Pharyngula

Casey Luskin botches another metaphor

He declares a bicycle to be irreducibly complex because it can’t function if you remove one wheel.

You can guess where this is going.

Queue up the redefinition calliope, Casey! ‘But it’s not a bicycle anymore, now is it?’

Comments

  1. #1 Steve
    December 30, 2008

    Oi! Let’s ask Casey how he can function without normal human Intelligence…. irreducible cognitive dissonance?

  2. #2 Rev. BigDUmbChimp
    December 30, 2008

    SQQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK

  3. #3 Kel
    December 30, 2008

    I wonder if these creationist folks actually want to engage in scientific debate, or if it’s just all evangelism. Apart from Behe, it seems that all these neo-creotards are arguing for the uninformed masses. Next you’ll see Luskin arguing that his designer purse had to have a designer…

  4. #4 Jadehawk
    December 30, 2008

    how idiotic.
    not only are there unicycles, there’s bicycles without seats, breaks, gears…

  5. #5 Qwerty
    December 30, 2008

    Casey, can you say “unicycle?”

  6. #6 Richard Harris
    December 30, 2008

    The bicycle itself evolved, starting out as a scooter. The developmental pathway is all-important, but you’ve got to wonder if Casey & his pals realize that.

  7. #7 Andrs Diplotti
    December 30, 2008

    Want a good metaphor, Mr. Luskin? The first motorcycles were bicycles with an engine. Then they lost their pedals. Think about it.

  8. #8 Dennis
    December 30, 2008

    Hmmm- you’d think after the whole “banana argument” that “they” would be more careful about such things. Oh well- more for my own amusement.

  9. #9 Glen Davidson
    December 30, 2008

    I never really understood their use of human-made machines as examples of “irreducible-complexity” anyway.

    Of course the mousetrap couldn’t evolve. It had to be designed, for reasons from its lack of reproduction, to its use of what Behe calls “conceptual precursors.” By contrast, a cat uses only “physical precursors,” just as evolution (“Darwinism”) predicts.

    Irreducibly complex or no, the bike is clearly designed, the cell clearly is not–at least if you understand their respective components.

    It’s the conflation of quite different machines, biological vs. human-made, that is wrong from the beginning.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  10. #10 Robster, FCD
    December 30, 2008

    Wow. I immediately thought up an image just like that. Then the mountain unicyclists.

  11. #11 Chayanov
    December 30, 2008

    But you’ve never seen a unicycle give birth to a bicycle, therefore evolution is false.

  12. #12 BeamStalk
    December 30, 2008

    I will believe in evolution when I see a Crococycle!

  13. #13 Zifnab
    December 30, 2008

    And I would have gotten away with too, if it weren’t for you stink’n kids!
    ~ Casey Luskin aka Old Man Whithers, the caretaker of the haunted Creationist Museum

    Casey, can you say “unicycle?”

    Actually, that’s half the joke. Casey declares that if you take a single tire off a bike, it won’t function as a unicycle, thus proving that bikes and unicycles are irreducibly complex.

    Likewise, if you take the front tire off a bicycle, it is functionally useless and can perform no other beneficial action.

    Take, for instance, this bicycle powered water pump.
    http://www.rotapump.com/third-world-gallery/tw-1.html

    Without the front wheel it is totally useless – assuming you ignore the fact that the front wheel isn’t used to pump water. Either way, the pump itself was intelligently designed so you still lose, I can’t hear you, lalalala.

  14. #14 George
    December 30, 2008

    Does the man think before he writes? does he bother to read what he wrote?

  15. #15 fardels bear
    December 30, 2008

    I want to see Casey Luskin take the front wheel off a unicycle.

  16. #16 Rebecca Watson
    December 30, 2008

    IF BICYCLES CAME FROM UNICYCLES WHY ARE THERE STILL UNICYCLES?

  17. #17 Newfie
    December 30, 2008

    I think the actual argument here, is that these people are paid to say, write, print and promote this tripe. If someone is willing to pay me a million dollars a year to spout creationist dogma, I’d likely do it also. Does every member of the Christian clergy actually believe that Christ existed? Or do a percentage of them think as somebody posted here recently that, “Saul of Tarsis was the L. Ron Hubbard or Joseph Smith of his day”? Do the leaders of Scientology believe in Xenu and the pulp fiction that Hubbard created are fact? Does Ken Ham actually believe Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs? Or is he making a buck for himself, in a society that allows it?
    As long as people remain stupid, or gullible, there will always be someone to sell them the snake oil that they crave. We’re still superstitious apes after all, and there are things that we want to, or would like to believe.

  18. #18 Levi in NY
    December 30, 2008

    The proof that humans aren’t irreducibly complex? Even if you remove the whole brain, it can still apparently survive and reproduce as a creationist.

  19. #19 CJO
    December 30, 2008

    Take the seat off, Casey, and go for a nice long ride.

  20. #20 Dave Wisker
    December 30, 2008

    A mousetrap is not IC– it’s a clamp with a trigger.

  21. #21 Joe Shelby
    December 30, 2008

    So Luskin actually discovered a verifiable example speciation and still insists evolution is false?

  22. #22 skyotter
    December 30, 2008

    obviously, he meant the WHEEL itself was irreducibly complex: when you remove the wheel, it no longer functions as a wheel. see?

  23. #23 Larry
    December 30, 2008

    I’m confused. Did jebus ride a unicycle or a dinosaur?

  24. #24 strangest brew
    December 30, 2008

    Well…with cutting edge metaphors like so.. is it a wonder that ID is seemingly collapsing like the proverbial deck of cards in a moderate breeze!
    And what do these heroes do when faced with evolutionary extinction…why they dig the hole a tad deeper…this time deep enough to swallow a bike load!

    Talk about barrel scraping …Intelligent Design…more like Ignorant Desperation…

  25. #25 Jack Rawlinson
    December 30, 2008

    Well, he’s right! If you take a wheel away it isn’t a bicycle anymore! Just like if you add legs to a fish it isn’t a fish anymore! In both cases the original things have been adapted to become SOMETHING ELSE! No wait… err… I mean… JESUS SAVES!

  26. #26 Dr. J
    December 30, 2008

    You gotta love it when a guy like Luskin is the brains behind an operation you love to watch fail miserably. What a moran.

    As to the earlier comments about if the people spouting these idiotic beliefs – and getting paid to do so – I would bet more believe what they are saying is true than you’d like to think.

  27. #27 TSC
    December 30, 2008

    So, if you take away one moron from the Discovery Institute will the bullshit stop?

  28. #28 Britomart
    December 30, 2008
  29. #29 Nerd of Redhead
    December 30, 2008

    So, if you take away one moron from the Discovery Institute will the bullshit stop?

    Unfortunately not, it’s morons all the way down. (And my apologies to the morons for comparing anybody working at the DI to them.)

  30. #30 Wowbagger
    December 30, 2008

    Well, Casey Luskin is evidence that if you have a mental deficiency you can still be a Christian – in fact, it’s usually a prerequisite – though, obviously, you’ll be left with the inability to conceive accurate metaphors.

  31. #31 Kristine
    December 30, 2008

    Oh, but PZ! How in heck is Casey supposed to ride a unicycle no-handed?

    Or pop a wheelie?

    Or ride sidesaddle, as I hear he does?

    You mean atheists. ;-)

  32. #32 Jello
    December 30, 2008

    Ol’ chuck wagner chimned in on the article so he’s still being a pain in the ass.

  33. #33 Elwood Herring
    December 30, 2008

    Would a cyclops with two eyes be called a bicyclops?

  34. #34 S.Scott
    December 30, 2008

    @ #11 – LMAO!! Out loud even!! :-)

  35. #35 Kristine
    December 30, 2008

    P.S. The silence from Ray Comfort is deafening about the banana seat.

  36. #36 TSC
    December 30, 2008

    But surely the cascading temerity of the fulminating morons had to be designed so as to achieve maximum supposition in unison. The observed tardensity is equal to the critical tardensity in which positive stupidity and stupidstition is balanced by the negative gravitational density.

  37. #37 Carl Troein
    December 30, 2008

    #16 Rebecca, the truth is that there ARE no unicycles. They’re a myth constructed by the evolutionists to lend support to their stupid idea that bicycles aren’t irreducibly complex. It should be obvious to anyone that a single wheel can’t stand up on its own – it contradicts Newton’s second law!

  38. #38 Jason A.
    December 30, 2008

    from the link:

    See, what you have here are two different irreducibly complex systems, with one that just happens to have an extra part.

    lol

  39. #39 Jason A.
    December 30, 2008

    Jumping on the bandwagon here:

    Darwin himself said there should be millions of unicycles, and if we don’t find any, we should throw his theory out. After 150 years, we haven’t found any unicycles. The darwinists will tell you they have unicycles, but their unicycles are hoaxes they made to try to support their THEORY.

  40. #40 greg
    December 30, 2008

    are they *still* harping on irreducibly complex systems? i thought that was a dead horse.

    IMHO, citing examples of one of their “irreducibly complex” systems with a missing part is a poor way to debunk their theory since they might in fact stumble upon a biological system which is indeed irreducibly complex.

    I think the better route would be to explain, in simple terms how irreducible complexity can arise naturally, without “design”.

    for instance, the arches of Utah’s desert were once steep humps of stone. When wind removed the center, they become irreducibly complex – remove any remaining part and they topple.

    all that is necessary for “irreducible complexity” is for a system to arise via mutation + selection, increasing in complexity and dependence on it constituent parts, then have all non-vital elements removed. BAM – irreducibly complex system.

  41. #41 Zifnab
    December 30, 2008

    I think the better route would be to explain, in simple terms how irreducible complexity can arise naturally, without “design”.

    The entire argument is ridiculous and foolish. If you remove the hole from a donut does it become a cookie? If you add antlers to a fish and it drowns, have we successfully demonstrated that all reindeer descendants must have walked on land?

    Oh look, I can take a man-made object, remove a part, render it non-functional, and prove – by metaphor – that Jesus made dinosaurs.

    If you want to tear apart the ID science, you only need to ask two questions – “Where is the Intelligent Designer?” and “Where did he come from?” Since these questions never actually get answered, you can declare the same “I win by default” bullshit they do and get back to studying your cephalopods like a real man.

  42. #42 Elwood Herring
    December 30, 2008

    The whole “irreducable complexity” argument is basically what I class as a a simple failure of imagination. Just because someone can’t think of a solution to something doesn’t mean there isn’t any solution.

    But that’s probably stating the obvious isn’t it?

  43. #43 Hammurabi
    December 30, 2008

    Clearly unicycles didn’t evolve from bicycles, where are all the transitional forms? If evil-lution (I’m so clever!!) were true and unicycles came from bicycles, we should see the obvious transitional form of a bike with 1 1/2 wheels. Where’s your science now!?!

  44. #44 Elwood Herring
    December 30, 2008

    greg:

    all that is necessary for “irreducible complexity” is for a system to arise via mutation + selection, increasing in complexity and dependence on it constituent parts, then have all non-vital elements removed. BAM – irreducibly complex system.

    Biological “scaffolding” – are there any examples of such a thing? (I’m not a biologist, but surely there must be an example of this somewhere.)

  45. #45 Ian
    December 30, 2008

    @#41: “…and get back to studying your cephalopods like a real man.”

    Cephalos come from pods????

  46. #46 Janine, Vile Bitch
    December 30, 2008

    It does not even need to be a tire that is taken off a bike. Just take one spoke off of one rim and that rim is going to start warping. If you want to continue biking, you are going to open up the brakes of the tire because the rim will not run true. And after a while, spokes will start popping because of the changes in tension. At this point, your bike is almost unusable.

    Yet until my bike gives birth to other bikes, this means nothing in biology.

  47. #47 CalGeorge
    December 30, 2008

    My quadricycle evolved into a bicycle when I removed the training wheels.

  48. #48 SMgr
    December 30, 2008

    > we should see the obvious transitional form of a bike with 1 1/2 wheels. Where’s your science now!?!

    Transitional form HAS been found. So there. ;) http://www.toysinthemail.com/trick-bikes/punk-and-runt-mini-bikes/uniqo-unicycle-bike.htm

  49. #49 Crystal D.
    December 30, 2008

    I am laughing so hard that I almost peed myself, and I’m not even old yet! :)

  50. #50 Hammurabi
    December 30, 2008

    @SMgr #48. “Transitional form HAS been found. So there. ;) http://www.toysinthemail.com/trick-bikes/punk-and-runt-mini-bikes/uniqo-unicycle-bike.htm

    Ok, then where are the missing links? The 1 1/4 wheeled bikes and the 1 3/4 wheeled bikes? ;)

  51. #51 Elwood Herring
    December 30, 2008

    Ok, then where are the missing links? The 1 1/4 wheeled bikes and the 1 3/4 wheeled bikes? ;)

    Erm… Ever heard of “penny farthings” in the U.S.?

  52. #52 Vic
    December 30, 2008

    My TV remote is also an example of ID. The batteries died and now it doesn’t work. Maybe Jesus could get me some new batteries. :)

    But seriously folks, I cannot (refuse?) to believe that these ID’ers are serious. OMG, you couldn’t write a funnier script. It’s like Tina Fey trying to parody Sarah Palin but failing to be as funny as Palin herself.

  53. #53 Kel
    December 30, 2008

    Ok, then where are the missing links? The 1 1/4 wheeled bikes and the 1 3/4 wheeled bikes? ;)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny-farthing

  54. #54 SMgr
    December 30, 2008

    > Ok, then where are the missing links? The 1 1/4 wheeled bikes and the 1 3/4

    Oh noozz!! Two more gaps now! How about:
    http://www.unicycling.org/btdt/half-fork.jpg
    http://www.eenwieler.nl/media/Producten/Eenwielers/es_quax_balance-bike.tn.jpg

    Functional every step of the way!

  55. #55 NVAttorney
    December 30, 2008

    @Janine, Vile Bitch
    This is why god invented disc brakes!

    Regardless. The bicycle is by (my) definition, indisputably the best, most perfect form of human transportation. Thus, it must exist, or something.

  56. #56 Jadehawk
    December 30, 2008

    Clearly unicycles didn’t evolve from bicycles, where are all the transitional forms? If evil-lution (I’m so clever!!) were true and unicycles came from bicycles, we should see the obvious transitional form of a bike with 1 1/2 wheels. Where’s your science now!?!

    HA!

    :-D

  57. #57 Hammurabi
    December 30, 2008

    @ #51, 53, 54, and 56.

    In light of the overwhelming evidence presented to me, I have no choice to reject it all and cling even more tightly to my assertions. I also now assert that the examples given only represent 2 whole wheels of different sizes or 1 whole wheel, but no 1 1/4, 1 1/2, or 1 3/4 wheels. Either rise to meet my exceptionally irrational expectations of what I misunderstand to be proof or concede defeat! Also, it is clear that the penny farthing was planted by satan to confuse us, duh.

  58. #58 Elwood Herring
    December 30, 2008

    Simply typing “weird bicycles” into Google and selecting Images will display a whole menagerie of mutated bicyclate diversity, but I especially like this one

    (Is “bicyclate” a word? Well it is now…)

  59. #59 SMgr
    December 30, 2008

    > In light of the overwhelming evidence presented to me, I have no choice to reject it all and cling even more tightly to my assertions

    Yep yep ;) Seriously though, this “half a wheel” stuff is one of the major fallacies underlying “irreducible complexity”. The wheel gradually loses function in other ways..not by becoming half a whole wheel. The wheels can get so small..

    http://www.unicyclist.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=7178&stc=1&d=1113700149

    ..that one could easily imagine replacing it with a non-wheel leaning pole or a slick metal ball that doesn’t turn as yet another transitional form.

    At no point is the “half a wheel” straw-man a real requirement. And every form has some function.

  60. #60 The Mad LOLScientist, FCD
    December 30, 2008

    Could this be the next step in bicycle evolution? Or just another lethal mutation? The Square-Wheeled Bike

  61. #61 SMgr
    December 30, 2008

    > Square wheel bike

    It’s well adapted to a unique environment and maladaptive everywhere else.. ;)

  62. #62 Elwood Herring
    December 30, 2008

    Yes, the square wheeled mutation obviously evolved to survive in a rare and exotic environment, namely the inverted catenary road. Simple really. If all roads were like that, than all bikes would have square wheels.

    Alternatively, the guy who invented it has too much time on his hands.

  63. #63 Derek
    December 30, 2008

    Analogy fail…

    Bicycles are not “irreducibly complex.” Each part (e.g. wheels, chains, etc.) has a seperate history in the story of human invention. Like evolution, these parts were tinkered with on their own without the goal of creating a bicycle. Furthermore, once bicycle-like invetions were coming onto the scene there were transitional forms, if you will, that eventually lead to the present day bicycle. The history of each part, how each part was used in problem solving prior to the invention of the bicycle, and the “transitional forms” that eventually lead up to the modern bicycle illustrate how intellectually bankrupt the idea of “irreducible complexity” is.

    PZ, maybe you can send this Wikipedia link to Casey:

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

  64. #64 Chris P
    December 30, 2008

    Then we also have the square wheeled bicycle – in case round didn’t work

    http://www.primidi.com/2004/04/05.html

    Or you could just be the wheel

    http://www.tranism.com/weblog/images/human_wheel.jpg

    The bicycle/unicycle has been invented and reinvented so many times that there is almost nothing new. Aerodynamic disk wheels which were thought to be all new and “whizzy” a few years ago were described in a book published in the 1890’s.

    And yes you can steer with the rear wheel just in case you want to be obtuse. You can even ride a regular bicycle backwards.

    The sheer ignorance of these people is amazing – they never research before spouting their mouths off.

  65. #65 Chris P
    December 30, 2008

    You can even have a side by side bicycle:-

    http://citynoise.org/article/917

    You can have a unicycle with a non centric wheel

    http://www.unicycling.com/garage/ecentric.htm

    They even have giraffe unicycles for those high leaves

    http://www.unicycling.com/garage/giraffe.htm

    There is a bicycle with no wheels at all!

    http://www.unicycling.com/garage/pedoped.htm

    There are two and three wheeled unicycles

    http://www.unicycling.com/garage/multi.htm

    And if you don’t like unicycles there are monowheels

    http://www.dself.dsl.pipex.com/MUSEUM/TRANSPORT/motorwhl/motorwhl.htm#1

  66. #66 mayhempix
    December 30, 2008

    Casey is still riding a tricycle.

  67. #67 Jason A.
    December 30, 2008

    to all posting bikes with funny wheel sizes:

    Clearly wheel size adaptation was built into the genome of the original kind of bicycle by the intelligent designer so it could adapt to its environment. This is only an example of adapting information already present in the bicycle, no new information is added. They are all still bicycles.

  68. #68 Andy James
    December 30, 2008

    One might argue that the velocipede is a transitional form between unicycles and bicycles.

  69. #69 ndt
    December 30, 2008

    Yes, but how would PYGMIES+DWARFS reach the pedals?

  70. #70 amphiox
    December 30, 2008

    The bicycle is a good example of chimerism – disparate parts each with its own unique developmental history put together in a novel manner to achieve a different function.

    Actually, pretty much all human technology is chimeric, right back to that fateful meeting of pointy stone and big stick. Chimerism is a hallmark of intelligent design.

    Funny thing is, of course, that there are NO true chimeras among living things. (Or at least, none found so far, on this planet.)

  71. #71 Chris P
    December 30, 2008

    But I AM THE INTELLIGENT DESIGNER – I have designed several and even have a patent on one.

    That’s my job – designing stuff that nobody has seen before. The USPTO record shows this.

    Chris P

  72. #72 Nick Gotts
    December 30, 2008

    Funny thing is, of course, that there are NO true chimeras among living things. – amphiox

    Eukaryotes, if the endosymbiosis theory is correct.

  73. #73 Cloudwork
    December 30, 2008

    Zifnab #41

    There are holes in doughnuts?

    Where’s the jam meant to go?

  74. #74 Chris P
    December 30, 2008
  75. #75 Cuttlefish, OM
    December 30, 2008

    One wheel, two wheels, three or four
    Perhaps a chain, perhaps some gears–
    The only bit that does not work
    Is lodged twixt Luskin’s foolish ears.

    Tubes and tires, pedals, frame,
    Spokes and axles, handlebars,
    See the wheel as it evolves
    From barrow into motorcars

    Bikes or trikes or roller skates
    Car or bus or tram or truck
    If Luskin cannot see the thread
    I do not give a rolling fuck.

  76. #76 DEadMindWorking
    December 30, 2008

    ‘But it’s not a bicycle anymore, now is it?’

    Isn’t Luskin one of those creationists that says “we never see cats turning into dogs”? Shouldn’t this fit perfectly with his messed up(and incorrect) view of what evolution is supposed to be?

  77. #77 Jadehawk
    December 30, 2008

    There are holes in doughnuts?

    Where’s the jam meant to go?

    the evolution and speciation of the donut:

    jelly donut
    possible transitional form
    donut
    donut hole

  78. #78 clinteas
    December 30, 2008

    To quote Charlie Chan on the issue:

    “Optimist sees donut,pessimist sees hole”

  79. #79 Mikayla
    December 30, 2008

    A bike is not irriducibly complex. You can remove the front wheel and still use it as a stationary training bike, for instance. You can remove the seat and still ride the bike. You can remove the chain and still push with your feet. I could go on and on…

  80. #80 jxc100
    December 30, 2008

    @#44: Biological “scaffolding” – are there any examples of such a thing? (I’m not a biologist, but surely there must be an example of this somewhere.)

    Some viruses have a gene for a scaffold protein (yes, its even called scaffold) that helps the virus capsid protein assemble as the ‘shell’ into which the viral genome is packaged. The scaffold is usually internal to the capsid, and after capsid assembly, the scaffold is dismantled by another viral protein – a protease that cuts up the scaffold protein, but not the capsid. Herpesviruses employ this kind of assembly pathway. Another biological example that fits this general argument is the molecular “chaperones”, protein assemblies that help other proteins to fold correctly into their proper three-dimensional shape. The fold is necessary for function – mis-folded proteins will usually be targeted for destruction, and can even be harmful (prions). GroE is one example of a molecular chaperone. As with virus capsids that are built with scaffolds, the mature product of a chaperone does not include the essential assembly component.

  81. #81 Jadehawk
    December 30, 2008

    hmmm… I may be wrong, but I think by “biological scaffolding” he meant structures that at one time existed, and upon which new mutations were based and on which these new mutations rested originally but which degenerated when the new mutations took over their new function.

    kinda like the double-jointed jaw:

    originally there were several jaw bones, one of which connected to the rest of the skull. a long chain of mutations resulted in all but one of those bones to become the inner ear bones (malleus etc.), which are no longer part of the jaw, are not connected to the jaw or the skull, and therefore no longer serve their original purpose of attaching the jaw to the skull. the jawbone is now attached to the skull when originally it wasn’t. the scaffolding part is the part where both the current jawbone and the old jawbone both connected to the skull for better hearing and some jaw movement improvements which i’ve now forgotten. without this intermediate step, there’s no way the transition from multi-boned to single-boned jaw would have been possible.

  82. #82 Jadehawk
    December 30, 2008

    oops, forgot to link to the visual aid :-p

    http://earth.unh.edu/esci402/docs/Mammal%20ear.jpg

  83. #83 ngong
    December 30, 2008

    For us unicycling enthusiasts, the entire concept of a “bicycle” is offputting. We refer to those contraptions as “training unicycles”.

  84. #84 Citizen Z
    December 30, 2008

    You can guess where this is going.

    Somewhere like this?

  85. #85 The Science Pundit
    December 30, 2008

    Robster, FCD: #10

    I immediately thought up an image just like that. Then the mountain unicyclists.

    Let there be mountain unicyclists!

  86. #86 amphiox
    December 30, 2008

    Nick Gotts #71:
    Good point about the endosymbiosis theory. In that case, though, it is whole organisms merging, rather than combining disparate parts.

    But then, of course, you’ve reminded me about that sea slug that pilfers the chloroplasts from algae it eats, and the whole horizontal gene transfer thing. . . .

    I was thinking about organs and organ systems in post #69. Too metazoan-centric of me, I suppose.

    (BTW, there’s a chainless bicycle coming to market soon)

  87. #87 Sparkomatic
    December 30, 2008

    Sometimes it seems just too easy. Maybe Luskin is trying to lull us all into a false sense of security by spouting the most inane drivel imaginable as part of a deeper nefarious plot. Then, suddenly, when we least expect it he will spring his trap, revealing to the entire world the true nature of his genius…

    any second now…

    any second…

    any…uh…

    mmmmmm…….

  88. #88 amphiox
    December 30, 2008

    On scaffolding and IC:

    Consider hypothetical gene product A, which functions by dimerizing with itself, making A-A.

    Gene for A undergoes duplications. There is no phenotypic change. Still just A-A as protein product. Perhaps higher copy numbers get selected for because they produce more A-A faster, or perhaps not. Random drift could do the same.

    One copy of Gene A undergoes further mutations, and becomes B. Say a single amino acid is replaced by a larger one in the binding site. Now B can’t bind with itself (2 large AAs are too bulky), but it can still bind, with slightly reduced efficiency, to A. Now we’ll have A-A (lots) and A-B (only a little). The active site has not changed, so both A-A and A-B are functionally equivalent.

    Now another copy of Gene A mutates in the binding site, becoming C. Say for argument’s sake, a single amino acid is replaced with a smaller one. Now C cannot bind to itself, has a reduced binding affinity for A, but an increased affinity for B. Again, the active sites are not changed, so the function of the various dimers remains intact. We now have a system with A-A (lots), A-B (little), B-C (lots), and A-C (little) floating around.

    Now a deletion mutation destroys gene A. Now we’ll have only B-C, each of which must complex with the other in order to function. Tada. Irreducibly complex protein. And at no point in the chain of events was the function of the A/B/C dimers ever lost.

    Your average cell is full of multi-protein functional complexes that arose through variations of the steps above. In fact I’d wager the vast majority of protein complexes came about in this manner. Evolutionary processes have no problem creating “irreducibly complex” structures. It generates them as a matter of course.

  89. #89 Craig
    December 31, 2008

    I have this thing called a Kickbike. Rode it today as a matter of fact.

    It’s a bicycle, but it doesn’t have a seat… or an upper cross bar (it’s not a diamond frame).
    No pedals. No gears. No chain.

  90. #90 Tatarize
    December 31, 2008

    Actually the first unicycles evolved from bicycles. The Penny-farthing bicycles had a very small wheel at the back and when people got really skilled they could do without that wheel touching.

  91. #91 Tangentia
    December 31, 2008

    What’s the benefit of a kickbike or footbike over a simple scooter?

    Off topic, this is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how they can call it a “slug”. http://www.seaslugforum.net/factsheet.cfm?base=glauatla

  92. #92 Michael X
    December 31, 2008

    So is the man just arguing by definition now? If something changes from what it was, then it no longer is what it was, therefore it is IC? Any change obviously means it is different definitionally. That means it no longer functions as the thing it once was. Thus, everything is IC?

    So let me get this straight
    Bicycles have two wheels. If one didn’t it wouldn’t be a bicycle. Any change from two wheels means the bicycle no longer functions as a thing with two wheels, thus it no longer functions! Thus, bicycles are IC! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Cower ye mortals in front of my dictionary!

    Really. These guys need a lair in a mountain or something.

    This is only an example of adapting information already present in the bicycle, no new information is added. They are all still bicycles.

    Until we go back to the pogo stick era.

  93. #93 andyo
    December 31, 2008

    Until we go back to the pogo stick era.

    Go back?

    Anyway, does anyone remember, there was a website explaining with drawings (maybe animations even? don’t remember) how a mousetrap would work if you took away its parts? It was pretty cool and funny. Now where was it?

  94. #94 Bill from Dover
    December 31, 2008

    #89 Did you mean skilled or killed?

  95. #95 'Tis Himself
    December 31, 2008

    Yet until my bike gives birth to other bikes, this means nothing in biology.

    Does anyone else remember Avram Davidson’s short story “Or All the Sea With Oysters”? The basic premise of the story is bicycles arise from a life cycle that involves paper clips as pupae and coat hangers as larvae.

  96. #96 ngong
    December 31, 2008

    Amphiox…nice post re scaffolding.

    The post also illustrates that scientists shouldn’t be diverted by Behe’s mousetraps. Kenneth Miller defends evolution by pointing out that individual mousetrap components can serve functions other than catching mice (e.g. the spring makes a tieclip). That doesn’t, however, prevent the IDiots from attempting to calculate the odds that all the components, tossed around in a bag for a zillion years, would assemble into a mousetrap.

    A more accurate (and less accessible) picture would have the various mousetrap components co-evolving, with some formerly useful components being shed along the way.

  97. #97 John Morales
    December 31, 2008

    OOT
    ‘Tis Himself @94, for a minute there I confused Avram Davidson with Reginald Bretnor (The Gnurrs Come From the Voodvork Out).

    Dunno why.

  98. #98 silkworm
    December 31, 2008

    I could find hundreds of bicycles of different design, but each of these bikes has a unique designer, and this implies hundreds of different designers. Using this analogy, and by observing that each biological organism displays unique design features, we have to conclude that there is not one single Creator-God, but millions upon millions of Creator-Gods. I hope by this argument to convert Creationists to polytheism.

  99. #99 Pikemann Urge
    December 31, 2008

    The flagellum arguement didn’t work, so now they’re distracting our attention with this. And when this fails… who knows.

  100. #100 hje
    December 31, 2008

    What if fallacious arguments demonstrate that you are a few bricks short of a full load? Does this prove that you are irreducibly stupid? An example of specified ignorance?

  101. #101 Kitty
    December 31, 2008

    ‘Tis Himself @94. I’ve been trying to remember the author and title of that tale for a while – thanks.

    Was it this story where the molecules of the rider’s ‘seat’ gradually exchange with the molecules of the bicycle seat, resulting in the ‘bike becoming more human and hanging around next to open doorways to hear conversations while the human took to leaning against walls?
    Or was that Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman?

  102. #102 Michael NJ
    December 31, 2008

    Re #48:

    This item has been discontinued and is no longer available. No further information is available.

    Does that mean that there are no fossils proving the transitional form, or do you claim that contrived webpage as “proof”?

  103. #103 Moggie
    December 31, 2008

    For some reason, I am irresistably reminded of this:

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=5pFv8CAniYQ

    #55:

    The bicycle is by (my) definition, indisputably the best, most perfect form of human transportation. Thus, it must exist, or something.

    Thank-you, St Anselm. But those of us with fucked knees (another example of lousy design) would respectfully disagree.

  104. #104 WhenDanSaysJump
    December 31, 2008

    Ah, but what sort of bike did Noah have on the ark?

  105. #105 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 31, 2008

    I’ve got a bike
    You can ride it if you like
    It’s got a basket
    A bell that rings
    And things to make it look good
    I’d give it to you if I could
    But I borrowed it

    What’s the next stunning argument from Casey “Attack Mouse” Luskin?

    I see it being something like Casey constructing a giant Rube Goldberg machine that in itself is useless beyond entertainment, removing one of the pieces and then claiming victory because his 87 step domino kicker stops working.

  106. #106 Josh
    December 31, 2008

    Does the man think before he writes?

    Of course not. Thinking makes the baby Jesus cry. Thinking is the death of creationism.

  107. #107 bric
    December 31, 2008

    #100 – yes it’s Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman, a story told by the police sergeant, who’s bicycle obsession is almost, er, religious.

  108. #108 phantomreader42
    December 31, 2008

    greg @ #40:

    are they *still* harping on irreducibly complex systems? i thought that was a dead horse.

    IMHO, citing examples of one of their “irreducibly complex” systems with a missing part is a poor way to debunk their theory since they might in fact stumble upon a biological system which is indeed irreducibly complex.

    I think the better route would be to explain, in simple terms how irreducible complexity can arise naturally, without “design”.

    The trouble is that creationists are fractally wrong, irreducibly stupid, relentlessly dishonest, and batshit insane.

    It’s been explained, repeatedly, that “irreducible complexity” can evolve quite easily. But they keep on whining about it, and ignoring adaptation and repurposing of parts. Meanwhile, their examples of “irreducible complexity” have been torn to bloody shreds, but they still keep repeating them. There are so many flaws in the logic it takes forever to explain them all. Here are a few:

    1. Creationists claim that “irreducible complexity” is a deathblow to evolution, when in fact it isn’t. As liars, they continue to repeat this claim even after it has been pointed out how false it is in excruciating detail.
    2. Creationists have never been able to actually come up with a workable example of “irreducible complexity,” so even if their claim above were true, it’s useless to them.
    3. Creationists claim it is impossible for a part to change function, no matter how many times they are shown examples of exactly that. Ignoring this sort of thing is part of the reason they utterly fail in providing examples of “irreducible complexity,” and simultaneously fail to understand how “irreducible complexity” can evolve.
    4. Creationists are unable to define “part” in a meaningful or consistent way, and move the goalposts the instant it’s pointed out that a system they claimed could not function with a part missing…functions with a part missing.

  109. #109 Lithified
    December 31, 2008

    OK, it took a unicycle thread to get this long-time lurker out from under my rock.

    As noted by Tatarize@89, the unicycle evolved from the Penny-farthing. The unicycle, however, is a transitional form. Some unicycles have lost their seats:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cU-HlDpWag

    And some have even lost their pedals:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiaIzvBgRxo&feature=related

    It turns out then, that not even a unicycle is irreducibly complex.

    But wait, if the BC wheel evolved from unicycles, then why are there still unicycles????

  110. #110 Mike P
    December 31, 2008

    I always thought Casey resembled Fred Savage.

  111. #111 greg
    December 31, 2008

    just wanted to say, this was an awesome comment: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/12/casey_luskin_botches_another_m.php#comment-1287929 (#88). Thanks Amphiox

  112. #112 SteveG
    December 31, 2008

    Greg (#40):

    Are they *still* harping on irreducibly complex systems? I thought that was a dead horse.

    Are you kidding? Creationist literature itself shows us that nothing is ever a dead horse. All bad creationist arguments live on for decades among the faithful. The measure is whether or not it’s useful for trying to prop up the religious dogma, not whether or not it’s factually correct or rationally healthy.

  113. #113 ngong
    December 31, 2008

    Queue up the redefinition calliope, Casey! ‘But it’s not a bicycle anymore, now is it?’

    Incredible! They’re actually playing that game on the Uncommon Descent website:

    “Luskin is exactly correct…remove a wheel from a BI-cycle, and you no longer have a funtioning BI-cycle.”

    and…

    “Perhaps you can explain how a bicycle with a missing wheel is still a bicycle (or restated: able to function as a bicycle)?”

    Both of those comments come from the esteemed forum moderators.

  114. #114 hery
    January 25, 2010

    So Luskin actually discovered a verifiable example speciation.

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