The Addiction of Egnorance

| 26 Comments

What did evolution have to do with the deciphering of the genetic code?

According to the Discovery Institute’s [Egnorant] News and Views, nothing.

According to the actual research, everything.

26 Comments

Can I just say that while the locution “egnorance”, which I confess to finding more clever by half than that of the cleverness of the locution “Dumbski”, is not, mutatis mutandis, “clever beyond measure.”

Surely the PT regulars can do better while trashing this dishonest ignorant twit than making cheap name puns.

And of course, selection is seen as having played an important role in the evolution of the genetic code, in addition to (historical contingency) chance, and stereochemistry. While ID would rely on science cannot explain X thus ‘design’, Egnor uses a clever bait and switch when using the term ‘design inference’. Of course, only by conflating common design inference and the Intelligent Design version can ID pretend to have relevance.

Knowing evolutionary thought might not be critical for treating routine ailments. For keeping the human race healthy it is vital and has been shown as such.

Anyone in medicine knows about emerging diseases and there seems to be a new one every few years. These are diseases of animals that acquire the ability to infect and spread among the human population, a large ecological niche these days.

SARS A bat virus that normally doesn’t easily infect or be transmitted among people. The Chinese strain that almost established itself in us had mutations that clearly enabled it to become an important and deadly new disease. This was a case where it was stop it early or watch out.

Bird flu. Hasn’t adapted well to people yet. The 1918 pandemic flu shows what could happen when an animal virus evolves a new host range.

HIV/AIDS This was a chimpanzee virus that crossed the species host boundary, probably due to eating infected animals. We weren’t so lucky with this one and 20 million people die of it every year.

The next emerging disease. No one knows what it will be but everyone thinks there will be another one coming along.

While these emerging diseases are remarkable examples of evolution as we watch, the consequences for humanity have been notably deleterious. There is always a possibility that the next one might make HIV look tame.

We are blessed with Egnor(ance).

We would have been cursed with Smith(ance) which makes no sense whatsoever.

Ironic, isn’t it, that Egnor makes no sense either!

My nightmare is that Egnor works for Casey Luskin, I mean, can you imagine?

Does the “theory” of ID explain how I can be so embarrassed for someone else? I don’t think biology does it well, as the embarrassment reaction is supposed to only occur in one’s own body, not in that of someone else, miles away, just reading words online.

In any case, by the 2nd sentence, Egnore makes sure to use “Darwinism” and “Darwinists,” and makes it clear that he’s talking about his cartoon caricature, not evolution itself. Ending it on the pathetic old canard that Darwin’s contribution was eugenics, leaves no doubt that he’s scraping the bottom of the barrel, and knows it.

I thought he was going to go into the “more than one genetic code” routine that the DI tried a few years back, but apparently dropped because it’s no comfort at all to classic creationists.

I do like the Gore dig, however. “Egnorance” aside, the guy has promise as a comedy writer. A far-right Al Franken, if you will.

Reed Wrote:

Benner et al. (1967) used selection experiments on mutations to argue that UGA did not code for an amino acid and specifically argued that it must have an important function “because otherwise natural selection would have certainly allocated it to an amino acid.”

Like, wow. (Yes, yes, I know. But it isn’t like we will hear it from Egnor. :-)

raven Wrote:

Knowing evolutionary thought might not be critical for treating routine ailments.

Only by refusing to accept that it is in fact evolutionary effects we are dealing with, it seems.

We must not forget that not only new strains evolves, they do so in response to treatments. A good doctor act accordingly:

“ * As a pediatrician, she does not routinely prescribe antibiotics. For a basically healthy child, no matter what the infection, she won’t prescribe antibiotics for at least 4 days, to give the child’s immune system a chance to defeat the infection on its own. * She does not prescribe antibiotics for any illness until there is hard proof that it’s caused by bacteria. * When she prescribes antibiotics, she does it in a very strict way. The first prescription for a child without drug allergies is always penicillin. * After the first time that they prescribe antibiotics, the practice keeps careful track of exactly what has been prescribed to which child when; they follow a strict rotation process with antibiotics to try to not repeatedly prescribe the same antibiotic to a child within a six-month period.

Why such a strict process? Because bacteria are evolving resistance to antibiotics. By following a strict process like this, they minimize the quantity of antibiotics that they prescribe, and they try to prevent a chronically ill child from becoming a walking incubator of resistant bacteria. (And yes, when talking about this, she does specifically say that bacteria are evolving resistance.)”

( http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/20[…]tibiotic.php )

And if modeling of an epidemic accordingly is indistinguishable from modeling selection of resistance ( http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasu[…]stance_4.php ), and the process obviously depends on the treatment vs resistance (see the paper referenced) or conversely the contingent fitness of the strains, how is it not an evolutionary model?

On the variation side of evolution, it is probably also hard for creationists to assure themselves that all the resistant populations were preexisting all large epidemics. Unless they have a problem with common statistics, of course. ;-)

Only by refusing to accept that it is in fact evolutionary effects we are dealing with, it seems.

I’m a bit late to the Egnor discussion. To be sure drug resistance, multidrug resistance, and hospital acquired infections demonstrating such are serious problems and occasionally fatal. For a doctor to not know this these days is malpractice.

It isn’t just antibiotics and bacteria. Antivirals show the same pattern.

The HIV virus evolves in each patient in response to drug selection pressures. That is why triple combo HAART is used. Drugs are switched to different classes as resistance occurs. When all options are exhausted, the outlook isn’t very bright.

Seeing it now with Tamiflu and influenza.

Resistance to antimalarial drugs is a serious problem also.

I thought most of the neocreationists accepted microevolution. After all it is easily demonstrated by anyone with basic skills and is both seen and an important problem. Insects develop resistance to insecticides, weeds develop resistance to herbicides, malaria develops resistance to antimalarial drugs, new flu strains arise each year, antibiotics become obsolete. We spend a lot of time and money dealing with this.

Bacteria do not evolve when they become resistant to anti-biotics…They randomly mutate and change shape,so that the anti-biotics cannot lock on,to do their job.This is a far cry from evolving a complex organ!

I like the cheap: “cdesign malaproponentists”

Of course bacterial resistance doesn’t demonstrate the evolution of a complex organ. That takes nothing away from the fact that bacterial resistance is biological evolution.

Bill said:

“This is a far cry from evolving a complex organ!”

It is also a far cry from spinach pie, what’s your point?

I thought most of the neocreationists accepted microevolution.

They’ll say they do but they never stop attacking it.

Bacteria do not evolve when they become resistant to anti-biotics…They randomly mutate and change shape,so that the anti-biotics cannot lock on,to do their job.This is a far cry from evolving a complex organ!

One common definition of evolution. “In the broadest sense, evolution is merely change, and so is all-pervasive; galaxies, languages, and political systems all evolve. Biological evolution … is change in the properties of populations of organisms that transcend the lifetime of a single individual. The ontogeny of an individual is not considered evolution; individual organisms do not evolve. The changes in populations that are considered evolutionary are those that are inheritable via the genetic material from one generation to the next. Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportion of different alleles within a population (such as those determining blood types) to the successive alterations that led from the earliest protoorganism to snails, bees, giraffes, and dandelions.” - Douglas J. Futuyma in Evolutionary Biology, Sinauer Associates 1986

Sure bacterial, viral, insect, plant, protozoal resistances are evolution in action. Inheritable changes passed on to future generations. There is far more to evolution than evolving complex organs. Physiology, metabolism, behavior, color, morphology; anything that is inheritable.

Bacteria do not evolve when they become resistant to anti-biotics (sic)…They randomly mutate and change shape,so that the anti-biotics (sic) cannot lock on, to do their job.

And that’s not evolution, because…(?)

Re “And that’s not evolution, because…(?)”

Cuz de bacteria didn’t suddenly start growing eyeballs or wings! (or even flagella!)

Next question? :)

The Addiction Continues:

Preventing the emergence of resistant strains of bacteria is important work, but the insight that Darwinism brings to the problem — the unkilled ones eventually outnumber the killed ones — is of no help. We can figure that out ourselves. The tough work on preventing the emergence of resistant bacteria is done by microbiologists, epidemiologists, molecular geneticists, pharmacologists, and physicians who are infectious disease specialists. Darwinism, understood as the view that “chance and necessity” explains all biological complexity, plays no role.

Translation: “Because microbiologists study evolution, evolution is not important to the study of microbiology.”

*smack*

.…but the insight that Darwinism brings to the problem — the unkilled ones eventually outnumber the killed ones — is of no help

What he seems to be saying is, “we can watch evolution in action, it is a serious problem, but we don’t need to know what we are seeing to deal with it.”

I’d bet most of those infectious disease people dealing with antibiotic resistance use evolutionary concepts either consciously or unconsciously and wouldn’t have a problem with evolution.

It’s more complicated than just live outnumbering dead. There is a why in there as in why do the live end up outnumbering the dead. Plus antibiotic resistance determinants tend to end up as part of transposons which end up in plasmids with other drugR transposons and then you have transmissable multidrug resistance to worry about. This can take place either in those giant petri dishes known as hospitals or in livestock raising operations. The proper and careful use of antibiotics also plays a role in how soon and how serious antibiotic resistance develops and evolutionary thought has something to say about that as well. I rather imagine that believing the earth is 5,000 years old is a lot less useful.

Finally whether a microbiologist surveying a hospital for drug resistant bacteria accepts evolution or believes in creationism has nothing to do with whether the theory is correct or not.

Re “I rather imagine that believing the earth is 5,000 years old is a lot less useful.”

Or 6010 years. ;)

Henry J., I tip my hat.

From Ussher’s 4004BC to 2007AD is 6010 years because there is no year ‘zero’ between 1BC and 1AD.

Thank Dionysius Exiguus and the calendar system he defined.

For a while there people like Ussher figured that the end of the world would come at the end of the 2nd millenium. Nice to see they were wrong.

JohnS — He was only off by a few years. Calendar system change?

:-)

Bill Wrote:

Bacteria do not evolve when they become resistant to anti-biotics…They randomly mutate and change shape,so that the anti-biotics cannot lock on,to do their job.

No, Bill. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are not a different shape from those without resistance. Antibiotics don’t “lock on” to the shape of a bacteria to “do their job.” The antibiotics in question employ various mechanisms that kill bacteria; in the case of Gram-negative bacteria, for example, the antibiotics often interfere with protein synthesis. If there’s a change to the pathway an antibiotic inhibits, then the antibiotic stops being effective. Antibiotics work in a number of ways, but this is a common method.

No change in the shape of the bacterium is necessary. You can’t tell a resistant one from a non-resistant one by looking at it under a microscope all by itself.

You really ought to try learning a little something about the things you’re commenting on. For instance, here’s a question for you: why don’t doctors prescribe ampicillin for treating chlamydia? If you can answer that, you’ll have actually learned something here.

Surely the PT regulars can do better while trashing this dishonest ignorant twit than making cheap name puns.

Enough of your Egnor-rants about Egnorance.

Umm Bill,

Your statement about abtibiotic resistance is a load of bull. There is an additional and most concerning mechanism of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. It involves the production of molecular structures new to the organism involved. Further, there are synthetic antibiotics that had no natural existence prior to their invention. Bacterial strains that were universally susceptible targets are now commonly resistant via the mechanism I am alluding to. I recommend you look it up in any undergraduate microbiology, biochemistry, or chemical engineering introductory text before parading your abject ignorance. Dr Egnor should do likewise on this topic and ignore his Pastor who is no doubt exhorting him in his recent folly.

Rustopher.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 1, column 85, byte 85 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

What he seems to be saying is, “we can watch evolution in action, it is a serious problem, but we don’t need to know what we are seeing to deal with it.”

This all reminds me of the legendary Larry Fafarman’s statement to the effect that one can take evolution as a given in one’s research without actually believing it.

Remarkably, he thought this was quite the rhetorical stroke of genius.

Vyoma said:

here’s a question for you: why don’t doctors prescribe ampicillin for treating chlamydia? If you can answer that, you’ll have actually learned something here.

Ampicillin could be prescribed to treat chlamydia should the patient be pregnant. Of course your point is still absolutely valid, though.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on March 28, 2007 8:51 PM.

Don’t teach ID – at least not until our textbook is published was the previous entry in this blog.

Don’t blame the dinosaurs is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter