Science versus Intelligent Design: And the myth continues (Luskin on Behe)

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flunked.jpgOn Evolution News Luskin claims, quoting Behe, that the number to establish probabilities of fixation of a mutation is not a calculation but rather statistical data:

The number of one in 1020 is not a probability calculation. Rather, it is statistical data.

But if Behe had read White’s 2003 paper (table 1) “The de novo selection of drug-resistant malaria parasites.” N J White and W Pongtavornpinyo Proc Biol Sci. 2003 March 7; 270(1514): 545–554. he would have read that

The estimates for chloroquine and artemisinin are speculative. In the former case, this assumes two events in 10 years of use with exposure of 10% of the world’s falciparum malaria (Burgess &Young 1959; Martin&Arnold1968; Looareesuwan et al. 1996; Su et al. 1997

Luskin is correct, the number is not a “mere guess”, it’s a speculative estimate. Glad we got that right. Why Luskin failed to mention this is beyond me since he does seem to quote the paper in question. Perhaps if Luskin had spent more time on reading the papers and less on emphasizing the academic achievements of White, he might have found the error in Behe’s claim himself.

What Behe meant when he said that

the 1020 statistic is an empirically derived fact

is less clear. Surely since ID proponents are so critical of evolutionary scientists when it comes to confusing fact and fiction, Behe may wants to revise his statement.

Now it has already been well document that the paper from which Behe lifted this single data point was careful to state that this was merely a guestimate by the author.

As I have discussed, Behe asserts that the probability associated with a “CCC” is 1 in 10^20. Where does this number come from? From footnote 16 in the first excerpt given above - White, N. J. 2004. Antimalarial drug resistance. J. Clin. Invest. 113:1084-92. Here is the actual passage from the review by White that mentions the number 10^20:

“Chloroquine resistance in P. falciparum may be multigenic and is initially conferred by mutations in a gene encoding a transporter (PfCRT) (13). In the presence of PfCRT mutations, mutations in a second transporter (PfMDR1) modulate the level of resistance in vitro, but the role of PfMDR1 mutations in determining the therapeutic response following chloroquine treatment remains unclear (13). At least one other as-yet unidentified gene is thought to be involved. Resistance to chloroquine in P. falciparum has arisen spontaneously less than ten times in the past fifty years (14). This suggests that the per-parasite probability of developing resistance de novo is on the order of 1 in 10^20 parasite multiplications. “

In a review paper published in TREE, Nick Matzke further demolishes Behe’s guestimate

The argument collapses at every step. Behe obtains the crucial 1020 number from an offhand estimate in the literature that considered only the few CQR alleles that have been detected because they have taken over regional populations. What is needed, however, is an estimate of how often any weak-but-selectable CQR originates. A study conducted in an area where CQR is actively evolving [5] showed that high-level CQR is more complex than just two substitutions but that it is preceded by CQR alleles having fewer substitutions; moreover, Behe’s two mutations do not always co-occur. As a result, CQR is both more complex and vastly more probable than Behe thinks. This sinks his one in 1020 estimate for CQR, in addition to his notion that protein-protein binding sites are more complex and, therefore, less probable than CQR.

16 Comments

Not to mention the following paper

Progressive Increase in Point Mutations Associated with Chloroquine Resistance in Plasmodium falciparum Isolates from India

Pooja Mittra, Sumiti Vinayak, Hina Chandawat, Manoj K. Das, Neeru Singh, Sukla Biswas, Vas Dev, Ashwani Kumar, Musharraf A. Ansari, and Yagya D. Sharma

Volume 193(2006), pages 1304 - 1312

Abstract

Background. Effective malaria control programs require continuous monitoring of drug pressure in the field, using molecular markers.

Methods. We used sequence analysis to investigate the pfcrt and pfmdr1 mutations in Indian Plasmodiumfalciparum isolates. To evaluate the chloroquine drug pressure in the field, isolates were collected from 5 different areas at 2 time points, with an interval of 2 years.

Results. In 265 P. falciparum isolates, pfcrt mutations were observed at codons 72, 74, 75, 76, and 220, resulting in 8 different genotypes: SMNTS (61.89%), CIETS (12.08%), CMNKS (0.38%), CMNTA (2.64%), CMNTS (4.91%), SMNTA (0.38%), CIDTS (2.26%), and wild-type CMNKA (15.47%). During the 2-year period, there was a significant decrease in the number of isolates with the SMNTS genotype and an increase in the number of isolates with the highly chloroquine-resistant pfcrt genotype CIETS (P<.05). The N86Y mutation was less prevalent (30.13%) than the Y184F mutation (99.16%) in the pfmdr1 gene in 239 isolates, but the number of isolates with the N86Y mutation increased significantly during the 2-year period (P<.05). The number of isolates with higher total numbers of pfcrt and pfmdr1 2-loci mutations, therefore, increased significantly during this period. There was a regional bias in the mutation rate of these genes, because isolates from areas where chloroquine resistance was high had higher numbers of 2-loci mutations, and areas where chloroquine resistance was low had isolates with lower numbers of 2-loci mutations.

Conclusion. There was a temporal increase in the number of pfcrt and pfmdr1 2-loci mutations, and this led to the higher level of chloroquine resistance. This is a cause for concern for the antimalarial drug policy in India.

A progressive increase in the number of pfcrt and pfmdr 2-loci mutations. Check out there figure 1…

Two typographical notes: “artemisininare speculative” should have a space in it. In the section quoting Nick Matzke at the end the various “1020”s should of course have the 20 as an exponent.

I have not read Behe’s original comments, but does he mean that drug-resistant malaria parasites cannot arise by typical evolutionary methods?

If so, and given the fact that they do exist, then this implies that the Intelligent Designer is changing the parasites so they can continue to kill thousands and thousands of poor people he placed in shitty environments in the first place. This ID guy, whoever he is, is a bigger prick than I thought.

Tex: No, he says that they can. His argument is that although 1 in 10^20 is such a minuscule probability, it can still happen because there are so many individuals. The reasoning is circular because if you have a population of N individuals, any mutation event that is observed once has an estimated probability of 1/N. So if this is a small number, it is still not impossible because N is large enough. In fact, Behe must accept that any observed mutation can be attributed to evolution. He cannot point to any specific mutation where there are both mutants and wildtypes around and say that the mutation cannot have been produced by evolution, because his arguments are based on estimated probabilities. Beyond what is attributable to evolution, he can only speculate (and does so). His probability-based arguments are entirely unconvincing although they may seem impressive to a layman.

The improbablity arguments spit out by Creationists and ID promoters are so lame because improbability does not imply impossibility, and they are based on the assumption that evolution is a RANDOM process, which it is not. You have trillions upon trillions upon trillions of organisms on this planet living over billions of years, and natural selection operating all the while, that in itself renders Behe’s improbability arguments moot.

Tex, Behe’s primary argument focuses on the fact that observed changes are small. He argues that the malaria (and the humans who have evolved against it) are so constrained by evolution that they can only take small steps which are often damaging.

He argues that the malaria (and the humans who have evolved against it) are so constrained by evolution that they can only take small steps which are often damaging.

So how does this differ from standard evolutionary theory? It doesn’t, as far as I can see.

Is it time to welcome Behe back into the rational world?

No, I know it probably isn’t, but if this is his argument, it is as close to lucidity as we can hope.

The probability calculation refers to what is required to inject enough to raise the Bahrmin level without the aid of intelligent design.

Tex:

I have not read Behe’s original comments, but does he mean that drug-resistant malaria parasites cannot arise by typical evolutionary methods?

If so, and given the fact that they do exist, then this implies that the Intelligent Designer is changing the parasites so they can continue to kill thousands and thousands of poor people he placed in shitty environments in the first place. This ID guy, whoever he is, is a bigger prick than I thought.

Is that what you will call him when you stand before him on Judgment Day? The fact you disagree with our Lord and Savior’s decisions is not evidence he is not watching you!

Yes, PG, if the being you worship really is as you think he is, and as much of the Bible portrays him to be, then he is, in fact, pathetically prickish. I, for one, won’t worship one who orders the wholesale massacre of men, women, and children, or who commits the ultimate massacre himself (i.e. the Flood).

If that being does in fact exist, and I do have to appear before him at some point, I will tell him that to his face. Along with Huck Finn, if failing to follow “biblical morality” means going to hell–very well then, I’ll go to hell.

“[In Christianity] we are taught to believe there’s an invisible man who lives in the sky who has a list of ten things he doesn’t want you to do who watches you every minute and if you do something he doesn’t like you’re going to burn forever, yet he loves you. To me that’s absurd.”
George Carlin

Why bother of course, but

The probability calculation refers to what is required to inject enough to raise the Bahrmin level without the aid of intelligent design.

Huh?

Inject enough what, and where does it get “injected”?

How do you measure the “Bahrmin level”? What are the relative “Bahrmin levels” of, say, the hippopotamus, the beluga whale, and Eohippus? The american alligator, the ostrich, and T Rex?

Can you give us an example where any intelligent designer has ever verifiably “injected” enough of whatever you’re talking about into anything such that a measurable Bahrmin level increase was observed?

Surely you have evidence!

Is that what you will call him when you stand before him on Judgment Day? The fact you disagree with our Lord and Savior’s decisions is not evidence he is not watching you!

Nope, didn’t think so.

It’s you ego centric view to the world that prevent you from seeing things as they are… The data is not wrong it is always the perspective and assumptions that the person has…

As for microbial evolution it is not like what you know as evolution… we use only vertical transfer of genes and microbes also use horizontal transfer.

horizontal transfer videos here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4i0Q_irM8o http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPvuc9j1t-k http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8xr9Tv9jFY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkl2gvzcC4U

An important thing to understand is how advanced cells are and in fact how much more advanced microbes are…

Example: If you suck a protozoan up into an eyedropper it will find it’s way out… If you suck it up again it gets out faster… that is one cell learning. Yes learning.

Groups of microbes can act as one entity as our cells do yet by choice. They can form group decisions.

Interesting read : “Bacterial linguistic communication and social intelligence” http://ctbp3.ucsd.edu:8080/pubpdf/427.pdf

For the creationists( Religon called microbes spirits as they could not be seen. If you got an infection it was said that evil spirits that came from the ground did it. Was it not said that the spirit of truth couldn’t be received into the world because you could not see it, yet it lived in you and you had to eat it for it to live in you. )

My argument is that both creationist and evolutionists are wrong. That one must change perspective to understand.

Nature is more managed then one would think. It’s the challenges to an absolute of freewill that deludes many into not excepting data… Evolution can happen very quickly. Perhaps that evolution is horizontal in nature and a process of symbiosis.

I’d suggest not the question of whether microbes can be intelligent but whether people can be without them.

The thin line between genius and insanity.. I argue is one of how much truth one can handle at one time before a snap. Determining truth requires a method to connect what one thinks is possible.

So i read Dembski’s book “The design of Life” and he does a fantastic job in defending Intelligent design based on so many different facts. One of the facts i love most is the one entitled “Natural Selection At The Monkey’s Shoulder. Great stuff! he writes:

The odd are overwhelmingly against monkeys randomly typing even two lines of “Hamlet”, much less the entire works of Shakespeare. But what if each monkey has someone stand at its shoulder and erase every error it makes (thereby keeping only what Shakespeare actually wrote). According to Darwinist and education lobbyist Eugenie Scott, this is exactly what natural selection does: {Suppose} you got a million monkeys sitting there typing on their machine. If you want to make this an analogy that makes sense from the standpoint of evolution, you’ve got a million technicians standing behind them with a very large vat of white out and every time the monkey types the wrong letter, you correct it. That’s what natural selection basically does. It’s not just the random production of variation. But with technicians like this backing up the monkeys, there’s no need for an army of monkeys. Given even one such technician, a single randomly typing monkey will , in short order, type all of Hamlet and even all the works of Shakespeare. Within Darwinism, natural selection is supposed to fulfill the role of Scott’s technicians. Thus natural selection is said to monitor the course of evolution, get rid of evolution’s “mistakes” and thereby ensure that evolution moves along efficiently and doesn’t get stuck in dead-ends.

Although Scott’s error-correction approach to overcoming randomness sounds plausible, it is in fact deeply confused. In the case of a monkey at a typewriter, what exactly are the qualifications of the technician standing at the monkey’s shoulder doing the erasing? Indeed, how does the technician know what to erase? The whole point of having monkeys at a typewriter is to account for the emergence of Shakespeare’s works without the need to invoke and intelligence (like shakespeare) that already knows Shakespeare’s works. In other words, the whole point was to get Shakespeare’s works without Shakespeare. But thats not what is happening here. Clearly, the only way to erase errors in the typing of Shakespeare’s works is to know Shakespeare’s works in the first place. Indeed, the very concept of error presupposes that there is a right way that things ought to be. That’s the problem: Eugenie Scott’s technicians, to do their work, need already to know the works of Shakespeare.

When Eugenie Scott calls for a technician to stand over a monkey’s shoulder and correct its mistakes, she commits the fallacy of begging the question or arguing in a circle. In other words, Scott presupposes the very thing she needs to establish as the conclusion of a sound scientific argument. Indeed, scientific rigor demands that we ask who in turn is standing over the technicians shoulder and instructing the technician what is and is not a mistake in the typing of Shakespeare. If the technician’s assistance to the monkey is to mirror natural selection, then the technician needs to help the monkey without knowing or giving away the answer. And yet that’s exactly what the technician is doing here.

Bottom line: Monkeys cannot type Shakespeare apart from Shakespeare!

I love how this completely throws a kink in the chain of evolution and how this goes on to make so much sense for the case of INTELLIGENT design.

John said:

So i read Dembski’s book “The design of Life” and he does a fantastic job in defending Intelligent design based on so many different facts. One of the facts i love most is the one entitled “Natural Selection At The Monkey’s Shoulder. Great stuff! he writes:

The odd are overwhelmingly against monkeys randomly typing even two lines of “Hamlet”, much less the entire works of Shakespeare. But what if each monkey has someone stand at its shoulder and erase every error it makes (thereby keeping only what Shakespeare actually wrote). According to Darwinist and education lobbyist Eugenie Scott, this is exactly what natural selection does: {Suppose} you got a million monkeys sitting there typing on their machine. If you want to make this an analogy that makes sense from the standpoint of evolution, you’ve got a million technicians standing behind them with a very large vat of white out and every time the monkey types the wrong letter, you correct it. That’s what natural selection basically does. It’s not just the random production of variation. But with technicians like this backing up the monkeys, there’s no need for an army of monkeys. Given even one such technician, a single randomly typing monkey will , in short order, type all of Hamlet and even all the works of Shakespeare. Within Darwinism, natural selection is supposed to fulfill the role of Scott’s technicians. Thus natural selection is said to monitor the course of evolution, get rid of evolution’s “mistakes” and thereby ensure that evolution moves along efficiently and doesn’t get stuck in dead-ends.

Dembski still hasn’t got Dawkins’ Weasel program right yet. He’s still trying to claim that Dawkins’ original version “locks in” correct characters as they appear. It’s not for want of people telling him.

Where did you get your purported version of evolution as per Eugenie Scott? It’s so badly wrong that it’s far more likely that it is an attempt at a paraphrase by one of Dembski’s minions over at Uncommon Descent, if not a deliberate distortion.

John wrote:

“But what if each monkey has someone stand at its shoulder and erase every error it makes (thereby keeping only what Shakespeare actually wrote).”

But what if someone stands behind one million monkeys and deletes only those mistakes that make the typing less comprehensible? How long do you think that it would take for something comprehensible to be produced?

See John, that is the way that evolution actually works. There are many random errors in many replicating systems. Most of them are not selected against. Some of them are weakly selected against and some are very strongly selected against. A few are actually beneficial in a particular environment and are not selected against. In any event, there is no one goal or correct solution. If nothing beneficial is produced, all the organisms may eventually die. That has happened many times in the history of ife on earth.

Selection will act to increase the representation of beneficial variants in future generations. Then cumulative selection will act on these variants in subsequent generations. This process has been modelled mathematically and has been shown to work in theory, in the laboratory and in nature.

There is no argument against evolution here John and there certainly is no argument for ID. No one takes Dembski and his make believe math seriously. If you think they do, just ask yourself, why doesn’t he publish anything in any real science journal? He claims it is because it takes too long. He has been claiming that for fifteen years now!

John said:

So i read Dembski’s book “The design of Life”

John;

You appear to be new here. If you’re going to troll, do it on a new thread, this one is an old thread from the archives and nobody will know you’ve posted here.

I would suggest you stick with this one

http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]mment-199767

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on November 4, 2007 3:58 PM.

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