Telling it straight

| 35 Comments

The “telling it straight” award today goes to James Gibbons, an editor at the Houston Chronicle. A short letter that Gibbons sent to the Discovery Institute in 2003 (during the textbook adoption battle in Texas) was quoted by the Discovery Institute Media Complaints Division today. They called it “one of the tackiest letters we’ve received from the media.” Readers can judge for themselves:

“Surely you will admit that the battle in Austin is not between the Houston Chronicle and the Discovery Institute, but between those who believe the species on Earth today are descended from species now extinct and those who do not share this belief. … The Chronicle Editorial Board will not be neutral as between biologists and members of the modern no-nothing party who have no regard for reason, intellect or even basic honesty.

Yours sincerely,

James Gibbons”quoted at the DIMCD

Tacky? Or just blunt, forthright, and accurate? Earth to Discovery Institute: Objectivity |= suspension of judgement. If, on the topic of evolution, a newspaper editorial board prefers mainstream science over fringe pseudoscience, that’s not bias – it is simply doing what most newspapers do on most science stories: report the science. Newspaper editorial boards take positions on all kinds of things – presidential candidates, ballot measures, environmental issues, etc. Regardless, when someone is pushing ID in the public schools, news stories do what news stories usually do on political issues, namely tell “both sides” – evolution and ID are given equal time. This actually represents a tremendous artifical inflation of the credibility of ID. Given this, it is mystifying that the DI spends so much time harassing reporters than exercise any degree of skepticism about the claims of the ID movement.

In the next post from the DI blog, “Barb’s at it Again!”, the DI Media Complaints Division complains about Barbara Forrest’s review of that important new advance in rhetoric, the ID book Darwinism, Design, and Public Education.

The DI begins by complaining about Forrest’s referencing the infamous Discovery Institute Wedge Strategy:

And the wedge again Barbara? (Yawn) That is such old news that has already been dealt with here. For the record I don’t know of a single ID theorist who refers to himself as “the Wedge” nor do we do so collectively.

Faux laconic yawns aside, I suppose this means that Barbara Forrest made up The Wedge Strategy from the Discovery Institute, The ID Wedge Report at the ID-promoting Access Research Network (the ID Wedge Report at ARN was formerly known as the Wedge Update, located at www.arn.org/wedge.htm), and Phillip Johnson’s book The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism.

Speaking of The Wedge of Truth, on a promotional webpage for the book, InterVarsity Press asks, What is the Wedge of Truth?

What is the Wedge of Truth?

At the heart of the problem of scientific authority is the fact that there are two distinct definitions of science in our culture. On the one hand, science is devoted to unbiased empirical investigation. According to this definition, scientists should follow the empirical evidence wherever it leads–even if it leads to recognition of the presence of intelligent causes in biology. According to the other definition, science is devoted to providing explanations for all phenomena that employ only natural or material causes. According to the second definition, scientists must ignore evidence pointing to the presence of intelligent causes in biology, and must affirm the sufficiency of natural (unintelligent) causes regardless of the evidence.

With his latest book, Phillip Johnson drives a wedge between these two definitions, and therefore makes it possible for us to consider the possibility that true science–science by the first definition–actually points to the reality of the Creator, and to the truth of the biblical proposition that In the beginning was the Word. A great deal follows from that fundamental truth; but for that you will have to read the book!What is the Wedge of Truth?, italics original

Just us scientists over here in the ID movement! (Yawn)

As recently as last year, William Dembski commented on the pros and cons of the Wedge movement:

From our vantage, materialism is not a neutral, value-free, minimalist position from which to pursue inquiry. Rather, it is itself an ideology with an agenda. What’s more, it requires an evolutionary creation story to keep it afloat. On scientific grounds, we regard that creation story to be false. What’s more, we regard the ideological agenda that has flowed from it to be destructive to rational discourse. Our concerns are therefore entirely parallel to the evolutionists’. Indeed, all the evolutionists’ worst fears about what the world would be like if we succeed have, in our view, already been realized through the success of materialism and evolution. Hence, as a strategy for unseating materialism and evolution, the term “Wedge” has come to denote an intellectual and cultural movement that many find congenial.William Dembski

And yet, the Discovery Institute poster claims that he doesn’t know about “a single ID theorist” who refers to the ID movement as “the Wedge.”

Here is Dembski commenting on the Wedge in 2002, in “Becoming a Disciplined Science: Prospects, Pitfalls, and Reality Check for ID”:

Intelligent design’s dual role as a constructive scientific project and as a means for cultural renaissance should raise some concerns over characterizing our movement as a “wedge.” Intelligent design’s instrumental good of renewing culture hinges on its intrinsic good of furthering science. Unfortunately, the metaphor of the wedge clouds this order of precedence. The wedge metaphor, as Phillip Johnson initially used it, focused on the discrepancy between science as an empirical enterprise that goes where the evidence leads (which is a legitimate conception of science) and science as applied materialist philosophy that maintains its materialism regardless of evidence (this is a bogus, though widely held, misconception of science). According to Johnson, the discrepancy between these two conceptions of science provides a point of weakness into which the thin end of a wedge can be inserted. Pounding the wedge at that point of weakness is supposed to invigorate science, renew culture, and liberate society from the miasma of materialism and naturalism. That’s the promise.William Dembski, “Becoming a Disciplined Science

It is clear that what has happened is that in the last few years Dembski and many at the Discovery Institute have had a realization. Probably because of the work of Barbara Forrest and others, they have realized that “the Wedge” and all of the related phraseology (“cultural renewal”, “theistic science”, etc.) is a political and legal liability. For true believers in ID the problems with the Wedge were not so obvious, but to everyone else ID was quite blatantly a branch of conservative Christian apologetics rather than a scientific movement. This undermined the original goal of ID, which was to sneak ID into the public schools first, and then renew culture via scientific recognition of God.

Driven by conflicting demands of (1) promoting supernaturalism and (2) court rulings declaring this unconstitutional to do in public schools, the ID movement has a very difficult line to walk. Even the “professionals” find it difficult to maintain, as the switch from Wedge-promotion to Wedge-dismissal indicates. It is almost impossible for the “local amateur hour” to keep up the act.

I wonder if it has ever occurred to the ID movement that their long-term odds would be much better if they scrapped all attempts to get their views – either ID or “weaknesses of evolution” – into public schools through political means. Darwin, Mendel, Newton, Einstein, Wegener, Crick, etc. all got into science textbooks without the help of school board motions or state legislatures.

35 Comments

Is mutation/selection on such shaky grounds that the mere mention to 9th graders that it isn’t writ in granite will bring it down?

I don’t understand what all the commotion is about. It’s one of the most tested theories there is. Mutation/selection turned inanimate chemicals into the vast diversity of life we see today.

It’s as factual as combustion of oxygen and hydrogen produces water.

It’s as factual as chlorphyl is green.

It’s as factual as craters on the moon.

It’s as factual as gravity on earth accelerates a falling object at 32 feet per second per second.

It’s as factual as a wing gets its lift via pressure differential on the upper and lower surfaces.

Oh hang on, maybe it isn’t that factual after all. I think I confused things are observed and measured with something that’s unobserved, based on a huge extrapolation, and requires FAITH.

DaveScot:

It is as plain as the nose on your face (literally!)

How hard is it for you to realize that the SOLE reason “mutation/selection” is “on shaky ground” is because creationists keep attacking it in the political realm. Why is it so difficult for you to see that the only reason its controversial is because people like you insist on making it so?

The facts speak for themselves, they do NOT need lawyers to push them like ID does.

When ID puts forward a theory that can be tested, then it can be considered within the realm of science, but of course, you already know that.

Key to the entire debate: Science does not require politics or lawyers, it only requires facts. And science is NOT a democracy! IDists need to remember that majority does not rule in science, only the facts, thus if ID presents some facts on its behalf, then it can be debated scientifically. But I won’t be holding my breath, will you?

Also, there is the political dimension of this whole business. If scientists could rest assured that only valid evidence and hypotheses rigorously tested were ever be brought up in discussions about evolution and influence the standards by which science will be taught and perceived by the society as a whole, there would be no cause to shout about some back-country shenanigans. But the history of politics shows without a doubt, that complete and discredited nonsense, if repeated often enough by the right people can influence public opinion and decision making more than any amount of evidence. This is why there is cause to worry, although much about evolution (organisms fall into nested hierarchies morphological, bio-chemical and genetical; mutation, selection and genetic drift can alter a population to a degree exceeding speciation and no mechanism is known stopping it from changing further at any point) is as obvious as chlorophyll is green.

Is gravity on such shaky grounds that the mere mention to 9th graders that it isn’t writ in granite will bring it down? Let’s add stickers to all the textbooks saying that gravity is “a theory, not a fact” – just a huge extrapolation from a bunch of stuff falling; we can’t see or taste gravity. Ditto for atoms and the other atomic particles. And stars – they’re just lights in the sky. In fact, let’s plaster the science textbooks with stickers for each and every claim in the book, noting that none of them are “writ in granite”, being mere “extrapolations”.

Or let’s not, and instead teach students about empirical epistemology, something that trolls like DaveScot don’t grasp.

Excellent post, Nick. I’ll also note that DaveScot’s comment in response didn’t seem to have anything to do with what you wrote.

The ID approach to this “debate” (essentially a sophisticated PR campaign) should tell you all you need to know about the nature of ID.

Good science has nothing to do with publicity or democracy. Of course, ID isn’t about science so they’re engaged in the sort of tactics you’d expect from political and/or religious ideologues (or a salesman, for that matter) – i.e. exploiting the ignorance and fears of the masses.

Instead of showing up at school board meetings and writing press releases, IDers should be in the trenches with scientists, trying to change minds one at a time. They should be asking other scientists to test their ideas and give them feedback. But alas, there’s nothing to test since ID provides nothing to verify or falsify.

Jack:

Actually, DaveScot’s comment DID have something directly to do with Gibbons’ original letter: it demonstrated total lack of basic honesty, along with the abandonment of reason and intellect. Everything DaveScot writes underscores the accuracy of Gibbons’ description.

… if repeated often enough by the right people can influence public opinion and decision making more than any amount of evidence.

So many are worshipping at the feet of “Democracy” that few seem aware that there are (and should be) societal institutions that are not governed by majority/mob rule. We don’t want our science, technology or medicine guided by those who have won a public relations campaign.

Thomas Jefferson: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

Aggie Nostic:

I suspect you may have missed the point somewhat. “Equal time” and “present all sides” and the like are deployed ONLY when the Believer’s pet superstition is not being preached. Reverse this condition, so that the Believers superstition is the ONLY position being preached, and those appeals to faux-Democracy will vanish instantly and permanently. Indeed, at that point these same people will fight like wet cats at any suggestion that other views contaminate the purity of their Truth.

Political tactics are being used because (1) they are the only tactics currently available (there being no science to support the creationists); and (2) because the political approach is potentially effective, leveraging off public ignorance. However, you don’t need to look all that hard to see that the long-term goal (the widest part of the wedge) is a basically theocratic government, under the control of THEIR doctrines. After all, they’re well aware that the political means they used to achieve their power can be used against them unless they use that power to alter the political system so as to prevent competition.

God’s ends (to which only creationists are privy) justify ANY means. Because dishonesty in every respect from philosophy to politics to science is clearly required, pervasive dishonesty is therefore fully justified. God said so.

If the IDists can really find empirical evidence that leads to supernatural causes in biology, I want them to finally put to rest the age old question of, “How many angels can fit on the head of a pin?”

GCT,

The answer to the age old question of how many angels can fit (dance) on the head of a pin (point of a needle) is however many God wants to fit on the head of a pin (dance on the point of a needle.)

You don’t have to ask an IDer that, just ask my nine year old daughter.

Bill Ware,

Ah, but can you scientifically prove it? That’s the point. If the IDists really can detect supernatural things with natural means, then they should be able to scientifically detect and count how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

…you don’t need to look all that hard to see that the long-term goal (the widest part of the wedge) is a basically theocratic government, under the control of THEIR doctrines.

Flint:

I fear you are correct. I recall after the November election, Chris Matthews (Hardball, MSNBC) had on a guest from the Religious Right. As you can imagine, the guest was ecstatic about the election, especially since it was (supposedly) a mandate for their moral agenda. In all the excitement, the guest accidentally let the cat out of the bag by denying the principle of church/state separation. Chris was aghast. Of course, if Chris knew what these people were saying in private and understood what they truly believe in their hearts, he wouldn’t have been surprised at all.

I have been informed that according to logicians, the term “|=” means “satisfies” (D |= E equals all models that satisfy D satisfy E).

However, I meant “|=” as “does not equal”, as in certain computer languages.

So, to all you logicians out there,

|= |= |=

Take that!

Nick (Matzke) Wrote:

However, I meant “|=” as “does not equal”, as in certain computer languages.

I am not familiar with any of those languages. I know of certain languages where NOT is expressed as an exclamation point, so DOES NOT EQUAL would be “!=”

Which languages use the syntax you describe?

This is off topic and just to satisfy my curiosity.

Cheers,

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Don’t forget the germ theory of disease. Surgeons should provide disclaimer stickers on their informed consent documents, stating:

The concept that diseases are spread by “germs” (e.g., bacteria, or viruses) is only a theory, and remains a controversial issue. Thoughtful people have been known to disagree with this theory. If you believe in other theories that explain protection from disease or transfer of disease, you have the right to ask your surgeon to employ a method consistent with your beliefs. No one with a firm belief in, say, guardian angels or the effectiveness of intervening prayer should feel coerced to accept procedures or practices unnecessary under any theory but germ theory.

You have the right to tell your surgeon to skip the scrubbing, filtering, and sterilization; to forgo the autoclave, the surgical gloves and masks, sterile dressings, clean linens, and all other antiseptic measures.

Such procedures are at best superfluous (and possibly blasphemous) under any but the germ theory.

Hm. Ok, so I guess it would be only ‘fair’ to demand equal time for the ‘theory’ that the holocaust is a hoax in history classes, that the world is run by the Evil Jewish Conspiracy in political science classes, and that the white people are really the result of a scientific experiment gone terrible wrong.

Right?

Swifty

In all the excitement, the guest accidentally let the cat out of the bag by denying the principle of church/state separation. Chris was aghast. Of course, if Chris knew what these people were saying in private and understood what they truly believe in their hearts, he wouldn?t have been surprised at all.

“private” my ass.

William Rehnquist Wrote:

“The ‘wall of separation between church and State’ is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned.”

This position is standard fare on the right and Rehnquist has been widely quoted. And Chris Matthews knows it; any appearance of being “aghast” is pure theater.

Paredo Wrote:

The facts speak for themselves, they do NOT need lawyers to push them like ID does.

Um… speaking of lawyers. Who sued who in Dover and Cobb?

You are very confused. The lawyers and the judges are keeping the props under Darwinian theory. Parents in a school district try to put a mere sticker in a biology text reminding students that the account of evolution contained therein is a theory, not a fact, and that’s too much. A mere sticker…

You people are ridiculous with your reductio ad absurdum arguments.

Put a sticker in high school physical science textbooks saying gravity is a theory, not a fact, and should be read with a critical mind?

First of all, it’s called the LAW OF GRAVITY, not the theory of gravity. Unlike macroevolution, gravity is an observable, measurable law of nature.

And if you want a sticker, be my guest. I’m confident that students won’t spend much critical thinking time before concluding that the law of gravity is a fact, not a theory.

Next!

ts writes

And Chris Matthews knows it; any appearance of being “aghast” is pure theater.

Thanks for pointing out this sadly unobvious fact, ts.

All together now:

The Law of Gravity is the mathematical relation among several quantities that gives the force with which two massive bodies attract one another; the Theory of Gravity is the proposed explanation for that attraction. Evolution is the observed change of lifeforms through time; the Theory of Evolution is the proposed mechanism for that change.

I know, I know, Mr DaveScot has made a point of regularly ignoring the correct definitions of scientific terms. Doesn’t matter, it is worth repeating.

You people are ridiculous with your reductio ad absurdum arguments.

Moron.

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GCT,

LOL Of course one can’t detect and count the number of angels on the head of a pin. That would be the same as proving God exists, which of course is impossible! That’s why these IDers are such frauds.

Sorry about the delay in my response. I was caught up in a discussion on the WP board about some high school students who put on a play about a football player who was realizing he was gay, the reaction of his teammates, the audience, the community at large and so on.

I got attacked by anti-gay bigots on one side and anti-religious bigots (the worse of the two) on the other. Boy, did I have my hands full.

And all because I suggested a need to be polite and respectful of others beliefs even if we disagreed over certain behaviors.

So I’m glad to be back at PT where the folks think it’s just fine that I believe that God made the universe and everything in it and are eager to share what they know about evolution with me so I can find out more about how He did it.

I hope there’s a lesson to be learned in all this.

DaveScot:

Um … speaking of lawyers. Who sued who in Dover and Cobb?

You are very confused. The lawyers and the judges are keeping the props under Darwinian theory. Parents in a school district try to put a mere sticker in a biology text reminding students that the account of evolution contained therein is a theory, not a fact, and that’s too much. A mere sticker …

Wow! I’m impressed, you actually made a coherent statement.

You are however, still wrong. Dover was the result of IDists attacking the facts, and trying to prevent our children from learning the facts. For our children Dave! Think of the children!

The facts were under attack. This would never have occurred if not for IDists interfering.

And, Dave, don’t look now, but your intellectual fly is down.

That’s right: We have a lot more data and a much better understanding of evolution than we do gravity. We can observe evolution almost directly, in the genes, and we understand it enough to manipulate it some. The same can’t be said for gravity. There are few, if any, direct observations of gravity.

If gravity is the law, evolution is the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, with the Magna Carta as midwife.

Rehnquist wrote that in a dissent – a dissent so far from the land of the normal that no other dissenter would sign on.

And he’s appeared to distance himself from it since then.

Yeah, Rehnquist said it – but the law is the opposite. So is the history, which is why the other justices wouldn’t sign on, I suspect.

Separation of church and state is organic to the Constitution, especially in Article VI, even before the First Amendment. Anyone who argues to the contrary needs to sit down and read the document. There is no formal role for a church in any branch of any government; there is no formal roles for any branch of government in any church. How much more separation must there be for Rehnquist to see it?

And he?s appeared to distance himself from it since then.

Perhaps, but Pat Robertson et. al. use it repeatedly. It’s not Rehnquist who was on Hardball.

Bill Ware,

We are completely off topic, but had I known about that play I might have gone to see it to show my support. I did write a letter to the editor of the Washington Post in support, but alas, it has not been published.

Anti-Creationists are total morons.

I seperate anti-creationists from evolutionists.

Evolution as a science is very sketchy and preliminary regarding many of its key points. Because of the timescale alledged this is not a bad thing from a science perspective.

HOWEVER…

The morons among you are so drunk from bashing totally unschooled religion types that you drank the kool-aid.

1) The nature of an all powerful being is that it can NEVER be disproven. Trying to do so makes you the joke.

2) The nature of science is that it draws its strength by predicting currently unknown information. When a theory is unable to reliably predict information it is not a strong scientific theory. It may or may not be true but it is definitely not science.

3) Non-Science in science class that opposes religion is in itself a form of religion and has no place in school.

4) Evolution has very little if any evidence to support the evolution from amino acid to the first cell. This is commonly included in evolution theory but it has no supporting evidence and all tests have failed to reproduce it. Stating a total lack of support for this

5) No serious understanding of how RNA or DNA lifeforms increase in complexity. The inabilty to predict in detail how this works is problematic to the theory of evolution.

6) The facts of evolution basically boil down to the tree of life having a similiar genetic structure with excellent evidence of family lines mutating from one structure to another. However the nature of this evidence is that it has rarely made predictions that have been publically stated regarding missing links that were in detail. In addition although the puzzle pieces do fit together amazingly well, those putting the puzzle WANT the pieces to fit and are willing to change the theory to make them fit.

7) Once some form of evoultion has been established in unchanging detail there is still the issue of restricting that evolution to the historical enviornment available on the earth. If evolution requires a trillion years (in every possible case) it would violate the evolution theory of history even if evolution of complexity is possible for example.

8) Once it has been established that evolution from amino acid to human is possible within the enviornment of earth it still remains to show that no other theory is possible before you can assert that it is fact that evolution occured.

The current state of scientific evolution is that it is far far far from doing step 8. HOWEVER it is taught in schools daily as though item 8 were a fact. This anti-religious brain washing has nothing to do with science and everything to do with a religious belief in the absence of God.

Religion does not belong in publically funded HS and all aspects of evolution that go beyond what current evolution thoery can PREDICT should be noted as not having met the most basic tests of science.

And that is telling it straight.

1. http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA602.html

2. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/ 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution

3. True but irrelevant.

4. Common ancestry does not depend on explaining the origin of the first one-celled whatever.

5. http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB102.html

6. http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB821.html

7. There’s no reason to think it “requires” even the 4 billion or so that it appears to have taken.

8. Incorrect. One can’t throw out a theory because somebody MIGHT in the future come up with something else.

Henry

1) Clearly staing that evolution as a science does not violate either 7 day creation by an all powerful god or first organism introduction by another potentially not all powerful entity would go a long way to reduce this argument. I admit a 7 day creation with all that evidence for evolution seems very akward to me but there is no contra indicator in evolution for this religious belief UNLESS you attempt to disprove an all powerful God which would be foolish in the extream.

2) “Therefore, the evidence for common descent discussed here is independent of specific gradualistic explanatory mechanisms. None of the dozens of predictions directly address how macroevolution has occurred, how fins were able to develop into limbs, how the leopard got its spots, or how the vertebrate eye evolved. None of the evidence recounted here assumes that natural selection is valid. None of the evidence assumes that natural selection is sufficient for generating adaptations or the differences between species and other taxa. Because of this evidentiary independence, the validity of the macroevolutionary conclusion does not depend on whether natural selection, or the inheritance of acquired characaters, or a force vitale, or something else is the true mechanism of adaptive evolutionary change. The scientific case for common descent stands, regardless.”

2A The lack of being able to specify HOW removes the ability to specify WHAT. If any method of natural selection can explain the similiarities so to can any theory of alien intervention.

4) The tree of life branches at the first organism. As such you are at extreamly simple single cell organisms and more than likely at RNA or amino acid level.

5) An understanding of how RNA or DNA increases in information is expressed by taking the sequence translating it into binary and running a compression algorithm on it. This is a clear definition of information. The mechanism by which more complex as defined by more bits of information after compression is favored is not clearly articulated in evolution and when it has been articulated has been proven undefendable as witnessed by your link see item 2.

6) The failure to predict in advance does not prove false it merely removes the abilty to predict that piece of information. Evolution has made many false predictions, Survival of fittest being the most profound which has become survival of the most adaptable and even then found hard to defend. The evidence seems to support survival of the least fit or to be more precise the lowest in the food chain. To then call this lowest on the food chain fit is a large stretch and any modern statements of this view change the wording greatly.

7 I very clearly requires a large portion of the time it has taken or you would see many waves of evolution from first ancestor and the tree of life would be hopelessly over washed which it obviously is not. For example if you had lizardmen building skyscrapers and then going extinct and also bugmen and octapus men etc. Even human cultural evolution seems to have taken 10 and 100s of thousands of years even (getting bigger every discovery too) with a modern brain.

8) Science has two types of theories. Those that can cause an action and those that exclusively can cause an action. Gravity can cause motion but gravity is not the only thing that can cause motion. Descent with modification can explain the evidence found on earth (although the details still need tweaking for that) but that doesn’t mean that descent with modificaiton is the ONLY explaination possible or even the best fit. Again see your quote your wide open HOW leaves equally wide open the WHAT.

1) Disprove God? Not my intention. Besides which, how can explaining relationships among life forms even address the question of God’s existence?

2) Re “2A The lack of being able to specify HOW removes the ability to specify WHAT.” Incorrect. If something is observed, then inability to determine the cause doesn’t mean that what was observed wasn’t actually there.

Re “If any method of natural selection can explain the similiarities so to can any theory of alien intervention.” Also incorrect. Intervening aliens would be under no obligation to maintain a nested heirarchy, or to make new species similiar to existing or recently existing other species, or to put relatives near each other geographically. Sure, they might do that, but this would be an ad-hoc assumption not implied by the “intervention” assumption; it would not be an explanation.

5) Re “The mechanism by which more complex as defined by more bits of information after compression is favored is not clearly articulated in evolution” Incorrect. Gene duplication (or even whole chromosome duplication), followed by mutation of one of the copies, is a known process.

6) Re “Evolution has made many false predictions, Survival of fittest being the most profound which has become survival of the most adaptable and even then found hard to defend.” The phrase “survival of the fittest” was badly worded to start with. What the theory says is that when a trait makes a species more successful in its current environment, that trait will tend to spread. (And also, traits that decrease success will tend to disappear.) But all of that is still relative to current environment, so what’s “fit” will change when the environment changes.

What are those “many false predictions”? And are they based on the core points of the theory as understood today? After all, predictions made decades ago aren’t really the point now.

7. Re “I very clearly requires a large portion of the time it has taken or you would see many waves of evolution from first ancestor and the tree of life would be hopelessly over washed which it obviously is not.” We do see definite indications of “many waves of evolution”. Pretty much every geologic era since the Cambrian has had its own wave.

Re “For example if you had lizardmen building skyscrapers and then going extinct and also bugmen and octapus men etc.” That assumes our type of intelligence would have been beneficial to those species, and I see no reason to assume that.

Henry

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on February 15, 2005 1:10 AM.

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