False Fear?

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Casey Luskin (remember him?)

“The course content expectations for science shall include using the scientific method to critically evaluate scientific theories and using relevant scientific data to assess the validity of those theories and formulate arguments for and against those theories.”

(A Challenge to Evolution: Bill may stir Darwin issue, Detroit Free Press, January 28, 2006, by Chris Christoff and Lori Higgins)

Clearly this language has nothing to do with intelligent design and would simply bring scientific critique of theories taught in the classroom, and makes absolutely no mention of teaching intelligent design or any form of a “replacement theory” for those currently-taught theories that are being critiqued.

Clearly?… Perhaps Luskin forgot to read the rest of the article?

The wording for Palmer’s bill was taken from a bill by Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland. That bill would require a statewide high school curriculum to include a critical evaluation of the theories of evolution and global warming. Palmer’s bill, however, doesn’t mention evolution or intelligent design.

Moolenaar said Palmer’s does not require the teaching of intelligent design, but that such a decision would be up to local school boards. He said Darwin’s theory of evolution is under legitimate scrutiny, and that science students should know about the theory’s possible weaknesses. “A scientific controversy should be viewed in a teachable moment for a student to learn the scientific method,” he said.

So much for “nothing to do with intelligent design”

Robert Pennock, representing the Michigan Citizens for Science expressed his concerns with the bill (HB5606).

Molenaar’s HOUSE BILL No. 5251

(10) Not later than August 1, 2006, the state board shall revise the recommended model core academic curriculum content standards in science to ensure that pupils will be able to do all of the following:

(a) Use the scientific method to critically evaluate scientific theories including, but not limited to, the theories of global warming and evolution.

(b) Use relevant scientific data to assess the validity of those theories and to formulate arguments for or against those theories.

From NCSE

Moolenaar was a cosponsor of previous antievolution legislation in Michigan in the previous (2003-2004) legislative session: HB 4946, which would have amended the state science standards to refer to “the theory that life is the result of the purposeful, intelligent design of a Creator,” and HB 5005, which would have allowed the teaching of “the design hypothesis as an explanation for the origin and diversity of life” in public school science classes. Both bills were opposed by the Michigan Science Teachers Association; both seem to have died in committee.

Just follow wherever the evidence leads…

40 Comments

Guess who was one of the sponsors of HB 4946 which would have added the term intelligent designer or creator to science standards?

Brian Palmer

This is fun

Lets show in deatail what HB 4946 was all about

(10) As soon as practicable after the effective date of this 2 subsection, the state board shall revise the recommended model 3 core academic curriculum content standards under subsection (2) 4 as follows: 5 (a) In the science standards, all references to “evolution” 6 and “how species change through time” shall be modified to 7 indicate that this is an unproven theory by adding the phrase 8 “All students will explain the competing theories of evolution 9 and natural selection based on random mutation and the theory 10 that life is the result of the purposeful, intelligent design of 11 a Creator.”. 12 (b) In the science standards for middle and high school, all 13 references to “evolution” and “natural selection” shall be 14 modified to indicate that these are unproven theories by adding 15 the phrase “Describe how life may be the result of the 16 purposeful, intelligent design of a Creator.”. 17 (c) In the science standards for middle and high school, all 18 references to “evolution” and “natural selection” shall be 19 modified to indicate that these are unproven theories by adding 20 the phrase “Explain the competing theories of evolution and 21 natural selection based on random mutation and the theory that 22 life is the result of the purposeful, intelligent design of a 23 Creator.”.

Funny from explicit mention of the creator via critically analysing global warming and evolution to critical analysis of science. They surely left a lot of breadcrumbs for the courts to enjoy.

Judge Jones would have a field day

Judge Jones Wrote:

Moreover, ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID.

As long as we’re encouraging students to find arguments for and against all the theories (because we -know- this has -nothing- to do with singling out evolution), I’d like to see some sample arguments against Cell Theory and Germ Theory.

What’s that? Those fit into your religious worldview, so they don’t need to be debated?

Molenaar’s statement does help to show how Casye Luskin’s claim that teaching the controversy has nothing to do with ID seems unwarranted

Moolenaar said Palmer’s does not require the teaching of intelligent design, but that such a decision would be up to local school boards. He said Darwin’s theory of evolution is under legitimate scrutiny, and that science students should know about the theory’s possible weaknesses. “A scientific controversy should be viewed in a teachable moment for a student to learn the scientific method,” he said.

Teaching the controversy is just the first step to get teaching ID into the system.

Luskin

If Darwinists are going to continually claim that the new standards “open the door” for teaching intelligent design (or creationism, or religion, etc.) then I challenge them to produce language in the standards which sanctions the teaching of such. From what I can read, the standards specifically disclaim endorsement or prohibition of teaching ID. The standards explicitly go out of their way to be neutral on the subject. (my emphasis)

Neutral indeed… by making the teaching of ID a possibility and a likely one as well.

It’s all about motive…

Apparently, now “teach the controversy”, which is the Trojan Horse for the original “ID” Trojan Horse, now needs it OWN Trojan Horse.

Surreal.

In any case, as I noted before, sooner or later the IDers are going to have to tell everyone what these “evidences against evolution” might be. And as soon as they do, they’ll need to explain why they are all absolutely identical in every way with the standard crap that ID/creationists have been putting out for 40 years now (and which have already been rejected in the Maclean, Aguillard and Kitzmiller cases).

Of course, the IDers appear to be attempting to get around this by now demanding that EVERYTHING in science be “critically examined” (including, I expect, evidence for and against Newton, evidence for and against Lavoisier, evidence for and against Einstein, etc etc etc?)

Why can’t the IDers just demand that every school in the US hang a sign over the entrance that reads “Critically examine everything”?

Clearly this language has nothing to do with intelligent design and would simply bring scientific critique of theories taught in the classroom, and makes absolutely no mention of teaching intelligent design or any form of a “replacement theory” for those currently-taught theories that are being critiqued.

Is this a direct quote from Luskin? If so, can someone point me to a citation for it? Thanks.

I like the way these people call for students to “critically evaluate” topics in science that they ae just learning about. Maybe these high school students can research their back issues of Science, Nature, or Evolution (they have been reading these journals for years, haven’t they?), or perhaps they can adjust their computer models to account for Designer activity (they’ve all constructed such models, right?). Perhaps they need to start off with an introductory course in critical analysis of the Bible in order to get a firm basis for these lessons.

Apparently, now “teach the controversy”, which is the Trojan Horse for the original “ID” Trojan Horse, now needs it OWN Trojan Horse.

Hmmm.… Trojan Matrioshka Horses

Casey Luskin (remember him?)

Is there supposed to be a link or reference explaining where Luskin said this?

Maybe this is the link you are looking for.

Maybe this is the link you are looking for.

Odd that they don’t have Pennsylvania highlighted on their little map.

But then, I guess they’d rather not think about it, huh.

(snicker) (giggle)

Our hero Richard Thompson, of the TMLC, is already on the case:

From today’s Detroit News:

Now, Thomas More is looking for other intelligent design cases. “You’re going to see this popping up all over the country,” Thompson said. “The genie is out of the bottle. People are starting to think about intelligent design.”

. …

Thomas More’s next intelligent design case may be in the western Michigan village of Richland, where Thompson is threatening to sue on behalf of two seventh-grade science teachers.

The teachers, Thompson said, have been prevented by school policy from mentioning intelligent design while teaching evolution.

“Even your most staunch advocate of evolution will say there are gaps and problems in it,” he said. “So can a teacher, within the context of academic freedom, teach the evidence for and against it?” he asked.

Lisa Swem, the Gull Lake school board’s attorney, said the policy came at the recommendation of a districtwide committee. It allows discussion of intelligent design, but not in science class.

The district, she said, already has wasted resources dealing with Thomas More. If sued, she promises to seek sanctions for filing frivolous litigation.

“We’re not going to get into the issue of using schools as battlegrounds to fight his culture wars,” she said.

Gee, you’d never think the guy had his clock cleaned for him in Dover, huh.

But I wonder … since DI and TMLC aren’t speaking any more, I wonder who the heck Thompson plans on calling as his, uh, “expert witnesses” this time? (snicker)

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let them sue. Pretty please with sugar on it.

Re “Apparently, now “teach the controversy”, which is the Trojan Horse for the original “ID” Trojan Horse, now needs it OWN Trojan Horse.”

It’s Trojan horses all the way down!

Henry

The Wedge surely is being watered down

1. Replace Methodological Naturalism 2. Teach intelligent design 3. Teach the controversy with evolution 4. Teach scientific controversies

Seems ID has been swallowed by Methodological Naturalism…

Can it survive?

Clearly this language has nothing to do with intelligent design and would simply bring scientific critique of theories taught in the classroom

So in which class do students get to hear critiques of religious mythology?

Maybe it’s time to start teaching k-12 students about professional ethics in science classes. Ethics is an essential part of the scientific method after all.

Moolenaar is my rep, not that I would ever vote for him. Next time he’s in town speaking (not sure when he’s up for re-election) I’ll have to rattle his cage. I’m sure his actual knowledge of science issues is about the same as my knowledge of labor pains. I’ve heard about it, but that’s about it.

Does anyone besides me see a problem with requiring High School students (or lower grades) to test current scientific theories? It would be very expensive and, ironically, not very educational. I don’t think that the average High School student should be required to test atomic theory just so they can learn how to balance a chemical equation or carry out ballistics experiments just before they can learn some Newtonian equations of motion. I wouldn’t want students to be required to experimentally test each and every scientific theory simply to learn about the theory or its implications.

Maybe I’m reading the wrong thing from this, but it sure sounds like this bill would require these things.

Comment #78937 Posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on February 11, 2006 12:28 PM

Lisa Swem, the Gull Lake school board’s attorney, said the policy came at the recommendation of a districtwide committee. It allows discussion of intelligent design, but not in science class.

The district, she said, already has wasted resources dealing with Thomas More. If sued, she promises to seek sanctions for filing frivolous litigation.

“Frivolous litigation” ? The school board is restricting the freedom of expression of the teachers. A suit against such a restriction is hardly “frivolous litigation.”

Stupid attorney.

Comment #79268 Posted by Jason on February 12, 2006 08:05 PM

Does anyone besides me see a problem with requiring High School students (or lower grades) to test current scientific theories? .….…..I wouldn’t want students to be required to experimentally test each and every scientific theory simply to learn about the theory or its implications.

Maybe I’m reading the wrong thing from this, but it sure sounds like this bill would require these things.

The bill does not require the students to test the theories by means of lab experiments or field studies.

Some more comments –

It seems that every time the subject of scientific criticism of evolution theory comes up, all people can think of is intelligent design, as if ID were the only scientific ( or pseudoscientific, to some ) criticism of evolution theory. There are other criticisms or potential criticisms, e.g., criticisms concerning (1) the co-evolution of co-dependent organisms ( i.e., organisms in a relationship of mutualism ) and (2) the propagation of favorable mutations in organisms that reproduce sexually. It appears that the criticisms involving co-evolution have not even been touched upon yet.

Andy H./Larry:The school board is restricting the freedom of expression of the teachers. A suit against such a restriction is hardly “frivolous litigation.”

Teachers are hired to teach the district curriculum. Period.

Those teachers can spout off about IDcreationism wherever/whenever they want, as long as they’re not doing so while being paid to teach kids what the district has hired them to teach.

Tiax Wrote:

As long as we’re encouraging students to find arguments for and against all the theories (because we -know- this has -nothing- to do with singling out evolution), I’d like to see some sample arguments against Cell Theory and Germ Theory.

What’s that? Those fit into your religious worldview, so they don’t need to be debated?

Not just religious, but political. Note the inclusion of global warming in 10.a of the Molenaar bill. This is a sad, sad circus.

tiredofit Wrote:

Teachers are hired to teach the district curriculum. Period.

Which is why the professional scoundrels (who know what they’re doing) seek to change the curricula. Only amateurs like Larry squawk about “freedom of expression” for government employees.

The IDers certainly love their regressions, don’t they? First Behe’s intelligent designing time travelling space aliens, and now their train of Trojan horses, as pointed out by Lenny. Wonderful.

Laughable Larry:

There are other criticisms or potential criticisms, e.g., criticisms concerning (1) the co-evolution of co-dependent organisms ( i.e., organisms in a relationship of mutualism ) and (2) the propagation of favorable mutations in organisms that reproduce sexually. It appears that the criticisms involving co-evolution have not even been touched upon yet.

Larry/Andy/Pandy, your endless repetition of the same catch-phrases is not “debate” or “argument” or even informed “opinion.”

You have now told us about 100 times that you “think” (I use the word advisedly) that there is something about these two phenomena–the propagation of favorable mutations in sexually-reproducing organisms and co-evolution–which amounts to some kind of non-ID criticism of evolution.

Beyond trotting out this same phraseology over and over again, you have never explained yourself, never fleshed out your thesis with any observations, facts, evidence, links, studies, questions, etc. What about these phenomena suggests to you that they in any way constitute a criticism of evolution?

You haven’t said and you won’t say. Yet you whine about other commentators “insulting” you when they have merely pointed out the simple facts of the matter: you are an empty, ignorant, blathering, hand-waving bag of hot air.

No, even an emptying balloon might be useful to someone somewhere as a means of propulsion, or a source of shrieking hill-tribe music. Your uselessness doesn’t even rise to the level of excited gas molecules exiting through an orifice.

You are just vacuous.

Andy H Wrote:

It seems that every time the subject of scientific criticism of evolution theory comes up, all people can think of is intelligent design, as if ID were the only scientific ( or pseudoscientific, to some )

Or scientifically vacuous to others :-)

criticism of evolution theory. There are other criticisms or potential criticisms, e.g., criticisms concerning (1) the co-evolution of co-dependent organisms ( i.e., organisms in a relationship of mutualism ) and (2) the propagation of favorable mutations in organisms that reproduce sexually. It appears that the criticisms involving co-evolution have not even been touched upon yet.

You must have missed my references. If you do not pay attention, how can we even deal with your questions?

Comment #79427 Posted by tiredofit on February 13, 2006 12:21 PM

The school board is restricting the freedom of expression of the teachers. A suit against such a restriction is hardly “frivolous litigation.”

Teachers are hired to teach the district curriculum. Period.

Those teachers can spout off about IDcreationism wherever/whenever they want, as long as they’re not doing so while being paid to teach kids what the district has hired them to teach.

OK, I have done some investigation here, and it seems that there should be distinctions between the following –

(1) Spending a substantial amount of class time teaching ID as a regular part of the course and/or using ID materials as regular course materials

(2) Briefly mentioning ID in class on the teacher’s own initiative

(3) Briefly discussing ID in class when the discussion is initiated by a student

The following webpage shows that the two 7th grade teachers were engaged in the first of the three above possibilities – http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives[…]in_gull.html

If the teachers were prohibited from doing the second and especially the third of the above possibilities, then they might have a fair chance of prevailing in court. The Dover decision prohibited the Dover school board from requiring that the teachers mention ID in science class, but it is not clear how the Dover decision applies to the individual Dover teachers, and in any event the Dover decision does not restrict anyone in the Gull Lake school district.

Also, the Gull Lake school board left open the possibility that the teaching of ID in non-science courses would be authorized in the future –

“They did accept the committee’s recommendation that the board approve ID as a potentially suitable subject for a high school level elective course in social studies, humanities, political science or philosophy, but that would have to go through the normal process of being approved separately by the administration and could not begin until at least fall of 2006.” – from the preceding webpage.

Single news articles are often very misleading.

Posted by AC on February 13, 2006 03:29 PM (e)

Tiax wrote:

As long as we’re encouraging students to find arguments for and against all the theories (because we -know- this has -nothing- to do with singling out evolution), I’d like to see some sample arguments against Cell Theory and Germ Theory.

What’s that? Those fit into your religious worldview, so they don’t need to be debated?

Not just religious, but political. Note the inclusion of global warming in 10.a of the Molenaar bill. This is a sad, sad circus.

And logging and mining and nuclear energy and sex education and US energy policy and iraq reconstruction contracts and FEMA chairmanship and foreign intel and domestic intel and selling federal land and privatizing prisons and parks and charter schools and errrrrgggghhh. all these somehow are being promoted as part of the “religious” right. Any ideas? Sure,

OK, I have done some investigation here

No shit.

and it seems that there should be distinctions between the following —

(1) Spending a substantial amount of class time teaching ID as a regular part of the course and/or using ID materials as regular course materials

(2) Briefly mentioning ID in class on the teacher’s own initiative

(3) Briefly discussing ID in class when the discussion is initiated by a student

There is no distinction. Teaching ID is illegal. Period.

Comment #79501 Posted by PvM on February 13, 2006 04:44 PM

There are other criticisms or potential criticisms, e.g., criticisms concerning (1) the co-evolution of co-dependent organisms ( i.e., organisms in a relationship of mutualism ) and (2) the propagation of favorable mutations in organisms that reproduce sexually. It appears that the criticisms involving co-evolution have not even been touched upon yet.

You must have missed my references. If you do not pay attention, how can we even deal with your questions?

No, I did not miss your references – but you and others missed or ignored my responses.

Your Comment #79071 on the “Rest of the story” thread referred me to a creationist webpage that discussed sexual reproduction as an argument against evolution theory, but you did not refer me to any direct rebuttal(s). As for co-evolution, all you gave was just the name of an author, Schneider, and the subject of his work, binding sites – I briefly checked out his work and found nothing about co-evolution. I got no direct responses to the specific issues that I raised in my Comment #79077 and Comment #79162 on the “Rest of the story” thread. The only response that I got was the following vague response from you – “Co-evolution is only a problem when looking at the end result. However it is not that hard to imagine how strongly tied co-evolutionary scenarios can arise is a stepwise fashion from an initial loose connection to an increasingly tied connection” – an argument which I refuted in Comment #79162. By the way, my arguments concerning co-evolution are entirely my own – they were not regurgitated from creationist sources, as is so often charged.

So what exactly are your arguments if not a rehash of incredulity? So let’s see. Your argument is one that involves bees and pollen and argues that

For example, some kinds of pollen are especially suited to be spread by the wind and other kinds of pollen are especially suited to stick to the bodies of insects. A mutation producing the latter kinds of pollen would be useless unless there were already large numbers of bees or other pollinating insects in the environment.

But what about a mutation which increases the stickiness without affecting the wind dispersal?

Your argument is not much dissimilar to the what good is half an eye?

A hypothetical scenario from This bio site

The hypothetical evolution of pollination and angiosperms is tied together.

Early gymnosperms and angiosperms were wind-pollinated.

Like modern gymnosperms, the ovule exuded droplets of sap to catch pollen grains.

Insects (beetles) on the plant found this protein/sugar mix and used it as food.

Insects became dependent on this food source and started carrying pollen from plant to plant.

Beetle-pollination must have been more efficient than wind for some species, so there was natural selection for plants that attracted insects.

Next to occur would have been the evolution of nectaries, nectar-secreting structures, to lure the pollinators.

Development of white or brightly-colored, conspicuous flowers to draw attention to the nectar and/or other food sources would also have occurred.

The carpel (female reproductive structure) was originally leaf-shaped. It became folded on itself to enclose and protect the ovule from being eaten by the pollinators (hence Angiosperms). Plants with protected ovules would have been selected over ones with ovules that got eaten. By the beginning of the Cenozoic Era (65 mya), the first bees, wasps, butterflies, and moths had evolved. The significance in this is that these are insects for which flowers are often the only source of nutrition for the adults.

From this point on, certain plant and insect species have had a profound influence on one another’s evolution. A flower that attracted specific pollinators on a regular basis had an advantage (less wasted pollen) over flowers that attracted “promiscuous” pollinators. It is also an advantage for the pollinator to have its own “private” food source because there is, thus, less competition. The varied shapes, colors, and odors of flowers allowed sensory recognition by pollinators and excluded unwanted, indiscriminate pollinators.

Any questions?

Now the evolution of sex and the spread of favorable mutations

It appears that sexual reproduction offers both advantages and disadvantages in the evolutionary process. For example, the preceding reference says, “evolutionists have traditionally explained the existence of sexual reproduction as a means to promote genetic variability and, therefore, increase the rate of evolution,” but says that on the other hand, “recombination breaks up favorable sets of genes that have accumulated through selection.” And as I said, there is the additional problem that propagation of favorable mutations in organisms with very low rates of reproduction would be very slow.

Yes, evolution does come with pros and cons, in the end it is all a finely tuned trade off between the various forces that play a role. Now where is the problem? Is it really a problem? Is it an insurmountable problem? If so, why are sexually reproducing species not extinct?

Yes, there is a cost of sex for instance the rate of increase of an asexual genotype is twice that of an sexual genotype, all else being equal.

The document then continues to provide some possible advantages. And even some evidential support

Evidence: Host-parasite arms race might lead to a Red Queen situation. Curt Lively - snails and trematode infection in New Zealand. Potamopyrgus antipodarum is freshwater snail that has parthenogenetic and sexual individuals at varying frequency in different populations. Trematode parasite eats gonads, and so should impose strong selection on the snails. Prediction of the Red Queen is that sex should be more prevalent in populations with high infection rates. This prediction was supported by a comparative study of different populations of snails.

Does this help? In the mean time could you attempt to provide some supporting information that these ‘problems’ of yours are real problems? Or merely concerns?

Interesting tidbit. Darwin made a prediction about co-evolution that was later supported.

The coevolution of the meganosed fly and the plants it pollinates is a tale of extreme specialization. Each species has adapted to changes in the other in ways that have left each of them, to some degree, reliant on the other. The idea that a plant species might become dependent for pollination on a single species of animal goes back to the writings of Charles Darwin. For example, Darwin noted, the flower spur of the Malagasy orchid (Angraecum sesquipedale) contains a pool of nectar that is almost a foot inside the opening of the flower. (A flower spur is a hollow, hornlike extension of a flower that holds nectar in its base.) In pondering the evolutionary significance of those unusual flowers, Darwin predicted that the orchid must be adapted to a moth pollinator with a long proboscis.

Critical to Darwin’s prediction was his suspicion that pollination could take place only if the depth of a plant’s flowers matched or exceeded the length of a pollinator’s tongue. Only then would the body of the pollinator be pressed firmly enough against the reproductive parts of the flower to transfer pollen effectively as the pollinator fed. Thus, as ever deeper flowers evolved through enhanced reproductive success, moths with ever longer proboscises would also, preferentially, live long enough to reproduce, because they would most readily reach the available supplies of nourishing nectar. Longer proboscises would lead yet again to selection for deeper flower tubes.

The result would be the reciprocal evolution of flowers and pollinator mouthparts. That coevolutionary process would cease only when the disadvantages of an exaggerated trait balanced or outweighed its benefits. Given enough time, the process might even produce new species: an insect that specializes in feeding on nectar from deep flowers, and a deep-flowered plant specialized for being pollinated by insects with long mouthparts.

In the early twentieth century it seemed that Darwin’s prediction had been borne out. A giant hawk moth from Madagascar, Xanthopan morganii praedicta, was captured, with a proboscis that measured more than nine inches long. Although no one has actually seen the insect feeding on the flower, the discovery is still remarkable, and strongly suggestive of the coevolution of the orchid and moth. Other insects that have relationships with highly specific plants, such as the meganosed fly and other, related long-nosed fly species of southern Africa, provide even better evidence of the reciprocal links between plants and their pollinators.

beautiful website discussing co-evolution in plants

Comment #78958 Posted by PvM on February 11, 2006 01:43 PM

The Wedge surely is being watered down

1. Replace Methodological Naturalism 2. Teach intelligent design 3. Teach the controversy with evolution 4. Teach scientific controversies

And in this watering-down process, the connection to religion becomes more and more remote until a point is reached where either (1) an “objective observer” would see no connection at all or (2) the connection to religion would be offset by a legitimate secular purpose, and at that point the courts would decide that the alleged violation of the establishment clause passes the “effects” prong of the Lemon test. I think that the Cobb County textbook sticker case is at stage 3.5 above – the controversy over evolution is not being taught but is mentioned on the textbook stickers, and the appeals court appears to be leaning towards deciding that there is no violation of the establishment clause. One of the appeals court judges told a plantiffs’ attorney, “I don’t think y’all can contest any of the sentences. It’s a theory, not a fact – the book supports that.” As for this Michigan law, there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that it would ever be declared unconstitutional.

Eventually ID will be watered down to: talk about it in religious classes. That’s because will remain scientifically vacuous. Soon we will be back to where creationism deserves to be. Outside of our science classes. That will give science classes an opportunity to teach how science explains the facts of life such as the evolution of sex or co-evolution. Powerful evidence indeed.

Comment #79571 Posted by PvM on February 13, 2006 08:30 PM

So what exactly are your arguments if not a rehash of incredulity?

I don’t see anything wrong with incredulity if it can be justified.

CO-EVOLUTION –

I think that the big problem with co-evolution is – as I discussed in my previous comments on the subject – that evolutionary adaptation to nonexistent or isolated mutations of the other co-dependent organism is a far greater problem than evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment – e.g., water, land, air, and climate. The fixed physical features are always there to offer an immediate advantage to individual organisms that adapt to them. However, suppose that a bee and a flowering plant just by some great coincidence happen to have mutations creating corresponding features that would give a mutual advantage in co-evolution. But if the bee and the flowering plant are separated by many miles and/or many years in time, as is likely, the mutations would do neither of them any good because the bee and the flower would never meet. Actually, what would be necessary is that large numbers of the bees and flowers possessing the corresponding beneficial mutations would miraculously have to simultaneously appear in the same place, because a single bee visits many flowers, and each flower is visited by many bees.

But what about a mutation which increases the stickiness without affecting the wind dispersal?

Well, all I know is that wind-carried pollen and insect-carried pollen tend to be different – how different, I don’t know. I was just supposing that maybe a mutation from a wind-carried pollen to an insect-carried pollen would be detrimental to the plant if there were no insects available which were adapted to carrying the pollen. You probably gave better examples of where an extremely specialized co-dependent feature would be detrimental in the absence of a corresponding feature in the co-dependent organism – “The coevolution of the meganosed fly and the plants it pollinates is a tale of extreme specialization. Each species has adapted to changes in the other in ways that have left each of them, to some degree, reliant on the other.”

=====================================

SEXUAL REPRODUCTION –

Comment #79574 Posted by PvM on February 13, 2006 08:39 PM

Now the evolution of sex and the spread of favorable mutations

It appears that sexual reproduction offers both advantages and disadvantages in the evolutionary process.….….….….….….…

Yes, evolution does come with pros and cons, in the end it is all a finely tuned trade off between the various forces that play a role. Now where is the problem? Is it really a problem? Is it an insurmountable problem? If so, why are sexually reproducing species not extinct?

“Why are sexually reproducing species not extinct ?” That is a good question. Maybe they are just running in place and can’t get anywhere evolution-wise. Here is the way that the creationist webpage you gave me describes it –

The one thing that is clear from scientific studies is that sexual reproduction and recombination function to dilute mutations. The vast majority of these mutations are neutral (neither beneficial nor harmful). Of the remainder, most are detrimental. By diluting these detrimental mutations, nearly all of the individuals within a species remain unaffected (since each person has two copies of each chromosome, the “good” copy allows for normal function of the gene). However, not only does recombination dilute harmful mutations, but also beneficial mutations. Since the beneficial mutations are usually not expressed, selection cannot act on them and evolution cannot proceed.

However, this creationist website gave no discussion of “dominant” and “recessive” genes. I would expect that a dominant gene from a beneficial mutation would be expressed even after the recombination of genes, but the same would be true of dominant genes from harmful mutations. However, the harmful mutations are likely to be eliminated through natural selection, so the surviving beneficial dominant-gene mutations would tend to outnumber the surviving harmful dominant-gene mutations, and I suppose that microevolution (at least) could proceed in this way.

There is also the problem of very slow propagation of favorable mutations in organisms with very low rates of reproduction.

=========================================

MORE ISSUES –

Does this help? In the mean time could you attempt to provide some supporting information that these ‘problems’ of yours are real problems? Or merely concerns?

A big problem is that I cannot find much information, supporting or otherwise, on these subjects – co-evolution and the propagation of mutations in sexual reproduction – because these subjects are generally not discussed in the FAQ’s of evolutionist and ID/creationist websites where I could get quick and easy-to-understand pro and con answers. The creationist webpage you gave me on sexual reproduction was helpful.

Why can’t public-school students discuss in science classes these scientific issues that we discuss in Panda’s Thumb ? Is it because some nervous people are afraid of an alleged fundy conspiracy to take over the USA ?

A big problem is that I cannot find much information, supporting or otherwise, on these subjects — co-evolution and the propagation of mutations in sexual reproduction — because these subjects are generally not discussed in the FAQ’s of evolutionist and ID/creationist websites where I could get quick and easy-to-understand pro and con answers. The creationist webpage you gave me on sexual reproduction was helpful.

FAQ’s are hardly the place to look for good information. Try searching for scholarly papers. I provided a good website which outlined a very plausible scenario showing how your ‘fears’ may be unwarranted.

Why can’t public-school students discuss in science classes these scientific issues that we discuss in Panda’s Thumb ? Is it because some nervous people are afraid of an alleged fundy conspiracy to take over the USA ?

Co-evolution makes for great examples for evolution. I am sure that these issues are part of many of the biology books. You are right though, teachers should be equipped to deal with ‘I cannot see why this could have happened’ and ‘there seems to be a real problem to me’.

The best way to address these concerns is to 1) show plausible scenarios (as I have done for a specific case of co-evolution) 2)ask th person to provide evidence why there really IS a problem rather than a perception of such (evolution of sex)

Well, all I know is that wind-carried pollen and insect-carried pollen tend to be different — how different, I don’t know. I was just supposing that maybe a mutation from a wind-carried pollen to an insect-carried pollen would be detrimental to the plant if there were no insects available which were adapted to carrying the pollen. You probably gave better examples of where an extremely specialized co-dependent feature would be detrimental in the absence of a corresponding feature in the co-dependent organism — “The coevolution of the meganosed fly and the plants it pollinates is a tale of extreme specialization. Each species has adapted to changes in the other in ways that have left each of them, to some degree, reliant on the other.”

Nowadays the two pollens are quite different but imagine a plant which uses wind driven pollen to spread its genes in a very inefficient manner. Pollen however is also a good source of food (some plants make yummy pollen and fertile pollen to attract insects, imagine that). The fertile pollen is carried to the next plant, the yummy pollen digested. So now if a plant’s pollen is particularly stickier than usual, the plant may become more succesful. Imagine now that the plant secretes nectar to ‘catch’ incoming pollen, now we have another foodsource and another source of ‘stickiness’.

Co-evolution’s end effect often appears to be irreducibly complex but that’s to be expected. Irreducible complexity is no problem for evolution.

Larry Fafarman Wrote:

There is also the problem of very slow propagation of favorable mutations in organisms with very low rates of reproduction.

Not really a “problem”–it gives us the prediction that organisms with short generation times (which isn’t quite the same as a high reproductive rate)–will tend to evolve faster in response to altered selection pressures than organisms with longer generation times. And in fact that’s borne out in reality…we see, for instance, critters like bacteria and insects developing resistance to toxins or pathogens (in the insects’ case) in a matter of years, whereas it takes much longer for humans to do the same.

The responses so far to my Comment #79655 have ignored my main argument about co-evolution, i.e., “I think that the big problem with co-evolution is…that evolutionary adaptation to nonexistent or isolated mutations of the other co-dependent organism is a far greater problem than evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment — e.g., water, land, air, and climate.……” For more details, see Comment #79655.

Comment #80019 Posted by PvM on February 14, 2006 11:51 PM

FAQ’s are hardly the place to look for good information. Try searching for scholarly papers. I provided a good website which outlined a very plausible scenario showing how your ‘fears’ may be unwarranted.

The scholarly papers are often too hard to understand and generally do not argue for and against evolution theory. If there is no controversy over evolution theory in the scientific community at large, as is claimed, then how can I expect to find discussions of that controversy in mainstream scholarly scientific papers ?

Nowadays the two pollens are quite different but imagine a plant which uses wind driven pollen to spread its genes in a very inefficient manner. Pollen however is also a good source of food (some plants make yummy pollen and fertile pollen to attract insects, imagine that). The fertile pollen is carried to the next plant, the yummy pollen digested. So now if a plant’s pollen is particularly stickier than usual, the plant may become more succesful. Imagine now that the plant secretes nectar to ‘catch’ incoming pollen, now we have another foodsource and another source of ‘stickiness’.

If the pollen is to be carried by insects, then the pollen would often have to be pretty sticky to begin with, or somehow attached to the flower by other means — otherwise the pollen would be scattered by the wind before an insect arrived (unless the pollen is in a wind-protected part of the flower).

Co-evolution’s end effect often appears to be irreducibly complex but that’s to be expected. Irreducible complexity is no problem for evolution.

I disagree that irreducible complexity is no problem for evolution. Even if it is not an insurmountable problem, it is still a problem.

Comment #80027 Posted by Anton Mates on February 15, 2006 12:51 AM

“There is also the problem of very slow propagation of favorable mutations in organisms with very low rates of reproduction.”

Not really a “problem”—it gives us the prediction that organisms with short generation times (which isn’t quite the same as a high reproductive rate)—will tend to evolve faster in response to altered selection pressures than organisms with longer generation times.

The issue I was addressing here was the rate of propagation of favorable mutations, not the rate of occurrence of favorable mutations. I am assuming that a favorable mutation has already occurred and I am wondering about the subsequent rate of propagation of the mutation through the habitat. The reproductive rate affects the rate of propagation.

And in fact that’s borne out in reality…we see, for instance, critters like bacteria and insects developing resistance to toxins or pathogens (in the insects’ case) in a matter of years, whereas it takes much longer for humans to do the same.

OK, this is microevolution, and we all agree that microevolution occurs and is driven by random mutations and natural selection.

I think that natural selection – also sometimes called survival of the fittest – has almost ceased to operate in the human race because individual humans can generally survive and reproduce without being the fittest.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on February 11, 2006 2:25 AM.

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