Lenski gives Conservapædia a lesson

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Once again, Richard Lenski has replied to the goons and fools at Conservapædia, and boy, does he ever outclass them. For a quick outline of the saga, read this summary at A Candid World; basically, Andy Schlafly has been demanding every bit of data from Richard Lenski's work on the evolution of E. coli, despite the fact that Schlafly doesn't have the background to understand it and doesn't have any plan for what he would do with it if he got it. Lenski has been polite and helpful in his replies; his first response is a model for how to explain difficult science to a bullying ideologue. Now his second response is available, and while he has clearly lost some patience and is unequivocal in denouncing their bad faith efforts to discredit good science, he still gives an awfully good and instructional discussion.

I've put the whole thing below the fold, in case you'd rather not click through to that wretched hive of pretentious villainy at Conservapædia.

I tried to be polite, civil and respectful in my reply to your first email, despite its rude tone and uninformed content. Given the continued rudeness of your second email, and the willfully ignorant and slanderous content on your website, my second response will be less polite. I expect you to post my response in its entirety; if not, I will make sure that is made publicly available through other channels.

I offer this lengthy reply because I am an educator as well as a scientist. It is my sincere hope that some readers might learn something from this exchange, even if you do not.

First, it seems that reading might not be your strongest suit given your initial letter, which showed that you had not read our paper, and given subsequent conversations with your followers, in which you wrote that you still had not bothered to read our paper. You wrote: "I did skim Lenski's paper …" If you have not even read the original paper, how do you have any basis of understanding from which to question, much less criticize, the data that are presented therein?

Second, your capacity to misinterpret and/or misrepresent facts is plain in the third request in your first letter, where you said: "In addition, there is skepticism that 3 new and useful proteins appeared in the colony around generation 20,000." That statement was followed by a link to a news article from NewScientist that briefly reported on our work. I assumed you had simply misunderstood that article, because there is not even a mention of proteins anywhere in the news article. As I replied, "We make no such claim anywhere in our paper, nor do I think it is correct. Proteins do not 'appear out of the blue', in any case." So where did your confused assertion come from? It appears to have come from one of your earlier discussions, in which an acoltye (Able806, who to his credit at least seems to have attempted to read our paper) wrote:

"I think it might be best to clarify some of Richard's work. He started his E.Coli project in 1988 and has been running the project for 20 years now; his protocols are available to the general public. The New Scientist article is not very technical but the paper at PNAS is. The change was based on one of his colonies developing the ability to absorb citrate, something not found in wild E.Coli. This occurred around 31,500 generations and is based on the development of 3 proteins in the E.Coli genome. What his future work will be is to look at what caused the development of these 3 proteins around generation 20,000 of that particular colony. ..."

As further evidence of your inability to keep even a few simple facts straight, you later wrote the following: "It [my reply] did clarify that his claims are not as strong as some evolutionists have insisted." But no competent biologist would, after reading our paper with any care, insist (or even suggest) that "3 new and useful proteins appeared in the colony around generation 20,000" or any similar nonsense. It is only in your letter, and in your acolyte's confused interpretation of our paper, that I have ever seen such a claim. Am I or the reporter for NewScientist somehow responsible for the confusion that reflects your own laziness and apparent inability to distinguish between a scientific paper, a news article, and a confused summary posted by an acolyte on your own website?

Third, it is apparent to me, and many others who have followed this exchange and your on-line discussions of how to proceed, that you are not acting in good faith in requests for data. From the posted discussion on your web site, it is obvious that you lack any expertise in the relevant fields. Several of your acolytes have pointed this out to you, and that your motives are unclear or questionable at best, but you and your cronies dismissed their concerns as rants and even expelled some of them from posting on your website. [Ed.: citation omitted due to spam filter] Several also pointed out that I had very quickly and straightforwardly responded that the methods and data supporting the evolution of the citrate-utilization capacity are already provided in our paper. One poster in your discussions, Aaronp, wrote:

"I read Lenski's paper, and as a trained microbiologist, I thought that it was both thorough and well done. His claims are backed by good data, namely that which was presented in the figures. I went through each of the figures after Aschlafly said that they were uninformative. Actually, they are basic figures that show the population explosion of the bacterial cultures after the Cit+ mutation occurred. These figures show that the cultures increased in size and mass at a given timepoint, being able to do so because they had evolved a mechanism to utilize a new nutrient, without the assistance of helper plasmids. ... Lenksi's paper, while not the most definite I've seen, is still a very well-researched paper that supports its claims nicely."

(As far as I saw, Aaronp is the only poster who asserted any expertise in microbiology.) As further evidence of the absence of good-faith discussion about our research, in the discussion thread that began even before you sent your first email to me, I counted the words "fraud" or "fraudulent" being used more than 10 times, including one acolyte, TonyT, who says bluntly that I am "clearly a fraudulent hack." In the discussion thread that also includes comments after my first reply, the number of times those same words are used has increased to 20, with the word "hoax" also now entering the discussion. A few posters wisely counseled against such slander but that did not deter you. I must say, it is surprising that someone with a law degree would make, and allow on his website, so many nasty comments that implicitly and even explicitly impugn my integrity, and by extension that of my collaborators, without any grounds whatsoever and reflecting only your dogmatic adherence to certain beliefs.

Finally, let me now turn to our data. As I said before, the relevant methods and data about the evolution of the citrate-using bacteria are in our paper. In three places in our paper, we did say "data not shown", which is common in scientific papers owing to limitations in page length, especially for secondary or minor points. None of the places where we made such references concern the existence of the citrate-using bacteria; they concern only certain secondary properties of those bacteria. We will gladly post those additional data on my website.

It is my impression that you seem to think we have only paper and electronic records of having seen some unusual E. coli. If we made serious errors or misrepresentations, you would surely like to find them in those records. If we did not, then – as some of your acolytes have suggested – you might assert that our records are themselves untrustworthy because, well, because you said so, I guess. But perhaps because you did not bother even to read our paper, or perhaps because you aren't very bright, you seem not to understand that we have the actual, living bacteria that exhibit the properties reported in our paper, including both the ancestral strain used to start this long-term experiment and its evolved citrate-using descendants. In other words, it's not that we claim to have glimpsed "a unicorn in the garden" – we have a whole population of them living in my lab! [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Unicorn_in_the_Garden] And lest you accuse me further of fraud, I do not literally mean that we have unicorns in the lab. Rather, I am making a literary allusion. [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allusion]

One of your acolytes, Dr. Richard Paley, actually grasped this point. He does not appear to understand the practice and limitations of science, but at least he realizes that we have the bacteria, and that they provide "the real data that we [that's you and your gang] need". Here's what this Dr. Paley had to say:

"I think there's a great deal of misunderstanding here from the critics of Mr. Schlafly and obfuscation on the part of Prof. Lenski and his supporters. The real data that we need are not in the paper. Rather they are in the bacteria used in the experiments themselves. Prof. Lenski claims that these bacteria 'evolved' novel traits and that these were preceded by the evolution of 'potentiated genotypes', from which the traits could be 'reevolved' using preserved colonies from those generations. But how are we to know if these traits weren't 'potentiated' by the Creator when He designed the bacteria thousands of years ago, such that they would eventually reveal themselves when the time was right? The only way this can be settled is if we have access to the genetic sequences of the bacteria colonies so that we can apply CSI techniques and determine if these 'potentiated genotypes' originated through blind chance or intelligence. But with the physical specimens in the hands of Darwinists, who claim they will get around to the sequencing at some unspecifed future time, how can we trust that this data will be forthcoming and forthright? Thus, Prof. Lenski et al. should supply Conservapedia, as stewards, with samples of the preserved E. coli colonies so that the data can be accessible to unbiased researchers outside of the hegemony of the Darwinian academia, even if it won't be put to immediate examination by Mr. Schlafly. This is simply about keeping tax-payer-funded scientists honest."

So, will we share the bacteria? Of course we will, with competent scientists. Now, if I was really mean, I might only share the ancestral strain, and let the scientists undertake the 20 years of our experiment. Or if I was only a little bit mean, maybe I'd also send the potentiated bacteria, and let the recipients then repeat the several years of incredibly pain-staking work that my superb doctoral student, Zachary Blount, performed to test some 40 trillion (40,000,000,000,000) cells, which generated 19 additional citrate-using mutants. But I'm a nice guy, at least when treated with some common courtesy, so if a competent scientist asks for them, I would even send a sample of the evolved E. coli that now grows vigorously on citrate. A competent microbiologist, perhaps requiring the assistance of a competent molecular geneticist, would readily confirm the following properties reported in our paper: (i) The ancestral strain does not grow in DM0 (zero glucose, but containing citrate), the recipe for which can be found on my web site, except leaving the glucose out of the standard recipe as stated in our paper. (ii) The evolved citrate-using strain, by contrast, grows well in that exact same medium. (iii) To confirm that the evolved strain is not some contaminating species but is, in fact, derived from the ancestral strain in our study, one could check a number of traits and genes that identify the ancestor as E. coli, and the evolved strains as a descendant thereof, as reported in our paper. (iv) One could also sequence the pykF and nadR genes in the ancestor and evolved citrate-using strains. One would find that the evolved bacteria have mutations in each of these genes. These mutations precisely match those that we reported in our previous work, and they identify the evolved citrate-using mutants as having evolved in the population designated Ara-3 of the long-term evolution experiment, as opposed to any of the other 11 populations in that experiment. And one could go on and on from there to confirm the findings in our paper, and perhaps obtain additional data of the sort that we are currently pursuing.

Before I could send anyone any bacterial strains, in order to comply with good scientific practices I would require evidence of the requesting scientist's credentials including: (i) affiliation with an appropriate unit in some university or research center with appropriate facilities for storing (-80ºC freezer), handling (incubators, etc.), and disposing of bacteria (autoclave); and (ii) some evidence, such as peer-reviewed publications, that indicate that the receiving scientist knows how to work with bacteria, so that I and my university can be sure we are sending biological materials to someone that knows how to handle them. By the way, our strains are not derived from one of the pathogenic varieties of E. coli that are a frequent cause of food-borne illnesses. However, even non-pathogenic strains may cause problems for those who are immune-compromised or otherwise more vulnerable to infection. Also, my university requires that a Material Transfer Agreement be executed before we can ship any strains. That agreement would not constrain a receiving scientist from publishing his or her results. However, if an incompetent or fraudulent hack (note that I make no reference to any person, as this is strictly a hypothetical scenario, one that I doubt would occur) were to make false or misleading claims about our strains, then I'm confident that some highly qualified scientists would join the fray, examine the strains, and sort out who was right and who was wrong. That's the way science works.

I would also generally ask what the requesting scientist intends to do with our strains. Why? It helps me to gauge the requester's expertise. I might be able to point out useful references, for example. Moreover, as I've said, we are continuing our work with these strains, on multiple fronts, as explained in considerable detail in the Discussion section of our paper. I would not be happy to see our work "scooped" by another team – especially for the sake of the outstanding students and postdocs in my group who are hard at work on these fronts. However, that request to allow us to proceed, without risk of being scooped on work in which we have made a substantial investment of time and effort, would be just that: a request. In other words, we would respect PNAS policy to share those strains with any competent scientist who complied with my university's requirements for the MTA and any other relevant legal restrictions. If any such request requires substantial time or resources (we have thousands of samples from this and many other experiments), then of course I would expect the recipient to bear those costs.

So there you have it. I know that I've been a bit less polite in this response than in my previous one, but I'm still behaving far more politely than you deserve given your rude, willfully ignorant, and slanderous behavior. And I've spent far more time responding than you deserve. However, as I said at the outset, I take education seriously, and I know some of your acolytes still have the ability and desire to think, as do many others who will read this exchange.

Sincerely,
Richard Lenski

P.S. Did you know that your own bowels harbor something like a billion (1,000,000,000) E. coli at this very moment? So remember to wash your hands after going to the toilet, as I hope your mother taught you. Simple calculations imply that there are something like 10^20 = 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 E. coli alive on our planet at any moment. Even if they divide just once per day, and given a typical mutation rate of 10^-9 or 10^-10 per base-pair per generation, then pretty much every possible double mutation would occur every day or so. That's a lot of opportunity for evolution.

P.P.S. I hope that some readers might get a chuckle out of this story. The same Sunday (15 June 2008) that you and some of your acolytes were posting and promoting scurrilous attacks on me and our research (wasn't that a bit disrespectful of the Sabbath?), I was in a church attending a wedding. And do you know what Old Testament lesson was read? It was Genesis 1:27-28, in which God created Man and Woman. It's a very simple and lovely story, and I did not ask any questions, storm out, or demand the evidence that it happened as written at a time when science did not yet exist. I was there in the realm of spirituality and mutual respect, not confusing a house of religion for a science class or laboratory. And it was a beautiful wedding, too.

P.P.P.S. You may be unable to understand, or unwilling to accept, that evolution occurs. And yet, life evolves! [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_pur_si_muove] From the content on your website, it is clear that you, like many others, view God as the Creator of the Universe. I respect that view. I find it baffling, however, that someone can worship God as the all-mighty Creator while, at the same time, denying even the possibility (not to mention the overwhelming evidence) that God's Creation involved evolution. It is as though a person thinks that God must have the same limitations when it comes to creation as a person who is unable to understand, or even attempt to understand, the world in which we live. Isn't that view insulting to God?

P.P.P.P.S. I noticed that you say that one of your favorite articles on your website is the one on "Deceit." That article begins as follows: "Deceit is the deliberate distortion or denial of the truth with an intent to trick or fool another. Christianity and Judaism teach that deceit is wrong. For example, the Old Testament says, 'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.'" You really should think more carefully about what that commandment means before you go around bearing false witness against others.

2 TrackBacks

The strange thing about E. coli, as I explain in my book Microcosm, is that it has played a central part not just in the modern science of life, but in the political conflicts over life. It may come as... Read More

Readers of this blog have probably already heard about the spat between Rich Lenski and Conservapaedia in which Rich gives Conservapaedia a good lesson in how science works.1 What you may not know is that Andrew Sullivan, author of "The... Read More

140 Comments

What was the link Lenski provide that the idiots censored?

@1: From the conversation on the conservapedia talk page, it appears to have been to a page on Rational Wiki. I can only speculate, though, since they only refer to it as “RW” and “the cesspit of the internet”. I also have no idea what *specific* page is referenced.

Well said, Dr. Lenski! Bravo!

An articulate response by a person whose reasonableness was being strained.

I do have to laugh that the infamous “Dr. Richard Paley” was at work in this business, and “Dr. Paley” was being his usual sly self: “OK, guys, you insist on being shown the money, go get the bacteria and see what you can do with them.”

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

Lenski used a sledge hammer on a cockroach.

Conservapedia is misnamed anyway. The real name is Lieapedia.

It often occurs to me that a lot of the Creationist wackaloons think that scientists work like they do in movies about mad scientists. As if material is just sent out to whomever we happen to like best, as if our work isn’t subject to independent review. Frankly, it sounds a lot more like the way religious figures work than it does like the way scientists collaborate and communicate, examine and critique, in the real world.

What Schlafly is requesting is tantamount to being allowed into a laboratory while work is in progress so that he can stand around, kibbitz, make notes about things he doesn’t understand and demand answers to whatever question pops into his mind. Like any bully, he’ll soon throw a tantrum when he doesn’t get his way.

“Thus, Prof. Lenski et al. should supply Conservapedia, as stewards, with samples of the preserved E. coli colonies so that the data can be accessible to unbiased researchers outside of the hegemony of the Darwinian academia, even if it won’t be put to immediate examination by Mr. Schlafly. This is simply about keeping tax-payer-funded scientists honest.””

These creationists wouldn’t have the foggiest idea what to do with the stuff. And despite what their bible says, bearing false witness seems to be their forte.

Lenski’s cockroach squasher:

(iv) One could also sequence the pykF and nadR genes in the ancestor and evolved citrate-using strains. One would find that the evolved bacteria have mutations in each of these genes.

A PNAS paper:

The pykF gene encodes one of two pyruvate kinases that catalyze the conversion of phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) and ADP into pyruvate and ATP. PEP is also used by the phosphotransferase system (PTS) to transport glucose into the cell. By slowing the conversion of PEP to pyruvate, mutations in pykF might make more PEP available to drive the PTS-mediated uptake of glucose, which is the limiting resource in the environment of the long-term evolution experiment. As noted, nadR encodes a bi-functional protein that is involved in several aspects of NAD metabolism, itself a key metabolite important in many different pathways. Several genes involved in NAD synthesis and recycling are repressed by the NadR protein, and mutations in nadR might increase their expression and the resulting intracellular concentration of NAD.

Didn’t recognize the E. coli mutations and so looked them up. FYI.

The roaches are being silly. One can get E. coli K12 anywhere, ATCC or any one of countless biotech supply companies. This is the white mouse of the biotech and molbio fields.

C’mon now. Do I have to be the one to say it?

After 20 years it’s still a germ. ;-)

J Bacteriol. 1982 Jul;151(1):269-73. Links Chromosomal mutation for citrate utilization by Escherichia coli K-12.Hall BG.

A mutant strain of Escherichia coli K-12 that utilizes citrate as a sole source of carbon and energy was isolated. Citrate utilization arose as the consequence of two mutations in genes citA and citB, which are linked to the gal operon. The mutant strain expresses a semiconstitutive citrate transport system, and it utilizes both citrate and isocitrate as carbon and energy sources. It is capable of utilizing cis- and trans-aconitate, but only if it is preinduced by growth on citrate.

While we are stepping on cockroaches. Lenski’s work has already been independently reproduced more or less. Hall isolated cit+ E. coli in 1982, way before Lenski. He says that it required 2 mutations. Given the methodological differences, plates incubated for a long time in a start and end point procedure versus serial liquid culture, he might well have missed one or more “potentiating” mutations.

Lenski’s first mutation was “potentiating” but otherwise without phenotype. My wild guess is he picked up a mutator as 1/3 of his lines acquired a mut+ phenotype.

mutator=mutations causing higher mutation rates. Seen commonly when cultures are under severe physiological stress and possibly an example of “adaptive mutation.”

DavidK said:

These creationists wouldn’t have the foggiest idea what to do with the stuff.

Do we HAVE to spell it out? (HINT: What did P.T. Barnum say was born every minute?) Y’know, after all these years people are *STILL* not wise to “Dr. Richard Paley”.

A few years back “Dr. Paley” was making a fuss about some Satanic plot by Apple Computer. It got to Dawkins and he saw the gag immediately.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

Andy Schlafy’s and his flunkies goal in life are to be malevolent, destructive, insane cockroaches. Whatever, it is a free country.

I can’t see how it has anything whatsoever to do with xianity. There is no commandment that says:

Thou shalt be a malevolent, crazy cockroach. Go forth and hinder the progress of humankind.

raven said:

Lenski used a sledge hammer on a cockroach.

Conservapedia is misnamed anyway. The real name is Lieapedia.

Yeah, modern conservatism may have it’s flaws, but I’m not going to blame them for this guy. That site should be called RighteousIdiotOpedia.

raven: knowing Conservapedia, their version of the Bible would probably have just such a passage inserted in one of the Gospels, if not an Umpteenth Commandment.

LOL! I just came across this wonderful example of the type of “scientific research” Schlafly conducts, this one concerning the “Mystery [of] Young Hollywood Breast Cancer Victims”:

http://www.conservapedia.com/Myster[…]ncer_Victims

And don’t miss the Talk page where he defends his pathetic attempt at science.

And this man thinks to lecture a real scientist on how he should manage the data of his research? I see the problem here. Schlafly doesn’t even understand the concept of scientific data.

Schlafly is beyond a joke.

“Hall isolated cit+ E. coli in 1982, way before Lenski. He says that it required 2 mutations.”

Raven, Lenski’s Ecolis and Hall’s Ecolis may very well (almost certainly) have evolved _different_ mutations. There are many ways to skin a cat, or to metabolize a citrate.

We will know more when Lenski swings the budget to sequence his critters.

Of course, the fact that several different multi-mutation pathways can achieve a new biological functionality flies in the face of creationists and the Dembsi sect of IDers.

Is this the same Dr. Richard Paley of Objective Ministries?

Anyone know what link was deleted from Lenski’s second email?

The spam filter blocked it because it consists of a link previously determined by this site to be unacceptable.–Aschlafly 08:08, 24 June 2008 (EDT)

The loons are speculating (search on “link missing”) that Lenski inserted a link to a porn site to pollute “family friendly” Conservapedia:

…we can assume it was a shock site, foul language, pornography, or something in that line. Since Lenski knew that his response would be posted on this family-friendly encyclopedia, he would have purposefully put the link in to aggravate readers. That tells us a lot about his attitude, and by keeping the link intact, we let him “win”.

Arthur:

Raven, Lenski’s Ecolis and Hall’s Ecolis may very well (almost certainly) have evolved _different_ mutations. There are many ways to skin a cat, or to metabolize a citrate.

Sure. The Hall work in 1982 was a single paper without much, if any, followup. He indicates a transport system but doesn’t have any of the molecular data we would like today.

Wonder if he still has those cit+ mutants? It has been 26 years.

Anyone know what link was deleted from Lenski’s second email?

The names of a few good psychiatrists.

Actually on the PZ thread, someone determined it goes to RationalWiki, a site that makes fun of Schlafly a lot.

AL said:

Is this the same Dr. Richard Paley of Objective Ministries?

Well, since there is really no such person that is a very interesting question. But if you read through the citation in the comments at top by “Dr. Paley” with the thought in mind that the author may not be quite what he seems to be, it performs a sudden and drastic change in meaning.

“I recognize the lion by his paw.”

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

Note that the loons are even afraid to mention RationalWiki by name in their comments. The closest they are able to come is “RW” in fear of instant bannination.

It really is too pathetic.

A good trouncing.

Frank J will find this Pharyngula comment a treat, I’m sure:

I love this exchange. What else is in the woodwork?

“Really? He said he would put the data on his website, and I think Behe meets Lenski’s three qualifications for a scientist to whom he would release the bacteria. Drochld 10:55, 24 June 2008 (EDT)

Behe? Are you serious? He’s supposed to be a Creation Scientist? The guy believes in the big bang, an earth billions of years old, and evolution. He does not believe in a young Earth, Adam and Eve, or the true word of the Bible. He’s an evolutionist who happens to say “oh yeah, God guided evolution.” As if there was anything on the Earth not guided by God! Just because he’s one of the few scientists who isn’t an atheist he’s supposed to be one of us? No thanks. I’d rather go with someone who didn’t drink the Old Earth Kool-aid. TonyT 11:41, 24 June 2008 (EDT)

Btw, RationalWiki on the censored link:

Keen readers at Conservapedia noticed that the the phrase [Ed.: citation omitted due to spam filter] is contained in the second of the Professor’s replies. Inquires about this withholding of information were made by some readers at Conservapedia. After at least two users were blocked for pursuing the issue it was revealed that the offending link was to none other than a certain RW. It was further established that the initials RW referred to a “Wiki claimed to be Rational”.

This ironic failure to reveal data caused some interest both at Conservapedia and RationalWiki. Our article above has the full information included in the professor’s reply as we do not believe in withholding public information. For those who are interested, the link Conservapedia censored is http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/Expell[…]ence_Allowed

What is the ballpark cost to sequence a whole E. coli genome (several times) ?

As far as I know, sequencing a single, known, gene is quite cheap, but sequencing a whole genome is very costly and time-consuming.

So far, I understand Lenski has had no opportunity to do sequencing, or to pinpoint the location of the genes involved in citrate metabolization.

There are dozens of possible research projects, using Lenski’s biological specimens, if funding can be found.

“Thus, Prof. Lenski et al. should supply Conservapedia, as stewards, with samples of the preserved E. coli colonies so that the data can be accessible to unbiased researchers outside of the hegemony of the Darwinian academia, even if it won’t be put to immediate examination by Mr. Schlafly.”

I doubt Schlafly’s home is equipped with a -80ºC freezer for maintaining glycerol stocks, so the image of his living room, bedroom, and den overflowing with thousands of overripe Petri dishes is curiously amusing.

Julie Stahlhut said:

I doubt Schlafly’s home is equipped with a -80ºC freezer for maintaining glycerol stocks, so the image of his living room, bedroom, and den overflowing with thousands of overripe Petri dishes is curiously amusing.

It leads to an even more amusing scenario of what his home would look like if Lenski had been working with the *Drosophila melanogaster* fruitfly. “There’s a fly whisk at the door if you would like it.”

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

Dear Mike,

It’s a sad, but rather true observation of yours:

Mike O’Risal said:

It often occurs to me that a lot of the Creationist wackaloons think that scientists work like they do in movies about mad scientists. As if material is just sent out to whomever we happen to like best, as if our work isn’t subject to independent review. Frankly, it sounds a lot more like the way religious figures work than it does like the way scientists collaborate and communicate, examine and critique, in the real world.

What Schlafly is requesting is tantamount to being allowed into a laboratory while work is in progress so that he can stand around, kibbitz, make notes about things he doesn’t understand and demand answers to whatever question pops into his mind. Like any bully, he’ll soon throw a tantrum when he doesn’t get his way.

Am sure someone like my friend Abbie Smith would love to show Schlafly around, demonstrating how scientists REALLY work. And if you really believe that, then there’s a bridge that spans the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn that I would love to sell you.

Cheers,

John

bigbang said: plus RM+NS has had all those parasites over the past 10,000 years or so to get past sickle cell (itself the result of a degradatory mutation), and it still hasn’t come up with anything

How would you know ?

bigbang said:

BTW, P. Z., I’m disappointed that you didn’t intervene in your Ham-Nightmare thread and explain to your fellow Darwinians there, who claim to believe in God, that believers are “credulous idiots” that don’t comprehend that the “dominant source of their credulity in our culture” is indeed “dangerous and a lie,” and that their belief in a god qualifies, as Dawkins notes, as a delusion, or, at best, is “wishy-washy.”

Man, you just don’t know what you’re missing until you finally switch to the decaf.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

You also notice how bigbangBigot never gives a specific citation whenever he claims that “Darwinists” (sic) claim that human life has as much value as that of a cockroach?

(He doesn’t provide a citation supporting his claim that Stalin supported “Darwinism” (sic) either.)

Sure, in your Darwinian world, free will is an illusion, and your “purposes” are little more than the result of some sorts of evolved algorithms, somehow embedded in your genetics.

So what? My sense of personal value is not founded upon my accomplishments and my relationships with other human beings, not upon the belief that my purposes are magical. It is difficult for me to imagine how little sense of self-worth a person must have to feel that their personal value derives from serving the purposes of some nonhuman entity.

Notice: I will be purging this thread of sockpuppets for the usual lying creationist later today.

In your Darwinian world your sense of “self worth” or “personal value” is nothing more than an illusion of sorts, something magical as it were; a useful illusion perhaps, but an illusion nonetheless

Illusion of what? My sense of self worth is a function of my own nervous system. What is the illusion there?

your life has no more intrinsic value or meaning than say a cockroach or a bacterium

“Intrinsic value” is a meaningless concept. Value needs a referent–value to whom? My life is more valuable to me and to the people whose opinions I care about than that of a cockroach or bacteria.

although, FWIW, their kind will most likely be around far longer than will yours.

That may or may not be true, but I don’t see what it has to do with “value” or “meaning.” Would you really feel that your life has more value if your kind are around longer than the bacteria? That sounds crazy to me.

I agree that “intrinsic value” of human life is typically seen as a meaningless concept in the world of atheists and nihilists.

This seems to me to be quite separate from questions of a/theism. Even if gods or other nonhuman “supernatural” entities exist, why should they be the arbiters of the value of life? It seems to me that only humans are qualified to judge the value of human life.

I agree that “intrinsic value” of human life is typically seen as a meaningless concept in the world of atheists and nihilists.

This seems to me to be quite separate from questions of a/theism. Even if gods or other nonhuman “supernatural” entities exist, why should they be the arbiters of the value of life? It seems to me that only humans are qualified to judge the value of human life.

PZ Myers said:

Notice: I will be purging this thread of sockpuppets for the usual lying creationist later today.

Thanks, PZ. That’s much better now.

Some cheese to go with your whine Bigot?

Some cheese to go with your whine Bigot?

Nigel D said:

PZ Myers said:

Notice: I will be purging this thread of sockpuppets for the usual lying creationist later today.

Thanks, PZ. That’s much better now.

Truthfully, you don’t even need to see the bb’s original comments as they are re-posted ad nauseum by other commenter’s intent on refuting what s/he posts. I have come to recognize that bb’s posts consist mainly of making mendacious unsupported claims then repeating them ad nauseum; and then, a dodge to a new equally dishonest claim after a thorough refutation of the previous one again repeated ad nauseum. You have to admit, bb is very good at disrupting what started as a decent thread.

Here’s a good Paley quote that I found: “Even Jews, being imperfect pre-Christians, have in them the potential to share in this, our common, foundational American value, should they stop their obstinate refusal to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah. Patience is a virtue that we Americans are happy to show them.”

Nice guy. It always comes down to this sort of bigotry in the end. I wonder how he feels about mud people.

Green Eagle, I think it’s been established that Paley is a Poe.

Green Eagle said:

Here’s a good Paley quote that I found: “Even Jews, being imperfect pre-Christians, have in them the potential to share in this, our common, foundational American value, should they stop their obstinate refusal to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah. Patience is a virtue that we Americans are happy to show them.”

Nice guy. It always comes down to this sort of bigotry in the end. I wonder how he feels about mud people.

Green Eagle, I think it’s been established that Paley is a Poe.

Sometimes I think it would be better for the scientific establishment to build ‘doubter’ labs, equipped with skilled scientists, access to equipment, grad students, etc, and directlyemployable by these vocal ‘skeptic’ groups.

If it came down to these groups having recourse and being personally responsible for funding the experiments necessary to test the conclusions of other scientists, I should think they would either shut up very quickly or improve science, either by confirming old results or casting doubt on them.

Of course, who would want to work at the behest of a bunch of crackpots that apparently can’t read, and not do any original work?

Of course, who would want to work at the behest of a bunch of crackpots that apparently can’t read, and not do any original work?

Must be all those ID theorists that we keep hearing about but for which we never seem to get names or publication references…

Henry

I’m really, really impressed with the civility and class Dr. Lenski showed in his first response to Conservapedia’s request. It can be hard to keep levelheaded and civil when talking to creationists, but it’s absolutely critical to do so for observers who see the correspondence, and could be convinced to join the debate on the pro-science, pro-reality side. Well done, Dr. Lenski.

Stanton said:

You also notice how bigbangBigot never gives a specific citation whenever he claims that “Darwinists” (sic) claim that human life has as much value as that of a cockroach?

\Why not? There are plenty of Creationist quotes available, just not anything factual.

(He doesn’t provide a citation supporting his claim that Stalin supported “Darwinism” (sic) either.)

\Won’t find one, either. Geneticists (Russian term for Darwinian biologists) were decreed “bourgeois” by Stalin. Trofim Lysenko was peasant born uneducated, therefore perfect for the new proletarian world. As Commissar of Agronomy, he imposed his delusional proletarian evolutionary theory, and the geneticists were off to the gulags (literally). To Lysenko, heredity was in the cytoplasm, DNA not being involved. Lysenko’ stupidity caused the starvation of over 20,000,000 Russian citizens.

\Creationists regularly show Stalin style agitprop, one article I read last year even called for violent elimination of the ‘evolutionist class’. One of the principle IDiots, Jonathan Wells, repeats Lysenko’s drool verbatim. Wells is DI’s token Moonie.

Ray

Mike from Oz said:

Having read through the whole saga now, including the astonishing ignorance and, quite frankly, unbelievable gall of the crowd at Conservapedia, I must say that if I was Andy “whadya mean I have to actually read your paper before I attempt to trash it?” Schlafly, I’d go and hide under a rock somewhere.

This thing is scattered far and wide across the web now, and it doesn’t make the Creo crowd look good at all.

\Schlafly is the same genius who posted the North Pacific Arboreal Octopus site as real science for 4 years, in spite of its only natural enemy being Bigfoot, and sponsored in part by People for the Ethical Treatment of Pumpkins.

\Of course, Conservapedia is the sourcebook for ideologically correct Respublikanskoi Parti propagandists.

This is great news, I always new homo-sapiens were not created by God,only the sons and daughters of light were a creation of God… Made in his image and after his likeness.Unfortunately to do a rescue mission, the sons and daughters of light had to descend into the matter spheres and take on the gross bodies of the homosapiens.It appears there were two creations. The sons and daughters of light were created by the Eloheim and the homosapiens were a creation of the fallin angels. The angels had the power to co-create everything, but a living soul.

It’s bad enough that in the face of all rational thought,there are still folk out there who need the existence of God to explain the universe. But it is beyond understanding that they also need to pretend that evolution is not an established fact despite all the evidence. It would not surprise me if they also believe that the Nazi Holocaustin Europe did not occur. What a world!

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on June 24, 2008 10:24 AM.

Being a Theistic Evolutionist without contradiction was the previous entry in this blog.

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