Iconoclasts of Evolution: Haeckel, Behe, Wells & the Ontogeny of a Fraud

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Since there appears to be an ongoing confusion about the work by Haeckel, the relevance of his work to Darwinian theory and the work by von Baer, I have researched these issues and despite the somewhat unorganized nature of my thoughts and findings, I have decided to present the results now rather than wait another 1 or 2 months before I have time to revisit this issue in more depth.

In Iconoclasts of Evolution: Haeckel, Behe, Wells & the Ontogeny of a Fraud The American Biology Teacher Volume: 67 Issue: 5 Pages: 275-282, authors, Pickett, Kurt M., Wenzel, John W., and Rissing, Steven W. examine the arguments by Behe and Wells about Haeckel and von Baer.

They conclude that, contrary to the claims (by Wells and Behe):

Darwin did not rely on Haeckel, but rather on von Baer. von Baer’s stance against ‘evolution’ is irrelevant. Behe (1998) and Wells (1999, 2000) are deeply confused or intentionally confusing regarding the history and significance of this well-known field, an area they claim has special meaning in their political movement.

A particular ironic statement is made by Wells:

But Darwin persisted in citing him [von Baer] anyway, making him look like a supporter of the very doctrine of evolutionary parallelism he explicitly rejected

Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution 2000, page 86.

I wonder how Wells feels about the DI bibliography, given the above objections.…

A companion presentation (available in both Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote formats) for use by teachers that parallels the arguments discussed here is available via free anonymous download at this FTP site.

But as Pickett et al argue, that Darwin incorporated other data and cited work by others, is not surprising. Any new theory will have to deal with the existing data. And this is the problem with ID namely that is has no theory to deal with the existing data, let alone with additional data. I apologize to the interested reader and hope that the links and references provide sufficient resources for the reader to explore these issues in further detail.

Pickett et al. explain why they are addressing this topic:

The confusion by Behe and Wells, while obvious to trained scientists, needs some explanation for teachers [and ID proponents PvM].

Their argument is simple: Darwin could not have relied on Haeckel since he published his work 15 years after “Origins”. And while Darwin did rely on von Baer, the argument that he cannot rely on von Baer because he disagreed with Darwin is irrelevant.

In other words, a strawman was created and refuted, and Darwinism survives. But that may not be self evident to the casual observer, especially those who rely on the arguments as presented by ID about Haeckel and Darwinian theory.

Support from embryology has been challenged throughout history in various ways by early critics of evolution including creationists, who now speak under the banner of ‘Intelligent Design.’ Behe (1998) and Wells (1999) claimed that embryological support for Darwinian evolution is based on the drawings of 19th century embryologist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919). They reiterate Richardson et al.’s (1997) work indicating has been known since at least 1894 Haeckel’s embryological drawings are inaccurate perhaps fraudulent. Accordingly, Behe (1998) claims that because of this, “ … the problem of within evolution remains unsolved.” Later, Wells (2000, Chapter 5) claimed that the embryological Darwinian evolution is based on the work 19th century embryologist, Karl von Baer (1792-1876). Wells says that as von Baer was not a proponent of evolution, so Darwin’s use of his embryological contributions in support of evolutionary theory is in fact misuse. Later in the same chapter, Wells (2000) claims Baer’s laws-which describe continual change and specialization during development-cannot accommodate reality because they do not allow for the Haeckelian notion of a conserved stage midway during development. As we will show, von Baer’s view, and sequent view of a mid-embryological conserved overwhelmingly supported by available data. Notwithstanding this, Behe (1998) and Wells both claim that the alleged existence of stage midway through development shows, also, that Haeckel’s biogenetic law, “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” is false. Wells and Behe claim that Darwin’s thesis, as set forth in On the Origin of Species, relied upon embryological conclusions drawn before and after the publication of Origin. Further, they imply that current support of Darwinism is based on either von Baer or Haeckel, and that if embryological support for evolution comes from von Baer, then it is misuse; if it comes from Haeckel, it is fraudulent. While these simplistic claims are easily dismissed by embryologists and systematists, it can seem quite confusing to other biology teachers. We present the background necessary for teachers and students to evaluate this conflict objectively.

Source: The powerpoint presentation

Recent Attacks on Embryological Support for Darwinism

Support from embryology has been challenged throughout history in various ways by early critics of evolution including creationists, who now speak under the banner of “Intelligent Design.” Behe (1998) claimed that embryological support for Darwinian evolution is based on the drawings of 19th century embryologist Ernst Haeckel by reiterating Richardson et al�s (1997) work indicating what has been known since at least 1894 (Sedgwick): Haeckel’s embryological drawings are inaccurate and perhaps fraudulent. Accordingly, Behe claims that because of this, “ … the problem of development within evolution remains unsolved.” Later, Wells (2000) claimed that the embryological support for Darwinian evolution is based on the work of another 19th century embryologist, Karl von Baer. Wells says that as von Baer was not a proponent of evolution, so Darwin’s use of his embryological contributions in support of evolutionary theory is in fact misuse. Later in the same chapter, Wells (2000) claims that von Baer’s laws cannot accommodate reality because they do not allow for a conserved stage midway during development. Wells (2000) and Behe (1998) both claim that the existence of a conserved stage midway through development shows, also, that Haeckel’s biogenetic law, “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” is false. Essentially, Wells and Behe claim that embryological support of Darwinism is based on either von Baer or Haeckel, and that if embryological support for evolution comes from von Baer, then it is misuse; if it comes from Haeckel, it is fraudulent.

  • Behe (1998): Support is based on Ernst Haeckel’s embryo drawings, which are inaccurate. [1]
  • Wells (2000): Support is based on work of Karl von Baer, who was not an evolutionist [2]
  • Wells(2000): Support based on von Baer cannot accommodate the conserved stage. [3]

BUT …

The real story

We show

(1) the validity of Haeckel’s drawings or his “biogenetic law” has no impact on Darwinian evolution because Darwin published On the Origin of Species some 15 years before Haeckel’s drawings were published;

(2) Richardson et al.’s (1997) critical claim is there no conserved stage during development, and it is incidental that Haeckel’s drawings are in error; and

(3) von Baer’s rejection of Darwin is immaterial because his primary, empirical data support Darwin.

  • The validity of Haeckel’s drawings has no impact on Darwinian biology because Darwin published Origin 15 years before Haeckel’s drawings. [4]
  • Von Baer’s rejection of Darwin is immaterial.
  • There is no conserved stage of embryological development.

Conclusions

  • Darwin did not rely on Haeckel, but rather on von Baer.
  • Von Baer’s stance against evolution is irrelevant.
  • Behe (1998) and Wells (1999, 2000) are deeply confused regarding the history and significance of this well-known field, and area they claim has special meaning in their political movement

Footnotes

[1] Letter by Behe MJ Embryology and evolution SCIENCE 281 (5375): 348-348 JUL 17 1998

[2] Wells Icons of Evolution

… Wells (2000, Chapter 5) claimed that the embryological support for Darwinian evolution is based on the work of another 19th century embryologist, Karl von Baer (1792-1876). Wells says that as von Baer was not a proponent of evolution, so Darwin’s use of his embryological contributions in support of evolutionary theory is in fact misuse. Later in the same chapter, Wells (2000) claims that von Baer’s laws, which describe continual change and specialization during development, cannot accommodate reality because they do not allow for the Haeckelian notion of a conserved stage midway during development. As we will show, von Baer’s view, and not the subsequent view of a mid-embryological conserved stage, is overwhelmingly supported by available data.

Chapter 5, Icons of Evolution From ICONS OF EVOLUTION? Why much of what Jonathan Wells writes about evolution is wrong by Alan D. Gishlick

HAECKEL’S EMBRYOS

Although Darwin did not use Haeckel on embryology, he did use von Baer. Recognizing Darwin’s use of von Baer, Wells then accuses Darwin of “misusing” von Baer’s work, twisting the data to fit his views. But Darwin does not. Wells claims that von Baer’s embryological laws are incompatible with Darwin’s conclusions, but they are not. Von Baer may have disagreed with Darwin about his conclusions, but his laws do not prohibit development elucidating common ancestry. Darwin came to a different conclusion from the same body of evidence – this is not “distorting” the evidence. Darwin was making a general inductive argument and searched for data that could test the general proposition of common descent; he argued that von Baer’s data could be reinterpreted in terms of common ancestry. This was no more a “misuse” of von Baer than was Alfred Wegener’s reinterpretations of the data of geology in light of mobile continents. New scientific theories always use previous data. Is Wells implying that evolutionary biology cannot cite any research that predates 1859? Is Wells implying that developmental sequences such as those illustrated by von Baer and others are not data?

[4]Wells does mention that Darwin quoted Haeckel in “On the origin of Species”, 1859. In Chapter XIV. Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology – Embryology – Rudimentary Organs On the nature of the affinities connecting organic beings Darwin wrote:

Professor Haeckel in his “Generelle Morphologie” and in another works, has recently brought his great knowledge and abilities to bear on what he calls phylogeny, or the lines of descent of all organic beings. In drawing up the several series he trusts chiefly to embryological characters, but receives aid from homologous and rudimentary organs, as well as from the successive periods at which the various forms of life are believed to have first appeared in our geological formations. He has thus boldly made a great beginning, and shows us how classification will in the future be treated.

But it was not until 1874, 15 years after Darwin published his Origins, that Haeckel published the infamous drawings.

Darwin is quoted by Wells as “[Darwin conluded that early embryos] show us, more or less completely, the condition of the progenitor of the whole group in its adult state” but the quote is from a chapter which does not mention Haeckel but does mention von Baer.

More links on Haeckel and von Baer

  • Richardson MK, Keuck G. (2001) A question of intent: when is a �schematic� illustration a fraud? Nature. 2001 Mar 8;410(6825):144.
  • Richardson MK Keuck G (2002). Haeckel�s ABC of evolution and development. Biol. Revs. 77 495-528.

    One of the central, unresolved controversies in biology concerns the distribution of primitive versus advanced characters at different stages of vertebrate development. This controversy has major implications for evolutionary developmental biology and phylogenetics. Ernst Haeckel addressed the issue with his Biogenetic Law, and his embryo drawings functioned as supporting data. We re-examine Haeckel’s work and its significance for modern efforts to develop a rigorous comparative framework for developmental studies. Haeckel’s comparative embryology was evolutionary but non-quantitative. It was based on developmental sequences, and treated heterochrony as a sequence change. It is not always clear whether he believed in recapitulation of single characters or entire stages. The Biogenetic Law is supported by several recent studies - if applied to single characters only. Haeckel’s important but overlooked alphabetical analogy of evolution and development is an advance on von Baer. Haeckel recognized the evolutionary diversity in early embryonic stages, in line with modern thinking. He did not necessarily advocate the strict form of recapitulation and terminal addition commonly attributed to him. Haeckel’s much-criticized embryo drawings are important as phylogenetic hypotheses, teaching aids, and evidence for evolution. While some criticisms of the drawings are legitimate, others are more tendentious. In opposition to Haeckel and his embryo drawings, Wilhelm His made major advances towards developing a quantitative comparative embryology based on morphometrics. Unfortunately His’s work in this area is largely forgotten. Despite his obvious flaws, Haeckel can be seen as the father of a sequence-based phylogenetic embryology.

  • Scott F. Gilbert The Reception of Karl Ernst von Baer’s Law

    In September 10, 1860, Charles Darwin wrote to his friend, the Harvard biologist Asa Gray, “Embryology is to me by far the strongest class of facts in favor of change of forms.” This statement is remarkable in that it had been assumed that embryology provided evidence against evolution, and another Harvard biologist, Louis Agassiz, indeed was using embryology against Darwin’s hypothesis. How could Darwin say that embryological evidence supported evolution? The key was the embryological law of Karl Ernst von Baer, a law that was supposed to be against the transformation of species.

    Von Baer’s law of development provided Darwin with three essential pieces of his evolutionary theory. First, it offered Darwin a natural mechanism for a branched tree-like pattern of evolutionary divergence. Darwin’s evolutionary theory would not have to be confined to the linear view of the transformationists before him. Second, von Baer’s observations of vertebrate embryos offered Darwin the notion that homologous structures could be explained by common descent. Third, and conversely, it gave him the insight that embryonic structures could provide the basis for biological classification. Thus, he would conclude in the Origin of Species, (1859, p. 449) “Community of embryonic structure reveals community of descent.”

  • John Wilkins Darwin’s Precursors and Influences
  • PZ Myers Wells and Haeckel’s Embryos: A Review of Chapter 5 of Icons of Evolution

118 Comments

If we set aside traditional methodological naturalism, the new theistic science allows for Darwin to have incorporated Haeckel’s later works with no difficulty. If you can’t get the simple stuff correct, how can you hope to understand the Irreducibly Complex stuff?

Re “Wells says that as von Baer was not a proponent of evolution, so Darwin’s use of his embryological contributions in support of evolutionary theory is in fact misuse.”

In that case, that would imply that I.D. advocates also can’t properly use any data from research done by “evolutionists”. So where does that leave them?

Henry

In that case, that would imply that I.D. advocates also can’t properly use any data from research done by “evolutionists”. So where does that leave them?

Floating in the intellectual vacuum they created?

Coincidentally, Wells’ Icons of Evolution is mentioned in today’s coverage by the York Daily Record, which deals with testimony by Kevin Padian.

I am pleased to say that I bought a copy of Wells’ book recently, thus keeping ot out of more gullible hands. Since it was at a used book sale, I am even more pleased to say that none of my money went to the author or publisher.

The full text of Pickett et al’s paper is available online since June 2005 on Talk Reason site - see here.

Excellent, thanks AR

I had not seen the connection of the notion of genetic “front loading” popular with some IDiots and the failed argument of ‘preformationism.’

Second, if preformationism were true – if there was no such thing as development, but simply unfolding – then the full-grown mother-to-be, so she must have in her eggs her own daughters – and in their eggs, their daughters – and so on, like nested Russian dolls, to infinity. Thus, the questionable necessity that all generations of humanity were preformed in Eve’s body. In addition, preformationism did not account for the mixture of parental traits observed in offspring. from Iconoclasts of Evolution: Haeckel, Behe, Wells & the Ontogeny of a Fraud

In his expert witness report submitted to the Dover case, Behe tries to use Haeckel in a claim that falsification is a problem for evolution. I hope someone points out that Haeckel’s drawings do show those gill slits and tails extending past the anus common to all chordates at some time in their lives.

ID folk get apoplectic at the term “gill slits,” claiming that, since they don’t develop into gills, they can’t properly be called gill slits, even colloquially – and, therefore, “all of science is false.”

For want of an accurate term, the gill slit was lost; for want of a gill slit, the creature was lost …

But if you really want entertainment, admit the term “gill slit” is inaccurate, and describe what they really are, and how they really demonstrate the stuff that ID folk don’t want demonstrated. They will accuse your grandmother of being a communist …

And if you really get technical and tell them of the relationship between the gill slits and the lousy design of the giraffe’s vagus nerve, be sure you have one of those automated defibrillators on hand.

Reading Pharyngula and creationist nonsense - where it seems odd that contemporary IDers are making precisely the same mistakes as young Earth creationists in the way they miss the point about their usefulness as evidence of common descent - has rather drilled ‘pharyngeal arches’ into my vocabulary.

-Schmitt.

Perhaps what Wells meant was that Darwin kept presenting von Baer as a supporter of a some form of evolution when he wasn’t? I can’t believe someone who got a perfect score on the old SAT, equivelant to a deviation IQ of 170 something made such an obvious mistake. Perhaps Bono was right about the intelligence trap. Either that or Wells doesn’t spend enough time thinking about what he writes, or he’s being sophistical.

Either that or Wells doesn’t spend enough time thinking about what he writes, or he’s being sophistical.

Or he’s just a lying propagandist.

“archbishop” Dr Hi’yall

Hey, my “ordination” cost me six bucks, and my “doctorate” was an additional two bucks.

How much did it cost you to get made an “archbishop”?

This is a very interesting piece and I plan to read it more carefully later.

But what I find interesting is the strategy of trying to discredit modern Neo-Darwinist theories by stating that Darwin might have got things wrong. It’s silly. Suppose as a thought experiment thatn Wells is right. Then so what?

My understanding is that the modern view is that embryonic development mirros that of closely related species rather than recapitulating phylogeny. The proper method of coming to that conclusion is not by reading Darwin, but by studying fetal development.

The point that scientists cannot build on work that disagrees with their view is also patently absurd.

“Or he’s just a lying propagandist.”

I know this will sound pedantic but I covered that one with “or he’s being sophistical.” ( sophistical as in sophistry, sophistry meaning intentionally fallacious arguementation).

I declared myself archbishop of the wuguwalla when the religion was formed, just a few hours ago. Keep your eye’s on the uncyclopedia for more information, our holy symbol is the venn digram ( we just luv set theory, even if we don’t really understand it ) and our prayer goes like this.

In Soviet Russia the Venn diagram draws you!

You have to say it backwards and forwards twenty times, or else your body will be cut up in a way so complex that it would take a Venn diagram the size of Sydney to describe the result. You also have to email the prayer to 45390752343 of your friends within 1·61803 39887 49894 84820 seconds otherwise hell will open up and devour everyone you love, but not before your dog/cat/budgie is brutally killed by repeated exposure to Britney spears and the Spice Girls music.

The religion isn’t actually a mockery of religion rather it’s a mockery of cyberage kistch.

Henry J Wrote:

Re “Wells says that as von Baer was not a proponent of evolution, so Darwin’s use of his embryological contributions in support of evolutionary theory is in fact misuse.”

In that case, that would imply that I.D. advocates also can’t properly use any data from research done by “evolutionists”. So where does that leave them?

I believe you are getting near the source of this idea. Creationists have been slammed for misusing quotes and references from evolutionists, for example in Ohio, where they presented a list of journal articles they claimed supported Intelligent Design. So this is a “No I’m not, you are” comeback. In that respect it is similar to Behe’s claim htat his detractors are making an argument from ignorance. I also see similarities to many separation of church and state issues, where any attempt to impede the use of government institutions to shove a certain brand of religion down everyone’s throat is being framed as religious discrimination.

Of course they do not seem to make the distinction between use and misuse of the work of an opponent, which ultimately gets back to intellectual depth and integrity.

some endearingly naive or amusingly tongue-in-cheek commenter Wrote:

I can’t believe someone who got a perfect score on the old SAT, equivelant to a deviation IQ of 170 something made such an obvious mistake.

Wells is spreading this autobiographical tidbit? For real? Too hilarious! A link, please.

What is it with the neo-creos? It seems as if making a fool of oneself with these supposed proofs of hyperintelligence is part of the playbook. I’ve lost track of how many have publicly declared their “IQ’s” - even posted scanned Mensa cards! - in lieu of any direct evidence of cognitive ability. I do hope none of Our Side has committed this act of cyberonanism.

But in case this commenter was serious, please read the review of “Icons” by any literate science reviewer, and tell me something that Wells didn’t get wrong. Start with “Icons of Obfuscation” by Matzke (or some anagram thereof), or “The Talented Mr. Wells” by Gishlick & Padian.

I can’t believe someone who got a perfect score on the old SAT, equivelant to a deviation IQ of 170 something made such an obvious mistake.

I can’t believe someone who got a perfect score on the old SAT, equivilent to a deviation IQ of 170 something believes that a fat old South Korean guy is actually the son of God and the younger brother of Jesus Christ – and also gets to tell us who we should marry. (shrug)

As an utterly irrelevant aside, folks, here is a funny little thingie that manages to combine two of my favorite topics — beer and evolution. (You need a movie player that can handle Apple .mov files)

http://tinyurl.com/9lxoo

I got the data of MikeGene. I’ve never known Mike to actually coldly lie, so I assumed it’s true. He also seems like the sort who wouldn’t fall for obvious B***S***.

I can’t believe someone who got a perfect score on the old SAT, equivelant to a deviation IQ of 170 something made such an obvious mistake.

LOL. Wells still goes around saying that peppered moths don’t rest on tree trunks, and that this invalidates Kettlewell’s data and the predation hypothesis for industrial melanism.

In fact, Icons of Evolution is full of “obvious mistakes”. The question is, is Wells smart enough to know they are mistakes, and he just lies about stuff for the glory of Rev. Moon, or is he deluded enough that he thinks he’s actually telling the truth and all scientists in the world are lying? (Of course, any follower of Moon must be delusional enough to start with.) Honestly, I haven’t figured that one out yet.

Is he still a Moonie? I seem to remember someone commenting Wells is an ex-Moonie. Anyone know?

“In fact, Icons of Evolution is full of “obvious mistakes”. The question is, is Wells smart enough to know they are mistakes, and he just lies about stuff for the glory of Rev. Moon, or is he deluded enough that he thinks he’s actually telling the truth and all scientists in the world are lying? (Of course, any follower of Moon must be delusional enough to start with.) Honestly, I haven’t figured that one out yet.”

Being a deluded meglomaniac is no barrier to being a genius. I’d say Hegel was a deluded meglomaniac ( he thought he was literally a delieverer of the highest philosophical insight possible, and that philosophy itself was the highest of all activities.), but he was still a genius.

Does anyone know if Dembski’s claims that Micheal Ruse will be interviewed by Playboy are for real? I know Playboy does do serious interiviews ( they are renowed for there depth, and the amount of time which goes into each, usually a whole day’s intensive grilling. Ayn Rand was interviewed once.) And parts of the post seem to corrbrate the claim ( i.e Ruse saying “actually, it was not until I was asked that I realized that Playboy actually carries written material other than dirty jokes” sounds like something a real person would say). But it does seem a little unbelievable. The address is http://www.uncommondescent.com/inde[…]archives/399

they are renowed for there depth, and the amount of time which goes into each, usually a whole day’s intensive grilling. Ayn Rand was interviewed once.

Well it would probably take all day to get down one of her speeches. I’ve never seen a writer more in need of an editor.

[Steve S:]Is [Jonathan Wells] still a Moonie? I seem to remember someone commenting Wells is an ex-Moonie. Anyone know?

Somebody mentioned that in connection with the Kansas Kangaroo Kourt testimony. The transcripts are all on line now, so you can check for yourself. I don’t think there’s any recantation in there, but I haven’t gone through it with a fine tooth comb.

[Hiyall:]Being a deluded meglomaniac is no barrier to being a genius. I’d say Hegel was a deluded meglomaniac ( he thought he was literally a delieverer of the highest philosophical insight possible, and that philosophy itself was the highest of all activities.), but he was still a genius.

Whether or not Hegel was a genius - whatever that means - one counterexample hardly persuades me that “being a deluded megalomaniac is no barrier to being a genius”. Especially in matters of getting facts straight and keeping scientific analysis free of delusional preconceptions, I’d argue that any significant impairment of mental function indeed poses a serious barrier.

Does anyone know if Dembski’s claims that Micheal Ruse will be interviewed by Playboy are for real?

Don’t know; don’t care. With friends like Ruse, science doesn’t really need any enemies.

Steve S Wrote:

I’ve never seen a writer more in need of an editor.

Have you ever read Moby Dick by Herman Melville?

Have you ever read Moby Dick by Herman Melville?

No, why, does Queequeg give a friggin 40 page speech?

“Whether or not Hegel was a genius - whatever that means - one counterexample hardly persuades me that “being a deluded megalomaniac is no barrier to being a genius”. Especially in matters of getting facts straight and keeping scientific analysis free of delusional preconceptions, I’d argue that any significant impairment of mental function indeed poses a serious barrier.”

Being a genius has little to do with actual acheivement, it’s about potenial to acheive something great, if given the opporturnity, the work ethic and, most often, the proper connection with reality ( though I still maintain many sucessful geniuses were mad) the reason most geniuses never manage much with their lives is because they lack 1 or more of the above. Most geniuses never manage anything earth shattering with their lives. That’s one of the major reasons why it’s possible to be a genius and deluded.

Being a genius has little to do with actual acheivement

Exactly. So why do you bring up Jonathan Wells’s claiming to be a “genius” as something at all relevant to whether he’s got his facts straight, or whether his Moon worship might taint his credibility?

Hi’yall wrote

Perhaps what Wells meant was that Darwin kept presenting von Baer as a supporter of a some form of evolution when he wasn’t? I can’t believe someone who got a perfect score on the old SAT, equivelant to a deviation IQ of 170 something made such an obvious mistake.

Like Russell, I’d like to see a reference for that claim.

RBH

Russell, I am not defending Well’s scientfic credibility, if anything I am attacking him for having a good brain and not using it properly.

RBH, my reference is MikeGene, as I elaborated earlier.

John Cleese couldn’t write stuff like this.

how dare you sir! Cleese has more wit in his little finger than Blast has ever had in his whole body.

I’m sure Cleese himself would demand an apology for you using his name is such banal fashion.

;)

PvM Wrote:

Your point Blast? can you tell us what you believe this article states and then explain to us how this is relevant to your ‘argument’?

I don’t have access to the entire article. What the abstract suggests is that saliva proteins were modified. These modified saliva proteins became toxins. Hence, if you were hypothetically able to look at the genomes of their pregenitors, you would likely not find the “toxin” gene; just saliva genes. So the absence of the “toxin” gene from this or that genome does not preclude the possibility that the elements for making the toxin are there.

This parallels the argument I’ve made here perfectly.

I don’t have access to the entire article.

And wouldn’t understand it if you did.

What the abstract suggests is that saliva proteins were modified. These modified saliva proteins became toxins.

In other words, they EVOLVED. They appeared through a mutation that altered a pre-existing gene for salivary proteins.

Nothing “frontloaded” about it.

Hence, if you were hypothetically able to look at the genomes of their pregenitors, you would likely not find the “toxin” gene;

Hence it was NOT “frontloaded”. It appeared later, as a NEW GENE, through a modification of the salivary gene.

Gee, Blast, you’re sure making this simple.

just saliva genes.

Right. No “frontloaded” venom genes. The venom genes appeared later. They are, in ID terminology, “new genetic information”.

So the absence of the “toxin” gene from this or that genome does not preclude the possibility that the elements for making the toxin are there.

(slaps forehead)

So let me get this straight, Blast —— you are arguing (apparently with a straight face) that the fact that NO TOXIN GENE IS THERE, DOES NOT PRECLUDE THE POSSIBILITY THAT IT IS THERE.

Am I reading you right, Blast?

No WONDER everyone thinks you’re a pig-ignorant pudknocker, Blast. (shrug)

This parallels the argument I’ve made here perfectly.

Riiigggghhhhttttt. In Blast’s world, the fact that snake venom genes evolved from salivary genes, shows that they were frontloaded and didn’t evolve, since the venom genes were there all along, even though they’re not there.

Thanks for, uh, sharing that, Blast.

In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, “What a maroon”.

BlastfromthePast Wrote:

So the absence of the “toxin” gene from this or that genome does not preclude the possibility that the elements for making the toxin are there.

Yes, and those elements are called mutation, natural selection, drift, recombination, some time, etc.

*sigh*

right… so the fact that even in the abstract, the article mentions the that venom has EVOLVED no less that 24 times in the simple subset they looked at means nothing to you.

there is no point in trying to educate you, Blast. You are simply a bore.

follow your own advice and go away. you know nothing, and obviously care not to learn. You are worse than ignorant, you go beyond rock-headed. i can’t even think of an appropriate term to describe how you link totally irrational thought patterns together like you do; maybe someone with better linguistic skills can contribute.

go fantasize about your ridiculous conceptualizations of things you have NO clue about somewhere else.

I’m hoping that the miniscule void you leave behind might actually get filled by someone who at least knows something about what they are talking about.

if you are going to stick around, can you explain to us why you lied to us and said we weren’t worth your time?

are you a habitual liar, as lenny has pointed out?

now those should be questions even you can answer.

*sigh*

right… so the fact that even in the abstract, the article mentions the that venom has EVOLVED no less that 24 times in the simple subset they looked at means nothing to you.

there is no point in trying to educate you, Blast. You are simply a bore.

follow your own advice and go away. you know nothing, and obviously care not to learn. You are worse than ignorant, you go beyond rock-headed. i can’t even think of an appropriate term to describe how you link totally irrational thought patterns together like you do; maybe someone with better linguistic skills can contribute.

go fantasize about your ridiculous conceptualizations of things you have NO clue about somewhere else.

I’m hoping that the miniscule void you leave behind might actually get filled by someone who at least knows something about what they are talking about.

if you are going to stick around, can you explain to us why you lied to us and said we weren’t worth your time?

are you a habitual liar, as lenny has pointed out?

now those should be questions even you can answer.

*sigh*

right… so the fact that even in the abstract, the article mentions the that venom has EVOLVED no less that 24 times in the simple subset they looked at means nothing to you.

there is no point in trying to educate you, Blast. You are simply a bore.

follow your own advice and go away. you know nothing, and obviously care not to learn. You are worse than ignorant, you go beyond rock-headed. i can’t even think of an appropriate term to describe how you link totally irrational thought patterns together like you do; maybe someone with better linguistic skills can contribute.

go fantasize about your ridiculous conceptualizations of things you have NO clue about somewhere else.

I’m hoping that the miniscule void you leave behind might actually get filled by someone who at least knows something about what they are talking about.

if you are going to stick around, can you explain to us why you lied to us and said we weren’t worth your time?

are you a habitual liar, as lenny has pointed out?

now those should be questions even you can answer.

*sigh*

right… so the fact that even in the abstract, the article mentions the that venom has EVOLVED no less that 24 times in the simple subset they looked at means nothing to you.

there is no point in trying to educate you, Blast. You are simply a bore.

follow your own advice and go away. you know nothing, and obviously care not to learn. You are worse than ignorant, you go beyond rock-headed. i can’t even think of an appropriate term to describe how you link totally irrational thought patterns together like you do; maybe someone with better linguistic skills can contribute.

go fantasize about your ridiculous conceptualizations of things you have NO clue about somewhere else.

I’m hoping that the miniscule void you leave behind might actually get filled by someone who at least knows something about what they are talking about.

if you are going to stick around, can you explain to us why you lied to us and said we weren’t worth your time?

are you a habitual liar, as lenny has pointed out?

now those should be questions even you can answer.

Hey Blast, I thought you were leaving?

Or were you just BS’ing us about that, too?

hey, I’m so clever… i managed to post 4 times with one click!

woot! I’m a genius.

must be all that front-loaded information i was born with.

or maybe it’s a glitch in my firewall…

hmm.

I have to admit, there is ONE sentence in Blast’s last post that actually does make sense, in a twisted sort of way:

This parallels the argument I’ve made here perfectly.

i can’t argue with the fact that indeed, one inane post by blast certainly parallels another, at least with the level of logic involved.

*snort*

Blast Wrote:

I don’t have access to the entire article. What the abstract suggests is that saliva proteins were modified. These modified saliva proteins became toxins. Hence, if you were hypothetically able to look at the genomes of their pregenitors, you would likely not find the “toxin” gene; just saliva genes. So the absence of the “toxin” gene from this or that genome does not preclude the possibility that the elements for making the toxin are there.

This parallels the argument I’ve made here perfectly.

Is your argument that evolutionary mechanisms are similar to front loading? In that case, you may want to reconsider your argument since it becomes indistinguishable from evolutionary theory.

Precursors of various genes coding for toxins may be there but that’s not surprising given common descent. Front loading however is quite a different concept which would suggest that the various toxin genes are all to be found in all life forms. That of course is plainly wrong. Evidence does show that these toxins all trace back to common origins.

So perhaps you may want to more clearly present your argument because at this moment you seem to be arguing in favor of evolutionary theory (although in a somewhat confusing manner). Perhaps access to some science journals and their full text may be helpful in understanding evolutionary science.

ID of course is a scientifically vacuous concept. No need to elaborate further on that.

no! PLEASE don’t encourage him PvM!!! you damn well know he is incapable of presenting a coherent argument!

invite others in that actually can form rational statements.

I can’t see how Blasts’ ramblings have any value whatsoever. they are so irrational that even countering them teaches nothing to any observers out there.

it’s like arguing with someone who insists that 2+2=5, and to attempt to support his contention quotes random excerpts from quantum theory.

really. no point.

Comment # 52978

BlastfromthePast Wrote:

Comment #52978 Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 20, 2005 08:51 PM (e) (s) … I don’t have access to the entire article.

A little clue Blast, there are these buildings with lots of books in them. They are called libraries. They are great places where you can get access to make books, magazines, journals and more all for free.

BlastfromthePast Wrote:

What the abstract suggests is that saliva proteins were modified. These modified saliva proteins became toxins. Hence, if you were hypothetically able to look at the genomes of their pregenitors [sic], you would likely not find the “toxin” gene; just saliva genes. So the absence of the “toxin” gene from this or that genome does not preclude the possibility that the elements for making the toxin are there. This parallels the argument I’ve made here perfectly.

I’ll take a bit of a position here and give you the benefit of the doubt. You’ve realized what evolution is haven’t you!

No where does evolution say that a gene POOFS into existence. All genes we see are a modification on a previous gene. Many times the gene has a similar function to the previous gene, sometimes it can be totally different. It all depends on how the gene was altered. Or more correctly what the mutated gene turns into.

So I for one am glad you accept this Nature paper and understand that it explains venom by evolutionary mechanisms not intelligently designed mechanism via front loading.

what’s funny is, i think one part of his mind actually grasps how the very paper he selected is yet another wonderful example of how evolution works, while another part of his mind is screaming “NOOOOO!!!”

I envision that part of his mind a bit like Luke Skywalker screaming “NOOOO!!!” on the catwalk when Darth tells him he’s his father…

search your feelings, Blast, you know it to be true…

one slight correction to your post Wayne, most regular public libraries don’t have access to scientific periodicals (tho some DO have electronic access). For anyone interested, I would highly recommend a trip to your nearest university library to get access to the latest periodicals. Still free, and most have very helpful staff to get you started.

Of course, the bigger the university, typically the bigger the periodical collection (at least in print).

If you go, do be sure to ask about electronic access to periodicals as well, via Current Contents or Medline. You can print out articles directly from these as well. very convienient.

also, if you find a specific article in the subject you are looking for that seems an important one, you can use the Science Citation Index to see who has cited that article since it’s original publication, and get a great idea of how the field the paper is concerned with has progressed since it’s originial publication.

just thought i would throw that out there so folks can see that everything they need to make their own decisions is out there, and there are folks that will help them find it if they just ask.

PvM Wrote:

Is your argument that evolutionary mechanisms are similar to front loading? In that case, you may want to reconsider your argument since it becomes indistinguishable from evolutionary theory.

Though it might sound like I’m saying that, I definitely am not.

But since you’re bringing up this point, let me say that as I muse on what is at issue, my sense is that in the final unfolding of all this we’ll likely find what you might call “quantum” geneticism; viz., that while there are real similarities between genetic systems, and while there might be an over-abundance of information present in genomes across species, that there are certain activation factors that separate higher and lower taxonomic groups. So, there will be “missing links” between taxonomic groups, but enough similarity that arguable pathways between this group, and that group, might be plausible.

PvM Wrote:

So perhaps you may want to more clearly present your argument because at this moment you seem to be arguing in favor of evolutionary theory (although in a somewhat confusing manner). Perhaps access to some science journals and their full text may be helpful in understanding evolutionary science.

I think I understand evolutionary science well enough–it’s not that complicated. In fact, the more I read, the more RM+NS seems untenable–not the other way around.

I’m a very intuitive type person. Intuition goes after first principles. Neo-Darwinism is not a sufficient first principle to explain evolution. Neutral Theory, while more plausible/sensible, just isn’t powerful enough to answer all the questions that biological complexity and diversity require.

When it comes to understanding the real science of development–I suppose you would say: “evo-devo”–we’ve only just begun. But what seems entirely clear to me is that we’re dealing with an information system that is well beyond anything we might envisage, one that has the most sophisticated messaging system ever encountered (I’m thinking here of siRNAs,e.g.; but even these are the ‘tip of the iceberg’). That means that what’s most important in biological life is not the basic ingredients (proteins=codons) but the interaction (messaging) between information centers.

To believe that ID postulates that the genome contains all the genes, of all organisms, let’s say, end-to-end, makes very little sense—most organisms share very similar genes (I’m thinking here of Hox genes, in particular), and the coding portions only represent a very small percentage of the entire genome anyways. This is certainly NOT what I have in mind when I speak of “front-loading”. “Front-loading” is about “information.” We still don’t know enough about the genome to figure out where, and how, this information is stored. (So we call it “junk” DNA in the meantime). For me it’s obvious that the more important portion of the genome is the so-called “non-coding” (or “junk”) part of the DNA. And it’s there that the information for changing “saliva” proteins to “toxins” resides. The future should clarify all this.

By the way, I routinely–through email alerts–review Nature, Nature Genetics, Gene Therapy and The Scientist. I look at New Scientist daily. And, of course, the local Barnes and Noble is a much nicer environment to read articles I consider worth reading.

In fact, I read one today on “structural variation.” To me, this only adds to the problems of current evolutionary theory: insertions, deletions, inversions, duplications, etc., in differing numbers between INDIVIDUALS! What can a little ole, measley, point mutation hope to accomplish?

I’m a very intuitive type person

yikes; if that’s what you call intuition, I’d be scared to see what you call logic.

really tho, many scientific theories are not “intuitive” to most folks on the face of them, that certainly doesn’t make them incorrect.

just because you can look at abstracts and decipher the words on the page, doesn’t mean you understand what is being said there, as you have demonstrated over and over and over again.

you are jumping way far ahead of where you need to be focusing your attentions.

if you want to come up with your own definition of front-loading, or even “intelligent design” and develop a hypothesis from there, please feel free. However, whatever you come up with has to at least explain observable data as well as current theory, and also add something new; and I’m sorry to say you haven’t even come close to doing so. not in the ballpark, not even in the same zipcode. I am humored constantly by your flailing attempts, even if they are getting a bit tiresome.

if you don’t even understand the current observable data and what it means, how on earth can you claim to use “intuition” to develop an even remotely plausible hypothesis?

look, if you don’t want to be considered completely whacky (wayyy to late for that in my book, but there’s always the future), you need to actually be able to converse on a real-world level, and be able to express at least a basic level of understanding of the data and observations used in testing theory. Just because you say you can read, doesn’t give us any clue you actually understand what you are reading.

As an example, I finished top of my class in college physics, but I certainly wouldn’t feel competent to understand or comment on the latest data or observations being used in quantum theory. If I did wish to converse with a quantum theorist, I figure i would have to spend a couple of years getting a good grasp of the current concepts and data first (that’s putting it mildly).

do you REALLY feel you have a sufficient grasp of population genetics, heritability, cellular biology, transcription/translation, protein chemistry, genetic structure, introns/exons, ecology, ethology (animal behavior), game theory, etc etc to be able to comment like you do, or to even go further and assume you can create ad hoc a better theory to explain the hundreds of years of observed data in ALL of these fields?

if you do believe thus, would you be willing to take a basic college level examination in these fields to show us just how much you think you know? I could easily set up a basic exam with just a hundred or so questions (multiple choice even) you could wow us with your understanding of the underlying fields that go into evolutionary theory. If you scored even 50% on such an exam, I personally would no longer think you completely ignorant.

Look, you seem to be laboring under the false impression that evolutionary theory is just some “made up” assumptions by a group of intellectual ellitists that just sat down one day and wrote the theory on a paper napkin or something. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Your perpetual search for “design” as a signpost for your beliefs will endlessly meet with the same result: dissapointment.

really, get over it. keep your faith unto itself, and use your senses to see the world as it is, not as you would impose yourself onto it.

god doesn’t need you, or me, or science, or anything to prove he exists. your constant attempts to do so only imply your continuing weakness of faith. 2500 years of trying to find god in the works has failed. have you ever thought there might be obvious reasons for this that have nothing to do with any lack or limitation on the part of current scientific theory?

You have two choices, imo:

-waste the rest of your life trying to find design in things that are not, by any observable measure, designed, and continuing to demonstrate the weakness of your faith by doing so,

or

-let your faith speak for itself, and learn how the examine the world in a more pragmatic fashion; in other words, look at science for what it is, simply a method for examing the world in a pragmatic fashion that has produced the most consistent and useable results of any approach humans have invented. It’s not evil, not a “worldview” but merely a toolbox we utilize to objectively examine what we observe around us.

Please, Blast, it’s so obvious that you have NO clue what “problems” evolutionary theory has, and that the problems YOU see are simply related to your “intuition” it’s just painful to watch you twisting like this.

you can take your show to any science board in the world, and you will find the exact same responses to your “intuition” - intuition is not science, never has been, never will be.

go rethink your life

ok, now i take a breath…

Blast, your looking for information where it isn’t really cogent. how do you think you can contend that the most important part of the genome is the non-coding part, when, uh, you yourself are essentially entirely made up of proteins generated by the CODING part of your genome, eh?

since we have sequenced your entire genome (well, at least the HUMAN genome anyway), we KNOW where the information is that makes you what you are. you can’t simply say that all the important bits are in the non-coding portion when it has physically been demonstrated not to be so.

If you don’t want to take my advice and start over learning basic concepts, you could launch yourself into the actual scientific literature surround current theory and experiments on non-coding segments of the genome (none of which you have apparently examined yet).

I wouldn’t recommend you spend time at Barnes and Noble trying to get access to the primary literature however. Take my advice and head to your local university to get access to the primary literature on the subject.

If you could ever demonstrate you actually understand what is in those papers, you might be on the road to actually doing science, rather than presenting your ignorance here like a flag you wave proudly.

moreover, ask yourself why dembski, behe, and all the other IDers have totally ignored the stacks of literature on the very subjects under discussion here.

hell, go ask dembski what he thinks of the article on the evolution of snake venoms you located; I’m sure his response would be instructive to you.

Sir Toejam Wrote:

Blast, your looking for information where it isn’t really cogent. how do you think you can contend that the most important part of the genome is the non-coding part, when, uh, you yourself are essentially entirely made up of proteins generated by the CODING part of your genome, eh?

Think of an analogy. Most office buildings are made out of glass, wire, steel and concrete. Are those the most important part–or wouldn’t you say the blueprints is the most important?

That’s the analogy. Now, consider that the chimp and humans are what, 99.7% the same when it comes to genes? Do you really think that .3% makes all the difference in the world? Sorry, that just doesn’t add up.

All your patronizing prattling would be much harder to take if it didn’t seem like you mean well by it. So I do appreciate your sincerity. But the fact is that I’ve spent a lot of time and energy looking for a plausible theory of evolution. There isn’t one that measures up. Intelligent Design is a plausible theory; but it is in its infancy. I’ve stated more than once on this post that I’m not so wedded to ID as I’m almost completely dissatisfied with Darwinian theory.

Sir Toejam Wrote:

do you REALLY feel you have a sufficient grasp of population genetics, heritability, cellular biology, transcription/translation, protein chemistry, genetic structure, introns/exons, ecology, ethology (animal behavior), game theory, etc etc to be able to comment like you do, or to even go further and assume you can create ad hoc a better theory to explain the hundreds of years of observed data in ALL of these fields?

Yes, I’m fairly versant in all those areas. I’m learning all the time. You talk about a library–I have one. I have two books on developmental biology, three on population genetics, one on cell biology, etc. There’s plenty on the internet–Wikipedia, e.g.

I have yet to find a plausible mechanism for evolution. I find nothing that is satisfying. PvM tries to get me to look more seriously at Neutral Theory; I won’t go into why I’m not satisfied with it–it certainly is more plausible a theory since you have a mechanism that can “jump” and thus create significant barriers between forms–but it’s still not enough.

Darwinism is on the rocks, though. A million nucleotides from a highly conserved area of the mouse genome were excised. The mice that developed were perfectly normal. This is a deathblow to Darwinism. The game’s up. Now it’s simply a matter of trying to find a mechanism that makes sense. But, of course, as long as we’re barking up the wrong tree, that isn’t going to happen (though it will, since as science proceeds, Darwinism will be seen to be more and more unsatisfactory.).

If you can propose–or point out someone else who proposes–a sensible mechanism, fine; but, otherwise, I’m not buying. RM+NS is at the level of “myth.”

Think of an analogy. Most office buildings are made out of glass, wire, steel and concrete. Are those the most important part—or wouldn’t you say the blueprints is the most important?

uh, no, we are only talking about the blueprints here. a better analogy would be what are the most important part of the blueprints here, the lines and the numbers, or the blue part of the paper?

think you could build a building with the blue part of the blueprints alone? uh, then you might as well have a blank piece of paper, yes?

I can’t figure why this concept is so hard to grasp for you, but whatever, let somebody else bang on that rock head of yours. However it does explain, at least tangentially, why you also seem incapable of understanding where the information lies in evolutionary theory as well. there must be some mental block you just can’t wrap your head around. you keep forgetting that evolutionary theory ALREADY DOES EXPLAIN THE OBSERVED DATA QUITE NICELY. Even behe, dembski and others do NOT deny this - go watch dembski admit the evidence supports common descent if you don’t believe me.

I’m sorry, but NOTHING you have presented here, or in all the months of your posting, has even attempted to address any real observable shortcomings of evolutionary theory, natural slection, or anything else for that matter. I suspect it’s simply because you are unable to conceptualize how the model works, which is why i suggested you go back to basics and learn the underlying principles. then maybe it might make more sense to you from an “intuitive” perspective, as it does to all the rest of the millions of scientists who have used it to test thousands of individual case scenarios and observed phonomena for decades now.

Yes, I’m fairly versant in all those areas.

but are you willing to show that to be the case? you haven’t said so.

You talk about a library—I have one. I have two books on developmental biology, three on population genetics, one on cell biology, etc. There’s plenty on the internet—Wikipedia, e.g.

*sigh* but do you ever read them? If you list the titles of the texts you have read, would you be able to answer basic questions about the principles contained therein?

the internet sucks for getting access to primary literature unless you have a subscription to a periodicals database that gives you access to the full articles. Usually those cost big bucks, so it’s why i suggested you go to a university library, where you can get access to these resources for free.

6 texts on basic biology do not a library make.

I’m sorry, but continuing discussion with you seems utterly pointless to me; i have even tired of the humor aspect of it.

good luck

But since you’re bringing up this point, let me say that as I muse on what is at issue, my sense is that in the final unfolding of all this we’ll likely find what you might call “quantum” geneticism; viz., that while there are real similarities between genetic systems, and while there might be an over-abundance of information present in genomes across species, that there are certain activation factors that separate higher and lower taxonomic groups. So, there will be “missing links” between taxonomic groups, but enough similarity that arguable pathways between this group, and that group, might be plausible.

You’re gibbering again, Blast.

I have yet to find a plausible mechanism for evolution.

Speaking from your, uh, vast education and experience again, Blast? Who the hell are you again, Blast?

No one cares about your uninformed uneducated pig-ignorant opinion on the matter, Blast. (shrug)

Darwinism is on the rocks, though.

Waterloo !!!!! Waterloo !!!!!! Waterloo !!!!!!!!!!

(snicker) (giggle)

Sir Toejam Wrote:

I’m sorry, but NOTHING you have presented here, or in all the months of your posting, has even attempted to address any real observable shortcomings of evolutionary theory, natural slection, or anything else for that matter.

You’re in denial. I can’t help you.

hold that mirror up real high, Blast.

oh, btw, since you decided against actually showing us that you actually know anything about the subjects we are discussing here, the only conclusion anyone can make from that is that you really don’t.

or did you want to pick up my gauntlet and actually show us you do know something by taking a college level exam on the subjects?

hell, i’d be satisfied if you took a high-shcool graduate level exam…

yet you remain silent…

if it wasn’t obvious to any lurkers before, it should be blatantly obvious now. You know nothing, don’t really care about learning, and YOU are the one in denial.

pathetic.

Blast Wrote:

I’m a very intuitive type person.

Followed by:

For me it’s obvious that the more important portion of the genome is the so-called “non-coding” (or “junk”) part of the DNA.

And later:

But the fact is that I’ve spent a lot of time and energy looking for a plausible theory of evolution. There isn’t one that measures up.

That’s pretty much the whole problem right there. Blast’s criterion for what “measures up” is his intuition. His gut feeling. If it seems “obvious” to him, then it must be right.

We can argue the evidence with him forever; it won’t matter. He doesn’t care which way the evidence points. It’s not about evidence for him. It’s all about intuition and obviousness.

Bah.

Blast’s criterion for what “measures up” is his intuition. His gut feeling. If it seems “obvious” to him, then it must be right.

Gut feelings aren’t a bad thing, of course, if one knows enough about the subject to judge it intuitively.

Blast, on the other hand, consistently demonstrates that he’s utterly pig-ignorant on every topic that he presumes to blither about. (shrug)

There’s a mention of a Scott Gilber [sic] in your post. I’m pretty sure it should be Scott Gilbert.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on October 13, 2005 11:16 PM.

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