Patterico's Pontifications

5/19/2009

Quote of the Day

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 pm



“Drudge had as a lead item up there this morning on his page a story from the UK, Sky News: ‘Scientists Unveil Missing Link In Evolution.’ It’s all about how Darwin would be thrilled to be alive today. ‘Scientists have unveiled a 47-million-year-old fossilised skeleton of a monkey hailed as the missing link in human evolution.’ It’s a one-foot, nine-inch-tall monkey, and it’s a lemur monkey described as the eighth wonder of the world. ‘The search for a direct connection between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom has taken 200 years – but it was presented to the world today –‘ So I guess this is settled science. We now officially came from a monkey, 47 million years ago. Well, that’s how it’s being presented here. It’s settled science. You know, this is all BS, as far as I’m concerned. Cross species evolution, I don’t think anybody’s ever proven that. They’re going out of their way now to establish evolution as a mechanism for creation, which, of course, you can’t do . . .”

483 Responses to “Quote of the Day”

  1. “They” can explain away everything that happens before life is created.

    “They” can explain away everything that happens after life is created.

    Yet not one “theory” for how that light bulb was turned on to begin with.

    The rest of the arguments presented are jibberish for navel gazers who want to fight God versus Darwin/Science.

    Much like big bang theory in Physics.

    You just gotta ask who the fuck put that damn marble in the middle of nothing and made it explode?

    HeavenSent (637168)

  2. I agree, its to funny.

    ML (14488c)

  3. So lions and tigers, horses and zebras, camels and llamas are not examples of cross-specific evolution?

    Sorry Rush, you went too far in making an otherwise valid point about the missing link nonsense.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  4. You just know the moderation filter is fraking FLOODED with comments from DCSCA…

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  5. I think PCMCIA has adopted another nym now. Probably several.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  6. DCSCA is probably crapping his pants that he can’t post.

    Rush is making a point, but not very well in this case. He’s done this kind of thing before and he should be criticized for it. It’s his own making.

    Wait a second, I see exactly what he’s doing. Does anyone else? I’m sure you do. (Think about a former highly placed government official who won big prizes for advancing questionable theories).

    It will be interesting to see how the left plays this one.

    Ag80 (db38af)

  7. You know, all this time I thought Terry-Thomas was the Missing Link, or perhaps he just played one in a movie once?

    AD - RtR/OS! (1b5813)

  8. Helen Thomas is old enough, and ugly enough, to be the missing link.

    JD (4b1a03)

  9. Or to have at least met him.

    Probably went to prom with him…

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  10. The “missing link” is an outdated version of how science understands evolution. It’s not a ladder or chain; it’s more like a tangled bush. But predictably, the science-ignorant MSM still uses that misleading imagery.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  11. The existence of Helen Thomas is proof of evolution, and is also proof that God is a mean and vengeful God. Or, he/she has a sense of humor.

    JD (4b1a03)

  12. What exactly is it about this thing that makes them think it’s a “missing link”? I guess there are all sorts of lemurs and monkeys that are around today that would be called “missing links” if they had went extinct millions of years ago and we found their fossils today.

    jcurtis (666bf6)

  13. #8 Scott Jacobs,
    There would be no descendants as any guy dating her would surely turn gay.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  14. Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. –
    Lions and tigers can interbreed; ditto horses and zebras; ditto zebra-llama.

    Shoot, here’s a whole list of hybrids for you.

    One definition of “species” is “things that can interbreed and have fertile offspring.” Other definitions include them having the same #of chromosomes and doing the above….shoot, there are a LOT of definitions of species!
    Worth noting that some of those hybrids I linked above resulted in the breeds involved being reclassified in their scientific names.

    Now, all that said…
    if we accept that cross-species breeding can happen, it still doesn’t prove cross-species evolution, it can just be *evidence* for it– because proof would require prediction and observation to support the theory….

    Given that it’s Rush, it’s a good bet that he’s screwing with someone.

    Foxfier (db0f51)

  15. #11,
    They are looking for characteristics that are distinct to human and “monkey” branches that would indicate a common root or branching point in the tree. We did not branch off from something existing today, but both branches came from something that used to exist and does not anymore. Both branches have diverged from that. Rush has said before he does not believe one species changes to another. He should stick to politics or philosophy.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  16. The theory of evolution does not attempt to explain the origins of the species, does it? By that, I am wondering if it is true that creationism and evolution can exist independent of each other.

    JD (4b1a03)

  17. Well, go at it, but this argument is akin to wrestling with a pig.

    I believe that Foxfier and I are correct, but everyone else have fun with the folks who come along to correct you.

    Ag80 (db38af)

  18. There’s so much we don’t know. For instance, instead of talking about natural selection, perhaps we should be talking about biased gene conversion.

    DRJ (f55947)

  19. Rush has said before he does not believe one species changes to another. He should stick to politics or philosophy.

    Comment by Machinist — 5/19/2009 @ 10:22 pm

    I agree with that one. I remember Rush being on an “art critic” kick several years ago that made me want to shake him by the collar.

    I guess I’m asking for the particular traits of this thing that shows it is a link, as opposed to some branch-off that is not linked to humans. I mean, the thing looks like a rat with T-rex legs to me. It’s also unclear to me why the thing it branched off of would necessarily need to be extinct today.

    jcurtis (666bf6)

  20. “…biased gene conversion…”

    Sound Racist to me!
    How about Un-biased gene conversion?

    AD - RtR/OS! (1b5813)

  21. Seems to me I’ve heard this announcement before. We’re constantly told that evolution (germ to man) is settled science. Then why is this “missing link” so important. They really mean it this time??!!

    ManlyDad (e3dfe1)

  22. DRJ,
    I don’t know what genes they refer to but early humans (or proto humans) artificially tampered with their own evolution in ways that greatly increased the speed of some changes. If the genes involved had bad effects as well as good then they would have accelerated the spread of those as well. The ruthless culling involved in demanding the desired effect would have outweighed the negative effects of the linked genes, at least on the short term.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  23. Manlydad,
    As Brother Bradley said, the missing link is an old concept. We share like 95% of our genes with some primates making it look that we had a common ancestor. What they think they have found is the animal that the human lines and primate lines branched off from and went our separate ways. The earlier “missing links” were often found to be other parallel branches of the human tree that died out.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  24. Machine,

    A more accurate figure of genes shared with primates is nearer to 70%.

    And it’s not just MSM who promote the “missing link.” The Darwinists do also as it generates excitement and a sense of “completion” to their theories.

    ManlyDad (e3dfe1)

  25. I have not read Darwin’s book and can’t speak to the details of his theory but I do believe that evolution is an ongoing and constant process we can see at work around us in the recent (so to speak) past, long after humans developed. If humans were created they would still have surely evolved, I think. “evolution” is just a term for several natural processes that are constantly at work.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  26. The last figure I saw for chimps was 96% but I can’t defend it as it’s not my field, so I will assume you are right, Sir.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  27. Foxfier – You got me totally curious about the hybrids with the Zebra-Llama thing. Except it’s not Zebra-Llama – it’s CAMEL-Llama. Breeding like to like isn’t fascinating. Especially considering that many of the hybrids are not fertile.

    In plant breeding, as in dogs, if you allow breeding/propagation with out controls, the hybrids will revert to their original form. Allowing one shoot of the root stock of a grafted hybrid tea rose can cause the whole bush to revert to the rootstock rose.

    Just saying.

    Vivian Louise (c0f830)

  28. Even if they “prove” a missing link it would still be part of God’s plan in my opinion. Literally he created man per the Bible or figuratively he created man through what may turn out to be evolution. In either case God had to be involved — the universe couldn’t just appear through a purely scientific explanation – something sparked it.
    Doesn’t alter my faith one whit.

    voiceofreason2 (590c85)

  29. Crazy scientists. Man in his wisdom denies God. Yet they don’t see how foolish they are in their wisdom. Maybe because some of us are actually descendants of monkeys. As for me and my house, I have chosen to believe in God. He created the heavens and the earth. He made man in His image and gave him dominion over the earth. God created monkeys. Monkeys created evolutionists.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  30. I believe in evolution. However, the anti-evolutionists are such easy targets that the evolutionists get lazy.
    You can mash one or another new conclusion without much trouble, and still be an evolutionist.
    Except they’ll call you a redneck fundie and point and laugh.
    Saves doing your homework.

    Richard Aubrey (41cd6b)

  31. I believe in the primordial ooze.

    JD (07b76c)

  32. We’ve seen evidence of the primodorial ooze with the recent troll infestations.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  33. Brother Bradley – Am I correct in my understanding that the theory of evolution makes no effort to explain the origin, the point of creation, if you will?

    JD (07b76c)

  34. Brother Bradley – I think the recent infestation more aptly shows a closely parallel branch to those little monkeys at the zoo that scoop up their feces and chuck it at the windows.

    JD (07b76c)

  35. If evolution is a fact, how come we humans have not changed for the past thousand years? By now we ought to have evolved into another higher species. Maybe a two-headed, male-female humanwoman with 4 breasts, a penis and a Virgina. Then we won’t need to worry about marriage and gayness.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  36. A fool in his heart says there is no God. No God, no creation. You do the math.

    PatriotRider (42e4cc)

  37. Mention feces-flinging primates, and lo and behold, lovie shows up. It is like a dog whistle.

    I would be interested in David Petranos, Esq and MKDP’s views on this most entertaining topic. I am sure AnnTM would be interested in their views, as she could relay that information on to the disabled firewall that keeps her disability horse out of work, and allows the sniper, roast beef slicer, frogmen, and boat captains to keep track of them.

    JD (07b76c)

  38. JD,
    Evolution per se doesn’t try to explain the origin of life. Evolution starts when you have a self-replicating organism, and that’s where all the interesting things begin.

    The search for how life could have arose from inorganic chemicals is another matter. There has been some progress in that direction, and I’ve done some writing about it, talking with local scientists. San Diego is a great place for a science writer to me.

    I’m an atheist, but agree with some of the commenters above that crying Darwin whenever a fossil is found is a bit too much. Evolutionary theory doesn’t just depend on a few fossils, it is, as Stephen Jay Gould put it, an “inescapable inference” based on vast quantities of data. Nor does evolution necessarily conflict with religion, as Gould wrote in a fascinating article, ‘Evolution as Fact and Theory.’.

    One of the key passages in that article bears repeating:
    Evolution lies exposed in the imperfections that record a history of descent. Why should a rat run, a bat fly, a porpoise swim, and I type this essay with structures built of the same bones unless we all inherited them from a common ancestor? An engineer, starting from scratch, could design better limbs in each case.

    Why should all the large native mammals of Australia be marsupials, unless they descended from a common ancestor isolated on this island continent? Marsupials are not “better,” or ideally suited for Australia; many have been wiped out by placental mammals imported by man from other continents.

    This principle of imperfection extends to all historical sciences. When we recognize the etymology of September, October, November, and December (seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth), we know that the year once started in March, or that two additional months must have been added to an original calendar of ten months.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  39. A more accurate figure of genes shared with primates is nearer to 70%.

    We share about 70% with yeast. With chimps, its over 95%.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  40. I doubt if we’ll ever find the proverbial”missing link”(i.e. one species in the process of turning into another), because at some point one species becomes another. At some point, a species had more “man” features, than it did “ape” features and was assigned to the “early man” branch. Another species had more “whale” features then it had “four footed shore dweller” features, and was assigned to the early whale branch.

    Looking for some “half man/half ape” fossil is an exercise in futility. It will either be one or the other. This so called “missing link” simply has enough features to move it from the lemur branch into the monkey branch.

    Michael D. Giles (e225ee)

  41. Sigh. Evolution is “the origin of species” not “the origin of life”. Personally, I like Chapter 6 of Genesis which implies that modern humans came about when the “sons of God” mated with “the daughters of men”. Hybrids!

    nk (a1896a)

  42. The question of evolution vs creation was unraveled years ago. Clearly man was created by god, and women are descended from monkeys.

    Ropelight (e36d4f)

  43. The existence of Helen Thomas is proof of evolution

    …or proves that Tolkien wasn’t just relying on his imagination for Orcs and Gollum.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  44. Comment by Ropelight — 5/20/2009 @ 7:20 am

    You could not bring yourself to say that women are a life-support system for something men cannot resist?

    nk (a1896a)

  45. Atheist dad: Son, like I said, God does not exist.
    Son: Okay Dad. But who is “God”?

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  46. I thought Joe Biden was the missing link between Humans and Space(d) Aliens.

    PCD (02f8c1)

  47. “… evolution is an ongoing and constant process we can see at work around us…”, except, in looking around current urban centers, we would have to describe it as devolution.

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  48. From AP: by Malcom Ritter
    Skeleton sheds light on promate evolution
    5/20/09 in The Star, Ventura CA
    “Experts not connected with the discovery said the finding was remarkably complete. But they questioned the conclusions of Hurum and his colleagues about how closely it is related to ancestors of monkeys and humans.
    “I actually don’t think it’s terribly close to the common ancestral line of monkeys, apes and people,” said K. Christopher Beard of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. “I would say that it’s about as far away as you can get from that line and still be a primate.”
    ….John Fleagle of the State University of New York at Stony Brook said the scientist’s analysis provides only “a pretty weak link”…It dosen’t really tell us much about anthropoid origins, quite frankly”…
    Hummm, maybe people should extend Rush an apology.

    Ralph Volpi (5e6a2c)

  49. As far as I can tell, the “Chimps are 90-whatever identical to humans” story is based off of them aligning genes and then comparing the two– but they only aligned genes that would match already.

    I keep finding 70-something% as a more realistic sum of similarities, if you include *ALL* the genes.

    A couple of quotes:

    First, the 98% figure is probably overstated. An article in Science puts the actual figure at 94%. (Jon Cohen, “Relative Differences: The Myth of 1%, June 29, 2007). But even these figures are only measuring about 2% of our total genetic makeup–that is, those genes that code for proteins, the building blocks of our physical bodies and functions.

    The vast majority of our DNA, known as “non-coding DNA”–sometimes called “junk DNA” because it was once thought not to have function–is very different in humans from most non coding genes found in chimps and other apes. Moreover, recent research has found that contrary to previous belief, this repetitive DNA isn’t “junk” after all, but has distinct purposes. Research continues as to the exact nature and functions of non coding genes, but given the wide differences between human and ape non coding DNA–even if the purported 98% genetic similarity to coding DNA is true, it is actually only 98% of a much smaller percentage of our total genetic makeup, perhaps as low as 98% of 2%!

    and

    We also find places where two pieces of human genome align with only one piece of chimp genome, or two pieces of chimp genome align with one piece of human genome. This “copy number variation” causes another 2.7% difference between the two species. Therefore the total similarity of the genomes could be below 70%.

    This figure does not take include differences in the organization of the two genomes. At present we cannot fully assess the difference in structure of the two genomes, because the human genome was used as a template (or ”scaffold”) when the chimpanzee draft genome was assembled.

    Eyes glazed over yet?

    Foxfier (db0f51)

  50. AD, that would be the natural process blocked or interfered with. Civilization tends to block some aspects of evolution by compensating for non survival factors.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  51. Yes, it is a shame that we overly-protect people from themselves so that their regressive genes get into the gene pool instead of being cancelled out by Mother Nature before puberty.
    Which seems to suggest that “civilization” is a self-destructing level of evolutionary attainment, and that periodically we have to step back into the forest and start over again.

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  52. I was taught that evolution was God’s tool for creation of man. I no longer believe this but I do not think evolution and God are incompatible and I would never try to challenge another person’s faith. The irony is that I have helped several people through their own crisis of faith while not sharing it myself. I don’t think I have the answers to reject someone else’s.

    A thousand years is an eye blink of time in terms of evolution though you can see small effects. Look at a suit of armor from a thousand years ago. A normal modern man will not fit in it. The reason the flu sweeps around the world every year or so is that it has evolved enough that your body’s defenses no longer recognize it. When Europeans came to the new world their diseases were devastating to the natives because the Europeans had evolved a high degree of immunity to them. The same with their toxins like alcohol. This is evolution in action.

    Evolution is the process where random changes are produced and natural selection weeds out the survival factors for the local environment. Evolution can reverse when the local environment changes.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  53. Is “civilization” a level of evolutionary attainment that is ultimately self-destructing?
    Perhaps we need to return to the forests periodically and start over from a place where regressive genes are cleansed from the gene pool in the “survival of the fittest” method?
    Or, a comet could come be and start the process over again – the question being:
    Who would be the favored species this time?

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  54. AD #49,
    I never suggested that, Sir. I simply pointed out that civilization interferes with certain aspects of natural evolution, some by accident and some on purpose. Man’s social instincts and verbal skills are both results of deliberate manipulation. I certainly consider these good things. I am completely against eugenics so please be careful what you assume.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  55. 9:29 is a re-hash of what I intended to post at 9:23, but thought it got lost due to a mini-crash.
    Sorry!

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  56. I do not assume what is not written. My words are my words.
    I don’t believe I even mentioned eugenics, just commenting on the overly-protective nature of Nanny-States.

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  57. Civilization simply changes what are survival traits. This can be a good thing if you like the characteristics of civilization. I do, in general. Evolution always takes place. Only the shaping forces change.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  58. Dinosaurs were fabulously successful, dominating almost every ecological place above insects for 150,000,000 years. They were so successful that it may have taken their destruction to allow other groups to flourish and branch out. There were bigger die offs before that.

    I took what you were describing to be eugenics. Sorry if I misunderstood you. I consider civilization a positive thing but do not want attempts to force evolution.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  59. How a civilization is organized can be either a constructive, or destructive, influence.
    I am becoming increasingly pessimistic on what ours is doing.

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  60. In terms of cultures I can agree. As to civilization in the broader sense I think it is a major step forward. We need to encourage our better natures rather than seeking to step over each other.

    Climbing a mountain is easier and safer when several people work together. If each tries to be first to the top by knocking the others off then overall progress suffers. I am NOT advocating suppression of the individual with this but the recognition that the individual gains from voluntary mutual cooperation with others.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  61. This has long annoyed me. It is unfortunate that there is a minority of Republicans who are Creationists. What is “settled” is that Creationism and its dishonest twin “Intelligent Design” are simply unscientific nonsense.

    There is no reason for this twaddle to become associated with the Republican party. We need to all fight it and exclude it from GOP ideology.

    SPQR (72771e)

  62. Perhaps we need to route-out all of the dishonest “scientists” also?
    They seem to have a habit of mucking-up the world just as much as the “Creationists”, who haven’t attempted to overthrow the economic order to “prevent” some imaginary threat, BTW.
    Perhaps a little more “tolerance” is called for in all of us?

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  63. Well, AD, you should realize that I’m pretty active in skepticism of AGW.

    SPQR (72771e)

  64. SPQR-
    sure there is: because the psycho* atheists on the other side would make them up if they didn’t exist.

    Most creationists I know don’t do politics– and a goodly number vote democrat because of the social issues besides abortion.

    For that matter, the psycho atheists are also the ones that tag anyone who disagrees with PURE RANDOM CHANCE evolution being the only sort– how does one test for lack of cause, if considering cause makes one a creationist?– of way that things could look as they do now.

    *(Yes, I am going to call folks psycho if they’re for killing toddlers as not yet human; at least pro-abortion folks can’t look at the kids’ faces yet. I’m a horrible, biased, judgmental person, I know.)

    Foxfier (db0f51)

  65. I guess I am not confident enough of my own wisdom to spit on someone else’s faith. It will be hard to excise it from our philosophy as our government and constitution are based on Christian concepts and values. I doubt it can survive as we know it without those values. I don’t like what I’m seeing so far. The attempt to “free” us from religion has cost us dearly in personal liberty and the march continues. Where does it end, a goosestep?

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  66. Foxfier, if you want to believe that some higher order works through evolution to reach a result, I have no problem with that.

    SPQR (72771e)

  67. Well, you may be an AGW skeptic; I’m in full-denial mode!
    Since Man didn’t create the Sun, I see no hope that we can adjust its’ influence on global temperatures and climate.
    All the rest is just pure bull-shit!

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  68. Machinist, I have no issue with others’ faith. It is science that is the subject of the attack of Creationism, not faith.

    It is a false argument to claim that evolution is an attack on or aimed at religion. I know a lot of religious people who also believe in evolution.

    SPQR (72771e)

  69. BTW, Rush just “resigned” his position as “titular head” of the Republican Party,
    abdicating in favor of Colin Powell.

    In his use of cutting invective, Rush must have been a student of Noel Coward.

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  70. What is “settled” is that Creationism and its dishonest twin “Intelligent Design” are simply unscientific nonsense.

    The irony of it all is that it was a Catholic Priest by name of Lemaître who, along with a few others, first proposed what would come to be known as The Big Bang Theory.

    So “religion” is hardly adverse to rational thought…

    Scott Jacobs (60844a)

  71. I don’t think that evolution is an attack on religion. I believed in evolution when I was a Christian and I still do now that I’m not.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  72. I agree with Rush. If you don’t ASSUME evolution, what you have here is a preserved monkey skeleton. But if you do assume evolution, suddenly it’s Great Aunt Mary. The ONLY evolution going on is micro – the “evolution” which occurs on a local limited level where some genetic traits are shown to be an advantage when environmental circumstances change. Once the environment returns to normal, suddenly the “evolution” disappears! Darwinism CANNOT explain the level of complexity that occurs in even the most simple cell. The whole theory needs to be scraped. The reason “scientists” cling to it is because they think the alternative is “God”, and they certainly can’t have that! Real science doesn’t care if God exists or not. It’s supposed to go where the evidence leads it. The “evidence” for Darwinism is so pathetic and circular, a thinking person is ashamed it’s passed off as legitimate.

    Terry (b3b303)

  73. Quite the contrary, Terry, it is the “evidence” for Intelligent Design that is pathetic and circular.

    SPQR (72771e)

  74. And here I thought of myself as a thinking person. What a surprise. Am I an idiot or am I not a person?

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  75. The “evidence” for Darwinism is so pathetic and circular, a thinking person is ashamed it’s passed off as legitimate.

    Well sure, if you ignore stuff like observable events…

    Scott Jacobs (60844a)

  76. Evolutionists are liars. They can’t prove anything.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  77. The Emperor, do you have an explanation for why a whale has a pelvis? And a femur? A tibia?

    Looking forward to your explanation of that without evolution.

    SPQR (72771e)

  78. I’m sure the creationists are absolutely thrilled to have The Emperor/Lovey/whatever on their side. 😉

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (2b1d82)

  79. Bradley, certainly makes my task that much easier 😆

    SPQR (72771e)

  80. Emporor,
    Am I a liar anytime I express a belief I can’t prove? Has anything ever been proven?

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  81. You do know why it’s called the “theory” of evolution don’t you?

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  82. I’m pretty sure Emperor was being sarcastic, people…

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  83. 70.Quite the contrary, Terry, it is the “evidence” for Intelligent Design that is pathetic and circular.

    Comment by SPQR — 5/20/2009 @ 10:33 am

    As opposed to the “evidence” for pure random happenstance? (which categorically rejects God working through evolution, I’d like to point out– ID just posits the design, not the method, or even the designer(s); there are multiple theories of how, from borderline creationism through embedded information to God Guided Evolution.)

    The funny thing is, I don’t believe or disbelieve in “evolution” anymore than I believe or disbelieve one theory of gravity over the other– on a practical, demonstrable level, I have enough information: laws of heredity and “stuff drops like this on earth.”

    There’s just something so tempting about self-important theories that give bad arguments and constantly insist that they’re proven by every which thing, especially when they use bad arguments against other theories….

    Foxfier (db0f51)

  84. It’s just the remains of an old boyfriend of Drudge’s.

    David Ehrenstein (405ab2)

  85. There’s so much we don’t know. For instance, instead of talking about natural selection, perhaps we should be talking about biased gene conversion.

    17 — Comment by DRJ — 5/19/2009 @ 10:44 pm

    Common descent, random mutations, and natural selection have all been proven empirically. One of the problems knowledgeable scientists are having with random mutation and natural selection is speed.

    The speed in which species evolve (or more rightly, the changes in bio-molecules needed to develop new genetic traits that eventually form new species) does not match current evolutionary models. Population size, reproduction rates, and time have to be enormous to produce even small genetic changes (from studies done with multiple amino acid residues).

    Until about the last ten-years, science really could be forgiven for its inferences about Darwinian Evolutionary Theory (developed in the 1859), but with our current knowledge of chemistry and biology at the molecular level, such speculations have been eroded by knowledge.

    Totally agree with your first sentence “There’s so much we don’t know”. The next ten years should prove astonishing.

    Pons Asinorum (b3301f)

  86. Pons – Long time, no comment ;-( Good to see you!

    JD (57d75b)

  87. Looking forward to your explanation of that without evolution.

    Comment by SPQR — 5/20/2009 @ 10:55 am

    That’s easy. I will just give you one quote from Darwin himself. “Not one change of species into another is on record… we cannot prove that a single species has been changed.”

    SOURCE: “My Life and Letters”, Volume 1.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  88. Thanks JD, I’ve been logged-on, just listening.

    BTW, thanks for all the laughs. You rock.

    Pons Asinorum (b3301f)

  89. #

    You do know why it’s called the “theory” of evolution don’t you?

    Comment by Machinist — 5/20/2009 @ 11:18 am

    Machinist. Let me first address the question you asked. You are not a liar. But like millions of people like you who beleive in this theory, you’ve been lied to.
    To your next question, if it is called a “theory”, then it is not supported by hard evidence or proof. It is merely one person’s attempt to explain the origin of the human race and other creatures. A flawed attempt I must add.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  90. I was listening, and I thought Rush said “Across species evolution…”. One type of big cat mating with another type to produce a hybrid, often sterile, is not what I think he was referring to FWIW.

    One arguement against Intelligent Design (“ID”) is that it is “not scientific, because it is not subject to confirmation or denial”. Actually Behe readily admitted that if proposed examples of “irreducible complexity” were shown to have developed incrementally, ID would lose its footing. That is more than can be said for evolution. Can you envision any finding that evolutionists would accept as disproving evolution, or would you expect them to give some previously unthought of “explanation”?

    As a practical test, I put forward the example of the HIV virus. Quite simple as living things go, (assuming you count viruses as living things). It also has the evolutionary advantage of “compressing time”. It does not need millions of years to produce millions of progeny to have the opportunity to evolve. Someone with acute infection could have as many as 1 million particles of virus in each 1 ml of blood at any one time, generating multiple millions each 24 hours over months and years. And then consider the number of humans who harbor those millions and even billions of particles. Yet, with all of those “organism-years” of potential evolution, any doctor who was concerned that the virus may take on the property of being released through lung tissue and be spread through respiratory means would be seen as a nut. It would be quite simple for HIV to have a mutation in a binding protein so that it would recognize respiratory epithelium as a cell to infect compared to what it would take for a multiple celled organism to create an eye. It’s beyond me to figure out the actual calculations of probability, but it would be interesting to see someone do it (well). And don’t say that HIV does evolve because it develops resistance. Variation within a species is well accepted by ID proponents. That is a central issue, the difference between variation within a species by natural selection as opposed to the change from one species to another.

    But I looked on the site to read and post on something else, not sure if I will get to it.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  91. Nonsense, Foxfier, evolution itself says nothing about the supernatural, only the natural.

    The Emperor, wow a century and a half ago, Darwin said something that proves your point … uh, not.
    And your misrepresentation of the definition of “theory” is equally vapid. The Theory of Evolution is not made any less established by being called a theory than is the Theory of Relativity.

    SPQR (72771e)

  92. I vote for more Pons, and less illiterate twatwafflery.

    JD (57d75b)

  93. MD, actually Behe’s irreducible complexity” is nothing more than a definitional shell game. And his favorite example, that of cilia in one celled animals, has actually been shown to be reducible. More importantly, ID itself presents no testable hypothesis – irreducible complexity being not a hypothesis that predicts a result but merely a game of moving goalposts – so indeed its not a scientific argument. Together with Behe’s statistical arguments having been shown to be misrepresentations of the statistics, I find Behe to be without credibility.

    SPQR (72771e)

  94. MD in Philly, the idea that “variation within species is well accepted” but that there is some mythic wall beyond which it does not go should all by itself reveal to you the falsity of ID.

    There is no hard point that delineates species in nature. This is in fact one of the great flaws of endangered species regulation – that we have no rigid definition of “species”.

    ID proponents like to pretend that there is such a rigid concept but its just not true. Life are collections of populations of genes, with amorphous boundaries.

    By the way, why does a whale have a pelvis?

    SPQR (72771e)

  95. Emperor, thank you. I used the word theory because It is not proven. I would disagree with anyone who said it was. If it were it would be a “law” and would be understood and capable of proof. This is not the case. I also do not claim other theories are false, and certainly not proven false. I believe evolution has and is going on all around us but I think it presumptuous to claim it is established or that no other idea is valid. We don’t make progress that way. Years ago people sought to outlaw teaching evolution. Now people want to claim only Darwin should be taught or considered. They are both equally wrong. If creationism or IT are wrong then demonstrate it properly. Trying to suppress it makes it look like you fear the light of day and does not inspire confidence in ones ideas.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  96. Machinist, Creationism should not be taught as “science” not because it is “wrong”. Because it is not science.

    SPQR (72771e)

  97. IT should be intelligent design. Duh!

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  98. That’s easy. I will just give you one quote from Darwin himself. “Not one change of species into another is on record… we cannot prove that a single species has been changed.”

    SOURCE: “My Life and Letters”, Volume 1.

    The Emperor/Lovey’s Darwin “quote” is a debunked creationist misquote:

    Charles Darwin never wrote any book by that title.

    It’s commonly misquoted on many a creationist site.

    His son edited, after his father’s death, a book called The life and letters of Charles Darwin.

    In which you can track down the second half of the “quote” above, but without any trace of the first half.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (2b1d82)

  99. What makes something science, Sir?

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  100. SPQR,

    It appears to me that you believe that the evolution from one species to another, including significant structures such as the eye, has been tested by controlled experimentation. I would be interested in those experiments. Anything less, such as looking at genetic similarities or fossils are simply observations that lend credible inference of evolutionary theory, the same kind of observational evidence that ID looks at.

    I am aware of some of the critiques of Behe’s cilia example that have not persuaded me, especially if one claims readily observed reproducible experimentation.

    More to be said, but need to finish making dinner. I’ll try to be back.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  101. Were Lysenko’s theories science?

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  102. Machinist, it must be falsifiable. Ie., it must make falsifiable hypotheses that can be tested. Supernatural inherently fails this. You can’t create a falsifiable hypothesis involving an omnipotent Creator.

    MD, I believe that because there is no rigid definition of species, that your basic assumption is false. If you agree that populations can evolve genetic differences, then you can’t claim that that change does not scale up. Its simply illogical.

    SPQR (72771e)

  103. A whale has a pelvis for the same reason a professor in biology in a college class told me why there are only species of finches on the Galapagos islands and not other birds: to give evidence that there is no god, because he/she/it wouldn’t have done it that way.

    A tenured professor displaying the hubris of thinking she was smarter than an omniscient being. Whether there is a god or not, the argument is absurd.

    Tell me, using a hypthesis that can be tested and replicated, with controls allowing it to (theoretically/logically anyway) be shown true or false.

    Do you oppose teaching about proposed “origins” of the universe? I believe cosmologists often think they are “doing science”.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  104. Would this not mean that even if an omnipotent Creator exists, by definition science could not prove if he existed or not.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  105. ,i>It appears to me that you believe that the evolution from one species to another, including significant structures such as the eye, has been tested by controlled experimentation. I would be interested in those experiments. Anything less, such as looking at genetic similarities or fossils are simply observations that lend credible inference of evolutionary theory, the same kind of observational evidence that ID looks at.

    It’s a common misconception about science that “controlled experimentation” is the defining characteristic of testing theories. It is but one method, and often not feasible with historical sciences.

    The key in any scientific study is the ability to make predictions on the basis of observations that are confirmed by further research. That is what evolution does. ID makes no predictions it will stand behind, because it is not a theory, just a rhetorical attack on evolution.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (2b1d82)

  106. Indeed evolution does not prove or disprove creation. Our base of scientific knowledge explains much that has happened in the past 15 billion years, and not one thing before then. Time and space began at that point and no scientist can tell you how.

    As SPQR noted, “ID” should not be taught as science. That’s the thing. It’s not science. Teach it at home, teach it at church, whatever. Not in science class.

    carlitos (2703cf)

  107. MD – “A tenured professor displaying the hubris of thinking she was smarter than an omniscient being. Whether there is a god or not, the argument is absurd.

    With that statement, you appear to be acknowledging that that explanation is not science.

    Cosmologists work in the realm of physics. Not supernatural.

    By the way, evolution says nothing about the beginning of life, ie., abiogenesis. Evolution is a theory that works with populations of genes once they exist.

    SPQR (72771e)

  108. Must a farmer be able to create an ear of corn on demand to be able to claim he grew corn? Does explaining the life process of corn from seed to ear prove farmers don’t exist? Just wondering.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  109. SPQR,

    If you think there is no significant difference between an organism developing different coloration of an iris as opposed to an organism developing an eye, then indeed we have no common ground for discussion.

    I think it is akin to equating the chemical reactions among organic and inorganic compounds in a puddle and those in a lab, let alone the precise “micro-environment” within the active site of an enzyme, maintained in a suitable environment, perhaps segregated from other compounds by selectively permeable membranes.

    I found it hard enough at times to adequately reproduce the exact conditions to obtain the same yield in one step of an organic synthesis back in the day.

    Yes, I know it is both a scientific and philosophy of science/logic problem in regard to defining what is and is not a “specie”. That being the case, I was not aware that modern biology had scrapped the notion all together.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  110. Would this not mean that even if an omnipotent Creator exists, by definition science could not prove if he existed or not.

    Yes. An omnipotent Creator could, by definition, make the universe appear to act in any way desired. That includes giving an appearance of evolution, when in fact all life was specially created. No one can disprove the existence of such a being.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (2b1d82)

  111. Machinist, I think your analogy does not work. Farmers do not “create” corn. In other words, it is not the case that “corn” did not exist before farmers came along and did something … after which there was corn. Farmers do not create seed corn from something that was not ever before “corn”. Farmers merely husband the existing natural biological processes of corn so that we can take advantage of them ( oh, that and use selective breeding techniques that really rely on a biological understanding of life that is also foundational to our understanding of evolution ).

    SPQR (72771e)

  112. Comment by SPQR — 5/20/2009 @ 2:37 pm

    The Richard Dawkins type Darwinists disagree with you on what evolution is. ;^p

    Take it up with them, for all I care– I just dislike folks pinning the “creationist” stamp on folks saying “well, maybe God guided evolution.”

    MD, I believe that because there is no rigid definition of species, that your basic assumption is false. If you agree that populations can evolve genetic differences, then you can’t claim that that change does not scale up. Its simply illogical.

    Comment by SPQR — 5/20/2009 @ 3:02 pm

    There are instances where things don’t scale up, though; the issues with gravity on a macro scale, for example. (if you ever want a headache, go read the stuff on folks arguing if the basic physical laws are the same outside of the influence of a solar system or galaxy– at least, it makes my head hurt, you might be more into that sort of theory)

    A good example of an argument against genetic variations within a population being evidence of macro-evolution might be found in dog breeding– you can only get so far before the dogs “snap back”. (Vivian Louise mentioned that when controls are removed, the same happens– up where she’s responding to my late-night mistype)

    Foxfier (db0f51)

  113. MD, if you don’t think that an accumulation of small differences become large differences over a sufficiently large scale of time then indeed we can’t bridge that gap. I do not find your belief logical.

    You’ll find that in modern biology the term “species” is not a rigid one, and I’ve often seen definitions that seperate two populations that could interbreed but do not from mere geographical separation.

    SPQR (72771e)

  114. I have great love for and faith in science. It led me to reject my deeply held religious faith. But I don’t want science to become a religion, with dogma and protectors of the faith. And inquisitions against heresy.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  115. ( oh, that and use selective breeding techniques that really rely on a biological understanding of life that is also foundational to our understanding of evolution ).

    Comment by SPQR — 5/20/2009 @ 3:19 pm

    Amusement:
    by definition, when a farmer does selective breeding…it’s intelligent design, or guided evolution.
    ^.^

    Don’t know ’bout anyone else, but I find this vastly amusing.

    Foxfier (db0f51)

  116. Foxfier, actually there is work that has been done showing potential for interbreeding among different “species” of canis. There is also an interesting experiment using foxes, where they are selectively bred for domesticated traits and they start looking a lot like our idea of dogs.

    SPQR (72771e)

  117. Thank you, Brother Bradley.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  118. Comment by SPQR — 5/20/2009 @ 2:37 pm
    Why do you say that Intelligent Design is not science? What makes Evolution science and ID not? Do you have any hard evidence that can be proven scientifically to support evolution theory? And why do you think ID has not been scientifically proven?

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  119. Islands provide easily accessible examples of evolution, such as the giant carnivorous rats of Gough Island.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (2b1d82)

  120. When God made man out of clay, he left the first batch in the oven too long and they came out black. Those are the Africans. The next batch, he took out too soon and they came out too light. Those are the Scandinavians. On the third try, he got it just right, not too dark not too light. Those are the Mediterraneans.

    nk (a1896a)

  121. TheEmperor, already answered above.

    SPQR (72771e)

  122. The more I mull this over, the more I’m thinking that maybe Limbaugh was just playing a joke on his audience at the expense of Al Gore. I don’t listen to his show, but I’d be curious as to what he says in the future on this subject.

    Finding a missing link is kind of a bigger deal than Mr. Limbaugh, in my humble opinion. If he really believes what he said, then he’s a bigger idiot than I thought. Misleading 30 million people is just what his detractors have accused him of over the years.

    nk – as a dirty scandi myself, I denounce you, even as I make lemon-pepper-oregano-garlic marinated chicken and rice pilaf for dinner tonight. Yassou.

    carlitos (2703cf)

  123. 120.

    already answered above.

    Comment by SPQR — 5/20/2009 @ 3:36 pm


    Not satisfactorily I am afraid. But you don’t need to bother. You can’t prove anything.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  124. Evidently, you can’t read english, TheEmperor.

    SPQR (72771e)

  125. Carlitos,
    Rush has said for years he does not believe in evolution of one species into another, unfortunately. When he wanders into science his lack of education tends to show.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  126. Machinist,
    Too bad about Rush. On most political matters he is excellent.

    He had a great riff this morning about the defeat of nearly all the California propositions, and the hissy-fit thrown by the MSM that their solemn pronouncements on the editorial pages were ignored. Hilarious!

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (2b1d82)

  127. Good God, My tail bone is aching reading all this nonsense.

    Oiram (a1ed40)

  128. Evidently, you can’t read english, TheEmperor.

    Comment by SPQR — 5/20/2009 @ 3:49 pm

    Evidently you can’t write, SPQR.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  129. nk- And those who speak Spanish speak “The language of Heaven”…

    SPQR-
    I think Foxfier has been explicit in what I took implicitly. Once upon a time physics was Newtonian Physics, because issues of scale of the very large or the very small (subatomic). The assumption that things behaved by the same empirically described laws irregardless of size was just that, an assumption. To assume that since a system can do “X”, it can do 100 trillion times “X”, is an assumption.

    I do not accept your claim, “Cosmologists work in the realm of physics. Not supernatural.” as an explanation, it is merely a claim.

    Brother Fikes said:
    “The key in any scientific study is the ability to make predictions on the basis of observations that are confirmed by further research. That is what evolution does. ID makes no predictions it will stand behind, because it is not a theory, just a rhetorical attack on evolution.”

    Either you did not read my post, or I did not make myself clear.

    Cosmologists make observations in our natural world. Sometimes they propose theories that predict specific phenomena as yet undiscovered. If those phenomenon are later found, it is supportive of that theory. A lack of finding the specific phenomenon does not necessarily prove the theory is wrong. Certain findings or predictions may be put under controlled experimentation that have bearing on the overall theory, but the theory itself as a whole is beyond such manipulation.

    I think evolution, cosmology, abiogenesis, and ID are all similar in these regards. Yes, abiogenesis and evolution are not the same issue, but they are integrally related, as is ID and abiogenesis.

    Regarding where ID should be taught is precisely the issue. If one places ID in “religion” class as opposed to science, or at least philosophy of science, that is actually making the statement that “it doesn’t really matter, because it is not ‘real’ like ‘science’ is”. But that is avoiding the issue, because ID proponents put it forward as a theory to be compared to what is observed and what can be inferred from the tools of science like mathematics and statistics. If it is shown not to be supported by the evidence, then call it bad science.

    I will continue later FWIW, with one further point, later tonight.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  130. That’s like 2 funny Oiram one-liners in a month. Keep ’em coming!

    carlitos (2703cf)

  131. MD in Philly, with apologies for zinging this off rather quickly – I’m OK with calling “intelligent design” bad science. And discussing it in philosophy class or whatever. But why would we teach bad science in science class?

    carlitos (2703cf)

  132. carlitos,
    who decides what is good science and bad science? We are teaching rather discredited theories of man made global warming as science because the protectors of the faith have deemed it the Word.

    It seems to me the origin of man and the universe are subjects for science. If ID is to be taught it should be taught as a Christian belief, but to ban it from the classroom seems arrogant and unsupported by what we really know. I would rather have bad science I disagree with presented along with the good science than have a politician or bureaucrat decide what one idea is kosher.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  133. I refer to the science classroom.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  134. I believe God created the universe, and we have experienced evolution since. The vitriol against ID is odd. It is better “science” than AGW. Ain’t nobody changin’ nobody else’s mind on this one.

    JD (57d75b)

  135. Intelligent Design is scince. By definition, science means “Knowledge”.
    It refers to any systematic knowledge-base or prescriptive practice which is capable of resulting in a prediction or predictable type of outcome. In this sense, science often coincides with a technical art or practice (praxis) that, because of uncontrollability or undefinability, have not been reduced to a reproducible recipe.

    But it is more than science. It is the only plausible explanation to what science has no answer to. Science cannot explain everything. It is limited and inconclusive. ID is a form of science in that it falls into the category of “knowledge.” It is not “bad science”, it is simply “higher science”. It explains things science can’t because while science depends on the five physical senses, ID is a product of faith. I call it “The sixth sense.”

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  136. SQPR-
    Of course there’s canis species hybrids– what was that TV show in the 60s with the guy in Alaska and his wolf/dog hybrid? The dog is an example of a “cross-species” hybrid– as are (sometimes called mythical) coydogs.

    Here’s a kinda cool article about N’Amer canis hybrids.

    Part of why the problem of defining “species” can be such a headache. ^.^

    Foxfier (db0f51)

  137. The vitriol against ID is odd.

    Because it makes “unknowable” the limit of inquiry. Science says “there is no unknowable, only unknown”. Were ID to scientifically try to discover who the intelligent designer was, I would be all for it.

    nk (a1896a)

  138. I.e., I want some fingerprints, a dropped ash from a cigarette, some hairs from a White Beard ….

    nk (a1896a)

  139. I believe God created the universe, and we have experienced evolution since.
    Make up your mind, JD. Which is it for you? There is no agreement between the two beliefs. You cannot believe in God and evolution at the same time. Life doesn’t work that way. God created the heavens and the Earth and made man in His image. Man did not evolve from other species. He was formed from the dust of the earth by God. That is why he goes back to dust in death. Because man is composed of earth. Not monkeys and fishes. Believing this is the basis of the Christian faith which I know you belong to. But you can’t believe the two.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  140. Machinist, I was quoting MD from Philly, who said that if ID is unsupported by the evidence, then call it bad science. It is unsupported, and I call it as such.

    For the record, I don’t think that we should teach politics in science class, either.

    Were ID to scientifically try to discover who the intelligent designer was, I would be all for it.

    indeed.

    carlitos (2703cf)

  141. ““… evolution is an ongoing and constant process we can see at work around us…”, except, in looking around current urban centers, we would have to describe it as devolution.”

    Awesome is being a part of a community where this sort of thing is said and left alone.

    –an urban resident

    imdw (41b4a1)

  142. Racist!

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  143. The Emperor,
    I think there are many scientists and others who believe in God and in evolution. Your statement that one can not believe in both is wrong and frankly a bit arrogant. Who are you to tell me or anyone else what beliefs we may hold? Is there a manual?

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  144. carlitos,

    I understood that. My point is that I think it should be taught in science class. In political classes we should not just teach the politics of the party in power, and other ideas can be presented in science class. It should be labeled as a Christian idea though. I think the number of people believing it and supporting it give it a place in the classroom.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  145. Once upon a time physics was Newtonian Physics, because issues of scale of the very large or the very small (subatomic). The assumption that things behaved by the same empirically described laws irregardless of size was just that, an assumption. To assume that since a system can do “X”, it can do 100 trillion times “X”, is an assumption.

    #128 — Comment by MD in Philly — 5/20/2009 @ 4:26 pm

    Just an aside about Physics; all physics theories are mathematically based (rigorously so). Not the case with Darwin Evolutionary Theory. There is no math. Rates of change, types of changes, and nature of random mutations are non-quantified assumptions largely based on 19th or early-to-mid 20th century science — with absolutely no rigorous mathematical treatment.

    As the functions of molecular biological processes becomes more revealed, science is beginning to quantify rates of change, as well as understand the types of changes (needed on the genetic level to induce influences of traits, for example) and the nature of these changes (geometry or type of molecule in a protein, for example).

    Such bio-oriented mathematical models were just not available to 19th and early to mid 20th century scientist. Only now is science just beginning to understand the scope of these processes.

    Certainly Darwin Evolution occurs, but the rates of change, types of changes, and nature of the changes (as imagined by Darwin Evolution) is beginning to appear insufficient as the primary mechanism of bio-diversity.

    Just as Physics thought they had it all figure out by the early 1900’s, turns out Nature was much more complicated than they thought. The same may hold true for Biology.

    It might be wise to demand a more mathematical treatment of any theory that demands obedience to its concepts.

    Pons Asinorum (b3301f)

  146. Comment by imdw — 5/20/2009 @ 5:15 pm

    I’m left alone because, so far, I’ve got more guns – and a demonstrated ability to effectively use them.
    hehe!

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  147. Comment by Machinist — 5/20/2009 @ 5:24 pm

    We speak of ID from a Judeo-Christian perspective, because, frankly, that is the milieu that we swim in. But, how do the other major religions explain the origins of species, and the Earth/Universe?
    Islam?
    Bhuddism?
    Taoism?
    Shintoism?
    …anyone want to junmp in on this one?

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  148. MD in Philly,
    But that is avoiding the issue, because ID proponents put it forward as a theory to be compared to what is observed and what can be inferred from the tools of science like mathematics and statistics..

    No, they don’t. ID consists of attacks on evolution, not of positive evidence for ID. William Dembski, for example, has denied that ID is a “mechanistic” theory.

    As for your example, I’m not going to take the bait. You’re asking me to play a game: “Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.” ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.

    Dembski is referring to his “irreducible complexity” idea, which is just a way of saying that if you can’t imagine how something complex could have evolved from a simpler structure, it must have been designed. That is an attack on evolution, not evidence for ID, let alone for the “intelligence” Dembski says is responsible for creating life.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  149. Machinist,
    Empy/Lovey’s lack of seriousness make it a waste of time to reason with.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  150. Who are you to tell me or anyone else what beliefs we may hold? Is there a manual?

    Comment by Machinist — 5/20/2009 @ 5:19 pm

    Yes. The Bible. You believe what it says as truth and reject every other stuff as lies.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  151. Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 5/20/2009 @ 5:37 pm

    Here you go, AD.

    nk (a1896a)

  152. Comment by Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. — 5/20/2009 @ 5:46 pm
    What do you really believe, “Brother Fikes”? Do you believe in God and the Bible account or do you believe something? Or like JD, do you believe in both? Where do you stand, Brother?

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  153. Empy/Lovey,
    I am but a humble acolyte of the One True Religion.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  154. Have you guys heard of knockout mice?

    nk (a1896a)

  155. I heard their very intelligent designer speak this past weekend.

    nk (a1896a)

  156. Machinist, do you believe that native American creation stories should also be taught in science class?

    I’m with Brother Bradley. ID is nothing more than an attack on science. Creationists in Christianity are no different than the goofy Turks who prattle on about this stuff from an “Islamic” perspective.

    nk, if you could smell this chicken on the grill …

    carlitos (2703cf)

  157. Comment by nk — 5/20/2009 @ 5:55 pm

    Not exactly a widespread, currently practiced religious belief that must be rationalized with contemporary scientific knowledge.
    But, thank you anyway.

    Seriously though, if ID is Creationism, does it conflict, or parallel, in any way with the basic tenents of the other major religions of the World?
    Which is also to ask, does Evolutionary Theory conflict, or parallel, with the basics of the other major religions?

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  158. nk,
    Indeedy, I have heard of knockout mice. Also, SCID mice, mice with human immune systems, mice brains with human cells.

    Freaky stuff!

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  159. carlitos #155,

    No I don’t. There is not a comparable following. Nor do I believe ID should be presented as being a product of scientific research.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  160. I am but a humble acolyte of the One True Religion.

    Comment by Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. — 5/20/2009 @ 6:00 pm
    Cool. Just don’t bring it here. Ok? (chuckles.)

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  161. Empy, I shall pray for you in the name of The O, Redeemer of All, Steward of the Planetary Thermostat, Keeper of the Oval Office Orchids, and uber-cool patron of all that is progressive, with shady book deals and under-the-table mortgages for all.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  162. nk, if you could smell this chicken on the grill …

    Comment by carlitos — 5/20/2009 @ 6:03 pm

    For some reason, I decided to go meatless, today, carlitos. Artichoke hearts with olive oil, lemon, feta cheese, and sourdough bread for lunch; and fetuccine with grated parmesan cheese, with butter melted in olive oil with bits of mitzithra, scalding hot, for a sauce.

    nk (a1896a)

  163. Comment by Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. — 5/20/2009 @ 6:32 pm

    Please don’t. I bind you!…LOL!!

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  164. Comment by nk — 5/20/2009 @ 6:47 pm

    …nk, you could make a girl swoon with such succulent dishes! (and considering the thread of this post, does anyone doubt the existence of intelligent design with such delectable offerings. I ask you!)

    Dana (4a6e8c)

  165. (Good looking) Dana, have I posted the joke about the guy walking on the beach, who frees a genie, and his third wish is to be irresistable to women?

    nk (a1896a)

  166. MD, no, cosmologists really do work solely in the realm of physics. All of the arguments in cosmology come from theoretical discussions at the boundaries of our understanding of physics in extreme regimes and experimental determinations of the precise values of certain physical constants.

    As for ID being science, that’s really where the “vitriol” comes from – the inherent dishonesty of ID. It is not science for several reasons. One is that its proponents have been caught in several deliberate misrepresentations. Second is that ID does not attempt to follow basic scientific practices / protocols and intentionally fails to present falsifiable hypotheses without which one is not doing science.

    The irreducible complexity argument is an example. It is not a scientific argument. Rather its an argument from ignorance e.g., it claims that one’s ignorance is evidence.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  167. SPQR #165,
    The same could be said about prominent promoters of global warming but does that mean all climate science and meteorology is not science?

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  168. ID is a philosophical theory… all talk and not much for facts.
    Evolution/Natural Selection is a scientific theory… a different ballgame with different standards of proof all together.

    Myself, I believe in a God – not necessarily the omnipotent one, the Alien one in it’s UFO that came to earth and modified our DNA to set us apart from the rest of the animals on this planet… well, that’s what I told the Mormon ladies that came to talk religion with me for 30 minutes one day… they didn’t come back. ha haha ha, eh.

    Norbert (6a874f)

  169. Machinist, I’m a skeptic of AGW and I think very little of the honesty of people like Michael Mann and James Hansen, but fundamentally they are doing science even if badly and unethically. There is a qualitative difference between them and ID proponents.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  170. Machinist, the way that I discovered this blog was via its exposure of media bias, at the website “Oh, That Liberal Media.” If you ask me whether there is a ‘comparable following’ for other creation stories, I’m afraid that I don’t care. There is a considerable following for the theory that anthropomorphic global warming is killing our planet, and I humbly disagree.

    carlitos (2703cf)

  171. carlitos,
    I do too, but would you ban it from the classroom and suppress it?

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  172. Lovie – What else would you allow me to believe? Are there any limits to your arrogance? Never mind ….

    JD (d467d3)

  173. er, anthopogenic.

    Machinist, I believe in the blues. I do. Raw, acoustic Delta blues, electric Chicago blues, horn-influenced Memphis blues. I believe. The blues not be taught in science class. This seems axiomatic to me.

    carlitos (2703cf)

  174. I have a thing where I use the gas grill, but with applewood chips and shredded once-used bourbon barrels in a tinfoil tube on the fire .. the chicken was good.

    carlitos (2703cf)

  175. When I was growing up there were two main scientific theories about the creation of the universe, the steady state theory and an upstart, the big bang theory. These were pretty much mutually exclusive and neither had much more evidence supporting it than did Creationist belief, yet they were taught as science. The steady state theory was actually favored for some time. Now if I support the steady state theory I would be risking an academic career I think. I am reluctant to decide science has found the final ultimate answer and no questioning or second look should be allowed or tolerated. That has so rarely worked out well in the past.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  176. I always wrap all my tinfoil in my hat.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  177. Is there not such a thing as music science?

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  178. I agree with Confederate Yankee’s take on this topic.

    DRJ (f55947)

  179. the big bang theory

    In Hinduism, the Earth is a flat disc, resting on top of four elephants, on the back of a turtle. Now, we know there are billions and billions of planets. And all those turtles and elephants had to be begotten some way. Big bang sounds right.

    nk (a1896a)

  180. Machinist, I’m happy to agree to disagree. I can’t explain my own musical abilities other than to say some talents are God given. Yet I’m arguing these points with a guy who claims to be an atheist. No one here is claiming an “ultimate answer” to anything.

    carlitos (2703cf)

  181. I now have a quandary, thanks to that link from SQPR,

    How can there be both an Omnipotent Obamessiah and an Omnipotent Lord Kelvin?

    My faith’s in tatters . . . shattered!

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  182. carlitos, No offense, Sir. I enjoy your thoughtful comments. My respects, Sir.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  183. I do believe we have just witnessed a harmonic convergence of respect. Much more easily accomplished in a troll-free zone!

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  184. (Before I give my voluminous musings, I want to give a recommendation for anyone interested, the book “Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence?” by Henry F. Schaeffer, III. He is a distinguished scientist, specifically a theoretical chemist who has published over 1,000 scientific articles with more than 30,000 citations with a list of awards several pages long.)

    Comment by Pons Asinorum:
    Certainly Darwin Evolution occurs, but the rates of change, types of changes, and nature of the changes (as imagined by Darwin Evolution) is beginning to appear insufficient as the primary mechanism of bio-diversity. … turns out Nature was much more complicated than they thought. The same may hold true for Biology.
    It might be wise to demand a more mathematical treatment of any theory that demands obedience to its concepts.

    But that is exactly what at least some ID proponents are trying to do. They are saying that as we realize how complex things are at the cellular and molecular level, is it reasonable that such components developed as the result of selection for traits that occurred randomly? That is what I proposed be done concerning HIV. The rates of reproduction, mutation, etc. are well studied. The time necessary for billions and billions of progeny is less than a wink of the eye in terms of the length of time for any “animal” to have as many generations and progeny. And all I’m looking for is one that instead of binding to cells expressing CD4 it “learns” to bind to respiratory epithelium. One viral particle learns to infect the lungs and throat and soon millions are spewed into the surrounding environment, where now it can be contracted as easily as the chicken pox. This should be easier than a mathematical model for global warming. If the best modeling suggests there is a 50% chance of this having happened 10 times by now, what would that mean? Perhaps we learn our calculations are off by a factor of 1000 because a viral particle needs a number of mutations to happen at the same time, because any one, two or three at the same time are unstable and the particle can’t infect any cell. If a virus cannot mutate even a little over the equivalent of 500,000,000 “organism years”, what would that imply about our expectation of complex organisms evolving?

    I hope we can listen to understand what different people claim and respond in an accurate manner. As far as I understand, Dembski is mathematician. For him to say that ID is not a “mechanistic” theory is not to say it is not a “scientific” theory. All Dembski is saying (as far as I understand) is that when you take the current knowledge and apply mathematical modelling like pons suggests, it “doesn’t add up”. He’s not claiming he knows how it is done, just that by applying mathematical tools of science it does not appear to have been done in the widely believed method. That is how science is done, when results or predictions are not consistent with your hypothesis you don’t say, “I won’t believe mine is wrong until you show me a better one!” You check the results, and if they are consistent you say, “There is something that I have not taken account of, I’m missing something.”

    nk- A psychiatrist friend who is a Christian has said that he “wished he was there and recorded EEG’s before and after epileptics encountered Jesus.

    On the relation between belief in evolution and belief in a personal god as that of Christians, Jews, and Muslims, there are different camps staked out, both by theists and atheists. There are many who believe there is no contradiction, that God’s creating through the mechanism of evolution is not a problem. I don’t know how many atheists there are who hold that position. One common view of atheists is that belief in God is an alternative to understanding reality with modern advances, and they don’t see the point why some one would want or need to believe in God if they had the answers to “existence” in scientific knowledge of evolution. Another view of some, like Monod, is they find belief in evolution as a method of God’s creation to be irrational and perverse. They would say that “the struggle for survival” is a horrid and brutish kind of thing and they don’t see how anyone could think a god like that could be “good” or “loving”.

    A major unspoken but underlying issue is more philosophical. Is “reality” only that which can be seen, measured and studied?
    A. If one’s answer is yes, then you are committed to finding answers within that framework, whether it is “true” or not.
    B. If one’s answer is no, then you have a secondary choice-
    i. is that part of reality that defies measurement in any way “knowable”, and likely to be pertinent to life, or
    ii. by definition unknowable and of no pertinence to life, whether it is “there” or not.

    I think the foundational issue is that not only do many people believe “A”, but they see “A” as the common denominator for all in the daily life of everybody, hence have no use for anything that is outside of such “concrete” study. Of those who say they believe “B”, some have no problem living daily existence as one who believes “A”. They may or may not realize this. They also see life as “A” being a foundation all can believe in, and some also believe in “B”. And then there are others who do not see “A” as a common denominator, but as an alternative belief system to “B”. It is those people (of whom I confess am one) who would like this underlying issue more explicit. It is not that we “don’t believe science”, but in one way it is true that we “don’t believe in science” as meaning we don’t believe in naturalism, that “all that really counts can be seen through the right kind of ‘scope”. So part of the problem is that several issues are overlapping but often not seen as such.

    As far as what Rush was trying to say, his main point was disbelief that anyone could with any certainty look at a skeleton of an ancient lemur-like animal and say with certainty, “Human beings descended from this creature”. It is the same disbelief he has at those who think they have arrived at the point of accurately modeling the weather and that the planet is so frail that it cannot handle an increase in the small percentage of the atmosphere that is carbon dioxide. He was not saying horses can’t cross breed with other horse-like animals, he was stating his belief that no one has shown undeniable evidence of where one “type” of animal evolved into another “type” of animal.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  185. Well, I told you guys at #17:

    “Well, go at it, but this argument is akin to wrestling with a pig.”

    I’m glad that everyone is happy now.

    Ag80 (c86726)

  186. MD in Philly,
    I won’t even try to answer at this late time in the evening everything you have posted. I’ll just focus on this:

    As far as what Rush was trying to say, his main point was disbelief that anyone could with any certainty look at a skeleton of an ancient lemur-like animal and say with certainty, “Human beings descended from this creature”

    I share that skepticism. We will need a lot more work before such a determination can be made with any confidence. I think it’s a suggestive finding, because it fits in with what we have inferred about primate evolution (lemurs in Madagascar being an extant remnant of what used to be a more extensive type of primate).

    Okay, I’ll add one more item. Dembski was refusing to posit his own theory of what processes his presumed intelligent creator used to create life. So while Dembski demands great detail and no gaps from evolutionary theory, his alternative has no detail whatever. Saying that something “doesn’t add up”, as you put it, only means our knowledge is incomplete. It doesn’t mean ID is correct.

    When and if Dembski or other ID proponents put forth the same amount of evidence for ID that they demand of evolution, then we will have a true rival scientific theory.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  187. As one can imagine, I have been occupied and have not followed the dialogue for a while.

    nk, two thoughts.
    -Would all of that elephant and turtle dung be considered “fossil fuel” or “alternative” (I guess alternative, since people seem to mistakenly think ethanol is a good thing even though it is made from carbon and burns); and would it be considered renewable?
    – regarding your take on the big bang theory, reminds me of a short story by Kurt Vonnegut that a friend pointed out to me back in junior high when we read sci fi

    Machinist, you may or may not know that some scientists persisted in believing the steady-state theory in spite of the evidence because they didn’t want to deal with the potential implications of the universe having a “beginning”

    Norbert- the Mormon ladies didn’t come back because they had already heard your explanation from Francis Crick. The Nobel Prize winning co-discoverer of DNA decided there was no way life could have formed from nothing on planet earth, so it had to come from someplace else. Really, he published that.

    SPQR, I take it that you consider the points I raise to be spurious, as you have not bothered to address them

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  188. Ag80- your patient indulgence is worthy of appreciation

    I probably have used up my blog posting allotment for the next 3 months…

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  189. Interesting stuff, MD from Philly, so don’t feel apologetic. Deprived of the trolls, we can respectfully discuss differing views.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  190. If a [HIV] virus cannot mutate even a little over the equivalent of 500,000,000 “organism years”, what would that imply about our expectation of complex organisms evolving?

    Comment by MD in Philly — 5/20/2009 @ 9:49 pm

    That is the problem in a nutshell — the number of changes from a microbial organism to say, a rabbit, would be in the neighborhood of hundreds of millions (where a single change = a specific change in a nucleotide). If a single change takes half a billion years, multiply that by hundreds millions of needed changes…way longer than the current age of the universe. By orders of magnitude.

    All macroscopic life started about 0.6 million years ago, according to the fossil record.

    That is why Darwian scientists are working to develop new or modified mechanisms to explain a much faster rate of change.

    Something is going on, not so sure if it is Darwian or some other mechanism. It seems the more we discover, the less we know. I do think science will figure it out, or at least be able to exclude theories.

    For what it’s worth: I used to be a HUGE believer in Darwian Evolution; I was raised that way. In light of recent discoveries– not so sure anymore.

    Pons Asinorum (b3301f)

  191. Oops, should read:

    All macroscopic life started about 0.6 billion years ago, according to the fossil record.

    Pons Asinorum (b3301f)

  192. Thanks, Pons.

    I did not know there was anything other than evolution, and my early interest in biochem was largely based on Stanley Miller’s work.

    When I, along with two buddies (all of no particular religious commitment), heard the bio prof. “prove evolution” in her second guessing of God at Galapagos, we were no longer very impressed.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  193. too funny!

    Good-night MD, fascinating discussion.

    Pons Asinorum (b3301f)

  194. If a single change takes half a billion years, multiply that by hundreds millions of needed changes…way longer than the current age of the universe. By orders of magnitude.

    Trying to determine if life could have arisen naturally on probability grounds carries a lot of hidden assumptions that need to be made explicit.

    First, mutation rates can’t be assumed to have remained constant. They are lower now than they would have been at the dawn of life under evolutionary theory. Modern life has elaborate genetic error-correcting mechanisms that would not have been around with early life. Add gene duplication, horizontal gene transfer, and multiply by millions of years and billions of generations (bacteria can reproduce in 20 minutes), and the odds don’t look so steep.

    Also, we can’t just look at the earth, but must make some attempt to determine how many planets exist in the universe that could have fostered intelligent life.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  195. One other thing: evolution of antibiotic resistance by natural selection of random mutation was demonstrated experimentally by Joshua and Esther Lederberg. Obviously, they didn’t have to wait half a billion years to demonstrate the change.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  196. Trying to determine if life could have arisen naturally on probability grounds carries a lot of hidden assumptions that need to be made explicit.

    Totally agree. Darwin did not touch this with a ten-foot pole, for good reason. How life started is a WHOLE different ball game for all proponents.

    As for the progress of life thereafter, probability figures into random mutations which is fundamental to Darwian Theory. But your point is well taken; science has much work to do.

    First, mutation rates can’t be assumed to have remained constant.

    Agreed — and vica versa.

    They are lower now than they would have been at the dawn of life under evolutionary theory.

    At the dawn of life, nothing much happened for a few billion years. About half a billion years ago is where the action took place (linked above). In any event, rate of change based on random mutations is in need of much work — regardless of theory choice.

    Modern life has elaborate genetic error-correcting mechanisms that would not have been around with early life.

    Good point –had not thought about that. But is it exclusive to Modern life, when did such mechanisms come into existence?

    Add gene duplication, horizontal gene transfer, and multiply by millions of years and billions of generations (bacteria can reproduce in 20 minutes), and the odds don’t look so steep.

    But that is the problem that led to this — we are NOT finding the rate of change needed for conclusive proof of Darwian Theory. For macroscopic organisms, were reproduction times, population sizes and time on earth are much less than microbial orgasms, the problem is fundamental.

    Also, we can’t just look at the earth, but must make some attempt to determine how many planets exist in the universe that could have fostered intelligent life.

    And that may be the nail in the coffin for one or the other theories.

    Pons Asinorum (b3301f)

  197. One other thing: evolution of antibiotic resistance by natural selection of random mutation was demonstrated experimentally by Joshua and Esther Lederberg. Obviously, they didn’t have to wait half a billion years to demonstrate the change.

    Comment by Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. — 5/20/2009 @ 11:01 pm

    Natural selection by random mutation (Darwian Evolution) does exist and does occur. A beautiful example you just cited. No debate.

    The problem is time, and lets take your figure of 20 minutes for a change.

    Now take that single change and multiply it by a million to get to slime. So far, 1 milion X 20 minutes.

    Do it again to get to a worm
    20 million X 20 minutes

    …four more times

    …and finally a really big number – over a hundred trillion years. And we are up to what a slug?

    The age of the universe is about 13 trillion years.

    You can see why there is a problem. And that was a beneficial mutation every twenty minutes, much less than half a billion years.

    You broght up good points, not sure what the answer is, but will sleep on it ; )

    Pons Asinorum (b3301f)

  198. Numbers are wrong…make that 17 times for 415 trillion years… and instead of a slug, maybe a salamander 😉

    tired -going to sleep.

    Pons Asinorum (b3301f)

  199. Well, I came back, and I want to thank nk of reminding me of the Hindu turtle and elephants concept, which would seem to suggest that the basics of Hinduism would seem to be incompatable with our understanding of the concepts of Evolution and the Universe.
    But, to the Big Bang:
    Who mixed the pot; and, Who lit the fuse?
    Was that the first, or last step in ID?
    There are metaphysical questions that science, as we know it, cannot answer –
    which is where religion (faith) comes in.

    AD - RtR/OS! (69f7ae)

  200. For now, scientists differ on whether this is the missing link:

    “Humans, apes and monkeys all belong to a group called anthropoids. Debate has raged for decades about the origins of this group, but the prevailing view is that anthropoids likely sprung from either the extinct omomyids or the tarsiers (large-eyed primates with living relatives in Southeast Asia).

    Hurum and team advocate the minority hypothesis that in fact a third group, adapids, eventually gave rise to monkeys, apes and humans. They argue that Ida (scientific name: Darwinius masillae) is an adapid, and has features more closely aligned with anthropoids than with lemurs, who are thought to be adapid descendants.

    “On the whole I think the evidence is less than convincing,” said Chris Gilbert, a paleoanthropologist at Yale University. “They make an intriguing argument but I would definitely say that the consensus is not in favor of the hypothesis they’re proposing.”

    The Ida team points to the fact that some of the fossil’s teeth, toe and ankle bones resemble anthropoids more than modern lemurs. But other researchers point out that primitive lemurs, as opposed to modern lemurs, also share many of these features.

    “They claim in the paper that by examining the anatomy of adapids, these animals have something to do with the direct line of human ancestry and living monkeys and apes. This claim is buttressed with almost no evidence,” said paleontologist Richard Kay of Duke University. “And they failed to cite a body of literature that’s been going on since at least 1984 that presents evidence against their hypothesis.”

    Kay said the researchers did not compare Ida to other important fossil primates from this time, especially those from a group called Eosimiads, that could contradict their claims.”

    DRJ (f55947)

  201. Pons, actually, why would we need a million changes to have slime? And bear in mind that pretty soon all the changes are taking place at once, and of course, confirmation bias rapidly speeds things up. Evolution is not about *random* changes, after all.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  202. You’re welcome, AD. From my superficial acquaintance with Hinduism … there is a ginormous pantheon of a gazillion gods headed by Trimurti — Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer. Shiva, BTW, is a benign destroyer, who clears away the senescent and decayed so Brahma can renew. There is an apocalyptic destroyer, Kali, who will eventually bring about the end of all material creation.

    Reincarnation is its central tenet and all sentient beings are reborn, to better or worse stations in life, depending on their behavior, until they escape the Wheel of Life and become pure spirit.

    nk (a1896a)

  203. Thanks for the info, DRJ.

    Re bacterial resistance to antibiotics. No one doubts that, as I alluded to in my discussion of HIV. The issue is how different is it for a mutation to tweek a system already in existence, vs. mutations occuring and accumulating than brings about whole new systems. This is an element that has been discussed from various points above, also.

    Counting on higher mutation rates in the past is a double-edged sword. Not only does that increase the chance of a mutation that may be helpful, but it also increases the chance of mutations that take the organism “backwards” or are lethal before a string of “helpful” ones are established. That is the kind of thing where good mathematical models would help, as mentioned above.

    And again I’ll refer to the HIV model. So it takes a bacteria 20 minutes to double? How does that compare, mathematically, to one virus particle taking 24 hours to produce thousands? I’m not just making a rhetorical question, but I’m sure there are folks whose math knowledge is superior to mine.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  204. My father had a recessive trait. Neither of my brothers inherited it but I did. However, I did not pass it on to my daughter. So it has been eliminated from my father’s bloodline. Isn’t that evolutionary?

    nk (a1896a)

  205. Counting on higher mutation rates in the past is a double-edged sword. Not only does that increase the chance of a mutation that may be helpful, but it also increases the chance of mutations that take the organism “backwards” or are lethal before a string of “helpful” ones are established.

    Not at all. You’re thinking in terms of random combinations, but that is not valid when you compare survival rates among generations. That is what natural selection does, and natural selection is not a random process.

    All it takes is one out of several progeny in which the beneficial mutation is preserved to pass it along. Harmful mutations are less likely to survive. The new populations have the beneficial mutations, and the process repeats from there.

    People who have trouble with evolutionary theory usually get stuck on this concept. They hear the words “natural selection”, but think “randomness”.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  206. Bradley, a lot of dishonesty in the mathematical arguments of Behe come from calculations of how unlikely it is that a current result is to occur.

    But this is a mathematical fallacy, and one that Behe knows is a fallacy. Its like saying that after Joe Bob won the lottery that it was 30 million to 1 that Joe Bob won the lottery … therefore he can’t really have won the lottery. The odds of a particular result are high but not the odds of some result, from a large set of possible successful results.

    SPQR (72771e)

  207. SPQR, that comment about Behe reminds me of the discussion had here regarding how the LA Times misrepresented DNA results.

    Similarly, the fact that ID has no falsifiable hypothesis reminds me of another group of people that are “just asking questions” about a particular set of events. If Genesis is the hypothesis, prove it. Don’t build museums with man walking with Dinosaurs based on deliberate mis-interpretation of the fossil record.

    carlitos (2703cf)

  208. Sorry – forgot link to Creation Museum.

    carlitos (2703cf)

  209. Similarly, the fact that ID has no falsifiable hypothesis reminds me of another group of people that are “just asking questions” about a particular set of events. If Genesis is the hypothesis, prove it. Don’t build museums with man walking with Dinosaurs based on deliberate mis-interpretation of the fossil record.

    Comment by carlitos — 5/21/2009 @ 9:13 am

    Except that “Genesis” isn’t the hypothesis, the hypothesis is that there’s a watch, can we guess there could be a watchmaker…. (to steal shamelessly)

    Please, go read PZ Meyer’s site to see what “Darwinists” they’re arguing against.

    It just gets really tiring to see folks arguing so poorly!

    Kind of like watching some folks argue against Islam by claiming it’s a moon-god religion…. Or against Catholicisim as “a pagan religion”….

    Foxfier (db0f51)

  210. Except that “Genesis” isn’t the hypothesis, the hypothesis is that there’s a watch, can we guess there could be a watchmaker….

    Of course it is. The whole point of ID is to dress up creationism in scientific drag. The evidence is overwhelming, which is why the ID creationists lost Kitzmiller. They say one thing, but their actions say another.

    There’s even a fossil record of creationist/ID transitional forms!

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (42c1f9)

  211. Pons, actually, why would we need a million changes to have slime? And bear in mind that pretty soon all the changes are taking place at once, and of course, confirmation bias rapidly speeds things up. Evolution is not about *random* changes, after all.

    Comment by Juan — 5/21/2009 @ 1:08 am

    Great question.

    First, I am not a biologist or scientist of any kind and since my explanation is a bit lengthy, feel free to skip to the last line : ) My interest is in nano-technology which led me to the biomolecular machines of the cell. When I started learning, my jaw dropped. It is truly unbelievable.

    In my simplified model, the number of changes to go from a single-celled organism to a multi-celled “slime” is dependent on the changes and modifications to the genome.

    From a single cell (guessing millions of nucleotides) to slime (guessing 10 of millions) to a rabbit (guessing 100 millions) to a human (about 3 billion or so).

    Assumed every 20 seconds (made a math error and calculated for seconds instead of minutes), that a change to a single nucleotide was:
    a) Beneficial
    b) Instantly spread to every single member of the next generation
    c) Reproduction of each generation took 20 seconds
    d) Skipped the genome constructs of intervening species (cell to slime? no, we know the evolutionary path involved a myriad of species in between — from genetic studies).
    e) Assumed a million changes as an average (from simple to complex), but this is way too low

    In my oversimplified model, these assumptions are clearly wrong and heavily skewed to support Darwinism as the primary or only factor in life diversification.

    It needs about 415 trillion years to happen (to get to rabbit). The universe is only 13 trillion years old or so.

    In your model “all the changes are taking place at once” is one of many new theories being proposed by evolutionary scientists (spontaneous evolution and punctuated evolution being two similar examples). Indeed, the rates of change must be increased in light of our knowledge of what a change is and what causes a change, as well as the speed at which such processes occur. Of course tht leads to many other problems, but another time…

    The evidence for common descent, natural selection, and random mutation is overwhelming. Darwinian Evolution does occur, but is it the primary engine of evolution? To do so, it will have to account for all factors.

    I do not know, but am keeping an open mind and look forward to future discoveries in the field biomolecular science.

    Pons Asinorum (b3301f)

  212. the hypothesis is that there’s a watch, can we guess there could be a watchmaker….

    My guess is that the watchmakers were Deucalion and Pyrrha. What scientific inquiry have you conducted whether it was Someone Else?

    nk (a1896a)

  213. Brother Fikes, SPQR, and Carlitos-

    It seems to me that you are implying that anyone who wishes to critique evolutionary theory just doesn’t understand it or is intellectually dishonest, and that you don’t care if evolutionary theory also lacks falsifiable hypotheses either.

    Is the occurence of mutations a random process or not? Is there something built into RNA or DNA that allows for only certain mutations to occur?
    Yes, I know natural selection is not a random process, that survival rates are not based on randomness.
    But natural selection can not come into play if there is nothing to select from. It is an issue of random combinations occuring that results in a viable organism. The issue is the “reasonableness” of whether a specifc combination of simultaneously occuring mutations can occur to result in a structure or biochemical system that confers selective advantage.

    I do not consider myself astute enough in probability and statistics to go through an issue point by point. But I do know three biochemists, two full professors at major universities and the third involved with administration at major labs who do not share your view that Behe is essemtially an intellectually dishonest creationist in scientific drag. (They do not all have enthusiasm for Behe’s work, but none have been as dismissive as you have been).

    While “not a biologist or scientist of any kind”, Pons seems to know a little math. Perhaps he will have the time as well as interest to peruse Behe and offer an opinion. (I am curious then just “what are you, then”, Pons? FWIW, an old undergrad friend of mine has his focus on nanotechnology as a prof of chemistry at Univ. of Wisc.)

    nk- I have not known anyone who has actually made scientific inquiry into “who made the watch”, but quite a few are convinced that the maker is quite extraordinary. (See Schaeffer book for details, if interested.)

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  214. MD in Philly
    It seems to me that you are implying that anyone who wishes to critique evolutionary theory just doesn’t understand it or is intellectually dishonest, and that you don’t care if evolutionary theory also lacks falsifiable hypotheses either.

    I did not intend to imply that about you. But you did seem to have a basic misunderstanding about natural selection, in your belief that many favorable mutations had to simultaneously occur. That is not what evolutionary theory calls for. That is an ID/creationist distortion, and that is what I’m trying to correct.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (42c1f9)

  215. It seems to me that you are implying that anyone who wishes to critique evolutionary theory just doesn’t understand it or is intellectually dishonest, and that you don’t care if evolutionary theory also lacks falsifiable hypotheses either.

    The first is a strawman argument as I’ve implied nothing of the sort. I have said that much of ID’s arguments are intellectually dishonest and that can be expanded upon if necessary or I can point you to more on it.

    The statement that evolutionary theory does not contain falsifiable hypotheses is rather obviously false.

    SPQR (72771e)

  216. Brother Fikes, but that is the issue and can be looked at by observation of examples and mathematical models. Claiming it is not an issue doesn’t make it not an issue. Yes, evolutionary theory does not call for multiple mutations at once. One premise of ID is that there appear to be structures and biochemical pathways whose development are not easily explained by the assumption of individual base pair changes that confer no survival advantage to the organism but persist and accumulate. Even among evolutionary theorists there is disagreement whether the concept of slow and gradual change, especially on a macro level, is the best description of “how evolution occurs”.

    SPQR, my apologies for lumping people and issues together. Perhaps the quoted statement was not accurate pertaining to you specifically, but it is hardly a “straw man” in describing aspects of the overall dialogue.

    Perhaps you missed my earlier question as to what kinds of findings would be adequate to disprove the theory of evolution. I would be happy to know what hypothesis central to evolutionary theory is falsifiable. I’m not asking for a hypothesis about a particular side issue of one kind or another, but what empirical evidence would be sufficient to cause the general idea of evolutionary theory to no longer “fit”?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  217. MD in Philly

    One premise of ID is that there appear to be structures and biochemical pathways whose development are not easily explained by the assumption of individual base pair changes that confer no survival advantage to the organism but persist and accumulate.

    That is simply an attempt to poke holes in evolutionary theory by pointing out areas where knowledge is lacking. But we always have to deal with imperfect knowledge in any area of science, so a lack of knowledge cannot be evidence for ID. You have to form your own theory, with testable predictions that can be falsified.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (42c1f9)

  218. “…so a lack of knowledge cannot be evidence for ID…”

    …and neither can it be evidence against ID, just to keep the playing field level.

    AD - RtR/OS! (00ce61)

  219. MD in Philly
    I would be happy to know what hypothesis central to evolutionary theory is falsifiable.

    Here’s one: The inferred phylogenetic relationship of animals inferred from the fossil record and anatomy should line up with biochemical evidence of affinity.

    If life descended from a common ancestor, we should expect to see these two match up, if not precisely, at least to a very great degree. Thus, the genes of humans and chimps should be more similar to each other than either are to dogs. Genes of humans and dogs should be more alike than either are to marsupials. There should be a nested pattern of relationships.

    This is indeed what we find from the biochemical evidence. There is a very close match-up that makes no sense except in light of evolution.

    Note this is a positive prediction based on evolutionary theory. It is not just an attempt to negate ID/creation. Indeed, this prediction and confirmation can be described without even mentioning ID/creationism.

    Now show me similar positive evidence for ID that stands on its own merits, not just an argument to discredit evolution.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (42c1f9)

  220. Who created DNA, and genes?

    AD - RtR/OS! (00ce61)

  221. …and neither can it be evidence against ID, just to keep the playing field level.

    But I’m not the one trying to advance a theory on the basis of what we don’t know. That’s what ID does. ID is just an argument from ignorance, not a real theory of its own.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (42c1f9)

  222. Who created DNA, and genes?

    Two unproven assumptions are in your question:

    1: That DNA and genes had to be created by some being.

    2: That evolution has to explain the issue in the first place.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (42c1f9)

  223. One of my doctor friends likes to tease us. One of his favorites is: Why does blood clot?

    nk (a1896a)

  224. AD #222,
    These are just stages or levels in biological complexity, I think. Life is not separate or distinct from other chemical reactions. We just arbitrarily pick a level of complexity and call it life. There are examples like mad cow prions that tax our definitions.

    Machinist (68fa6c)

  225. Because if it didn’t, we would all die; and if it clots too readily, we die also.

    BBJF,COR…I don’t know if evolution has to explain that issue,
    just as I don’t know if we were created by “some being”.
    What I do believe though, is that some “force” had to start the entire process of the Universe to get us where we are today.
    And I do believe that “evolution” does not explain that!

    AD - RtR/OS! (00ce61)

  226. MD, evidence that the present taxonomy of life was constant back in time rather than what we actually see in the fossil record would falsify evolution.

    Or of course, the Creator showing up on Oprah and explaining why whales have a pelvis, femur and tibia while creating a few new plants, animals and bacteria on live TV.

    Seriously, MD, why do you think that whales have a pelvis if they are not in fact evolved from a land mammal?

    SPQR (72771e)

  227. ID is just an argument from ignorance, not a real theory of its own.

    Bingo.

    SPQR (72771e)

  228. The evolution of life and the beginning of the universe are two separate issues. No creationist has yet explained to me how the universe must have a creator but the creator need not have one. A watch implies a watchmaker but the ever so much more complex watchmaker was just there?

    Machinist (68fa6c)

  229. AD – RtR/OS!,

    What I do believe though, is that some “force” had to start the entire process of the Universe to get us where we are today.
    And I do believe that “evolution” does not explain that!

    I agree. Biological evolution is a theory of how life develops, and how species come into being and change. It doesn’t attempt to explain why the universe is here.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (42c1f9)

  230. To assume that the universe has a beginning point in the large scale is not reasonable to me. Time, like all else we know of, would not be created or destroyed but balanced by it’s opposite.

    Machinist (68fa6c)

  231. The universe we observe is influenced by entropy and finding a simpler state. The evolution of life is a result of the opposite, a complex physical environment with a steady input of energy. This naturally results in developing ever more complex biological structures and systems. We have even done this in short periods in the lab starting with simple ingredients and energy sources. The results are startling.

    Machinist (68fa6c)

  232. But I’m not the one trying to advance a theory on the basis of what we don’t know. That’s what ID does. ID is just an argument from ignorance, not a real theory of its own.

    Comment by Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., — 5/21/2009 @ 1:44 pm

    Dang, it it was fun for so long….

    Now we’ve just got a bunch of folks busy arguing with their strawman of what ID is….

    Why on earth should anyone waste time with folks who won’t bother to figure out what’s actually claimed by the thing they’re arguing against?

    Goodness forbid they actually find out, that’d interfere with yelling “Not science!” and “creationist!”

    The theory “there may be a way to find evidence of design” is no more an argument from ignorance than “evolution is advanced by random mutations.”

    Machinist-
    go check out a Catholic apologetics blog if you’d actually like to have it explained how there can be an uncreated creator.

    Foxfier (db0f51)

  233. Foxfier, you don’t understand. By “an argument from ignorance”, he means that the key argument of ID is that of irreducible complexity is based on the idea that our ignorance of a reducible pathway of the structure is evidence against evolution.

    That’s not a strawman. That’s a correct argument aimed at a core part of ID.

    SPQR (72771e)

  234. Foxfier,

    The theory “there may be a way to find evidence of design” is no more an argument from ignorance than “evolution is advanced by random mutations.”

    Advocates of evolution theory don’t claim evolution is advanced by “random mutations.”

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (42c1f9)

  235. It must be so, since we certainly aren’t being advanced by that random mutation we elected President.

    AD - RtR/OS! (00ce61)

  236. You liked that, you can have it!

    AD - RtR/OS! (00ce61)

  237. I see no one really wants to tackle the whale’s pelvis.

    I’ve outlined why I think ID is not science, but lets get a bit more mundane.

    Evolution explains reality better than ID. When ID tries to explain the complexity of life, and what we find when we examine it, it does not actually explain anything but rather tries to explain away things. With ID, we have no knowledge of how or why something ended up, because the Creator has not yet told us. Why does a whale have a pelvis? Beats ID, you’ll have to ask the Creator why he put one in when the whale has no use for it.

    But evolution gives us a mechanism that actually explains what we see. Why does a whale have a pelvis? Because the whale evolved from an ancestor land mammal that had four legs, and when the whale’s ancestors returned to the sea, and evolved a swimming mode of transportation, the legs slowly evolved away leaving the vestigial remains of the legs in the pelvis. Maybe if there is an evolutionary advantage to losing even the pelvis, and the associated leg bones, the whale’s descendants in the future will not have one anymore.

    Which really explains? ID or evolution?

    SPQR (72771e)

  238. I see no one really wants to tackle the whale’s pelvis.

    A land mammal went back into the water to 1) escape predators and/or 2) for less competition for food and found that environment competitive enough so that its progeny which could swim better with a fin survived its progeny which kept its legs.

    nk (a1896a)

  239. What I do believe though, is that some “force” had to start the entire process of the Universe to get us where we are today.
    And I do believe that “evolution” does not explain that!

    Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 5/21/2009 @ 2:06 pm
    What most of us refuse to admit to here is the possibility that science is incapable of explaining the mysteries of creation. Science is man-made. It does not have all the answers. At best, it offers unchallenged products of speculations. But there is an answer to that. Faith. “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God. So that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Hebrews11:3. Faith tells us what science can’t and if you don’t have faith, you will have to resort to any other explanation. The “force” AD speaks of is called “The Word.” John 1:1-3. There is wisdom behind every design. Someone did it.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  240. Or it could be that the Intelligent Designer did not want to retrofit His Creation more than He needed to.

    nk (a1896a)

  241. Yep, nk, but why did the Creator put a pelvis into an animal that did not need it ( ID )?

    SPQR (72771e)

  242. TheEmperor, what’s the wisdom of the whale’s pelvis?

    SPQR (72771e)

  243. Exactly, the Intelligent Designer had a ’55 Brontosaurus with bad legs up on blocks, so he added some fins from the ’57 Shark, threw in a gill-driven intake manifold to replace the old air-lung system, and there you go. Runs just fine, but sometimes the pelvis wiggles a bit over 55 MPH.

    carlitos (2703cf)

  244. I’m on your side, SPQR. 241 is what I think, 244 is sarcasm.

    nk (a1896a)

  245. There is no major Christian religion which considers Genesis anything other than a myth.

    nk (a1896a)

  246. , what’s the wisdom of the whale’s pelvis?

    Comment by SPQR — 5/21/2009 @ 3:35 pm

    SPQR, why do men have nipples?

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  247. Foxfier, I clicked your link and watched the excerpt from Ben Stein’s movie. I think I get what you’re trying to say, but I’m not sure. I stated waaaaaay up these comments, that the universe – space and time – came from somewhere 15 billion years ago. Science explains much of what has happened since then, including evolution and the origin of species. Science does not explain what was there before there was a there … there. That’s where many of us end up turning to faith.

    Are you saying that ID explains the very start of things, or what has happened since then, or some or all of both? That’s the question, and it seems to me that the arguments being made against “Darwinists” are men of straw (e.g., your “pure random happenstance” assertions), long-debunked nonsense based on intentional misreading of fossil records, and straight-up Genesis is true, earth has only been around for 10,000 years, which is risible.

    Anyway, can you please clarify? I can’t follow you.

    carlitos (2703cf)

  248. nk, yeppers.

    The Emperor, I have not seen an explanation for men’s nipples by evolutionary theory. I have my suspicion of what an evolutionary one would look like. But its ID that really can’t explain, since this Watchmaker had no reason to put ’em in.

    SPQR (72771e)

  249. link

    Human nipples appear in the third or fourth week of development, well before the sex characteristics. (The sex hormones start to assert themselves at seven weeks.) As many as seven pairs of nipples are arranged along either side of a “milk line,” a ridge of skin that runs from the upper chest to the navel.

    Normally only one pair amounts to anything, but on about one baby in a hundred you can detect some vestige of the other ones, usually on the order of a freckle. There are cases of women who ended up with an extra breast, which made them freak show candidates not so many years ago. Luckily today the women can avail themselves of corrective surgery while the rest of us can watch Jenny Jones.

    Anyway, both male and female babies are born with the main milk ducts intact–the gland that produces milk is there in the male, but it remains undeveloped unless stimulated by the female hormone, estrogen. Occasionally, a male baby is born with enough of his mother’s estrogen in his body to produce a bizarre phenomenon known as “witches’ milk,” with the male glands, suitably stimulated, pumping away at the moment of birth.

    carlitos (2703cf)

  250. Comment by SPQR — 5/21/2009 @ 3:54 pm

    That is the point. Life is a mystery. We can only know the things we need to know and what is necessary. Beyond that is guess work. “The secret things belong to God, but the things that are revealed belong to the sons of men.” Deut.29:29.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  251. The Emperor, that’s simply not science so you are only confirming my point.

    SPQR (72771e)

  252. Comment by SPQR — 5/21/2009 @ 4:28 pm

    You are a man of science. I am a man of faith. We start where you stop. (Tips hat.)
    Tell me something, Debunker, (saw it in your link), do you believe in the spirit world? Do you believe there is a realm beyond the physical? Hope you don’t mind my asking.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  253. Boss Limbaugh told me to step around it, spork. Works every time.

    carlitos (2703cf)

  254. I believe in a realm beyond the physical. A metamagical rainbow-splashed realm where all know Wright from wrong, where ACORNs grow into mighty oaks, a labor of love, a union of interests, where love and hopey/changey frolic among the unicorns.

    Let it be SEIU!

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (42c1f9)

  255. Like this?

    carlitos (a0089e)

  256. Let’s get away from pelvis’ and nipples, and let’s ask why does Homo Sapien have a tail-bone? And when did man actually have a tail, if ever?

    AD - RtR/OS! (00ce61)

  257. Great question, AD!

    Man will be recreated from tailbone.

    another link

    The tailbone, the last bone at the end of the backbone is the part of the human body that is never lost. It does not even decompose completely in the ground.

    In several Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported, that the tailbone is the origin of the human being. And on Judgment Day God will emerge a human being from his or her tailbone.

    The holy scripts are:

    1) Abu Huraira narrated, that the Prophet (pbuh) said:

    “All of the Sons of Adam (men) will decay except for the bone of coccyx (tailbone). From it he (man) was created and by it he will be reconstructed.”

    2) Abu Huraira narrated, that the Prophet (pbuh) said:

    “There is nothing of the human body that does not decay except one bone; that is the little bone at the end of the coccyx of which the human body will be recreated on the Day of Resurrection.”

    Handed down by Al-Bukhari, Al Nassii, Abu Daoud, Ibn Majah and Ahmad in his book Al Mousnad and Malek in his book Al Mouattaa. In those Hadith are some unambiguous statements and facts:

    – Man is created from the tailbone
    – The tailbone will not decompose
    – On Judgment Day the resurrection will be from the tailbone

    For balance, the Christian creationist answer.

    FABLE: The existence of vestigial organs in humans is proof that we’ve evolved from lower life forms.

    FACT: Vestigial organs do not exist. The so- called “vestigial organs” are believed by evolutionists to be parts of the human body that are no longer needed. These body parts are presumed to be “left- overs” from our ancestors, the monkeys. The organs include the appendix, the coccyx (tail bone), the pineal gland, the plica semilunaris, the tonsils, and the ear lobes.

    Many medical doctors now agree that all of these organs have important functions in the human body and aren’t vestigial in any sense. The appendix contains a rich blood supply which serves as some defense against cancer. The tail bone isn’t where a monkey tail used to be, as Darwinians believe, but it instead provides support for the muscles which control elimination. The pineal gland contains important hormones which the body needs. The plica semilunaris helps to keep the eye cleansed of foreign particles. The tonsils help to keep foreign particles out of your child’s throat, and they also help in fighting infection. Even the ear lobe has a purpose, for it helps to keep our ears warm during cold weather by providing them with a good blood supply. There are no vestigial organs.

    carlitos (a0089e)

  258. AD, I pasted both the Muslim and Christian answers to your tailbone question, but they have been moderated :)

    carlitos (a0089e)

  259. The Emperor, no, I don’t believe in any supernatural.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  260. It seems the tone of the discussion has become a little less patient and respectful while I was making dinner for family, etc.

    Seriously, MD, why do you think that whales have a pelvis if they are not in fact evolved from a land mammal?

    Actually, SPQR, whales have a pelvis because it was a necessary precursor to limb formation and locomotion on land. The distant ancestors to whales were much smaller. Some went on to develop limbs and crawled ashore, others just grew bigger. But since the pelvis did not confer a selective disadvantage, the remnant has persisted even as whales have grown larger. The pelvis was once not seen in the fossil record, then, bam, it was there. Just think how many mutations occurred gradually over ti– I mean, how the punctuated equilibrium…, oh well.

    We’re getting dangerously close to why there are woodpecker finches and not “real woodpeckers” on the Galapagos islands. I wrote that before dinner, we’re there now.

    MD, evidence that the present taxonomy of life was constant back in time rather than what we actually see in the fossil record would falsify evolution

    .

    So… it must not be true what I read about all of the present phyla being represented 100’s of millions of years ago, some have disappeared since then but nothing new has come. And the fossil record must clearly show a well preserved gradual change from organism to organism over an extended period of time and the “pre-Cambrian explosion” is a myth.
    Oh, actually the fossil record doesn’t show what was originally expected, and the idea of punctuated equilibrium was brought up to answer that observation (what was the mechanism that was shown to explain that again?)

    You are giving examples of where evolutionary theory has been successful in making some predictions. As in the case of the actually not as expected fossil record, when the evidence is not as predicted the theory changes- not because of evidence how and why the actual observation occurred, but because the theory is assumed to be correct and must be tweaked to fit.

    ID suggests that despite the compaction of evolutionary time for a simple organism as in the case of HIV, it is in reality not expected that any significant change will occur and there is no need to wear a mask in the fear that HIV will change in the simple manner of being able to attach and infect respiratory cells. Perhaps limb structure is easier than adapting to bonding to one surface protein different than previous. No one has bothered to mathematically model why this is not valid.

    As far as nipples go, you are right on path with the concept of “ontogeny repeats phylogeny”, that embryo development replays evolution… except I was taught 30+ years ago that idea was out of fashion.

    Or of course, the Creator showing up on Oprah and explaining why whales have a pelvis, femur and tibia while creating a few new plants, animals and bacteria on live TV.

    Why would He be obliged to stoop to proving himself to you?

    The pig has been wrestled, the squealing is no longer productive. If you look at the book by Schaeffer I mentioned above, you will find people whose accomplishment and reputation as a scientist far exceed mine reason on the issue, though that will likely not matter much.

    A respectful aside to nk- “There is no major Christian religion which considers Genesis anything other than a myth.” Comment by nk — 5/21/2009 @ 3:44 pm”
    I am not sure where you were given that bit of information, but it is not true (unless I missed the dry humor). But that does not mean there are many Christians who think that the Bible teaches a new earth with six 24 hour periods of creation either.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  261. So you don’t have a serious answer to the whale pelvis point, MD?

    Well, don’t say I didn’t try.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  262. A respectful aside to nk- “There is no major Christian religion which considers Genesis anything other than a myth.” Comment by nk — 5/21/2009 @ 3:44 pm”
    I am not sure where you were given that bit of information, but it is not true (unless I missed the dry humor).

    No humor, MD in Philly. I’ll start off with my trump. The Catholic Church considers Genesis to be a myth. Your turn.

    nk (a1896a)

  263. I answered the pelvis question here.

    carlitos (a0089e)

  264. And you’ve started a new movement, carlitos, the Intelligent Low-Rider theory of creation.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  265. SPQR,

    I don’t know enough to address whether or not it’s a legitimate argument, but here’s another link that tries to answer your question “Why do whales have pelvises?”

    DRJ (f55947)

  266. MD from Philly
    The pelvis was once not seen in the fossil record, then, bam, it was there.

    That is a demonstrably false statement.
    All in all, Rodhocetus must have been a very good tail-swimmer, and it is the earliest fossil whale committed to this manner of swimming.

    The pelvis of Rodhocetus was smaller than that of its predecessors, but it was still connected to the sacral vertebrae, meaning that Rodhocetus could still walk on land to some degree. However, the ilium of the pelvis was short compared to that of the mesonychids, making for a less powerful muscular thrust from the hip during walking, and the femur was about 1/3 shorter than Ambulocetus’s, so Rodhocetus probably could not get around as well on land as its predecessors (Gingerich and others 1994).

    You’re entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  267. Religion is a powerful and dangerous thing. The founding fathers were likely right with the exercise clause in the First Amendment — it cannot be repressed. However, it can be suborned and coopted. They should have left out the establishment clause and allowed the government to create a flytrap.

    nk (a1896a)

  268. DRJ, it has some really ridiculous illogical and in fact circular arguments. Read the paragraph headed “Vestigial Pelvises” and tell me it is coherent.

    Compare the detail and diagrams / photos here with that article just as an example.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  269. Comment by Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., — 5/21/2009 @ 4:56 pm
    It’s not anyone’s fault that you are an unbeliever who worships at the altar of Obama. I shall pray for your deliverance. :(

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  270. DRJ, can you rescue my comment from the filter, or is that Pattericos purvey?

    carlitos (a0089e)

  271. purview…

    carlitos (a0089e)

  272. DRJ,
    Among other things, your reference states:
    However, the Bible teaches us that God created the whales before he created land mammals.[1] This of course, is just another example of how evolution teaches things contrary to what the Bible teaches, and another good reason why Christians should not accept theistic evolution.

    This only reinforces the point that the ID/creationist movement’s opposition to evolution is really about religion, not science.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  273. #

    The Emperor, no, I don’t believe in any supernatural.

    Comment by SPQR — 5/21/2009 @ 6:20 pm

    That is the root of your problem. You see everything through a limited, human perspective. What if I can prove to you that the supernatural does exist? That there is a God, a Devil, Angels and Demons. That there is a Heaven and there is Hell? That you are a tripartite being; consisting of a spirit, a soul and a body.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  274. The Emperor, you can’t prove that.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  275. A watch implies a watchmaker but the ever so much more complex watchmaker was just there?

    Yes, he was just there and that is what makes him the watchmaker.

    God had no need to be created. He operates outside of time, outside of the constraints of humankind, outside of matter. No beginning, no end. It’s what makes him be God. And us be us. It’s why He drives the bus, no matter how hard we might try to take the wheel.

    Dana (aedf1d)

  276. Comment by SPQR — 5/21/2009 @ 7:03 pm

    And you think this is a joking matter? I don’t. You have no faith in God. Not a laughing matter, at all.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  277. Carlitos – I’m sorry but I don’t see anything from you in the filter. I’ll keep looking.

    Bradley – I’m confused by your response since it seems like the link I provided tries to respond to the scientific issue presented. Are you saying the response is invalid because the author admits he believes in creation? Maybe his response is scientifically invalid but shouldn’t it be shown by attacking the message instead of the messenger?

    DRJ (f55947)

  278. DRJ, I think Bradley’s point is that the article at that link doesn’t respond to the science when it cites the order of creation listed in the Bible as an argument. The paragraph I pointed to is full of circular argument.

    I also found the reference to Kent Hovind pretty troubling given Hovind’s lack of credibility.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  279. SPQR,

    I noticed the cetacean evolution pages you linked and it’s very convincing (I read this page earlier today). I know enough to know I couldn’t master this subject if I lived to be 100 so I’m happy to let others debate it. But I am intrigued by how angry it makes people, especially those who argue from the scientific perspective.

    DRJ (f55947)

  280. Let’s get away from pelvis’ and nipples, and let’s ask why does Homo Sapien have a tail-bone? And when did man actually have a tail, if ever?

    Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 5/21/2009 @ 5:23 pm

    Trying this again. Note that the reason I am not including links is purely due to the spam filter.
    Islam’s answer:

    The tailbone, the last bone at the end of the backbone is the part of the human body that is never lost. It does not even decompose completely in the ground.

    In several Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported, that the tailbone is the origin of the human being. And on Judgment Day God will emerge a human being from his or her tailbone.

    The holy scripts are:
    1) Abu Huraira narrated, that the Prophet (pbuh) said:
    “All of the Sons of Adam (men) will decay except for the bone of coccyx (tailbone). From it he (man) was created and by it he will be reconstructed.”
    2) Abu Huraira narrated, that the Prophet (pbuh) said:
    “There is nothing of the human body that does not decay except one bone; that is the little bone at the end of the coccyx of which the human body will be recreated on the Day of Resurrection.”
    Handed down by Al-Bukhari, Al Nassii, Abu Daoud, Ibn Majah and Ahmad in his book Al Mousnad and Malek in his book Al Mouattaa. In those Hadith are some unambiguous statements and facts:

    – Man is created from the tailbone
    – The tailbone will not decompose
    – On Judgment Day the resurrection will be from the tailbone

    …and the Christian answer. Again, apologies for no link. It’s all about poop!

    FABLE: The existence of vestigial organs in humans is proof that we’ve evolved from lower life forms.

    FACT: Vestigial organs do not exist. The so- called “vestigial organs” are believed by evolutionists to be parts of the human body that are no longer needed. These body parts are presumed to be “left- overs” from our ancestors, the monkeys. The organs include the appendix, the coccyx (tail bone), the pineal gland, the plica semilunaris, the tonsils, and the ear lobes.

    Many medical doctors now agree that all of these organs have important functions in the human body and aren’t vestigial in any sense. The appendix contains a rich blood supply which serves as some defense against cancer. The tail bone isn’t where a monkey tail used to be, as Darwinians believe, but it instead provides support for the muscles which control elimination. The pineal gland contains important hormones which the body needs. The plica semilunaris helps to keep the eye cleansed of foreign particles. The tonsils help to keep foreign particles out of your child’s throat, and they also help in fighting infection. Even the ear lobe has a purpose, for it helps to keep our ears warm during cold weather by providing them with a good blood supply. There are no vestigial organs.

    carlitos (a0089e)

  281. carlitos,

    I’m so sorry. You went to all the trouble of retyping your comment and now I’ve found the initial comment in the deepest spam filter — the one where comments go that don’t even have a chance to be seen. I have no idea why that happened but it was probably because of the links. Anyway, it’s back now at 5/21/2009 @ 5:44 PM.

    DRJ (f55947)

  282. carlitos, whoa, that’s some hilarious nonsense.

    ( Although I did see an interesting speculation for the purpose of the appendix. It obviously does not contain a “rich” blood supply. What I saw was speculation that it provides a refuge for beneficial bacteria during periods of intestinal disorders that evacuate the system. )

    SPQR (26be8b)

  283. DRJ,
    Are you saying the response is invalid because the author admits he believes in creation?

    No. It’s invalid because the author admitted he places the Bible before science. He even cites Genesis as a source for evidence. Purely on the basis of his reading of the Bible, he says whales existed before terrestrial mammals. That’s not science, that’s religion. By his own admission, he wont’t consider science on its own merits.

    Also, as SQPR pointed out previously, the argument about vestigal pelvises doesn’t make sense. It’s presented as an either/or case, with no room for transition.

    The author also makes an unsubstantiated leap of logic:
    On the contrary, I would argue that a whale’s tail is actually superior to that of a fish. Whales and dolphins are generally able to swim much faster than fish, and their tails are so powerful that whales are even able to use their tails as weapons.

    There is a glaring difference between whales and dolphins on the one hand, and fish on the other. The former are mammals; they breathe air. They thus have access to a much readier source of oxygen than do fish. They are warm-blooded and can sustain a higher metabolic rate than fish. That just might have something to do with their superior speed and strength.

    Now had the author not been so consumed with refuting evolution, that point might have occurred to him.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  284. Brother Fikes-

    I do not have the time or inclination to “dig” into specific interpretations of the fossil record. I know that if I wanted to pursue an issue in my filed of expertise on that level of detail, to get a full account of varying opinions to make a reasoned decision for myself would be a fair amount of work. I will not delude myself that I can get into a technical debate on that level in a field I have little background in. My interests and area of familiarity are more with biochem, cell biology, etc., and philosophy of science. My suggestion about the pelvis in the whale was not meant to be a statement of proven empirical fact, it was intended to show that given limited information (“whales have pelvises”) it is possible to look at an issue in diefferent perspectives. As I said, whether there is enough detail in the fossil record to “prove” whales came from animals that lived on land is not something I will undertake.

    A passage in regards to how one looks at evidence that I have found interesting is in “The Brothers Karamozov”. In a chapter translated (in my version) “A Sword that Cuts Both Ways”, two attorenys approach the same given set of facts with far different conclusions, neither of which seems to be superior to the other.

    nk- as I am not Catholic I cannot speak for them, nor did I claim that the majority of those who consider themselves Christian (by one definition or another) believe Genesis to be anything other than myth. I would say that significant segments of more “conservative” wings of protestant denominations, including Anglicans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Baptists, Reformed, Evangelical Free Church, non-denominational Bible churches believe that Genesis, certainly as a whole, is not myth, certainly from the account of Abraham and later. I myself take a view of the Bible fairly standard to “Evangelical” Christianity (whatever that is, for lack of a more meaningful descriptor). That view is that the Bible is authoritative and true as properly understood. By “properly understood” I mean that passages that are poetical are understood as such, not as concrete descriptions, that descriptions of events are as would be seen through the eyes of a person present, liable to have emphasis on some things to the exclusion of others, etc. It is a discussion for scholars above my head as to what the beginning of Genesis is trying to convey in the original Hebrew. This is why some people would say they take Genesis seriously, not as a myth, but do not believe in a 6 day creation and young earth, as the Hebrew word used for “day” is not synonymous with a period of time denoted by 24 hours as we know it.

    As far as this discussion goes, I have sought to be intellectually honest before I had any particular religious convictions as I seek to do so now. I think if one can put away for a moment the prejudice that “ID is just Creationism in drag”, one sees that the question is based on empirical and theoretical science. We know laws of thermodynamics, we know mathematics, we observe the complexity of interrelated structures and interrelated biochemical pathways. The question is asked how does life emerge from non-life, how does simple life occur that is capable of self-replication from something that could not replicate. How did natural selection result in organisms that contain more information than a 160 GB flash drive one might find on a desk in a library. If one sees those as valid questions to be asked, then they should be entertained with seriousness. All I have been interested in is presenting what I think is a fair explanation of what one could have as legitimate questions on the nature of how the physical world works.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  285. DRJ, I don’t get angry at people who are creationist. And I have no wish to attack people’s faith as faith.

    I do get angry at people who use intentionally dishonest arguments like Behe’s statistical claims – because he actually knows that his arguments are deceptive. And I get very frustrated at the whacky Young Earth Creationists who literally just make up stuff that is obviously wrong about physics – just as I get annoyed at the whacky 911 Truther conspiracy nuts who behave similarly.

    There are some bizarre and repulsive people among the Creationist crowd like Kent Hovind.

    That does not mean I’m a fan of the more offensive rhetoric of Dawkins.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  286. “I think if one can put away for a moment the prejudice that “ID is just Creationism in drag””

    Its not a prejudice, MD. Its a fact. ID proponents have been caught out admitting that the purpose of ID is to provide a cover for religious Creationism. See the Kitzmiller v. Dover judge’s memorandum decision where he lists the evidence that established this.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  287. SPQR and Bradley,

    I appreciate efforts to address the substance of these arguments.

    DRJ (f55947)

  288. MD in Philly,
    I do not have the time or inclination to “dig” into specific interpretations of the fossil record.

    You made the claim about the whale pelvis just appearing. I responded with a refutation documenting its existence in fossil whales. You are free to ignore it, but if you make a claim, it’s wise to be prepared to defend it.

    My suggestion about the pelvis in the whale was not meant to be a statement of proven empirical fact, it was intended to show that given limited information (”whales have pelvises”) it is possible to look at an issue in diefferent perspectives.

    You make a specific claim, then say you don’t want to get into a discussion, and then say you weren’t really making a factual claim after all, just making a point about different “perspectives”. This is rather exhausting. Would you just take a consistent position and stick with it?

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  289. Well, SPQR, I think there are legitimate issues as I mentioned above. I personally know 3 academic biochemists, at least one of which is not a creationist, also think there are merits to the question. Scientists of renown such as Shaeffer think there are merits. Whether some ID proponents have stated they are simply trying to shoe-horn creationism in is certainly a cause for concern in many ways. I would have no use for someone acting in that. I would suppose it is similar to your view of Dawkins as one who popularizes science/biology but whose “real” aim seems to be to discredit the validity of religious belief. I am going to need to stop soon. getting late here on the east coast.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  290. Thanks, DRJ!

    Look, as I indicated last night, I’m happy to agree to disagree on this subject.

    As Biz Markee said, Episcopalians, rock, rock on!

    On the bright side, maybe I will be credited with the lowrider theory of evolution.

    carlitos (a0089e)

  291. For those who are interested, Judge Jones’ decision in Kitzmiller. He had Behe in front of him and was not impressed.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  292. Thank you, DRJ.

    I do wish the author you cited had tackled the thornier matter of embryonic whale teeth.

    IMO this is an even stronger evidences for evolution than whale pelvises (pelvi?) and Darwin mentioned this in Origin of Species, Chapter 13.

    Organs or parts in this strange condition, bearing the stamp of inutility, are extremely common throughout nature. For instance, rudimentary mammae are very general in the males of mammals: I presume that the `bastard-wing’ in birds may be safely considered as a digit in a rudimentary state: in very many snakes one lobe of the lungs is rudimentary; in other snakes there are rudiments of the pelvis and hind limbs. Some of the cases of rudimentary organs are extremely curious; for instance, the presence of teeth in foetal whales, which when grown up have not a tooth in their heads; and the presence of teeth, which never cut through the gums, in the upper jaws of our unborn calves. It has even been stated on good authority that rudiments of teeth can be detected in the beaks of certain embryonic birds. Nothing can be plainer than that wings are formed for flight, yet in how many insects do we see wings so reduced in size as to be utterly incapable of flight, and not rarely lying under wing-cases, firmly soldered together!

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  293. Brother Fick- my final response was as above. I took it as a challenge/taunt more than a request for reasoned debate, and I responded to it as that. Had I thought I was expected to give a detailed account I would have passed originally, just as you and SPQR have passed on my challenge concerning the HIV virus. (I actually don’t mean it as a taunt, I would like to see somebody do a respectable and serious treatment of it).

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  294. I would suppose it is similar to your view of Dawkins as one who popularizes science/biology but whose “real” aim seems to be to discredit the validity of religious belief.

    Dawkins is stepping out of the role of scientist there. I wish Dawkins would not claim to be speaking for science when he does that. It’s annoying. I do like his books on evolution, however, because they do a marvelous job of explaining chance, probability, and selection.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  295. Indeed, Climbing Mount Improbable is a fascinating book.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  296. MD in Philly,
    I just don’t see how your point about HIV derives from any element of intelligent design. It seems to be restating the obvious: HIV is adapted for one mode of transmission, so it would have to change awfully quickly and dramatically to infect through another route. That observation has been previously drawn, so ID contributed nothing to it.

    On the other hand, my point about the consilience between fossils and anatomy on the one hand, and biochemical similarity is directly to the validity of evolution. If we had found two different phylogenetic trees made by those two methods, it would make a hash of evolution. If evolution is correct, there is one correct line of ancestry (barring horizontal gene transfer). That is a testable prediction.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  297. Thanks for the link to the decision in Kitzmiller, took a very brief look at it. I have previously read Miller’s critique and wasn’t impressed by that. Can’t do it justice tonight.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  298. Congratulations on sticking with it MD in Philly. To me it’s like watching someone try to argue with global warming alarmists who will brook no dissent. Part of it I think stems from a lack of definition or multiple definitions of what people believe intelligent design to be and therefore it MUST be an attack on science or religious encroachment or some other evil to be pushed back.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  299. To carlitos and others who responded: Thank you!

    AD - RtR/OS! (00ce61)

  300. Either I’m an idiot or you are missing the point or ignoring it.

    If you assume that something that is adapted to one niche of existence will not change because it has already adapted…

    My main point was that with an organism that replicates in such an explosive manner, one can get the equivalent of millions and millions of years of “opportunity for evolution” of a mammal. The number of generations, the number of mutations, the opportunities for natural selection for the virus occurs in weeks/months/years compared to millions of years for a complicated macroscopic organism. And we’re “not asking for much”, just a conformational change in a protein or two to bind to a protein on one cell type instead of another cell type. I think the “odds” for this happening in a relatively extremely short period of time must be better than watching a walking mammal turn into a whale over millions of years.

    Regarding your second point, I’ll see if I understand you and can make a meaningful reply.
    Say we have lemurs. We see in the fossil record things that appear to be similar to lemurs. In fact, we have a better fossil record for the evolution of lemurs and related primates than any other animal form. So, when we see lemurs today and their closest of kin according to the fossil record, we expect to see similarity at the molecular level in terms of similarities of DNA, organisms systems such as blood type and hormone structure and function, etc. Is that what you mean? And if instead, we had the same fossil record, but when we studied the same “related animals” on the molecular level we found a huge difference, that would be a problem for evolution. Or, if we had independent fossil records for two phenotypically very different organisms, but found their current descendants extremely similar on the molecular level, that too would be a problem for evolution.

    Do I understand the scenario correctly?

    If so, I don’t think either case would necessarily be a problem for evolutionary theory.

    The fossil record is what it is, snapshots of creatures that existed long ago that we estimate as to their age according to what we know about rock strata. The snapshots are infrequent, relatively rare, (and unlabelled!) So you see a few specimens of two similar appearing lemur-like creatures many millions of years ago. You trace other specimens down through the years until you have what you have today. The chemical tests show they are “not at all” related. So what. The fossil record is incomplete. They are snapshots over millions of years, we have to rely on what those geologists say as to what is older than what. We have no family Bibles that go back millions of years with names written down so we know who was related to who. The amazing thing about the evolutionary process and natural selection is that two unrelated animals came upon the scene and both thrived because they had independently been selected to fit into an ecological niche.
    In the opposite scenario, again, no problem. Animals that look nothing alike have incredibly similar biochemical makeup. Evolution is a wonderful thing! A long way back one set of mutations started and produced a phenotype that could really run and went down one path, a different set gave stubby legs and unfit for land, but it could swim and there were few predators, so a different path was followed. Isn’t evolution amazing!

    On any macro level we will never witness any real significant change in real time, and looking backwards is always going to be inference with the data available, and you will never know what you are missing. Some proposals will appear more reasonable than others, but you will never have adequate info unless you start getting DNA from animals preserved in amber or permafrost a lot bigger than insects or older than woolly mammoths.

    Now, If I didn’t understand you correctly, I’ve wasted a lot of time, and I’ll find out tomorrow.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  301. MD in Philly
    My main point was that with an organism that replicates in such an explosive manner, one can get the equivalent of millions and millions of years of “opportunity for evolution” of a mammal. . . .

    Remember earlier in the thread when I said all ID amounts to is just an attack on evolution? This is what you’re doing here. Pointing out incomplete knowledge or apparent errors in evolution theory is not the same as evidence of an intelligent hand in designing life. All scientific knowledge is incomplete, so incompleteness in evolutionary theory or any other theory can’t be evidence for a rival. And I haven’t seen you made any positive predictions about what kind of design we should see, only negative attacks on evolution.

    So without reference to evolution, what are the characteristics of life that are uniquely hallmarks of intelligent design?

    So, when we see lemurs today and their closest of kin according to the fossil record, we expect to see similarity at the molecular level in terms of similarities of DNA, organisms systems such as blood type and hormone structure and function, etc. Is that what you mean? And if instead, we had the same fossil record, but when we studied the same “related animals” on the molecular level we found a huge difference, that would be a problem for evolution. Or, if we had independent fossil records for two phenotypically very different organisms, but found their current descendants extremely similar on the molecular level, that too would be a problem for evolution.

    Do I understand the scenario correctly?

    Yes. Because evolution theory predicts one true tree of ancestry. If you had lemurs biochemically more similar to, say, horseshoe crab, than to humans, it would be a huge problem for evolution. It would contradict a basic premise of evolutionary theory.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  302. Brother Bradley #290,
    An important part of the dolphin’s speed is the skin. It is a thick resilient layer that can compress to reduce the drag caused by turbulence as the water flows over the skin. It can give or ripple slightly under pressure to reduce formation of turbulence. At the speeds they swim, close to twenty knots, drag is more important than power. For a ship to go from 24 to 30 knots means tripling or quadrupling the horse power.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  303. Machinist, I’m a landlubber, so thanks for the delphic explanation.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  304. Does “delphic” mean incomprehensible in this case, Sir?

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  305. No, it meant oracular.

    And with that, I’ll at last bid you all good night . . . for now.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  306. MD in Philly,
    I don’t have the knowledge to argue at your level, Sir, but I would point out two things for your consideration in respect to HIV. Please forgive me if I’m off base.

    1.) HIV does seem to have shown an evolutionary change recently in jumping species to infect humans. Would this not be a change of the caliber you were speaking of?

    2.) HIV seems extremely refined in that it targets the very defenses that would fight it. It is my impression that the body succeeds against this virus almost never, yet the long period before it manifests itself gives time to spread before it kills it’s host. Would such a refined and specialized organism not tend to be less tolerant of random changes? If the characteristics that allow it to target the body’s defenses are linked to the methods of transmission, would that not inhibit the type of change you expect? I am not postulating this, I am speculating. I assume you have much more knowledge about this than I do.

    Thank you.

    Machinist (c5fc28)

  307. Mornin’

    Brother Fikes, from my point of view I said nothing to attack evolution. I was showing how I think evolutionary theory could be adapted to the findings you give as hypothetical examples. My understanding is that evolutionary theory has already done this somewhat in how it has been reformulated since Darwin.

    I’m talking about logical possibilities. The whole advantage of having hypotheses that can be tested under limited conditions with controls is it is far easier to convincingly disprove something. When postulating about something that can be observed but not manipulated it is much easier to say “Premise X is not exactly as expected” than “Premise X is wrong”.

    Is the duck-billed platypus more closely related to the beaver or the echidna? It looks and functions in it’s habitat much more like a beaver, but has a reproductive system quite unlike a beaver. Is/was the Tasmanian wolf more closely related to kangaroos or timber wolves? The Giant Panda and Red Panda are so named because of the presumed kinship, but really the Red Panda isn’t a Panda.

    For the study of many systems in the human body different primates, especially a chimpanzee, seem to be the best model. Yet, to study human leprosy the best animal is the armadillo.

    I don’t see why you demand that evolutionary theory means that two animals who are phenotypically similar and inhabit similar biological niches are necessarily chemically similar and have developed along a common pathway. Isn’t that the whole point of the Galapagos finches? Things that look like woodpeckers are not woodpeckers after all, but finches that have adapted a phenotype that inhabits an ecosystem as a woodpecker.

    Machinist, thank you for taking a shot at my question.
    There are two overlapping questions in your first point. To say that HIV “recently” jumped from some primate to humans via mutation and selection of a viral strain is not the current given explanation for the explosion of the infection around the world. The explanation for the wide dissemination of the infection has to do with the virus, however “young” or “old”, migrating from a regional illness in a remote part of Africa to wider populations along the routes where conditions were best for it to spread. That is, once it went from a human in a village in the middle of nowhere to a human along a trucking corridor where commercial sex was common it exploded. From there it continued to spread in Africa and elsewhere as a regional phenomenon shaped by the behavior of how the virus came into that social network. So some places it was first prevalent among those with the highest number of sexual contacts, especially in the gay community, other places because of shared injection drug use, in others through heterosexual prostitution, in others through ceremonial practice (using the same blade to perform circumcision or other rituals for many tribal people).

    If there ever was an outbreak of Ebola in the US,it would likely not be because of a change in the virus, but because of an incident where someone got on a plane and returned to the US having recently been infected and setting off a chain reaction of infection before anyone knew what was happening.

    As to your second point. Yes, HIV is quite the “Trojan Horse” of an infection and to have a genetic drift away from it’s current phenotype one one hand is something you would not expect. But the danger is to “think too much like an ID person” and look through the lens of conscious planning/strategy.
    The issue is the incredible replication capacity of the virus. Evolutionary theory rests on the natural selection of organisms resulting from random mutation. As complex organisms do not reproduce in large numbers or very quickly, any significant change from one “specie” to another will take an incredibly long time. With the virus you get the number of descendants in a short time that would take millions of years for a mammal. Hence, you would see an incredible number of mutations with different phenotypes in a relatively short time. Most mutations are dead ends, the result doesn’t function or doesn’t function nearly as well. Miller’s critique of Behe is that it is no problem for a bacteria that has something that looks like a cilia but isn’t mutate and have a phenotype that has a functioning cilia and a selective advantage. The “practical” problem with that is even bacteria reproduce slowly compared to HIV. I’m just asking that among the millions and millions of mutations that don’t work there are a number of mutations that occur together that allow the virus to bind to respiratory epithelium, for a binding protein to stay a binding protein, but just change configuration.

    What we do see in HIV is extremely rapid emergence of strains resistant to antiviral drugs when not given properly or taken adequately. The last I read, it was estimated that the typical person on one medicine a day for blood pressure takes it about 80% of the time. Taking 80% of antivirals for HIV gets you resistant virus and death.

    The best calculations for my scenario may reveal statistics that are not as favorable as I guess. Or the statistics are good but it doesn’t happen because of some factor specific to this system and not generalizable to the process in general. Certainly this wouldn’t “prove” anything other than a predicted result of evolutionary theory is not seen (in a real-time model). But I’m sure if someone developed a mathematical model, without empiric verification, that demonstrated how evolutionary theory could be consistent with the time allowed we would hear no end of it, even though it “proves” nothing and has no direct empirical evidence supporting it.

    I might be able to continue this discussion a little bit more, maybe not that even. Time allotted for blogging heavily into the red.

    Thanks for the encouragement, daleyrocks.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  308. Thank you, MD in Philly, for your detailed answer. I’m going to try to digest it all and not just dash off an answer.

    This stuff is fascinating.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (79e90f)

  309. On the bright side, maybe I will be credited with the lowrider theory of evolution.

    Comment by carlitos — 5/21/2009 @ 8:28 pm

    I deserve co-credit. I will give my share of the Nobel Prize money to get the Cubs a bigger bullpen and maybe a third baseman. Will you give yours to the Sox to keep them from losing another game 20-1?

    nk (a1896a)

  310. Co-credit is fine – starting up War’s Greatest Hits now to get to Lo-Rider. It was a nice afternoon at the park, but that game was brutal. I was actually rooting for the Mauer grand slam; I mean, what’s the difference between 12-0 and 16-0? His average has to be over .420 now.

    carlitos (a0089e)

  311. Discussions of evolution and religion seldom go good places. The preconceived notions of both tend to bleed into the other, and folks get quite irritable. I am a scientist, and also a person of faith, just to get my own situation out in front. I also think that arguing about evolution is fruitless. Still, there are some good discussions here, which pleases me.

    I think MD in Philly is being civil and straightforward, and I applaud his posts. But let me add one or two things:

    “For the study of many systems in the human body different primates, especially a chimpanzee, seem to be the best model. Yet, to study human leprosy the best animal is the armadillo.”

    Well, actually that is both true not true. Chimps would probably be the most relevant experimental system for the study of leprosy:

    http://www.ajtmh.org/cgi/content/abstract/44/4_Part_2/24

    The problem of course, is that it is cheaper to keep armadillos and mice (the foot pads of mice allow the growth of Mycobacterium leprae) in the lab than chimps. By the way, the reason that armadillos work well is that M. leprae grows best at temperatures below human body temperature (which is typical of armadillos). This explains why leprosy attacks the extremities (nose, fingers, toes, and..ah…more delicate areas) and also the footpads of mice.

    Also, HIV’s ability to change quickly really doesn’t have much to do with its numbers. It has much more to do with the fact that its own genome replicative system does not proofread, and is thus highly prone to errors. All the time. But we only see the “successful” mistakes. If you are interested in this, just read up on “reverse transcriptase” and it’s lack of proofreading during viral replication. This is also true, in part, of influenza: both a “sloppy” polymerase prone to error and recombination between RNA segments during viral development. The result is extremely variable regions of the virion, which help it avoid the immune response.

    Michael Behe’s commentary on bacterial flagella (not cilia) is particularly troublesome. It turns out that there are many “ancestors” of what we call a flagellum in bacteria.

    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/irreducible_complexity/flagellum_evolution/

    There is even a fun video on the topic:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdwTwNPyR9w

    Now the video is pretty heavy handed, but I can assure you (having read and taught the original paper and following this for some time) that there is nothing unreasonable about the model.

    I think the take home lesson is simple. Evolution is NOT simple. We are NOT that smart. But that doesn’t mean that evolution does not occur. And the subject of God is quite separate from phylogenies and homologues and horizontal gene transfer frequencies.

    This is my objection to prats (hat tip to Vivian Louise) like Richard Dawkins, who sneer at people of faith, and yet also have no trouble in believing things that are not possible to prove. I think that, in some ways, Dawkins is like a religious fundmentalist: neither can conceive of a God greater than they are….for the fundamentalist, God could not possibly use evolution and long spans of time. For Dawkins, God could not possibly allow the thing that Dawkins dislikes to occur.

    As I say, this is a subject that often ends up difficult places. I am heartened by the civility I have read in many posts.

    Sorry for the lecture, but I do teach. Sigh.

    Eric Blair (262ccd)

  312. EB – You are not daring to say that Dawkins’ disbelief is a religion unto itself, are you? Quelle horror …

    JD (d4c917)

  313. If one ever needed proof of the existence of God, the Cardinals sweep of the Cubs should dispel any doubts.

    JD (d4c917)

  314. Eric Blair,
    You are a highly evolved, intelligently designed, commenter.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (79e90f)

  315. Hear, hear, Eric, although I wouldn’t deign to described Eric’s exact state of evolution/design myself…

    SPQR (72771e)

  316. Just in case any of you forgot, I am positive that this entire discussion was racist xenophobic jingoistic imperialistic misoygynist misanthropic and homophobic. You should all be ashamed.

    JD (d4c917)

  317. Back to the “missing link” … Could someone please explain how this finding is anything other than an over-hyped finding, but really cool fossil? How does the “missing link” between one really small monkey and another really small monkey have any practical relevance to the overall discussion?

    JD (d4c917)

  318. Oh my God, those T-shirts are scary. The birthday cake with the “6,000” on it for earth, the one with the sun rotating around the earth… Wow. I would have thought it was a joke.

    Can one of you science types explain what is meant by Air, Water, Fire, Earth, Aether? Or how UFO’s built the pyramids?

    carlitos (a0089e)

  319. Back to the “missing link” … Could someone please explain how this finding is anything other than an over-hyped finding, but really cool fossil?

    Guess who agrees with you? P.Z. Myers, no friend of creationists and an even bigger hater of religion than Dawkins.

    The fossil is important and has a significant place in the evolutionary record, but the way its purchasers and the media have described it with overblown rhetoric has actually damaged public perception. It’s an interesting transitional form from an early point in the history of primates, and the sloppy media coverage had people expecting a revivified Fred Flintstone carrying a video camera that had been left running for 47 million years.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (79e90f)

  320. I know not of who this person you link to is, Brother Bradley, but since he appears to share similar thoughts as me, he must be a wise, thoughtful, and frankly brilliant fellow, racist as though he may be.

    JD (d4c917)

  321. But wait, what has any of this have to do with the vital question of:
    How many Angels can stand on the head of a pin?
    And, will they win the AL?

    AD - RtR/OS! (6a6a3b)

  322. Does it matter if they win the AL, when in reality, all of the teams are simply fighting for the chance to lose to the Cardinals? 😉

    JD (d4c917)

  323. It has much more to do with the fact that its own genome replicative system does not proofread, and is thus highly prone to errors. All the time. But we only see the “successful” mistakes. If you are interested in this, just read up on “reverse transcriptase” and it’s lack of proofreading during viral replication.

    #320 — Comment by Eric Blair — 5/22/2009 @ 9:33 am

    Thank you for the explanation, Prof Blair. Between the questions MD is answering and your insight, this thread has proven most informative.

    If you both would be so kind, a couple few questions for both of you.

    Is it possible to calculate the rate of change (w/respect to time) that each strain of HIV evolved to resist a given drug (or drug-combination)?

    If so, would it then be possible to use this calculation to predict when resistance to current effective combinations of medicine might occur?

    If so, could this not be used as an indication of the power of Darwinian Evolution (maybe a high R-value or something like that)?

    Pons Asinorum (b3301f)

  324. JD, I agree that its over-hyped. But that’s really because the linkage between apes, monkeys, mankind, primates etc. is not that interesting to me.

    What I’m fascinated by is the relationship between Neandertal and Cro-Magnon/Homo Sapiens.

    SPQR (72771e)

  325. Comment by JD — 5/22/2009 @ 11:13 am

    Angels Win, they’re higher up the “food chain” than Cardinals!

    “…the relationship between Neandertal (sic) and Cro-Magnon/Homo Sapiens.”

    Is that the new political alignment of the Senate, the House, or both?

    AD - RtR/OS! (6a6a3b)

  326. Actually, AD, “Neandertal” is I believe the correct spelling of the German valley where the first findings were made. My understanding is that “Neanderthal” is an anglicized spelling.

    What I’m fascinated by is the question of how the two species related during the rather long period when both were found in Europe.

    SPQR (72771e)

  327. Probably as well as LibTards and Conservatives!
    Heh.

    AD - RtR/OS! (6a6a3b)

  328. “Neandertal” …I stand corrected.

    AD - RtR/OS! (6a6a3b)

  329. Neandertal and Cro-Magnon/Homo Sapiens.

    One must look no further than the Pittburgh Steelers fans to find said connection, SPQR.

    JD (d4c917)

  330. What I’m fascinated by is the question of how the two species related during the rather long period when both were found in Europe.

    Comment by SPQR — 5/22/2009 @ 11:55 am

    Here you go, SPQR.
    Link safe for work.

    nk (a1896a)

  331. Re: #321—yep, JD, I am saying exactly that. This is the fellow who wants to call atheists “Brights,” I would remind you. I don’t know Dawkins’ relationship with his father, but I am guessing it is related to this.

    Re: #329—I nearly erupted coffee when I read that PZ Myers felt that overstatings something could be damaging to discourse. Pot, meet kettle. Myers is a braying jackass when it comes to his personal opinions, and he allows them to invade his science regularly. He is also personally unpleasant, such as snickering over a person not receiving tenure…when he himself has more than a little familiarity with that particular issue (and he does not mention that when he snickers). Highly unprofessional, noncollegial, and in love with his own voice.

    Sorry about that to those who do like the man.

    Re: #333: I don’t think we can predict “time to resistance” very well, though I know some medical scientists have tried.

    For an introduction, try:

    http://www.thebody.com/index/treat/resistance.html

    And this is more what you were asking about:

    http://www.thebodypro.com/content/art42153.html

    What I do know is that, weird as it sounds, each individual with HIV develops “their” strain that, like a fingerprint, is distinctive.

    I teach a unit on this in class (developed at Pitt, I believe). Years ago, a dentist with HIV did not clean his equipment properly, and managed to give HIV (blood to blood transmission) to several patients. His claim was that it was not his strain of HIV. Based on the data, I have the students build a phylogenetic tree that shows that each of the dentist’s patients had strains of HIV related to the dentist’s strain…and not to four randomly selected HIV patients in the same same city.

    Here is a recap of the report, if not the classroom exercise. It shows the complexities of all this.

    http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/121/11/886

    There are some proteins that cannot change without destroying the ability of the virus to replicate. Some therapies are looking at that closely. The “cocktail therapy” of replicative inhibitors and protease inhibitors seem to work well for now…but just with bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, this approach will not work forever.

    As for “evolution in test tube,” scientists have been talking about that for many years, and even the chemical engineers are getting into it.

    Gerald Joyce at Scripps is a nice place to start, if you are interested.

    http://www.scripps.edu/mb/joyce/

    As for whether my own design was intelligent or random, created or evolved, I cannot comment. Except that my children are beautiful. But that may be the triumph of my wife’s thankfully dominant genes.

    Eric Blair (262ccd)

  332. Best excuse I’ve heard, Eric.

    SPQR (72771e)

  333. #341 — Comment by Eric Blair — 5/22/2009 @ 1:45 pm

    Thanks!

    Pons Asinorum (23bca2)

  334. What follows may sound rough, not a reflection of anything other than haste and my own frustration. (I lost about an hour’s work or more on what was to be this post.)

    EB- I agree that the sloppiness of reverse transcriptase is a significant factor in the number of mutations of HIV and that at one time that was thought to be the main factor. The last time I was in a discussion about it with both clinical researchers and basic science virologists it was felt that the incredible rate of reproduction was also a factor and there were different opinions as to which was more important. Even if the virus was not any sloppier than most it would still produce many variations.

    To make a variation of a quote from EB, “HIV resistance is not that simple”.

    Resistance to some drugs requires only a single point mutation. One dose of one of these meds is likely to result in virus essentially completely resistant. Resistance to other meds takes the cumulative effect of multiple mutations. Some of these combos of mutations result in stepwise increased resistance, some instances it is more dramatic yes or no resistance, but only after the mutations have accumulated. Some mutations that cause resistance to one med restore sensitivity of virus to another med, or even make the virus “hypersensitive” to another med.

    To add another wrinkle, even if a virus is resistant to a medication, the virus may have lost replicative capacity and the patient still does better on the “useless” med because selective pressure is maintained for a “weaker” virus.

    The general idea developed that it was not so much the number of meds in combination that made a difference, but the number of mutations that would be needed to develop resistance to a given drug or combination of drugs (the “genetic barrier”).

    Clinically, there is no specific “time to resistance” numbers, per se, but there is a gestalt based on what meds/combination of meds a person is on. The general idea developed, “don’t pick a fight, i.e. treat the virus unless you “have to”, and when you do, go all out to crush it. What that means in numbers is that you want the “viral load” to go from a baseline of 50,000 to 1,000,000+ to less than the limit of detection at 50*. (Effectiveness of HIV drugs in reducing HIV burden is measured in logarithmic numbers.) Part of the problem in treating HIV (for the patient) is the need to essentially never miss a dose. Don’t remember exactly at the moment, but statistically it was shown that one could miss on average one doe out of 21 in a week and get by. Less than 95% adherence and there is a clear tendency for clinical resistance to develop.

    I have more to say but need to go now. The site I always used as a reference was at the Johns Hopkins AIDS Clinic, both for pt information and professional information.

    The number of Angels that can dance on the head of a pin depends on two things:
    1. The size of the head of the pin. With Pons around, if we’re talking about one atom wide it gets tough.
    2. Whether they’re wearing what they call “baseball shoes” today, or the real thing, “spikes” as back in the day.

    *(I admit my details are up to date as of about 3 years ago when I was last doing this daily. Some things have happened since then, but I don’t think there have been any major paradigm shifts.)

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  335. Have you ever tried to dance in “spikes”?

    AD - RtR/OS! (6a6a3b)

  336. Overheard at my last Angels White Sox game.

    Programs! Scorecards! Monkeys!

    I’m guessing that someone stole the ‘rally monkey’ idea, and that they weren’t ridiculing the Scopes trial.

    carlitos (a0089e)

  337. First, when wearing spikes, “dancing” was generally not considered, other than the movement off of first base trying to disrupt the pitcher.

    Second, thanks to Eric for his contributions and clarifications. My knowledge of the Armadillo and leprosy came from clinicians talking about interesting things, not from microbiologists who knew the better details.

    Back to HIV.

    “What I do know is that, weird as it sounds, each individual with HIV develops “their” strain that, like a fingerprint, is distinctive.”
    – Exactly. I think this reflects the combination of “sloppy molecular biology” and incredible reproductive capacity. There actually is observable evolution of HIV occurring in each individual that has the virus. In fact, people with HIV are still cautioned to use protection from infection if they are in an intimate relationship with another person with HIV. (In contrast to influenza where if one person has it and the partner catches it the following week, one does not expect the first person to be at risk of catching a new variant of influenza in return.)
    -Also with HIV, when all medications are stopped in an individual patient, eventually the resistant genotypes disappear and only the wild-type can be found after a period from weeks to months. (understandably and unfortunately, the resistant mutations often persist in small numbers that reappear quite rapidly in the setting of the medication once again.)
    -as to the infected dental patients, if it is the same case I’m thinking of, I thought there was a significant suspicion, if not conclusion, that he purposefully infected them with his own “body fluid” mixed with Novocaine in an injection for local anesthesia. He certainly isn’t the only one who has purposefully done the equivalent, unfortunately.

    I haven’t read the link about evolution in a test tube, not sure I will get to it, to see their approach. My idea was the following: Assume an animal existing 200,000,000 years ago. It is a mammal(-like?) creature of modest size. We can assume it will have relatively few broods in a years time, and a relatively small number of offspring each time. What would be the maximum number of descendants we could postulate appearing over the next 200,000,000 years? When we decide that number, what does that look like in comparison to the number of HIV progeny in one person over a year, ten years; a thousand people over 10 years? If the numbers are comparable, but HIV remains nothing but strains of HIV over that number of descendants, it proves nothing, but it is not the finding most consistent with evolutionary theory, is it?

    I agree that most discussions on this topic generate more heat and smoke than light. My main objective would be to present in a clear manner what I mentioned way back at #184 and is alluded to by Eric and JD. The speculation of a Dawkins is welcomed in the class room because it is considered “scientific”. And perhaps the word “scientific” isn’t used the way we technically understand it, but is actually used with the connotation of “what’s real” (as opposed to what isn’t), “what’s important” (as opposed to what is not), and/or “what is agreed upon by all without underlying assumptions” (which is not true). It is seeing biology as Carl Sagan saw astronomy, “There is the cosmos, and nothing else, for I have looked, and lo, I saw nothing else”. I believe this discussion is not science, but the implicit assumption of “naturalism”, or “materialism”. Such ideas are fine and good to use as an approach to life and “reality”, but I think intellectual integrity requires this to be understood explicitly and even-handedly.

    PS to nk, in Schaefer’s book there is a discussion on how an address the Pope gave in French was reportedly translated into English in a misleading way. I don’t know if that has any bearing on your understanding of the Catholic Church’s view on Genesis or not.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  338. I don’t know if that has any bearing on your understanding of the Catholic Church’s view on Genesis or not.

    Parish priest, at a Christening, twenty years ago. When he said “the myth of Genesis”, you could have knocked me down with a feather. I inquired into it and found out that he was not in fact a heretic. Genesis is not considered history by the Catholics, Orthodox, or mainstream Protestants. Is there a word between history and myth?

    nk (a1896a)

  339. nk- Thanks for the clarification. Heretic or not, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a minister/priest use that phraseology.

    I am not sure what word is between history and myth, but in my mind “myth” means a debunked story that may be a curiosity and interesting, but not something to be regarded as important. Why quote something from a myth?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  340. I disagree. I think a myth is an archetypal tale, containing lesson, allegory and metaphor, in an entertaining narrative. It’s how our pre-science and pre-writing but just as smart if not as knowledgeable as us ancestors described their world.

    nk (a1896a)

  341. To add another wrinkle, even if a virus is resistant to a medication, the virus may have lost replicative capacity and the patient still does better on the “useless” med because selective pressure is maintained for a “weaker” virus.

    #344 — Comment by MD in Philly — 5/22/2009 @ 4:04 pm

    From the 1st website Eric Blair linked (click on the movie, it’s really cool): Drug-resistant mutant strains of HIV are less fit to survive than non-mutated HIV when not in a medicated environment.

    Does not that imply that natural selection worked backwards, which I thought was a big no-no in Darwinian Theory?

    ———

    What that means in numbers is that you want the “viral load” to go from a baseline of 50,000 to 1,000,000+ to less than the limit of detection at 50*.

    #344 — Comment by MD in Philly — 5/22/2009 @ 4:04 pm

    Quick question: is 50* the same thing as the IC50?

    ———

    Great stuff MD! I thank you for it.

    Re: Angles on the head of a pin —
    Don’t forget Angel type; those cherubim were more chubby than the others — maybe two atom diameters needed.

    Pons Asinorum (23bca2)

  342. When we decide that number, what does that look like in comparison to the number of HIV progeny in one person over a year, ten years; a thousand people over 10 years?

    #347 –Comment by MD in Philly — 5/22/2009 @ 8:08 pm

    This part was easy. According to the 1st website Eric Blair linked, there are 10,000,000,000 HIV particle replications in one day in the body of one (infected) person.

    Multiply this by 365 days to convert to replications per year-
    Multiply this by 10 to convert to replications per 10 years-
    Multiply this by 1,000 people to convert from 1 person to a thousand people-

    A grand total of 3.65 X 10^16 particle replications over the past 10 years in a group of 1,000 people.

    ——-

    What would be the maximum number of descendants [of mammals] we could postulate appearing over the next 200,000,000 years?

    This is tougher because the population growth models that I know of cannot account for such long time spans.

    The total number of mammal reproductions from 200 million years ago must be a large number and possibly even comparable to the 16th order of magnitude (no idea — if anyone has better data, please feel free to share).

    ——-

    If the numbers are comparable, but HIV remains nothing but strains of HIV over that number of descendants, it proves nothing, but it is not the finding most consistent with evolutionary theory, is it?

    Forgive me for answering, but my two cents:

    If HIV (that has no error-checking mechanisms) versus a genus (which does have error-checking mechanisms) and given a comparable number of replications/reproductions, it would not appear likely to develop new species or even sophisticated mechanisms present in current mammals (because HIV has not done so, given the same number of generations).

    Not proof, but interesting if such data could be made available (my laymen’s simplifications notwithstanding).

    It is much easier to view the world from a 19th century perspective and explain that feature A obviously comes from feature B. Such deductions are just a matter of structured imagination.

    Tougher is the 21st century view, when the processes that make such changes are known (or partially known) and the actual workings of the molecular chemistry must be accounted for with physical and chemical principles rather than using imagination.

    Pons Asinorum (23bca2)

  343. Thanks for the info and dialogue, Pons.

    From the 1st website Eric Blair linked (click on the movie, it’s really cool): Drug-resistant mutant strains of HIV are less fit to survive than non-mutated HIV when not in a medicated environment.
    Does not that imply that natural selection worked backwards, which I thought was a big no-no in Darwinian Theory?

    Darwinian theory has to do with natural selection in regards to the environment at the time. In the setting of a drug effective against wild type virus, when mutations appear that are resistant to med, they will flourish and take over the population of virus and thrive. But there is really nothing “new” about that mutation, it has happened before, but is not as “fit” in the typical drug-free environment.

    When you take the drug away, the virus is in a new environment. So the factors that select for virus type are different, and favor reversion to wild type as predominant in the population. Whether this is because of occurrence of “mutation back to wild type” or simply small numbers of wild type in hiding roaring back. It is what you would expect, the organism evolves in context of the surrounding “selective pressure”.

    Clinically, this can be used to the patient’s advantage. Some mutations causing resistance do not really cause the virus any problem, and there’s no surprise if you still find it a year later, and even when you can’t, a clinical doc expects it to be present and hiding in low numbers. But other mutations which do cause a significant disadvantage in replicative capacity (RC) disappear rather quickly from view, and after months or years without selective pressure may not even reappear when the drug is reintroduced.

    My understanding is that you see this in Galapagos finches. depending on the weather, beaks can creep towards being longer and shorter.

    This is also the scenario of the moth in England (pepper moth?, salt and pepper moth?) that has a “dark” and “light” form, and the predominance of which form was supposedly linked to the amount of soot collecting on tree trunks. (Though there has been an incredible amount of back and forth whether the moths land on tree trunks or not. The poor things would turn pink with embarrassment if they had any idea).

    no. 50 is not the same as IC50. Pardon me if the “*” added confusion. The evaluation and treatment of people with HIV changes incredibly over time in response to available technology. 50 virus particles (per cc?, I think) was the lower limit of reliability of the test when I was last looking at the numbers professionally.

    Forgive me for answering, but my two cents:
    If HIV (that has no error-checking mechanisms) versus a genus (which does have error-checking mechanisms) and given a comparable number of replications/reproductions, it would not appear likely to develop new species or even sophisticated mechanisms present in current mammals because HIV has not done so, given the same number of generations).

    Italics are areas where I think you are making the common mistake of thinking as a designer and drawing conclusions that really are not valid from the data. I could be wrong, but I’ll explain. (Perhaps this gets into the issues of how probabilities are calculated by Behe that others find objectionable, don’t know, happy to hear what others have to say.)

    HIV doesn’t proofread genetic copying, so more mutations are produced than in a mammalian system, true.

    But, in the mammalian system, that simply means the organism does a better job making sure each copy has the same/correct base pairs. In no way does this mechanism “look down the road” to see if the mutation is lethal or not, or will confer selective advantage or not.

    The overall comparison is between one system that is making mutant copies all of the time, many of them leading to dead ends, and another system that makes many fewer mutations, leading to many fewer opportunities for a mutation that confers benefit to “slip by”. How to model that comparison is beyond me.

    The conclusion that “HIV can not do so, because it hasn’t, but mammals can, because they have” seems to me to be overreaching. We think mammals have because of what we see in mammals today, not because we have watched it happen in mammals, or have such a detailed fossil record that records such details.

    So, the issue is, since this simple system cannot make a more significant change than is observed over the number of generations, does that mean there is something special about this simple system/organism so that it cannot change as other organisms have? Or does it suggest that if we can’t see the mechanism at work in a simple system, why do we propose it would work in a more complicated system? (Other than the fact that we can’t think of an alternative explanation for what we see).

    even the chemical engineers are getting into it.

    Not surprising, as I recall my chem engineering friends in college had quite extensive training in advanced applied math/differential equations compared to biology, biochem, or chemistry folk.

    It is much easier to view the world from a 19th century perspective and explain that feature A obviously comes from feature B. Such deductions are just a matter of structured imagination.
    Tougher is the 21st century view, when the processes that make such changes are known (or partially known) and the actual workings of the molecular chemistry must be accounted for with physical and chemical principles rather than using imagination.

    That is essentially the background for Behe and others. I don’t know the backgrounds of Brother Fikes and SPQR, but in my reading it does appear that people who give more credence to the ideas of ID are often from more micro-scale disciplines, such as biochem, chemistry, physics, mathematics who are dealing with what they are looking at, while those in biology are looking at the fossil record and population biology and see evidence there that is more compelling. Of course that is an observation from my point of view, but Schaefer’s book seems to document that. Of course, there is always the danger of a smart person in one field taking on another field, but the different perspective can be helpful, also.

    As far as angels on pins, you are absolutely correct. I’ll point out I wasn’t even considering archangels like Gabriel and Michael, they are way too big and have other things to do, anyway.

    nk- You are certainly correct in the understanding of myth as you describe. I think the connotation of what is meant when the word is used can range widely from the view I gave and the one you gave. I think in a literature or philosophy class the idea of myth would be respected as in your connotation, but in other contexts, especially if used in a phrase such as “only a myth”, the connotation is more along the lines of what I put forth. However the priest used it, you know as you were the one that was there.

    I’m getting close to the end of what I can contribute. It takes me a lot of time to organize my thoughts and express it, and even more time to type it.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  344. I’m getting close to the end of what I can contribute. It takes me a lot of time to organize my thoughts and express it, and even more time to type it.
    Comment by MD in Philly — 5/23/2009 @ 7:05 am

    So let’s take a break and talk about girls … or golf … or baseball. 😉

    nk (a1896a)

  345. Any plans for Memorial Day? When I lived in Chicago, the Stealth fighters would fly just outside my window and the F-15’s would make their approach over Addison Street on my way to my parents’ house. Now that I’m out in the sticks, getting to the Lakefront is a one-hour trip.

    nk (a1896a)

  346. MD in Philly
    When you take the drug away, the virus is in a new environment. So the factors that select for virus type are different, and favor reversion to wild type as predominant in the population.

    Mike K. related a rather tasty example of that principle in a story I wrote a while back about bacteria.

    Kennedy said he has worked with doctors who’d go to unusual means to replace the normal flora in patients who had their beneficial bacteria killed by broad-spectrum antibiotics.

    One doctor would take stool samples from incoming patients who had not taken antibiotics, and use them to culture E. coli populations in a kind of broth.

    “He would give this to patients whose colons were populated with highly resistive strains of bacteria, because everything else had been killed by antibiotics. He would mix this broth with the sensitive E. coli in a kind of milk malt to hide that he was giving them something awful,” Kennedy said.

    In about three days, the normal population of E. coli would return.

    “He had a theory that antibiotic resistance is an acquired characteristic, not a natural state, and the antibiotic-resistant bacteria had given up something,” Kennedy said. In other words, the antibiotic-sensitive bacteria were better adapted to living in an antibiotic-free environment, so they would crowd out the resistant bacteria.

    A doctor he knew would

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  347. Comment by nk — 5/22/2009 @ 9:07 pm

    I think the word you’re looking for is “fable”, as in Aesop’s Fables.

    AD - RtR/OS! (cc479c)

  348. Just ignore the words at the end of my last post “a doctor he knew would” – that was a fragment that I forgot to delete.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  349. Thank you, AD, but I don’t think so. Myths, in the way I defined them, create a society’s or culture’s, and the individuals’ therein, self-image (if not identity). Fables are sometimes instructive, always entertaining, but I tend to think that they are a byproduct of myths.

    nk (a1896a)

  350. Well, a semanticist I am not.
    Perhaps one will drop by and help us with this question?

    AD - RtR/OS! (cc479c)

  351. Let’s say we’re a bunch of semi-nomadic shepherds in a place nobody else wants somewhere in the Middle East. The Babylonians think we could make good servants so they conquer us. They introduce us to literacy and the first heroic epic, Gilgamesh. The Persians conquer the Babylonians and they like us too. They introduce us to monotheism. What myths could we cobble together, that would keep us together, from that?

    nk (a1896a)

  352. There are buses in Chicago which carry the sign “In the Beginning, Man created God”. As a lawyer, I have to admit that that is the overwhelming weight of the evidence.

    nk (a1896a)

  353. Myths can also perpetuate or reflect a culture’s values and morals.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  354. That’s why I call them “archetypal”, DRJ, no matter how else Jung may have meant it.

    nk (a1896a)

  355. And, if it matters, I am not an atheist. I love my God regardless if He created my ancestors or they created Him. Whether I love Him as much as He wants me to …?

    nk (a1896a)

  356. Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. — 5/23/2009 @ 9:39 am –

    This is an interesting comment and linked article, although I’m not impressed with the e coli doctor’s willingness to experiment on his patients without (apparently) informing them of the nature and risks of his experiment. But I’m more interested in the topic of prophylactic antibiotics. My experience has been that this topic divides research physicians into two camps:

    1. Those who believe they should be avoided because they are dangerous to the patient and general population, and

    2. Those who believe it is dangerous to start and stop antibiotic treatment, but continuous use of prophylactic antibiotics in appropriate patients can be safe and effective.

    Any thoughts?

    DRJ (2901e6)

  357. nk,

    You are so Greek.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  358. nk,

    You are so Greek.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/23/2009 @ 10:33 am

    That’s true. Only Greeks know how to make lamb edible. Stop by for grilled lamb chops and salad this afternoon.

    nk (a1896a)

  359. I’d love it if many of us lived in the same real neighborhood instead of the same virtual one. What great neighborhood parties and conversations we would have! As for lamb, I like it but it’s hard for me to barbecue. And barbecue is on the menu for today.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  360. I don’t know, some of the best lamb I’ve ever eaten was at this little Armenian restaurant…

    BTW, you don’t wear tennis shoes, do you?

    AD - RtR/OS! (cc479c)

  361. Costco. They come in a rack. I separate them into chops. Salt (stingy, lamb is itself a salty meat), pepper and oregano. Maximum heat (preheated) grill, three minutes to the side. Generous squeezings of lemon when I take them out and put them in the platter.

    nk (a1896a)

  362. Italics are areas where I think you are making the common mistake of thinking as a designer and drawing conclusions that really are not valid from the data.

    #353 — Comment by MD in Philly — 5/23/2009 @ 7:05 am

    Yes, I was thinking in terms of a coherent plan and you are quite right, there is no way the data can justify that.

    So, the issue is, since this simple system cannot make a more significant change than is observed over the number of generations, does that mean there is something special about this simple system/organism so that it cannot change as other organisms have?

    Great question.

    Or does it suggest that if we can’t see the mechanism at work in a simple system, why do we propose it would work in a more complicated system? (Other than the fact that we can’t think of an alternative explanation for what we see).

    Well said, and that is how I am starting to view evolution — regardless of model, I need proof that satisfies the principles of physics and chemistry.

    That is essentially the background for Behe and others.

    Books by Behe and G. Schroeder really disturbed me when I read them. Their ideas really struck a note with me. Not certain how much stock to place in them, but their questions (especially Behe’s) about the mode of evolution are totally justifiable. Schaefer is on my reading list now, thanks for that.

    I’m getting close to the end of what I can contribute.

    I think, if you had the time, you are just getting started ; )

    — thanks for the schoolin’ MD.

    Pons Asinorum (23bca2)

  363. DRJ
    But I’m more interested in the topic of prophylactic antibiotics. My experience has been that this topic divides research physicians into two camps:

    1. Those who believe they should be avoided because they are dangerous to the patient and general population, and

    2. Those who believe it is dangerous to start and stop antibiotic treatment, but continuous use of prophylactic antibiotics in appropriate patients can be safe and effective.

    IANAD, but I would think the decision must be made on a case-by-case basis. If a patient is unusually vulnerable to infection for some transitory disease or condition, such as undergoing a bone marrow transplant, I can see where prophylactic antibiotics could make sense.

    The real problem, as far as I understand it, is antibiotics have been given too frequently to patients who don’t have infections amenable to antibiotic treatment, just to make the patients (or parents, for child patients) feel they have been treated. That’s not really prophylactic treatment, it’s just bad medicine.

    Most infections don’t need antibiotics; the body takes care of them on its own. I’d say, well aware that at least one doctor is in the audience this weekend, that mild systemic infections be monitored to see if they resolve on their own, and antibiotics given if they persist or worsen. Local infections should be treated with antibiotics applied to the infection site.

    The real unknown is whether a conservative approach to antibiotics will allow a dangerous strain of microbe to take hold, that aggressive treatment could have stamped out. The lovely MRSA is one example.

    Luckily, a couple of biotech companies in my neck of the woods have developed rapid testing systems for such microbes. These are in early stages of deployment.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  364. Books by Behe and G. Schroeder really disturbed me when I read them. Their ideas really struck a note with me. Not certain how much stock to place in them, but their questions (especially Behe’s) about the mode of evolution are totally justifiable.

    Criticism that points out problems in evolutionary theory is healthy. It’s part of vigorous scientific debate. You propose a theory, people try to knock it down.

    Where the ID creationist folks go wrong is failing to subject their own ideas to the same test. Their MO is to convince people that evolution is false, and thereby people will by default accept intelligent design/creationism. That relieves the ID creationists of the burden of defending their own theory with scientific evidence.

    There is an asymmetry here; whole articles or books on evolution science are written with virtually no mention of ID creationism. But the vast majority of ID creation literature consists of attacks on evolution. If they tried to produce an article wholly consisting of evidence for earmarks of design, without attacks on evolution, the paucity of positive evidence would be laughably obvious.

    Bottom line: With imperfect knowledge, we can’t expect a perfect theory, but we can look for completeness of evidence, and in particular evidence that falsifies a theory. So a more valid test would be to compare the holes or problems in evolution theory with the holes or problems in ID creationism. Talk Origins is a good place for the latter.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  365. I’m aware of the concerns about overprescribing antibiotics but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider these issues. (It reminds me of the vaccine debate that focuses on a “one-size-fits-all” solution — everyone must be vaccinated! — when that’s not prudent given the immune status of some people.)

    The fact is antibiotics do a lot of good in the world and some people need more than others, or they need them more at some times than other times. So we need to do more than issue dicta that people should avoid using antibiotics and antimicrobials except when their doctors deem it appropriate. We need to understand when and how to use these products, something that a few research physicians are trying to do by thinking about the questions I asked above.

    Finally, I agree medical treatment should be considered on a case-by-case basis. But if you really feel that way, why tell anyone to avoid antibiotics? Either it really is something that varies with each person … or it’s not. My feeling is that it’s some of both, and that’s why I’m interested in what you think about the administration and protocols for prophylactic antibiotics.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  366. DRJ,
    Finally, I agree medical treatment should be considered on a case-by-case basis. But if you really feel that way, why tell anyone to avoid antibiotics? Either it really is something that varies with each person … or it’s not.

    I was describing what the default position should be. And in my understanding, the default position should be no antibiotics. If a patient meets certain indications, then prescribe antibiotics. That has always been the theory, but in practice the default was closer to the opposite.

    With vaccines, I think the default position should be to give them, aside from indicated exceptions. Vaccines have benefits such as herd immunity that do not apply to antibiotics.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  367. But what if the theories are wrong, Bradley?

    DRJ (2901e6)

  368. “…what if the theories are wrong…”
    You mean, like the Theory of Evolution?

    AD - RtR/OS! (cc479c)

  369. DRJ,
    But what if the theories are wrong, Bradley?

    We should be constantly re-evaluating those theories in light of new or previously ignored evidence. That is just good science. But it’s not a reason to avoid action with the best evidence available to us now.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  370. AD-RtR/OS! 1:37 p.m.

    Funny you said that. I was just typing this:

    Whenever I read the long discussion of comments as in this thread re evolution and ID, I look at the supporters of evolution and wonder, do they ever consider that that theory could be flat out wrong? Because it is so very possible, and plausible.

    Heh.

    Dana (aedf1d)

  371. It’s a reason to discuss why they are or are not effective, and that’s what I’m trying to do.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  372. I would also suggest that anyone who doubts the health benefits of vaccines to compare the major causes of death today with those 200 years ago. Among their benefits is the elimination of smallpox and the virtual elimination of polio.

    For those who forego vaccines, the results can be tragic.

    India seemed to be on the verge of eliminating polio last year, when it reported just 66 cases of the disease, down from 1600 in 2002. This year, however, things have gone horribly wrong with India’s polio elimination campaign; 325 cases have been reported already, and at least 23 of them have been fatal.

    What’s caught people’s attention is that 70% of those infected with polio this year are Muslim, even though Muslims account for only 13% of India’s population. What’s even stranger, and frightening, is the reason: some Muslims believe that the polio drops are part of a conspiracy to sterilize their children, and are refusing to let them be vaccinated.

    In all fairness, not all vaccines are created equal. Taking polio vaccine is a no-brainer. Chickenpox vaccine is a closer call.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  373. Dana,
    Whenever I read the long discussion of comments as in this thread re evolution and ID, I look at the supporters of evolution and wonder, do they ever consider that that theory could be flat out wrong? Because it is so very possible, and plausible.

    If the theory of evolution is flat-out wrong, then all the species on earth must have arisen in their present forms. How plausible do you think that is?

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  374. Bradley,

    Do vaccines save lives? Absolutely, but it shouldn’t be an either/or question. We aren’t sure why vaccines last longer in some people than in others and in America we’ve almost totally ignored the importance of Vitamin A, something that is included with vaccines in the WHO and UNICEF programs in third world children.

    Meanwhile, more and more people are being excluded as vaccine candidates because of other health issues. Thus, while I agree the herd approach to vaccines is vital, it also seems to be precluding a discussion of how well it works.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  375. DRJ,
    I agree vaccination is not an either/or example, which is why I mentioned the chickenpox vaccine. You have to compare risks and benefits.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  376. Bradley,

    I’m not trying to convert this to a vaccine debate because I know not many people share my concerns, but somehow I don’t think you would be happy if I said I decided not to vaccinate my kids at all because I decided the risks weren’t worth it.

    Anyway, my point is that what seems simple and obvious may not be the case, and I think that’s also true with prophylactic antibiotics. Whether we like it or not, we are going to see an increase in the use of antibiotics. So we would be better-served trying to understand why and how they work and when they are dangerous, rather than trying to stop their proliferation by trying to limit their use in products and hoping doctors will stop prescribing them.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  377. “…some Muslims believe that the polio drops are part of a conspiracy to sterilize their children, and are refusing to let them be vaccinated…”

    So, if we turn the PsyOps troops loose, we could virtually eliminate Muslims by turning them against vaccination, thereby destroying their future generations.
    If it was only that easy; but, who knows, it just might be.

    AD - RtR/OS! (cc479c)

  378. By the way, by “either/or” I wasn’t referring to whether or not to vaccinate. I was referring to whether vaccines are the answer or whether there are other answers that will work better.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  379. DRJ,
    So we would be better-served trying to understand why and how they work and when they are dangerous, rather than trying to stop their proliferation by trying to preclude their use in products and telling doctors to stop prescribing them.

    Who is telling doctors to stop prescribing antibiotics? Certainly not I. Let’s not make this a discussion of extremes.

    I’ve been prescribed and taken antibiotics when I’ve had persistent infections. But I don’t ask for them just because I’m sick and I think they might help me. I would rather recover on my own, all else being equal, and save the antibiotics for when they’re really needed, in a doctor’s opinion. That is best for me and best for those around me.

    What I want is for doctors to be more conservative in prescribing antibiotics. Don’t use them unless your examination of the patient gives you good reason to think antibiotics will work. That is simply good medicine.

    In emergencies, of course, exceptions can be made. Doctors may not have time with a critically ill patient who may or may not have a dangerous infection to make a proper diagnosis. In that case, prescribe the antibiotics.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  380. DRJ,
    I was referring to whether vaccines are the answer or whether there are other answers that will work better.

    Okay, that makes sense. I think that depends on the vaccine itself, and the patient’s own health. Someone who’s vulnerable to an immune reaction from the vaccine is well-advised to avoid it. In that case, the “other answers” could be more frequent checkups and attention to hygiene.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  381. DRJ – …it shouldn’t be an either/or question.

    But DRJ, how do you expect people to print slogans on signs and bumper stickers? Complicated discussions are a bummer for fundraising.

    And it should rhyme.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  382. Well, I’ve got to go for now to get my prescribed dose of a certain antibiotic.

    Have fun!

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  383. DRJ, if you are interested in what is the situation with antibiotics and MRO (multiply drug resistant organisms), here is a book by a colleague of mine at Urbana-Champaign that I highly recommend:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1555812988

    Seriously. It is worth your time. If we were real world friends (as opposed to electronic acquaintances), I would buy you a copy!

    Abigail is a real character, and she knows her stuff.

    Also, Stuart Levy at Tufts has long studied and written about this topic. Here is a good website for an organization he fronts:

    http://www.tufts.edu/med/apua/

    Eric Blair (262ccd)

  384. Apogee, you are right about the rhyming. Like my friend from graduate school, who would place his bumper sticker over ones that read “SPLIT WOOD, NOT ATOMS.”

    His bumper sticker?

    “MORE NUKES. LESS KOOKS.”

    Eric Blair (262ccd)

  385. And, there’s the old equal-opportunity offender:

    NUKE GAY WHALES!

    AD - RtR/OS! (cc479c)

  386. Eric,

    I ordered the book you recommended and I’ll look at the website, but I’m disheartened that the doctors I most respect are thinking about things I rarely hear or see discussed by other doctors and laymen. There seems to be a consensus that we should all accept certain premises about vaccines, antibiotics, and health care. The premises may be correct but I’m not convinced we should accept them so blindly.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  387. Something to keep in mind, DRJ, from Lord Kelvin:

    If you cannot explain what you do to the educated layman, you do not understand it yourself.

    I have been looking for the reference for this for a long, long time. I was told it was a Kelvinism.

    Doctors should be able to explain things to you. My doctor did, and he didn’t know I have training in genetics and microbiology. So he wasn’t showing off.

    There is a universe within us, as well as outside of us.

    Enjoy Abigail’s book. She is a remarkable woman, truly.

    Eric Blair (0793db)

  388. Eric,

    I appreciate and believe in the Kelvin quote. In addition, I think it ties in with my view of experts (like doctors, accountants, lawyers, etc.), which is at odds with the way some people view experts today.

    I think professionals should educate their patients/clients so they can make their own decisions but, in today’s world, most people are willing to let the professional make decisions for them. Too many professionals are willing to take on that role.

    Thus, while I especially admire medical professionals for their willingness to work in a difficult profession where ‘life and death decisions’ isn’t just a phrase, I think this is one area where they have failed. Doctors don’t educate anymore; Instead they decide and prescribe, and this has been true since the time doctors decided they have to limit the time they can spend with each patient.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  389. Well, I’m back from zymurgy treatment. That, and a delicious burger, were free due to a political bet I won with a friend. The subject was which president had the ill-fated Whip Inflation Now campaign, Ford or Carter.

    You never know when knowledge of trivia will pay off.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  390. DRJ,
    Suggested amendation:

    Doctors don’t educate anymore; Instead they decide and prescribe, and this has been true since the time doctors health insurers decided they have to limit the time they can spend with each patient.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  391. Bradley,

    Trivia is fun, isn’t it? Congratulations on making it pay off!

    As for your amendment, I agree insurance is the driving force in how physician practice today but I don’t agree it’s what initially caused doctors to change how they practice.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  392. Mostly, DRJ, I find that physicians are afraid of the three most important words in science:

    I don’t know.

    Patients want to know TRUTH, and we all know how well that worked out for Pilate.

    I would just add this: some of the more dangerous quacks in medicine listen very well. I agree that physicians need to have lower case loads and more listening skills. But that isn’t enough.

    But Dr. K. might have some opinions on this—he has seen the system evolve over time.

    Eric Blair (0793db)

  393. Eric,

    I don’t think it’s solely a function of time although that may have been the motivating factor. My concern is that doctors and lawyers are too willing to decide for people instead of educating them. It takes time and teaching ability to educate patients/clients: Doctors and lawyers must (a) gather and evaluate the history/facts, (b) analyze what illnesses/problems they suggest, (c) determine a range of solutions, (d) decide how best to explain this in a meaningful way, and (e) communicate a treatment plan/recommendations. It’s much easier to do (a) and skip to (e), and that’s what many doctors and lawyers do. I think it’s a mistake, not only for the patient/client but also for the professional.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  394. Eric Blair – People from Urbana-Champaign tend to be marvelous and wonderful people.

    JD (7165d5)

  395. JD,

    Did you know that the Indiana State pension funds are challenging the Chrysler sale? I think they are the only ones still fighting the fight.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  396. Yes, DRJ. I am proud of my adopted Hoosier brethren. I am, and always will be, an Illini 😉

    My 7 year old angel ends her nightly prayers with a “Go Illini” every night, even over the phone when I am on the road.

    JD (7165d5)

  397. JD,

    Is Indiana one of the main rivals of the Univ of Illinois, like OU and Texas?

    DRJ (2901e6)

  398. Since they hired that criminal Kelvin Samson, yes. Long-time rivals to begin with, and his perfidy elevated it substantially. We are a mixed household, as Better Half has been able to overcome her IU education. When our oldest was learning how to speak, I taught her to say IU pee-ewww, while fanning her nose. It still makes her giggle.

    JD (7165d5)

  399. In reality, IU has been an NAIA football program and Div 2 hoops for a while now, so the rivalry has resembled that of the rivalry between a hammer and a nail 😉

    JD (7165d5)

  400. DRJ, my new GP actually fits your model. We had a fun discussion about the utility of PSA measurements in men my age—pros and cons.

    My guess is that it is tough to gauge how to work with patients. I know that some hospitals are developing programs with health care professionals who explain what specialist MDs are saying.

    I still think that more time per patient—and a patient pool composed of people who understand relative risk, rather than absolutism (and junk science), is part of the answer.

    My opinion only.

    JD, as for UIUC, I have sent three undergraduate research students there to get their PhDs. I’m fond of the place. I’ll be going out there to give a seminar in the Fall.

    Eric Blair (0793db)

  401. My 7 year old angel ends her nightly prayers with a “Go Illini” every night, even over the phone when I am on the road.
    Comment by JD — 5/23/2009 @ 5:25 pm

    Now that is just sick. How dare you corrupt your own child that way!!! (Of course, it could be much worse, like “Go USC!”) You should teach her how to polka and sing “If you want to be a Badger…”
    Just kidding, of course (not the USC part 😉 )

    Well nk, I had to cut off my posting last night in order to go to the annual Greek Festival not far from here. I like lamb only 1 way, in a gyro. And they had great ones last night, the real thing on the spit. Many years since I had one that tasted that good.

    Phillies lost today. Their closer Lidge was perfect last season, not 1 blown save. This year he’s had three already.

    When I was young we lived near Dayton, Ohio, where Wright-Patterson AFB is. At that time there was no prohibition against breaking the sound barrier near a residential neighborhood, and every so often it would happen, causing all of the windows to shake. There was one area in town on the flight path of landing B-52’s. Watching one of those things fly over head a few hundred feet up was pretty intimidating.

    All of life, including medicine, is to some degree a cost-benefit analysis. I think there is no doubt that some vaccines are clearly the “right thing to do”, like polio, smallpox (which isn’t needed anymore-in general), diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. The United Kingdom and Sweden a few decades ago saw what happened when they cut back on pertussis. But I never had a HepB vaccine until the recombinant DNA one came out.

    As you could guess, I like explaining things to patients. The biggest problem is time. Even the way my own doctor interacts with me has drastically changed in the last 15 years. The second issue is what needs to be done to educate. I have always worked in impoverished areas, often with patients without a good high school education, forget college. So one needs to start assuming the patient knows nothing. Chairs of departments do not like what they see in billable fees from doctors who take time to discuss things with patients (been there, done that).

    During med school orientation, one youngish doc told the story of how he had always taken pride in the way he would take time to explain things to patients. Then he had as a patient in the hospital a friend of his who was a grad student in one of the biological sciences. After taking time to discuss and explain things in his usual manner, his friend looks at him and says, “Bennett, I have no idea what you’re talking about.” His pride took a big blow, but he learned he needed to work on how to explain things to a non-doctor. (It’s actually a harder challenge than you may think. As a med student you are working hard trying to learn medical jargon so you don’t look like an idiot. It seems the ones that learn those lessons best have the hardest time using “everyday English”.

    As I think I said on the ObamaCare thread, the problem with the medical system in the US is that so many different people/roles try to do things their own way without looking at the bigger context. For example, an HMO thinks it can save money (and do a better job?) taking care of patients with asthma by having a “disease management program” for asthmatics. Special mailings, educational sessions, nurse educators to answer questions, etc., etc., all independant from what the doctor does in the office, using resources not going back to the doctor’s practice. Years ago I had a patient with terrible asthma. Even on what she thought was a “good day” if an ER doc listened to her she likely would have gotten admitted. When she felt it was “getting bad” it meant you hoped she made it to the ER so they could intubate her before she died. I convinced her to come to the office once a week every week, and I would let her listen to my normal lungs then her wheezing lungs, I would do simple pulmonary tests on both of us and show here just how abnormal her tests were, I explained to her that people with really bad asthma “get used to it” and they don’t realize how sick they are, and how often they die because they don’t get help in time. So she came every week, she came to understand, she began taking her meds appropriately to prevent exacerbations, and she stayed out of the hospital.

    Now, what the HMO looked at and saw was that the average number of visits per patient was high for me- that I “was seeing patients too often”. So all said and done, a pateint is much better, I’ve saved the cost of an ICU admission evry 2-3 months, and the HMO and my business manager are not happy.

    “Prophylactic antibiotics”. Prophylaxis for what? There are consensus criteria and considerations for when and how prophylactic antibiotics should be given. Probably the main reason for antibiotic overuse is patients or parents of patients who think one is needed to be given for an acute illness. The doctor then second guesses him/her self to see if the case can be made to justify the use of an antibiotic or will there be a grudge match with the patient.

    I think some of the newer recommendations suggesting more limited antibiotic use are overdoing it, and at some point the pendulum will be closer to the middle.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  402. DRJ,
    Part of the problem is patients don’t know how to pick their doctors. At the risk shameless self-promotion, I wrote an article on the topic.

    As usual, Dr. Captain Mike K. was a major source.

    Kennedy suggests looking at the doctor’s staff as a way of gauging compassion and effectiveness. That means going to the doctor’s office and chatting with the receptionist or another staffer when they have some free time.

    “If they are rude, find out now,” Kennedy said.

    And for specialists . . .

    “The bottom line is, if you want to find a new doc, look up the qualifications and then ask a nurse who works at the hospital. They know.”

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  403. Ugh. Omitted the choosing your doctor article link.

    Here’s the missing link.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  404. Brother Fikes!! You’ve found the missing link!?!?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  405. BTW, you don’t wear tennis shoes, do you?

    Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 5/23/2009 @ 11:07 am

    I must have missed this earlier. Nope, never. Leather lace-ons and pull-on boots only. In any case, you need not trust my intentions that I would never sneak up on you. You would hear two parts of my anatomy clanking from half a mile away.

    nk (a1896a)

  406. Thank you, Bradley. As usual, your article is informative, interesting, and convincing. But it’s clear my ability to communicate my point on this subject is lacking, so I’m giving up.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  407. DRJ,
    Never give up! Never, never, never give up!

    (I suspect we are closer to agreement than appears on the surface).

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  408. DRJ,
    A good friend of mine came down with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the mid-90s. He went through horrible chemo, was well for a time, then the cancer returned. By that time, some revolutionary biotech treatments, namely Bexxar and Zevalin, were in clinical trials. His oncologist didn’t know about them, and said to take chemo again.

    With his life on the line, my friend did his own research and found out about these trials. Bottom line, my friend got into the Bexxar trial, and the cancer regressed. He is alive and healthy today.

    Now he also does some alternative stuff that is questionable as far as clinically proven efficacy, but he does that in addition to conventional medical therapy. Hard to argue with the results.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  409. I just found this MD in Philly comment in the filter, and I know anyone reading this thread will want to follow the link and read it.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  410. I’m confused. In #420 are you referring to the post at #412? The filter took some of my phrases as potentially inappropriate? You have a filter that won’t let in the mention of PAC-10 schools??

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  411. DRJ,
    MD in Philly said it well.

    Nuance is hard to explain to the general public. That is especially applies to articles in the MSM, which is prone to sensationalize findings. Editors are not excited by moderate, temperate articles.

    But to raise the alarm just a little, the use of antibiotics in livestock is also a concern. They are used not just to treat disease, but to promote growth.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  412. Comment by MD in Philly — 5/23/2009 @ 10:52 pm

    I fail to see how that’s a problem…

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  413. #375 — Comment by Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. — 5/23/2009 @ 1:16 pm

    Their [ID creationist folks] MO is to convince people that evolution is false, and thereby people will by default accept intelligent design/creationism.

    That is not my cup of tea either, as I do believe evolution occurred (in my humble opinion, the genetic evidence is overwhelming). Where I part company with the orthodoxy is the mechanism of evolution.

    If I found a motor in the desert somewhere, I would not even consider the possibility of a natural happenstance being responsible for its creation.

    However, when I find a motor (microscopic in size) – complete with a rotor, stator, drive shaft, two sets of bushings, and a universal joint connected to a propeller – embedded in the cellular structure of a flagellum…well, I am going to require an extremely good explanation of a natural process which would account for its creation.

    I know Darwinian Evolution occurs, but it appears lacking when asked to account for such structures. These types of structure are just too coherent (too me). It seems reasonable to ask about other processes and mechanisms which may have been employed by evolution. It seems reasonable (at least to me) to ask if there is a design embedded in evolution itself (and if so, who or what put it there).

    Perhaps natural selection by variation will ultimately prove adequate, perhaps not.

    In any event Brother Bradley, thank you for your comments, challenges, and observations; they have proven most thought-provoking.

    Full flagellum article here.

    Pons Asinorum (ad7985)

  414. PA, the evolution of the prokaryotic flagellum has been debated a long while. And I have to say, with more and more data, the “intermediate steps” are becoming apparent. Here is a fun YouTube video on the subject:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdwTwNPyR9w

    And here is an article from New Scientist:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19726431.900-uncovering-the-evolution-of-the-bacterial-flagellum.html

    Something to think about, anyway. The role that “intermediate steps” have in terms of fitness and selection pressure aren’t well known by the ID proponents.

    As for antibiotics in agriculture, it is a horrible situation. I think that they promote growth in livestock because the crowded livestock is a little bit sick all the time. And it is used for crops and orchards, as well—some orchards spray tetracycline to reduce some fruit disease!

    This reference is old, but should disturb people:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/99/9/5752.full

    Eric Blair (0793db)

  415. #425 — Comment by Eric Blair — 5/24/2009 @ 7:13 am

    Something to think about, anyway. The role that “intermediate steps” have in terms of fitness and selection pressure aren’t well known by the ID proponents.

    (jeez, I am still trying to follow the first set of links you presented — NOT easy reads)

    Interesting article from Newscience. I am truly heartened that science is seriously addressing the challenges presented by ID proponents — without courtrooms or rhetoric (well, sort-of anyway).

    The similarity of T3SS (constructed proteins and functions) and the flagellum proteins are quite compelling — and if I understand the article correctly — bode well for common descent. Something that some ID proponents believe is correct, like Behe.

    Still, the assembly of these proteins (geometry, charges, and whatever else needed to form precision -fit puzzle pieces) of “15 to 20 proteins” is not really answered. If one were to place these proteins in a jar and shake them up for 130 trillion years — 100 times the existence to the universe — the chances of it coming out correctly are roughly zero (my calc, not the article).

    So that leaves how — natural selection and random mutation or some other evolutionary path.

    We are still using the Feature A looks like Feature B (on a microscopic scale). Cannot science instead speak to the (non-random) mechanism that forced or at least allowed molecules X to force molecules Y to form proteins 1 through 200, which forced specific geometries and charges, which allowed…and so on. Then place all of that within the verifiable and reproducible realms of chemistry and physics. That is the mechanism of life evolution (in my humble view).

    It is heartening that science is trying to answer. When the mechanism — where molecules come together to form proteins that come together to form motors — is identified (in clear principles of physics and chemistry), then perhaps we will be in a better position to answer with a more complete authority.

    Thanks for the links EB—I do enjoy them (those that I can comprehend anyway). May the best theory win be proven correct 😉

    Have a great weekend everyone, its barbeque time for me (my wife is playing matchmaker with a couple of our friends – against my advice. I think I will just look for the beer).

    Pons Asinorum (ad7985)

  416. I’m rejuvenated and willing to try again.

    Most commenters have focused on convincing me of the danger of antibiotics but that’s not the issue to me (at least it wasn’t when I left my first antibiotic-related comment here). The genetic researchers I know tell me one way they find answers to what causes disease is to find outliers and compare them with healthy people. Thus, they find people and families where a certain disease occurs frequently and compare them with people and families that don’t have that disease. The answers, they tell me, often lie somewhere in between.

    It seems to me the same approach might be useful in thinking about antibiotics. Given the widespread use of antibiotics, I also think there are practical reasons why we need to think about this problem in a different way. Thus, my first comment focused on what I view as the outliers in a discussion on antibiotics:

    1. Those who believe antibiotics should be avoided because they are dangerous to the patient and general population, and

    2. Those who believe it is dangerous to start and stop antibiotic treatment, but continuous use of prophylactic antibiotics in appropriate patients is safe and effective.

    The benefit of the first view is that it follows an easy rule: Unless there is a clear, clinically-proven reason to use antibiotics, don’t. The downside is that, while this may be better for the general population, it will put at risk the lives of people who need antibiotics if their need is not initially clear and proven but it may be too late to help them by that time. Another problem with this view is that the antibiotic genie is out of the bottle since people want antibiotics and there will likely be some doctors who will prescribe them. There is the added complication that antibiotics are already in widespread use in commercial, agricultural and personal cleaning/hygiene products.

    The second view would be difficult to implement but it is supported by anecdotal evidence such as rheumatic fever patients who have successfully taken antibiotics for decades. This may be too small a sample to be determinative but it could still be instructive and, if it is, it suggests a different approach to antibiotic use.

    I don’t know the right questions, let alone the right answers. But I’m bothered by the fact that it seems there is a growing consensus regarding what the solution should be, even though we don’t really understand the problem.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  417. DRJ,
    Your comment on outliers hits on a universal problem in modern medicine, not just with antibiotics: It’s very efficient in dealing with common conditions, but rarities can fall through the cracks. So while the increased caution in prescribing antibiotics is generally a good thing for reducing the spread of antibiotic resistance, it puts the outlier patients in increased danger.

    The only answer I can think of is for patients to take a more active role in educating themselves, not only about choosing their doctors and medicine in general, but about their own particular ailments and state of health. Luckily, today there are many reliable sources of advice on the Internet, such as WebMD. Look for sites that follow the Health on the Net (HON) code.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  418. First, I think outliers can be very useful in rare conditions as well as common diseases. In fact, outliers may be the only hope for answers to orphan diseases since most of the sufferers are, by definition, outliers.

    Second, my comment wasn’t about outliers among people who need antibiotics. It was about how we decided that “the increased caution in prescribing antibiotics is generally a good thing for reducing the spread of antibiotic resistance.”

    Last, thank you for the HON link. I generally rely on medical journals and PubMed but it’s always good to consider other sources.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  419. DRJ,
    Increased caution in prescribing antibiotics was decided upon by the medical community because of the well-documented fact that use of antibiotics encourages growth of resistant strains. Here’s a primer from the FDA.

    There’s plenty of other examples in the medical literature that you can read as well as I can. That’s why such lovelies as MRSA are found in hospitals and so hard to get rid of. The selection pressure in such environments is greatest for resistant microbes. This is classic Darwinian theory in action.

    What happened to penicillin was a classic example of how resistant strains emerge. And the spread of antibiotic-resistant microbes threatens to outstrip our development of new ones. So, if we are more cautious in using antibiotics, we reduce the selection bias in favor of resistant strains.

    A related factor is that people sometimes stop taking antibiotics before they’re supposed to. They feel fine, and think they don’t need any more. But you have to kill all the microbes. If even a few are left behind, they’ll multiply. And typically, the few who are left are the most resistant to antibiotics. If they spread, they will be harder to get rid of the next time, and so on.

    I hope this comes close to answering your question.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  420. WARNING: Rant coming, not meant for any one here.

    Do any of you end up some times just wanting to scream to get the worlds attention and tell “them” to quite being stupid?

    Perhaps the problem is the thought that “a lie is half way around the world before the truth gets its shoes on” in combination with the exponential explosion of information and means to communicate it, whether or not it passes the BS smell test.

    Concern over inappropriate use of antibiotics was already an issue in the mind of doctors day in and day out when I entered medical school in 1980. Concern over inadequate pain management for patients was already an issue in 1980. End of life care as already an issue in 1980. You may have seen public service ads concerning people with diabetes needing to know their “A1c” results, and ask their doctor to do one if one hasn’t been done. (Meanwhile Medicare and HMO’s won’t pay if you order one more than they like in a year). Long term management of diabetes with HgbA1c values has been standard since early to mid-80’s. Any doctor not ordering them should have their license taken away. Any patient who doesn’t know the importance after 1 year of living with diabetes should be slapped.

    As Brother Fikes mentioned above, the issues are more complex than can be explained in a 15 second sound bite, so we get 20 years of idiotic sound bites and flashy headlines to get attention. Meanwhile, forces outside of the doctors control constantly second guess the doctor. I don’t mind second guessing if it is by someone smarter and more knowledgeable than I for the good of a patient. I don’t like it one bit when it is someone with no health care training reading to me off of a policy and procedures page from the HMO’s manual!!!

    Practicing physicians have little say in determining what “the agenda” of medicine is or ought to be. The message that gets put out is the agenda of some agency, business, or special interest group, that includes the FDA, the CDC, HHS, state dept’s of welfare, insurance companies. The !^$%&* insurance company pushes HgbA1c tests because they think a chart audit of a doctor’s practice on the number of HgbA1c tests done can be used to tell the doctors to shape up, if necessary, can be used to “validate” “quality care” to regulating agencies, and can be used to tell doctors “you don’t need any more resources or time allowance for taking care of your patients, you are meeting the national standards.” By all means take action that professionals are doing a good job at what they are supposed to do, but if you think you can monitor medical care like Quality Control in a manufacturing plant you’re being deceived or are deceiving yourself.

    One last thing while in rant mode. While it may be popular to dump on drug manufacturers, and people want to keep medical costs down, and there is belief among some that Teh One is about to make good on his promise that “the sick will be healed”, people of that mindset better stop and think one d— second. I am sure the average person has no idea what has been involved in developing drugs for HIV. The first protease inhibitor (PI) drug that went into testing required a synthesis process of 25 or so steps. That’s probably at least 15 more steps than anything I did in making laboratory quantities of organic chemicals back in the day. If you want to put dollar figures on how much that cost per person treated, recognizing the drug was not going to cure that person or even control the disease, but would “only prolong” the life at the expense of huge medical costs, you would have a real hard time justifying it as a priority for a national health service. In fact, even when AZT came out, one of my attendings thought strongly that drugs for the treatment of HIV would not be developed, that they would be too expensive to make, too expensive for insurers to pay for, too expensive for government to pick up the tab. And this was a relatively young, liberal, east coast professional who would have been disowned by his family (disowned by himself, even!) for even thinking about voting for a “R”-word. In other words, he was not biased because of the patient population. He told me this because he thought I was foolish if I wanted to learn about the new drugs coming out and that I would be wasting my time.

    Well, we know what happened. Motivated by 1) the scientific challenge, 2) the opportunity for business, and 3) the threat of attack of one kind or another by activists, the effort was made and the drugs have come. Take away motive #2 and only two are left. If you don’t want health care policy determined by which special interest group yells the loudest and is most powerful, take away #3 also. Motivation #1 alone would actually do a lot as far as doctors are concerned, but as they say, “it doesn’t pay the bills”.

    Rant over.

    Back to antibiotics. What I am about to say comes from my knowledge as a practicing physician who has rubbed shoulders with infection control experts. I expect errors to be corrected as necessary by Eric or others.

    I always like to start at the foundation for my own sake, so please bear with me.

    Life often has an element of cost/benefit or risk/benefit to it. Sometimes it is between getting coffee from the cart in front of your office or at the Starbuck’s on the corner. But sometimes it is as immediate as driving a car down a mountain when the brakes go out. You will make a choice, either to do something immediately, like run your car into the side of the hill to stop by your choice, or keep steering, hoping you will find a better opportunity to stop before you crash.

    Antibiotics should be given when there is a “good reason”. I don’t think “good reasons” are limited to immediate life threatening conditions, neither should they be given because “maybe it will help, I can afford it, I have samples”. A child with a fever, crying from a painful ear, with a red bulging ear drum should get antibiotics now. A child with the sniffles who is not their normal self and an ear drum that has fluid behind it but no redness, doesn’t need antibiotics today. Hopefully parent of child #1 agrees, and parent of child # agrees with the doctor to not give abx. as well.

    College student diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis. Close contacts should receive prophylactic antibiotics because the illness can be fatal even if diagnosed early. Not everyone on campus should get prophylaxis because for most the risk of a reaction to the med is worse than the risk of illness, not even bringing into play the factors of drug resistance in the community.

    Second, not all antibiotics are created equal. Some antibiotics kill many different organisms, but some organisms can develop resistance. Other antibiotics kill what they kill, but it is only a selection of bacteria, and resistance to the drug per-se doesn’t occur.

    Generally the idea is to choose a drug that is expected to treat the given infection, but not any others as possible. The exception to the rule is when treating someone seriously ill and you need to use something that will work no matter what the bug is, until tests can make your choice more streamlined.

    Penicillin remains a very good medication for a limited number of bacteria. If these bacteria haven’t developed resistance to PCN by now, we don’t expect them to. So, use in dental infections and strep throat/rheumatic fever prophylaxis should not be expected to impact MRO’s. Other medications that may be used for extended periods, like doxycycline of miniycline for acne, do not have a real broad spectrum to begin with and the bugs they kill generally don’t develop resistance. Both Clindamycin and erythromycin topically are not expected to select for resistant bugs. The overuse of “broad spectrum” antibiotics like cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones are generally the biggest concerns.

    Lots of other specific considerations…

    While we’re at it, my concern in the food industry is the use of growth hormone and similar things and whether they have impact on the developing child (especially if they have a role in the development of secondary sex characteristics at too young of an age).

    As Brother Fikes said, an incomplete course of antibiotics is what “best” selects for resistance, especially in the case of TB.

    One last thing, back to the evolution issue. Brother Fikes wrote:
    The selection pressure in such environments is greatest for resistant microbes. This is classic Darwinian theory in action.

    Yes and no. I don’t think you will find many scientifically trained ID proponents disagree with you at all. When you put that up as evidence against ID you either have a fundamental difference of opinion which is not made clear but needs to be, don’t understand what ID people are saying, or are setting up a straw man. This is an issue that was raised before concerning what may be called “microevolution” and “macroevolution”. These are not terms that originated with ID folk (as far as I am aware of), but by Professor Ernst Mayr, a prominent evolutionist. As you will note in my discourse on HIV, I was happy to explain how the observed behavior of drug resistance in HIV fits with Evolutionary Theory. My question is whether evolving from HIV to something other than HIV is the kind of thing that happens and is explained under standard evolutionary theory and within a time frame that is within expected parameters, or if it doesn’t over an expected time period, why not? And if why not, is that a specific instance or does it suggest a more generalizable concern.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  421. Bradley and MD in Philly,

    Thank you both for your comments, and I certainly don’t view yours as a rant, MD in Philly.

    Do you believe you are in agreement on this topic? My reading of your comments suggests that while you have many areas where you agree, there are a few areas where you don’t — such as whether different antibiotics are equally prone to drug resistance. It’s those areas that interest me.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  422. Bradley and MD in Philly –
    Just who the hell do you two think you are? Patterico has a family, with kids to feed. You can’t just show up here with these well reasoned and intelligent comments that actually address each other’s arguments.

    Neither of you have mentioned Bush or Cheney in the entire thread, and don’t think I haven’t noticed the lack of ad-homonym attacks.

    Patterico needs hits, and you two aren’t cutting it – you need to think more like the ‘reality show based community’.

    Rant over.

    I’ve been reading most of the comments, although my knowledge of this area is practically non-existent, I do have a few questions.

    1) What would constitute an ‘evolutionary’ jump? Could it consist of reptile-reptile with physical changes, or would it necessarily be something like reptile-mammal (i.e. alligator – dolphin).

    2) Is there any instance where something like this has happened?

    3) Is ID falsifiable? Is there a conceivable mechanism that would positively identify an intelligent design in a way that excludes the complexity of current conditions. The reason that I ask this is that I am a free marketer, and the example of Adam Smith’s invisible hand comes to mind regarding how complex systems not only can function without central control, but will function despite such control, and function differently than the intended control hierarchy.

    These ideas are not simple, and I respect everyone who has an honest and thoughtful opinion. Thanks to all who contribute.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  423. DRJ-
    Thank you for understanding it certainly wasn’t a rant at you. But it came with a “ranting attitude”.

    In my mind the subject is so large that I’m not sure I can get a grip on exactly what the issue is for you. If the question is, “Are antibiotics sometimes used inappropriately, and that can be bad not just for the individual patient but in developing resistant organisms for all?”, my answer is yes, certainly. Just exactly what details one wants to bring in after that would be the issue.

    Different antibiotics work in different ways and against different types of bacteria. Some work against the cell wall, others go inside and stop different aspects of the internal machinery. Just as the case with anti-HIV drugs, sometimes resistance can happen quickly, other times not so.

    I can say, “Riding in a car is dangerous, because cars sometimes have accidents”. Now that statement is true, but in another way it doesn’t by itself help you decide that:
    1) you better not ride in a subcompact car with a drunk driver doing 120 mph and without your seat belt
    2) you will probably do fine in an SUV going the speed limit driven by someone who has been a limo driver for 20 years without an accident.

    I imagine the articles linked by Eric will be helpful, as is WebMD. I also suggest the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland clinic websites.

    The problem with looking things up yourself is the issue of “a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing”. I had an interesting rash break out on my fingertips as a 2nd year med student. Now you need to understand that a 2nd year med student is a walking time bomb of hypochondria. One reads about all kinds of diseases and syndromes and what not, but you have zero perspective or context, so people are always asking themselves, “do I have these symptoms? could I have that? etc., etc.

    So I called and made an appointment at student health, saw a dermatologist, and mentioned that Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever was the only illness I knew that had a rash that started at the end of the extremities and spread inward. Now, I had never seen the rash of RMSF, not even sure if I had seen a picture at that time. In a subdued monotone she said, “Well, that’s an interesting differential diagnosis…” (It wasn’t)

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  424. Apogee-

    I’d love to come back with a good retort, but it’s late.

    PPs is a “kinder, gentler, blog site, one of a thousand points of light among the cyber constellations…

    I think ID is not strictly falsifiable, but it is “undermine-able”. The question would be whether ID is the best explanation of something whether it is strictly falsifiable or not. The argument I make (not original) above is that evolution is also logically not strictly falsifiable. No matter what theory, the fact is we are talking about how something did happen in the past. Hypotheses that can be put into controlled tests are much more likely to be falsifiable. If one can find good evidence in real time of how something in the past could have occurred or couldn’t have occurred, you find strength for the inference you make. If I could make a perfect mathematical model for evolution, run it on a supercomputer for the equivalent of 4 billion years, and nothing shows up, that does not prove evolution isn’t responsible for the diversity of life as we see it, it just means we don’t have the supporting evidence. I don’t think evolutionary theory is strictly falsifiable either.

    Evolutionary “hops” happen all of the time with examples shown as above. I am not sure how one would define an evolutionary “jump”. Reptile to reptile with significant physical changes could be a jump Not something as simple as a slightly different color pattern. From advanced reptile to advanced mammal is something I don’t think anyone would expect.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  425. MD,

    Part of what bothers me is that we have a tendency toward all-or-nothing recommendations when it comes to medicine. I know it’s good to communicate to the public and health care professionals a warning about antibiotics, but it bothers me when blanket statements become accepted wisdom so quickly. I fear this will cause us to unnecessarily limit the use of safe (or safer) antibiotics in home and personal products, agriculture, and medicine.

    Let’s face it. America has a history of overdoing things when it comes to science and the public. At various times, we’ve been told we can’t eat salt, milk, eggs, meat, and tuna; not to drink coffee or alcohol; and to avoid sunlight because of the danger of sunburns. This was well-intentioned advice based on valid concerns, but sometimes we leap to overbroad and even bad conclusions. I’m concerned we may be doing the same thing with blanket warnings about all antibiotics.

    DRJ (2901e6)

  426. MD in Philly – Thanks for the reply, and yes, it’s late and I appreciate your response.

    My reason for bringing up falsifiability is that there seems to be many current social disputes which involve large complex systems that are not ultimately falsifiable, and this commonality seemed interesting.

    I understand that this is going beyond the scope of the thread, but it occurred to me that one could switch the topic from ‘Evolution’ to ‘Global Warming’ and the tenor of the arguments (and the proponents of each) wouldn’t change that much. While I believe differently, a case could be made that Economics is also not ultimately falsifiable, although more ‘controlled’ experiments are observable than from the other two.

    Is there a common logical error in human explanations for complex events that causes ‘sides’ to form? Would the answer to that question possibly also help to explain the machinations of the complex events themselves?

    Thanks for an interesting discussion.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  427. DRJ-

    I agree. If lawyers could litigate against journalistic malpractice it would help. People forget (or don’t care) that with freedom comes responsibility.

    Whether one respects the Bible or not, I think it is interesting that not being truthful (bearing false witness) is in the same list as murder.

    Apogee, I’m not sure if it is an error in logic per se as much as it is simply wanting our own way rather than listen. Errors in logic abound. I have often said my sophomore speech teacher would have to fail much of public discourse on the basis of shoddy arguments. I agree that many things are not (at least easily) falsifiable. I think we could, though, do a much better job at making explicit the assumptions that are often implicit in our reasoning and making it clear how we get to the opinions we have.

    An example I heard just a few days ago was a clip of Keith Olbermann raging against Dick Cheney. At one point he said something like, “Even if the things he says are factually true, he is still wrong!” As I understand it, that is an absurd comment. It is the kind of comment that makes me wonder if the person really believes what they are saying or are just pontificating for effect. Had he said, “Even if he is right about the particular facts, I disagree (or even “he is wrong”) with the conclusions he comes to”, he would at least be talking sense. But when you are talking sense, you are inviting logical thought, not fueling opinion.

    I think looking at the unintended consequences of things would be helpful, but that’s “no fun” because it keeps one more humble and less strident. For example, learning that converting US corn from food use to ethanol starts a chain of events which leads to riots in Mexico over food prices and the clearing of more rain forest in S. America should cause one to reconsider if some policies that seemed to be “no-brainers” because it seemed obvious are actually “no-brainers” because no thought went into them.

    When something is not falsifiable, you need to look at what the default position is and ask if there is enough (hard, convincing) evidence to justify a change. As far as global warming goes, I remember when some of the same people were warning about another mini-ice age about 35 years ago. Even without looking at the “evidence”, I find it hard to believe than we can predict such things with enough certainty to justify major changes in policy and the economy that have real effects right now. A friend of mine, university professor and more conservative than liberal, has taken the position that “what’s wrong with playing it safe” and take action to deal with CO2. Well, the problem with that approach is you are assuming there is no consequence with “playing it safe”. That is just not true. The question is not, “Don’t you care about the planet?”, but rather, “Is this a reasonable approach to taking care of the planet”. Most conservatives think clean air to breathe and water to drink is a good idea, so argument from shared belief instead of polemics would be helpful if anyone really wants a discussion.

    Speaking of polemics, I realize most of what I said above could benefit from the phrase, “In my opinion.” But I think we understand that is what it is anyway.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  428. DRJ-

    I agree. If lawyers could litigate against journalistic malpractice it would help. People forget (or don’t care) that with freedom comes responsibility.

    Whether one respects the Bible or not, I think it is interesting that not being truthful (bearing false witness) is in the same list as murder.

    Apogee, I’m not sure if it is an error in logic per se as much as it is simply wanting our own way rather than listen. Errors in logic abound. I have often said my sophomore speech teacher would have to fail much of public discourse on the basis of shoddy arguments. I agree that many things are not (at least easily) falsifiable. I think we could, though, do a much better job at making explicit the assumptions that are often implicit in our reasoning and making it clear how we get to the opinions we have.

    An example I heard just a few days ago was a clip of Keith Olbermann raging against Dick Cheney. At one point he said something like, “Even if the things he says are factually true, he is still wrong!” As I understand it, that is an absurd comment. It is the kind of comment that makes me wonder if the person really believes what they are saying or are just pontificating for effect. Had he said, “Even if he is right about the particular facts, I disagree (or even “he is wrong”) with the conclusions he comes to”, he would at least be talking sense. But when you are talking sense, you are inviting logical thought, not fueling opinion.

    I think looking at the unintended consequences of things would be helpful, but that’s “no fun” because it keeps one more humble and less strident. For example, learning that converting US corn from food use to ethanol starts a chain of events which leads to riots in Mexico over food prices and the clearing of more rain forest in S. America should cause one to reconsider if some policies that seemed to be “no-brainers” because it seemed obvious are actually “no-brainers” because no thought went into them.

    When something is not falsifiable, you need to look at what the default position is and ask if there is enough (hard, convincing) evidence to justify a change. As far as global warming goes, I remember when some of the same people were warning about another mini-ice age about 35 years ago. Even without looking at the “evidence”, I find it hard to believe than we can predict such things with enough certainty to justify major changes in policy and the economy that have real effects right now. A friend of mine, university professor and more conservative than liberal, has taken the position that “what’s wrong with playing it safe” and take action to deal with CO2. Well, the problem with that approach is you are assuming there is no consequence with “playing it safe”. That is just not true. The question is not, “Don’t you care about the planet?”, but rather, “Is this a reasonable approach to taking care of the planet”. Most conservatives think clean air to breath and water to drink is a good idea, so argument from shared belief instead of polemics would be helpful if anyone really wants a discussion.

    Speaking of polemics, I realize most of what I said above could benefit from the phrase, “In my opinion.” But I think we understand thatis what it is anyway.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  429. sorry for double post, my bad

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  430. Fascinating posts! This is the kind of sophisticated discussion the MSM journosaurs say only they can handle, because it would never appear on a mere crab grass blog.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  431. Comment by Apogee — 5/24/2009 @ 9:30 pm

    From one layman to another 😉

    1) What would constitute an ‘evolutionary’ jump? Could it consist of reptile-reptile with physical changes, or would it necessarily be something like reptile-mammal (i.e. alligator – dolphin).

    At first, perhaps it was anatomical features that were related but different in similar as well as different organisms. Maybe today one can consider a “change” as a persistent modification in the genome (perhaps a single molecule). Given enough small discrete changes over time, a species begins to differentiate — a “jump”.

    The language is not as precise as say physics or chemistry. Maybe that is where science should begin — by defining precisely what constitutes an evolutionary “change” or “jump”.

    2) Is there any instance where something like this has happened?

    Not sure if this is what you had in mind, but the Archaeopteryx fossils show a species that is in between a bird and reptile (a missing link, which should constitute an evolutionary jump by any measure).

    3) Is ID falsifiable? Is there a conceivable mechanism that would positively identify an intelligent design in a way that excludes the complexity of current conditions. The reason that I ask this is that I am a free marketer, and the example of Adam Smith’s invisible hand comes to mind regarding how complex systems not only can function without central control, but will function despite such control, and function differently than the intended control hierarchy.

    Not sure if ID is falsifiable, but here are three ideas in principle, although these proofs may be even more difficult in practice:

    a) Proof that God does not exist — game over for ID.

    b) Entropy budget. If entropy is like a river, then life is like eddies on that river. Understand the physical nature of what causes an eddy (the chemistry), then measure the entropy of both. If life is less, then ID is lost because the complexity of life is derived from a more complex natural system or process (of course, one could argue that that system or process is ID, but this would no longer be in the realm of biology, but in chemistry or physics which has to deal with those ideas anyway).

    c) Solve the origin of life, then depending on the principles involved in the formation of life, ID may prove insufficient.

    Not certain if any theory can be proven falsifiable in an absolute sense. For example take socialism (please!). Some believe it is a superior form of economy for a modern nation state, despite empirical evidence to the contrary.

    Pons Asinorum (03ef30)

  432. PA,
    Some fascinating indirect evidence for evolution comes from how Darwinian concepts of mutation and selection are applied to make chemicals such as enzymes and even software.

    One of the advantages of the Darwinian method is that you can produce things that work in ways you don’t understand. You just select for the function, and you don’t need to know how it works. It violates common sense that you can throw together things randomly and get useful products, but that’s what happens.

    As far as your other suggestions for proving evolution . ..

    a) Proof that god does not exist is impossible. You can always postulate a deity that makes the world appear just as it does.

    b) The entropy budget question is not difficult. Life gets its energy ultimately from the sun, and far more energy has been radiated on the earth than has been used by living things. So there’s no Second Law of Thermodynamics violation. Even in the inanimate sphere, we see order arising in things such as hurricanes, from chaotic elements. This occurs by a combination of natural laws and energy input.

    c) Solving the origin of life wouldn’t convince ID creationists. They’d say (as they do now) that these are lab experiments.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  433. Brother Fikes,

    1. I’m not sure that adding up all of the energy the sun has radiated on the earth makes the entropy question a non-issue. I think your claim is analogous to me saying that Microsoft has projected incredible amounts of computer technology across the United States, so there is no reason for my computer to run slow.

    Also, a chemical reaction does not take place simply because the final state is thermodynamically preferred. There is the issue of activation energy, otherwise every form of dry carbon would undergo spontaneously combustion.

    AP, I think you know more about thermodynamics than Brother Fikes or I, looking for your follow up.

    2. I submit to the gallery the following question: Is Brother Fikes’ point “c” a reasonable extrapolation of “what ID would say”, especially as has been discussed on this thread?

    The beginning of the discussion is: “ID is not science, evolutionary theory is”.

    Counterpoint is: yes, it is hard to falsify ID, but it is also hard to falsify evolutionary theory. If you want strict falsifiability, it may take real time experiments demonstrating a reproducible result.

    Conclusion: experimental evidence showing origin of life and then development of presumed “irreducibly complex” structures without specific manipulation would not necessarily by logic prove ID to be wrong, but in effect would undo the case for ID.

    I say the more experimental evidence for or against ID or evolution the better. Far superior to looking at snapshots of the past, I say.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  434. I think we should revisit this question 47 million years from now.

    nk (e71733)

  435. MD, you equate evolution and ID in terms of falsifiability but you do not identify any falsifiable hypotheses of ID.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  436. Actually PA, I don’t think proving God doesn’t exist has any direct bearing on ID.

    All ID is saying is there are structures and systems on the chemical and cellular level that display a degree of order and informational content, that if we saw a macroscopic object of the same degree of order and informational content, we would not immediately conclude the object came into being by the mechanisms of currently understood “natural” phenomena.

    As a matter of logic, as has been pointed out, all ID says is, “This is complex, I’m not sure if we can explain it”. If it can be demonstrated that such things happen under the conditions of nature as we know it, fine. If it cannot be explained by the laws of nature as we know it, perhaps there is a property of nature that we have yet to understand. Hydrogen bonding makes water behave in all kinds of ways that would have never been expected looking at other chemical systems. Maybe there is a carbon-carbon interaction we haven’t deduced that makes the formation of complicated interrelated structures as “easy as rolling down hill”.

    The materialist does the knee jerk, “Of course we can explain it by the laws of nature, it exists, the laws of nature are all we have to explain it, so the laws of nature must explain it!” That is not only implicitly making the materialist assumption (which is fine, as long as it is understood what one is doing), but an arrogant assumption at that, presuming there are no basic laws of nature yet to be understood.

    Now, let me point out that I realize I am still primarily discussing simply the logical framework of the discussion. I haven’t said one thing about the details of fact on precursors to flagella. That is not because I plan on dodging it, but because I don’t want the discussion hopping from one topic to another like chasing a (white) rabbit.

    Yes, Archaeopteryx, the purported link between reptiles and birds. We have the echidna and the platypus. My (very) brief research tells me that these egg-laying mammals that have issues with controlling body temperature are not links between anything, but an “early” form of mammal that persisted with the current characteristics. Now it would be interesting to see why arch. is considered a “link” while platy is considered an end unto himself. But I won’t, because the Caltech boys and their enzymology per Brother Fikes is more up my alley.

    “If” there is a God, the platypus must show He (or “She”) has a sense of humor.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  437. Well-said, SPQR.

    MD in Philly
    I’ve mentioned a few examples of how evolutionary theory could have been falsified, such as a lack of concordance between the fossil record and biochemical evidence. But none have succeeded.

    In fact, some creationists have claimed to have falsified evolutionary theory on supposed clashes with biochemical evidence. Duane Gish is a good example.

    If we look at certain proteins, yes, man then — it can be assumed that man is more closely related to a chimpanzee than other things. But on the other hand, if you look at other certain proteins, you’ll find that man is more closely related to a bullfrog than he is a chimpanzee. If you focus your attention on other proteins, you’ll find that man is more closely related to a chicken than he is to a chimpanzee.

    Gish’s example would have been deadly to evolutionary theory. But it was not accurate.

    So where are the falsifiable hypotheses of ID?

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  438. MP in Philly,
    As a matter of logic, as has been pointed out, all ID says is, “This is complex, I’m not sure if we can explain it”.

    That’s not a theory.

    All ID is saying is there are structures and systems on the chemical and cellular level that display a degree of order and informational content, that if we saw a macroscopic object of the same degree of order and informational content, we would not immediately conclude the object came into being by the mechanisms of currently understood “natural” phenomena.

    ID says these were made by some intelligent designer.

    So what are the evidences of intelligent manufacture? (Besides, “it’s complex), which is not an explanation).
    Who were the designers?
    How long ago did they live?
    What was their purpose?
    How intelligent were they?

    Just a few questions for ID advocates to ponder.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  439. MD in Philly,
    You keep talking about “the materialist,” in a somewhat derogatory, caricatured way. Isn’t science supposed to deal with the material world? Is there some other category besides “the materialist” you think provides a superior explanation?

    The materialist does the knee jerk, “Of course we can explain it by the laws of nature, it exists, the laws of nature are all we have to explain it, so the laws of nature must explain it!” That is not only implicitly making the materialist assumption (which is fine, as long as it is understood what one is doing), but an arrogant assumption at that, presuming there are no basic laws of nature yet to be understood.

    Who is saying there are no basic laws of nature yet to be understood?

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  440. SPQR-

    My point is, as I think I have clearly said several times, and that I should like to stop having to repeat so I can follow on some of your links, is not that ID is as clean a theory as conservation of mass, but that when given examples of findings that would be “falsifiable” of evolutionary theory as Brother Fikes did, I don’t think those findings would be falsifying at all, just inviting an alternative interpretation (see #317).

    I am not claiming that ID is more readily amenable to “classic scientific method of hypothesis and experimentation”, I am suggesting that Evolutionary theory, dependent upon looking at historical evidence and current observation, also has very little basis on the “classic scientific method of hypothesis and experimentation” as well.

    Please also see my discussion of this issue at # 435, I am happy to have your critique of my reasoning.

    nk- Good suggestion, but I think 47 million years from now it won’t be necessary. What should have been necessary, but which I didn’t do, was to buy some of the gyro meat fresh off of the spit to freeze and enjoy later. Otherwise, I need to wait a year or drive all the way to the other side of Philly to get the real thing…

    Now I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to check on the Caltech folks, curfew being imposed.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  441. MD in Philly,
    Now it would be interesting to see why arch. is considered a “link” while platy is considered an end unto himself. But I won’t, because the Caltech boys and their enzymology per Brother Fikes is more up my alley.

    Let’s see. You have archeopteryx, a fossil taken millions of years ago, about the time birds are first found in the fossil record, that shows a mix of reptilian traits with avian ones, not present in modern birds. There is nothing like it alive today. It is extinct.

    Then you have a living organism that displays primitive traits, It’s alive today, but shows characteristics also found in the fossil record, mixing modern-day reptilian traits with mammalian ones. It’s also found in the most isolated of continents, where such a remnant would be more likely to survive.

    You reason that the platypus is a survival from that time of transition that didn’t change much, while Archeopteryx didn’t survive. And you further conclude that the only reason we don’t have many more such intermediates is because most of them are extinct, in fact, the vast majority of species found in the fossil record.

    The lines between most classes of animals, in other words, can be cleanly drawn because those troubling intermediates are dead.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  442. This is absolutely not directed at anyone here, but I thought it was interesting info. It’s a little pedestrian, but the stuff on how the words are defined gave me an interesting idea on how to frame my own arguments. Go to about 3:40 in the audio for arguments on “falsifiability.” How to argue with a Creationist.

    carlitos (a0089e)

  443. Thanks, Carlitos.

    I’m still waiting for the scientific evidence of an intelligent designer of life.

    If all ID means, as MD in Philly states, that there are things too complex for us to explain, then it needs another name.

    As for the derogatory references to “materialists”, I was reminded of the Wedge Document. Whether he realizes it or not, MD in Philly is echoing its philosophy.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  444. What should have been necessary, but which I didn’t do, was to buy some of the gyro meat fresh off of the spit to freeze and enjoy later.

    You could experiment on your grill. Slices off a leg of lamb with a rub of salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, and fennel and/or thyme to start? Maybe a little grated orange peel? What other flavors did your palate hint at?

    nk (e71733)

  445. Before I go to bed, I appeal to the gallery.

    For the moment I don’t care what Gish, Fish, Einstein, or Feinstein has said. Brother Fikes you gave me examples of findings that you thought would be falsifiable results for evolutionary theory. I gave a reply how I thought those would not be falsifying at all, simply inviting an alternative explanation. You have not replied on that point other than to say you would think about it.

    I do not plan to try over and over again to make points which you do not acknowledge. To show you understand what I am saying, and showing how you disagree, I will respond to.

    If you think I am using “materialist” in a snide way, that is your interpretation. In the largest scope of things we are talking about what we can know, what we can know, how we know, and the limits of knowledge. I have pointed this out before.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  446. MD in Philly,
    The materialist does the knee jerk, “Of course we can explain it by the laws of nature, it exists, the laws of nature are all we have to explain it, so the laws of nature must explain it!”

    So that wasn’t meant in a snide way? As a materialist, I am relieved.

    But you seem to think there’s a better way of thinking about these issues than in a “materialist” way. What would you call it? Why don’t you explain your superior alternative to materialism, and how it can help elucidate this scientific discussion?

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  447. nk, do you have those little metal thingies to re-warm the lamb meat in the fire? I can’t explain it, but it’s two opposable metal half-boxes on long ton-like gripper things. One of my best friends moved out of Chicago, and the thing he misses most is “real gyros.”

    carlitos (a0089e)

  448. MD, I find this comment to be the core issue I have with you: “I am not claiming that ID is more readily amenable to “classic scientific method of hypothesis and experimentation” …”

    With that, I find that you’ve illustrated the key issue I have with ID, that it is just not about doing science. Despite the claims of its proponents.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  449. I think that this has been a wonderful discussion and we need not resort to rules of debate as to whether one or the other came ahead. I think everyone argued fairly and honestly.

    For my part, I think that there is too much about evolution that is yet unknown but the unknown is the fun part of the world. To whatever extent ID may tend to claim something unknowable, I consider it a killjoy.

    nk (e71733)

  450. MD in Philly,
    I do not plan to try over and over again to make points which you do not acknowledge. To show you understand what I am saying, and showing how you disagree, I will respond to.

    Oh, I acknowledge your points about falsifying evolution. I just consider them mistaken. If evolution is true, there must be one true tree of life, and that evidence must be consistent, across fossils, biochemical and genetic evidence, etc. I would consider evolution disproven if we did not see a consistent pattern among these lines of evidence.

    Where’s your evidence for an intelligent design of life, along with how it can be falsified?

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  451. I am well aware that much of what I say has been influenced by some of the writings by Phillip Johnson. Since much of what this includes are, I believe, the following of logical reasoning from some basic facts, I don’t know what, if anything, was in my thought prior to reading him and what is directly attributable to him.

    FWIW, Comments on the link such as “… seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies” I find to wrong-headed and I disgree with. Do I think materialism as a philosophy as discussed by Johnson is an adequate understanding of existence? No. Which puts me among great number of other humans over the years. But I do think it is foolish to think in such terms as “overthrowing” except as rhetoric in writing to your support base, and even that I would disagree with.

    nk- I guess it never occurred to me that it could be made other than by a “gyro professional” who spoke Greek… I thought there was beef in it, too, Do you have a family recipe?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  452. nk, do you have those little metal thingies to re-warm the lamb meat in the fire?

    I’m sorry, Carlitos, I don’t. But tomorrow is going to be takeout night and I think it will be at The Smokehouse at North Riverside Mall. I’ll ask about them there. I’m pretty sure I’ll be given the name of a restaurant supplier around Halsted and Lake.

    nk (e71733)

  453. I thought there was beef in it, too, Do you have a family recipe?

    Comment by MD in Philly — 5/25/2009 @ 8:39 pm

    Wait a minute. I thought you were talking about the gyro that is slices of lamb on a spit and not the one that is like a dense meatloaf.

    nk (e71733)

  454. Sadly, Famous Dave’s over there does really good take out, for a cheesy chain BBQ concept. I like their hot, mustardy sauce.

    The only thing I remember in detail about major holidays (4-july, memorial / labor day) is that lamb gyro roasting on a spit, and re-warming it several hours later in those metal tong box things. This dirty Scandi kid was so thankful that at least one cousin had married into an ethnicity which included garlic. It’s being replicated today, with my cousins marrying mexicans, and now we can enjoy pozole on Christmas eve whilst we shoot akvavit.

    Only in america.

    carlitos (a0089e)

  455. If evolution is true, there must be one true tree of life,
    Why? If evolution of living organisms happened under the conditions that were on the earth, why are you so insistent there was only one way? Sounds a little monoorganismalist to me.

    I would consider evolution disproven if we did not see a consistent pattern among these lines of evidence.
    That’s what people said about the fossil record, until they needed to explain the Cambrian explosion.

    MD, I find this comment to be the core issue I have with you: “I am not claiming that ID is more readily amenable to “classic scientific method of hypothesis and experimentation” …”

    With that, I find that you’ve illustrated the key issue I have with ID, that it is just not about doing science. Despite the claims of its proponents.

    You ignored half of the thought, and continue to beg the question.

    Good night

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  456. I defended a product liability case which led me to learn a little about the meatloaf-like gyro. It is ground beef, lamb, bread crumbs and spices. (I would hope the binder is eggs but … you know … it’s better not to know too much about sausage-making.)

    nk (e71733)

  457. MD in Philly
    Why? If evolution of living organisms happened under the conditions that were on the earth, why are you so insistent there was only one way? Sounds a little monoorganismalist to me.

    The universal genetic code suggests all extant life came from one source. There may have been other attempts, but they did not survive.

    Of course, this could be falsified by finding organisms that use a different genetic code.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  458. Comment by carlitos — 5/25/2009 @ 8:49 pm

    I’ll email you.

    nk (e71733)

  459. MD in Philly,
    Do I think materialism as a philosophy as discussed by Johnson is an adequate understanding of existence? No. Which puts me among great number of other humans over the years.

    I also don’t think materialism as a philosophy discussed by Johnson is adequate. Fortunately, I recognize a strawman argument when I see one.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  460. MD in Philly
    I would consider evolution disproven if we did not see a consistent pattern among these lines of evidence.
    That’s what people said about the fossil record, until they needed to explain the Cambrian explosion.

    No, I was referring to the pattern of relationships in life, from species to kingdoms of life. A nested pattern of similarities must be true if common descent is true.

    The Cambrian explosion is an entirely different matter. It occurred over millions of years, btw, and fossils of multicelluar life has been found in pre-Cambrian strata. The Cambrian and Ediacaran fossils extend our understanding of life’s development, but do not change the basic pattern of relationships we understand of life.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  461. #443 — Comment by Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. — 5/25/2009 @ 2:03 pm

    Some fascinating indirect evidence for evolution comes from how Darwinian concepts of
    mutation and selection are applied to make chemicals such as enzymes and even software.

    One of the advantages of the Darwinian method is that you can produce things that work in
    ways you don’t understand. You just select for the function, and you don’t need to know how
    it works. It violates common sense that you can throw together things randomly and get
    useful products, but that’s what happens.

    All true, and I for one completely agree. The problem is how long such a process would take
    to go from relative disorder (non-living minerals and volatiles) to a living entity as
    complex as say a frog — based solely on Darwinian Evolution.

    Based on our knowledge of mutated changes and natural selection — based on presently-
    being-studied populations of different microbial agents — and combining that knowledge
    with recent discoveries in bio-molecular science, it does not appear that enough time has
    elapsed to allow for such evolution to have taken place.

    As already discussed, many Darwinian evolutionary scientists realize this and are
    presenting new theories to eliminate this discrepancy. Who knows, they may succeed.

    —–

    a) Proof that god does not exist is impossible. You can always postulate a deity that makes
    the world appear just as it does.

    Good point.

    b) The entropy budget question is not difficult. Life gets its energy ultimately from the
    sun, and far more energy has been radiated on the earth than has been used by living
    things. So there’s no Second Law of Thermodynamics violation. Even in the inanimate sphere,
    we see order arising in things such as hurricanes, from chaotic elements. This occurs by a
    combination of natural laws and energy input.

    Don’t think so. Energy from the sun should continue on the downhill slope. Instead it is
    gathered, harnessed and formed into living processes that flow “uphill” (that is; order is
    increased), but only for a while. Eventually the life processes break down; organisms decay
    and the total entropy increases (order decreases), as it must.

    These type of temporary counter-flows occur often in nature (from hurricanes to crystals),
    but ultimately they must and do breakdown and increase total entropy — look at New Orleans
    after Katrina. No violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics need be invoked. Indeed,
    that was my point, if the Second Law was violated, then ID would be mortally wounded as a
    theory.

    Here is a good site that explains it in detail (see third paragraph specifically). This author is Prof R. Oerter and
    he is ripping anti-evolutionist apart on this very point. He states” Even if it is true
    that the processes of life on earth result in an entropy decrease of the earth, the second
    law of thermodynamics will not be violated unless that decrease is larger than the entropy
    increase of the two heat reservoirs [sun and absorbed heat of the earth — my edit].

    My point was, if the values of entropy of the biomass of earth could be calculated and if
    the ID arguments of complexity could be quantified (which in principle is possible), then
    these values could be compared. Although there are several different types of results that
    could potentially weakened ID, the strongest (I think) would be if ID required a decrease
    in entropy beyond the measured value to the point where total entropy would be decreased (a
    clear violation of the Second Law and game over with current ID evolutionary thought).

    The difficult part would be identifying the temporarily entropy decrease of living
    processes (in total). Perhaps an even more difficult part is what we have been talking
    about all along — what factors constitute or force molecules to organize and temporarily
    increase order. If natural selection is the answer, then how does one quantify it? If ID,
    then how to qualify. As such, it might prove quite difficult, but not necessarily
    impossible.

    c) Solving the origin of life wouldn’t convince ID creationists. They’d say (as they do
    now) that these are lab experiments.

    Probably true, but really does not matter — the question is a falsifiable proof to ID,
    this is one possibility.

    An interesting point however; if such a solution occurred, it could go either way, and if
    ID was proven (or largely substantiated) there would almost certainly be a portion of
    people who would not believe that either — just human nature.

    Pons Asinorum (03ef30)

  462. #447 — Comment by MD in Philly — 5/25/2009 @ 7:43 pm

    Actually PA, I don’t think proving God doesn’t exist has any direct bearing on ID.

    All ID is saying is there are structures and systems on the chemical and cellular level that display a degree of order and informational content, that if we saw a macroscopic object of the same degree of order and informational content, we would not immediately conclude the object came into being by the mechanisms of currently understood “natural” phenomena.

    Yes, you stated it well — the need to evaluate the possibility of undiscovered physical laws that better explain a given construct than current theory. I have no idea about ID, but your statement captures my viewpoint exactly.

    I cannot even imagine anyone on earth finding a (macroscopic) motor in the middle of say a desert, and think “wow look what nature assembled”. Yet make it microscopic, insert it into a cell, and many in science insist that it is part of a natural process as defined SOLEY by Darwinism. Proof offered is that
    parts of the mechanism in question are found in precursor species (great proof for common descent which is not even in dispute). Absolutely nothing about the basis for molecular formation, entropy, time scales, rates of change or mathematical modeling of any kind. Talk about faith 😉

    Maybe there is a carbon-carbon interaction we haven’t deduced that makes the formation of complicated interrelated structures as “easy as rolling down hill”.

    That’s it in a nutshell. There IS a missing piece of the evolutionary puzzle. Maybe it is something as simple as that — Darwin regains supremacy and all is right with the world. Then again, maybe not. What is needed is proof (based on science and not inferences, subjective reasoning, imagination, or rhetoric — even a few transitional fossils would be most welcome).

    That is not only implicitly making the materialist assumption (which is fine, as long as it is understood what one is doing), but an arrogant assumption at that, presuming there are no basic laws of nature yet to be understood.

    Kind of like Albert Michelson just prior to 1900– all that was known about physics was known and it was just a matter of “filling in the sixth decimal place”. The Fathers of Quantum Mechanics blew that out of the water, including fundamental assumptions that all of science rested upon. Ironic, because some of his work helped launched modern physics.

    That is not because I plan on dodging it, but because I don’t want the discussion hopping from one topic to another like chasing a (white) rabbit.

    :) Nature of blogs. Perhaps the most interesting and frustrating part at the same time.

    …the Caltech boys and their enzymology per Brother Fikes is more up my alley.

    Well, you two have fun on that!

    Pons Asinorum (03ef30)

  463. Comment by nk — 5/25/2009 @ 8:33 pm

    For my part, I think that there is too much about evolution that is yet unknown but the unknown is the fun part of the world. To whatever extent ID may tend to claim something unknowable, I consider it a killjoy.

    Same, same. I find it best to ponder these types of questions over a cold brew, while watching the bubbles percolate upwards. Of course, I find it best to ponder just about any question over a cold brew, while watching the bubbles percolate upwards.

    Pons Asinorum (03ef30)

  464. PA,
    I cannot even imagine anyone on earth finding a (macroscopic) motor in the middle of say a desert, and think “wow look what nature assembled”. Yet make it microscopic, insert it into a cell, and many in science insist that it is part of a natural process as defined SOLEY by Darwinism.

    It’s unclear to me what you mean here. Do you mean evolution in general, or Darwinian natural selection? Not even the most rigid Darwinist thinks natural selection is SOLELY the mechanism of evolution. Not even Darwin himself thought that.

    Proof offered is that parts of the mechanism in question are found in precursor species (great proof for common descent which is not even in dispute). Absolutely nothing about the basis for molecular formation, entropy, time scales, rates of change or mathematical modeling of any kind. Talk about faith 😉

    What do you mean by “common descent which is not even in dispute”? The ID types certainly dispute it.

    And you may have missed it, but scientists around the world have been investigating the questions you raised. Here’s an obit I wrote about Leslie Orgel, who spent decades researching the molecular origins of life.

    But Orgel found that RNA has certain properties that suggest it could have carried genetic information to future generations, although less efficiently. RNA can cause simpler varieties of molecules swimming around it in a broth to assemble into duplicate RNA molecules. This “autocatalytic” quality is necessary in a precursor of life. And the process produces errors, which is necessary for evolution to take place.

    Working backward, Orgel proceeded to produce simpler RNA-like molecules that could replicate in a test tube. This didn’t prove that life originated this way, but demonstrated the possibility. It was a major step in showing that life could have begun evolving by natural means that science can study.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  465. #475 — Comment by Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. — 5/26/2009 @ 4:54 am

    It’s unclear to me what you mean here. Do you mean evolution in general, or Darwinian natural selection?

    I mean Darwinian natural selection (by means of random mutation).

    Not even the most rigid Darwinist thinks natural selection is SOLELY the mechanism of evolution. Not even Darwin himself thought that.

    I may be in error due to my own ignorance, but please elaborate. What other means of evolution did Darwin believe or espouse?

    What do you mean by “common descent which is not even in dispute”? The ID types certainly dispute it.

    First, the last part of your question.

    The “ID types” I have read (Schroeder and Behe), do not suggest or prohibit evolution within their ID theories. In fact Behe explicitly acknowledges that evolution in general and Darwinian Evolution specifically does exist.

    In all theories there are adherents who have all kinds of agendas. Some will use falsehoods, misstatements, etc that ultimately put a given theory in bad light. For example, in Darwinian Evolution it was (most recently) the Archaeoraptor hoax. I would never cite that as an example of Darwinian Science; rather focus on the strengths of a theory.

    To say Darwinian Evolution is wrong because of the Archaeoraptor hoax is false. To state that ID theory is wrong because “ID types” do not believe in evolution is also false. Pan for the gold, rather than the fool’s gold.

    Now for the first part of your question.

    What is meant by common descent is that all life has a common ancestor. Common descent is overwhelmingly supported by empirical evidence. I mentioned this in comment 85.

    For those that wish to dispute that have fun, but it is not my fight and I suspect not the fight of many, if not most, bio-scientists; regardless of where they might stand on any theory of evolution (if such proof were to be offered, wow!).

    And you may have missed it, but scientists around the world have been investigating the questions you raised.

    Wow, great article Brother Fikes. This is exactly the kind of research that is needed.

    Strange this:
    “Orgel teamed up with the late Francis Crick, also at the Salk, to develop an idea about the origin of life on Earth called “panspermia” —- that microbes could have been sent to Earth by some intelligence, seeding life here and elsewhere.”

    Would not Orgel’s worked have eliminated the need for extraterrestrial life to have started terrestrial life — I mean why the need for extraterrestrial life to start life here on Earth?

    Thanks in advance for your illumination about Darwin’s other beliefs and look forward to learning about them. Thank you also for pointing out Orgel. As soon as I am finished with EB’s links I will look into Orgel’s work — sounds fascinating.

    Pons Asinorum (03ef30)

  466. Brother Fikes-
    I looked at the link in #443 concerning enzymes. Interesting stuff, but I think it can be interpreted two different ways.

    First if someone else wants to look at it, you may have to go back to the researcher’s main page then back again to get the illustrations (I did).

    Second, the issue at hand is they want enzymes that will do specific jobs on a large quantity scale, and find the enzymes as they exist often are too sensitive to conditions to allow such application. They want to do this because: 1) enzymes are great at what they do, catalyze a specific reaction on a molecule, and 2) to synthesize an enzyme de novo from amino acids is nigh unto impossible because of the shear number of potential combinations.

    So, they look for mutations that result in an enzyme with different properties from the base enzyme, such as increased stability at a higher temperature, better activity at a broader pH range, etc., then they select the strain that gives them the enzyme variant they want.

    What this shows is enzyme structure is incredibly complex. In fact, they state that nature/ evolution has not yet had time to work through the possible amino acid combinations that are available.

    So, the system is too complex for human design (at this point, anyway), so we take what we find in nature and tweak it.

    To say this shows that amino acids link together and form complex enzyme systems that can be a self-replicating cell is a bit of a stretch. I think it’s like saying because I was seen dribbling a basketball I can beat LeBron 1 on 1, at least if we play enough times.

    But Orgel found that RNA has certain properties that suggest it could have carried genetic information to future generations, although less efficiently.
    We know this because we see it in RNA viruses, both those that go through DNA with reverse transcriptase and those that use complimentary RNA. Not impressed.

    RNA can cause simpler varieties of molecules swimming around it in a broth to assemble into duplicate RNA molecules.
    Ok, so we somehow have RNA nucleotides swimming around in broth (don’t ask how they got there), linking up, and showing some capacity to self-organize into a complementary strand. Now all we need is for that complementary strand to sit there and not degrade through how many millions of years it will take before tRNA comes along, then the two hang out until enzymes arrive de novo that can read the RNA template and line up amino acids to synthesize a protein.

    From one perspective you see that a little bit of biochemistry can happen outside of living cell, so you think everything else can jump in to, if given enough time;
    or on the other perspective, you see that a ridiculously small amount of biochemistry can happen in isolation but to comprehend how this could happen with multiple systems and all coordinate at some point in time is a pretty far fetched, that if you had an alternate theory you would except, you’d take it.

    All for now.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  467. Wait a minute. I thought you were talking about the gyro that is slices of lamb on a spit and not the one that is like a dense meatloaf.
    Comment by nk — 5/25/2009 @ 8:43 pm

    I feel like I’ve committed a terrible blunder, like I had asked someone at a Univ. of Wisc. tail-gate if they had any “turkey-bratwurst” (shudder to think…)

    All this Scotch-Irish-German-??? mix knows, is that there were two Greek restaurants in Madison across the street from each other. At one you could get a “gyro, fries, and coke”, and at the other you could get a “gyro, fries, pepsi-no coke”. The gyro had meat in it that was in the form of a large cylinder, spinning on its axis which was aligned vertically, and sliced thinly off of the side. I had assumed it was composed of alternating layers of beef and lamb pressed together or some such, not essentially a “lamb loaf”. This is what they served at the Greek Festival in front of the Greek Orthodox Church, with men and women in traditional Greek dress dancing, and musicians singing in what was Greek to me to tunes that sounded they could have come straight from the sound track of “Zorba…”. My daughter’s 1st grade teacher who is Greek was there helping out. Was I not eating the “real thing”? How Kafkaesque. Not “the Trial”, but “the Gyro”! (Ignoring that Kafka came from further north in Europe.)

    The only other thing I know is that the plasma center in Madison could always tell when a donor had recently eaten a gyro, big thick lipid layer of chylomicrons when the red cells were spun down…

    Do I have the basis for a false advertising suit? I would settle for “pseudo-gyros” every other week…

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  468. The gyro had meat in it that was in the form of a large cylinder, spinning on its axis which was aligned vertically, and sliced thinly off of the side.

    I defended the guy who made the machine that turned the compressed mess into a semi-conical cylinder that goes on a spit.

    I had assumed it was composed of alternating layers of beef and lamb pressed together or some such, not essentially a “lamb loaf”.

    That is the kind of gyros you find in Greece (I dunno about the beef part, though) because they have much stricter rules, even though they never had an Upton Sinclair, about the possible adulteration of food than we do.

    nk (e71733)

  469. BTW, are you a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, MD in Philly? We were there two weeks ago for the graduation of a close friend from medical school and we also got a very special bonus — Oliver Smithies at his commencement.

    nk (e71733)

  470. Yes, indeed. Both BS and MD. I actually was in a couple of bio classes where Prof. Smithies did some lectures and appeared in some lab sessions. (He was not young then, he must be over 90 now, isn’t he?) Of course, often as an undergrad one doesn’t recognize just how big the stature is of some of the faculty you run across, unless it is in a field of particular interest. Of course I knew who Howard Temin was as an undergrad (Nobel Prize co-winner for reverse transcriptase and retroviruses), and Folkert Belzer as a med student (major advances in transplant surgery).

    I’ll have to think about making gyros of some type. Of course, without the right sauce it won’t be the same, either.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  471. The sauce is tzatziki. I never use it. Yogurt on meat offends my hillbilly sensibilities, somehow.

    But … you can buy the whole gyros thing at your local Jewel or Albertson’s. Athenian or Kronos. They come frozen in microwable kits — gyros, pita and tzatziki.

    (I know. Most of my life I boiled Vienna Beef hot dogs in a sauce pan. Now I nuke them for 45 seconds in a microwave. I still use Sy Rosen-MaryAnn buns though. MaryAnn’s buns are the best in Chicago.)

    nk (e71733)

  472. #433 — Comment by Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. — 5/25/2009 @ 2:03 pm

    PA,
    Some fascinating indirect evidence for evolution comes from how Darwinian concepts of mutation and selection are applied to make chemicals such as enzymes and even software.

    The software cited uses Darwinian concepts of evolution to evolve a better antenna design. As the program runs, it takes the parameters of a given design (based on mathematical modeling of antennas) and determines the performance factors of that design, compares those performance factors to criteria inherent in the software code, then it makes a slight virtual modification of the physical and material properties of the antenna, compares these new performance factors with the previous generation, then if a beneficial change occurs, it selects this design and begins the process again with the new design.

    The elements of natural selection by variation (Darwinian Evolution) are in action and clearly displayed.

    Hopefully, there is no dispute that this software, which uses Darwinian Evolution, is an example of ID.

    Indeed, it is an excellent example of design being incorporated into a mechanism compelled to use the principles of Darwinian Evolution. In this case, the mechanism is not biological, but electronic. The evolution of the antenna designs were directed or guided by the parameters set forth in the software code, authored by intelligent minds.

    —-

    With all that said, what would it take for a minor software string of code — say, one that simply adds two numbers — to evolve into a program that would craft an optimum antenna design (as above) without any intelligent design?

    Ignoring how the original code and computer hardware came into being (by analogy, ignoring how life and the universe came into being), and stipulating that changes primarily occur to software code via cosmic rays striking a silicon register in memory and changing a binary “1” to a binary “0” or vica versa. These changes are rare and random. Once a change is made, the “computer” has the means to select a beneficial change (say self-replication coupled with better and more efficient use of hardware resources than other programs — survival of the fittest for available resources).

    Without direction, guidance or even a coherent plan (or goal) how long would it take for the software to evolve into a program that could optimizes the design of an antenna?

    Ignoring the problem of computer language evolution, let’s say that adding two numbers involves less than 100 bits of code. Let’s say that the antenna optimization program involves 1M bits of code. Let’s say a change occurs once a second (take the first bit, change it, if beneficial, then keep it, move on to the next bit).

    That takes 100 seconds. Taking all the possible combinations of a 100 bits would take a number so big, that it would exceed the time of the universe by many orders of magnitude (3 X 10^150 years or 2.2 X 10^140 ages of the universe). By eliminating non-beneficial and benign changes (say 90%) we still end up with similar orders of magnitude.

    To get to one Mb, add a bit to the above work, start all over again. Then when that is complete, add one bit and start all over again…and again…do again, about a million more times.

    —-

    Obviously, something is missing — either a natural process that is undiscovered or perhaps principles of design inherent in the evolution process– or something else. Natural Selection by random mutation, although present, could not possibly produce our program.

    Keeping in mind that a single cell in human body is far more complex than a software code of 1 Mb (and there are trillions of such cells in the body), is it not reasonable to question our current understanding of Darwinian Evolution as he only mechanism (or at least the principle mechanism) of all life?

    Pons Asinorum (03ef30)


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