Embarassingly short of IDEAs

| 20 Comments

The IDEA Center is an organization that aims to support the diffusion of Intelligent Design (ID) notions by coordinating the activity of local chapters of (mostly) high school and undergraduate students (“IDEA clubs”) devoted to the study, discussion and promotion of ID. Their spiffy new web site provides a wealth of material and information for club members and other ID-interested parties. Their approach is very serious, scientific and professional. They prominently announce:

Our mission statement states that the IDEA Center aims to: 1. Promote, as a scientific theory, the idea that life was designed by an Intelligent Designer 2. Educate people about scientific problems with purely natural explanations for the origins and evolution of life 3. Challenge the philosophical assumptions of Darwinism, naturalism, and materialism From: The Science of IDEA

and assure:

This scientific approach [based on empirical observations of the natural world - AB] is the method that the IDEA Center takes when discussing intelligent design theory. From: Religious and scientific affiliations

In the spirit of scientific inquiry, the site provides a number of FAQs and Primers related to evolutionary biology subjects, ID arguments, etc. Today I am just going to focus on their recent and particularly bad “Featured FAQ” “Can irreducibly complexity be evolved via gene duplication and co-optation of parts?” (hereafter referred to as “IC, duplication and co-optation”, for short) which was brought to the attention of Panda’s Thumb members through the ID discussion board at ARN.

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20 Comments

But even if all you say is true, Andrea, can you provide any empirical evidence, either observational or experimental, that this “high rate” of gene duplication is capable of creating the highly organized processes and structures involved in hearing and integrating them into a functional hearing system?

Charlie, if you are talking about the evolution of the mammalian ear ossicles, I am not even sure there is evidence gene duplication is involved in it.

Is that Charlie or someone mocking him? From the email address, I suspect the latter, but I could be wrong. Maybe Charlie really can admit the truth about something.

LOL. I didn’t even check the e-mail, I just thought Charlie had a bunch of canned questions he like to ask.

Hold your breath. Dembski’s designinference.org site has a paper outlining the “research plans” of the ID “consortium”. I am not able to place the reference yet exactly. But reading thru the paper I found nothing in it that isn’t a part of MN/PN directed “conventional” science. The mistake these guys refuse to accept is that their proposed research is already being carried out in a prodigiously articulated and profound fashion by probably a few million people all over the world. Their research if done thoroughly can’t but lead them on the same paths that these millions already have trodden. Otherwise we can expect many more absurd tracts published by IV press and other like minded publishers.

Poking around the IDEA website I find that they have an organization that looks oddly similar to the outreach committee at my church. There are people with degrees in theology, a public relations arm, and a group to work on noble projects of service. We don’t do biology research at my church. I also notice that the research program for IDEA is oddly similar to the outreach committee at my church.

I’m still accumulating data.

Ed,

As an IDEA staffer, I’d be happy to assist in your data accumulation. Feel free to e-mail me at [Enable javascript to see this email address.].

Shiva - since you have read the paper on Dembski’s site, can you not post a link to it? Or do you have some type of private access? I’m pretty interested in the DI’s recent statement that ID reserach is in the pipeline.

Thanks.

I’m flattered that I’ve been mentioned 5 times in a thread that I’ve not even responded to. Anyway, it’s saturday night and I’m off to a Patty Griffin concert. If you’ve not heard Patty Griffin, I recommend her highly. When I get back, if I’m still awake I’ll address some of these points. One thing jumps out at me, however. Did you look at the filename for the diagram? It’s hemosketch2.jpg on this website but look at the original file name on the IDEA website…it’s doolittlehomologydiagram.gif This is Doolittle’s diagram, and if it’s incorrect, he must take the blame, not the author of the FAQ

charlie wrote

One thing jumps out at me, however. Did you look at the filename for the diagram? It’s hemosketch2.jpg on this website but look at the original file name on the IDEA website…it’s doolittlehomologydiagram.gif This is Doolittle?s diagram, and if it?s incorrect, he must take the blame, not the author of the FAQ

Charlie, do you imagine that Doolittle drew that amateurish diagram and assigned to it the filename used on the IDEA site? No wonder you have problems understanding the nature of evidence for historical events!

RBH

From the IDEA website:

In 2000, Russell Doolittle taught at a graduate seminar where the topic was for him to respond to Michael Behe’s claims in Darwin’s Black Box. The essence of Doolittle’s response was to proclaim nothing more than homology between various proteins in the blood clotting cascade: (insert diagram) Above we see 5 proteins involved in the blood clotting cascade, arranged in a tree simply according to their percent sequence similarity. This was the essence of Doolittle’s response to Behe: the blood clotting cascade proteins are similar (to varying degrees), therefore they must have evolved from one-another via duplication and co-optation. This mere sequence similarity, nothing less, and nothing more, formed the basis for Doolittle’s belief that the irreducibly complex blood clotting cascade could evolve. There was no discussion of intermediate stages showing how stepwise modifications in the current pathway could have been reversed back to a more simple stage. This is what graduate students were taught in a seminar directly intended to rebut the claims of Behe.

I think it’s safe to assume that it’s Doolittle’s diagram, not the author of the FAQ

Charlie: I bet it is a badly drawn sketch taken by an IDEA member from something Doolittle presented in his seminar to illustrate the concept of molecular phylogeny. However, the errors are so fundamental they just can’t be Doolittle’s, and he certainly did not claim that globins are involved in clotting. Simply, whoever was at that seminar did not understand what Doolittle was talking about.

So, are there no takers for the virtual pint offer? I’ll double it!

Andrea Bottaro wrote:

I bet it is a badly drawn sketch taken by an IDEA member from something Doolittle presented in his seminar to illustrate the concept of molecular phylogeny. However, the errors are so fundamental they just can’t be Doolittle’s, and he certainly did not claim that globins are involved in clotting. Simply, whoever was at that seminar did not understand what Doolittle was talking about.

Here’s the answer.

http://www.bostonreview.net/br22.1/doolittle.html

Andrea wrote:

Charlie, if you are talking about the evolution of the mammalian ear ossicles, I am not even sure there is evidence gene duplication is involved in it.

Only posts bearing my name and domain are from me. This one is not.

What answer Charlie? I do not see any evidence other than that Doolittle clearly is NOT talking about clotting when it comes to hemoglobins

Charlie: “Here’s the answer. http://www.bostonreview.net/br22.1/doolittle.html

I’m well aware of that letter by Doolittle. That’s why I am saying that the author of the FAQ has just misunderstood his argument. Doolittle is not claiming that globins are components of the clotting cascade, he’s just using them as an example of molecular phylogenetics of a family that has evolved by gene duplication and functional diversification.

Note also that, despite the fact that if you “knock-out” out one of the globin genes the oxygen transport mechanism is severely impaired (as exemplified by various types of hemoglobinopathies), Behe agrees that globins have evolved.

Andrea Bottaro wrote:

I’m well aware of that letter by Doolittle. That’s why I am saying that the author of the FAQ has just misunderstood his argument. Doolittle is not claiming that globins are components of the clotting cascade, he’s just using them as an example of molecular phylogenetics of a family that has evolved by gene duplication and functional diversification.

Agreed.

See This linkl for some interesting powerpoint slides as to the real phylogeny of these globins.

Spot the differences with the one in the FAQ :-)

This is all rather dreary, but it seems to me that in instances where High school teachers are required to teach critiques of Darwininsm, that it ought to be in a context of similarly valid critiques of all high-level scientific theories. Whether it be quantum theory, the concept of species, the theory of electron bonding or newton’s laws, all these meta concepts are subject to the same critiques as the concepts that make up darwinism. Hence the teacher ought to inform his students that physics, chemistry, geology, etc. all rest on the same kind of speculative basis as Evolution theory. In addition, it would seem to me that an intelligent design science needs to have a program laying out operational definitions of its two main concepts - intelligence and design - in such a way that controlled, quantifiable experimentation can begin. Absent a program in which research is being conducted on aspects of intelligence and design, it all seems like warmed over Aristotle. We need falsifiable hypotheses, fellas. If you choose to say that the Almighty is beyond the reach of science, all well and good. But don’t then say you have a science of the Almighty

1 As numerous people have lamented, the lowest-scoring students go into education departments 2 Many Americans are so scientifically illiterate that they don’t even know they don’t know anything about science

Given those two things, it’s bound to happen that some public school science teachers think they know better than an overwhelming scientific consensus. The scientific community has not done a very good job at opposing that.

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This page contains a single entry by Andrea Bottaro published on May 6, 2004 6:07 PM.

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