Teach the controversy? Or when ID expells… A case of missing links

| 130 Comments

In a recent posting on Uncommon Descent, ID proponents showed their disappointment with Discovery Institute’s Senior Fellow Simmons performance in his much touted debate (click to download MP3 file) with PZ Myers. Soon thereafter, the link was deleted, showing how Intelligent Design is not truly interested in teaching the controversies, when said controversies make ID look foolish.

Luckily the comments were saved by antievolution.org

Some of the comments:

I’m with you bFast, I was disappointed by Dr. Simmons’ arguments and performance and think PZ easily won the debate.

BTW, I’ve not listened to the debate yet…probably will. But, after reading this thread, it appears that I can look forward to becoming phyically ill afterward.

“PZ mentions specific “intermediate” whale fossils, SIM is unaware of the names of the 5 to 10 transitionals that is claimed — shame! Frustrating ”

Some relevant threads

That’s some memory hole at Pharyngula

Was that fun or what Pharyngula

Standard Crationist tactics Pharyngula

PZ Myers vs. Geoffrey Simmons (Discovery Institute) Tiny Frog

130 Comments

My favorite PZ quote:

“Your ignorance is not evidence”

What does your brain look like on ID? You simply have to click to the AtBC link and read all the UD cultist comments that were deleted, but here are some of the howlers(in order):

He’s forcefully answering PZM as I type about transitional fossils.

PZM just accused Simmons of making stuff up.

PZ caught Dr. Simmons over the pakicetus and ambuloucetus (spelling?) fossils. Made him look a little underinformed (especially for someone who wrote a book on missing links.)

PZM missed Simmons point - he didn’t have the names handy, but mentioned a recent article in Scientific American which he claimed buttressed his point, the specific names notwithstanding

I heard Dr. Simmons’ response; the point is how he made Dr. Simmons look…Dr. Simmons is asking him for reading recommendations and PZ is coming off as more knowledgable in the areas they’re discussing…

PZ - challenges that ID has no positive case.

PZ blows away SIM on whale fossils. PZ mentions specific “intermediate” whale fossils, SIM is unaware of the names of the 5 to 10 transitionals that is claimed — shame! Frustrating as this is SIM’s area of publication, and SIM brought it up.

PZ - “What is difference btw human and chimp brain”, Only difference is in volume, in magnitude.

SIM - Produced no serious response to PZ on this. Ooooh. This guy is a medic! He throws in some snip about 180 degrees different between chimps and man.

If I had to use this debate to judge the validity of NeoDarwinism, I would be a Darwinist. Simmons is a terrible dissappointment. I shall pass on his books, though they haven’t been on my short list.

I’m with you bFast, I was disappointed by Dr. Simmons’ arguments and performance and think PZ easily won the debate. Oh well, hopefully they’ll choose someone else for the anti-Darwin side next time…(Sorry Dr. Simmons!)

Good point. If Simmons is going to use whale transitions in anti-darwinian talking points, due diligence requires he be able to express why PZM’s cited examples are insufficient to counter his claim. He seemed to generally hint at lack of blow holes, but wasn’t very forceful.

I’m with you bFast, I was disappointed by Dr. Simmons’ arguments and performance and think PZ easily won the debate.

The ID movement is wasting its time and resources, in my opinion. This ID vs. evolution fight will never be won with either debates, arguments, brochures, web sites or what have you. The opposition has a propaganda machine that is impervious to this strategy. If public debates and discussions are the best that we can do, I’m afraid we have lost the war before it has even started

Education and arguments are nice but they will only be effective after we’re on top, not before. Sorry to sound so negative but that’s the way I see it at the moment.

I understood PZ to say that the details evolution of the brain were well known. (Does anyone know of any brain fossils?)

“PZ easily won the debate.” Thankfully “winning” a debate does not the truth make. The flat-earthers of old no doubt often “won” debates against the less informed and less debate-able round-earthers.

“You must assume Darwinism is true in order to call anything a transitional!” No wonder anti-evolutionists say there are no transitional forms.

Myers is lying, of course. He can get away with lying in a public debate because he comes off as being knowledgeable.

Like I said previously, we are not going to win this war with honest arguments. If arguments could do it, it would have done it already. The enemy is fighting a political war, not a scientific one. They will lie as often as they have to. They are well equipped for it. Myers is a skilled and consummate liar, in my opinion.

the Discovery Institute should put out a transcript of the debate with notes rebutting the lies of the atheist PZ Meyers.

In my opinion we should just close our eyes and pretend that this debate never happened.

I’m an optimist.

Simmons offered the usual creationist boilerplate, but he made the fatal error of not relying on the strategic buck-passing you see from other IDC advocates. Creationists like talking about all the new scientific evidence that disproves evolution, and how everyone but those close minded Darwinists accepts this new evidence. At the same time, creationists like talking about how any evidence that disputes Darwinism is ruthlessly suppressed before it sees the light of day. Either statement is ridiculous; paired together they’re risible, but creationists seem to have no trouble saying both. I think it’s easier to find a credulous audience if you can talk vaguely about how all this new evidence gathering is done by other people, and all this evidence suppression is done to other people. You can then let your audience fill in the details with visions of industrious ID labs and evil Darwinists trying to shut them down. But if you’re going to write a book about the fossil record and appear on a radio show to discuss it, you have to at least sound like you know what you’re talking about when discussing cetacean lineage. Simmons screwed up everything he talked about, but he screwed up his own putative area of expertise badly enough for some of his own side to recognize it.

Oh, and WAD- Thanks for another trip down memory hole lane. It’s been a lot of fun.

I do have to say “good on you” to PZ Myers for being willing to debate, and taking your claim that the debate topic was changed in the last 90 minutes in good faith, for continuing on with the debate.

Proof that the average nitwit at UD can in fact spot how incompetent the DI actually is. That doesn’t bode well for Disco’s future of continuing to fleece the flock.

I’m waiting to see how the discovery institute spins this utter IDC failure. Casey “don’t show my face” Luskin will be burning the midnight oil tonight.

Right,

… we should just close our eyes and pretend that this debate never happened

Poof!

I just finished listening to the debate, and there is absolutely no question that PZ Myers won the debate. Some of the comments (“infantile” and “ignorant”) were not necessary and out of place, but PZ still clearly won the debate.

Thanks for participating PZ. It is too bad that the debate occurred on the Jeff and Lee program.

Now, if we could get PZ Myers to debate Ann Coulter at St. Cloud State University, it would be much more interesting. In the case of Coulter, she will stoop to using terms like “infantile”, “ignorant”, and worse–so PZ would feel more at home.

But PZ would be intellectually outgunned by Coulter, in the world of politics and forensics.

Since Coulter approaches the creation-evolution controversy from a right-wing socio-political perspective, maybe PZ and other Pandasthumb’s evolutionists could bring Al Frankin up to speed on the evolutionist side of the of socio-political aspects of the evolution disputes, and we could have Frankin v. Coulter, with Gary Eichten or Ira Flatow as debate moderator.

Al Frankin might get a book out of it (akin to Coulters’ Godless: The Church of Liberalism.

Ronald Numbers or Edward Larson could also act as more neutral debate moderators, depending on their speaking abilities.

I am sure the Stewart Hall (Ritsche) Auditorium would sell out, but the ticket prices might have to be reduced if Simmons is in the debate.

“Myers is lying, of course. He can get away with lying in a public debate because he comes off as being knowledgeable.”

Perfect creationist logic. They claim that PZ is lying, but they don’t say about what. They don’t present any evidence or any refutation, they just make an unsubstantiated claim and pretend that that makes it true. What a bunch of wingnuts.

News flash, making a statement you disagree with is not lying. Making a claim you don’t want to believe is not lying. Now making claims about fossils that you know nothing about, now that is lying.

Some of the comments (“infantile” and “ignorant”) were not necessary and out of place

On the contrary, and especially in view of the subject matter, when a licensed doctor, one who writes pseudoscience books on the subject of “Darwinism” demonstrates his profound ignorance on the subject of evolution during a debate on the subject the other side has every right to point out their ignorance. Simmons is clearly an ignorant man when it comes to evolution, transitional species, etc.

I am ignorant on the subject of physics (did I even spell it correctly?). If I wrote pseudoscience books on physics and claimed modern physics was an atheist scam and engaged in a debate with a physics professor I’d in essence be begging for my ignorance to be pointed out to me by the expert in the field.

Simmons wore a “kick me” sign on his back when he showed up to the “debate”, PZ simply accomodated his request.

I rarely visit Uncommon Descent, so the comments by their regulars on this thread were very interesting to me. Are they usually that honest about their side getting openly whupped? Or was that comparatively rare behavior?

wright:

I rarely visit Uncommon Descent, so the comments by their regulars on this thread were very interesting to me. Are they usually that honest about their side getting openly whupped? Or was that comparatively rare behavior?

It’s not only rare, it seems to be extinct…

Are they usually that honest about their side getting openly whupped? Or was that comparatively rare behavior?

I often read the comments at UD and it’s a textbook case of the cult of conformity. Any voice of reason or objectivity will always meet the same fate at UD. They are banned and their comments deleted. Just asking the “wrong” questions will get you banned. I’ve seen very dedicated IDists get banned from UD for not adopting the correct ID positions.

What made the PZ/Simmons thread unique was virtually all the IDiots realized how ignorant Simmons was. THAT is highly unusual there. The UD true believers hardly ever admit anything is wrong in the ID world, so this was not common. Dissent at UD is usually in very small numbers and again, they get banned and deleted swiftly. reminds you of the Ministry Of Truth sort of thing…

AtBC keep an ongoing thread/record of deleted comments and banned UD users.

I agree with Mr_Christopher. PZ was facing an opponent who was being touted as some sort of “expert”, whose arguments displayed a level of unpreparedness and incompetence not usually seen placed on public display. It was quite clear to PZ that Simmons was not only lying but thoroughly ignorant of his topic, and merely pointed it out to him. Keep in mind that Simmons was allowed to change the debate topic on short notice, and they were on a Christian talk radio program that clearly favored Simmons (if you dispute that, you would need to listen to the hosts’ reactions to the two call-in questions afterward). Simmons’ continued attempts to discredit Darwin’s character was infantile (the only canard he didn’t use was Darwin as a puppy-beater) and his understanding of what a scientific theory was, the evidence of whale evolution, and the evolution of the brain were all quite ignorant. Indeed, to not call Simmons ignorant would be a disservice, since to do otherwise would be to accept Simmons as an expert on “Darwinism” and the fossil record.

William Wallace :

…Now, if we could get PZ Myers to debate Ann Coulter at St. Cloud State University, it would be much more interesting. In the case of Coulter, she will stoop to using terms like “infantile”, “ignorant”, and worse–so PZ would feel more at home.

But PZ would be intellectually outgunned by Coulter, in the world of politics and forensics.

*rubs eyes*

*shakes head slowly*

Bloody hell, it really does say that. “PZ would be intellectually outgunned by Coulter.”

I think there are two possible explanations: either there’s some other Ann Coulter, or “unicellular pond life” is spelled “PZ” where William comes from.

Anyway, what’s the point in discussing ID creationism with Ann Coulter? Her writings on the subject are just a regurgitation of what she was told by Dr Dr Dembski. Give us the engineer, not the greasy rag.

Thanks for the clarifications, Mr_Christopher and Chanyanov. I suspected that was atypical behavior for pro-ID / Creationist posters in any forum, as the ones who regularly troll on the Thumb are so different.

What was really amazing to me (which, I know, shows how little experience I’ve had with this kind of mindset) is how compartmentalized the UD posters’ thinking was. They critiqued Simmons for his lack of preparedness and ignorance of the subject matter and acknowledged that PZ came out ahead… But they still couldn’t or wouldn’t reexamine their positions in light of that.

I have my blind spots and cherished preconceptions too. But I’ve also managed to gain the insight and courage to change some of those over the years. It’s difficult to understand the willful ignorance required for people to hold such contrary notions of science in general and evolution in particular.

Wow, if that guy’s a SENIOR FELLOW at the Discovery Institute, I’d hate to hear what their other guys sound like.

I mean SERIOUSLY. This guy’s a complete moron, in fact he sounded drunk. This is someone whose expertise lets him rise to the level of Senior Fellow in the premiere Intelligent Design promotion agency on the planet?!?!?!

How can ANYONE… ANYONE listen to that and not realize… holy shit, Intelligent Design is a movement made up of drunktards? (Drunktard: people who’ve willfully shut off so much of their brain that they might as well be drunk.)

And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE can we have MORE MORE MORE debates? I know ERV called out Behe… I say we hound these guys. No more with this “science isn’t done in debate”… let’s just trash these drunkards. Rip the guts out of the DI and make even their cronys realize it’s a laughingstock.

He was either drunk or a drunktard. I’m not sure it matters which.

I love the UD comments about how “winning” a debate doesn’t mean anything. Then why are they so obsessive about setting up debates with “darwinists”? And then hooting and hollering when their bussed-in audiences crown them the winners.

It’s funny/sad how UD disappeared that thread.

Contrast that action with how science operates … actively trying to find flaws in the others’ research, replicating the work to see if the results are consistent, having folks knowledgeable in that field evaluate the findings, and publishing the results for everyone else to take their turn picking apart.

But it’s the IDists who are crying “censorship! We’ve been Expelled!”

“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”

The commenters on the disappeared thread are like a bunch of rednecked hicks wondering why their truck won’t start after having pounded the engine repeatedly with a sledgehammer, and that the guy who suggested that they call someone to tow the truck to a repair shop is lying dead in a ditch, having been shot for suggesting that.

The IDists hoot and holler because they think they have won even if they lost the fight and war. Come on if you say evolution is not a science then there is something wrong with you. As far as proving evolution to be fact science has already prov en it to be a fact and the supporters of ID, and ID really stands for idiotic design, have lost the war and are way too stupid to get it.

I love the UD comments about how “winning” a debate doesn’t mean anything.

Depends who wins, of course. Debates are wonderful when they’re rigged so you can’t lose. They’re only meaningless if you didn’t rig it well enough.

But it’s the IDists who are crying “censorship! We’ve been Expelled!”

Well, you gotta pick your principles. When you have the upper hand, being right is what matters, and you’re always right. When you don’t, then “fairness” and “equal time for both sides” is the right sales pitch. Similarly, when creationists are bombarded with science, then “there’s plenty of ID science out there, and a growing number of scientists reject evolution.” When the challenge is to NAME those scientists or SHOW that science, then the right sales pitch is to claim that “Darwinists suppress anything that doesn’t conform to their religion.”

And when they control the forum, they are diligent and prompt about “disappearing” anything uncongenial to their doctrines. When they do not, they are equally diligent about spamming and breaking forum rules until they can force the moderators to ban them - and THEN claim Darwinists “expel” disagreement!

As far as I can tell, all of these things are what Jesus would do.

Flint:

As far as I can tell, all of these things are what Jesus would do.

You forgot to mention inviting the money-changers into the Temple.

JohnW:

William Wallace :

…Now, if we could get PZ Myers to debate Ann Coulter at St. Cloud State University, it would be much more interesting. In the case of Coulter, she will stoop to using terms like “infantile”, “ignorant”, and worse–so PZ would feel more at home.

But PZ would be intellectually outgunned by Coulter, in the world of politics and forensics.

*rubs eyes*

*shakes head slowly*

Bloody hell, it really does say that. “PZ would be intellectually outgunned by Coulter.”

I think there are two possible explanations: either there’s some other Ann Coulter, or “unicellular pond life” is spelled “PZ” where William comes from.

Anyway, what’s the point in discussing ID creationism with Ann Coulter? Her writings on the subject are just a regurgitation of what she was told by Dr Dr Dembski. Give us the engineer, not the greasy rag.

Actually I think the best person to debate Ann Coulter isn’t PZ. PZ is a science guru. Ann hasn’t the faintest idea what science actually is. I’d recommend Hitchens vs Coulter. Now that would be a classic. Hitchens strong points aren’t science. Does he know the science behind it, yes but not the nitty gritty details like PZ does. But Ann wouldn’t go after the specifics of evolution. Ann is more a whole “God is real type”. Thats Hitchkens specialty and takes great delight at eviscerating debaters on that subject.

Myers is lying, of course. He can get away with lying in a public debate because he comes off as being knowledgeable.

And since he was lying, it will be easy for the DI to produce a rigorous rebuttal.

Like I said previously, we are not going to win this war with honest arguments.

That one speaks more truth than he intended.

In my opinion we should just close our eyes and pretend that this debate never happened.

Shouldn’t take much effort; they’re already pretending the past 200 years of science never happened.

Siamang:

Wow, if that guy’s a SENIOR FELLOW at the Discovery Institute, I’d hate to hear what their other guys sound like.

I mean SERIOUSLY. This guy’s a complete moron, in fact he sounded drunk. This is someone whose expertise lets him rise to the level of Senior Fellow in the premiere Intelligent Design promotion agency on the planet?!?!?!

Yeah, I’m sure it was a real struggle, rising to Senior Fellow with the DI. Reminds me of the joke about what’s wrong with the opposing college: drive past it too slow with the windows rolled down, and they’ll throw a degree in your car. Imagine the humiliation of Paul Nelson, who actually was demoted from Senior Follow to Fellow, (IIRC), for the crime of spending years never actually doing the several things he said he was going to do.

William Wallace:

Since Coulter approaches the creation-evolution controversy from a right-wing socio-political perspective,

Translated: “Since ID clearly loses as science, let’s just exclusively focus on making shrieky Darwin/Hitler comparisons ad nauseam. Since our ‘experts’ are a bunch of ignorant clowns, let’s just go all the way and let our public face be an increasingly irrelevant, laughably stupid Fox News harpy.”

What depresses me about the hard-core wingnut right in this country isn’t so much that they think George W. Bush is Jesus’ little brother and the Greatest Preznit Ever; it’s that they look up to Ann Friggin’ Coulter as some sort of intellectual titan.

It’s be funny if it wasn’t exactly what’s driving this country into the ground. Idiocracy, here we come.

steve s:

Imagine the humiliation of Paul Nelson, who actually was demoted from Senior Follow to Fellow, (IIRC), for the crime of spending years never actually doing the several things he said he was going to do.

Wait, if that were true, wouldn’t they all eventually be demoted?

I have followed, somewhat loosely, the discussion here on PT on the evolutionary theory in biology, and arguments against that theory. I have had the feeling that people on both sides are simply over-reacting. Also, I have thought that what happened in Dover was an isolated incident that was blown out of proportions in media.

I gladly admit that I am ignorant in many issues. When I first visited the deserts in the western parts of the U.S., I thought, “this looks exactly like the landscapes in those western movies I have seen”. Without realizing it, I had thought that also the landscapes in the movies were part of the fiction. Embarrassingly silly piece of thinking from me.

Listening to the provided audio recording of the radio broadcast made me think, “this sounds exactly like they have claimed it to be on PT”.

I do understand someone rejecting the evolutionary theory in biology (or any scientific theory) on religious or philosophical grounds. In fact, I am somewhat interested in finding out the reasoning they apply. I have had rather little luck in this pursue of mine.

Challenging the evolutionary theory on factual grounds is another story. The claims made by Dr. Simmons appeared totally ridiculous even to a layman. I did not expect today claims about the total lack of transitional fossils and about the impossibility of whale evolution, because whales had to move their nostrils from front to top of their heads immediately as they entered water. There are plenty of semi-aquatic mammals living today, and they seem to cope with their nostrils just fine.

Maybe widespread anti-science movements in the U.S. really exist. Or, maybe PT is just a discussion board for people promoting their own ego by fighting and beating imaginary enemies.

Regards

Eric

dhogaza:

I think he was a recovered alcoholic of some sort. I don’t remember the thread(s).

You’re thinking of the dude who posts as bornagain77 over at UD. He’s one of their leading intellectuals … :)

Yeah; that’s the guy. Thanks.

Leading intellectual; LOL.

The creationist troll most recently using the pseudonym of _Arthur asked the most howlingly ignorant question: “And Dr. Simmons knows that a newborn’s’ heart go from 3-chambers circulation, to a full 4-chambers human heart, shortly after birth, most of the time. Isn’t that a marvel of God?

That doesn’t just happen with humans - it happens with all newborn placental mammals - one more of the many proofs we’re all descended from a common ancestor many millions of years ago.

And as David Stanton correctly pointed out, those newborns of any species that don’t immediately start breathing at birth do not pass that particular trait on to their descendants - evolution in action. “Nature red in tooth and claw…and afterbirth.” It’s not a “marvel of God” - just survival.

Frank J Wrote:

D’Oh! The quote in Comment 142,065 is from “Mike Elzinga,” not “Mark Hausam.”

Hehe; I’m sure Mark Hausam would not like to be confused with me. I got the impression that he didn’t like me very much. His “cosmology” and “science” were quite medeival.

Aurthur Blathers…

I was impressed by Dr. Simmons argument that babies star breathing within 1 minute from being born … explanation is there for the mechanism by which human babies start to breathe ?

Um, Aurthur, babies of most mammalian species start breathing well before they’re born. Well, at least they try to, pumping amniotic fluid in and out of their lungs.

Not that they derive any oxygen from the process, but it does build up musculature for when they finally need it. It just seems to be an autonomic function, controlled by some of the oldest areas of the brain, that develop early in fetal development.

I suspect the lizards knew this little trick - breathing - a couple of hundred million years ago, but I do admit, on that point I have no actual first-hand evidence.

Similarly, the cells that will one day for the heart and it’s nervous system start twitching and eventually beating long before there’s any need to pump blood, it’s kind of an automatic system build into the structure. So long as you supply nutrients and oxygen, an early fetal mouse heart will keep beating, and keep trying to develop, even if you remove it from the fetus, which is kind of creepy.

In the case of breathing, at least, it seems to be a well understood feedback system regulated by the level of carbon dioxide in the brain stem, not, as you might want it, the finger of God.

The evolutionary value of these mechanisms, by the way, is sorta obvious. Natural selection strongly favors creatures whose young are reliable born with fully functioning breathing, circulatory, and digestive systems, because those that don’t do something called “dying” - a technical term that means that they won’t get to pass on their poorly-optimized genes to the next generation.

Really, A, this logic isn’t that hard. Don’t breathe - die. Die - don’t breed. Don’t breed - some organism with better genes will. If we need the hand of the divine to work out this one, we’re all in trouble as a species.

By the way, what is a “monkey game”? Sounds kinda kinky.

stevaroni:

By the way, what is a “monkey game”? Sounds kinda kinky.

Apparently, _Arthur is pretending to be a creationist in order to deliberately incite attacks from other pro-evolution posters.

Also, “monkey game” can mean any of several things, including checkers, chess, or Monopoly with trained baboons, or hiding marmosets beneath overturned cups in order to startle unsuspecting tea-drinking British tourists.

Jackstraw Wrote:

If I need to brush up on goopy illogic, faux-pedantic gibberish, or pre-adolescent swipes (…”kick some evolander butt”…comes to mind), I can scan the latest KEaton comedy post and reload.

So I’m at the car show and my wife wonders what’s so funny.

While I believe the herpes comment went way over the line, based on the information I have, which is none, I do think Keith Eaton made several outstanding points, including:

Keith Eaton: The results of the special counsel regarding the persecution of the editor who had the nerve to publish the S. Meyers paper in their “peer reviewed journal” is a public record. I can assure you this and a plethora of additional cases of the big science censorship and attack dog mentality will be made very clear to the American public in the coming months.

For example, I suspect that much if not all of what is covered in Barbara Hagerty’s Intelligent Design and Academic Freedom at NPR will be covered in the film the evos are so keen on preemptively discrediting. (I have intentionally avoided watching the trailer).

Another very interesting question in this thread is:

If there is a qualitative difference [between micro- and macro- evolution], by what mechanism is microevolution prevented from becoming macroevolution in time?

If an evo is able to explain why he thinks microevolution has no bounds, I’m willing to listen.

For example, I suspect that much if not all of what is covered in Barbara Hagerty’s Intelligent Design and Academic Freedom at NPR will be covered in the film the evos are so keen on preemptively discrediting. (I have intentionally avoided watching the trailer) [emphasis added].

Great, you’re not just stupid and ignorant, you’re stupid and deliberately ignorant.’

By the way, what makes you think that the special counsel was doing anything but pandering to pathetic morons like yourself?

IOW, we actually care about evidence, and if you have some, present it. Blithering about junk in some partisan document means nothing at all in the realms of justice and science.

If an evo is able to explain why he thinks microevolution has no bounds, I’m willing to listen.

I doubt you’re willing to listen, since you have to be pretty stupid to miss this in the first place: the reason to believe microevolution is (relatively) unbounded is that the same kinds of evidence which exist for microevolution (genetic and morphological changes, especially) exist for macroevolution as well. There is no break between the “two processes” (which do not appear to actually be separate, in fact).

There’s really something wrong with people who think that similarities of genes and morphology indicate relatedness on the microevolutionary scale, but consider the same kind of evidence on the macroevolutionary scale to indicate something quite different, this without any kind of evidence of a break between the two.

Well, we’ll just see if you were willing to listen.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/3yyvfg

William wrote:

“If an evo is able to explain why he thinks microevolution has no bounds, I’m willing to listen.”

Well, I don’t know what an “evo” is, but I am an evolutionary biologist, so I guess I could give it a try.

Microevolution has no bounds, in the sense that just about any sequence can be produced eventually in small increments. There is no theoretical reason why cumulative selection cannot produce just about any result that is possible, eventually.

However, as Glen correctly points out, this does not mean that microevolution has no limits whatsoever. The changes that occur are limited by historical contingency for one thing. For example, there is evidence that the basic genetic tool kit for animal development arose early in the evolution of life and that everything since then has been just elaborations and variations on the general theme. Now, every organism that evolves must start out with these basic mechanisms in place. That definately limits the types of organisms that are likely to arise and therefore explains why certain types of organisms have not evolved.

Still, that leaves a lot of room for lots of things that can evolve. So now we have the results of over 600 million years of animal evolution that has produced everything from sponges to mammals. Most of the animals are based on a segmental body plan and all of them have the same basic complement of hox genes.

So, microevolution is indeed limited in some important ways, but it is definately not limited in the sense that it could not produce the diversity of life we see, given sufficient time.

If an evo is able to explain why he thinks microevolution has no bounds, I’m willing to listen.

What’s an evo? Do you mean an evolutionary biologist or someone who accepts that the theory of evolution is the only reasonable explanation for the vast diversity of life we see, or what? Next time, try to be more specific.

Microevolution, in fact evolution in general, does have bounds. That’s why, for example, humans are very unlikely to lose all vestige of their appendixes (smaller appendix = smaller blood vessels = more risk of infection = higher chance of death).

I suspect what you really want to know is about a possible barrier between micro and macroevolution. The reason why I accept that there is no barrier between microevolution and macroevolution is because I’ve never seen any evidence of one and have never seen anyone propose anything that might constitute such a barrier. Have you?

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on February 1, 2008 12:07 PM.

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