Newsweek on Tiktaalik and Pandas

| 106 Comments

It looks like Jerry Adler of Newsweek has seen the same problem I did with the reaction of the “leading researchers” of ID to Tiktaalik. See “Evolution: If It Walks Like a Fish…

PS: See also this cartoon from Kansas, and also this cartoon.

Evolution: If It Walks Like a Fish…

Newsweek

April 17, 2006 issue - Darwin predicted that the “missing links” of evolution – gaps in the fossil record between related species – would come to haunt his theory. He was right: even today, they’re a major theme in the effort to discredit evolution with the public. Which is why there was such a stir about a paper in the journal Nature last week describing a 375 million-year-old creature dug from rocks in the Canadian Arctic. It’s a four-foot-long, crocodile-headed fish with scales, gills – and primitive wrist- and fingerlike bones in its fins. Given the Inuit name Tiktaalik, the specimen neatly splits the gap between fossil fish that lived about 385 million years ago and the four-legged amphibians that came 20 million years later.

Until recently, scientists believed that legs evolved when a warming climate dried up ponds and swamps. But Tiktaalik supports the view that legs evolved in water, among fish living in what was then a tropical river delta – perhaps to help them crawl to shallows where larger predators couldn’t follow. “It really blurs the distinction between land and water animals,” says Neil Shubin of the University of Chicago, who led the team that found the fossil.

Shubin didn’t set out to score points for Darwinism, but the implications of his find are obvious: Tiktaalik could turn out to be as iconic as Archaeopteryx, the fossil link between dinosaurs and birds. The Discovery Institute, which promotes “intelligent design” as an alternative to Darwin, was quick to assert that Tiktaalik “poses no threat to [ID] … Few leading [ID] researchers have argued against the existence of transitional forms.” Those “leading researchers” may know better, but the fossil gaps are cited many times in the controversial ID textbook “Of Pandas and People.” The book takes particular note of the large difference between “the oldest amphibian” and “its presumed [fish] ancestor.” It’s a gap wide enough for a fish to walk through – and now we know that one did.

—Jerry Adler © 2006 Newsweek, Inc.

Long before Tiktaalik, of course, we had a decent collection of transitionals for fish to early tetrapods – see a summary from 1997 – but, given how ID appears be over the hill at this point and sliding back down to the dustbin of history, it’s nice to get in a few parting shots while there’s still time.

106 Comments

If I could draw cartoons, I’d draw one of Tiktaalik giving the finger to Paul Nelson.

Few leading [ID] researchers have argued against the existence of transitional forms.

IDC advocates constantly claim that there are no transitional forms.

Note the weasel words: ‘Few leading [ID] researchers’. So that means that SOME leading ID ‘researchers’ say they don’t exist, many ID ‘researchers’ who aren’t ‘leading’ say they don’t exist, and thousands of ‘grassroots’ ID doofuses continue to make that claim. My prediction is, they’ll continue to make that claim forever.

Anyway, it’s amusing that these people are having to whittle away their position in the face of evidence. You can smell their discomfort.

No one here has mentioned the fact the Rob Crowther uses the term “claim” in his article. Specifically, ”..a group of researchers claim to have uncovered the skeleton of a 375-million-year-old fish.”(emphasis mine). Not even AIG questions the find, just the age. Several papers in a mainstream scientific journal with plenty of photographs substantiates their claim in my book. Their tangible claims carry several orders of magnitude more credibility than any claims I’ve read from the DI.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Few leading [ID] researchers .…

Zero. There aren’t any, in any scientific sense.

Bruce,

This…

“No one here has mentioned the fact the Rob Crowther uses the term “claim” in his article. Specifically, “..a group of researchers claim to have uncovered the skeleton of a 375-million-year-old fish.”

…is because, as you know, no one in the scientific community will accept the evidence until it has been checked, redated, redated with other methods, rechecked and redated with even newer methods and so on…

Vive la Methodé!

steve_is

Am I the only one worried about the sheer vindictiveness of the evolution or creation debate? I thought science was about open mindedeness and rationality so why the hysteria? I admit I’m a doubter (I just can’t see how information is added to DNA)but if I go public, am I likely to be lynched?

Am I the only one worried about the sheer vindictiveness of the evolution or creation debate? I thought science was about open mindedeness and rationality so why the hysteria? I admit I’m a doubter (I just can’t see how information is added to DNA)but if I go public, am I likely to be lynched?

Nope, you will be referred to research that shows how you are wrong. Such as the work by Tom Schneider Evolution of biological Information

ABSTRACT

How do genetic systems gain information by evolutionary processes? Answering this question precisely requires a robust, quantitative measure of information. Fortunately, fifty years ago Claude Shannon defined information as a decrease in the uncertainty of a receiver. For molecular systems, uncertainty is closely related to entropy and hence has clear connections to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. These aspects of information theory have allowed the development of a straightforward and practical method of measuring information in genetic control systems. Here this method is used to observe information gain in the binding sites for an artificial ‘protein’ in a computer simulation of evolution. The simulation begins with zero information and, as in naturally occurring genetic systems, the information measured in the fully evolved binding sites is close to that needed to locate the sites in the genome. The transition is rapid, demonstrating that information gain can occur by punctuated equilibrium.

No lynching, just ‘straightening out’ :-)

The evolution of information in DNA is actually not that hard to understand, variation and selection is all that it takes. Science indeed is openminded but ID has had much chance to present its case and failed showing its scientific vacuity.

However, people WILL get testy if someone continues to claim that mutation decreases information never increases it, we’ve never seen speciation, evolution is only a theory, etc., after being show evidence to the contrary.

why the hysteria?

why the hysteria?

seems the hysteria has always been coming from the folks who purport to support ID, or haven’t you checked out some of their sites lately?

Have you seen any scientists recently hysterically claiming that IDers are going to destroy 90% of humanity?

can you say, “chicken little”?

Graeme Carle asked

Am I the only one worried about the sheer vindictiveness of the evolution or creation debate?

Ask the creationists trying to cram flat lies about science into Ohio schools, pushing a fundamentalist religious agenda in public schools. Sooner or later a person gets tired of ignoramuses telling him that his professional life’s work is a fraud.

Graeme Carle asked

I thought science was about open mindedeness and rationality so why the hysteria?

Science is about rationality and honesty and tough criticism and actual evidence. And you don’t want to be so openminded that your brains fall out.

Graeme Carle asked

I admit I’m a doubter (I just can’t see how information is added to DNA)but if I go public, am I likely to be lynched?

Depends on the context. Do so in church and you’ll be applauded by equally ignorant parishioners in the pews. Do so in front of an audience composed of people who actually know something about it and you’ll be laughed at or pitied, particularly when the basis for your doubt is merely “I just can’t see …”. Your ignorance is not evidence; it’s just ignorance.

As to how information is added to “DNA”, that’s a meaningless question. If you want to ask “How does information (in any of the technical definitions of “information”) get added to the genome of a population, try random variation and natural selection. They work just fine. And ever hear of “gene duplication”? Read TalkOrigins. It’s full of answers to questions like that. Learn something. Ignorance is forgiveable. Willful ignorance is an intellectual sin. Imagining that one’s ignorance constitutes an argument is a fallacy.

RBH

Comment #95754

Posted by Graeme Carle on April 9, 2006 05:51 PM (e)

Am I the only one worried about the sheer vindictiveness of the evolution or creation debate? I thought science was about open mindedeness and rationality so why the hysteria? I admit I’m a doubter (I just can’t see how information is added to DNA)but if I go public, am I likely to be lynched?

There are certainly things you don’t understand about quantum field theory. Do you therefore assume that theory is wrong?

(I just can’t see how information is added to DNA)

Do you have a definition of information such that mutations can avoid adding information? Can you explain how normal processes such as gene duplication and natural selection may occur without massive increases in functional DNA, aka “information”?

It’s great to see that some members of the media are aware of some of those embarassing statements such as are made in OPaP. Perhaps, before too long, enough of the media will be aware of the disingenuous and deceitful work of the Intelligent Design movement to render their PR campaigns useless (although by then ID may have evolved yet again, perhaps into Purposeful Arrangement of Parts (PAP)).

Few leading [ID] researchers .…

Zero. There aren’t any, in any scientific sense.

The DI was right, then. No leading ID researchers have ever argued against the existence of transitional forms. Hooray for logic!

Am I the only one worried about the sheer vindictiveness of the evolution or creation debate? I thought science was about open mindedeness and rationality so why the hysteria? I admit I’m a doubter (I just can’t see how information is added to DNA)but if I go public, am I likely to be lynched?

Depends on how polite you are about it, how honest you are about it, and whether you intend to just express legitimate doubts and questions or whether you intend to just repeat urban legends you heard somewhere and then get defensive and nasty if people point out the urban legends are wrong.

This said, this is the internet. Whereever you go on the internet, there is unfortunately the constant risk of people going crazy vindictive on you for no good reason at any time. You should see some of the things I’ve been accused of lately because I don’t like the same video games certain other people like :O I don’t think that’s a very good reason to hold back, though. After all, you could remain silent and quiet about your personal thoughts on “information” for years to avoid conflict, then suddenly find yourself with a website full of people trying to lynch you because they don’t like your choice of cat food.

You should see some of the things I’ve been accused of lately because I don’t like the same video games certain other people like

You’ve seen nothing until you’ve seen a Playstation 2 vs. XBox vs. Gamecube fanboy argument. It’s probably the best hillarity and one of the most viscious arguments you can see on the internet. If you think religions have passionate defenders that are often devoid of ‘logic’, you haven’t seen what console fanboys will do in defending their choice of video games console.

It’s pandemonium! PANDEMONIUM MAN!

Graeme Carle Wrote:

I admit I’m a doubter (I just can’t see how information is added to DNA)but if I go public, am I likely to be lynched?

RBH Wrote:

Depends on the context. Do so in church and you’ll be applauded by equally ignorant parishioners in the pews. Do so in front of an audience composed of people who actually know something about it and you’ll be laughed at or pitied

Do so in a high school science class, or at a school board meeting, and, no, I won’t lynch you or get hysterical, but, yes, I will be mightily exasperated, perhaps even to the point of pissed-offedness.

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 9, column 21, byte 771 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

Graeme Carle Wrote:

I admit I’m a doubter (I just can’t see how information is added to DNA)but if I go public, am I likely to be lynched?

RBH Wrote:

Depends on the context. Do so in church and you’ll be applauded by equally ignorant parishioners in the pews. Do so in front of an audience composed of people who actually know something about it and you’ll be laughed at or pitied

Russel Wrote:

Do so in a high school science class, or at a school board meeting, and, no, I won’t lynch you or get hysterical, but, yes, I will be mightily exasperated, perhaps even to the point of pissed-offedness.

If you do it on this blog it could lead to Pandamonium.

Oh I do so kill me.

Graeme Carle: I just can’t see how information is added to DNA.

Pete Dunkelberg: Do you have a definition of information such that mutations can avoid adding information?

It is unlikely that Mr. Carle can define “mutations” or, indeed, knows anything about the chemical structure of DNA or how this structure works in the context of a living cell. I say this with some confidence because if he understood anything substantial about molecular biology (never mind evolution) he would probably not have asked the above question.

I’m not saying this to insult Mr. Carle, but rather to point out that (1) Mr. Dunkelberg’s question above is probably already over Mr. Carle’s head, and (2) to warn Mr. Carle that he is likely doing the equivalent of voicing an opinion about how a Formula 1 engine ought to be tuned, when he can’t tell a piston ring from a crankshaft.

Biology, like F1 racing, is a technical subject, and there’s really no point to forming an opinion until one has mastered the field’s technical fundamentals (and, perhaps, until one’s gone a bit beyond the fundamentals). To form and voice such an opinion anyway is to risk making a fool of oneself in a very public way. If Mr. Carle is genuinely interested in this subject, I and many others would be delighted to point him toward books, web sites, etc. that will provide the technical background required to form a useful opinion.

The Disco Institute has let Dembski back in the door with this:

“This latest fossil find poses no threat to intelligent design.” So says Discovery Institute senior fellow and leading intelligent design theorist Dr. William Dembski, adding:

“Intelligent design does not so much challenge whether evolution occurred but how it occurred. In particular, it questions whether purposeless material processes–as opposed to intelligence–can create biological complexity and diversity.”

But then why the “evidence challenging evolution” and the “Darwinist” monicker they label us with?

Not to worry … the DI is slipping into the same irrelevancy that characterizes the ICR.

But as the evidence mounts for evolution, who and what will be next to obscure the judgements of school boards around the country?

Cheers, Jeff

Comment #95754

Posted by Graeme Carle on April 9, 2006 05:51 PM (e)

Am I the only one worried about the sheer vindictiveness of the evolution or creation debate? I thought science was about open mindedeness and rationality so why the hysteria? I admit I’m a doubter (I just can’t see how information is added to DNA)but if I go public, am I likely to be lynched?

I think you’re confused. I don’t recollect scientists spending huge amounts of time and money, setting up PR “Think Tanks” and spending MILLIONS OF DOLLARS every year on press releases and bullshit to attack creationists. Rather, for the most part, they just want to do their science in peace. And if they weren’t constantly being attacked by creationists, and their messages of hatred and contempt, by-and-large, nothing would ever make the news.

Let’s not forget, scientists pretty much rebut creationism on a shoe-string budget, mostly for free, while the fundies have an annual multi-million dollar funding advantage. The fundies also have much better media contacts, media savvy, hire public relations firms plus every bully pulpit from Maine to Hawaii AND the generally ignorant American population which, for the most part, revels in its ignorance and eschews any thought too long to be put on a bumper sticker.

When it comes to resources, it’s like a boy-scout troop going against the 101st Airborne. Unfortunately for the well-heeled fundies, science is about facts not mythology and PR. Therefore, the creationist ideas have been consigned to the bronze-age dustbin from whence they originated. And no amount of propaganda or name calling will put the genie back in the bottle and make those discredited proclamations “true” again.

As for the exasperation and sniping, creationists (IDers) haven’t said anything new about evolution in nearly 150 years. Nothing. It’s the same old “God did it” argument that (actually) existed before Darwin and has been unsuccessful since Darwin. Which also reflects on “open mindedness.” Who’s not being open-minded? The scientists that abandoned, or at least substantially refined and modernized, a BRONZE AGE religious world view? Or those that tenaciously cling to it?

I can see a variant of the “Darwin fish” car emblem right now:

> Tiktaalik >
   L     L

Re “In particular, it questions whether purposeless material processes — as opposed to intelligence — can create biological complexity and diversity.””

When did material processes and intelligence become opposites?

Doesn’t our intelligence use material processes all the time?

Come to think of it, what makes material processes “purposeless”?

If an unguided material process (I’m assuming that’s what they meant) would produce an acceptable result, why would the one wanting that result be obliged to micromanage the process just because the ID pushers want it to have done so?

(Or am I being picky?)

Henry

When did material processes and intelligence become opposites?

Doesn’t our intelligence use material processes all the time?

Come to think of it, what makes material processes “purposeless”?

Personally I think it’s pretty clear that most or all of Dembski’s scholarship is founded on an attempt to quietly smuggle into mathematics the assumption of the existence of the immortal soul.

He’s just being a little less subtle about it than normal, in this case.

The name Tiktaalik and the general body plan reminds me of a crocodile. Maybe the one that snagged the hand of Capt. Hook and got stuck with an alarm clock.

Maybe that Tiktaalik talk is just a reminder that time is running out for creationism.

I just can’t see how information is added to DNA

My standard respose to the “genetic information can’t increase” baloney:

According to the creationists, all humans alive today are descended from 8 people who got off a Really Big Boat. Anyone who understands junior high genetics will know that 8 people have between them a maximum possible of 16 different alleles for each genetic locus (in reality, the 8 people on the Big Boat would have had even FEWER, since some of them were descended from others and thus shared alleles, but for the sake of argument we will give the creationists every possible benefit of the doubt and assume that they were ALL heterozygous and shared no alleles at all in common). That means, if the creationists are correct that “most mutations are deleterious” and that “no new genetic information can appear through mutation”, there can not be any human genetic locus anywhere today with more than 16 alleles, since that is the MAXIMUM that could have gotten off the Big Boat.

But wait ———- today we find human genetic loci (such as hemoglobin or the HLA complex) that have well over *400* different alleles (indeed some have over *700* different alleles). Hmmmm. Since there could have only been 16 possible on the Big Boat, and since there are over 400 now, and since 400 is more than 16, that means that somehow the GENETIC INFORMATION INCREASED from the time they got off the Big Boat until now.

That raises a few questions —– (1) if genetic mutations always produce a LOSS in information, like the creationists keep telling us, then how did we go from 16 alleles to over 400 alleles (perhaps in creationist mathematics, 400 is not larger than 16). (2) if these new alleles did not appear through mutations, then how DID they get here.

But wait – there’s more:

Not only, according to creationists, must these new alleles have appeared after the Big Boat, but, according to their, uh, “theory”, all of these mutations must have appeared in the space of just *4,000 years* – the period of time since the Big Flood. That gives a rate of BENEFICIAL MUTATIONS, which add NEW GENETIC INFORMATION, of one every 10 years, or roughly two every generation ——- a much higher rate of beneficial mutation than has ever been recorded anywhere in nature. Nowhere today do we see such a rate anywhere near so high. So not only would I like to know (1) what produced this extraordinarily high rate of non-deleterious mutations, but (2) what stopped it (indeed, what stopped it conveniently right before the very time when we first developed the technological means to study it).

But wait — we’re not done YET . … . .

Since less than 1% of observed mutations are beneficial (the vast majority of mutations are indeed deleterious or neutral and have no effect), that means for every beneficial mutation which added a new allele, there should have been roughly 99 others which did not. So to give us roughly 400 beneficial mutations would require somewhere around 40,000 total mutations, a rate of approximately 100 mutations in each locus EVERY YEAR, or 2,000 mutations per locus for EACH GENERATION. Do you know what we call people who experience mutation rates that high? We call them “cancer victims”. The only people with mutation rates even remotely comparable were victims of Chernobyl.

But wait, we’re STILL not finished . … . .

In order for any of those mutations to be passed on to the next generation to produce new alleles, they MUST occur in the germ cells - - sperm or egg. And since any such high rate of mutation in a somatic cell (non-sperm or egg) would have quickly produced a fatal case of cancer, if the creationists are right this mutation rate could ONLY have occurred in the germ cells and could NOT have occurred in any of the somatic cells.

If one of our resident creationists can propose a mechanism for me which produces a hugely high rate of mutation in the germ cells while excluding it from any other cells, a Nobel Prize in medicine surely awaits — such information would be critically valuable to cancer researchers. But alas, no such mechanism exists. The rate of mutations made necessary by creationist “arguments” would certainly have killed all of Noah’s children before they even had time to have any kids of their own. In order to produce 400 beneficial alleles in just 4,000 years, humanity would have been beset with cancers at a rate that would have wiped them all out millenia ago.

It’s great to see that some members of the media are aware of some of those embarassing statements such as are made in OPaP. Perhaps, before too long, enough of the media will be aware of the disingenuous and deceitful work of the Intelligent Design movement to render their PR campaigns useless (although by then ID may have evolved yet again, perhaps into Purposeful Arrangement of Parts (PAP)).

Does that mean we should be preparing for the inevitable PAP smear campaign? Not to stirrup a controversy, or anything. Oh, now I’ve gyne and done it.

I can see a variant of the “Darwin fish” car emblem right now:

> Tiktaalik > L L

BWAH!!! I want one!

-Rusty

Kevin takes the ball down court; he shoots

he scores!!!

yikes that was punny.

I remain unpersuaded

I am a bit curious, though — why on earth do you think it should be anyone’s job here to persuade you?

With all due respect, why on earth should anyone here give a flying fig WHAT you are persuaded of or not?

You don’t like evolution. OK. So what? Why should anyone care?

If you didn’t like gravity, should anyone care? If you didn’t like the value of pi, should anyone care?

What on earth do you think gives you the right to demand that the rest of the world persuade you that your uninformed opinion about science is wrong? Why are we all supposed to jump when you demand it?

If you want basic tutoring in tenth-grade biology, I charge $75 an hour. (shrug)

If you want to do it less expensively, then (1) stop getting all your “science” information from creationist religious tracts, and (2) go to a library (the big building with all the books in it) and read the entire “biology” section.

Apollo:

I confess I remain unpersuaded that random mutations can acheive anything other than dis-order (cancer, cystic fibrosis, down’s syndrome, hemophilia, the list goes on).

Myopia. Can confers both strong positive and strong negative attributes, or a weaker positive result, depending if homozygous or heterozygous in expression.

Dr. Tartakower used to say that every chess game was won by a mistake, sometimes a mistake committed by the loser but often one committed by the winner. The false step breaks the equilibrium and decisive results become possible. This pattern seems to also hold true for mutations in living things. What looks like a defect turns out to be advantageous, especially after further mutations and natural selection have compensated for the bad effects. Quite a few mutations that cause the loss of a cell membrane feature prevent viral infections, for example.

Well, that seems to have chased Apollo away pretty effectively…

Lenny wrote:

“If you want basic tutoring in tenth-grade biology, I charge $75 an hour.”

Considering how you have been going about the business of elucidating the concepts of biology (and the scientific method) to various posters, and the degree of motivation and encouragement you have conveyed to them with your hair-trigger polemics, you are grossly overpriced.

Would it not have been much more effective to ask apollo230 to explain how he/she would go about defining and measuring the amount of disorder when a gene is caused to mutate? How would the the changed genetic material be construed as more or less disorderd ompared to the original form?

Such a discussion and the following give and take and carefully listening to what apollo230 was saying would have led you, and the other teacher-posters here, to realize that apoolo230 was not really talking about order but about “improvement”. He/she found it hard to accept that a random process would inexorably lead one way - ever improved forms. And at first glance it is a reasonable question, in the absence of natural selection.

But you missed an opportunity (what educators refer to as a “teachable moment”) to engage in some quality teaching due to your desire to mow down a suspected “creationist”. You failed apollo230 and so did the other teacher-posters here.

Carol, I don’t think apollo was really here to learn, do you?

I can see how my refusal to change my position could disenchant those who put effort into getting me to see things their way. On the other hand, I too, worked hard on my posts and swayed nobody.

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but your posts didn’t actually make any arguments of a form that could actually have persuaded anyone. They basically boiled down to “this is my opinion; I have no reasoning to back it up. It just seems right”. On the other hand, I, for example, presented you with a clear instance of immensely useful functionality arising purely from random mutation (the nylon bug).

Regards the idea that random mutation can’t give rise to order, you’re mostly correct. Let’s take an analogy, though: water. Water mostly destroys stuff. It wears down rocks. It makes people slip. If you hit it with an earthquake it washes away major cities. It’s causing many parts of my nation’s coastline to slip into the sea. Water does not give rise to order.

Unless, of course, you stick a turbine in its path. Now its effects can be channeled - it can generate large amounts of electricity. By using well-designed tidal barrages, for example, you can get a lot of power from it no matter which way the water itself is moving. And that power can fuel constructive activity - everything from cars to computers.

Random mutation on its own will not generally give rise to what you’d probably think of as order. However, when harnessed by natural selection, there’s practically no end to what it can achieve. This can actually be demonstrated on computer by using genetic algorithms - in this context, random mutation plus a selection criterion can often achieve results significantly better than anything a human could come up with.

The above is not (just) an opinion. It’s an opinion backed up by fact. If you think the facts are wrong or the logic is faulty, feel free to challenge it. You’re right, however, that just saying “well, you’re entitled to your opinion” is extremely frustrating for the rest of us.

But you missed an opportunity (what educators refer to as a “teachable moment”) to engage in some quality teaching due to your desire to mow down a suspected “creationist”. You failed apollo230 and so did the other teacher-posters here.

As I’ve already said, I don’t bother any more with attempting to “teach” fundies. The payoff simply isn’t worth the effort.

If they really and truly wanted to learn something, they could go to any library and learn as much as they want. For free. And absolutely nobody can stop them.

Apollo was here to (1) pick a fight and (2) feed his massive martry complex.

He succeeded at both.

He should thank us for giving him exactly what he wanted. (shrug)

Just like you, Carol.

Such a discussion and the following give and take and carefully listening to what apollo230 was saying would have led you, and the other teacher-posters here, to realize that apoolo230 was not really talking about order but about “improvement”.

Carol:

1. he was no more here to learn than you are.

2. he damn near direct quoted from Dembski’s NFL, and didn’t expect we would catch him on it.

3. Just how dumb are you, anyway?

4. Go away.

Just as an aside, today is the 373rd anniversary of Galileo’s conviction for heresy. All he did was explain the facts.

Just how dumb are you, anyway?

Now come on, Sir TJ, surely you must know by now that Carol doesn’t answer the really relevant questions.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

C. Clouser wrote:

Such a discussion and the following give and take and carefully listening to what apollo230 was saying would have led you, and the other teacher-posters here, to realize that apoolo230 was not really talking about order but about “improvement”. He/she found it hard to accept that a random process would inexorably lead one way - ever improved forms. And at first glance it is a reasonable question, in the absence of natural selection.

Evolution is not about “improvement”. Natural selection only explains the ability of certain individuals in a population to pass on their genes more effectively than other individuals which are not as well adapted to a particular environment. In a sense that is in an improvement, but only for one particular environment placing a selective pressure. A characteristic that imparts adaptive advantage in one environment may be a tremendous disadvantage in another. Improvement is a subjective human concept that has no place in ToE; just as ID and Dembski’s “Law of Conservation of Information” (cough) have no place in science.

I finally got to read the Newsweek article and there’s something I find puzzling that perhaps can be clarified. Since I’ve learned all I know about paleozoic vertebrate evolution from the right reverend archbishop sitteth on the right hand Leonardo Franko MD phD FOTHB, I am confused about the description of eusthenopteron as being “a distant ancestor of todays mudfish and coelacanth”. My understanding is that mudfish (translated in several dictionaries as “bowfin”) are in fact actinopterygian and not sarcopterygian which the eusthenopteron must be. Perhaps either 1. the writer meand to use “lungfish” or 2. that “mudfish” means something different in the UK as opposed to the USA. TPFD.

Perhaps either 1. the writer meand to use “lungfish” or 2. that “mudfish” means something different in the UK as opposed to the USA.

A cursory Googling indicates that people use “mudfish” for a variety of, well, fish that hang out in mud. Lungfish is probably the meaning intended here, but mud minnows and mudskippers are also referred to that way, apparently.

Sorry for my delay in replying - I’ve been out of town. Thanks for your responses. I’m glad I waded through to some substantive answers that I need to think on.

I’ve managed to save up roughly $40680 in my bank account, but I’m not sure if I should buy a house or not. Do you think the market is stable or do you think that home prices will decrease by a lot?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on April 9, 2006 3:52 PM.

Evolution versus “Intelligent Design” was the previous entry in this blog.

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