IDist “Just Not-So Stories”

| 25 Comments

Intelligent design creationists have made rhetorical hay out of Stephen Jay Gould’s use of Kipling’s title, when Gould said that adaptationist accounts of biological phenomena sometimes seem to be “just so stories.” John Wendt on ARN has made the perfect riposte. An ID creationist claimed

Not really. You can for instance learn a lot about bacteria flagellum from ID proponents because they are reasoning from its detailed exposition. It is much more substantive than the just so stories that have been so popular among Darwinists.

Wendt responded

Evolutionary arguments are based on observable processes. All ID has is “just not-so stories”. (Emphasis added; typo corrected)

I love that phrase! “Just not-so stories.” It perfectly captures the content-free explanations offered by ID “theory.”

RBH

25 Comments

I wd have punctuated it differently: “All ID [creationism] has is just ‘not-so stories.’” They are not-so stories, by analogy with just-so stories. I may plagiarize that mercilessly.

We need to get some T-shirts going.

Nice emendation. Plagiarize at will – I’m sure John won’t mind.

RBH

ID: Just say No(t-so)

Actually it would have to be “just-not-so stories.”

I am struck by IDists argument that the designer is a human, not some supreme being. All of their objects are machines that humans have made. Vico (Scineza Nuova, 1744), whom Toulman (p.128) called the “Mendel of (scientific) history,” saw this 250 years ago,

“When men are ignorant of natural causes producing things, and cannot even explain them by analogy with similar things, they attribute their own nature to them. So the vulgar, for instance, say that the magnet loves iron,”

“I wd have punctuated it differently: “All ID [creationism] has is just ‘not-so stories.’” They are not-so stories, by analogy with just-so stories. I may plagiarize that mercilessly.”

Hey, a fellow punctuation fan! I haven’t entirely decided how to punctuate that. My challenger talked about “evolution’s ‘just-so’ stories’”. “just-(not so) stories” might work, though it’s a bit ugly. Plagiarize away!

I just finished “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves,” and I now spaz whenever I think I have to use a comma. Is there such a thing as comma paralysis?

RBH

Is there such a thing as comma paralysis?

The opposite. As I wrote in The Technical Writer’s Handbook,

Some writers, put commas, in a lot of places, where they don’t belong. I call these writers, comma-kazes, reading their writing, and their run-on sentences, leaves me, comma-tose.

I think we need to use a Kiplingesque illustration: “How the elephant didn’t get his trunk”, and so forth, over the title “ID: Not-So Stories”:

The greatest arguments my wife and I have are over punctuation. She goes by the Chicago Manual of Style; I punctuate by feel.

Does that mean you don’t argue much, or that she smashes dishes when you misplace a comma?

Evolution: Just say No(t-so)

There is no support for an evolving from amino acid to cell.

As such you cannot claim any backing from science for your religious belief that life grew from nothing.

ID which claims that life did not come from nothing is on an EQUAL footing with evolution.

Both theories have an inability to predict future developments. Evolution predicts multiple different future developments and then is proven mostly wrong and changes to meet the data. ID is proven wrong and changes to meet the data.

All the ridicule you aim at ID comes back at you.

You have a religious belief that there is no God.

You use this belief to argue that since your theory of how cells came to be is the only one that involves no God that it must be science.

Its pure cult kool-aid and nothing at all to do with science.

Evolution: Just say No(t-so)

Perhaps you, DonkeyKong, can tell us of a time when ID has been proven wrong and changed to meet the data?

Guthrie

Your side is claiming that it speaks for science.

Scientific theories care NOTHING for what the “other side” is doing.

You are engaging in philosophy/religion when you do.

Stick to your theory and your observations. When they are insufficient to show what you want them to show then be honest and say you don’t know.

Scientists DON’T KNOW how genetic sequences evolve into longer and more complicated and more vital genetic sequences IF AT ALL.

Scientists DON’T KNOW how the first cellular organism came to be. They can date the first known observation of the smallest organism and then can tell us what enviornment they occupied.

But at the end of the day they DON’T KNOW.

Pretending to know in order to say that it wasn’t a GOD that did it is a form of religious belief.

As such your side is less the evolutionists as the ANTI-CREATIONISTS.

Pardon?

YOu said: “ID is proven wrong and changes to meet the data.”

I asked you for an example. I’m waiting.

Evolutionary arguments are based on “observable” processes? Great! Maybe you can help me out.

Please name one process of speciation that has been observed. If there is more than one, just name one.

Please respond quickly. I need help completing my scrapbook on evolution. My pages are full of great examples of evolution within a species (those poor black moths, unfortunate finches, and, of course, people). But I don’t have anything on my page labeled “Observed Speciation”.

Please help! Send your example stating what species you observed, where you observed it, and who can corroborate your story. (Corroboration is necessary because I have run down many false leads of purported observations.)

Thanks millions. Send to the address below.

[Enable javascript to see this email address.]

Claire wrote

Evolutionary arguments are based on “observable” processes? Great! Maybe you can help me out.

Please name one process of speciation that has been observed. If there is more than one, just name one.

I’ll leave aside Claire’s conflation of “process” (as in the processes that produce speciation) and “event” (the occurrence of speciation). The former – processes like migration/isolation followed by mutations, differential selection, and consequent divergence – bring about the latter. And I prefer to answer publicly rather than in email.

First, of course, I haven’t observed instances of speciation myself except in silice. My work is with evolutionary algorithms – computer models of evolution – and there I have seen the analogue of speciation. I commend Avida to Claire’s attention for more on that. Adaptive Radiation from Resource Competition in Digital Organisms is an example of the sort of research that can be done in Avida.

With respect to organic evolution, the first stop, of course, is TalkOrigins here and here.

My personal favorite is an example of speciation now in progress in Rhagoletis pomonella. Here is an introduction (PowerPoint) (2.9 Megs, for dial-up users). Here is a person doing research on it, and here is an example of the published research on it. You will note that there is now substantial reproductive isolation between the two host races that inhabit apples and haws, and that the genetic bases for the isolation is becoming known. Note also that this is an example of a sympatric process, which may the rarer of the modes of speciation, so it’s a particularly nice example of evolution in action.

RBH

RBH

If Rhagoletis is now two species why is only one species name offered? Isn’t this just one more example of “incipient” speciation, in other words, a process not yet completed? Even if such a process could be demonstrated as a speciation mechanism, is anyone weak minded enough to imagine that such processes will somehow produce genera, orders, classes and phyla? For all practical purposes evolution is finished and has been for quite some time. I have summarized that evidence elsewhere.

“A cluster of facts makes it very plain that Mendelian allelomorphic mutation plays no part in creative evolution. It is, as it were, a more or less pathological fluctuation in the genetic code. it is an accident on the ‘magnetic tape’ on which the primary information for the species is recorded.” Pierre Grasse page 243

Avida is a monumental joke. Allelic substitution never had anything to do with evolution except to ultimately cause extinction when too many defective genes accumulated. Of course that was important because without extinction there never could have been evolution. Today we see only extinction at rates conservatively estimated at 20,000 per annum. Where are the new forms folks? The answer is that there aren’t any and won’t be, not now, not ever. Evolution (phylogeny), like the development of the individual (ontogeny) has been a self limiting, self terminating phenomenon. Every tangible scrap of evidence supports that conclusion. To think otherwise is pure fantasy. Now every one can carry right on living in a non-existent Darwinian world.

John A. Davison

Davison, you’re a little older than I am. We were both born before WWII, we both remember it (I remember my dad and uncle being in it) and we’re both multiple decades older than most of the participants on this blog, so I can tell you this straight in the interest of the reputation of the relatively few official senior citizens around here: Learn something new! I’ve found that it does wonders for aging cognitive faculties. I’m into my mid-60s and I spent seven hours today learning to operate the new (well, it’s actually refurbished, but it’s new to us) ladder truck my volunteer fire department recently acquired. Get off your ass, get out of the house, and learn to drive a truck. The view is great from 75 feet up the ladder.

RBH

RBH wrote (sorry, I haven’t mastered those nice quote boxes):

“I’ll leave aside Claire’s conflation of “process” (as in the processes that produce speciation) and “event” (the occurrence of speciation).”

Point taken. Fair enough. However I would settle for any observations of either. I believe that in your very excellent answer is a tacit admission that there are, in fact, no observations of either a process or an event. All of your links point to works in progress. And all the works in process are intelligently designed simulations of what might have been. Super work, but a poor substitute for a real observation. No?

If there were actual observed instances, why do computer simulations? (And, if I might humbly say so, a computer simulation is actually a spot-on example of intelligent design (assuming you or someone like you did the programming.))

On that note, I agree that Avida is a joke. I wouldn’t push that one too far if I were an evolutionist. An intelligently designed computer program that proves that … computers work??? The “rewards” various “organisms” receive in Avida look suspiciously like Dawkins’ “target phrase” or Davies’ “pleasing sounds”. Such parlor tricks leave us heretics amused.

Alas, my scrapbook page on “Observed Speciation” must remain a big blank.

You all are great.

Claire

Comment #18199 - February 26, 2005 12:53 PM

Claire Bonet Wrote:

Please name one process of speciation that has been observed.

Comment #18219 - February 26, 2005 01:45 PM

RBH Wrote:

With respect to organic evolution, the first stop, of course, is TalkOrigins here and here.

Comment #18414 - February 27, 2005 08:01 PM

Claire Bonet Wrote:

All of your links point to works in progress. And all the works in process are intelligently designed simulations of what might have been…Alas, my scrapbook page on “Observed Speciation” must remain a big blank.

(emphasis added)

[sarcasm] Wow! I must admit that I am very impressed with Claire’s research abilities. Somehow, in less than a day and a half, Claire managed to hunt down and read all of the references listed on the two web pages that RBH provided! How else would it be possible to claim that all of the references are “works in progress” and “intelligently designed simulations?” I started counting the references on those two pages and stopped when I got to 100.

Claire, do you live in a library? Your research skills are amazing! [/sarcasm]

Claire Bonet wrote

I believe that in your very excellent answer is a tacit admission that there are, in fact, no observations of either a process or an event. All of your links point to works in progress. And all the works in process are intelligently designed simulations of what might have been. Super work, but a poor substitute for a real observation. No?

That’s actually false. I provided five (5) links to material on observed speciation in biological organisms. That Claire’s scrap book is blank is a function of her not having actually read the resources provided. That’s not a new experience in my discussions with creationists.

With respect to computer studies, the reasoning in Claire’s and Davison’s posts argues that any laboratory experiment at all exemplifies “intelligent design” and therefore cannot speak to questions of what happens in the world. That’s a pretty bizarre belief. Because a laboratory experiment on the effects of nutritional variation in bacteria involves human manipulations of culture media, do the results therefore indicate that the responses of bacteria to nutritional variation in nature are governed by intelligent design? Does the fact that linear accelerators and their array of detectors are intelligently designed (by humans) mean that the phenomena they detect are therefore intelligently designed?

Claire further wrote

On that note, I agree that Avida is a joke. I wouldn’t push that one too far if I were an evolutionist. An intelligently designed computer program that proves that … computers work??? The “rewards” various “organisms” receive in Avida look suspiciously like Dawkins’ “target phrase” or Davies’ “pleasing sounds”. Such parlor tricks leave us heretics amused.

I can only conclude that Claire is not aware of the widespread use of formal models in every area of science. Once again, that stance eliminates the utility of formal models in studying any question in science. All models of the world are intelligently designed (by humans) to represent (aspects of) the world and help answer research questions about nature. The very fact that Claire equates the Avida platform with Dawkins’ demonstration of the difference between cumulative selection and random search illustrates the poverty of her conception of the utility of computer models. Both serve their research purposes, which (not incidentally) are very different. Perhaps Claire would show us all just where in its source code the Avida platform does not faithfully represent the minimal set of evolutionary processes identified as important (by evolutionary theory) in the evolution of clonally-reproducing entities. That Claire can characterize them as “parlor tricks” merely shows her ignorance of both the real utility and actual limitations of formal models, as opposed to the imagined defects creationist blather about.

Computer models are formal models. Writing a computer model of a process forces one to explicitly formalize the concepts of a theory in code, and, as with Avida, the source code is available for inspection and independent testing just as the equations modeling the path of an object in a gravitational field are available for inspection and independent testing. No critic has yet shown that the research platform embodied in the Avida code somehow instantiates “intelligent design” as a hidden variable that contaminates its utility as a platform for studying questions in evolutionary theory. Precisely because a human researcher has control of the various variables in the Avida platform, one can use it for experimental research. See here for the latest attempt by a neoPaleyist to discredit one published paper using Avida, and see my two posts immediately following that pitiful attempt for an overview of the misrepresentations and plain simpleminded errors it contains.

RBH

In comment number comment # 18311

John A. Davison Wrote:

Isn’t this just one more example of “incipient” speciation, in other words, a process not yet completed?

Its bad when a biologist tries to make these statements.

Speciation, lets look at some definitions.

National Geographic

the process by which one or more populations of a species become genetically different enough to form a new species. The process often requires populations to be isolated for a long period of time.

The Talk.Orgigins Archive

Wrote:

The creation of a species through the splitting of one species into two or more, through descent

We are talking about a populations that can no longer breed with it parent population. There are different levels to this. We can have genetically compatible speciation. This is where speciation occurs because of geographical or social sexual isolation. We can have genetic speciation. This is where a population accumulates enough genetic differences that sexual reproduction is effected. This has many shades to it. From high fertility rates and viability rates of offspring to low viability rates with no fertility. Eventually it leads to no viable offspring. There is no clear line. There are grades. We can see with Equus that the 6 species currently existing that there are is a full gambit of normal viability & fertility of offspring to close to 100% infertility and high rate of non viable offspring. We’ve tested speciation in the lab over 40 years ago seeing genetic mutations that while not negative to the population caused said species to no long be genetically compatible with its original

Talk.Origins Wrote:

Dobzhansky and Pavlovsky (1971) reported a speciation event that occurred in a laboratory culture of Drosophila paulistorum sometime between 1958 and 1963. The culture was descended from a single inseminated female that was captured in the Llanos of Colombia. In 1958 this strain produced fertile hybrids when crossed with conspecifics of different strains from Orinocan. From 1963 onward crosses with Orinocan strains produced only sterile males. Initially no assortative mating or behavioral isolation was seen between the Llanos strain and the Orinocan strains. Later on Dobzhansky produced assortative mating (Dobzhansky 1972).

The fact that JAD likes to call this only “incipient” speciation the fact remains this is just one of many observed instances of speciation. The fact is, again against what JAD claims, the process of speciation never really ends. Where biologists draw the line in species it a bit of a grey area because the processes of speciation has not quantum state. 10 million years from now humans will be genetically different from what we are today. There is a good chance that humans 10 million years in the future would not be genetically compatible with current day humans. JAD hypothesis that evolution no longer occurs has been proven false over 40 years ago yet he clings on to it. He’ll spout off something about me not being his intellectual equal, that I’m not a biologist, etc therefore I am not fit to point out papers that show his hypothesis to be false.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on February 13, 2005 8:00 PM.

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