A new (but old) Intelligent Design paper

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Panda’s Thumb recently had an item about the strange case of the ISCID’s list of papers supporting Intelligent Design. Strange, because the ISCID won’t publicly release the details of the papers (i.e. “we have lots of evidence, but we can’t tell you what it is”). Could it be that, like another such list once touted by the Discovery Institute, they don’t actually provide much evidence for intelligent design? Nah, surely not.

Anyway, I’ve just found another paper which should be added to the ISCID list - not least because it gives ID a pedigree of hundreds of years. It was published in 1710 in the world’s first scientific journal, The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. I found out about this paper in Bryan Sykes’ book “Adam’s Curse” which is about the Y-chromosome responsible for gender determination in mammals - having a Y-chromosome makes you a male. The paper is:

An argument for Divine Providence, taken from the constant Regularity observed in the Births of both sexes. By Dr. John Arbuthnott, Physician in Ordinary to Her Majesty [Queen Anne], and Fellow of the College of Physicians and the Royal Society.

Arbuthnott was investigating the relative numbers of men and women:

Among innumerable Footsteps of Divine Providence to be found in the Works of Nature, there is a very remarkable one to be observed in the exact balance that is maintained, between the number of Men and Women; for by this means it is provided that the Species may never fail, nor perish, since every Male may have its Female, and of a proportionable Age. The Equality of Males and Females is not the Effect of Chance but Divine Providence, working for a good End, which I thus demonstrate.

Arbuthnott showed that the number of males born was actually somewhat greater than the number of females born, by a factor of about 1.06, and gave a plausible reason for this excess:

… we must observe that the external Accidents to which are Males subject (who must seek their Food with danger) do make a great havock of them, and that this loss exceeds far that of the other sex, occasioned by Diseases incident to it, as Experience convinces us. To repair that Loss, provident Nature, by the Disposal of its wise creator, brings forth more Males than Females, and that in almost a constant proportion.

Arbuthnott was correct when he said that this proportion was not the result of chance. He was wrong, however, when he attributed it to Divine Providence. We now know that natural selection can explain this effect very nicely. There are genetic factors which affect the proportions of girls and boys born. If the number of one gender is too great, having children of the opposite gender then becomes a good way to increase your chance of leaving descendants, and genes favoring that gender will therefore be selected for. These selective forces cause the ratio of boys and girls born to stabilize at the point where the number of adult males and females is almost equal.

Arbuthnott can be forgiven for this error, given that the science of genetics and the theory of natural selection still lay far in the future. Still, I think the ISCID should add this paper to their bibliography; it’s probably at least as convincing as most of the other papers in there as evidence of intelligent design.

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Jim Foley Wrote:

Could it be that, like another such list once touted by the Discovery Institute, they don’t actually provide much evidence for intelligent design?

Not only does that other list not provide evidence for intelligent design, or more importantly, evidence for a better theory than evolution, that list, along with NCSE’s response, provides ample evidence that the Discovery Institute cannot make a case without quoting scientists out of context.

It was published in 1710 in the world’s first scientific journal, The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

Well, give the guy some credit. By virture of the fact he’s published in a scientific journal, he still has a leg up on most modern ID researchers.

Don’t forget “The Travel of William Bartram” published in 1791:

“In every order of nature, we perceive a variety of qualities distributed amongst individuals, designed for different purposes and uses, yet it appears evident, that the great Author has impartially distributed his favours to his creatures, so that the attributes of each one seem to be of sufficient important to manifest the divine an inimitable workmanship.…

But admirable are the properties of the extraordinary Dionea muscipula! [Venus flytrap] A great extent on each side of that serpentine rivulet, is occupied by those sportive vegetables–let us advance to the spot in which nature has seated them. Astonishing production! see the incarnate lobes expanding, how gay and ludicrous they appear! ready on the spring to intrap incautious deluded insects, what artifice! there behold one of the leaves just closed upon a struggling fly, another has got a worm, its hold is sure, its prey can never escape–carniverous vegetable! Can we after viewing this object, hesitate a moment to confess, that vegetable beings are endued with some sensible faculties or attributes, similar to those that dignify animal nature; they are organical, living and self-moving bodies, for we see here, in this plant, motion and volition. … “

…It’s almost a pity that modern scientific articles do not contain language like that anymore. They certainly wouldn’t be any more inpenetrable, but they might be more entertaining. If the hour wasn’t so late, I’d be very tempted to parody. :-P

Are these ID clowns aware that the processes they are trying to analyze are chemical in nature?

Guitar Eddie Wrote:

Are these ID clowns aware that the processes they are trying to analyze are chemical in nature?

Yes, and they are also aware that their target audience misunderstands chemistry even more than it misunderstands biology.

If the number of one gender is too great, having children of the opposite gender then becomes a good way to increase your chance of leaving descendants, and genes favoring that gender will therefore be selected for. These selective forces cause the ratio of boys and girls born to stabilize at the point where the number of adult males and females is almost equal.

So, does this mean that the sperm somehow ‘know’ which sex is in greater number before they penetrate the egg?

I’m definitely waiting to see the answer to this one - should be fun.

Don’t hold your breath, Bob M. and Jeff L. in posts 7463 and 7467.

The evos will conveniently do one of two things. Dodge the question entirely. OR, they will simply rely on that god of theirs, to do all the explaining. You know, the omnipotent one, known as natural selection. It is all knowing, all seeing and all deciphering.

Hey Jim Foley, my family has about a 90% ratio of females to males. Could you please give me the phone number to your holiness, Dr. Natural Selection, so I can have him intervene in my grandkids reproductive situation ? We need some more males to carry on the family name. What ? It’s UNLISTED ? ? Damn evos.

Oh well, I guess all those species that have since become extinct didn’t have a chance to place a call to the good doctor either. So much for macroevolution.

Interesting confusion as to evolutionary theory and natural selection. Lets first address the confusion by McGuire namely that his family has 90% females. I am sure that McGuire can appreciate that evolutionary theory is about populations as a whole. Additionally the selective effects on humans may be quite weak. Jeff L asked about sperm knowing which sex is greater also misses the point. Let me explain:

IF there is a selective advantage to having more offspring of a particular sex then selection will propagate those organisms which have the best match to the requirement THEN over time the population will reach an equilibrium close to ‘optimal’

There are some excellent examples of this

Explanation

Or see the following paper: Constraints in the Evolution of Sex Ratio Adjustment, Stuart A. West, Ben C. Sheldon, Science, Vol 295, Issue 5560, 1685-1688, 1 March 2002

Abstract: When the relative fitness of male and female offspring varies with environmental conditions, evolutionary theory predicts that parents should adjust the sex of their offspring accordingly. Qualitative and even quantitative support for this prediction is striking in some taxa but much less convincing in others. Explaining such variation across taxa in the fit of sex ratio theory remains a major challenge. We use meta-analysis to test the role of two constraints in the evolution of sex ratios. Based on analysis of sex ratio skews in birds and wasps, we show that (i) mechanisms of sex determination do not necessarily constrain the evolution of sex ratio adjustment, and (ii) parental ability to predict their offsprings’ environment influences the evolution of sex ratio patterns across taxa. More generally, our results show that multiple constraints may determine the precision of adaptation.

or

Antonio Bernardo Carvalho et al, An Experimental Demonstration of Fisher’s Principle: Evolution of Sexual Proportion by Natural Selection Genetics, Vol. 148, 719-732, February 1998

Most sexually reproducing species have sexual proportions around 1:1. This major biological phenomenon remained unexplained until 1930, when FISHER proposed that it results from a mechanism of natural selection. Here we report the first experimental test of his model that obeys all its assumptions. We used a naturally occurring X-Y meiotic drive system—the sex-ratio trait of Drosophila mediopunctata—to generate female-biased experimental populations. As predicted by FISHER, these populations evolved toward equal sex proportions due to natural selection, by accumulation of autosomal alleles that direct the parental reproductive effort toward the rare sex. Classical Fisherian evolution is a rather slow mechanism: despite a very large amount of genetic variability, the experimental populations evolved from 16% of males to 32% of males in 49 generations and would take 330 generations (29 years) to reach 49%. This slowness has important implications for species potentially endangered by skewed sexual proportions, such as reptiles with temperature sex determination.

This is in fact an ‘old problem’ going back to Fisher

See previous article

THE evolution of sexual proportion is a major biological question. It has been known for a long time that the majority of sexually reproducing species have sexual proportions around 1:1; the explanation of this phenomenon eluded DARWIN himself, who concluded that “the whole problem is so intricate that it is safer to leave its solution for the future” (DARWIN 1871 ). In 1930, FISHER proposed an explanation that is notably simple, robust, and general (reviewed in BULL and CHARNOV 1988 ). His argument can be put as follows: in any sexually reproducing population, half of the genes come from each sex, irrespective of its rarity. If the sex determining system generates unequal sex proportions, the rare sex will be effectively more fertile as a result of a greater per capita contribution to the next generation. Consequently, individuals investing their reproductive effort on the rare sex will be more represented in the gene pool of the next generations. If this investment is a hereditary trait, the alleles causing it will spread in the population until the attainment of equal number of males and females. At this point it makes no difference to invest in sons or daughters. [The preceding argument assumes equal cost of daughters and sons. If this does not hold, it is only necessary to substitute “equal number of males and females” for “equal investment in males and females.” For example, if males cost twice as much as the females, the predicted equilibrium is 2 females : 1 male. For the sake of simplicity, we will assume (unlike FISHER) equal cost of males and females.] This mechanism of natural selection, known as “Fisher’s Principle,” predicts the evolution towards the 1:1 proportion irrespective of the sex-determining system.

In response to Pim above, comment # 7939.

First of all, this comment goes out to Jeff L. & Bob M. respectively.

What did I tell you, gentlemen ? Thanks to Pim, good old Dr. Natural Selection to the rescue ! Using his trusty intern, Ronald Fisher.

Therefore, in response to Pim :

1.) I know the terms used by evos quite well, thank you. No confusion here. AND, as I predicted, you being a defender of evos propaganda, it’s only “ natural “ to credit that divine deity, a.k.a. Dr. Natural Selection.

Funny thing is, this British study appeared to be focused on men and women. Yet Pim, you claim in your comment that “additionally the selective effects on humans may be quite weak.” Really ? Does this mean we can save a whole bunch of time and discount your entire argument in advance ? I mean, this is the same argument that we I.D.ers get. Our position is weak, we are often told, from which evos simply reject all notions of validity. Does this mean, that in fairness, the right of discernment applies equally to us, as well ? I didn’t think so. I will put that down as evos double-standard # 1,564.

2.) Look, I will save everybody some time. Heads up Bob and Jeff. Want to know the answer to why it generally works in humans ? Easy. It has NOTHING to do with males contributing more genes to the next generation out of a high fitness level or anything else in this realm. It’s simple. The chances are close to 50/50 for either male or female, correct ? Therefore, over time, it balances out. There may be times it gets out of kilter temporarily, but over time the 50 percent proposition has a statistical smoothing effect. It has NOTHING to do with genetic strength, or genes favoring a gender in short supply, to then be selected by their god, Dr. Natural Selection.

I’ll give you a real life example. During wars, many males are killed, correct ? What happens once the peace is won. The remaining males start families with their female partners. Since it is a 50 percent chance, new males and females will then be born at nearly a 1:1 ratio. All of those extra females left over after the war have nobody to hook up with and thereby, produce no offspring. In time, those generations of single women die off and the baby boomers, who were established since then, simply smooth the average back to near 1:1. OK ? Got it ?

Now, you can forget all the bogus b.s. about natural selection’s choice of male gene strength or anything related. As far as the animal kingdom goes, it’s quite different. Each species, animal, insect, whatever, has their own, unique balancing act, provided for by the Intelligent Designer. This allows each species to cope as best possible, with environmental hazards, predators, disease, etc., as it relates to survival. Those who can’t keep up the pace, simply become extinct, as the fossil record validates. End of story. Sorry Pim. It appears your effort was just an exercise in futility.

Dear Gary, I am not sure where you are going with your ‘arguments’ but you are right my response to you was an excercise in futility as you seem to be unable to accept scientific evidence. That’s too bad to see you reject good science for ridicule and a juvenile response. Or am I being trolled here?

Dear Pim, What is it in MY analysis that you object to ? Are you saying it has less merit than yours ?

You yourself said that these “ selective effects on humans may be quite weak.” So your defense of Fisher is relevant in what way again ? If it’s weak, then its merely pseudoscience, which is typical of the evos propaganda machine and doesn’t apply to humans. You claim I am unable to accept scientific evidence and that I reject good science for ridicule .…? No, I accept the Science of Logic much more than the belief system of Natural Selection.

Any more questions ?

Not really Gary. You have answered all my questions and I see no need to continue this fruitless discussion with someone unable to look at the evidence.

Contrary to your ‘prediction’ however ‘EVOS’ did not ignore the questions asked. Although some people DID ignore the answers provided.

Look, I will save everybody some time.  Heads up Bob and Jeff.  Want to know the answer to why it generally works in humans ?  Easy. It has NOTHING to do with males contributing more genes to the next generation out of a high fitness level or anything else in this realm.  It’s simple.  The chances are close to 50/50 for either male or female, correct ?  Therefore, over time, it balances out.  There may be times it gets out of kilter temporarily, but over time the 50 percent proposition has a statistical smoothing effect.

But no “evo” disputes this. Obviously if the baby sex ratio is 50/50 on average, and if the survival curves are similar for each sex, then the population as a whole will be about 50/50 male/female. That part is easy.

The question Arbuthnott and Fisher are interested in is: why should the chances be close to 50/50 in the first place? There’s no obvious law forcing equal probabilities for male and female births. In humans and many other creatures, it’s slightly off from 50/50, and in a minority of species it’s seriously skewed. What’s determining these probabilities? Your “analysis” doesn’t have anything to say here.

As far as the animal kingdom goes, it’s quite different.  Each species, animal, insect, whatever, has their own, unique balancing act, provided for by the Intelligent Designer.  This allows each species to cope as best possible, with environmental hazards, predators, disease, etc., as it relates to survival.  Those who can’t keep up the pace, simply become extinct, as the fossil record validates.  End of story.

You know, that claim sounds awfully like natural selection with an undetectable God added. Unfortunately, in the one place where it obviously differs from natural selection in its predictions, it’s clearly wrong.

If life forms were designed to “allow each species to cope as best as possible,” a 1-1 sex ratio would be very] uncommon. Most bisexual species would do much better to have a surplus of females, because it’s the number of females that determines the overall population growth rate. Only a few males are needed to father children on many females.

But because life forms are not consciously designed for the good of their species, but rather are shaped by natural selection–which tends to increase individual fitness in the current environment–we usually see a rough 1-1 ratio rather than an overabundance of females.

That’s the main thing wrong with your analysis, if you wanted to know. If you want to come up with a viable competitor for Fisher’s theory, you really ought to read him more carefully–and read the papers that support him experimentally.

Well said Anton. Not only is Fisher’s work based on solid foundations but actual experiments suggest that his explanations were correct. Sex ratios make for a very interesting research topic. To suggest that Evos remain silent on these issues is just plain silly. Notice that Gary has done little to address the various references I provided.

Reply to Pim and Anton,

First to Pim,

You said in # 7959, “ contrary to your prediction, however, Evos did not ingnore the questions asked.” I take it your word comprehension isn’t what it should be, Pim.

I said in # 7938 , you would do ONE of TWO things; dodge the question OR claim allegience to the almighty power of natural selection. You chose the latter. JUST AS I PREDICTED ! The reason I chose to ignore your ANSWER was based on your own admission of the results being “ quite weak.” Therefore, I am supposed to employ a leap of FAITH to accept your pseudoscience ? Sorry Pim, I’ll stick with the Science of Logic EVERYTIME.

As for Anton, You claim there is “ no obvious law forcing equal probabilities.” In humans, its x or y. That determines the probability in itself. As I already stated it is different with EACH species, based on their unique environment. This is determined by Intelligent Design. You then state “ because life forms are not designed for the good of their species, but rather are shaped by natural selection.…” I get it now Anton. Intelligent Design “ doing the shaping “ carries a statistical probability of Zero, yet natural selection doing the shaping is obviously a given Proof. I thought that was only allowed in Mathematics. I see, another evos double-standard. I’ll denote that one as “ evos double-think example # 1,875.” Thanks Anton. The list grows larger with each passing day.

Gary, I am impressed by your ability to ignore good science in favor of your faith. To confuse God with natural selection shows that you are not really interested in exploring the facts which are simple

1. Theory supports my claims 2. Experiments support my claims

Not bad for ‘pseudoscience’ eh?

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Hey Gary,

You claim there is “ no obvious law forcing equal probabilities.”  In humans, its x or y.  That determines the probability in itself.

Well, no, obviously it doesn’t, since the human sex ratio at birth is male-biased–as Jim Foley mentioned in this very post! More generally, all birds and nonhuman mammals have “two-choice” chromosomal sex determination, of a sort which would suggest a 1:1 sex ratio, and yet there are lots of documented deviations from that ratio.

But you still don’t seem to understand that this is a different issue from that addressed by Arbuthnott and Fisher. Suppose we did know everything about the chemical and genetic factors controlling human sex ratio–well, that would be some very valuable science. But it still wouldn’t tell us why humans happen to be set up that way in the first place, and why other animals are set up differently.

You try to explain it as “it is different with EACH species, based on their unique environment,” but that’s so vague as to be meaningless. Arbuthnott made the much more specific claim that a 1:1 sex ratio maximizes human reproductive potential. His additional claim about “Divine Providence” is unverifiable, but at least he could make a testable prediction–which unfortunately turned out to be wrong. Fisher’s theory, lastly, makes very specific predictions, doesn’t bother speculating about God’s state of mind, and is confirmed by experiment.

You then state “ because life forms are not designed for the good of their species, but rather are shaped by natural selection . …”  I get it now Anton.  Intelligent Design “ doing the shaping “  carries a statistical probability of Zero, yet natural selection doing the shaping is obviously a given Proof. 

I’m not entirely sure how you got anything in that second sentence from what I wrote. I suspect your misinterpretation was intentional, but just in case: the factual problem with your analysis was not that you invoked an Intelligent Designer. For all I know, a Designer could have set things up so natural selection would work in the first place. Your Designer claim is untestable and superfluous to your argument, hence nonscientific, but I don’t know that it’s wrong.

The factual problem was that animals aren’t designed to benefit their species. They’re designed to maximize their own contribution to the gene pool. That’s what Fisher got right and what you and Arbuthnott got wrong.

Gary,

Jeff asked, a bit facetiously I presume, “So, does this mean that the sperm somehow ‘know’ which sex is in greater number before they penetrate the egg?” and I added, also facetiously, “I’m definitely waiting to see the answer to this one - should be fun.”

You provided most of the fun, with your repeating of the usual IDCer’s fatally flawed reliance on an invisible, unknown, unknowable Intelligent Designer for whom no evidence exists or can exist - save in the pulpit.

OK. I know now I must be doing something right, since the evos are coming out of the woodwork.

First of all, and for the LAST time, my criticism of Ronald Fisher’s study is in that regarding humans ONLY. It may well appear to be relevant to some other species within the animal kingdom. My argument was that Pim ORIGINALLY said the “ effect was weak when evaluating humans.” My response was “ therefore, we are supposed to accept it carte blanche, because it somehow supports the claim for natural selection ? “ Not quite.

Now a response back to each evo themselves.

A.) To Pim : You said in comment # 7971 that : “ 1.) theory supports your claims and 2.) experiments support your claims.” Really ? I get it now. They support your ORIGINAL claim that the research in humans was WEAK. WOW ! I’d say then I’VE been correct all along. You just admitted it Pim ! Congrats ! Not bad for Pim’s pseudoscience ! Although you forgot 2 more points, Pim, which supports your position. # 3 would be the circular reasoning to defend it as well - AND # 4 would be the idiot’s logic as it’s foundation. It goes something like this “ yes, the affect is weak, regarding humans. But, it’s a STRONG kind of weak.” I’d say that about confirms it for you Pim. Sorry.

B.) To Jim Foley, who said in comment # 7975, that “ as far as I know, I.D. does not normally deny the existence of natural selection.” I think I just exposed the “ stupid “ one, a.k.a. Jim Foley. Sorry Jimbo, but you DO error indeed. If you mean the claim to survival of the fittest, fine. Some species make it; others go extinct. That’s evident. HOWEVER, if your view is that natural selection is the guiding light that hovers over the random mutations, that just miraculously create complex systems ( i.e. eyesite, olfactory system, central nervous system, vascular system, major internal organs, the human genome, etc. etc.) then you are DEAD wrong. Utility of function is design for a purpose. You evos try to tell us there is no purpose in evolution, no direction. The song goes like this : There is no purpose, yet there are beneficial mutations, yet the benefits are not arrived at by chance. They are selected for benefit by natural selection. This benefit has to serve a purpose, otherwise there is no reason to choose one trait from another. This purpose, remember, however, does not exist to begin with. An example is all of the so-called benefical mutations that lead to the human eye. How were they determined to be beneficial, if no purpose is to be served in them ? And, why would they be encoded and passed on for future generations to improve on ? Improve on what ?, they would say. What are we improving on to achieve ? There is no purpose or direction in evolution. And, remember that “ chance “ is a four letter word. Can you say Tautology ?

C.) To Anton Mates: who said in comment # 7988, .…..” but it still wouldn’t tell us why humans are set up that way ( the sex ratio ) and why others are different.” Sorry Anton, this one is again too easy. Humans are generally monogamous. ( Polygamy never attained the same popularity.) That’s why they are set-up that way. It’s called Design.

You then comment that my response of each species is different is, in your words “ so vague, as to be meaningless.” Would you have preferred a novel, instead, on the differences between the horse and the honey bee, for example Anton ? I said this for brevity, not based on a lack of evidence. Each species IS different. Would you like to discuss which ones are ? Fine. Just spare the lame comment, about being too vague, when you yourself offered no specifics, yet another classic double-standard of evos.

You then continue with “ your Designer claim is untestable and hence non-scientific.” First of all, WHO’S test, yours or ours ? And, 2nd, you also contradict yourself in your last 3 sentences. You say “ animals aren’t designed to benefit their species. They’re designed to maximize their own contribution to the gene pool.” Well, that’s comical, Anton. You’re saying that contributing to the gene pool is NOT beneficial ? And second, you say they are “ designed “ to maximize their contribution ? “ Designed “ by an Intelligent entity ? NO, you say ? I see now how the circular reasoning of natural selection is so easily exposed.

D.) And Last, to Bob Maurus. Bobby says I.D.ers have a fatally flawed reliance on an “ invisible, unknown, unknowable I.D. for whom no evidence exists or can exist.…” Really Bobby ? You say “ invisible ? “ O.K. ….. Tell us, oh brain-less one, what color is natural selection ? And no evidence can ever exist for the I.D. ? Please continue then, Mr. Clueless, what sound does gravity make by itself ? What scent is assigned to the laws of aerodynamics ? You evos all have this collective, moronic thought process. It’s called blatant ignorance. Hey Bobby, here is a clue, we observe the RESULTS of Intelligent Design on the universe. The term PROOF is reserved for Mathematics only, REMEMBER ?

Therefore, we I.D.ers will always have our valid science, and the excitement that comes with every new discovery. AND, you evos will always have your science-fiction to keep you content. Have fun with it kids !

Hey, I think Gary is really really close to accepting evolution. He just needs a little more evidence and he’ll forget all about ID.

Lordy McGuire, where to start?

Let’s see - natural selection, as a process, would be colorless; why would gravity be expected to make any sound - unless you’re thinking of the noise that would be produced when falling objects hit the ground; a scent assigned to the laws of aerodynamics - c’mon, you’re pulling my leg now, right?

You IDCers will always have your valid science? Not hardly, unless you start doing the research and accumulating the evidence, both of which actions have been conspicuous by their absence thus far. Or, in the end, is “the Bible tells me so” sufficient evidence for you?

Tell us, oh brain-less one, what color is natural selection ?

In addition to the bathroom wall, could we have a foyer where the “greatest hits” of creationist posts are forever enshrined?

The above quote is simply too precious to merely fade into the archives with the less memorable rants.

C.) To Anton Mates:  who said in comment # 7988, . … . . “ but it still wouldn’t tell us why humans are set up that way ( the sex ratio ) and why others are different.”  Sorry Anton, this one is again too easy.  Humans are generally monogamous.  ( Polygamy never attained the same popularity.)  That’s why they are set-up that way.  It’s called Design.

Not bad. Now you’ve got a couple of testable claims…that “Humans are generally monogamous,” and that (I think this is what you’re implying) “the human sex ratio maximizes reproductive efficiency under a monogamous lifestyle.” The latter claim may well be true; the former is certainly false, since even strict monogamous societies have a high rate of adultery, and polygamy’s much more common than monogamy in preindustrial societies, and genetic analysis (see here for details) indicates that it’s been the norm for at least the last 60,000 years. Even so, a demonstrably false claim is a better place to start than an untestable one…well done!

Of course, neither one of those claims has any relevance to arguments for/against an Intelligent Designer. A Designer could have chosen to make humans exclusively polygamous, monogamous, or whatever he/she/it wanted. Conversely, chance or prior conditions could have led to any of those outcomes without a Desiger’s involvement. But that’s the price you have to pay for making your hypotheses testable.

You then comment that my response of each species is different is, in your words “ so vague, as to be meaningless.”  Would you have preferred a novel, instead, on the differences between the horse and the honey bee, for example Anton ?  I said this for brevity, not based on a lack of evidence.  Each species IS different.  Would you like to discuss which ones are ?  Fine.  Just spare the lame comment, about being too vague, when you yourself offered no specifics, yet another classic double-standard of evos.

But we’re not discussing Anton Mates’ Theory of the Origin of Sex Ratios. We’re discussing Fisher and Arbuthnott. So when you propose a rival hypothesis, it’d better be at least as specific as the ones those guys brought to the table.

Although I understand from your most recent post that you don’t claim to have any hypothesis applicable to nonhuman animals at all. Apparently that whole bit you wrote starting with “As far as the animal kingdom goes, it’s quite different.…” was just a bit of whimsy and should be ignored. I’ll try to comply.

You then continue with “ your Designer claim is untestable and hence non-scientific.” First of all, WHO’S test, yours or ours ?

I dunno–who’s “you” and “us” here?

And, 2nd, you also contradict yourself in your last 3 sentences.  You say “ animals aren’t designed to benefit their species. They’re designed to maximize their own contribution to the gene pool.”  Well, that’s comical, Anton.  You’re saying that contributing to the gene pool is NOT beneficial ?

  It can be, of course, but it often isn’t, and that’s exactly the case in many of the sex ratio examples we’re discussing. It would benefit many species if they had a disproportionately large number of females; then they could reproduce faster, outpacing competitors and rebounding after catastrophes. Spreading genes for a roughly 1:1 sex ratio is, therefore, not beneficial to the species. But it happens anyway.

Peacock tails and other products of sexual selection are also good examples of traits which aren’t beneficial to the species as a whole…merely to the individuals who happen to have them.

And second, you say they are “ designed “ to maximize their contribution ? “ Designed “ by an Intelligent entity ?  NO, you say ?  I see now how the circular reasoning of natural selection is so easily exposed.

I don’t say “no.” I say “not necessarily.” That’s why there are Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and atheist evolutionary biologists. Their choice of ultimate designer, or lack thereof, is their business. Theist biologists seem to have no trouble believing that their Designer could be powerful and clever enough to set the world up so that natural selection would produce the creatures he/she/it desired.

C.) To Anton Mates:  who said in comment # 7988, . … . . “ but it still wouldn’t tell us why humans are set up that way ( the sex ratio ) and why others are different.”  Sorry Anton, this one is again too easy.  Humans are generally monogamous.  ( Polygamy never attained the same popularity.)  That’s why they are set-up that way.  It’s called Design.

Not bad. Now you’ve got a couple of testable claims…that “Humans are generally monogamous,” and that (I think this is what you’re implying) “the human sex ratio maximizes reproductive efficiency under a monogamous lifestyle.” The latter claim may well be true; the former is certainly false, since even strict monogamous societies have a high rate of adultery, and polygamy’s much more common than monogamy in preindustrial societies, and genetic analysis (see here for details) indicates that it’s been the norm for at least the last 60,000 years. Even so, a demonstrably false claim is a better place to start than an untestable one…well done!

Of course, neither one of those claims has any relevance to arguments for/against an Intelligent Designer. A Designer could have chosen to make humans exclusively polygamous, monogamous, or whatever he/she/it wanted. Conversely, chance or prior conditions could have led to any of those outcomes without a Desiger’s involvement. But that’s the price you have to pay for making your hypotheses testable.

You then comment that my response of each species is different is, in your words “ so vague, as to be meaningless.”  Would you have preferred a novel, instead, on the differences between the horse and the honey bee, for example Anton ?  I said this for brevity, not based on a lack of evidence.  Each species IS different.  Would you like to discuss which ones are ?  Fine.  Just spare the lame comment, about being too vague, when you yourself offered no specifics, yet another classic double-standard of evos.

But we’re not discussing Anton Mates’ Theory of the Origin of Sex Ratios. We’re discussing Fisher and Arbuthnott. So when you propose a rival hypothesis, it’d better be at least as specific as the ones those guys brought to the table.

Although I understand from your most recent post that you don’t claim to have any hypothesis applicable to nonhuman animals at all. Apparently that whole bit you wrote starting with “As far as the animal kingdom goes, it’s quite different.…” was just a bit of whimsy and should be ignored. I’ll try to comply.

You then continue with “ your Designer claim is untestable and hence non-scientific.” First of all, WHO’S test, yours or ours ?

I dunno–who’s “you” and “us” here?

And, 2nd, you also contradict yourself in your last 3 sentences.  You say “ animals aren’t designed to benefit their species. They’re designed to maximize their own contribution to the gene pool.”  Well, that’s comical, Anton.  You’re saying that contributing to the gene pool is NOT beneficial ?

  It can be, of course, but it often isn’t, and that’s exactly the case in many of the sex ratio examples we’re discussing. It would benefit many species if they had a disproportionately large number of females; then they could reproduce faster, outpacing competitors and rebounding after catastrophes. Spreading genes for a roughly 1:1 sex ratio is, therefore, not beneficial to the species. But it happens anyway.

Peacock tails and other products of sexual selection are also good examples of traits which aren’t beneficial to the species as a whole…merely to the individuals who happen to have them.

And second, you say they are “ designed “ to maximize their contribution ? “ Designed “ by an Intelligent entity ?  NO, you say ?  I see now how the circular reasoning of natural selection is so easily exposed.

I don’t say “no.” I say “not necessarily.” That’s why there are Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and atheist evolutionary biologists. Their choice of ultimate designer, or lack thereof, is their business. Theist biologists seem to have no trouble believing that their Designer could be powerful and clever enough to set the world up so that natural selection would produce the creatures he/she/it desired.

Dangit. I spent fifteen minutes refreshing this thread and trying to make sure I didn’t double-post. Sorry, guys.

It’s a little slow. The server’s a Ti-85 running BSD, on dialup.

Re: the “slowness”. There’s also a little odd thing that happens sometimes where your post won’t appear until another post arrives. That is why when you retype or repaste your post into the field after “failing” to get the post onscreen the first time, you’ll instantly see two posts.

At least, that’s the way it works on my computer running Windows and Internet Explorer.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jim Foley published on August 30, 2004 8:16 AM.

Common Design Errors was the previous entry in this blog.

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