Dean Esmay’s Latest on ID

| 47 Comments

I have to confess that I’m beginning to wonder why I had previously thought Dean Esmay was really interested in a reasoned discussion about ID in public schools. Following his post of a few weeks ago asking for someone who is opposed to ID to explain the negative consequences of teaching about ID in public school science classrooms, I replied with a detailed and, I thought, compelling essay. No reply from Dean, who was informed that I had attempted to answer his question. Then in returning to his blog to see if he had ever bothered to respond, I found this post, which contains the absolutely bizarre claim that the idea that mutation can drive rapid evolutionary change “flies in the face of most evolutionary theory”. I replied and pointed out that the article that he had linked to did not, in any way whatsoever, posit anything that “flew in the face” of evolution, and in fact that what was found was perfectly consistent with evolution and exactly the sort of research that allows evolutionary scientists to explain the world’s biodiversity. That made me wonder out loud whether Dean really understands evolution at all, since his statement about the theory was so far from reality.

But his latest post on the subject just makes me wonder if he has any interest in having an honest and reasoned look at the subject or not. Let me explain why.

Continue reading Dean Esmay’s Latest on ID at Dispatches from the Culture Wars

47 Comments

Who is Dean Esmay and why should I care about him?

Esmay is a rare voice of reason in this stupid war between bible thumpers and science pedants. One side says allowing ID into a classroom will cause a collapse of all that science has accomplished since the enlightenment and the other side claims that teaching naturalistic evolution is the root of all evil and will eventually lead to the collapse of all moral absolutes. Both sides are loony if they actually believe any of that crap. Esmay is absolutely right - not a damn negative (or positive) thing is going to happen from ID in the classroom. Both sides are guilty of slippery slope arguments.

My problem with this is that ID is being censored in public schools by the science establishment in various ways and just about every way stinks in some manner. I object in principle to censorship when it serves no compelling need.

By the way, the study of dogs and tandem repeats isn’t really evolution. It’s breeding. There’s a difference in kind here, Ed, from trivial variations like skin color, nose shape, leg length, etc. within the same species to big differences like whether you have a beak or a probiscus. Do you really understand evolution, Ed?

Here’s a good read on the mysterious punctuated equilibrium - it’s science fiction but what the heck, macro-evolution is mostly speculation anyhow and this way you get a plot and characterization go along with the wild guesses about how it might happen. The author, Greg Bear is a physicist at UT Irvine, one helluva bright guy, and claims he put 5 years of part time research into the evolutionary science underpinning the novel. He’s using endogenous retroviruses as a mechanism for rapid speciation in response to excessive environmental stress.

“Darwin’s Radio” by Greg Bear

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/A[…]1525-6099361

I just ordered the sequel “Darwin’s Children” which I haven’t begun to read yet. “Darwin’s Radio” was simply excellent. Bear is my favorite author.

DaveScot Wrote:

By the way, the study of dogs and tandem repeats isn’t really evolution. It’s breeding.

It’s a hyper-rapid change in the genome (these are genetic changes).  Breeding (artificial selection) only picks from the genetic options available.  Why would you say this is NOT evolution?

DaveScot Wrote:

My problem with this is that ID is being censored in public schools by the science establishment in various ways and just about every way stinks in some manner.

The “science establishment”, whatever that is, is not responsible for public school curricula. They couldn’t “censor” ID if they wanted to, so you’re accusing people you don’t know of censorship when in fact they’re doing nothing of the sort. That’s rather offensive.

School boards are responsible for public school curricula. One hopes that school boards defer to the consensus of the scientific community when it comes to teaching scientific concepts. If you believe otherwise, then what standards do you think school boards should use? Just teach anything that has a following, even if it’s for religious reasons?

DaveScot Wrote:

By the way, the study of dogs and tandem repeats isn’t really evolution.  It’s breeding.  There’s a difference in kind here, Ed, from trivial variations like skin color, nose shape, leg length, etc. within the same species to big differences like whether you have a beak or a probiscus. 

What do you think evolution is, if not breeding? Tandem repeats are a mechanism of generating variation, and breeding (whether artificial or natural) is what selects certain variants. Anyone who claims that this research is contrary to evolutionary theory in any way simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Period.

BTW, you’d do well not to rely on Greg Bear for knowledge about evolution or molecular biology, because his presentation of both is garbled and confused. Of course, I don’t think you should read his work for entertainment either, but for each his own.

Oh, please. “One side says allowing ID into a classroom will cause a collapse of all that science has accomplished since the enlightenment”–this kind of misrepresentation is so typical of creationists.

I don’t want to teach ID in my classroom because it is a waste of time and provides absolutely no insight into the problem. It is a pseudoscientific facade over a religious agenda, and it shouldn’t be presented as if there is any scientific evidence in its support. There isn’t. Come back in 20 years if you’ve managed to actually do some work.

Oh, and I’ve read Bear’s book. The science in it is miserable. I’m a biologist at the UM; do you think that qualifies me as an expert in physics? Why do you people constantly act as if biology were something one can pick up in a little spare time?

PZ – most of the creationists who argue that the collapse of civilization will occur from teaching evolution, acquired their religion in their spare time. Why shouldn’t we expect them to treat all other topics the same way?

It’s my experience that many people who misunderstand evolution, and therefore worry that it will cause the collapse of civilization as we know it and the extension of the designated hitter rule to the National League, are similarly ill-informed about their religion. Well, think about it: If the bacteria breed the way Darwin said they do, their religion is in danger? What the heck sort of religion do they think they have?

Why I would say breeding isn’t evolution.

I equate evolution with speciation. Can you give me any example of breeding resulting in speciation? If not then it’s not evolving anything but rather merely selecting among already existing traits and the isolated populations that breed true for the selected traits can just as easily revert back to the common ancestor if bred for it. There’s nothing new there. Evolution implies something new.

Greg Bear’s got as good a theory as anyone else on how rapid specitation (punctuated equlibrium) might occur. I notice you didn’t point me anywhere for alternatives. At least pointed you -somewhere- even if you pooh poohed it out of hand.

And yes, biology IS something that can be picked up in spare time depending on how much time we’re talking about and how fast the person can learn. I have certified IQ somewhere north of 150. If you’re much under that you really can’t even comprehend how fast people at my level can think. For instance I got a 4.0 in marine biology in college by devoting ONE DAY to studying the material. I’ve read every issue of SciAm cover to cover for two decades in my spare time. But am I a biologist? Nope. I made my bones designing PC hardware and software where my talent at logic could be exercised to the fullest. Now that I’m financially independent and free to pursue any area of interest I want, and the 2004 election is over, I’m interested in this evolution brouhaha as it encompasses a number of my favorite subjects including politics. I spent a hundred hours or so in the past few weeks boning up on things missed in 250 issues of SciAm related to evolution. It’s mostly a review though, not a learning experience. For instance I knew that DNA codons in both nuclear and mitochondrial forms didn’t always code for the same amino acid out of 20 possibilities but I’d forgotten it until I visited the NIH repository where the standard coding table and exceptions are kept.

Speaking of that I’ve got a question - how is it that you think a codon that specified one amino acid in one species mutated to code for a different acid in another species and the mutation survived? It seems to me that a mutation at such a basic level as codon to acid translation would kill anything as it would fundamentally alter so many proteins at once survival would be impossible. This STRONGLY infers multiple lines of descent instead of the LUCA holy grail does it not?

I equate evolution with speciation.

Wrong in the first sentence. What a surprise. Rather than ‘specitation’ you might consider heredity. And incidentally, Greg Bear’s excellent novel (Darwin’s Radio) has NOTHING to do with punctuated equilibrium (which you also misspelled).

Now, the designated hitter rule is surely a step in the right direction but it doesn’t go far enough. As an avid baseball fan, I favor full platooning just as in football, with the offense consisting of pure hitting specialists, and the defense pure fielders. That way, we get to see the very best at what they do, doing what they do best.

Spelling corrections are SO robust in supporting an argument aren’t they? I don’t know how I manage to resist.

Look, I’ve got no real brook with microevolution and heritable traits within species. I have reservations about extrapolating out that perfectly good and well documented breeding mechanism within species out to ridiculous extremes like saying it accounts for cyanobacteria (did I spell that right, Flint) morphing into elephants even given 3.5 billion years especially in light of the ostensible fact that the first 3 billion of those years resulted in nothing more complex than a sponge.

The REAL problem I’ve got is the origin of that first cell. The combination of DNA and ribosome is a computer controlled milling machine - plain and simple. You can trust me there because that IS my professional expertise. I understand computer controlled machinery from the quantum tunneling that enables FLASH memory chips to work to the mining and refining of iron ore that go make the cutting tools to the microprocessors and instruction streams that control the operation and store the forms of the things it mills.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to blow smoke up my ass with a presumption that a machine like that arises from random mutation/selection. That’s STOOOOOPID (check the spelling there Flint). If it looks like a machine that was designed for a purpose and acts like a machine designed for a purpose then any sane person first assumes it was designed for a purpose until it can proven that it wasn’t designed.

Thus we get to the real issue. We know for a fact that computer controlled milling machines can be designed because we the human race have designed them. That’s ONE proven way such a machine can come into existence. Until science can at least demonstrate a plausible alternative with good experimental evidence for an undirected pathway in some natural prebiotic soup (on earth is looking REALLY unlikely because 500 million years just wasn’t enough time) then design is the only proven alternative pathway to something like that.

And I don’t know if you keep up with astronomy and xenobiology as much as I do but recent data indicates the GHZ (galactic habitable zone) is a lot smaller and younger than previously thought - the gist of it being that planets with attributes conducive to abiogenesis are on average just 1 billion years older than earth and in no case more than 3 billion years older while estimates for the amount of time required for abiogenesis I’ve read in peer reviewed is 4 billion years. 500 million years on earth and 3 billion on another terrestrial world in an older solar system still doesn’t quite add up to 4 billion years so panspermia is starting to look rather grim. Recent calculations of the odds of any material containing the seed of life from another solar system randomly hitting the earth are slim to none as well.

So like I said - design is a proven pathway to DNA-based life. Heck, some supernatural intelligent agents in lab coats with supernatural gene splicing machines took a poliovirus map, non-living chemical components, and assembled a more or less functional poliovirus in the Year of our Lord (hahahah, couldn’t resist) 2002. The effort took 2 years. In 2003 the usual suspects accomplished the same thing in a few weeks with an esoteric bacteriophage (the name escapes me - PhiX-171???) demonstrating that the intelligent agents improve their creation game with practice.

Nothing else even remotely plausible other than design has been demonstrated to account for abiogenisis. At some point clinging to the given “all things have natural origins” becomes preposterous. We’ve passed preposterous in this case already. To say at this point that it happened by accident wouldn’t pass the laugh test in any “science” other than neo-Darwinian evolution.

P.S.

re punctuated equilibrium and Darwin’s Radio

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&[…]uilibrium%22

Start reading. That most certainly IS what Bear is speculating about.

Dave,

What’s stupid is your inability to understand that any “explanation” for life on earth which depends on the existence of a group of unprecedentedly ultrapowerful “intelligent” beings for whom no evidence exists is not science. It’s fantasy. Or, if you choose to worship those beings, it’s religion.

Get it?

“Recent calculations of the odds of any material containing the seed of life from another solar system randomly hitting the earth are slim to none as well.”

Then I guess abiogenesis most likely occurred here.

“some supernatural intelligent agents in lab coats with supernatural gene splicing machines took a poliovirus map, non-living chemical components, and assembled a more or less functional poliovirus”

Sorry, humans aren’t supernatural. Sigh. Yet another disgusting Liar for Jesus trolling the Panda’s Thumb?

“the intelligent agents improve their creation game with practice.”

Are you saying that the aliens that most likely didn’t evolve on other planets actually might have taught themselves how to create life forms from scratch and then they proceeded to design and create all the life forms that ever lived on earth?

Wow.

Since you’ve thought you’ve so much about this, perhaps you can tell me (1) how long it must have taken to create a chicken from scratch, (2) how long it took to create the sum total of all the life forms that ever lived on earth, (3) when this took place, and (4) provide me some evidence that it actually happened (as opposed to your evidently LSD-inspired conjectures).

It shouldn’t take you long to determine the limiting parameters. Perhaps you could write some software to help you out.

Is anyone going to step up to the plate and fathom a guess at my question of how the organisms with deviations from the standard codon->acid translation table managed to survive the mutation?

Here’s a link to the organisms (the ones known to date, anyhow) with deviations:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Taxonom[…]?mode=t#SG12

Let me help you get started with a link to some attempts to explain it:

http://www.evolvingcode.net/code_red.php

Is anyone going to step up to the plate and fathom a guess at my question of how the organisms with deviations from the standard codon->acid translation table managed to survive the mutation?

Okay, I’ll guess.

Just off the top of my head.

Maybe the mutation first appeared in a non-essential gene whose usefulness to the organism was independent of the presence of the mutation. Then, in one of the organism’s descendents, a second mutation arose in another portein with the effect of allowing the first mutation (the nonstandard codon) to be expressed, with no other deleterious side effects. The combination of the mutations led to a modestly increased fitness for the organism, for any of a number of reasons. The individual with the non-standard codon and second enabling mutation passed its genetic code to its descendents. Etc., etc.

Again, just off the top of my head. I didn’t bother checking your link.

Am I full of it?

Maybe.

But note the absence of any reference to Ploink Ploink.

Now, my naive friend, let’s hear your response to the questions I asked you in previous post. Show me that you’re not just an ignorant retired wanker. Show me that you’re really a brilliant retired wanker. Please please please. Your fellow cranks really need you to come through for them. It’s been so long since such an avid Scientific American reader claimed the Nobel Prize.

Great White Hope,

What’s with this depends on superintelligent unprecendentedly powerful crap? That’s a strawman. You’re running right down through the list of logical fallacies trying to defend this dead horse. I hesitate to point out each instance of fallacy out of concern for how much time and space it will take up.

I merely posit the possibility (not the dependence upon) of design. The source of design is unknown and I have no data upon which to base a characterization about it other than it needn’t be anymore than superintelligent than you given the state of the art today in genetic engineering. Ok, maybe more intelligent than you but not a lot more. Ok, maybe a lot more than you but not more than some of the brighter members of h. sapiens sapiens.

I don’t have a religious bone in my body by the way. That’s yet another strawman you’ve trotted out. (See how space consuming pointing out your flaws is?) I’ve been agnostic since as far back as I can recall. My parents were agnostics and probably unlike you I knew both of them and wasn’t an abused child.

You also seem to have decided penchant for reductio ad absurdum in your arguments. I can’t imagine this shortcoming hasn’t been pointed out to you many times just in the past day but if not then chalk up one time for today. That’s even lamer than strawmen, GWH. I’m trying real hard to just ignore it because it really doesn’t deserve acknowledgement.

“The source of design is unknown and I have no data upon which to base a characterization about it other than it needn’t be anymore than superintelligent”

Did I say superintelligent? Nope.

Another lie from the diseased mouth of a pathetic rube.

Yes, I’m counting them.

“I don’t have a religious bone in my body by the way. That’s yet another strawman you’ve trotted out.”

Did I say you were religious? Nope. Another lie. I asked if you were religious because, sadly, most people who make silly creationist arguments are religious. But others claim not to be. You fall into the latter category. DaveScot, meet Charlie Wagner.

Now, onto the “substance” of your post in which you once again refused to answer the questions posed to you, the obvious questions which you should have been prepared for after your little lecture on the rates at which humans allegedly “designed” and “created” two viruses.

“The source of design is unknown and I have no data upon which to base a characterization about it”

Really? None whatsoever? So it a correct statement of your position that alien beings with no additional intelligence and no additional powers beyond those presently known to be possessed by human beings could have designed and created from scratch all of the life forms that ever lived on earth?

If that is incorrect, please clarify yourself, keeping in mind the characterization of the alleged designers which I proferred and you disparaged. Also, it would be nice if you apologized for your inarticulate comments.

If my statement of your position is correct, then tell me how long it took and when it might have happened.

Thanks.

Great White Hype,

Ummm… go read the link before you embarrass yourself further.

Here it is again:

http://www.evolvingcode.net/code_red.php

DaveScot, who received a 4.0 in marine biology, writes

The source of design is unknown and I have no data upon which to base a characterization about it other than it needn’t be anymore than superintelligent

Did I say superintelligent? Nope.

Another lie from the diseased mouth of a pathetic rube.

Yes, I’m counting them.

I don’t have a religious bone in my body by the way. That’s yet another strawman you’ve trotted out.

Did I say you were religious? Nope. Another lie. I asked if you were religious because, sadly, most people who make silly creationist arguments are religious. But others claim not to be. You fall into the latter category. DaveScot, meet Charlie Wagner.

Now, onto the “substance” of your post in which you once again refused to answer the questions posed to you, the obvious questions which you should have been prepared for after your little lecture on the rates at which humans allegedly “designed” and “created” two viruses.

The source of design is unknown and I have no data upon which to base a characterization about it

Really? None whatsoever? So it a correct statement of your position that alien beings with no additional intelligence and no additional powers beyond those presently known to be possessed by human beings could have designed and created from scratch all of the life forms that ever lived on earth?

If that is incorrect, please clarify yourself, keeping in mind the characterization of the alleged designers which I proferred and you disparaged. Also, it would be nice if you apologized for your inarticulate comments.

If my statement of your position is correct, then tell me how long it took and when it might have happened.

Thanks.

Great White Hope asks:

“So it a correct statement of your position that alien beings with no additional intelligence and no additional powers beyond those presently known to be possessed by human beings could have designed and created from scratch all of the life forms that ever lived on earth?”

No. A correct statement is that I presume that the apparent purposeful design in the DNA/ribosome machinery might indeed be just what it appears to be - a purposeful design. The nature of the designer is a mystery. Got it? A mystery. That doesn’t negate the appearance of design nor does it negate the lack of a plausible explanation for how it came about without design. I’m willing to entertain any plausible notions of how the apparent design came about without a designer. So far I have seen nothing plausible but being open minded about these sorts of things, unlike you I might add, I don’t rule out a naturalistic cause but at this time that’s as much as mystery as the nature of the possible designer.

This should all be intuitive even for a schlepper such as you if you just drop the presupposition that the origin of life must have a non-design explanation. If you consider the possibility of design it should all fall into place without further need to explain myself.

Is it really that difficult for you to alter the non-design dogma that’s been taught to you? The problem of teaching neo-Darwinism to children as rote fact might be worse than I imagine if so. How old are you anyhow?

DaveScot:

Spelling corrections are SO robust in supporting an argument aren’t they?

Are you old enough to remember Calvin and Hobbes? Occasionally Calvin would go on about how brilliant he was (not at the length you do, of course, but enough), and Hobbes would say something like “Aren’t your pants on backwards?” Of course, Calvin never got the point, and you didn’t either. If you’re going to go to a lot of effort to tell others how much dumber they are than you, AND you have the preview button to correct careless errors, you’d best use it. Otherwise, your claims are directly belied by their manner of presentation. (And I notice that your reaction is to lash out at me, rather than to recognize what you did. Calvin lives!)

Now, on to something more substantive. This is a subtle point, so you’ll need to put your thinking cap on.

I presume that the apparent purposeful design in the DNA/ribosome machinery might indeed be just what it appears to be - a purposeful design. The nature of the designer is a mystery. Got it? A mystery. That doesn’t negate the appearance of design

No, not so, and this is interesting. Design is a concept meaningless outside of any context. Something is perceived to be designed by comparison with something ELSE that is KNOWN to be designed. Design doesn’t otherwise become “apparent.” Imagine yourself landing on an alien planet, where nothing you see can be related to anything in your life’s database of experience. Would you be able to tell what’s natural, what the aliens had designed, or even which were the aliens themselves? How would you do this? The cartoon of the treelike alien walking up to an Earthly tree as “first contact” is dead nuts accurate. We “see” what our experiences suggest.

I suspect that you are using *known, human* designs as your basis for comparison. After all, you MUST have SOME basis for comparison, and human designs are about all you have available. But this comparison has a subtle and important implication – that you DO know the designer, who CANNOT be a mystery. You can’t say “this looks like a purposeful design” without two things: A comparison with a known design, and a comparison with a known purpose. Without those comparisons, you would have absolutely no reason for suspecting design, or even noticing “apparent” design. You may not realize you are doing this, but there are no other viable alternatives.

And so GWW’s questions and assumptions are exactly as he represents. You have tacitly assumed the designer’s nature and purpose, without which design could not have been apparent to you. I encourage you to apply some thought to this, since until you can clearly explain to us (which requires that you recognize to yourself) on what basis you see design, the rest of your claims about mystery and dogma and intuition are noise.

Dave, I’m always pleased to watch a troll like you back down in the corner and crap himself. Please don’t run away too quickly.

You wrote

My problem with this is that ID is being censored in public schools by the science establishment in various ways and just about every way stinks in some manner.

As was pointed out to you above, the issue is whether “ID theory” is science or is it religion. We don’t teach pseudoscientific garbage or religious theories of creation in public school science classrooms, Dave. Or at least, we try not to. There are good reasons for adopting this position. If you disagree, fine. But pretending that “ID theory” isn’t unscientific just reveals your igorance about science (not to mention biology).

The nature of the designer is a mystery. Got it? A mystery.

No, I don’t “get it.” I thought we were talking about scientific explanations for life on earth. “Mysterious” designers obviously don’t cut it.

Three strikes and you are out! Thanks for playing.

“I’m willing to entertain any plausible notions …”

We call people like you “suckers,” Dave. Sure, the holocaust might have happened. Or maybe it didn’t. Slavery might have sucked for African-Americans. Or maybe it was fun. Man might have landed on the moon. Or maybe it was all filmed in a Hollywood studio. Teach the controvery! After all, these are “plausible” explanations (and even the controversial theories I just mentioned don’t go so far as to invoke “mysterious” designers – that requires even greater ignorance of the difference between science and fantasy).

“I don’t rule out a naturalistic cause but at this time that’s as much as mystery as the nature of the possible designer.”

You are free to believe that DaveScot. The problem is that supernatural explanations are worthless to scientists, a fact which your dissembling shows that you are eager to ignore. Furthermore, scientists do in fact have much more insight into the possible ways in which abiogenesis might have occur than they do into the ways in which “mysterious” designers might go about creating life forms from scratch. You can read more about those theories on TalkOrigins, for example.

I do find it interesting how similar your rhetorical “methods” (in the Kurtzian sense) are to those of Charlie Wagner. You make some specific claims, then when those claims are called out you retreat into generalizations about what is not known. At the end of the day, we find you bragging about how your mind is so “open” that you can imagine that “mysterious” beings might be responsible for anything that you don’t find “plausible”.

Why am I not impressed? Frankly, I’d be more impressed by your alleged 4.0 in marine biology if I didn’t have good reason to suspect that you cheated.

Whenever you’re ready to explain to us why “ID theory” isn’t pseudoscientific crap or an argument from ignorance, we’re ready. After all, we’ve been waiting for over a century for that explanation, so what’s a few more years?

DaveScot Wrote:

I equate evolution with speciation.  Can you give me any example of breeding resulting in speciation?

Of course, there are many such examples. Here and here for starters. There are entire books on the subject.

If not then it’s not evolving anything but rather merely selecting among already existing traits and the isolated populations that breed true for the selected traits can just as easily revert back to the common ancestor if bred for it. There’s nothing new there. 

Well that’s not right either. You can have new traits without speciation, and conversely, you can have speciation without new traits. Domesticated dogs have literally hundreds of new traits which cannot be found in wild populations, but we don’t consider them different species. Of course we don’t consider them different species because they can interbreed, but morphologically speaking, they’re different enough that we would certainly asign them to different species under different circumstances.

Part of the problem is that “species” is not as well-defined as we’d like. It’s not always clear when you go from one species to another, because they tend to blend into each other. And that’s why equating evolution with speciation is rather dumb and naive.

Greg Bear’s got as good a theory as anyone else on how rapid specitation (punctuated equlibrium) might occur.  I notice you didn’t point me anywhere for alternatives.  At least pointed you -somewhere- even if you pooh poohed it out of hand.

Bear’s “theory” isn’t a theory – it’s a implausible plot device he used in a rather poorly written sci-fi book. I hope you can understand the difference.

Your insistence that one of us should be pointing you to an alternative is just a tad inconsistent with your bragging about having learned everything you ever need to know in your spare time. You can spend a little spare time on Mayr if you’re really interested.

And yes, biology IS something that can be picked up in spare time depending on how much time we’re talking about and how fast the person can learn.  I have certified IQ somewhere north of 150.  If you’re much under that you really can’t even comprehend how fast people at my level can think. 

Yes, but my cock is huge.

I think I’ll judge your awesome powers of learning based on what you seem to have actually learned. So far I’m not impressed. Citing Greg Bear as an authority on speciation is kind of a dead give away.

Speaking of that I’ve got a question - how is it that you think a codon that specified one amino acid in one species mutated to code for a different acid in another species and the mutation survived? 

It could have something to do with the fact that the code is ambiguous in some cases. Or the fact that a plasmid can encode an additional aminoacyl t-RNA synthetase, giving an organism a redundant code. There is a very rich literature on this.

This STRONGLY infers multiple lines of descent instead of the LUCA holy grail does it not?

No, it does not.

DaveScot wrote: Is anyone going to step up to the plate and fathom a guess at my question of how the organisms with deviations from the standard codon->acid translation table managed to survive the mutation?

I believe a lot of thought and some experiments have considered that question. I should note that the isolation of the “ocher”, “amber” and “opal” tRNA nonsense suppressors long ago hinted that variations in the standard genetic code were possible, and even suggested one of the many potential routes.

An interesting paper: http://bayes.colorado.edu/Papers/CBio01.pdf

Here’s a paper by Andrew Ellington (aka “Deaddog” from talk.origins): Bacher, Jamie; Hughes, Randy; Wong, J. Tze-Fei; Ellington, A.D. Evolving new genetic codes. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 2004; Vol. 19, No. 2. URL: plorans.ugr.es/genpob/articulos/sevillaDASHescobosaDASH25DASH04DASH05.pdf

(Note: Replace each DASH with a real hyphen (-). I couldn’t make this an http link because Panda’s system flagged the reference as ‘questionable’).

I would also recommend investigating papers from Thomas H. Jukes.

But hey, why not check out an older Panda’s thread here (Aug 2004): http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archi[…]/000448.html

Flint - go ahead and correct my spelling errors. It’ll make us both believe you have a useful purpose and it’ll save me time. I don’t reread what I write. If I did I’d never be satisified with it and wouldn’t be able to churn out the volume I need in environments like this when it’s me against a veritable hoard of you. I have to sleep sometime and that sometime is now so if you’ll excuse me I’m going to have to ignore you for a little while. But don’t worrry, you repeat the same mantras over and over so I’ll eventually get a reply out to you when you inevitably repeat what I’m not going to read tonight or probably ever on this particular thread. Same goes for double for Great White Hype. Apologies to others who aren’t demanding so much from me. TTFN.

hu bris(hyu’ bris) n “And yes, biology IS something that can be picked up in spare time depending on how much time we’re talking about and how fast the person can learn. I have certified IQ somewhere north of 150. If you’re much under that you really can’t even comprehend how fast people at my level can think. For instance I got a 4.0 in marine biology in college by devoting ONE DAY to studying the material. I’ve read every issue of SciAm cover to cover for two decades in my spare time. But am I a biologist? Nope. I made my bones designing PC hardware and software where my talent at logic could be exercised to the fullest. Now that I’m financially independent and free to pursue any area of interest I want, and the 2004 election is over, I’m interested in this evolution brouhaha as it encompasses a number of my favorite subjects including politics. I spent a hundred hours or so in the past few weeks boning up on things missed in 250 issues of SciAm related to evolution. It’s mostly a review though, not a learning experience. For instance I knew that DNA codons in both nuclear and mitochondrial forms didn’t always code for the same amino acid out of 20 possibilities but I’d forgotten it until I visited the NIH repository where the standard coding table and exceptions are kept.”

DaveScot, My PC is a pain in the butt. If that’s the best you can do, you must have made your money robbing banks. Of course, my expertise in PCs was picked up in my spare time.

If you’re really so astute in politics, perhaps you could explain to us why anyone thinks ID needs to have political support to get into the classroom, after McLean v. Arkansas, if ID does in fact have a lick of science behind it. As you know in your spare-time genius and expertise, the court in that case pointed out that, were there science behind creationism, no law would be required to get it into the classroom – but the difficulty was that there is no science behind creationism. That’s also true of ID. Your expertise surely has included the process of writing science texts, and so you know that the latest science tends to be showcased in new textbooks.

So explain to us why, if ID is science, there is not a single ID laboratory anywhere on Earth? Why do ID advocates seek support in school boards and legislatures, instead of science journals?

See, we like to take advantage of expert information here. Tell us what you’re really expert at, to demonstrate your licks. Please.

AHAHAHAHA. I love it. Run from all the hard questions Dave! They’re coming for you! Might have to climb down from your cross first though.

DaveScot Wrote:

Nope. I made my bones designing PC hardware and software where my talent at logic could be exercised to the fullest.

After having seen your logic at work here, and speaking as a systems developer, I’m rather happy that I don’t have to work with hardware or software you’ve developed. One can pick up the basics of a field in one’s spare time, but even if people can make use a computer well, it doesn’t mean that they can build a compiler generator (based on the Futamura projections), or even just a compiler. That takes a much deeper understand of the field of computer science.

DaveScot Wrote:

Nope. I made my bones designing PC hardware and software where my talent at logic could be exercised to the fullest.

After having seen your logic at work here, and speaking as a systems developer, I’m rather happy that I don’t have to work with hardware or software you’ve developed. One can pick up the basics of a field in one’s spare time, but even if people can make use a computer well, it doesn’t mean that they can build a compiler generator (based on the Futamura projections), or even just a compiler. That takes a much deeper understand of the field of computer science.

Kristjan:

My experience is that you don’t need to worry in this regard. I’ve worked with plenty of engineers who are rigorously logical, demanding empirical evidence and logical reasoning, *except* where their beliefs where challenged. There is a clear, unbreachable, unambiguous wall between their normal thinking process and their beliefs, a kind of blind spot. When logic, however inadvertently, wanders into that blind spot, it simply vanishes. I speculate that such beliefs live in an entirely emotional, hindbrain zone, impervious to reasoning.

This seems particularly true of engineers (though this may be due to my own parochial experience), because engineers tend to pride themselves on good practical hands-on knowledge and experience, backed by lots of math and logic. So they tend to couch their faiths in engineering terms, and simply cannot see that they are not drawing conclusions based on data, but rather starting with a non-negotiable faith and producing a rationalization using familiar terminology. Outside the blind spot, they can and do perform excellently as engineers.

As Mike observes, a common response after discussion has stripped away the defensive barriers, is to simply drop the subject and run, only to turn up later on another thread repeating the same catechism as though the previous embarrassment never happened. One is reminded of Duane Gish, occasionally backed into a corner and forced to admit he knew his statement was false, then repeating the identical statement at the next debate. DaveScot is praying and preaching, just using his own language to do so.

Just a little bit for the Greg Bear critics here. I don’t have the time or patience to respond to the rest of the flood directed at me here. Everyone wants a piece of my ass it seems and there ain’t enough to go around. Sorry. This happens a lot. I can stir up a controversy like no one else. A really great mechanism for that is bragging about my IQ. LOL! I play you like fiddles.

Anyhow:

Review of Bear’s “Darwin’s Radio” by Michael A. Goldman published in NATURE.

http://www.gregbear.com/A55885/Bear[…]pages/300040

Michael A. Goldman bio

http://online.sfsu.edu/~mgoldman/cv.html

Peabody Veterans Memorial High School, June 1972, magna cum laude, Peabody, MA 01960.

Bachelor of Arts in Biology, University of Rochester, May, 1976, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Rochester, NY 14627.

Ph.D., Biological Sciences, Purdue University, 1981, W. Lafayette, IN 47907.

Post-doctoral fellow, Medical Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, 1982-1983, Houston, TX 77030.

Senior fellow, Medical Genetics, University of Washington, 1984-1988, Seattle, WA 98195.

–lots more at link

Har har hardy har har

Davescot, one of the problems with creationist engineers trying to critique the work of biologists, to the frustration of both, is the engineers’ insistence on two-valued logic: yes/no, it works or doesn’t. Another one is the creationist engineers’ insistence on jumping into a problem without a solid grounding in the basics.

In fact, almost nothing in Biology is 100.0000%. There is always sloppiness and redundancy: natural misreading of codons, most mutations aren’t immediately deadly, etc. Gerald Edelman has suggested that this is an inherent property of biological, i.e., evolving, systems.

If you are really as smart and rich as you claim, how about actually learning some Biology? Take some courses (start at the beginning, please, and work your way up). Then start reading the literature in the field. Scientific American is a wonderful magazine, but it’s not a primary or even a secondary source.

Right Dave, no time or patientce to actually answer any of the reasonable questions posed to you. Sure thing.

You haven’t stirred up any sort of “controversy”. All you’ve done is stir up derisive laughter at your nonsensical arguments.

Quoth Dr. Goldman

“Most of us believe that simple, incremental changes in allele frequencies, driven by the forces of genetic drift, mutation, recombination, migration and natural selection, are enough to explain evolution from adaptation to speciation, to the origin of higher taxa. There is no compelling evidence to the contrary, but neither is there compelling evidence in favour of the idea; we simply haven’t observed or catalogued the forces and changes that create new species.”

Hmmmm… no compelling evidence. Oops. I guess the eminent and highly accomplished and widely published geneticist Dr. Goldman must be a, what was the phrase Great White Hope used, Liar for Jesus to have uttered such heresy as there’s no compelling evidence to support what most biologists believe are the mechanisms behind speciation. I guess you environmentalist boys must take these things on faith, faith being the belief in things for which there is no evidence.

ROFLMAO! I feel like I’m kicking puppies here. Your beliefs have so many holes - what a target rich environment for an antagonist like me.

Who needs courses in the internet age? I’m an autodidact.

And when I independently arrive at the same conclusions of someone like Dr. Goldman (cited above) that there’s no compelling evidence to support the widely held beliefs about the mechanisms behind speciation it just reinforces my confidence in my autodidactic capabilities. This is nothing new for me. I find myself in independent agreement with remarkable intellectual persons all the time. Great minds think alike. There don’t seem to be many great minds posting commentary on Panda’s Thumb, unfortunately. Maybe Dr. Goldman has a blog but I doubt it. He seems like he’s too busy actually getting things done in his field to waste time with the likes of the people defending the defenseless on this blog.

Anyhow, if you want to argue about the “overwhelming evidence” supporting speciation take it up with Dr. Gold. I’m deferring the matter to his expertise which appears vastly superior to anyone engaging me here.

Was that your compelling evidence for ID?

A really great mechanism for that is bragging about my IQ. LOL! I play you like fiddles.

I am reminded more of that cartoon where Daffy Duck rigs a piano to explode when a certain note is hit. DaffyScot pushes the scientists out of the way and shouts: “No! No! No! Like this!!!!”

From Goldman’s review

Whether you read it to pass a cold, snowy night by the fire, or to free your mind for the new paradigms that will emerge in the next millennium, I promise you an engaging journey.

A great many scientists, particularly on the West Coast near the Bay Area where Goldman resides, enjoying inhaling a bit of the demon weed and engaging in high falootin’ discussions about “new paradigms.” I can assure that such activities were common where I attended graduate school, and were not limited to the students.

While I believe that increased access to psychedelics would benefit every human being, this does not change the fundamental issue which DaffyScot now admits running away from: fantasies about “mysterious” intelligent designers are not science even when people who have taken a marine biology class dribble out claims to the contrary.

Does Michael Goldman think “ID theory” is science? Does Michael Goldman think evolution is a failed theory? If DaffyScot was interested, he could call up Dr. Goldman and ask him.

Let’s look at Goldman’s review of Greggy Bear’s book again:

If we can use the DNA molecule to carry out calculations in ways that were unimaginable just ten years ago, is it impossible to believe that nature has used the same molecules to encode instructions about instructions we do not yet understand?

No mention of “mysterious” intelligent designers there. I see a reference to “nature” however. I wonder what Dr. Goldman is referring to? Could it possibly be that Dr. Goldman is using the term “nature” as a shorthand for “natural selection”?

Darwin’s Radio, no matter how preposterous or prophetic one thinks the science, is superb ‘hard’ science fiction, speculating about the connections among well-known facts.

Well, that about does it for DaffyScot’s claims. Once again, he is shown to enjoy dishonest dissembling over serious argumentation in support of his bizarre claims. Only a non-biologist with his head deeply embedded in his rear-end could imagine that such a review passes as an endorsement of the idea that “mysterious” alien designers, and not evolution, are responsible for the creation of all the life forms that ever lived on earth.

Just how stupid and asinine does one have to be to behave as dishonestly as DaveScot? What is the likelihood that such an ignorant liar would spread garbage in other contexts, e.g., in front of the United States Patent Office in an attempt to secure property for himself at the expense of US taxpayers?

We’ll leave that question to our reasonable readers until we have a chance to look at DaffyScot’s patents carefully.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 13, column 9, byte 528 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

Great White Hype,

Are you accusing Dr. Goldman of using illegal recreational drugs?

Maybe you’re just projecting. Yes, I think that must be it. That fits all the facts.

You boys are mostly stuck arguing that the technical flaws in ID must doom it but that’s just not how the real world works.

What’s technical about saying that a theory which relies on “mysterious” alien beings to explain a phenomenon is pure horsecrap, Daffy?

Nothing, of course.

Here’s an example of a technical flaw, Daffy: patents that don’t cite any non-patent prior art. Your name appears on three of them. Of course, you were probably too busy reading the collected short stories of Greg Bear to pay any attention to Dull Computer’s attorney when he asked you to provide him with that information.

“Science, the ultimate arbiter of truth, is still stained by the imperfections of human nature. We sometimes think we have all the answers. But the preposterous ideas of yesterday are the unshakeable dogmas of today, and the ancient superstitions of tomorrow.”

You’re so blindly arrogant and ignorant, Daffy, that you don’t realize that Goldman is talking about creationist apologists like you.

Drop Goldman a line and ask him about your “mysterious” alien beings, Daffy. I don’t see any mention of them in any of Goldman’s publications.

Are you accusing Dr. Goldman of using illegal recreational drugs?

Dream on, bro’. You’re really reaching now.

Why not use the time you seem to have found to present an articulate argument showing that your theory that “mysterious” alien beings designed and created all of the life forms that ever lived on earth is scientific?

We’re all waiting. Give us something new. These arguments from ignorance are really stale, Daffy. Just search the archives for Charlie Wagner or Navy Davy and see how eerily your pre-adolescent approach to biological science resembles theirs. Then try to come up with something new.

Or, you can do us a favor and return to building your “waterfront home” and bragging it about it on your alumni page (gag).

Greg Bear’s nonexistent retrovirus is what Alfred Hitchcock referred to as a McGuffin - a plot device necessary to get the story rolling. Most of Bear’s novel, as with most novels, is concerned with interpersonal relationships among his characters. Bear is regarded as a “hard” science writer because if one is willing to accept a single preposterous McGuffin, the rest of the story presumably flows according to how the real world actually works. Compare to fantasy, where magic simply works and no scientistic doubletalk is considered necessary. This isn’t one of Bear’s better novels, and I’d recommend “Eon” as one of his better efforts.

As for DaveScot, his inability to respond to serious questions disqualifies him from further consideration. Watching him and GWW call each other names had limited entertainment value when the show began.

DaveScot.

This Goldman guy knows WTF he is talking about. Recall previously I told you boys that technical superiority of products (hypothesis and theories are products of the mind) often isn’t the deciding factor in determining the winners. I said that marketing and political clout are more often the major determinants of success. Marketing and political clout is what’s going to put ID into classrooms. You boys are mostly stuck arguing that the technical flaws in ID must doom it but that’s just not how the real world works. You must live very sheltered lives. Prof. Goldman evidently lives in the real world and isn’t afraid to talk about it.

Well, there are some who actually care about the truth, and are willing to make an effort for it.

You, apparently, aren’t interested in truth - only in marketing. Sure, lies and stupidity are always easier to sell.

But some of us actually have some integrity. I know that’s a tough word for you Dave, but if you find yourself a dictionary and look it up, you might learn something.

Have a lovely evening, sweetie.

GWH - I see you took to heart my advice that the best way to fight ID is by equating it with Raelian beliefs instead of Christian.

Good laddie (lassie?). I was beginning to wonder if I was wasting my time with you.

The logic in the Raelian strategy is very simple but you have to think about the politics instead of the science. And you have to have a sound bite not a stack of books to make your case before the voters (voters in this case being school boards).

You might feel you’re the master of your domain (and I’m sure you are in a Seinfeldian way if no other) surrounded by your peers and/or mentors who hold the same beliefs you do but in fact in the larger world where the ID-in-the-classroom thing will get decided you’re in a small minority. The majority of interest is Christians (80% of population in U.S.) who aren’t scientists and aren’t going to spend much if any time learning the prior art in evolutionary science(s). Neither do they think like scientists or use the scientific method. The wedgies seem to be a lot more politically savvy in this regard.

The issue you care about, ID in the classroom, will be decided by the voters sooner or later. So the stupidest thing you could do is offend a big fraction of the voters. I see ACLU lawyers trying to frame IDers as holocaust deniers. That’s so politically incorrect it’s almost like calling them slave owners. Very boneheaded. Not a way to make friends and influence people. Insulting the belief that Christians have in a bearded thunderer that created the heavens and the earth isn’t going to make you Mr. Popular either if you get my drift and I think you do.

There is a minority you can safely offend without being politically incorrect and that would be people like me who’re willing to entertain the thinking that Erich von Daniken exploited for a fortune in book and film royalties - i.e. little green men from outer space are responsible for making us.

Most Christian non-scientists aren’t afraid to acknowledge a belief in God in public but they aren’t going to want to acknowledge that their creator might ride around in a flying saucer. They aren’t going to like the Raelian-like belief taught as a possibility to their children in school either.

If I were a Christian non-scientist sitting on the board of a public school in an open meeting (you know about federal open meeting laws) and you were a concerned citizen getting your $0.02 sound bite on the record saying that ID is teaching your child that LGM in flying saucers might have created mankind I’d have to think long and hard about whether I wanted to be known as the board member that voted the flying saucer platform.

Now don’t say I never gave you anything.

Mr. David Scott Springer, a creationist-apologist crank, writes

The issue you care about, ID in the classroom, will be decided by the voters sooner or later.

Um, no.

So the stupidest thing you could do is offend a big fraction of the voters.

You’ve undoubtedly offended a few Christians here by insinuating that they are as gullible as you are when it comes to buying into pseudoscientific crap.

You want a political lesson? This is pretty straightforward: don’t open your trap and spout garbage when you’re so easily shown to be an arrogant dishonest tool.

GWH - I see you took to heart my advice that the best way to fight ID is by equating it with Raelian beliefs instead of Christian.

Hilarious!

All I’ve done, Daffy (with your help, thank you very much) is show that you’re in the same league with the Raelians. Now, why don’t you go back to your friends in the VNA and tell them some “plausible” stories about how African-Americans enjoyed being slaves. I’m sure they’ll be eager to know how sympathetic you are to “plausible” stories. Of course, I’m sure you’ll be bragging to them about your trolling adventures here. Wouldn’t it be funny if they already knew about those adventures?

Little David Scott Springer can be found elsewhere expressing sympathy for bogus conspiracy theories about why scientists want to “suppress” creationist claptrap!

http://www.usefulwork.com/shark/arc[…]/001927.html

The real crux of the issue is that the science community is understandably reluctant to admit that what they’ve been heralding as proven fact (naturalistic origin & evolution) for 150 years might not be fact after all. They’re afraid of the loss of credibility and not enough soap in the world to remove all the egg from their faces.

Yup, that must be it. Surely it couldn’t be the case that scientists don’t want their intellectual tools, hard work, and results – results which made it possible for pants-pooping morons like David Springer to retire early – to be mocked by fundamentalist religious politicians in public schools!!

Yes, that’s just too far-fetched for David Springer, a sad little man who is now intimately familiar with how it feels to suffer a “loss of credibility.”

This discussion seems to have broken down to a shouting match. This is too bad, but predictable with comments such as “And yes, biology IS something that can be picked up in spare time depending on how much time we’re talking about and how fast the person can learn. I have certified IQ somewhere north of 150. If you’re much under that you really can’t even comprehend how fast people at my level can think..” offered as arguments.

BTW DaveScot, I have scored rather higher than +3 sigma while half-tanked on my favorite adult beverage. Does this mean I “win?” What do I win? I have no doubt that most contributors to PT are highly intelligent, and so appeals to “IQ” seem rather petulant.

A final observation is that use of profanity will cause many public school, and other publicly available computer systems to block Panda’s Thumb. Great White Wonder seems to be a particularly frequent user of profanity. I would ask that you stop this as it will prevent many students from accessing our website.

Gary

Great White Wonder seems to be a particularly frequent user of profanity. I would ask that you stop this as it will prevent many students from accessing our website.

Is “crap” a keyword for filtering software used by public schools? Damn. I’ll spell it with two pees from now on. “Crud” doesn’t do ID justice, and “doggydoodoo” and “horsehocky” are simply too long to type over and over.

Consider it an opportunity for creative writing. For example one I like to employ is, “Might I remind _____ to periodically remove their head from the “special warm place” they call home and take a breath of fresh air.”

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This page contains a single entry by Ed Brayton published on January 5, 2005 1:13 PM.

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