Luskin and the ID movement on immunology: immune to evidence

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Over on the opposingviews.com website, Casey Luskin of the DI tries to rebut the Kitzmiller decision by re-fighting Behe’s spectacular implosion on the issue of the evolution of the vertebrate immune system. To review, in his 1996 book Darwin’s Black Box, Behe claimed that:

“As scientists we yearn to understand how this magnificent mechanism came to be, but the complexity of the system dooms all Darwinian explanations to frustruation.” (Darwin’s Black Box, p. 139)

“We can look high or we can look low, in books or in journals, but the result is the same. The scientific literature has no answers to the question of the origin of the immune system.” (Darwin’s Black Box, p. 138)

As the debate over “irreducible complexity” developed in the next decade, the most detailed arguments would go basically like this:

ID: Gradual evolution by natural selection can’t produce IC structures because any structure missing a part would be nonfunctional

Evo: You are ignoring cooption of structures with different functions, which has a been a major feature of the evolutionary explanation of complex structures ever since the Origin of Species.

ID: Cooption explanations are too improbable.

Evo: Why?

ID: Because we say so.

Evo: But homology evidence shows that “IC systems” lacking parts can still have other functions, and therefore your claim that structures missing parts would be nonfunctional is wrong

ID: OK well I don’t have a comeback on that point, so instead I will claim that evolutionary cooption explanations aren’t detailed & tested enough to satisfy me.

Evo: Here’s a bunch of detailed & tested research papers on the evolution of system X.

ID: Not detailed enough. I need every single mutation & selection pressure before I admit that evolution produced this IC system rather than ID.

At this point the ID proponent has abandoned the original argument and therefore lost, even though he won’t admit it. Knowing all of this before the Kitzmiller trial, we devised ways to bring this point to the attention of the judge. The most famous example was the fabled “immune system cross”. A large amount of evidence was submitted that showed how the key feature of the vertebrate adaptive immune system, rearranging immune receptors (antibodies), evolved. The adaptive immune system produces diverse antibodies by recombination of different immunoglobin (Ig) domains. In Darwin’s Black Box, Behe argued that the gradual evolution of this system was impossible because the three crucial parts (antibody genes, recombination signal sequences, and recombination-activating genes (RAGs)) could not provide minimal function unless they were all assembled at once:

“In the absense of the [RAG] machine, the parts never get cut out and joined. In the absense of the signals, it’s like expecting a machine that’s randomly cutting paper to make a paper doll. And, of course in the absence of the message for the antibody itself, the other components would be pointless.” (Darwin’s Black Box, p. 130).

The scientific literature on the origin of this system was well-known in the evolution/ID-creationism debate, primarily because various PT posters like Matt Inlay and Andrea Bottaro had been waving it in the faces of the ID guys for several years. The responses of Dembski (“ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories”) and Behe were pitiful, always involving retreating to an impossible, unscientific requirement for infinite evolutionary detail before evolution was accepted and ID rejected.

So, in court in the Kitzmiller case, the obvious thing to do was take Behe through the above steps of the immune system argument, and when he reached the point of asserting there was not enough detail – and confirming that he still believed his 1996 statements about how the literature had “no answers” on the evolution of the immune system – a large body of literature on just this question was presented to Behe. Behe hemmed and hawed – he couldn’t just dismiss a pile of peer-reviewed research in top journals, but he also couldn’t admit that it was good enough to answer his question because then his whole position was sunk. So he asserted that the literature was not detailed enough. Telling himself this tale may have helped Behe get to sleep that night, but to any objective observer this was a ludicrous and laughable response. If hundreds of pages of peer-reviewed research specifically on the origin and evolution of the vertebrate immune system, proposing, testing, and verifying a detailed model (called the transposon model) for its origin, was not enough for Behe, then clearly nothing could ever be enough and Behe was only maintaining his position by a stubborn refusal to seriously deal with the data (and he still has not dealt with the evolutionary immunology literature in any detail). Basically, Behe’s verbal victory worked in his own head but was a spectacular defeat in the eyes of anyone with a vaguely rational view of what appropriate standards of evidence in science might be (that is: when you propose and test hypotheses you have good science, when you demand impossible levels of proof before accepting anything you are engaging in pseudoscience). When this was coupled to Behe’s nonanswers to questions like “Well, Dr. Behe, where is the detailed, testable ID explanation for the origin of the immune system?” it was all over. The details are here.

Well, this particular point, more than almost anything else except perhaps the discovery of the cdesign proponentsists, really really stung the ID guys. The fact that it made it into the Kitzmiller decision and numerous books, articles, and the Nova reenactment only made it worse. It is just too painful for them to contemplate it unemotionally and admit that they lost on a crucial scientific point, so occasionally ID advocates will pop up with pitiful responses that try to fix the damage. What follows is one that was really pitiful. Casey Luskin has developed a line of argument that he thinks is clever and serious, but is actually a product of the very same problem that afflicted Behe: a failure to engage seriously with the literature on evolutionary immunology and deal with the massively inconvenient facts.

In the opposingviews.com essay, Casey Luskin writes (a fair bit down the page; the opposingviews format is pretty confusing so I reproduce the relevant bit here),

In another finding which was both wrong and irrelevant, Judge Jones ruled that “Dr. Miller presented peer-reviewed studies refuting Professor Behe’s claim that the immune system was irreducibly complex.”(24) Moreover, Judge Jones found that Behe’s claims that the immune system was irreducibly complex were refuted by a large stack of papers dumped upon him during cross-examination:

“[O]n cross-examination, Professor Behe was questioned concerning his 1996 claim that science would never find an evolutionary explanation for the immune system. He was presented with fifty-eight peerreviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system.”(25)

Yet Behe never claimed that no papers or books are “about the evolution of the immune system”–indeed in Darwin’s Black Box, Behe wrote that “[t]here are other papers and books that discuss the evolution of the immune system.”(26) On the contrary, Behe actually testified:

“These articles are excellent articles I assume. However, they do not address the question that I am posing. So it’s not that they aren’t good enough. It’s simply that they are addressed to a different subject.”(27)

Thus, what Behe actually requested was, “a step-by-step mutation by mutation analysis” of the evolution of the immune system, for Behe said he is “quite skeptical” that the papers in the literature dump “present detailed rigorous models for the evolution of the immune system by random mutation and natural selection.”(28) Judge Jones misquoted Behe and twisted his views about the state of evolutionary literature on the origin of the immune system.

One of the 58 articles dumped on Behe was an authoritative article published in Nature the year before the Kitzmiller trial which conceded that there were major questions about step-by-step accounts of the evolution of the adaptive immune system. In that recent and authoritative paper, Max Cooper, one of the fathers of immunology, wrote that the evolutionary origin of one of the most important components of the higher vertebrate “adaptive immune system,” the immunoglobulin (IG) domain containing antibody, is currently “untraceable”:

“In contrast, the deployment of immunoglobulin domains as core components of jawed vertebrate recombinatorial lymphocyte receptors represents an intriguing although as yet untraceable evolutionary innovation, as immune recognition of pathogens and allografts by means of immunoglobulin superfamily members have been shown only in the jawed vertebrates.”(29)

IG domains perform a primary structural function in antibodies of the “adaptive immune system” used by all jawed vertebrates (such as sharks, reptiles, birds, and mammals). The paper discovered that the antibody-equivalent in the lamprey (a jawless vertebrate fish) is highly dissimilar, both in structure and how they are assembled. In fact, the lamprey uses a completely different type of protein domain for its antibody-equivalent structures. This paper therefore calls the origin of anitibodies that utilize IG domains presently “untraceable.”

Furthermore, when these authors say that the usage of IG domains is “untraceable,” they are not asking the question “from what were these materials co-opted during evolution?” IG domains are found throughout biology from bacteria to humans and thus it is simple to imagine where higher vertebrates might have co-opted such domains. Rather, this paper is talking about the type of deeper question Behe raises: by what Darwinian pathway did IG domains evolve into the type of IG domain used by antibodies in the adaptive immune system of higher vertebrates?

This paper had no answer to that question, yet Judge Jones claimed that Miller provided evidence demonstrating that “[b]etween 1996 and 2002, various studies confirmed each element of the evolutionary hypothesis explaining the origin of the immune system.”(30) Did Judge Jones read these 58 papers plus books and other literature dumped during the trial to verify his claim? I highly doubt it. After all, Judge Jones’ discussion on the immune system was copied nearly verbatim from an ACLU brief.(31) But a cursory look at one of those papers reveals that Judge Jones’ finding was a bluff, and Behe’s arguments were never refuted.

In the end, most of Kenneth Miller’s arguments about the evolution of the immune system were based upon observing mere sequence similarity or functional similarity between proteins used by our immune system and some found in lower organisms. In other words, some of the starting material might be crudely present elsewhere in biology, but Miller did not testify about any step-by-step Darwinian pathways as Behe requested, nor did Miller testify about the vast differences between our adaptive immune system and immune systems used by lower organisms like the Lamprey.(32) Behe was never refuted, and Judge Jones’ strong findings based upon such hypothetical arguments demonstrate his uncritical acceptance of the plaintiffs’ literature-dump bluffs.

These episodes provide vivid illustrations why it is dangerous for courts to try to settle these scientific debates. Legal scholars agree with this basic point.

[…]

(24) Kitzmiller 400 F.Supp.2d at 741.

(25) Id, at 741.

(26) Michael J. Behe Darwin’s Black Box, pg. 138.

(27) Transcript of Testimony of Michael Behe 19 Kitzmiller, No. 4:04-CV-2688 (M.D. Pa., Oct. 19, 2005).

(28) Id. at 19, 23

(29) Nature, Vol. 430: 174-180 (July 8, 2004) Z. Pancer, Z., C. T. Amemiya, G. R. A. Ehrhardt, J. Ceitlin, G. L. Gartland, M. D. Cooper, “Somatic diversification of variable lymphocyte receptors in the agnathan sea lamprey”

(30) Kitzmiller 400 F.Supp.2d at 741.

(31) A Comparison of Judge Jones’ Opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover

(32) Transcript of Testimony of Kenneth R. Miller

“The significant similarity between the transib transpases and RAG core, the common structure of these transpases and others, as well as the similar size of these basically catalyzed by these enzymes directly support the 25-year-old hypothesis of a transposon related origin of the VDJ machinery.” 30-31, Kitzmiller, No. 4:04-CV-2688 (M.D. Pa., Sept. 26, 2005).

A shorter version of this argument is provided in a law review article coauthored by Luskin (David K. DeWolf, John West, Casey Luskin. “Intelligent Design will Survive Kitzmiller v. Dover,” 68 Montana Law Review 7 (Winter, 2007)):

Judge Jones ruled that a pile of fifty-eight papers dumped upon the witness stand during Behe’s cross-examination refuted the claim that “science would never find an evolutionary explanation for the immune system.” Kitzmiller v. Dover Area Sch. Dist, 400 F. Supp. 2d 707, 741 (M.D. Pa. 2005). Judge Jones provided no reference for that claim. Behe merely requested a reasonable standard of evolutionary proof of “detailed rigorous models for the evolution of the immune system by random mutation and natural selection.” Transcr. of Procs. Afternoon Sess. at 23 (Oct. 19, 2005), Kitzmiller, 400 F. Supp. 2d 707. Did the fifty-eight papers meet that standard? One of the papers, an authoritative article recently published in Nature, reveals the answer is “no,” as it clearly discussed the lack of step-by-step accounts of the evolution of key components of the immune system: “In contrast, the deployment of immunoglobulin domains as core components of jawed vertebrate recombinatorial lymphocyte receptors represents an intriguing although as yet untraceable evolutionary innovation, as immune recognition of pathogens and allografts by means of immunoglobulin superfamily members [IG domains] have been shown only in the jawed vertebrates.” Z. Pancer et al., Somatic Diversification of Variable Lymphocyte Receptors in the Agnathan Sea Lamprey, 430 Nature 174, 179 (2004) (emphasis added). Immunoglobu lin (IG) domains are a common structure in proteins found throughout biology from bacteria to humans. Id. at 174. When the paper found that the evolution of IG domains is “untraceable,” it was therefore not asking “from what might these structures have been borrowed during evolution?” It was asking the deeper question Behe raises: by what detailed, step-by-step pathway did IG domains come into their critical function in the adaptive immune system? Judge Jones said “each element of the evolutionary hypothesis explaining the origin of the immune system” had been “confirmed.” Kitzmiller, 400 F. Supp. 2d at 741. Yet Pancer’s recent, authoritative paper reveals that Judge Jones’s finding merely recapitulated the plaintiffs’ literature-dump bluff, and that Behe’s actual arguments were never refuted.

(pp. 36-37)

When this came out, I noted its sillyness in private, but no one ever got around to rebutting it in public, so apparently Luskin figured he’d made a good point and put even more weight on it in the opposingviews.com debate.

(An aside: if you’re not up on your evolutionary immunology, antibodies are basically Y-shaped receptors made up of a series of Ig-domains; different domains get switched around via V(D)J recombination to generate zillions of different antibodies that can bind almost any invader; the transposon hypothesis suggests that V(D)J recombining receptors evolved from non-recombining receptors by insertion of a transposon that would snip itself out, rejoining the receptor segments in different ways. Duplication & elaboration of this basic system produced the modern system. See the figures/discussion here and here)

Luskin’s argument doesn’t make sense even if his facts were right

Here’s the short version of Luskin’s argument: Luskin claims that Pancer et al. (2004) showed there was a big gap in the origin of the vertebrate immune system – that is, where did an Ig domain involved in immune recognition come from?

This question wasn’t answered by 2005, claims Luskin, and therefore (this argument resembles the “Underpants Gnomes” business plan from South Park) Judge Jones was wrong to rule that “various studies confirmed each element of the evolutionary hypothesis explaining the origin of the immune system” and therefore “Behe’s arguments were never refuted.”

Again, this sort of thing makes the ID proponent feel better and lets them sleep at night, but it’s wrong on several levels as a scientific argument.

1. First of all, the “as yet untraceable” remark in Pancer et al. 2004 was just an aside from the main point of the paper, which was about how lampreys have their own adaptive immune system which is different from the adaptive immunity of jawed vertebrates. Evolution is used throughout the methods and analysis of the paper, so it is rather strange to attempt to use it as evidence against evolution. The paper did not do a thorough search for Luskin’s “missing” Ig domain, it just mentioned as an aside that it had not been found yet.

2. Second, it is not clear exactly what Pancer et al. actually meant in their parenthetical remark. They cite Kaufman (2002), which reports on the discovery of V-type domains in Amphioxus, but notes various differences which indicate that that particular molecule was not a super-close relative of the non-rearranging ancestor of the V(D)J receptor. So a possible interpretation, the one which Luskin adopts, is that they are still searching for a close relative of a non-rearranging V-type receptor. But Pancer et al. might merely have been saying that they didn’t detect VDJ recombination in lampreys, which is unsurprising because the system much have originated at some point, and the common view has always been that it originated after jawed vertebrates diverged from lampreys. The whole point of the transposon model is to explain how that system originated.

3. Third, even if it were true that the origin of an Ig domain with an immune function was (currently) untraceable, Luskin admits that Ig domains with other functions are well-known and widespread, so there is not really much of a “leap” left. There is no requirement in the scenario that the ancestor of the rearranging antibody had an immune function as opposed to some other binding function, although probably most immunologists thought that this was the most likely option, being a particularly gradual pathway. As previously mentioned, not just Ig domains, but specifically V-type domains were discovered in Amphioxus in 2002 (see: Kaufman, J. (2002). “The origins of the adaptive immune system: whatever next?” Nature Immunology 3(12): 1124-1125. This article was in the Kitzmiller immune system exhibit, so there is a summary in the Annotated Bibliography).

4. Fourth, even in 2005 it wasn’t true to say that non-rearranging V-type Ig domains, with immune functions, in organisms diverging before jawed vertebrates, were unknown. PT poster Ian Musgrave comments:

Even by 2004 several Ig-like molecules had been identified in amphioxus and sea squirts that could play the role of the ancestor of Ig. In sea squirts there are Ig fold proteins (nectin and Junctional Adehesion Molecules) with an Ig fold and a Constant-Variable domain architecture just like the immunoglobulins. Also in amphioxus there is an Ig protein which is used in innate immunity (the Variable Domain Chitin Binding proteins) that was known in 2002 (in 2006 a protein that is a very similar to the TCR and is involved in innate immunity was found in the amphioxus, but here I’m dealing with 2004 knowledge).

The most one can say is that, in 2004, non-rearranging V-type Ig domains, with immune functions, had not yet been found specifically in lampreys.

5. Fifth, nothing about a missing Ig receptor impeaches any of the other evidence that was discovered in the literature and presented at trial. To wit:

* the VVVVVVV DDDDDD JJJJJJ arrangements found in the genomes of bony fish and land vertebrates, and the VDJ VDJ VDJ VDJ VDJ VDJ VDJ VDJ arrangements found in sharks and relatives, indicated that the common ancestor was a much simpler VDJ arrangement that was elaborated by duplication.

* the hypothesis that the recombination genes (RAG) were descended from a transposon was dramatically confirmed by the discovery of just such a transposon in the wild, a transposon which we had no reason to suspect existed, except for the transposon hypothesis for the origin of recombination.

* numerous other discoveries mentioned here

The transposon model for the origin of the vertebrate immune system was literally standard textbook material by 2005 and was strengthened even further by several discoveries in 2005. As with any complex historical process there will always be various gaps in our knowledge, but none of this weakens the major collection of positive scientific discoveries supporting the transposon model. All of the positive evidence is still there whether or not a particular gene has yet been discovered in a particular organism. Only ID proponents think that they can turn ignorance into scientific support for their position.

6. Sixth, in 2005 we didn’t even have a genome sequence for lampreys and other relevant early-diverging organisms. Claiming that a missing homology is a problem is particularly dumb if the relevant sequencing hasn’t even been accomplished yet.

It gets worse for ID

So Luskin’s argument is excruciatingly bad even if he had his facts right. But as it turns out, he didn’t have his facts right. As Luskin noted, Pancer et al. (2004) said, in an article coauthored by “Max Cooper, one of the fathers of immunology”, that:

“immune recognition of pathogens and allografts by means of immunoglobulin superfamily members have been shown only in the jawed vertebrates”

Luskin and other ID proponents seem to think that such ignorance, once admitted in science, is permanent and irrevocable, and is forever a stain on an evolutionary model for a particular system.

Unfortunately for them, though, science doesn’t stay still. Have a look at this paper:

Cannon, J. P., Haire, R. N., Pancer, Z., Mueller, M. G., Skapura, D., Cooper, M. D. and Litman, G. W. (2005). “Variable Domains and a VpreB-like molecule are present in a jawless vertebrate.” Immunogenetics 56(12): 924-929. (PubMed | DOI | Journal | Google Scholar)

Yes, those coauthors include the very same Pancer who was the lead author on Luskin’s favorite paper, as well as “Max Cooper, one of the fathers of immunology.” And what do they say?

Abstract Immunoglobulins (Igs) and T cell antigen receptors (TCRs) that undergo somatic diversification have not been identified in the two extant orders of jawless vertebrates, which occupy essential positions in terms of understanding the evolution of the emergence of adaptive immunity. Using a single motif-dependent PCR-based approach coupled with a vector that allows selection of cDNAs encoding secretion signal sequences, four different genes encoding Ig V-type domains were identified in the sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus).

Whoops. It appears that once someone had a good hard look for V-domains in agnathans, they found them. Who would have thunk it? In the conclusion, the paper also notes:

The recent description of a non-rearranging single copy gene sequence in lamprey that can be modeled to a TCR V suggests that other molecules that are related to the combinatorial antigen binding receptors may exist in jawless vertebrates (Pancer et al. 2004b).

What’s that? A homolog to another V-domain was discovered in 2004 as well? The referenced paper is:

Pancer Z, Mayer WE, Klein J, Cooper MD (2004b) Prototypic T cell receptor and CD4-like coreceptor are expressed by lymphocytes in the agnathan sea lamprey. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101:13273-13278

Hey look, our buddies Pancer and “Max Cooper, one of the fathers of immunology” again! And what do they say in this 2004 paper? If “prototypic T cell receptor” wasn’t clear enough for you, here’s the abstract:

All jawed vertebrates have highly diverse lymphocyte receptors, which allow discrimination between self and nonself antigens as well as the recognition of potential pathogens. Key elements of the anticipatory recombinatorial immune system in jawed vertebrates are the TCR, Ig, and MHC genes, but their ancestral genes have not been found in more basal vertebrates. In this study, we extended our analysis of the transcriptome of lymphocyte-like cells in the lamprey to identify the TCR-like and CD4-like genes. The structural features of these genes and their preferential expression in lymphocytes make them attractive candidates for ancestral TCR and CD4 genes. The TCR-like gene contains both V (variable) and J (joining) sequences in its first exon and exists as a single-copy gene that is invariant. Thus, the TCR-like gene cannot account for the receptor diversity that is required for the immune responses reported for lamprey, but it could have been easily modified to serve as an evolutionary precursor of modern TCR and Ig genes.

So basically, the authors answered Luskin’s question in an article published in the research literature in the very same year as the paper which Luskin has been citing at opposingviews.com, in a comprehensive pro-ID law review article, and probably elsewhere.

But, how could poor Casey Luskin have known about this discovery? I mean, after all, he is not “one of the fathers of immunology,” is he? (say, I wonder what a father of immunology would say about Behe’s argument?) Well, as it happens, Cannon et al. 2005 is sitting right there in the friggin list of articles given to Behe! Pancer et al. 2004b is not (an oversight on the part of the Kitzmiller plaintiffs’ team – we beg forgiveness: there is so much evolutionary immunology literature, it was hard to get even a decent sample of it together!), but it was cited by Cannon et al. (2005).

Conclusion

Earth to Luskin and ID guys: you screwed up. Your very best (and basically only) scientific counterargument to Behe’s immune system debacle fell apart as soon as someone took a mildly close look at the situation. You relied on scientific ignorance to maintain some smidgen of credibility for the ID movement’s rejection of massive positive evidence for evolution, and, predictably, you got burned. Again. Good job.

(Even worse, we had to catch the mistake for you, proving (again) that within the entire ID community there is no one with the knowledge/gumption/scientific spirit to read just a few measly articles on evolutionary immunology to double-check a key Luskin assertion.)

Credits

Thanks to Ian Musgrave, Andrea Bottaro, and the PT crew for helpful comments.

2696 Comments

Behe / Luskin = seriously pwned. nice work.

one small quibble: you make it sound like V(D)J recombination swaps entire Ig domains around to create antibody diversity. V, D and J segments are subdomains of the variable Ig domains found at the antibody tips.

Luskin’s scientific understanding and knowledge of the literature is even worse than implied - particularly if one considers the literature on invertebrates:

Si-Ming Zhang, Coen M. Adema, Thomas B. Kepler, Eric S. Loker (2004). Diversification of Ig Superfamily Genes in an Invertebrate. Science 305(5681):251-254.

Thank you for a wonderful article. Several years ago I had the opportunity to give two lectures in an evolutionary biology course on the evolution of the immune system. One lecture on the evolution of the innate immune system, the second on the adaptive.

It amazes me that creationists can say “it can’t have evolved” with a straight face - looking across the animal phyla there is a clear, and obvious progression from simple “barrier” immunity, to simple macrophage-like cells, to a diversified “granulocyte” immune system, to the vertebrate system with its diversified adaptive and innate immune systems.

If anything, the immune system is a prime example of how evolution can produce an irreversibly complex system.

Which I guess is why Behe et al. are asking for every mutation along the road; that’s about all the ground they got left.

Frat job on the article Nick, thank you

jobby said:

looking across the animal phyla there is a clear, and obvious progression

… well sure there is a progression. but was in caused by NS?

Jobby: Feel free to offer evidence in support of a different testable hypothesis to explain this “progression”. Remember: “God-did-it’ is no different than “My little Blue Devil living in my back pocket did it” - neither of these are capable of being refuted so neither will suffice in the world of science.

jobby said: looking across the animal phyla there is a clear, and obvious progression

… well sure there is a progression. but was in caused by NS?

Propose an alternate hypothesis - test it - publish your results - see what happens.

In the meantime, in spite of your fondest hopes, your question provides no evidence (much less proof) for creationism.

Paul Burnett said:

bobby/goff/jacob/balanced/hamstrungjobby said: looking across the animal phyla there is a clear, and obvious progression

… well sure there is a progression. but was in caused by NS?

Propose an alternate hypothesis - test it - publish your results - see what happens.

In the meantime, in spite of your fondest hopes, your question provides no evidence (much less proof) for creationism.

In earlier responses, jobby/bobby/jacob/balanced/hamstrung claimed to be a supporter of Intelligent Design, not Creationism. Either way, he has never bothered to show any evidence for anything, otherwise.

Isn’t this the point in the trial where he was forced to admit he never actually read any of the literature presented to him but that he didn’t have to because the papers didn’t refute his arguments?

But “jobby” honey, NO ONE is answering “Darwin did it”. No one but your strawman, that is.

Do try to keep up.

no hugs for thugs, Shirley Knott

In reference to the mindset of Mr. Luskin, Ms. O’Leary, and their kindred …

When reading the work of an evo scientist who rabidly hates Darwin-bashers and blasts them at length, even if the all the venting is edited out, usually there’s plenty of interesting substance left. Donald Prothero’s recent book EVOLUTION was an excellent example: “Good book, professor, but you might have cut back on the tirades somewhat.”

If you take the work of the O’Luskins of the world, if you edited out the complaints and denunciations, there would be nothing left. I’ve always seen their most blatant weakness as their complete lack of curiosity about how things work – how anything works, not just evo science, how a battery works, how concrete is made, whatever.

All people who honestly like the sciences are intensely curious. If you consider the works of Dawkins (his science writings at least), you see a person of intense and perceptive curiosity, who loves to figure out how things work. Yes, he does vent and editorialize, but mostly as asides and footnotes, and even he has admitted he needs to tone that stuff down at least a bit.

Point this out to the O’Luskins and the only result is a blank stare. It is beyond their comprehension.

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

Dear jobby:

You can’t be serious in making this rather inane remark:

jobby said:

… I am not a supporter ID nor Creationism nor Darwinism. I am a supporter of the scientific method however and do not feel that faith systems should be taught as science.

If you are really a “supporter of the scientific method”, then you’d recognize that evolutionary theory relies upon the scientific method in making testable hypotheses - including predictions - regarding the evolution of the immune system in invertebrates and vertebrates. Indeed, inspite of its numerous flaws, contemporary evolutionary theory does a decent job in explaining the history and current structure of Planet Earth’s biodiversity. Neither Behe nor Dembski have offered any evidence period in explaining how and why Intelligent Design creationism could provide a viable scientific alternative to evolution in explaining both the history and current structure of our planet’s biodiversity.

Meanwhile I trust you’ll continue enjoying your membership in the Dishonesty Institute’s IDiot Borg Collective.

Live Long and Prosper (as a DI IDiot Borg drone),

John Kwok

one has to wonder why, if these counter arguments are so powerful, they weren’t brought up in court when they would have mattered the most. i guess next time luskin should do the lawyering himself.

jobby said:

… well sure there is a progression. but was in caused by NS?

Until an alternative is established to exist and given the same falsifiable testing the mechanisms of modern evolutionary have gone through, they are the best candidates.

Your argument is akin to wondering if the cat drank the milk when I come home to a locked house, an empty bowl that was full when I left, and a happy cat. It’s the only solution available at the moment, so that’s the working theory until we get a better one.

One your insinuation that MET can’t be falsified is yet another ignorant lie.

BTW, wasn’t this useless waste of DNA supposedly permanently banned, again?

snex said:

one has to wonder why, if these counter arguments are so powerful, they weren’t brought up in court when they would have mattered the most. i guess next time luskin should do the lawyering himself.

They basically were brought up, because Behe said he hadn’t read all those articles but was sure they didn’t matter: they didn’t give a complete and monstrously detailed picture of every single mutation that allowed it to happen.

Same thing, really.

It’s funny how these arguments seem to be completely backwards from Dembski’s original proposal, where you eliminate (whatever) and then arrive at the Design conclusion. It looks to me like they’re sticking Design way out in front and then demanding that (whatever) measure up to that (in their minds) first.

Stanton said: In earlier responses, jobby/ bobby/ jacob/ balanced/ hamstrung claimed to be a supporter of Intelligent Design, not Creationism.

Contrary to Dishonesty Institute official protestations, there is no difference:

Judge John Jones said: We have concluded that intelligent design is not science, and moreover that intelligent design cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents. - Harrisburg, PA, December 20, 2005.

Stanton continued: Either way, he has never bothered to show any evidence for anything, otherwise.

…thus proving he/she/it is a cdesign proponentsist.

Wheels said:

They basically were brought up, because Behe said he hadn’t read all those articles but was sure they didn’t matter: they didn’t give a complete and monstrously detailed picture of every single mutation that allowed it to happen.

Same thing, really.

im no lawyer, but i think i watch enough law & order to know that this is absolute incompetence on the defense’s part. they should have known that these papers existed and either forced behe to read and critique them in detail, or not call him as an expert witness at all.

Do not feed the trolls. Panda versus Jobby

One last poke at the twit-of-many-names before it’s erased: I thought it had finally admitted when cornered on a previous blog that it was a Von Danikenite. Or was that one of the other little annoyances that show up around here occasionally. It’s so hard to tell the idiots apart.

So, does all that Katzenjammer from the Discomfited Institute mean that they are again looking for a school district to mandate teaching of Intelligent Design Creationism as if it were science? Or will the search be left to the Sword and Shield for People of Faith again?

jobby said: OK what would we see if NS is not the mechanism that causes complex organisms to come from simpler ones

We would presumably see the “real” mechanism at work. But you don’t ever describe that mechanism. Until you do, we’ll keep doing research on natural selection. After all, we can’t very well do research on an idea that you refuse to share, can we?

jobby said:

OK what would we see if NS is not the mechanism that causes complex organisms to come from simpler ones

jobby, bobby, hamstrung, balanced is that you, Mr. sock puppet?

Finding a transitional fossil that doesn’t fit with it ecological niche? Say, instead of finding the Tiktaalik we find a rabbit instead?

A thought.

If MET really isn’t falsifiable, is Prof Behe wasting his time?

jobby said:

making predictions and see those observations is easy. its predicting what would be seen if the theory is not true that is difficult

There’s your nomination for bass-ackward statement of the month. nd he wonders why we say he doesn’t have the slightest understanding of science.

Luskin and other ID proponents seem to think that such ignorance, once admitted in science, is permanent and irrevocable, and is forever a stain on an evolutionary model for a particular system.

Thank you for this sentence. It is - to me - one of best descriptions of a defining characteristic of creationists.

pough said:

Luskin and other ID proponents seem to think that such ignorance, once admitted in science, is permanent and irrevocable, and is forever a stain on an evolutionary model for a particular system.

Thank you for this sentence. It is - to me - one of best descriptions of a defining characteristic of creationists.

That’s because in the cdesign proponentsist universe, once theological truth is revealed, it is permanent and irrevocable. They have no concept of the scientific model of continuous improvement, and simply cannot wrap their minds around it. They go with what they know.

one small quibble: you make it sound like V(D)J recombination swaps entire Ig domains around to create antibody diversity. V, D and J segments are subdomains of the variable Ig domains found at the antibody tips.

Good point, I didn’t make that clear. A good diagram is here: http://www.pnas.org/content/102/1/1[…]F1.large.jpg

I almost forgot:

In A Living Bay: The Underwater World of Monterey Bay by Lovell and Libby Langstroth, it’s discussed that echinoderms, or at least starfish, have their own immune system which, at least in the case of predatory starfish, enable them to digest otherwise toxic sea anemones by neutralizing the preys’ venom, in that a starfish that ate strawberry anemones for the very first time took about 72 hours to a week to digest them, versus a starfish that ate strawberry anemones on a regular basis, which ate and digested the little buggers within a few hours.

But I digress: what I’m driving at is that

1) Perhaps one of the original functions of the immune system of the ancestor of echinoderms and chordates was to aid in digestion, or to neutralize potentially toxic proteins that were ingested,

and

2) Does anyone know what starfish immunoglobins look like?

To disprove NS, just find cases in which the varieties that produce more offspring don’t increase their numbers faster than the other varieties.

Alternately, find another mechanism that might produce new interacting structures in organisms, but that does so in a way that can be distinguished from natural selection (and that might have happened prior to human genetic engineering), and that can be used to explain the existing data just as well as the current theory.

Henry

Or more generally, find cases where all genetic variations in a population produce the same average number of fertile adult offspring.

This is one of those rare cases where ID idiocy can produce an interesting thought experiment which, once understood, would greatly enhance the understanding of evolutionary theory for someone new to the topic.

SFB a.k.a. cobby said:

Malcolm said:

SFB a.k.a. cobby said:

Globin genes. They are literally a textbook example of gene duplication. The globins are a perfect example of a nested hierarchy. They also give a perfect example of something which you would not expect to see in creationism; pseudogenes.

I also notice SFB is evading questions again. …. wrong again!

Care to elaborate? You asked for a specific example. I provided one. As I said before, the fact that it goes against what you learned in Sunday school doesn’t make it wrong. If you want to refute something, you will need to provide data.

… wayne surfs the net on company time and so does DS. DS is foul mouthed and a bad example for where he teaches. both of their employers should be informed of their activities. it helps people who DO have a work ethic

SFB can’t wrap his head around the idea that this isn’t unethical behaivor. All internet traffic is logged. Not only does my manager know what sites I visit but his manager and networks konw what I’m doing. If it was unethical then they wouldn’t have accepted my contract SFB.

Hey SFB why don’t you tell my mom that I call you a lying deceiftul shit for brain troll.

SFB a.k.a. cobby said:

Did I mention “literal textbook example”? If you knew anything about genetics, you would know about this. I’d point you to some papers on it, but what would be the point? You don’t read science papers.

.… yes and i could point you to many places etc, etc. but the point here is to explain your ideas in these boxes. anyone say ‘its all out there’ ‘here is a link read it ‘

.… you have said ‘pseudogenes prove my point’ and i am saying ‘no they dont’ . but arguments have equal value.

SFB thinks his unsupported claims, and SFB has been shown to lie repeatedly, is as valid as others peoples claims that are supported by multiple sources by people and don’t lie.

Definition of a whistleblower

Most whistleblowers are internal whistleblowers, who report misconduct to a fellow employee or superior within their company. External whistleblowers, however, report misconduct to outside persons or entities. In these cases, depending on the information’s severity and nature, whistleblowers may report the misconduct to lawyers, the media, law enforcement or watchdog agencies, or other local, state, or federal agencies.

… wrong again! look up qui tam. and if you are so sure of yourself tell me where you work and i will talk to them.

You certainly are wrong again!

Wayne said:Whistle blowing is an employee reporting criminal activity within the company

How can you present this in response!

cobby said: Definition of a whistleblower

Most whistleblowers are internal whistleblowers, who report misconduct to a fellow employee or superior within their company. External whistleblowers, however, report misconduct to outside persons or entities. In these cases, depending on the information’s severity and nature, whistleblowers may report the misconduct to lawyers, the media, law enforcement or watchdog agencies, or other local, state, or federal agencies.

… wrong again! look up qui tam. and if you are so sure of yourself tell me where you work and i will talk to them.

To me this says “internal whistle blowing” is reporting criminal activity within a company to a superior or fellow employee, and “external whistle blowing” is reporting criminal activity within a company to an external agent. How can you think either applies in your case?

Wayne said:Whistle blowing is an employee reporting criminal activity within the company

.… where did he say that??

cobby said:

Wayne said:Whistle blowing is an employee reporting criminal activity within the company

.… where did he say that??

http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]mment-172574

cobby, you should probably see a specialist about your short-term memory issues …

SWT said:

cobby said:

Wayne said:Whistle blowing is an employee reporting criminal activity within the company

.… where did he say that??

http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]mment-172574

cobby, you should probably see a specialist about your short-term memory issues …

I would say, “but the problem is that he keeps forgetting about it,” but, the truth of the matter is that he doesn’t care.

DS said:

Globin genes. They are literally a textbook example of gene duplication. The globins are a perfect example of a nested hierarchy. They also give a perfect example of something which you would not expect to see in creationism; pseudogenes.

cobby replied:

.… wrong again!

Cobby is actually under the misimpression that s/he’s presenting an argument!

Right again… ;-)

Don’t expect an argument from Bobby though, that’s too much to ask for. Instead, expect him to move onward to a new ‘topic’ and pretend his earlier requests were never made.

Dan said:

DS said:

Globin genes. They are literally a textbook example of gene duplication. The globins are a perfect example of a nested hierarchy. They also give a perfect example of something which you would not expect to see in creationism; pseudogenes.

cobby replied:

.… wrong again!

Cobby is actually under the misimpression that s/he’s presenting an argument!

Some questions Bobby has yet to address:

Prediction: Genetic similarity and nested hierarchies such as found in globins

Falsification: Lack of nested hierarchies or genetic similarities.

Assertion: Bobby: The claims at 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution The Scientific Case for Common Descent are in error.

Argument: Bobby has provided none.

Let’s see if we can get Bobby to present some arguments to support his claims.

Bobby has yet to address ANYTHING relating to reality. Bobby is a lying sack of shit with a terminal allergy to evidence. It has never had anything worth saying, and it never will. This has been obvious for months. Nothing, absolutely nothing, will ever get Bobby the boob to present any evidence for his IDiotic claims, the very idea of evidence terrifies him. And of course he denies making all those claims, even when confronted with the direct quote. As with all creationists, the truth is his mortal enemy.

In conclusion, Bobby the boob is a worthless lying sack of shit, and all his future posts should be automatically deleted as spam. Also, call whatever library he’s posting from and tell them to wash the chair he’s jerking off in.

PvM said:

Some questions Bobby has yet to address:

Prediction: Genetic similarity and nested hierarchies such as found in globins

Falsification: Lack of nested hierarchies or genetic similarities.

Assertion: Bobby: The claims at 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution The Scientific Case for Common Descent are in error.

Argument: Bobby has provided none.

Let’s see if we can get Bobby to present some arguments to support his claims.

Malcolm said:

cobby said:

phantomreader42 replied to comment from cobby | November 8, 2008 2:12 PM | Reply

So, for the record, you HAVEN’T offered anything remotely resembling evidence, and once again you desperately try to distract attention from the fact that you’re a lying sack of shit. You know you’ve got nothing, everyone knows it. Time to put up or shut up, brain-dead troll. Provide your evidence, or take your mental masturbation elsewhere.

… would you be comfortable having this individual alone with your children??

Much more comfortable than leaving them with a creationist loon like yourself.

I can imagine how cobby’s babysitting career might go. He’d probably rape the child, kill it, eat it, and then insist to the parents’ faces that there never was a child, while standing on a pile of the bones. AT least it might give him a chance at an insanity plea. Reality just does not exist for the sack of shit.

Oh, poor troll have a problem with me making shit up? It’s your whole argument, and at least I have some damn creativity.

I have an idea on how to deal with Bobby. Enforce his ban. Oh yeah, PT is run by spineless wimps who thrive on 90-page derailed comment threads, would rather snipe endlessly at ineducable trolls instead of maintain the slightest QC, and seem to be capable of being fooled innumerable times by idiots who post under slightly different names, I forgot. Nevermind.

Phantomreader, I believe that you are way out of line here…

Last I checked, PT contributors were all vertebrates.

ben said:

I have an idea on how to deal with Bobby. Enforce his ban. Oh yeah, PT is run by spineless wimps who thrive on 90-page derailed comment threads, would rather snipe endlessly at ineducable trolls instead of maintain the slightest QC, and seem to be capable of being fooled innumerable times by idiots who post under slightly different names, I forgot. Nevermind.

Then they are either masochists, have a really perverse sense of humor, or are completely disinterested in attracting new, intelligent readers.

Last I checked, PT contributors were all vertebrates.

… where is the evidence? Or do you just believe this on FAITH? This is a huge problem for Darwinism. I think you just googled this and are faking it.

ROTFL

SWT said:

Last I checked, PT contributors were all vertebrates.

… where is the evidence? Or do you just believe this on FAITH? This is a huge problem for Darwinism. I think you just googled this and are faking it.

PvM said:

Phantomreader, I believe that you are way out of line here…

So, the troll of many names, despite supposedly being banned, is allowed to spend 90 pages spewing nothing but bullshit and slander, but I’m not allowed to return the favor once? If bobby the boob is even capable of being reached (which I doubt), it might learn there’s something wrong with lying by having to deal with some character assassination directed back at itself. A longshot, sure, but it’s been obvious for months that facts will never penetrate the troll’s delusions. Did you have a problem with your “friend” making shit up about other people at every opportunity? Nope, you’ve let that slide again and again. You seem to have pretty poor taste in “friends”.

Face it, educating the undead troll is impossible. It will never listen to reality. It likes being ignorant and spewing nonsense. It has turned off its brain, and no force in the universe will convince it to turn it back on again. No good can come of dealing with such a total waste of human life.

SWT said:

Last I checked, PT contributors were all vertebrates.

… where is the evidence? Or do you just believe this on FAITH? This is a huge problem for Darwinism. I think you just googled this and are faking it.

That needed one or two grammar or spelling errors to be convincing. ;)

Ben,

I would have to agree in this case. Not only that, but they allow those who have broken the rules to post personal threats and post what they believe is personal information about other posters without their permission. I can think of no justification for allowing this behavior.

Everyone knows that these particular threats are impotent, but that is not the issue. If the site refuses to moderate the thread then they invite all sorts of illegal activity and personal attacks. Why in the world would anyone want to post here if they thought that some mentally disturbed person would post personal information about them?

If this site wishes to be destroyed by the mentally challenged such as jacob/bobby/jobby/cobby/observer/goff then they are dong a great job of accomplishing their goal. 2700 off-topic posts and counting.

cobby said:

Did I mention “literal textbook example”? If you knew anything about genetics, you would know about this. I’d point you to some papers on it, but what would be the point? You don’t read science papers.

.… yes and i could point you to many places etc, etc. but the point here is to explain your ideas in these boxes. anyone say ‘its all out there’ ‘here is a link read it ‘

Since you don’t know what globins are, or where they are for that matter, there isn’t enough space in these boxes to educate you. If you knew any biology I wouldn’t have to.

.… you have said ‘pseudogenes prove my point’ and i am saying ‘no they dont’ . but arguments have equal value.

Since you don’t even know what a pseudogene is, your “argument” has no value at all.

I hear your worries. However, only the originator of this thread has control over the thread. I will however raise your concerns with the admins.

DS said:

Ben,

I would have to agree in this case. Not only that, but they allow those who have broken the rules to post personal threats and post what they believe is personal information about other posters without their permission. I can think of no justification for allowing this behavior.

Everyone knows that these particular threats are impotent, but that is not the issue. If the site refuses to moderate the thread then they invite all sorts of illegal activity and personal attacks. Why in the world would anyone want to post here if they thought that some mentally disturbed person would post personal information about them?

If this site wishes to be destroyed by the mentally challenged such as jacob/bobby/jobby/cobby/observer/goff then they are dong a great job of accomplishing their goal. 2700 off-topic posts and counting.

SFB a.k.a. cobby said:

Definition of a whistleblower

Most whistleblowers are internal whistleblowers, who report misconduct to a fellow employee or superior within their company. External whistleblowers, however, report misconduct to outside persons or entities. In these cases, depending on the information’s severity and nature, whistleblowers may report the misconduct to lawyers, the media, law enforcement or watchdog agencies, or other local, state, or federal agencies.

… wrong again! look up qui tam. and if you are so sure of yourself tell me where you work and i will talk to them.

I’ve already told you SFB, go and actually read for once. I’m sure everyone else here could find the post in about 2-3 minutes SFB.

The fact is most people equate whistle blowers to an individual within the organization. This is why there are special laws to protect such people from negative repercussions from the organization. Reporting criminal activity from outside the organization is just reporting them. You don’t have to worry about loosing your job.

SFB still doesn’t understand that the only way this activity is deemed as misconduct is if the employer either states that such activity is deemed as misconduct or if such misconduct is automatically defined as illegal. Broad statements like “internet use is for official company use only” can cover this but no such clause actually exists. Not only that but my contract specifically entitles me to typically 1 and 1/2 hours a day that I can do what I want. This covers my lunch and breaks. The internet use is unrestricted baring standard clauses like use of illegal or pornographic sites due to work place sexual harassment laws. I know SFB considers use of naughty words and questions like “If you have sex in the dark is that a form of birth control?” pornography but the average person would not.

It must really annoy you that you are just an internet troll that slings empty threats doesn’t it SFB. Even someone was actually breaking some rule you would be to lazy to do the leg work needed to actually report them.

True sign that you are a lazy ignorant lying deceitful arrogant willfully ignorant creationist troll.

Thanks PvM.

cobby said:

… I dont go to ‘sunday school’ i am not a christian. not religious. you are wrong again.

You keep saying that, but I going to go with the evidence. You make the same idiotic claims as the creobots. You show the same lack of scientific literacy as the creobots. Its safe to assume you are a creobot until proven otherwise.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on September 19, 2008 3:19 PM.

A School Board’s Education was the previous entry in this blog.

Mark Pallen on Namba on the flagellum/ATPase homologies…and me is the next entry in this blog.

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