, 2007

    #23, the “answer” I’ve gotten from YECs is that the infusion of fresh water into the oceans killed off the aquatic forms we don’t see today. Um, yeah, and, uh, microevolution the fall from grace and increasing entropy accounts for the fact that most oceanic organisms now can’t cope with a salt/fresh water mix.

    Next question — you, there, wearing the cross?

  30. #30 DS
    October 29, 2007

    Sullivan wrote:
    “If macro evolution occurred, is it still occurring? Why does it appear to have stopped?”

    Ye gads. Back to square one.

  31. #31 SMC
    October 29, 2007

    sil-chan says:”[…]I would pass out if I had to dissect something.”

    There’s always microbiology…

  32. #32 raven
    October 29, 2007

    the “answer” I’ve gotten from YECs is that the infusion of fresh water into the oceans killed off the aquatic forms we don’t see today.

    Oh, I see. So where did all that fresh water that diluted the salt water down to almost fresh water go? Wait, I know. Someone pulled a drain plug and it all drained out into the solid rock of the earth. Or an old man was seen waving his hands and going poof and it all disappeared.

  33. #33 Kseniya
    October 29, 2007

    What brought macro evolution to a halt?

    Now there’s a memo I didn’t get.

  34. #34 Brian
    October 29, 2007

    The 4 legged cow is also incomplete – so evolution should predict a more complete 5 legged version..right?Evolution in Action! Take that Sullivan!

  35. #35 RickD
    October 29, 2007

    re: #17

    The comment you refer to was about evolution and creationism, not about religion. Wait – you’re not saying that creationism is religiously driven, are you? I’m sorry, but you’ll have to talk to the coach. That page was supposed to have been ripped from the playbook.

  36. #36 fardels bear
    October 29, 2007

    What? You mean we aren’t complete? We still have to evolve? Great, it isn’t like I had enough to do already today. Maybe I’ll get up early tomorrow and evolve some before breakfast.

  37. #37 Brownian, OM
    October 29, 2007

    What I wanna know is how come trees get bigger but if you look at ’em you can’t see ’em getting bigger. Trust me. Watch a tree. You won’t see it getting bigger. But if you come back years later, it’s bigger. What gives?

  38. #38 me
    October 29, 2007

    “…there isn’t some blueprint in the genome…”

    One of those yahoos is going to find some Francis Collins quote saying, “We now possess life’s blueprint!!” and fuck you up with it.

  39. #39 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    If we didn’t have parasites, would we have to change the theory?

    I think so. A complete absence of parasites would be quite mysterious.

    Does the existence oof tall, weak, healthy, yummy plants challenge the current body of knowledge?

    It would, if there were any. 🙂

    Since the YECs have condensed 3.6 billion years of life into 6,000, presumably in their model it should have taken a few weeks or months a few thousand years ago.

    Nah. One day at most (the fourth).

    (Never mind the complete lack of Cambrian birds…)

    but then I remember that I would pass out if I had to dissect something.

    All I ever had to dissect was an earthworm and a cricket. And I had to watch the dissection of a rat (which means, its abdominal cavity and its chest were opened). And I had to draw what became visible*. That’s all. Only bones and stones afterwards — though that’s because I’m a paleobiologist…

    * It won’t surprise you to see that, on the inside, the only difference between rat and man is size.

    Evolution in Action! Take that[,] Sullivan!

    Pish and tosh, sir! There are four-legged chickens, that makes six limbs!

  40. #40 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    If we didn’t have parasites, would we have to change the theory?

    I think so. A complete absence of parasites would be quite mysterious.

    Does the existence oof tall, weak, healthy, yummy plants challenge the current body of knowledge?

    It would, if there were any. 🙂

    Since the YECs have condensed 3.6 billion years of life into 6,000, presumably in their model it should have taken a few weeks or months a few thousand years ago.

    Nah. One day at most (the fourth).

    (Never mind the complete lack of Cambrian birds…)

    but then I remember that I would pass out if I had to dissect something.

    All I ever had to dissect was an earthworm and a cricket. And I had to watch the dissection of a rat (which means, its abdominal cavity and its chest were opened). And I had to draw what became visible*. That’s all. Only bones and stones afterwards — though that’s because I’m a paleobiologist…

    * It won’t surprise you to see that, on the inside, the only difference between rat and man is size.

    Evolution in Action! Take that[,] Sullivan!

    Pish and tosh, sir! There are four-legged chickens, that makes six limbs!

  41. #41 John B
    October 29, 2007

    if I remember my herpetology lessons correctly there are some large pythons with visible vestigal hind limbs… now used for the sexy prodding of mates (I think).

    I don’t see cows going down a similar path, but wanted to point out that the ‘transitional’ forms seem to have some flexibility of function, beyond a series of fully functional transportation systems.

    It seems like anything along a range from ‘not harmful’ to ‘good for something’ (depending on the context) is possible. Since there’s no design involved, there’s no reason to imagine the ‘something’ the limb is good for will always be locomotion.

  42. #42 frog
    October 29, 2007

    John B: I’ve always thought that “survival of the fittest” is a poor construction. It generally seems to be more of a “survival of those who aren’t the least fit.” The old joke about how fast you need to run to get away from a predator: just a bit faster than the slowest member of the herd.

  43. #43 Pat Sullivan
    October 29, 2007

    Wow. I appreciate being talked about on this esteemed site. I say that with sincerity. It is esteemed.

    A question. Are the drawings of the lineage above real or imagined? Or hypothesized? I ask to be educated so please don’t blast me on that. Just answer the question cause I want to know.

    Then another question: (I know you think me stupid and that is ok) but do you consider the obvious number of massive changes in the underlying protein machinery needed to go from one species to the next, (and make everything work), is really simple genetic change? The lineage that you offer actually seems to require massive numbers of changes for what you portray as a simple and obvious lineage. When I look at it I see perhaps millions (maybe thousands. I don’t know) of needed genetic mutations to go from one species to the next. And it would seem there would be perhaps thousands of clear cut steps in between with many of those changes being useless as most mutations are. The changes from one drawing to the next actually represent HUGE change, not small incremental steps it seems.

    These kinds of lineages, offered for proof of evolution, always seem so simplistic to me and yet held out as absolute proof that evolution “did it.”

    Thanks for answering my questions, if you will. I am trying to learn.

  44. #44 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    A question. Are the drawings of the lineage above real or imagined? Or hypothesized?

    Hypothesized. They are the simplest explanation that currently exists for our observations.

    Now, you probably think “hypothesized” and “imagined” means the same, but it doesn’t.

    I know you think me stupid

    I think that assumption isn’t necessary. You seem to have drawn entirely logical conclusions from premises that happen to be completely wrong because they are based on ignorance instead of on knowledge. But I haven’t read your blog post 🙂

    the obvious number of massive changes in the underlying protein machinery needed to go from one species to the next

    I don’t know what you mean. No matter which of the at least 25 definitions of “species” you choose, very small changes suffice. For example, although it never seems to have been tried, I’d bet real money that we can’t produce fertile offspring with a chimp. Why? Because two chromosomes have fused in the human line, resulting in our chromosome 2. A hybrid would have real trouble doing meiosis, just like a mule, which has the exact same problem AFAIK.

    The lineage that you offer actually seems to require massive numbers of changes for what you portray as a simple and obvious lineage.

    Mind you: it is not a lineage, it is a tree. It branches. There should be an arrowhead on each end except the bottom one.

    Massive numbers of changes require massive amounts of time. These are available. The diagram represents at least 30 million years, from the last stage of the Middle Devonian to the end of the Late Devonian (scroll around at this page).

    Also, it is not complete. It only shows the most completely preserved fossils, the ones that are most photogenic and can tell us the most. The lineage simply labeled as “Eusthenopteron” actually looks like this. Somewhere close to Panderichthys there is Parapanderichthys, and even closer to Tiktaalik, Acanthostega and Ichthyostega there should be Elpistostege and Livoniana. Closer to Acanthostega and Ichthyostega than Tiktaalik is, there are Elginerpeton, Obruchevichthys, Ventastega, Metaxygnathus, and probably Densignathus, Sinostega, and Jakubsonia. And what is simply shown as Ichthyostega could be up to three species.

    And the tree continues in both directions. See here and here. Especially, google for Tulerpeton, an animal with 6 fingers per hand and 6 toes per foot that lived in the sea.

    When I look at it I see perhaps millions (maybe thousands. I don’t know) of needed genetic mutations to go from one species to the next. And it would seem there would be perhaps thousands of clear cut steps in between with many of those changes being useless as most mutations are.

    To be honest, this sounds to me like you haven’t looked at it. You should get one of those humongous, expensive textbooks of molecular biology and learn some genetics. Actually, much of that knowledge is online, so a few days spent in Google should give you good basic knowledge.

    And it would seem there would be perhaps thousands of clear cut steps in between with many of those changes being useless as most mutations are.

    So what? As long as they aren’t actively harmful, natural selection won’t do anything against them. It can’t.

    These kinds of lineages, offered for proof of evolution, always seem so simplistic to me and yet held out as absolute proof that evolution “did it.”

    Talking about “proof” will only give you mild smiles. Science cannot prove, only disprove.

    If a hypothesis fails to fit an observation, it is disproven (…even though a very similar hypothesis might not be). But if this does not happen, we can’t say the hypothesis has been proven; we can only say it hasn’t been disproven so far.

    Sure, science could prove a hypothesis by disproving all alternatives. But who says we’ve even imagined all alternatives? Science can prove beyond reasonable doubt, sure, but there is no definition of “reasonable”.

    I hope to have been of help!

  45. #45 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    A question. Are the drawings of the lineage above real or imagined? Or hypothesized?

    Hypothesized. They are the simplest explanation that currently exists for our observations.

    Now, you probably think “hypothesized” and “imagined” means the same, but it doesn’t.

    I know you think me stupid

    I think that assumption isn’t necessary. You seem to have drawn entirely logical conclusions from premises that happen to be completely wrong because they are based on ignorance instead of on knowledge. But I haven’t read your blog post 🙂

    the obvious number of massive changes in the underlying protein machinery needed to go from one species to the next

    I don’t know what you mean. No matter which of the at least 25 definitions of “species” you choose, very small changes suffice. For example, although it never seems to have been tried, I’d bet real money that we can’t produce fertile offspring with a chimp. Why? Because two chromosomes have fused in the human line, resulting in our chromosome 2. A hybrid would have real trouble doing meiosis, just like a mule, which has the exact same problem AFAIK.

    The lineage that you offer actually seems to require massive numbers of changes for what you portray as a simple and obvious lineage.

    Mind you: it is not a lineage, it is a tree. It branches. There should be an arrowhead on each end except the bottom one.

    Massive numbers of changes require massive amounts of time. These are available. The diagram represents at least 30 million years, from the last stage of the Middle Devonian to the end of the Late Devonian (scroll around at this page).

    Also, it is not complete. It only shows the most completely preserved fossils, the ones that are most photogenic and can tell us the most. The lineage simply labeled as “Eusthenopteron” actually looks like this. Somewhere close to Panderichthys there is Parapanderichthys, and even closer to Tiktaalik, Acanthostega and Ichthyostega there should be Elpistostege and Livoniana. Closer to Acanthostega and Ichthyostega than Tiktaalik is, there are Elginerpeton, Obruchevichthys, Ventastega, Metaxygnathus, and probably Densignathus, Sinostega, and Jakubsonia. And what is simply shown as Ichthyostega could be up to three species.

    And the tree continues in both directions. See here and here. Especially, google for Tulerpeton, an animal with 6 fingers per hand and 6 toes per foot that lived in the sea.

    When I look at it I see perhaps millions (maybe thousands. I don’t know) of needed genetic mutations to go from one species to the next. And it would seem there would be perhaps thousands of clear cut steps in between with many of those changes being useless as most mutations are.

    To be honest, this sounds to me like you haven’t looked at it. You should get one of those humongous, expensive textbooks of molecular biology and learn some genetics. Actually, much of that knowledge is online, so a few days spent in Google should give you good basic knowledge.

    And it would seem there would be perhaps thousands of clear cut steps in between with many of those changes being useless as most mutations are.

    So what? As long as they aren’t actively harmful, natural selection won’t do anything against them. It can’t.

    These kinds of lineages, offered for proof of evolution, always seem so simplistic to me and yet held out as absolute proof that evolution “did it.”

    Talking about “proof” will only give you mild smiles. Science cannot prove, only disprove.

    If a hypothesis fails to fit an observation, it is disproven (…even though a very similar hypothesis might not be). But if this does not happen, we can’t say the hypothesis has been proven; we can only say it hasn’t been disproven so far.

    Sure, science could prove a hypothesis by disproving all alternatives. But who says we’ve even imagined all alternatives? Science can prove beyond reasonable doubt, sure, but there is no definition of “reasonable”.

    I hope to have been of help!

  46. #46 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    A question.

    I just sent a long comment. It contains plenty of links, so it is being held for approval and will show up directly above this one. Maybe very soon, maybe tomorrow.

  47. #47 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    A question.

    I just sent a long comment. It contains plenty of links, so it is being held for approval and will show up directly above this one. Maybe very soon, maybe tomorrow.

  48. #48 Skemono
    October 29, 2007

    When I look at it I see perhaps millions (maybe thousands. I don’t know) of needed genetic mutations to go from one species to the next. And it would seem there would be perhaps thousands of clear cut steps in between with many of those changes being useless as most mutations are.

    Oh my god! Is this the famed “Well, sure you showed me a transitional fossil C between A and B… but where are the transitions between A and C, and C and B? Huh? That’s two more gaps in evolution, suckers!” argument? I almost thought it was a myth. Except it’s not “two more gaps” so much as a “thousands more gaps”.

  49. #49 raven
    October 29, 2007

    When I look at it I see perhaps millions (maybe thousands. I don’t know) of needed genetic mutations to go from one species to the next.

    A lot lower number of mutations between species than millions. Most mutations controlling morphology are thought to be regulatory mutations in developmental pathways.

    We now have whole genome sequences for human, chimp, and Rhesus monkey. Using this data, we have estimated that from the common ancestor of chimps and humans, somewhere between 60 and 200 mutations are important. The number of differences between chimps and humans is in the millions of nukes but the vast majority is in noncoding DNA that is just there and would be nuetral. The number of differences between 2 humans can be 4 million base pairs. The calculated differences between the last common ancestor-human is easily within the range of known mutation rates.

    Another way to look at this is more intuitive and has happened within historical and late prehistoric times. From wolf to chihuahua or toy poodle took 10,000 years. From teosinte to corn took 6 to 8,000 years and required relatively few changes to take a nondescript grass and turn it into one of the world’s most abundant food source.

    Two world class resources on evolution are talkorigins.org and pandasthumb.org.

  50. #50 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    Oh my god! Is this

    Yes, it is, and my upcoming comment lists dozens of… more gaps.

  51. #51 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    Oh my god! Is this

    Yes, it is, and my upcoming comment lists dozens of… more gaps.

  52. #52 Owlmirror
    October 29, 2007

    but do you consider the obvious number of massive changes in the underlying protein machinery needed to go from one species to the next, (and make everything work), is really simple genetic change?

    Sure. We see massive changes in “the underlying protein machinery” in widespread populations, such as in humans and dogs, even within the same species, whose common ancestors were hundreds of thousands of years ago.

    When we’re looking at species whose common ancestors are separated by tens of millions of years, the larger number of differences is a perfectly reasonable extrapolation.

    These kinds of lineages, offered for proof of evolution, always seem so simplistic to me and yet held out as absolute proof that evolution “did it.”

    If you can find a testable way for something other than evolution that “did it”, write up a paper and submit it to a biology journal.

  53. #53 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    Most mutations controlling morphology are thought to be regulatory mutations in developmental pathways.

    Yep. For example, there is a master switch in limbed vertebrates… if you press it — one mutation –, the forelimbs never develop. The snakes have found it, as was figured out a few years ago. Sometimes it gets discovered by other animals, too.

  54. #54 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    Most mutations controlling morphology are thought to be regulatory mutations in developmental pathways.

    Yep. For example, there is a master switch in limbed vertebrates… if you press it — one mutation –, the forelimbs never develop. The snakes have found it, as was figured out a few years ago. Sometimes it gets discovered by other animals, too.

  55. #55 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    (I clicked “post” too early…)

    Most mutations controlling morphology are thought to be regulatory mutations in developmental pathways.

    Yep. For example, there is a master switch in limbed vertebrates… if you press it — one mutation –, the forelimbs and shoulder girdles never develop. The snakes have found it, as was figured out a few years ago; that’s why there are fossil snakes with tiny but fully formed hindlimbs, and why the pythons & boas have remains of hindlimbs, but why snakes never have any trace of forelimbs or shoulder girdles. Sometimes it gets discovered by other animals, too.

  56. #56 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    (I clicked “post” too early…)

    Most mutations controlling morphology are thought to be regulatory mutations in developmental pathways.

    Yep. For example, there is a master switch in limbed vertebrates… if you press it — one mutation –, the forelimbs and shoulder girdles never develop. The snakes have found it, as was figured out a few years ago; that’s why there are fossil snakes with tiny but fully formed hindlimbs, and why the pythons & boas have remains of hindlimbs, but why snakes never have any trace of forelimbs or shoulder girdles. Sometimes it gets discovered by other animals, too.

  57. #57 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    I just sent a long comment. It contains plenty of links, so it is being held for approval and will show up directly above this one.

    It has now.

  58. #58 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 29, 2007

    I just sent a long comment. It contains plenty of links, so it is being held for approval and will show up directly above this one.

    It has now.

  59. #59 Ms. S
    October 29, 2007

    Can David get another Molly?
    I started reading the comments and by the time I got to #28 and the crocoduck, I was laughing so hard I was crying – then as I kept reading, I just got more impressed with the clear and concise explanations.
    If only I could have you all come in as guest speakers for my high school class! 🙂

  60. #60 Owlmirror
    October 29, 2007

    The changes from one drawing to the next actually represent HUGE change, not small incremental steps it seems.

    Take a snapshot of a fertilized egg, the newborn infant that the egg develops into, the seven-year-old child that the infant grows up to become, the twenty-year-old adult who was the child, and the wrinkled and stooped eighty-year-old who was once twenty.

    There are HUGE changes between all of them, and yet each snapshot was reached by small incremental steps.

  61. #61 ngong
    October 29, 2007

    Since the YECs have condensed 3.6 billion years of life into 6,000, presumably in their model it should have taken a few weeks or months a few thousand years ago

    According to scientists, the Cambrian explosion happened about 500 mya, and the earth is 4.5 billion years old. If you’re a YEC, however, that would mean the Cambrian explosion happened 666 years ago!!! And it lasted about 3 years.

  62. #62 pkiwi
    October 29, 2007

    Pat – starting this simple for ya. Find the biggest dog you can. Find the littlest yappiest minature dog you can. Oh my god there is no way they could have a common ancestor right? Like don’t believe it could be possible cos how come there isn’t exactly every tranistional form in between around. Let alone multiply by a few million years…

  63. #63 Alison
    October 29, 2007

    Re: The three-legged transitional cow. . .

    Clearly, the three-legged cows became christian, and, therefore, perfected. Once jesus had caused their fourth limbs to grow in, they then stoned all the remaining three-legged cows to death. Their bodies got washed away in the flood, and that’s why we don’t have any fossils of them.

  64. #64 Chris Noble
    October 29, 2007

    I find that many creationists/IDists usually make the implicit assumption that evolution works off of some sort of teleology.

    I’ll second that.

    It’s as if they can’t conceptualise anything that doesn’t have a purpose. It seems to be this misconception that leads to most of the strawman versions of Darwinism that they attack and most of the “proofs by improbability” that they come up with.

  65. #65 Mike from Ottawa
    October 29, 2007

    “What we have in development is, for instance, an early establishment of bilateral symmetry, so that an operation that occurs on one side of the embryo will be mirrored on the other. It actually takes special additional mechanisms to break that symmetry; pairs of limbs are the default.”

    But it does happen, as the evolution of the Hopsorrhinidae shows.

  66. #66 Ichthyic
    October 29, 2007

    I find that many creationists/IDists usually make the implicit assumption that evolution works off of some sort of teleology.

    yeah, it’s just like they’re projecting…

    oh, wait that IS what is going on.

  67. #67 ngong
    October 29, 2007

    #57…Even the “why do we still have monkeys?” argument seems based on this mental block of purpose/teleology. The assumption is that humans are “more evolved”, superior, closer to some model of perfection, and thus humans should have replaced all monkeys if evolution were true.

  68. #68 Chet
    October 30, 2007

    Even the “why do we still have monkeys?” argument seems based on this mental block of purpose/teleology.

    Of course, the bad news is that, given the rate of human encroachment that is driving our nearest primate relatives to extinction, this question will eventually be self-answering.

  69. #69 Pat Sullivan
    October 30, 2007

    Thanks for answering my question.

    So, it is hypothesis, not actual fact? The best guess scientists have so far? And the reason that is not what I think it is, has something to do with a bill in the Ohio congress? Appreciate the help.

  70. #70 Ichthyic
    October 30, 2007

    So, it is hypothesis, not actual fact?

    which, specifically, the graph?

    the graph is an hypothesis supported and consistent with facts (namely, the specific fossils).

    did you have some alternative that is actually based on the same facts in mind?

    do tell.

    and how on earth does this have anything to do with legislation being considered in the Ohio congress?

    are you trying to play the “it’s only a theory” canard?

    seriously?

    that and a pack of matches will light a cigar.

    c’mon, patrick, don’t hold back, tell us what you REALLY think.

  71. #71 Ichthyic
    October 30, 2007

    pat flat out stated on his blog:

    My observations don’t require “a science background.”

    I quote another who said:

    trying to convince you of anything would be like trying to make a pile of dogshit smell nice.

    if you don’t have any background in paleontology or biology, how the fuck do you know what you’re looking at when you see the graph. answer: You didn’t.

    you HAD TO ASK A QUESTION.

    see? you’re full of shit.

  72. #72 ngong
    October 30, 2007

    So, it is hypothesis, not actual fact? The best guess scientists have so far? And the reason that is not what I think it is, has something to do with a bill in the Ohio congress? Appreciate the help.

    555555555 (The Thai word for 5 is “ha”). Egg on the face of all the earnest, patient, pedagogic types who made the effort to respond to this schmuck!

  73. #73 Owlmirror
    October 30, 2007

    So, it is hypothesis, not actual fact?

    It is a combination of hypothesis, theory, and fact.

    The best guess scientists have so far?

    All of science is the best guess based on the evidence.

    And the reason that is not what I think it is, has something to do with a bill in the Ohio congress?

    Are you drunk or high on something?

  74. #74 Richard Simons
    October 30, 2007

    So, it is hypothesis, not actual fact? The best guess scientists have so far?

    In science a theory is an explanation for something that is supported by the facts and has been used to make predictions that turned out to be correct. From it, additional predictions can be made.

    A hypothesis can be thought of as an immature theory – predictions have been made but not enough have been tested to justify calling it a theory.

    Neither hypotheses not theories ever turn into facts. Rather, facts are the building blocks of theories and hypotheses, with the theory of evolution being one of the strongest and best supported theories in science. It is far from being a guess.

    I think non-biologists have not the slightest conception of how strong the evidence is in favour of the theory of evolution. There are well over a thousand research papers published every month that could, potentially, find a flaw in the theory. Although there have been changes to ideas about the details of the process nothing has ever shaken the central ideas of the theory. Its ‘rival’ in the US, so-called Intelligent Design, by contrast has so little going for it that there isn’t even a clear statement of a hypothesis to be found, and therefore no testable predictions that differ from those of evolutionary theory can be made.

  75. #75 Ichthyic
    October 30, 2007

    Egg on the face of all the earnest, patient, pedagogic types who made the effort to respond to this schmuck!

    meh, normally, I would agree, but in this case Pat would have a tough time selling the response to his question as somehow “fictional”, since it will be easy enough to call him on it when he inevitably attempts to quotemine it.

    these people are nothing if not predictable.

    Meantime, David’s response was a decent, concise explanation that was at least useful to others who have some grasp of how science actually works.

    still, overall I do prefer the approach of just heckling the willfully insane.

  76. #76 Ichthyic
    October 30, 2007

    I am trying to learn.

    Liar.

  77. #77 Kseniya
    October 30, 2007

    So… is it fair to say that Sullivan presents the pretense of teachable ignorance while elsewhere claiming that his uninformed insights alone trump the conclusions drawn from a one hundred fifty year’s worth of accumulated scientific observation and educated analysis? That he is, in other words, just another in a long and tiresome series of arrogant laypersons who wield theistic agendas beneath their cloaks and wish only to have their predetermined conclusions verified by whatever intellectually dishonest means available?

    Hey, I’m just asking.

  78. #78 Ichthyic
    October 30, 2007

    Hey, I’m just asking.

    liar.

    😉

  79. #79 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    I’ve ripped Pat Sullivan a new one on his blog:

    No halfway intelligent person would think that evolution predicts 3-legged cows turning into 4-legged cows. Cows evolved from other 4-legged animals — those animals were different from cows, but they weren’t incomplete cows. Consider the evolution of software; we don’t expect to see all sorts of “weird” software. There was never a version of Windows where the windows only had three sides — why should Pat expect biological evolution to work that way? That’s just stupid, and shows no understanding at all of biology or the theory of evolution or what it predicts.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 29, 2007 at 11:25 PM

    The Cambrian explosion is something the many evolutionists even have wrestled with to explain how it happened. From nowhere?

    No evolutionist has ever held that the denizens of the Cambrian came from nowhere. They of course evolved from earlier species … species with soft bodies that didn’t leave much in the way of fossils. Recently though, we’ve found many trace fossils and micro fossils. As for “how it happened”, the question is about the relatively rapid development of species — “rapid” meaning over a period of 50 million years. The notion that many species just showed up suddenly from nowhere is sheer ignorance.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 29, 2007 at 11:42 PM

    Truth Machine,

    You must not use software!! There are many examples of software that does not work. Microsoft Windows is a great example.

    It took a bunch of highly intelligent engineers and very smart designers over 3 versions to finally ship a usable version. Was about 5 years in the making. I was there. I saw all the previous versions and Windows was WEIRD software. Not until version 3.1 did they really have something that worked. The guys at Apple would laugh at you and say you’re an idiot!

    There are tons of examples in software where weird things were shipped. Still happens everyday.

    No “halfway intelligent” person would say what you said here. Welcome to the club!!

    Posted by: Pat Sullivan | October 29, 2007 at 11:48 PM

    Ok, but using my example of a real estate development, you can always observe many things that are totally incomplete and obviously NOT functional.

    Gee, then maybe that’s an indication that you real estate analogy isn’t appropriate; biological evolution isn’t like that. I mentioned software above; consider also the development of cars. Modern 4-wheeled cars didn’t evolve from 3-wheeled cars. Your real estate analogy is like assembling a car — the car goes through partial stages until it’s complete. But the design of cars evolves over time, and earlier cars don’t, at the time, look incomplete — every car throughout history has always looked complete. It’s the same way with biological organisms. Expecting to see 3- or 5-legged cows is like expecting to see 3- or 5- wheeled cars. It is, frankly, DUMB.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 29, 2007 at 11:50 PM

    You must not use software!! There are many examples of software that does not work. Microsoft Windows is a great example.

    I’ve been writing software for over 40 years. Yes, there’s software that doesn’t work, just as there are babies missing brains who die.

    The versions of Windows before 3.1 did work ,,, they just didn’t work as well as later versions. They were only “weird” in retrospect.

    But I suppose that you will make the same argument about cars. Intelligent people will conclude that you are either an idiot or incredibly dishonest. I don’t know what you get out of believing obviously very stupid things, like that evolution predicts 3-legged cows, but it’s your problem.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 29, 2007 at 11:55 PM

    Truth Machine,

    Interesting to me that the examples you use require a designer. My point, everything we see requires a designer. A car, bicycle (a two wheeled transition to the car), software, etc. I find it amazing that people can believe that something far more complex and intricate that replicates itself simply happened from nothing due to random, unintelligent means. What a leap of faith!!

    Posted by: Pat Sullivan | October 30, 2007 at 12:02 AM

    Truth Machine,

    No, it was rather obvious at the time (not in retrospect) that each version prior to 3.1 was weird. They were not usable and thus no one built applications for them. It was not till 3.1 when it was obvious that it worked. Then applications were built for it.

    Calling me either an idiot or dishonest does little for your arguments. But I hope it makes you feel better. Superior! Gee, aren’t you friggin smart!!

    Posted by: Pat Sullivan | October 30, 2007 at 12:07 AM

    Interesting to me that the examples you use require a designer.

    This is the standard dishonest dodge of creationists — to change the subject. The question you addressed was what macroevolution would produce if macroevolution happens. The working assumption there is that evolution can produce what appears to look like design — that’s what the theory of evolution holds. So it does no good to point out that the analogies involve designers. But meanwhile, the fact that one should no longer expect cows with 3 legs than cars with 3 wheels goes unanswered.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 30, 2007 at 12:09 AM

    No, it was rather obvious at the time (not in retrospect) that each version prior to 3.1 was weird.

    No, it wasn’t — no more than it was rather obvious at the time that a Model T was “weird”.

    Calling me either an idiot or dishonest does little for your arguments.

    It has no effect on my arguments. And I didn’t call you an idiot nor did I call you dishonest. I said that you are one or the other, although I am leaning toward both. But like I said, it’s not my problem — it’s your loss that you are either too stupid to understand simple arguments or too dishonest to acknowledge them. And it’s your loss that even halfway intelligent people can recognize that you are being stupid or dishonest or both. On numerous blogs around the internet where intelligent people hang out, they are ripping you to shreds and laughing at you.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 30, 2007 at 12:18 AM

    Truth Machine,

    Oh, and evolutionists NEVER change the subject, or use analogies that don’t apply to real life?

    And google “3 wheel car” and you will be pleased to see the 3 wheel cars you say don’t/can’t exist.

    It is a perfectly valid question to ask how something that is so incredibly well designed and made, ( far better than anything man has designed) is not designed or made at all. No, it came about through random means. Indeed! People who want to believe that, will believe that. You are welcome to it.

    Posted by: Pat Sullivan | October 30, 2007 at 12:19 AM

    But meanwhile, the fact that one should no longer expect cows with 3 legs than cars with 3 wheels goes unanswered.

    Make that “… no more expect …”

    Posted by: truth machine | October 30, 2007 at 12:19 AM

    Oh, and evolutionists NEVER change the subject, or use analogies that don’t apply to real life?

    Nice tu quoque argument — the favorite of school children.

    And google “3 wheel car” and you will be pleased to see the 3 wheel cars you say don’t/can’t exist.

    I never said they don’t/can’t exist, I said that 4-wheeled cars didn’t evolve from them.

    Your dishonesty is well established.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 30, 2007 at 12:21 AM

    A car, bicycle (a two wheeled transition to the car), software, etc. I find it amazing that people can believe that something far more complex and intricate that replicates itself simply happened from nothing due to random, unintelligent means.

    Argument from incredulity. Your stupidity is well established.

    What a leap of faith!!

    It’s not a leap of faith, it a conclusion from overwhelming evidence. It’s a conclusion that deacon and creationist Charles Darwin reached after his careful accumulation of evidence on his voyage on the Beagle, and vast amounts of additional confirming evidence has been accumulated over the following 150 years, evidence that you are not familiar with.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 30, 2007 at 12:26 AM

    Truth Machine,

    If Orac and PZ Meyers are the only ones who are intelligent, you are right, I am an idiot. But not dishonest. You could say deluded perhaps but dishonest, no.

    I honestly believe that life appears highly designed because in all probability it is. That is not a leap of faith. It is a pretty basic observation made by a majority of people. But in this case, the majority is stupid because you say they are. Perhaps they are all dishonest too?

    And I am not appealing to numbers as authority here. I am just pointing out that the strong appearance of design makes most people believe, well, that it is designed. That seems perfectly logical to me.

    I believe it even though I would like to believe otherwise. Who really wants the implications that there might be a God who expects something from us? Atheism is a great escape from that. I would prefer it but I honestly believe the evidence supports belief. If that makes me an idiot or worse, dishonest, so be it.

    If I really am an idiot, why are wasting so much time talking with me on this blog?

    Whatever…

    Posted by: Pat Sullivan | October 30, 2007 at 12:34 AM

    Thus my contention: Evolution is doomed if only a few are smart enough to be believers. Everyone else is too dumb. I am a lay student of evolution and intelligent design. Yet I am too DUMB to understand. Fascinating!!

    Sure. just like advanced physics and mathematics are “doomed”.

    The computer you are typing on exists because of some smart people who are “believers” in the field effect.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 30, 2007 at 12:35 AM

    I am an idiot.

    True.

    But not dishonest.

    False — I pointed out your dishonest arguments above.

    If I really am an idiot, why are wasting so much time talking with me on this blog?

    I’m talking to your readers.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 30, 2007 at 12:36 AM

    Truth Machine,

    No Windows was weird and the model T was not. People bought the model T. Only the curious bought Windows before there were applications.

    But so what. It is an analogy that both of us have worn out.

    Posted by: Pat Sullivan | October 30, 2007 at 12:38 AM

    Atheism is a great escape from that.

    There are many people who accept evolution who are not atheists. The Catholic church teaches the theory of evolution. You know that, so you must be dishonest to talk about atheism — or more stupid than I can even fathom.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 30, 2007 at 12:39 AM

    People bought the model T

    And it had 4 wheels. Duh.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 30, 2007 at 12:40 AM

    Only the curious bought Windows before there were applications.

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_2.0

    “The first Windows versions of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel ran on Windows 2.0. Third-party developer support for Windows increased substantially with this version (some shipped the Windows Runtime software with their applications, for customers who had not purchased the full version of Windows). However, most developers still maintained DOS versions of their applications, as Windows users were still a distinct minority of their market.”

    A minority, but not only the curious. And looking at the screenshot one can see that there’s nothing particularly “weird” (certainly not as weird, in restrospect, as the tiled windows of Windows 1.0). All your claims are dishonest.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 30, 2007 at 12:45 AM

    Truth Machine,

    Ok. Ok. You win from sheer determination. It is almost 1:00AM and I don’t care anymore. I concede to your incredible intelligence and unquestioned honesty. In the face of all that I will write a thousand times on the board tomorrow, “I will not be stupid. I will not be dishonest.” Now please go to bed. Good nite.

    Posted by: Pat Sullivan | October 30, 2007 at 12:47 AM

    e,g, cows with 3 legs and a partial 4th still in the process of evolving

    Again, this is DUMB, as dumb as expecting a car with 3 wheels and a partial 4th still in the process of an evolving car design. Such “partial” entities are not expected of macroevolution, because it operates via natural selection, and such partial entities aren’t fit and won’t survive. Rather, we expect to see many different organisms with similar but varying body shapes that are fit (a basic evolutionary concept) in various niches. And when we look at the fossil record, we see predecessors of cows with very slowly varying body shapes — but never with 3 1/2 legs; that’s silly, and any honest person would admit that it’s silly.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 30, 2007 at 12:52 AM

    You win from sheer determination.

    No, I “win” because all the evidence and logic is in my favor, you pathetic cowardly git.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 30, 2007 at 12:53 AM

  80. #80 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    Sullivan’s cowardice is further revealed by his deletion of my last comment. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the rest disappear too.

  81. #81 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    The hard part in addressing that complaint is that it requires going in and systematically dismantling his freakishly false version of evolution first, and then trying to build up a more accurate model in his head. It takes education — the kind of education poor Mr Sullivan should have been given in grade school, before his ideas calcified into this strange nonsense.

    I don’t think this is correct. When I point out that 4 wheeled cars didn’t evolve from 3 1/2 wheeled cars, he changes the subject to “everything we see requires a designer”. His response strongly suggests that he knows that his claim is ridiculous, or that he just doesn’t care — he’s doing apologetics, and accurate models of evolution are irrelevant. It’s not just education about biology he never got, it’s religious indoctrination that he did get.

  82. #82 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    Sullivan’s cowardice is further revealed by his deletion of my last comment. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the rest disappear too.

    As predicted:

    I removed the last several comments from T ruth M achine because he/she went way overboard in terms of civility. It is a shame we cannot have a civil discourse about almost any topic today.

    He has many other blogs he can go to and anonymously bash people he knows little about. He has been banned from this site.

    I have only done this once before. The other was someone who was certifiably crazy. Hope not to have to do it again. Sorry.

    Posted by: Pat Sullivan | October 30, 2007 at 01:19 AM

    The comments to this entry are closed.

    Here’s one of the posts the coward deleted as “overboard in terms of civility”:

    e,g, cows with 3 legs and a partial 4th still in the process of evolving

    Again, this is DUMB, as dumb as expecting a car with 3 wheels and a partial 4th still in the process of an evolving car design. Such “partial” entities are not expected of macroevolution, because it operates via natural selection, and such partial entities aren’t fit and won’t survive. Rather, we expect to see many different organisms with similar but varying body shapes that are fit (a basic evolutionary concept) in various niches. And when we look at the fossil record, we see predecessors of cows with very slowly varying body shapes — but never with 3 1/2 legs; that’s silly, and any honest person would admit that it’s silly.

    Posted by: truth machine | October 30, 2007 at 12:52 AM

  83. #83 G. Tingey
    October 30, 2007

    Err … #8
    “… thus a family of stags once existed with an antler only on one side; and if this had been of any great use to the breed, it might probably have been rendered permanent by natural selection.
    I laughed so hard when I read that. Yeah, Darwin really didn’t understand a thing about developmental biology.”

    The Narwhal?
    ( Monodon monoceros )

  84. #84 G. Tingey
    October 30, 2007

    Oh, and has Sullivan seen the amazing “evolving Watch” video from YouTube, shown here a few full posts back?

    Perhaps he should.

  85. #85 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    I am trying to learn.

    Mr. Sullivan obviously was lying; what he was trying to do is play “gotcha”.

    Egg on the face of all the earnest, patient, pedagogic types who made the effort to respond to this schmuck!

    Indeed.

  86. #86 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    I think non-biologists have not the slightest conception of how strong the evidence is in favour of the theory of evolution.

    Not all non-biologists. Most scientists, and laypeople with a good science education, are aware of this.

  87. #87 negentropyeater
    October 30, 2007

    Evolution predicts that :
    -if we continue feeding antibiotics to our cattle, poultry, pigs and fish and;
    -if marketing people like Pat Robertson continue being the main decision makers with regards to the kind of food we eat;
    then human beings will get to notice very quickly that evolution has not been “completed”.

  88. #88 negentropyeater
    October 30, 2007

    sorry meant Pat Sullivan… wonder why I confused him with Pat Robertson.

  89. #89 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 30, 2007

    So, it is hypothesis, not actual fact? The best guess scientists have so far?

    I can tell you didn’t click the link. Here is it again. Please read that page — or you’ll never understand what I’m talking about.

    I have no idea about the Ohio congress. I’ve only ever been to the USA for a few days.

    pat flat out stated on his blog:

    My observations don’t require “a science background.”

    Ouch.

    Making the slightest sense of his observations does require a science background. Lacking that, he can only make arguments from ignorance and from personal incredulity.

    A hypothesis can be thought of as an immature theory – predictions have been made but not enough have been tested to justify calling it a theory.

    Well… a theory is also bigger than a hypothesis; it explains a broader scope of observations. But of course neither of these terms is so strictly defined that you could always tell if a set of ideas is a theory or a hypothesis.

    I would say the diagram depicts a (very well-supported) hypothesis, and evolution is at the upper end of the range of “theory”.

    ———–

    truth machine, why all this copying and pasting? IMHO you could have stopped after your first line, maybe making it a link to your first comment on his blog.

    I’ve been writing software for over 40 years.

    Wow. I’m astounded. From your counterproductive behavior, I’d never have guessed you were above my age of 25.

    I don’t think this is correct. When I point out that 4 wheeled cars didn’t evolve from 3 1/2 wheeled cars, he changes the subject to “everything we see requires a designer”. His response strongly suggests that he knows that his claim is ridiculous, or that he just doesn’t care —

    I think he thinks your analogy is wrong, because cars are designed. He’s still making an argument from ignorance, but I really don’t think he knows that, let alone why, his argument is in fact ridiculous, nor do I think he doesn’t care.

    IMHO you should have first established that there really is no design in evolution — unless he is prepared to accept the hypothesis of Stupid Design. Tell him to compare his eyes to a squid’s. Tell him to ponder the fact that the pathways for air and food cross in his neck. Tell him to think about his kidneys — first they let everything water-soluble pass, and then they expend lots of energy fishing the valuable stuff out of the primary urine. Explain how his feet aren’t good for anything except playing soccer, and even that’s dangerous. And so on for hours.

  90. #90 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 30, 2007

    So, it is hypothesis, not actual fact? The best guess scientists have so far?

    I can tell you didn’t click the link. Here is it again. Please read that page — or you’ll never understand what I’m talking about.

    I have no idea about the Ohio congress. I’ve only ever been to the USA for a few days.

    pat flat out stated on his blog:

    My observations don’t require “a science background.”

    Ouch.

    Making the slightest sense of his observations does require a science background. Lacking that, he can only make arguments from ignorance and from personal incredulity.

    A hypothesis can be thought of as an immature theory – predictions have been made but not enough have been tested to justify calling it a theory.

    Well… a theory is also bigger than a hypothesis; it explains a broader scope of observations. But of course neither of these terms is so strictly defined that you could always tell if a set of ideas is a theory or a hypothesis.

    I would say the diagram depicts a (very well-supported) hypothesis, and evolution is at the upper end of the range of “theory”.

    ———–

    truth machine, why all this copying and pasting? IMHO you could have stopped after your first line, maybe making it a link to your first comment on his blog.

    I’ve been writing software for over 40 years.

    Wow. I’m astounded. From your counterproductive behavior, I’d never have guessed you were above my age of 25.

    I don’t think this is correct. When I point out that 4 wheeled cars didn’t evolve from 3 1/2 wheeled cars, he changes the subject to “everything we see requires a designer”. His response strongly suggests that he knows that his claim is ridiculous, or that he just doesn’t care —

    I think he thinks your analogy is wrong, because cars are designed. He’s still making an argument from ignorance, but I really don’t think he knows that, let alone why, his argument is in fact ridiculous, nor do I think he doesn’t care.

    IMHO you should have first established that there really is no design in evolution — unless he is prepared to accept the hypothesis of Stupid Design. Tell him to compare his eyes to a squid’s. Tell him to ponder the fact that the pathways for air and food cross in his neck. Tell him to think about his kidneys — first they let everything water-soluble pass, and then they expend lots of energy fishing the valuable stuff out of the primary urine. Explain how his feet aren’t good for anything except playing soccer, and even that’s dangerous. And so on for hours.

  91. #91 mayhempix
    October 30, 2007

    Having read Sullivan’s post and engaged him on his blog under his original and his ORAC thread I am reminded of this hilarious scene from the movie “Spinal Tap”:

    The lead guitarist proudly shows off his new custom amp which has a dial that allows him to turn past the normal “10” and crank it up to “11”. When confronted with the fact that a dial with 11 notches is relative to the original 10 and does not really increase the volume a look of cognitive dissonance spreads across his face and he sputters “But, but… this amp goes up to 11!”

    Too funny.

  92. #92 Orac
    October 30, 2007

    Pat has responded here. It’s just more of the same, except we “Darwinists” are “arrogant” for dismissing the insight of the “common man” (him). Oh, and he includes an analogy of evolution to software development.

  93. #93 negentropyeater
    October 30, 2007

    Honestly, when some people on this blog repeatedly call Pat Sullivan stupid, or Liar or whatever, it almost automatically makes me want to defend him.

    Let me try to make sense of what I think is his main point :

    – he accepts (and I suppose he understands) microevolution
    – he accepts (and I suppose he understands) that microevolution can over long periods of time lead gradually to macroevolution
    – he accepts (and I suppose he understands) that there is no clear cut difference between the two, as we are talking of a gradual differentiation
    – however, specifically because the change of features, for example a fin into a leg, require large amounts of time, they cannot be observed, but only infered
    – he doesn’t view this as a proof that no “external intelligent agent” was required, in other words doesn’t accept that this is a satisfactory and sufficient explanation

    Now, let’s see if we can help him a little, assuming that he is honest and really trying to understand…

    Any candidates ?

  94. #94 raven
    October 30, 2007

    Is Pat Sullivan another lying Death Cultist? His “sincere desire to know more” could have been true or it could have been the usual creo troll bait. Looks like troll bait.

    The guy is a moron if he thinks someone with little or no relevant scientific training can just put down a few paragraphs of ignorant trash and disprove a 150 year old theory with mountains of data. But that isn’t what they are interested in. Got it right the first time in post 23.

    These people aren’t interested in the truth or reality. They just want some rationalizations for their weird belief system. Whether it is correct or makes sense is unimportant.

  95. #95 raven
    October 30, 2007

    And the reason that is not what I think it is, has something to do with a bill in the Ohio congress?

    What’s this bill? Another law sponsored by religious bigots outlawing the teaching of reality in science classes again? We are used to it. I hope there isn’t anything about violators being burnt at the stake. As the RC church found out, ultimately it is bad PR.

  96. #96 Kseniya
    October 30, 2007

    It’s rhetorically perilous to make analogies between evolution and known design processes such as software or automobile design. For even though these analogies nicely illustrate how selection applies both to naturally evolving and to human-designed entities, they play into the design assumption of the creationist – as Sullivan clearly demonstrates when he claims (with such original insight, *eyeroll*) that everything looks, and therefore is, designed.

    There are other analogies to be made which rely on processes which a) occur naturally, b) are macroscopic and easily understood, and c) are within the scope of experience of scientist and layperson alike.

    Consider, for example, a river. Its path and life-cycle are subject to a variety of natural forces. Its path is “selected” by landscape features and random variations such as annual levels of precipitation which may, at a certain threshold, cause the river to overflow its banks and create a branch, or a second river with a common ancestor (the source, be it mountain lake or whatever) or to dry up altogether (go extinct). Other unpredictable forces, such as major geological changes over long periods of time, may significantly change the path of the river.

    The river isn’t intended to represent the organism or species – the path of the river is intended to represent the evolutionary path(s) of an organism.

    I haven’t given it a whole lot of thought, and it’s not a perfect analogy by any means. There are aspects of evolution it illustrates poorly or not at all, but it does avoid the “design” contradiction and doesn’t require any comprehensive scientific or technological knowledge to be visualized.

    Anyway, river or no river, I thought I’d throw the idea of analogy-building into the ring and see what happened. We might benefit by having more analogies that don’t rely on presenting conscious design choice as an inner analogy for random variation.

    [insert reference to “River Tam as prime example of the power of Evolution” here]

  97. #97 John B
    October 30, 2007

    – he doesn’t view this as a proof that no “external intelligent agent” was required, in other words doesn’t accept that this is a satisfactory and sufficient explanation

    Without good faith(sorry) effort on both sides, I don’t see how the above could be changed. The double negatives makes the whole thing too weak and vague to address directly.

    If the guy has no interest in acquiring scientific training, and no interest in digesting all the work that has been done for centuries on taxonomy, inheritance of traits, etc… (long before Darwin), how can anyone in a blog comment demonstrate why the theory is so plausible?

    Plausibility structures are pretty complicated components of discourse communities, and translate into virtual arguments from authority to those on the outside (in this case, willfully outside.) Plausibility depends on the standards/values of the community, and is only easily communicated to those who share those standards.

  98. #98 Shenda
    October 30, 2007

    From Post# 9

    “But thats exactly what creationists will never get. Ultimately this is about the belief that mankind is the purpose behind creation.”

    Actually many of them believe that *Christians* are the purpose of creation. All others are not quite human and therefore lesser beings.

  99. #99 mayhempix
    October 30, 2007

    Sullivan is not having a good time…

    http://www.patsullivan.com/blog/2007/10/orac-blasts-my-.html?cid=88126506#comment-88126506

    “I am not enjoying myself and thus will likely simply close these ID threads.”

    He goes on to say that, “I say something and am certain my meaning is clear. But the comments/replies go in such a different direction it is clear to me that I have not communicated since my meaning was not understood.”

    In other words there is no problem with what he means, the problem is in the communication. Otherwise we would understand he is right.

    If you can’t stand the heat…

  100. #100 raven
    October 30, 2007

    “I am not enjoying myself and thus will likely simply close these ID threads.”

    In other words, Pat Sullivan is an ignorant, death cult troll. And he is not happy people called him on it.

    Whatever, it is not like there aren’t millions of them.

    Ignorance is curable. The net has more than enough info and people capable of explaining it to inform anyone of average intelligence. However, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it think.

  101. #101 dogmeatIB
    October 30, 2007

    […]WHY DID ONLY ONE OF THE STARS OF “BEDTIME FOR BONZO BECOME PRESIDENT”?M

    I suspect that if you poke around, you will probably find a few places which claim that both of the stars of that movie have, indeed, become president as of now…

    So, if I get what you’re saying correctly the progression is:

    Reagan
    Bush
    Clinton
    Reagan/Bush? Namely Bonzo?

    Oooooh creepy…

  102. #102 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    truth machine, why all this copying and pasting? IMHO you could have stopped after your first line, maybe making it a link to your first comment on his blog.

    Because, fool, I figured there was a good chance he would delete it.

    Wow. I’m astounded. From your counterproductive behavior, I’d never have guessed you were above my age of 25.

    Some people, when faced with evidence contrary to their expectations, question the basis of their expectation. It seems you’re not that sort of person. “counterproductive” is not a synonym for “David Marjanovi? doesn’t approve”, you arrogant twit.

    “I think he thinks your analogy is wrong”

    Then why doesn’t he say that? Heck, he thinks that life was designed, so why would he think that an analogy to designed things was wrong? As I said, he changed the subject, and you’re too dense to realize that it is a different subject, or too intent on disagreeing with me.

    IMHO you should have first established that there really is no design in evolution — unless he is prepared to accept the hypothesis of Stupid Design.

    That’s ridiculous. What would have to be established is that there is no teleology. Pointing out stupid design is irrelevant to creationists — their response is that this is a fallen world, or that God may have had his reasons — the “stupid” design still looks designed to them. But again, this is a different subject, because we’re talking about cows with 3 1/2 legs, which is much much worse than any “stupid design” — such designs, while inefficient, are functional, you fool.

  103. #103 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    Pat has responded here.

    He writes

    I must be really thick in the head because I don’t get what they are saying to refute my thoughts and observations.

    Indeed, he really is. He writes

    ORAC and Meyers either miss or ignore my main point. We should see some weird things if macro evolution were true.

    But of course they neither missed nor ignored that; it takes considerable thickness to think so.

    He writes

    Ok, the 3 legged cow may be a bad example but a 4 legged cow with no hooves yet, or no fully developed muscles to allow it to walk yet seems logical to me.

    Well, at least he made sort of an admission that his example is full of crap — I wonder which argument convinced him of that?

    As for “a 4 legged cow with no hooves yet”, how does he know that all the animals we see today without hooves won’t have hooves some day? But perhaps he’s thinking of a cow with four stumps — which is no better than 3 1/2 legs.

    As for “no fully developed muscles to allow it to walk yet seems logical to me” — but of course it isn’t logical in evolutionary terms for the very reason that he himself articulated: “Evolutionists insist that there is never a time when a feature is not working at least in part. Otherwise, natural selection will not select for it by replicating it in the next generation”. It’s pretty thick headed to recognize that you’re addressing a strawman but insist that the strawman is the actual argument. His image is of fins turning into legs, and then fin muscles turning into leg muscles later. This is stupid, doltish, thick headed thinking.

    negentropyeater writes

    Now, let’s see if we can help him a little, assuming that he is honest and really trying to understand…

    As I wrote on his blog, he’s either stupid or dishonest. Whenever faced with anything that undermines his views, he ignores it or misrepresents it or changes the subject. It isn’t possible to help such a person understand — they first have to be willing to put aside their prior beliefs, instead of always testing everything to see if it fits their beliefs and searching for a way to defend their beliefs if not.

  104. #104 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    It’s rhetorically perilous to make analogies between evolution and known design processes such as software or automobile design. For even though these analogies nicely illustrate how selection applies both to naturally evolving and to human-designed entities, they play into the design assumption of the creationist – as Sullivan clearly demonstrates when he claims (with such original insight, *eyeroll*) that everything looks, and therefore is, designed.

    But the proper approach is to embrace the designedness of biological systems, but reject the teleology — the insistence upon intent or “intelligence”. Biological systems are, for all intents and purposes, designed to solve problems for the organism — but they aren’t intelligently preplanned, they are unintelligently selected from among randomly produced alternatives.

    We might benefit by having more analogies that don’t rely on presenting conscious design choice as an inner analogy for random variation.

    Um, evolution isn’t a random process. Examples like rivers fail because there’s no fitness function. As Daniel Dennett points out, we take a “design stance” toward biological systems — we can make strong predictions about them by assuming they are “for” something. This works because natural selection guarantees that biological systems solve some problem for the organism. The only apt analogies are to things for which the design stance is appropriate, and other than human artifacts the only thing we know of is evolved biology.

  105. #105 sil-chan
    October 30, 2007

    @#31:

    Yes, but micro biology still requires taking basic biology. I’ll stick with my virtual worlds in computer science and perhaps promote godlessness to my fellow (obviously) godly co-workers.

  106. #106 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    P.S.

    It’s rhetorically perilous … Consider, for example, a river.

    I really have to wonder how you can think this would play any role in responding to Sullivan’s nonsense about cows with 3 1/2 legs or without hooves, how it would affect Sullivan’s thinking at all. Heck, aren’t there rivers and streams that go nowhere, or are too weak to overflow their shores? Don’t we see river canyons that are “incomplete”, that are on their way to being as vast as the grand canyon? So why don’t we see incomplete cows?

    There are aspects of evolution it illustrates poorly or not at all

    “horribly” is the right word. Do you really think that a lake drying up is anything like the extinction of a species? That’s a stupid equivocation of which any halfway intelligent creationist would make immense hay. Leave the analogies to people who actually understand biology and evolution.

    but it does avoid the “design” contradiction

    You can’t understand evolution unless you understand why biological systems look designed. See, e.g,
    http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2006/04/teleological-and-teleonomic-newer.html

  107. #107 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    Biological systems are, for all intents and purposes, designed to solve problems for the organism

    Arrgh! Man was that a dumb idiom to use! Let me try that again:

    Biological systems are, in effect, designed to solve problems for the organism.

  108. #108 Mooser
    October 30, 2007

    Like Pat said, everything has to have a designer. And he’s right. The computer he used to comment, the car he drives, the medical procedure he trusts his life to, the jet he flies in, they were all designed by people, using the exact same scientific principles and procedures which have manged to tease out some of the mysterious questions about where we came from and what preceded us.
    But you see, the same system which Pat trusts with his life every day of his life, went somehow completely wrong when it delved into biology and the history of life on earth.

    So which is it Pat? Do you reject modern science in its entirety, and refuse to trust it with your life? Or do you think that modern science and medicene is “pretty good”, but they just went all wrong with that evolution stuff?

  109. #109 thwaite
    October 30, 2007

    Playing devil’s advocate (sic) for a moment:

    And the reason that [hypothesis] is not what I think it is, [i.e. not fact] has something to do with a bill in the Ohio congress?

    Sullivan’s reply here makes vague sense if you follow Marjanovi’s link from you probably think “hypothesized” and “imagined” means the same, but it doesn’t.

    That linked discussion *is* pertinent once you get past the first paragraph about Ohio law bills and apply a little effort to understand the discussion – but you do have to do that much work, which may be more than a common-sense guy like Sullivan can justify. (Who was it who quipped “Common sense is the set of prejudices you acquire by age 18.”?)

    And the discussion is not clearly authoritative, whatever that might mean. Perhaps Sullivan would have benefited more from a link to the wikipedia article on fact. This isn’t authoritative either, of course, but at least it’s public; cites its sources; and does survey multiple specific senses of ‘fact’ in historical, scientific, legal and other contexts beyond common sense.

    And of course it could also help to note that evolution is *both* a fact and a hypothesis, as talkorigins.org summarizes.

    Otherwise I join the applause for Marjanovi’s responses: considered, well-intentioned and well-informed.

  110. #110 Kseniya
    October 30, 2007

    truth machine:

    Examples like rivers fail because there’s no fitness function.

    Ah, yes, you’re quite right. The closest one might come to analogizing fitness in terms of a river wouldn’t be very close. There are other problems with the river analogy, too – such as how it doesn’t even try to illustrate the concepts of population genetics and genetic isolation…

    Um, evolution isn’t a random process.

    No argument here. Hmmm, why do you think I don’t know that? I think that the way non-random selection processes work is pretty similar whether we’re talking about software or biological systems. What I was trying to say, perhaps with insufficient clarity, was that in our analogies we use human intervention in place of those “randomly produced alternatives,” and given that the entire premise of ID is that those alternatives are not randomly produced but are design tweaks made by He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named, those analogies may be less than fully persuasive when arguing against ID.

    Anyways… I understand what you mean about “embracing the designedness.” Everything you’ve said makes sense to me, and suggests that often the failure is not in those analogies, but in the ways that those analogies are (mis)understood by those who favor ID/Creationism.

    Also, I think you’ve solved a problem that was bubbling up from the depths of my consciousness as I was writing up the “river” idea, which was this: It’s possible that any attempt to construct analogies based on naturally-occurring processes will fail because the only naturally-occuring analog to evolution is… evolution.

    Interesting reply, thanks.

  111. #111 Keith Douglas
    October 30, 2007

    Incidentally, since development is why there are no three legged cows, after a fashion, this illustrates the strength of “evo-devo” and explains what has been improved upon since Empedocles’ version of evolution by natural selection.

  112. #112 thwaite
    October 30, 2007

    Playing devil’s advocate (sic) for a moment:

    And the reason that [hypothesis] is not what I think it is, [i.e. not fact] has something to do with a bill in the Ohio congress? Sullivan, in a reply which makes vague sense if you follow Marjanovi’s link from you probably think “hypothesized” and “imagined” means the same, but it doesn’t.

    That linked discussion *is* pertinent once you get past the first paragraph about Ohio law bills and apply a little effort to understand the discussion – but you do have to do that much work, which may be more than a common-sense guy like Sullivan can justify. (Who was it who quipped “Common sense is the set of prejudices you acquire by age 18.”?)

    And the discussion is not clearly authoritative, whatever that might mean. Perhaps Sullivan would have benefited more from a link to the wikipedia article on ‘fact’. This isn’t authoritative either, of course, but at least it’s public; cites its sources; and does survey multiple specific senses of ‘fact’ in historical, scientific, legal and other contexts beyond common sense.

    Might also help to note that evolution is *both* a fact and a hypothesis, as talkorigins.org summarizes.

    Otherwise I join the applause for Marjanovi’s responses: considered, well-intentioned and well-informed.

  113. #113 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    Anyways… I understand what you mean about “embracing the designedness.” Everything you’ve said makes sense to me

    Cool. Sorry for my harshness but, hey, you would barely recognize me without it. 🙂

  114. #114 Kseniya
    October 30, 2007

    Leave the analogies to people who actually understand biology and evolution.

    That was kinda the point. You didn’t fully understand my original post. That you felt the need to “remind” me that evolution isn’t a random process proves that. Shall I take you to task for that, in your own style?

    Nah. :-p

    This has virtually nothing to do with Sullivan specifically, or with his incomplete cows, though one of his comments (which basically boiled down to “anyone can see that this is designed”) are what prompted me to suggest that perhaps new analogies, which didn’t rely on the actions of a human designer to account for random variations, might be useful. I don’t see where I claimed that the river analogy was anything more than a flawed attempt, offered up as an example of what I was after.

    Nor have I ever argued that biological systems don’t look designed. Of course they do. Even evolutionary biologists use the design metaphor all the time: lung are “designed” to to this, shoulders are “designed” to do that… etc.

    Anyway, I repeat: I understand what you mean, and agree.

  115. #115 Kseniya
    October 30, 2007

    Sorry for my harshness but, hey, you would barely recognize me without it.

    Heh… true, I suppose! No worries.

  116. #116 Mooser
    October 30, 2007

    It’s possible that any attempt to construct analogies based on naturally-occurring processes will fail because the only naturally-occuring analog to evolution is… evolution.

    Thank you! That’s what I’ve been trying to say.

    But I still would like to know, for instance, if science is wrong about evolution, how in the hell can they get anything medical right? Isn’t the scientific approach medicine almost entirely predicated on evolution being correct?
    So science has gotten some of the most fundamental questions about life on earth completely wrong, yet our medicines work,the chemistry works, the planes fly, the computers work, the buildings stay up etc, etc. So at what point did we go wrong, Pat?

  117. #117 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    Anyways… I understand what you mean about “embracing the designedness.” Everything you’ve said makes sense to me, and suggests that often the failure is not in those analogies, but in the ways that those analogies are (mis)understood by those who favor ID/Creationism.

    But it’s not just misunderstood by them, it’s misundersood by some on “our side” too, such as the comment above about “stupid design”. We do see “stupid” designs in biology, but we don’t see species (as opposed to birth defects) with 3 1/2 legs — there’s a huge and important difference between these. A lot of human design is “stupid” too, for the same reasons — because old systems are adapted. We see this especially in software, where it is just too expensive to start from scratch — ask Netscape. Here’s an article on why “stupid” design in software is the way to go:

    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000069.html

  118. #118 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    That was kinda the point. You didn’t fully understand my original post. That you felt the need to “remind” me that evolution isn’t a random process proves that. Shall I take you to task for that, in your own style?

    Nah. :-p

    Hey, your style works too. 🙂 Point taken, apology offered.

  119. #119 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    Isn’t the scientific approach medicine almost entirely predicated on evolution being correct?

    Doctor Egnor says no. And who are ya gonna believe?

  120. #120 Owlmirror
    October 30, 2007

    Isn’t the scientific approach medicine almost entirely predicated on evolution being correct?

    That reminds me of something…

    I picked up a book by a brain surgeon (no, not Egnor) who said that her job had two sides to it. One side was really very similar to that of a automobile mechanic: make sure that fluid is in the right place; that any leaks are patched; that malfunctioning subsystems are removed; that everything is generally working as designed (sorry).

    The other side was more intellectual; the scientist who made observations (of what was wrong), and had to create hypotheses about what the problem was and how it might be fixed.

    I’m pretty sure that she was no anti-evolutionist. But her comment about being at least in part like a car mechanic made me wonder if that’s how Egnor sees himself: someone who just repairs problems with a wonderful machine designed and created by God. He probably doesn’t really think about the evolutionary similarities between the brains of various organisms.

    And he certainly doesn’t seem to be particularly thoughtful or analytical in general.

  121. #121 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    that everything is generally working as designed (sorry).

    That should not be apologized for — medicine requires the design stance, the assumption that systems are “for” something.

    But her comment about being at least in part like a car mechanic made me wonder if that’s how Egnor sees himself: someone who just repairs problems with a wonderful machine designed and created by God.

    I think all doctors see themselves, to some degree, in that light … up to the assumption of authorship. I think it’s unavoidable and that, as I said, we should “embrace the designedness”, and then focus on how undirected processes can produce same. This is what Dawkins has spent so much of his time trying to educate people about with books like The Blind Watchmaker and Climbing Mount Improbable.

    He probably doesn’t really think about the evolutionary similarities between the brains of various organisms.

    Only to the degree that his critics have forced him to address it … but he just uses stock creationist responses that don’t really address it.

  122. #122 Mooser
    October 30, 2007

    No, but I think there is no denying, the way science is now, if Evolution and Natural selection and the general schema of how scientists say life developed is wrong, than everything is wrong! And yet the planes fly, the operations work, the medicines work….

    Okay, where did they go wrong?

  123. #123 windy
    October 30, 2007

    Miller #8:

    … thus a family of stags once existed with an antler only on one side; and if this had been of any great use to the breed, it might probably have been rendered permanent by natural selection.

    I laughed so hard when I read that. Yeah, Darwin really didn’t understand a thing about developmental biology.

    Um, have you considered that Darwin might have been talking about an actual family of one-antlered stags that one of his gentleman friends had on his estate or something? If he had good reason to assume that such a family of stags existed (from, say, gossip among English naturalists) what is wrong with that statement? If it’s heritable, it could be selected for.

    (Also, what G. Tingey said about narwhals. Asymmetry is rare, but happens. + fiddler crabs.)

    I can’t know for sure that he means an actual instead of a hypothetical family of stags, but Darwin in my impression didn’t talk of hypotheticals this way. He didn’t write, for example, that “a race of bears once existed that swam around with an open mouth catching insects until they became whales”.

    To criticize Darwin on developmental biology, you would have done better to pick the preceding bit: “These tendencies, I do not doubt, may be mastered more or less completely by natural selection: thus a family of stags, blah blah” It’s probably unlikely that symmetry can be mastered “completely” by NS, whatever that means; but I think he is only establishing one of his usual caveats at the start of a chapter, and goes on to demonstrate that he does understand something about developmental biology in the rest of the text.

  124. #124 David Marjanovi?
    October 30, 2007

    But it’s not just misunderstood by them, it’s misundersood by some on “our side” too, such as the comment above about “stupid design”. We do see “stupid” designs in biology, but we don’t see species (as opposed to birth defects) with 3 1/2 legs — there’s a huge and important difference between these.

    And I never implied there wasn’t. My point in bringing up stupid design was that that’s what I would use to cut the discussion short by deliberately changing the topic: Sullivan thinks life is obviously designed — but the evidence is only compatible with stupid design and with evolution, but not with intelligent design. I don’t like arguing with someone before making sure they’ve got their premises right. After that, we can return to the topic, or to what’s left of it.

    A lot of human design is “stupid” too, for the same reasons — because old systems are adapted.

    Bingo. Even though your trademark attitude tends to mask it, you are most often right :o)

    ———

    BTW, thwaite, if you really see (c with cedilla) instead of ? (c with acute accent), you aren’t using the right encoding to view this page. That might mean your browser doesn’t recognize the right one automatically.

  125. #125 David Marjanovi?
    October 30, 2007

    But it’s not just misunderstood by them, it’s misundersood by some on “our side” too, such as the comment above about “stupid design”. We do see “stupid” designs in biology, but we don’t see species (as opposed to birth defects) with 3 1/2 legs — there’s a huge and important difference between these.

    And I never implied there wasn’t. My point in bringing up stupid design was that that’s what I would use to cut the discussion short by deliberately changing the topic: Sullivan thinks life is obviously designed — but the evidence is only compatible with stupid design and with evolution, but not with intelligent design. I don’t like arguing with someone before making sure they’ve got their premises right. After that, we can return to the topic, or to what’s left of it.

    A lot of human design is “stupid” too, for the same reasons — because old systems are adapted.

    Bingo. Even though your trademark attitude tends to mask it, you are most often right :o)

    ———

    BTW, thwaite, if you really see (c with cedilla) instead of ? (c with acute accent), you aren’t using the right encoding to view this page. That might mean your browser doesn’t recognize the right one automatically.

  126. #126 truth machine
    October 30, 2007

    My point in bringing up stupid design was that that’s what I would use to cut the discussion short by deliberately changing the topic

    So you would emulate him by moving the goalposts? Actually, you already have, in this very conversation. As for “cutting the discussion short” — I did; he closed the thread, fool.

    but the evidence is only compatible with stupid design and with evolution, but not with intelligent design.

    As is so often the case, you are wrong, fool. I just explained that intelligent design can appear “stupid”, and how creationists dismiss the “stupid design” argument. Intelligent design is unfalsifiable, so they will always find the evidence to be compatible with it.

  127. #127 thwaite
    October 30, 2007

    (hopelessly OT):
    I don’t *see* a cedilla in your signature, but my browser copied or pasted one from it! That’s Netscape 9 on a Mac, supposedly doing Unicode character encoding. … let’s try copying your comparison line:

    if you really see (c with cedilla) instead of ? (c with acute accent)

    as well as your signature for fun: David Marjanovi? … hmph, works OK in preview mode.

  128. #128 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 30, 2007

    Intelligent design is unfalsifiable

    Only for people who go to the additional step of declaring the Designer ineffable (as Jim did in the “Wells lies. Again.” thread — you remember). As long as that argument isn’t made, it remains perfectly falsifiable
    — and falsified, unlike stupid design.

    So you would emulate him by moving the goalposts?

    Read my comment again: I would try to make sure he gets his premises right.

    As for “cutting the discussion short”

    Once he gets the premises right, chances are much better he won’t draw invalid conclusions anymore.

    Offending his — exaggerated — sensibilities will stop him from considering the whole matter. I can’t see how it helps.

    ———

    thwaite, now it works. I correctly guessed you were using an ancient browser! 🙂

  129. #129 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 30, 2007

    Intelligent design is unfalsifiable

    Only for people who go to the additional step of declaring the Designer ineffable (as Jim did in the “Wells lies. Again.” thread — you remember). As long as that argument isn’t made, it remains perfectly falsifiable
    — and falsified, unlike stupid design.

    So you would emulate him by moving the goalposts?

    Read my comment again: I would try to make sure he gets his premises right.

    As for “cutting the discussion short”

    Once he gets the premises right, chances are much better he won’t draw invalid conclusions anymore.

    Offending his — exaggerated — sensibilities will stop him from considering the whole matter. I can’t see how it helps.

    ———

    thwaite, now it works. I correctly guessed you were using an ancient browser! 🙂

  130. #130 Kseniya
    October 30, 2007

    apology offered.

    … and gladly accepted.

    This may sound silly, but embracing the designedness feels liberating. I now realize that I’ve been doing just the opposite, in reaction to all the coopting of the designedness that’s been perpetrated by the IDC side. (I’ve avoided using the “designed” tag, not unlike how some Democrats have run from the “liberal” tag. LOL.)

    Evolution may in fact be more of a refining than a designing process, but as you say, the net effect is one of design.

    Exhibit A: A person can pick his own nose, but he can’t pick his own brain. That would be dangerous! Nostrils and fingers have been designed to allow the former while preventing the latter. And what’s more refined than that, I ask?

  131. #131 thwaite
    October 31, 2007

    Still OT:

    David, I’ve been using this Netscape 9 all along, so it must be the other cut’n’paste I did for my first post (which involved external editors) that mangled your name.

    Netscape is a name of ancient lineage, but this version 9 is new. It’s based on the Firefox engine (even accepts FF extensions). Overall it’s so similar I’m left wondering what its unique allure is. The Mac version displays pages a bit faster than FF for now.

  132. #132 thwaite
    October 31, 2007

    Kseniya,
    There’s a respectable philosophy called teleonomy of ‘designedness’ emergent from the unintentional processes of nature. And more recently Dan Dennett talks about the intentional stance, that is understanding natural designs by using intention as a heuristic.

    And you do want to be respectable, don’t you?

  133. #133 Kseniya
    October 31, 2007

    Yes! I do! And thanks to t.m. and you, I may one day reach this lofty goal! 🙂

  134. #134 Owlmirror
    October 31, 2007

    Kseniya shall be consequential, and respectable as well.

  135. #135 Owlmirror
    October 31, 2007

    I kinda like the idea of using an analogy of slow geological changes over eons; a river slowly shifting and carving out a canyon (as you offered); the changes wrought by inch-a-year continental drift; erosion and mountain building.

    It’s all very well to say that there is no “fitness function”, but I think that underestimates the amount of teleological confabulation that the theistic mindset can generate from indoctrinated groupthink, superstition, selective attention, apophenia, and pareidolia.

    Consider, for example, the sort of person who would say that animals were put on this Earth for our pleasure. Or that some particularly fertile river valley, or beauteous mountains, were created by God for us to use.

    Contrariwise, the above examples of slow changes in the earth can also be used as negative examples if the individual in question is less credulous than the typical theist: if they acknowledge that the above examples are indeed natural processes that need no explanation of interference from a god, then on what basis do they reject the slow changes in a population over many many years that leads to speciation?

    Speaking of rivers, I would not say that a river canyon was incomplete; I would point out that it is transitional. Or to put it another way, there were of course animals that were not “completely” cows, but that does not mean that they were lacking requisite organs (such as legs) that were necessary for them to function as living organisms; they were not “incomplete” in the sense of lacking body parts.

    Anyway, just some thoughts.

  136. #136 truth machine
    October 31, 2007

    And more recently Dan Dennett talks about the intentional stance, that is understanding natural designs by using intention as a heuristic.

    Erm … Dennett’s theory has three stances: 1) the physical stance, which is to look at things at the base physical level; e.g., animals are made of such and such organic molecules, and computers are made of such and such silicon, metal, etc. 2) the design stance, which is to look at things as “for” something, performing some function; e.g., hearts are for pumping blood, disk drives are for storing data. When things break — when they no longer do what they are “for” doing, one must operate at the physical stance level to repair the damage. 3) the intentional stance, which is to look at things as goal-seeking agents; e.g., animals seek food, chess-playing computers seek ways to checkmate. When one is trying to predict a chess-playing computer’s next move, one primarily takes the intentional stance, although the design stance can be helpful if one is aware of design flaws that might lead the machine to deviate from the best possible move, or design choices that might lead the program to pick certain types of best moves over others (e.g., preferring tactical complications to maximize the machine’s advantage over human opponents). And the same is true of human chess players when one knows from experience something of the style or “algorithm” that a particular player uses.

    So, Dennett employs his stances to understand both natural and artificial systems, and it’s the design stance heuristic that is used for understanding natural or artificial designs, whereas the intentional stance heuristic is used to understand natural or artificial agents — those entities that possess and operate on some sort of model; they have internal states that are “about” something. Anything subject to the intentional stance is also subject to the design stance, but not necessarily v.v. And anything subject to the design stance is also subject to the physical stance, but not necessarily v.v.

  137. #137 Azkyroth
    October 31, 2007

    Some people, when faced with evidence contrary to their expectations, question the basis of their expectation. It seems you’re not that sort of person. “counterproductive” is not a synonym for “David Marjanovi? doesn’t approve”, you arrogant twit.

    Two question:

    First, you never did answer my question about what you think you gain in wrapping often cogent and perceptive arguments in a layer of completely gratuitous contumely thick enough to invite comparisons with nuclear shielding. I’m genuinely curious. What is it that you think you’re accomplishing by choosing to express your thoughts in this manner?

    Second, what would you accept as evidence that your choice of tone is, in some meaningful sense, counterproductive?

  138. #138 truth machine
    October 31, 2007

    Contrariwise, the above examples of slow changes in the earth can also be used as negative examples

    I didn’t say that such examples are useless (Darwin made good use of his knowledge of geology from Lyell), just that they aren’t good analogies to evolution and don’t help explain how things that look designed need not be purposeful.

    if the individual in question is less credulous than the typical theist

    That’s saying a lot. For such people, it should be sufficient to point out the age of the Earth; pointing out that water has been carving canyons for a long time too doesn’t really add anything.

    then on what basis do they reject the slow changes in a population over many many years that leads to speciation?

    Um, because it’s not clear how complex systems like eyes, flagella, blood clotting systems, etc. can come about merely via slow change. There’s nothing odd about water digging deeper or farther over time; no one asks “of what use is half a canyon” because canyons aren’t for anything, and because there’s an obvious linear progression. Nothing about rivers explains evolution; for that you need to understand natural selection, population genetics, etc.

    Also, speciation does not result merely from slow changes in a population over many many years, because the members of populations interbreed. With some exceptions (see sympatric speciation), speciation comes from reproductive isolation; nothing about rivers corresponds. Rivers don’t mate or reproduce, they develop; they undergo ontogeny, not phylogeny.

    I would not say that a river canyon was incomplete

    Um, I didn’t say they are incomplete, I said they are “incomplete” — the scare quotes matter. I was referring to Pat Sullivan’s perspective. But frankly I think it makes more sense to talk of river canyons being incomplete than of being transitional — they’re transitioning into … river canyons.

    Or to put it another way, there were of course animals that were not “completely” cows, but that does not mean that they were lacking requisite organs (such as legs) that were necessary for them to function as living organisms; they were not “incomplete” in the sense of lacking body parts.

    Uh, yes, everyone here knows that, but Pat Sullivan thinks that they must at some point have had legs but incomplete leg muscles if they started with fins and fin muscles. Why does he imagine that the limbs and the muscles would evolve independently? Because he’s not thinking, he’s doing apologetics.

    But talking about transitional river canyons not only won’t help convince Pat Sullivan but it also gets it wrong about evolution, and further illustrates why this is a bad analogy: we know what will happen if a river continues to run its course — e.g, shallow canyons become deeper — but we don’t know what will happen if a cow continues to run its course, because there is no course; the river has relatively simple dynamics and a relatively fixed environment, but the cow has very complex and randomized dynamics in the way it changes over time, and is part of a constantly shifting complex ecology, all of the components of which co-evolve over time. And of course cows as individuals die; it’s the population, or the genome, that evolves, and it doesn’t evolve into just one thing. “If the Grand Canyon evolved from a plain, why is there still a plain?” doesn’t make much sense — obviously that part of Arizona can be a canyon or a plain but it can’t be both.

  139. #139 truth machine
    October 31, 2007

    First, you never did answer my question

    I’ve explained why I don’t answer your question, you stupid fucking jackass.

    completely gratuitous

    It’s not gratuitous, it’s earned.

  140. #140 truth machine
    October 31, 2007

    “Intelligent design is unfalsifiable”

    Only for people who go to the additional step of declaring the Designer ineffable

    Ah, so Ken Miller, who testified on the stand at Dover that ID isn’t falsifiable, and the other scientists informed folk who have argued likewise, are wrong and you are right because … you have proposed a test by which we can falsify it?

  141. #141 AJS
    October 31, 2007

    “If evolution is true, then why are there still monkeys?”

    This raises a lot of interesting questions. Some that spring to mind include:

    • Now that we have mobile telephones, why do people still have tethered phones?
    • Now there are such things as TV sets, why do people still have radios? And now that we have FM, why do so many of those radios still receive MW?
    • Now that we have word processors, why do people still use fountain pens?
    • Now that we have sequential gearboxes, why do people still drive cars with a clutch pedal and gear lever?
    • Now that we have the Internet, why do people still meet up face-to-face?

    So many questions, and only one answer for all of them!

  142. #142 truth machine
    October 31, 2007

    It’s already been explained to you elsewhere why none of your example questions about why people continue to use older technologies are relevant to the evolution/monkey question. Do you have any understanding of evolution at all?

    Once again, the answer is that not all of the successors of our simian predecessors are humans; some are monkeys. It’s the same reason that, while George Walker Bush is descended from Walkers, there are still Walkers.

  143. #143 Azkyroth
    October 31, 2007

    I’ve explained why I don’t answer your question, you stupid fucking jackass.

    Was it, perchance, with a recursive reference to a previous explanation of some sort? Because I honestly don’t remember anything coherent being offered. Which, let me guess, is somehow my fault?

    So, again. Given that you are both well-read and possessed of an IQ is clearly multiple standard deviations above average, what is that you think you gain by conducting yourself as though your emotional age were roughly the square root of that IQ? And what would you accept as evidence that this was counterproductive?

  144. #144 AJS
    October 31, 2007

    No, the old tech / monkey analogy is entirely relevant. Monkeys are fit enough for the environment in which monkeys live, therefore monkeys persist. Just like MW radio is good enough for speech and limited-bandwidth music such as “golden oldies”.

    And yes, I know technology was designed and biological systems evolved. But the question of whether something was designed or evolved is orthogonal to the question of how well it serves a purpose.

  145. #145 truth machine
    October 31, 2007

    Because I honestly don’t remember anything coherent being offered. Which, let me guess, is somehow my fault?

    Your poor memory certainly isn’t anyone else’s fault.

    what is that you think you gain by conducting yourself as though your emotional age were roughly the square root of that IQ?

    I can understand why someone of such a low IQ and as immature as yourself would think that is an accurate characterization.

    But perhaps you can rise above your nature and say something about the topic of the thread.

  146. #146 truth machine
    October 31, 2007

    Monkeys are fit enough for the environment in which monkeys live, therefore monkeys persist.

    That doesn’t in any way address the misconceptions behind the question. The creationist could readily agree, and say that God made monkeys fit for monkey life and humans fit for human life, but obviously monkeys didn’t turn into humans, because there are still monkeys.

    And yes, I know technology was designed and biological systems evolved.

    The technologies you mention were created separately, just as creationists envision humans and monkeys. Your questions aren’t analogous to the monkey/human question precisely because, as I said elsewhere, candles don’t turn into lightbulbs.

    But the question of whether something was designed or evolved is orthogonal to the question of how well it serves a purpose.

    Monkeys serve a purpose?

    In any case, the question at hand is not how well something serves a purpose, or how fit it is for its environment, it’s why, if humans evolved from monkeys, there are still monkeys. The underlying assumption of the question is that, if monkeys (or correctly, our common ancestors) turned into humans, they all did.

  147. #147 ngong
    October 31, 2007

    Behe has said he’d consider ID falsified if you could pressure a strain of bacteria to evolve flagella in the lab. Gonzales argues that ID would be falsified if you could find life on another planet that wasn’t based on carbon and water.

    Easy.

    Gonzales also has this notion that life only arises in environments where scientific observation is possible. His prime example is the fact that the apparent sizes of the moon and sun are very similar, making it easier for certain astronomical calculations to be made during an eclipse. I guess the idea is that “God wants us to understand him”, so he leaves clues wherever he seeds life. It’s a truly bizarre notion, and I hope the IDers adopt it wholesale.

  148. #148 Orac
    October 31, 2007

    In case you missed it, it appears that Pat has picked up his marbles and gone home in a huff.

  149. #149 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 31, 2007

    Ah, so Ken Miller, who testified on the stand at Dover that ID isn’t falsifiable, and the other scientists informed folk who have argued likewise, are wrong and you are right because … you have proposed a test by which we can falsify it?

    Apparently taking the extra step of making the Designer ineffable is common. Once an IDiot does that, he takes ID out of falsifiability and thus out of science.

    BTW, compare posts 127 and 128. How many people are you exactly? I have trouble wrapping my mind around the concept that one person can make a long, calm argument (with which I incidentally agree) one moment and then totally lose their temper 2 (two) minutes later.

    Your poor memory certainly isn’t anyone else’s fault.

    Nope, but you can remedy it, so why don’t you?

    The underlying assumption of the question is that, if monkeys (or correctly, our common ancestors) turned into humans, they all did.

    The idea is to explain why not all of our common ancestors turned into humans; after all, creationists assume that, when given the chance, all of them should have — merely saying they didn’t won’t easily convince them.

    And the reason why there are still monkeys is because 1) the old environment didn’t go away, and 2) because “monkeys” fit it better, not worse, than humans. This is analogous to how MW radios 1) still have their environment and 2) are, I guess, cheaper than others. Isn’t it?

  150. #150 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 31, 2007

    Ah, so Ken Miller, who testified on the stand at Dover that ID isn’t falsifiable, and the other scientists informed folk who have argued likewise, are wrong and you are right because … you have proposed a test by which we can falsify it?

    Apparently taking the extra step of making the Designer ineffable is common. Once an IDiot does that, he takes ID out of falsifiability and thus out of science.

    BTW, compare posts 127 and 128. How many people are you exactly? I have trouble wrapping my mind around the concept that one person can make a long, calm argument (with which I incidentally agree) one moment and then totally lose their temper 2 (two) minutes later.

    Your poor memory certainly isn’t anyone else’s fault.

    Nope, but you can remedy it, so why don’t you?

    The underlying assumption of the question is that, if monkeys (or correctly, our common ancestors) turned into humans, they all did.

    The idea is to explain why not all of our common ancestors turned into humans; after all, creationists assume that, when given the chance, all of them should have — merely saying they didn’t won’t easily convince them.

    And the reason why there are still monkeys is because 1) the old environment didn’t go away, and 2) because “monkeys” fit it better, not worse, than humans. This is analogous to how MW radios 1) still have their environment and 2) are, I guess, cheaper than others. Isn’t it?

  151. #151 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 31, 2007

    So, instead of either accepting my invitation to come back (in the Orac thread) or answering it on his own blog, Pat Sullivan closes the comments, writes another post which shows (see quote below) he has never heard of exaptation, and closes the comments before any have been made.

    That is really peculiar behavior. I’ll try to send him an e-mail suggesting he learns about exaptation.

    So every single change towards a new species must somehow work and thus is irreducibly complex.

  152. #152 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 31, 2007

    So, instead of either accepting my invitation to come back (in the Orac thread) or answering it on his own blog, Pat Sullivan closes the comments, writes another post which shows (see quote below) he has never heard of exaptation, and closes the comments before any have been made.

    That is really peculiar behavior. I’ll try to send him an e-mail suggesting he learns about exaptation.

    So every single change towards a new species must somehow work and thus is irreducibly complex.

  153. #153 Kseniya
    October 31, 2007

    Methinks Mr. Sullivan is overly fond of Lego.

  154. #154 AJS
    October 31, 2007

    Aw, David! I don’t actually blame Truth Machine. He (I’m assuming, I freely admit, on no stronger basis than the mere absence of either girly frills or anti-male venom) pointed out holes in my argument, while admittedly there were holes in his. Actually the holes were almost perfectly offset, so the solid bits of mine went through his holes and vice versa 🙂

    And using words such “design” and “purpose” (yes, I’m guilty) only makes it too easy to fall for loaded questions — because they mean different things according to which side of the evolution / creation debate one sits.

  155. #155 Chimera Proxyment
    October 31, 2007

    I would like to learn on my own about this era of evolution.
    Not an expert on this subject and yet here goes:

    “The Cambrian Explosion is not troublesome, it is interesting. It suggests some concordance in the evolution of disparate lineages; within a broad span of time (millions of years), we see many metazoan forms expanding in size and developing harder and more easily fossilized body parts. There are plenty of transitional forms here, and what’s interesting is that many disparate phyla are changing in similar ways at roughly the same time, which suggests that there are coordinating macroevolutionary processes at work.”

    Do not the variance/diversity of evolving traits changed within many different unrelated species to take advantage of new opportunities and survive new perils and cope with the danger of other rapidly ‘advancing’ species who may temporarily posed competitive threat look a lot like the vista of the role of perception in consciousness that Goethe put out there and got his (um) handed to him for even suggesting?

    A global non-linear set of relationships existing in the form of potential interlaced together with other potentials which physical forms and memes struggle to identify in order to obtain survival advantage?

    Due to the ever changing set of environmental relationships and thus potentials that effect genes and memes serve only within finite limits and yet certain symmetries (super-symmetries of superior potential) do serve optimally well it appears for the most ‘successful’ species. Such as in the case of four limbs and bi-lateralization we can see realization of the (temporary yet repeating) manifestation of physical animal material working within the potentia; some do quite well.

    With regards to Memes and niches; does there not exist an eerie similarity between genetic manifestation within a set of variable potentials and that of ideologies and ideas establishing preeminence in favor of others?

    If you see the similarity: Then why not an evolution of consciousness and a real ablity to come to percieve strong relational ‘super-structures’ outside the linear dominated layout of this comes after that into this in a line?

    The correlates of potentia and sets of relationships functionally exist on a plane that works in a non-linear fashion to affect living finite forms that move from point a-b and finally die. I mean think of the research Bell did involving time series and communication and the direct implication of the effect of possibly very real non-linear process in the role of perceiving the past, future, and the now.

    ????

    I do not dismiss the concept of an outside Telemetry.

    I too believe in the scientific approach.

    The dogma of any religious machine will tend to block the reception of truth.

    Don’t get me wrong…

    I am not religious and do not support creationism and unless personal dogma throws any opposing perspective into the rubbish bin of either-or dichotomy then I may find rational input with these troubling possibilities I have come to acknowledge within my process lately.

    After all, either-or tendencies may only consist of the want to accept simple minded byproducts of mammal-territorial activities of mentation for political dominance and ease of use which may have evolved from the basis of our own neurological construction and bi-Lateral symmetry

    (Predator vs. prey, you-me, black-white, science vs. creationism, republican vs. democrat ECT…)

    More advanced thought long ago moved beyond this as the dominate strategy when we began to enter into real human logic and rationality, began seeing complexity and forwarded more moderate views and extended the simplistic binary approach to the third option and on into uncountable variation from this understanding of relationships.

    So, please I kindly request do not do this to me with regards to some overlap to a possible validation with regards to creationist dogma.

    Some ideas of mine…

    So could it be that we are complete – now just the way we are and yet at the same time in seeking out the Truth of reality within the confines of space and time and identification of superstructural affairs is what it is all about and when we see this we ‘evolve’ and move into a new ‘relationship’ with this ‘deeper-reality’ and come to know what we must do.

    Scary, I know:

    Possible telemetries and purpose?

    All without a guru, priest or thought limiting dogma?

    Just a vital function identified when we can observe some ‘deeper’ truth?

    What about Goethe’ and the antlers developing on disseperate species of deer?

  156. #156 brightmoon
    October 31, 2007

    re post # 37 ..here ya go

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRhD_hv5Y1k

    this is by cdk007

  157. #157 Ichthyic
    October 31, 2007

    That is really peculiar behavior. I’ll try to send him an e-mail suggesting he learns about exaptation.

    oh yes.

    good luck with that, Don Quixote.

    I rather suggest you not bother and just continue to post your responses here (which were just fine), as if he were listening to them.

  158. #158 Sven DiMilo
    October 31, 2007

    Chimera Proxyment:
    wait…

    what?

  159. #159 Chimera Proxyment
    October 31, 2007

    brightmoon:

    Cool video and excellent review behind the thinking that creationism uses in generating a world-view. You want to laugh and yet it has a frightening aspect to just what can be manufactured in order to dismiss uncomfortable facts.

    I do not see how our rather limited viewpoint in terms of the inherited time-sense we possess should somehow negate evidence spanning millennia.

    They should show this video on the Discovery-Channel and hit cable-users. A cute variation made specially for Disney would change the world.

  160. #160 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 31, 2007

    I rather suggest you not bother and just continue to post your responses here (which were just fine), as if he were listening to them.

    But what can I reply to when he’s not here?

    I can try the following, but it seems not to work:

    Do not the variance/diversity of evolving traits changed within many different unrelated species to take advantage of new opportunities and survive new perils and cope with the danger of other rapidly ‘advancing’ species who may temporarily posed competitive threat look a lot like the vista of the role of perception in consciousness that Goethe put out there and got his (um) handed to him for even suggesting?

    Maybe it’s because it’s 2 at night over here, but I don’t get what this long sentence is supposed to mean. Please explain.

    A global non-linear set of relationships existing in the form of potential interlaced together with other potentials which physical forms and memes struggle to identify in order to obtain survival advantage?

    Here, however, I can tell that this doesn’t mean anything. Have you played with the pomo generator?

    Due to the ever changing set of environmental relationships and thus potentials that effect genes and memes[,] [subject missing] serve only within finite limits and yet certain symmetries (super-symmetries of superior potential) do serve optimally well it appears for the most ‘successful’ species.

    Postmodernism again: supersymmetry is a technical term of physics. You can’t simply slap it on “superior potential” and throw the result into biology. If you’re trying to say something, please try again.

    With regards to Memes and niches; does there not exist an eerie similarity between genetic manifestation within a set of variable potentials and that of ideologies and ideas establishing preeminence in favor of others?

    Why “eerie”? Genes mutate and spread. Memes mutate and spread, too.

    If you see the similarity: Then why not an evolution of consciousness and a real ablity to come to percieve strong relational ‘super-structures’ outside the linear dominated layout of this comes after that into this in a line?

    You keep inventing technical terms and expect us to understand them. Unlike a postmodernist, who would expect us to not understand them and to admire him as a deep thinker.

    Or wait…

    Again: if you’re trying to say something, please try again.

    The correlates of potentia and sets of relationships functionally exist on a plane that works in a non-linear fashion to affect living finite forms that move from point a-b and finally die.

    Postmodernism.

    I mean think of the research Bell did involving time series and communication and the direct implication of the effect of possibly very real non-linear process in the role of perceiving the past, future, and the now.

    Who is Bell, and what did he do?

    And you keep using that word “nonlinear” like a postmodernist. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

    ????

    Forty-two.

    I do not dismiss the concept of an outside Telemetry.

    Telemetry? Measuring distances? What?

    I too believe in the scientific approach.

    “Believe” is an unfortunate choice of words.

    So could it be that we are complete – now just the way we are and yet at the same time in seeking out the Truth of reality within the confines of space and time and identification of superstructural affairs is what it is all about

    As scientists, we are not “seeking out the Truth of reality”. We are seeking out reality. That’s enough. Everything else is not testable.

    and when we see this we ‘evolve’ and move into a new ‘relationship’ with this ‘deeper-reality’ and come to know what we must do.

    You do have understood that “evolution” and “progress” are not synonyms, haven’t you?

    Scary, I know:

    Sorry, I’m not capable of being afraid of something I can’t even begin to understand.

    What about Goethe’ and the antlers developing on disseperate species of deer?

    All I understand about this is that Goethe, having a smooth forehead, does not end in an apostrophe.

    BTW, that abbreviation you tried to use is etc., and it stands for et cetera “and the remaining ones”/”and the rest”.

  161. #161 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 31, 2007

    I rather suggest you not bother and just continue to post your responses here (which were just fine), as if he were listening to them.

    But what can I reply to when he’s not here?

    I can try the following, but it seems not to work:

    Do not the variance/diversity of evolving traits changed within many different unrelated species to take advantage of new opportunities and survive new perils and cope with the danger of other rapidly ‘advancing’ species who may temporarily posed competitive threat look a lot like the vista of the role of perception in consciousness that Goethe put out there and got his (um) handed to him for even suggesting?

    Maybe it’s because it’s 2 at night over here, but I don’t get what this long sentence is supposed to mean. Please explain.

    A global non-linear set of relationships existing in the form of potential interlaced together with other potentials which physical forms and memes struggle to identify in order to obtain survival advantage?

    Here, however, I can tell that this doesn’t mean anything. Have you played with the pomo generator?

    Due to the ever changing set of environmental relationships and thus potentials that effect genes and memes[,] [subject missing] serve only within finite limits and yet certain symmetries (super-symmetries of superior potential) do serve optimally well it appears for the most ‘successful’ species.

    Postmodernism again: supersymmetry is a technical term of physics. You can’t simply slap it on “superior potential” and throw the result into biology. If you’re trying to say something, please try again.

    With regards to Memes and niches; does there not exist an eerie similarity between genetic manifestation within a set of variable potentials and that of ideologies and ideas establishing preeminence in favor of others?

    Why “eerie”? Genes mutate and spread. Memes mutate and spread, too.

    If you see the similarity: Then why not an evolution of consciousness and a real ablity to come to percieve strong relational ‘super-structures’ outside the linear dominated layout of this comes after that into this in a line?

    You keep inventing technical terms and expect us to understand them. Unlike a postmodernist, who would expect us to not understand them and to admire him as a deep thinker.

    Or wait…

    Again: if you’re trying to say something, please try again.

    The correlates of potentia and sets of relationships functionally exist on a plane that works in a non-linear fashion to affect living finite forms that move from point a-b and finally die.

    Postmodernism.

    I mean think of the research Bell did involving time series and communication and the direct implication of the effect of possibly very real non-linear process in the role of perceiving the past, future, and the now.

    Who is Bell, and what did he do?

    And you keep using that word “nonlinear” like a postmodernist. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

    ????

    Forty-two.

    I do not dismiss the concept of an outside Telemetry.

    Telemetry? Measuring distances? What?

    I too believe in the scientific approach.

    “Believe” is an unfortunate choice of words.

    So could it be that we are complete – now just the way we are and yet at the same time in seeking out the Truth of reality within the confines of space and time and identification of superstructural affairs is what it is all about

    As scientists, we are not “seeking out the Truth of reality”. We are seeking out reality. That’s enough. Everything else is not testable.

    and when we see this we ‘evolve’ and move into a new ‘relationship’ with this ‘deeper-reality’ and come to know what we must do.

    You do have understood that “evolution” and “progress” are not synonyms, haven’t you?

    Scary, I know:

    Sorry, I’m not capable of being afraid of something I can’t even begin to understand.

    What about Goethe’ and the antlers developing on disseperate species of deer?

    All I understand about this is that Goethe, having a smooth forehead, does not end in an apostrophe.

    BTW, that abbreviation you tried to use is etc., and it stands for et cetera “and the remaining ones”/”and the rest”.

  162. #162 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 31, 2007

    the thinking that creationism uses in generating a world-view.

    Creationism doesn’t generate a worldview. It takes a ready-made worldview and tries to shoehorn reality into it.

    And… what video are you talking about? The one on how to evolve a watch?

  163. #163 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 31, 2007

    the thinking that creationism uses in generating a world-view.

    Creationism doesn’t generate a worldview. It takes a ready-made worldview and tries to shoehorn reality into it.

    And… what video are you talking about? The one on how to evolve a watch?

  164. #164 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 31, 2007

    Oops, sorry, you mean the video in comment 144, right?

  165. #165 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 31, 2007

    Oops, sorry, you mean the video in comment 144, right?

  166. #166 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 31, 2007

    There is actually something more I understand: antlers did not evolve “on disseperate species of deer”. They evolved in the ancestral deer species, once, and have been inherited by all deer that are alive today.

  167. #167 David Marjanovi?, OM
    October 31, 2007

    There is actually something more I understand: antlers did not evolve “on disseperate species of deer”. They evolved in the ancestral deer species, once, and have been inherited by all deer that are alive today.

  168. #168 Ichthyic
    October 31, 2007

    But what can I reply to when he’s not here?

    not that you didn’t seem to follow up and essentially do just that, but…

    it’s not like the general arguments he somehow thinks he invented are anything new.

    that’s my point.

    if you feel so moved, just address the general idiocy, and have done with it.

    trying to convince Sullivan of anything is like trying to make a pile of dogshit smell sweet. In fact, trying to convince somebody coming from a position of complete ignorance but who is absolutely sure of their convictions nonetheless is always tilting at windmills.

    he made that quite clear in his “closing statement”.

    Your arguments, while not wasted (as there are surely many lurkers who appreciated them), surely aren’t expected to convert the thinking of the terminally deluded like yon demented fuckwit Sullivan?

  169. #169 Chimera Proxyment
    October 31, 2007

    Cool…Postmodernism

    I like that.

    Anyway…

    Genes:
    The Genes interact with the environment and the set best suited for survival replicate and advance. The DNA expressions only match up with the reality of a changing universe under a finite set of conditions. Some environmental conditions are more persistent than others. In a complex environment the complexity involves a set of changing relationships that directly affect the value of traits used by organisms. These changing relationships and super-structural arrangement of natural conditions limit and shape what genes express themselves.

    Memes:
    We make systems of thought and ideas to describe what we see and by this obtain control over the environment. These words and ideas only match up with the ‘reality’ of a changing universe and describe that ‘reality’ by means of an approximation and a limited relationship. Some environmental conditions are more persistent than others. In a complex environment the complexity involves a set of changing relationships that directly affect the values and descriptive power of the ideas. These changing relationships and super-structural arrangements of ideology limit and shape what memes express themselves.

    The arrangement of life-potential overlap in the natural environment and human thinking create a complex web of ever changing relationships. Some relationships change faster than others. Nevertheless all relationships possess only finite value to genes and memes due to the limited nature of these life-elements. In order to maintain an advantage the gene-meme must move to a different relationship or strengthen its hold on that niche.

    Information possesses no energy and involves successful ‘reception’ to communicate with a subject. Changes in the environment only become available for those forms best suited for taking this advantage. It requires responding to a changing set of variables and in higher organisms the ‘decoding’ of change by means of receiving information about new developments of possibility available, yet maybe not visible to contemporaries.

    Like the first microorganisms that eventually produced an eye-spot. At (starting blind) some point they would move outside of their comfortable range of activities and seek in a way that would make the development of just such an eye-spot advantageous. This could happen when looking in an environment where the other microorganisms use chemical-deception and finding food becomes scarce.

    These strivings were necessary for survival and only those genes that match closest the advantage inherent within a changing environment would develop these traits. The rest die out, breed with the successful advancement of their kind or remain indefinitely optimized for the monopolization of that niche.

    To decode the information within a set of changing relationships requires the ability to decode and prioritize what our senses display. In effect, even the lowest organisms show themselves capable of responding to and changing their relationship to this new ‘reality’ when the change occurs. In the case of microorganisms that lack brains they do however possess a precursor to our intelligence. The reception, decoding, memory-referral (of some sort) and a physical response to change when it takes place.

    Bell:
    Research on time-series and information indicate a non-linear relationship between our past and future. (Maybe a possible explanation for the Edison effect…I dunno.)

    Goethe:
    Indicated that Truth itself was of some divine order for being beyond the constraints of earthbound limitations and that though our relationship to Truth changed our perception of truth create a meta-structure within the mechanisms at work on earth to foster advantage by virtue of the one best suited to attain the closest and thus ‘perfect’ relationship to it. You would end up with deer and deer types not related to each other developing similar patterns/arrangements when confronted with similar living conditions. The organisms best suited to match the ‘deeper-reality/truth’ would gain symmetrical advantage and take on similar functional attributes under similar conditions. He indicated some sort of meta-reality by which our descriptions carry only limited application and ability to contain.

    By virtue of the above I do not dismiss the possibility of a very ‘real’ Telemetry (a projected outcome-goal and trajectory) generated outside of our direct awareness and by means of some form of intelligence with regards to the advancement of evolution by means of constant environmental changes that produce certain patterns of symmetry and even alter trajectories by successful decoding of this information.

    Anyway: David Marjanovi?, OM
    Yes I did mean the VID #144.

    As to the Antler issue, I see that this was a blunder based off an uninformed assumption of mine. I could very well possess more of those than manageable when discussing a mere possibility within a field I am only marginally familiar with.

    OK then what of the overlap of Mammal and Marsupial expressions when it comes to niche fulfillment. Traits developed by mammals on occasion match that of the marsupial without any direct inheritance – right?

  170. #170 Ichthyic
    October 31, 2007

    ever hear the term:

    convergence

    by any chance?

  171. #171 Chimera Proxyment
    November 1, 2007

    From: Ichthyic #154

    “”ever hear the term:

    convergence

    by any chance?””

    Thank you.

    Yeah, I read a post before that mentioned this term.

    I will look into it…

    From the description given earlier; maybe what I observe by intuition more resembles this term and could greatly decrease the felt need to discursively get around my limits in common information for those involved in the field.

    What I ask:
    Even though a dogma such as Creationism simply denies evidence of factual process within evolution; does that demand the ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ with regards to a possible extension to mans purpose in relation to immediate evolutionary process?

    Could such a process come to light by acknowledging some set of relationships to the whole and discovering how to access these potentials?

    Considering the nature of information itself and the work Bell did regarding the relationship between objects not recognized by our linear models as being in contact with eachother. When seen as a whole this relationship then can access non-linear modes to affect change in the other. Non-linear transmission requires recognition of a sort of unity with the whole and the unified whole directing the activities of the parts and by this means also possessing direct and complete access to the information contained within those parts.

    Could this not ‘load the dice’ as they say with regards to what appear to be merely random process to minds using linear frames of reference to describe what they see?

    A change in information will affect the outcome of potentials. Some information processes consist of non-linear phenomena. The linear dissembling of information merely makes sense of a limited portion of the world and grants some control and limits what we could do with the relationships from which the information was generated against. The reception of information is limited by our senses.

    Does anyone think that the height of evolution resides within the identification and delineation of linear models no matter how useful to industry and modern understanding they may be?

    Are we the height of universal perfection?

    Does Conscious Evolution strike anyone as a likely scenario?

    Afterall it does appear that most of our physical evolution has come to an end unless self-directed by technology.

    Would it be likely that the limits of the space in our skulls would require rather than more forward development; instead that we use the forward development to access relationship within how we organize our cognitive process in relation to these changing variables?

    Anyway…Maybe this is not the concern of those interesting in evolution.

  172. #172 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 1, 2007

    Hm. Comment 153 makes sense (except for still not explaining what “super-structural” means) up to here:

    Information possesses no energy and involves successful ‘reception’ to communicate with a subject. Changes in the environment only become available for those forms best suited for taking this advantage. It requires responding to a changing set of variables and in higher organisms the ‘decoding’ of change by means of receiving information about new developments of possibility available, yet maybe not visible to contemporaries.

    No, not at all. It doesn’t require decoding anything. Natural selection is inescapable: some will have more surviving offspring than others due to inheritable reasons, and which ones these are is determined by the environment.

    “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die.”

    Like the first microorganisms that eventually produced an eye-spot. At (starting blind) some point they would move outside of their comfortable range of activities and seek in a way that would make the development of just such an eye-spot advantageous.

    Not necessarily. Figuring out where the light comes from can help in staying inside the comfortable range of activities: if your food is where the light is, knowing where the light is helps you not dying by helping you not to wander off into the darkness.

    In the case of microorganisms that lack brains they do however possess a precursor to our intelligence. The reception, decoding, memory-referral (of some sort) and a physical response to change when it takes place.

    Well… no.

    The way bacteria follow concentration gradients of attractants and repellents has been figured out in detail. It is 100 % mechanistic. When an attractant binds to a receptor on the cell surface, the shape of the receptor changes, triggering a chemical change in a protein inside the cell, and so on, and in the end this assures that the flagella rotate in one direction (forgot which one) so that the bacterium “tumbles” and doesn’t move away. If no attractant is bound, or a repellant is bound, other changes happen, leading to the flagella rotating in the other direction, so that the bacterium swims in a straight line. The more often it encounters an attractant molecule, the less will it move in sum. In this respect (at least), bacteria truly are machines.

    Research on time-series and information indicate a non-linear relationship between our past and future.

    This is utterly trivial. Please explain what you mean by “nonlinear” — you don’t seem to have understood that word.

    Indicated that Truth itself was of some divine order for being beyond the

    What do I care. Goethe was a philosopher. I am a scientist. I’m concerned with reality, that in which argumenta ad lapidem work, that which does not go away when we stop believing in it.

    and that though our relationship to Truth changed our perception of truth create a meta-structure within

    ?

    the mechanisms at work on earth to foster advantage by virtue of the one best suited to attain the closest and thus ‘perfect’ relationship to it.

    Why do you say “Truth” when you mean “environment”?

    And the word you’re looking for instead of “telemetry” is “teleology”. But you don’t need it anyway: there is no evidence for a goal in evolution.

    Even though a dogma such as Creationism simply denies evidence of factual process within evolution; does that demand the ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ with regards to a possible extension to mans purpose in relation to immediate evolutionary process?

    “Man’s purpose”? Huh?

    Considering the nature of information itself and the work Bell did regarding the relationship between objects not recognized by our linear models as being in contact with eachother. When seen as a whole this relationship then can access non-linear modes to affect change in the other. Non-linear transmission requires recognition of a sort of unity with the whole and the unified whole directing the activities of the parts and by this means also possessing direct and complete access to the information contained within those parts.

    This is complete nonsense because it misuses the terms “linear” and “nonlinear” in ways that are impossible to figure out.

    And what is an “information process”?

    Does anyone think that the height of evolution resides within the identification and delineation of linear models no matter how useful to industry and modern understanding they may be?

    There is no such thing as “height of evolution”. Therefore, asking “Does anyone think that the height of evolution resides with” anything is exactly analogous to asking why Napoleon crossed the Mississippi.

    Are we the height of universal perfection?

    There are two possibilities for explaining the despicable mess that we are:
    1) Stupid Design.
    2) Evolution.

    Does Conscious Evolution strike anyone as a likely scenario?

    No. Firstly, it is unnecessary: Utterly Dumb Evolution suffices to explain everything we see in biology. Secondly, it probably isn’t testable.

    Afterall it does appear that most of our physical evolution has come to an end unless self-directed by technology.

    That is not true. 10,000 years ago, the average European was lactose-intolerant, for example.

    Would it be likely that the limits of the space in our skulls would require rather than more forward development; instead that we use the forward development to access relationship within how we organize our cognitive process in relation to these changing variables?

    I think I gather that you believe evolution is progress. You are making a huge mistake. For example, read S. J. Gould’s book Full House.

  173. #173 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 1, 2007

    Hm. Comment 153 makes sense (except for still not explaining what “super-structural” means) up to here:

    Information possesses no energy and involves successful ‘reception’ to communicate with a subject. Changes in the environment only become available for those forms best suited for taking this advantage. It requires responding to a changing set of variables and in higher organisms the ‘decoding’ of change by means of receiving information about new developments of possibility available, yet maybe not visible to contemporaries.

    No, not at all. It doesn’t require decoding anything. Natural selection is inescapable: some will have more surviving offspring than others due to inheritable reasons, and which ones these are is determined by the environment.

    “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die.”

    Like the first microorganisms that eventually produced an eye-spot. At (starting blind) some point they would move outside of their comfortable range of activities and seek in a way that would make the development of just such an eye-spot advantageous.

    Not necessarily. Figuring out where the light comes from can help in staying inside the comfortable range of activities: if your food is where the light is, knowing where the light is helps you not dying by helping you not to wander off into the darkness.

    In the case of microorganisms that lack brains they do however possess a precursor to our intelligence. The reception, decoding, memory-referral (of some sort) and a physical response to change when it takes place.

    Well… no.

    The way bacteria follow concentration gradients of attractants and repellents has been figured out in detail. It is 100 % mechanistic. When an attractant binds to a receptor on the cell surface, the shape of the receptor changes, triggering a chemical change in a protein inside the cell, and so on, and in the end this assures that the flagella rotate in one direction (forgot which one) so that the bacterium “tumbles” and doesn’t move away. If no attractant is bound, or a repellant is bound, other changes happen, leading to the flagella rotating in the other direction, so that the bacterium swims in a straight line. The more often it encounters an attractant molecule, the less will it move in sum. In this respect (at least), bacteria truly are machines.

    Research on time-series and information indicate a non-linear relationship between our past and future.

    This is utterly trivial. Please explain what you mean by “nonlinear” — you don’t seem to have understood that word.

    Indicated that Truth itself was of some divine order for being beyond the

    What do I care. Goethe was a philosopher. I am a scientist. I’m concerned with reality, that in which argumenta ad lapidem work, that which does not go away when we stop believing in it.

    and that though our relationship to Truth changed our perception of truth create a meta-structure within

    ?

    the mechanisms at work on earth to foster advantage by virtue of the one best suited to attain the closest and thus ‘perfect’ relationship to it.

    Why do you say “Truth” when you mean “environment”?

    And the word you’re looking for instead of “telemetry” is “teleology”. But you don’t need it anyway: there is no evidence for a goal in evolution.

    Even though a dogma such as Creationism simply denies evidence of factual process within evolution; does that demand the ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ with regards to a possible extension to mans purpose in relation to immediate evolutionary process?

    “Man’s purpose”? Huh?

    Considering the nature of information itself and the work Bell did regarding the relationship between objects not recognized by our linear models as being in contact with eachother. When seen as a whole this relationship then can access non-linear modes to affect change in the other. Non-linear transmission requires recognition of a sort of unity with the whole and the unified whole directing the activities of the parts and by this means also possessing direct and complete access to the information contained within those parts.

    This is complete nonsense because it misuses the terms “linear” and “nonlinear” in ways that are impossible to figure out.

    And what is an “information process”?

    Does anyone think that the height of evolution resides within the identification and delineation of linear models no matter how useful to industry and modern understanding they may be?

    There is no such thing as “height of evolution”. Therefore, asking “Does anyone think that the height of evolution resides with” anything is exactly analogous to asking why Napoleon crossed the Mississippi.

    Are we the height of universal perfection?

    There are two possibilities for explaining the despicable mess that we are:
    1) Stupid Design.
    2) Evolution.

    Does Conscious Evolution strike anyone as a likely scenario?

    No. Firstly, it is unnecessary: Utterly Dumb Evolution suffices to explain everything we see in biology. Secondly, it probably isn’t testable.

    Afterall it does appear that most of our physical evolution has come to an end unless self-directed by technology.

    That is not true. 10,000 years ago, the average European was lactose-intolerant, for example.

    Would it be likely that the limits of the space in our skulls would require rather than more forward development; instead that we use the forward development to access relationship within how we organize our cognitive process in relation to these changing variables?

    I think I gather that you believe evolution is progress. You are making a huge mistake. For example, read S. J. Gould’s book Full House.

  174. #174 Owlmirror
    November 1, 2007

    David M: I would infer that “Bell” means John Bell, author of “On the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox”.

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

    I would guess that CP is trying to use real quantum mechanical experiments to interpolate, um, cosmic consciousness. A typical mistake made by those who have read about the weird stuff arising from science, but don’t really understand the limits of the effects of QM.

  175. #175 Chimera Proxyment
    November 1, 2007

    S. J. Gould’s book Full House.

    Thank you for the clarification on many terms and your disciplines position. I think I will study material before I shoot blind in the future and thank you all for your patience.

    When you hear Quantum mechanics described to the layman it seems that the desire of the speakers and writers wish to imbue it with magical-like qualities. That is what many people I know seem to get out of it all and it does seem wonderful. When taking hallucinogens one tends toward a sort of ‘intuitive-luminal’ thinking that is way to emotional at its basis. As you know and as I am becoming painfully aware: science is manifestly non-intuitive, especially with regards to precise terminology and facts.

    What you point out about Quantum Mechanics I think is most likely and I will need to revise the understanding I have and modeling used. That second possibility that it all may not be so magical Afterall has been building ever since I read a really ‘bad’ book on Q-Mechanics. Yet all my previous lines of thinking stem from the understanding put down in popular-simplified reading on this subject awhile ago.

    What I read on the Bad-Quantum Mechanics the limitations more had to do with how we can measure the results of phenomena, rather than some ‘magical’ quality inherent with the happenings – if the man behind the curtain ever comes to light then maybe it will look like something completely different from this formulation. Yet they used the platform of multiple universe models, and instantaneous connection between events apparently separated with a feeling that this would open up new understanding of even more ‘magical-type’ phenomena.

    It could end up looking obvious. I imagine a moving ‘thing’ with rules and laws of its own on a flat screen – crumple the screen and when it moves to the spot you look at it ‘magically’ appears and disappears – in relationship to all the other exposed edges, points and surfaces while the majority remains hidden from the viewpoint of understanding. I had simply gone with though with what material was provided and it was made for the layman. Likewise with the deer-antlers; that results from the explorations of Goethe – a Philosopher-Alchemist.

    I do have some studies in a very different arena that I do not approach in this foolish manner. Yet with much of this all dredged up recently, I saw one post about Divine-Teleology and threw the kitchen sink of all this as you might say. Also lacking basic understanding of the modern version of evolution does not help.

    The Arabs about 3-400 years before Darwin had developed a sort of explanation for what they saw in the environment and it resembled very much what I do know of modern evolution, yet they also espouse a mind/spiritual dimension that extends from evolution and a purpose behind the ‘great-design’ as well as indications of the mind to access a ‘deeper-reality’.

    I mean when the eyes are removed and even large portions of the brain that process sight is damaged beyond repair: where does the phenomenon of ‘blind-sight’ arise from?

    What of Einstein when discussing how he thought out his mathematics on physics; he said he actually ‘felt’ these things even though he could not move at the speed of light – later, they found that the portion of the section of his brain for processing mathematics was larger than the normal mans and overlapped his physical-spatial centers for movement?

    Now we know about ‘mirror-neurons’ and all this seems a lot less remarkable and yet at the same time we have autism and schizophrenia where we se pathologies where other cultures found the ‘luminal’.

    When I speak of an evolution of consciousness I do not refer merely to technology, but this consists of part of it. What if evolution were a ‘pattern’ or process that applies to any number of areas within which we learn, live, and define?

    Anyway I have troubled you all enough.

    Looks like I got some basic reading to do and can go no further without a common understanding of precise terminology. Mind you this is not a criticism by any means, Afterall Goethe was a philosopher and Science requires less speculation and dried precision of terms and models.

    Thank you.

  176. #176 David Marjanovi?
    November 2, 2007

    I mean when the eyes are removed and even large portions of the brain that process sight is damaged beyond repair: where does the phenomenon of ‘blind-sight’ arise from?

    What do you mean?

    What if evolution were a ‘pattern’ or process that applies to any number of areas within which we learn, live, and define?

    “Pattern” is what we call the result of a process, something we can observe and infer a process from.

    Evolution applies (inevitably) to everything that reproduces and inherits. Very few “areas within which we learn, live, and define” fall within this range: organisms (including viruses) do, languages do, and that is about it.

    Science requires less speculation

    I disagree. What it requires is that every speculation be testable, and sooner or later tested.

  177. #177 David Marjanovi?
    November 2, 2007

    I mean when the eyes are removed and even large portions of the brain that process sight is damaged beyond repair: where does the phenomenon of ‘blind-sight’ arise from?

    What do you mean?

    What if evolution were a ‘pattern’ or process that applies to any number of areas within which we learn, live, and define?

    “Pattern” is what we call the result of a process, something we can observe and infer a process from.

    Evolution applies (inevitably) to everything that reproduces and inherits. Very few “areas within which we learn, live, and define” fall within this range: organisms (including viruses) do, languages do, and that is about it.

    Science requires less speculation

    I disagree. What it requires is that every speculation be testable, and sooner or later tested.

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