A Paul Nelson Anniversary Missed!

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We missed an important anniversary last week. It was five years ago last Sunday, March 29, that Paul Nelson told us that he’d provide a reply to PZ Myers’ critique of “ontogenetic depth.” Nelson said

Quick note – I’m drafting an omnibus reply (to points raised here and in Shalizi’s commentary), with title and epigraph from a Rolling Stones song. I’ll post it tomorrow.

Yup. And the check’s in the mail, right? I suspect the epigraph should be “(I can’t get no) Satisfaction.”

By tradition the fifth anniversary of an event is the “wood” anniversary. But so far we don’t even have one wooden nickel from Paul, say nothing of an omnibus full of them. We’re still waiting, Paul.

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Once upon a time, a creationist invented a brand new pseudo-scientific term, which he even presented at a scientific conference. It was a very, very silly idea called "ontogenetic depth". I criticized the idea publicly and viciously, pointing out that... Read More

174 Comments

Geez I wish those guys would hurry up with their research. They have everything all down and “precise” and everything. They just probably gotta have the people do the research and stuff.

The big question is whose paper will materialize first, Paul Nelson’s or Ray Martinez’s magnum opus?

And the Dembski and Marks paper, don’t forget that!

Iason Ouabache said:

The big question is whose paper will materialize first, Paul Nelson’s or Ray Martinez’s magnum opus?

Sorry, but Ray’s magnum opus was published last Wednesday. But since you missed it, you have to wait almost a year. It will be available again on that date next year. ;-)

Anyway, what I’m most anxiously awaiting is the Behe-McLeroy debate on the age of the earth and common descent.

As for Nelson, the least he could do is answer the question I asked him last year when he was posting here. Someone speculated that he might be an Omphalos creationist rather than a “true” YEC, and I asked him to confirm or deny it.

I’m fairly sure you’re a few days early with this. While the 29th is indeed the date of the first “tomorrow,” last year PZ named April 7th as “Paul Nelson Day”. See here and here.

Iason Ouabache said:

The big question is whose paper will materialize first, Paul Nelson’s or Ray Martinez’s magnum opus?

“Clash Of Titans”

I was unfamiliar with this until I backtracked to PZ’s critique. And no reply… Paul did seem somewhat reasonable in his comments, though. Better than the sniping of Dembski or Luskin.

John Lynch said:

I’m fairly sure you’re a few days early with this. While the 29th is indeed the date of the first “tomorrow,” last year PZ named April 7th as “Paul Nelson Day”. See here and here.

OK, well, Hell, five years ago plus or minus two weeks! That’s an acceptable error of estimate.

KP said:

I was unfamiliar with this until I backtracked to PZ’s critique. And no reply… Paul did seem somewhat reasonable in his comments, though. Better than the sniping of Dembski or Luskin.

What use are reasonable but content-free responses?

RBH said:

John Lynch said:

I’m fairly sure you’re a few days early with this. While the 29th is indeed the date of the first “tomorrow,” last year PZ named April 7th as “Paul Nelson Day”. See here and here.

OK, well, Hell, five years ago plus or minus two weeks! That’s an acceptable error of estimate.

Besides, does PZ have a poem in limerick style about his requests? Hmph.

Hmm, I hadn’t been aware of “Paul Nelson Day” but it has its appeal. I suggest, along with its current payload, the addition of: “Yet another year when the imminent and long-predicted utter collapse of DARWINIZM has failed to occur.”

This would have the advantage of blanket coverage of absolutely every disproof DARWINIZM, past and future. If it was counted retroactively that would make a century at least, but to be charitiable that should not apply. So is it now “YEAR 3 PN”?

MrG http://www.vectorsite.net

Only reason I mention the earliness is that I have a post planned for Tuesday over at my place. Not to worry … plus or minus a few days isn’t a huge deal for those of us who accept the evidence for deep time. For a YEC like Nelson it is probably a little worrying!

mrg said:

…imminent and long-predicted utter collapse of DARWINIZM has failed to occur.

But…but…but Whois in the thread below tells us that it IS a “failed theory.” But for some reason I can’t get him to explain any ways in which it can be considered to have failed.

Dang.

Just Bob said:

But for some reason I can’t get him to explain any ways in which it can be considered to have failed.

Well, there you have it. Now every 7 April, we can formally commemorate the long-running “exaggerated reports of DARWINIZM’s demise.” If this was a job, it could be called job security. But alas we don’t get paid for this.

“We missed an important anniversary last week. It was five years ago last Sunday, March 29, that Paul Nelson told us that he’d provide a reply to PZ Myers’ critique of “ontogenetic depth.”

“Ontogenetic depth” is horsepookey…let’s move on.

Lynn Margulis: “Well Niles Eldredge, a wonderful friend and colleague of mine, is talking about those scientists who derive from zoology. He probably refers to the deliberate intellectual activity that reconciles Mendelian stability with Darwinian gradual change and tries to force it into this procrustean population genetics neo-Darwinism.

Francisco Ayala is presenting at the “evolutionary mechanisms session” in Rome. He was trained in Catholicism, Spanish-style, as a Dominican. We were in California at a meeting with Whiteheadian philosopher John Cobb. At that meeting Ayala agreed with me when I stated that this doctrinaire neo-Darwinism is dead. He was a practitioner of neo-Darwinism but advances in molecular genetics, evolution, ecology, biochemistry, and other news had led him to agree that neo-Darwinism’s now dead.

The components of evolution (I don’t think any scientist disagrees) that exist because there’s so much data for them are: (1) the tendency for exponential growth of all populations – that is growth beyond a finite world; and (2) since the environment can’t sustain them, there’s an elimination process of natural selection.

The point of contention in science is here: (3) Where does novelty that’s heritable come from? What is the source of evolutionary innovation? Especially positive inherited innovation, where does it come from?

It is here that the neo-Darwinist knee-jerk reaction kicks in. “By random mutations that accumulate so much that you have a new lineage.” This final contention, their mistake in my view, is really the basis of nearly all our disagreement.

Everybody agrees: Heritable variation exists, it can be measured. Everybody agrees, as Darwin said, it’s heritable variation “that’s important to us” because variation is inherited. Everyone agrees “descent with modification” can be demonstrated. And furthermore, because of molecular biology, everybody agrees that all life on Earth today is related through common ancestry, as Darwin showed.

Everybody agrees with ultimate common ancestry of Earth’s life, because the DNA, RNA messenger, transfer RNA, membrane-bounded cell constituents (lipids, the phospholipids) that we share – they’re all virtually identical in all life today, it’s all one single lineage. So that part of Darwinism – that we’re all related by common ancestry –no scientist disagrees with.

The real disagreement about what the neo-Darwinists tout, for which there’s very little evidence, if any, is that random mutations accumulate and when they accumulate enough, new species originate. The source of purposeful inherited novelty in evolution, the underlying reason the new species appear, is not random mutation rather it is symbiogenesis, the acquisition of foreign genomes.

When Salthe says we haven’t seen that, he’s talking about new species. He’s not saying we haven’t seen natural selection, he’s saying we haven’t seen natural selection produce new species, this particular aspect of neo-Darwinism.”

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0903/S00194.htm

Check back next PND, sport, for a status update.

Only reason I mention the earliness is that I have a post planned for Tuesday over at my place. Not to worry … plus or minus a few days isn’t a huge deal for those of us who accept the evidence for deep time. For a YEC like Nelson it is probably a little worrying!

Not really, you can have the third day before the second day or the first day after the fourth day or whatever! No worries they don’t have to be in the right order!! Except for the seventh day of course!!! No worries!

Please!

You harsh Darwinists!

Paul has a very full schedule of Lying for Jesus that you simply don’t appreciate. Do you have any idea how much money, time and effort it takes to maintain the Bunker of Silence?

Charlie Wagner said:

The real disagreement about what the neo-Darwinists tout, for which there’s very little evidence, if any, is that random mutations accumulate and when they accumulate enough, new species originate. The source of purposeful inherited novelty in evolution, the underlying reason the new species appear, is not random mutation rather it is symbiogenesis, the acquisition of foreign genomes.

Always? I don’t think that has been supported by credible proof. What foreign genomes did certain apes acquire to become humans?

For the record, we have seen evolution produce new species. There are tons of links about it, in fact. Let me give my Bookmarks folder a cursory examination…

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq[…]ciation.html
And the sequel: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html
Paper about speciation in bacteria: http://www.pnas.org/content/96/13/7348.full
Speciation in a known population of lizards: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/[…]a_lizard.php

If I were on my desktop I’d have a few more handy. Which reminds me:

mrg said:
Hmm, I hadn’t been aware of “Paul Nelson Day” but it has its appeal. I suggest, along with its current payload, the addition of: “Yet another year when the imminent and long-predicted utter collapse of DARWINIZM has failed to occur.”

Don’t forget The Year of the Linux Desktop.

John Lynch said:

Only reason I mention the earliness is that I have a post planned for Tuesday over at my place. Not to worry … plus or minus a few days isn’t a huge deal for those of us who accept the evidence for deep time. For a YEC like Nelson it is probably a little worrying!

Ah. Oh. Hm. Sorry. But don’t hold back on my account. I had my calendar marked for Paul’s first avoidance, and was up to my ass in alligators and didn’t post then. Else it’d have been even earlier.

RBH said:

John Lynch said:

Only reason I mention the earliness is that I have a post planned for Tuesday over at my place. Not to worry … plus or minus a few days isn’t a huge deal for those of us who accept the evidence for deep time. For a YEC like Nelson it is probably a little worrying!

Ah. Oh. Hm. Sorry. But don’t hold back on my account. I had my calendar marked for Paul’s first avoidance, and was up to my ass in alligators and didn’t post then. Else it’d have been even earlier.

Absolutely no problem. ’Twas but a minor post.

Charlie Wagner blathered:

“Blah, blah, blah”

Nobody cares what you think Charlie.

I thought these guys never wrote papers but instead had their “papers” delivered on stone tablets.

It’s been a while since the last one was delivered, and they don’t follow much of that one anyway.

RBH said: What use are reasonable but content-free responses?

I suppose a teaspoon more respect?

Just thought I’d throw this out. The renowned ex-professor John West is giving a six “weak” seminar at a church (of course) in Tacoma, Washington starting April 15 (http://www.discovery.org/scripts/vi[…]isEvent=true). I heard him ramble on at a church in Bellevue, WA. I suspect his talk/s there will be the same gibberish (according to their website). He’ll trash theistic evolution, he’ll talk about the nazis, and he’ll throw in his nonsense about ID. If anyone else is in the neighborhood at those times you might stop in & raise some good questions. He’s pretty lame and feigns surprise at misquoting Darwin, etc. I suspect his talks are pretty canned, just like the one I heard. I think that’s why he’s no longer at Seattle Pacific Univ. because he kept bringing up this stuff in his classes & they finally dumped him after his students kept complaining that he wasn’t teaching poly sci. I don’t know if they’ll let me in the door. I don’t know also if they plan on charging like they did at the other church.

OK, well, Hell, five years ago plus or minus two weeks! That’s an acceptable error of estimate.

A mere 51 microDembskis, tops.

I just love this site! I read Charlie’s jibberish, too (beginning to end - I read everything in its entirety … I can’t help it). Thank you Traffic Demon; you made my day! I laughed my sides into pain! May I have your permission to use that line?!

Now that Charlie has conceded pretty much all of evolutionary theory, we just have to educate him as to his misconceptions about “neo-Darwinism”; he apparently thinks it means an insistence that only single point mutations count. Since in fact _any_ heritable variation counts, from SNPs through copy number variations right up to horizontal gene transfer, this isn’t the case, and if “symbiogenesis” were true then humans and chimps would have to count as _one species_. Margulis has gone way off the rails lately.

I have an easy solution to this date conundrum! Make Paul Nelson Day a floating holiday! The Vapor Paper won’t care, and it could come on the First sunday of every month- or you could apply a quadratic equation to it’s date.

Charlie Wagner said:

I don’t have a clue…nor does anyone else.

Charlie:

Actual scientists do have a clue

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/ar[…]rtid=2496912

(tried to send this the other day and it got filtered somehow)

Charlie Wagner said:

I look around the world for empirical evidence for a link between random mutation and natural selection and the emergence of highly organized structures, processes that are found in living organisms and I don’t find any.

Therefore. I conclude that it is highly unlikely.

I look around Ohio for empirical evidence that the Earth is round, and I don’t find any.

Therefore. I conclude that it is highly unlikely.

Dan said:I look around Ohio for empirical evidence that the Earth is round, and I don’t find any.

Therefore. I conclude that it is highly unlikely.

You clearly live in a different part of Ohio than I do. I look around and find lots of evidence that the earth is lumpy. Hence, I conclude from the empirical evidence that it’s lumps all over the world.

Keelyn said:

I just love this site! I read Charlie’s jibberish, too (beginning to end - I read everything in its entirety … I can’t help it). Thank you Traffic Demon; you made my day! I laughed my sides into pain! May I have your permission to use that line?!

It’s not mine, I stole it a while back, but I doubt anyone would mind if you got a little use out of it.

Charlie Wagner said: Where does it all end? If it goes on like this, it will end up just as I predicted. Every living thing is related to every other living thing, but no one form is ancestral or descendant to any other form.

It is apparent that Mr. Wagner just does not understand biology, or he must be just a prankster. To be related to something, one has to be an ancestor, descendant or have common ancestry. Even though I have never met Mr. Wagner, with confidence I can say that we have a common ancestor.

Anthony said:

It is apparent that Mr. Wagner just does not understand biology, or he must be just a prankster.

It’s too dull to be humor.

Charlie Wagner said:

Science uses the best available theory. Absent any better alternative, evolution will remain “best” no matter how much mud you sling at it.

That’s just another way of saying that if we don’t know, we’ll just make something up and that’ll do fine.

This is not science as I understand it.

No, Mr. Wagner that is what you are doing. Reading many of your comments it is apparent that because you don’t know(understand) that you are just making things up.

Science uses the best available theories. This is based on the knowledge and the technology of the time. Any scientific theory is scrutinized, and all the predictions are tested. If a better theory that explains the mechanism of how something works, then the old theory is discarded.

What people like Mr. Wagner fail to realize that over the past 150 new discovers have only strengthen the theory of evolution. No discoveries have come that undermined the theory.

Science is used to describe something and make prediction. Technology is the application of scientific knowledge to solve problems.

realridiculousuneducabletroll Charlie Wagner blithers uneducably on:

If you make the statement “random mutation and natural selection can lead to new species” and you can’t define what a species is (I’ll know it when I see it?) then your theory is worthless.

I could just as easily say: ‘If you make the statement “F=ma” and you can’t define what a force is (I’ll know it when I see it?) then Newtonian physics is worthless.’ Guess what – Newtonian physics worked, and was far from “worthless,” regardless of its inability to encompass all aspects of what “force” actually meant.

Furthermore, how we define – or fail to define – “species” has absolutely no bearing on the OBSERVABLE FACT that physical changes do indeed occur as a result of random mutation, natural selection, lateral gene transfer, etc. etc.; and that the theory of evolution is still THE ONLY USEFUL EXPLANATATORY AND PREDICTIVE TOOL available to deal with what we observe.

Besides, it’s the CREATIONISTS who insist that new “species” can’t be created through evolution. So if the lack of a solid definition of the word “species” is a problem, it’s a problem for creationists, not evolutionists.

I could just as easily say: ‘If you make the statement “F=ma” and you can’t define what a force is (I’ll know it when I see it?) then Newtonian physics is worthless.’

For that matter, try to define what an electron or a quark “is”, without describing it only as a component of something else.

Stephen Hawking on Cosmic Ancestry (Panspermia)

“Hawking also talked about what humans may find when venturing into space, such as the possibility of alien life through the theory of panspermia, which says that life in the form of DNA particles can be transmitted through space to habitable places. “Life could spread from planet to planet or from stellar system to stellar system, carried on meteors,” he said.

7 April 2009

Stephen Hawking, April 2009. Hawking is one of several celebrity-scientist who have recently endorsed panspermia. Ruminations on other worlds: Stephen Hawking’s daughter, Lucy Hawking, presents her father’s work via prerecorded audio and slideshow at an Origins Symposium at Arizona State University, Tempe, 3-6 Apr, reported by Rheyanne Weaver, 7 Apr 2009. http://www.asuwebdevil.com/node/5745

Oh wait…he’s only a Physicist. What the hell does he know about Biology??

This is a thread concerning “A Paul Nelson Anniversary Missed” and, by implication, the lack of definition for “ontogenetic depth”.

Somehow, Charlie Wagner feels that the message

Charlie Wagner said:

Stephen Hawking on Cosmic Ancestry (Panspermia)

“Hawking also talked about what humans may find when venturing into space, such as the possibility of alien life through the theory of panspermia, which says that life in the form of DNA particles can be transmitted through space to habitable places. “Life could spread from planet to planet or from stellar system to stellar system, carried on meteors,” he said.

concerns this topic.

Charlie,

A brilliant physicist has an opinion about panspermia. So what? For that matter, so what if a brilliant exobiologist has an opinion on panspermia? That and a couple of bucks will get you a cup of coffee. Until they publish their ideas with supporting evidence in the primary scientific literature it still amounts to an argument from authority, nothing more.

Now, why don’t you succinctly explain how all organisms can be related, but not through descent. If it has anything to do with horizontal gene transfer, read DS’s posts again before you answer.

Charlie,

Until you explain the following statement:

“Every living thing is related to every other living thing, but no one form is ancestral or descendant to any other form.”

no one is going to take anything you say at all seriously. How in the world can two living things be “related” if neither is ancestral or descendant? Are you claiming that they are not really related? Are you claiming that they are really ancestral or descendant? Are you making any real point at all, or are you just making stuff up again?

By the way, I have provided you with nearly twenty references, many with free links. You have thus far failed to address any of this evidence. Once again, until you do, no one is going to take anything you say at all seriously.

DS said:

Once again, until you do, no one is going to take anything you say at all seriously.

Well … except for the audience, I don’t think that’s a real consideration here.

Wait a minute, I get it now. It’s all so clear. “related” means “came from outer space”. Terrific. Well that explains everything. That explains all of the basic similarities between all life forms on earth, including the genetic code and the nested hierarchy of genetic similarities. It certainly explains the SINE insertions in whales and cichlids and the different beak sizes in Galapagos Finches. I’m totally convinced.

News flash for Charlie - no one is interested in connecting the dots of your little delusion for you. If you have something constructive to say just spit it out. The Obi-wan technique is not going to work here grasshopper. No one is going to be fooled by your vague musings.

I tried to fix this for realpc ..er Charlie “Every living thing is related to every other living thing, but no one extant species is ancestral or descendant to any other extant species”

but that still isn’t right - a an emerging species certainly could arise while the population is was isolated from was still extant- nope, no way to make this anything but gibberish

DS said:

Charlie, … I have provided you with nearly twenty references, many with free links. You have thus far failed to address any of this evidence. Once again, until you do, no one is going to take anything you say at all seriously.

The person that Charlie has presented themselves as being wouldn’t look at the reference. Like many science minded people I listen and read science news at least one a week. Charlie; if he is uninformed as it seems; needs to read, listen or watch science news. People like Charlie will realize how wrong their statements are if they just keep informed. It is important that people like you to continue to do your research for people who are confused by Charlie’s statements.

Remember creationist have always argued to hear both sides of the story. Creationism is just a veiled religious attempt to confuse people about science. One book that is about 2000 years old can not compete with over 2000 articles and other publication in one year that support evolution in the realm of science. Of course their articles cover geology, biology, medicine, and many other fields.

It is no wonder that the producers of this website are so threaten by Paul Nelson; in just a few paragraphs of his speech he invalidates and discredits the antiquated claims from this website.

http://www.cross.tv/40166

(sniff, sniff).… nah. Not worth it.

I listened. I doubt that Gould ever said that, or if he did, it was to blow off a nuisance who had been wasting his time by parading his ignorance and refusing to learn anything. And as for seizing on the word “create” in that wickedly insidious manner, words fail me. I haven’t heard anything that dishonest since, oh, the last time I had to listen to a creationist.

The only thing Nelson threatens rational people with is exasperation.

The Panda’s thumb is for power-grasping. It holds bamboo so that the panda can eat it. It’s very specialised to that purpose. Of course it works fine - for that, and for very similar tasks. But not even Nelson is enough of a dill to say that it’s as versatile as the human hand. He just dicks around with the word “suboptimal” as though it means “not good for holding bamboo”, when what it means is “not good for all grasping and manipulating tasks”.

Of course evolved structures work for the purpose they’re evolved for - they’re specifically selected to do that. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have evolved. So why on Earth would anyone think that this is a problem for evolution?

In fact, it’s a vindication for evolution, because evolution explains why the panda doesn’t use its fifth digit, its real thumb. Why wasn’t that evolved into an opposable digit? Why this curious development of the sesamoid bone in the wrist?

The answer is that the ancestors of the panda were more generalised bears, as DNA evidence shows. They had no opposable digit, no “thumb”. The fifth digit was already fully evolved into a parallel claw. In bears, it can hardly move independent of the others. It can’t be used for grasping. The panda’s ancestors “grabbed” things to eat them by using the paws as grappling hooks. Look at a black bear eating berries, for example. It pulls the loaded branches towards itself by hooking them with its whole paws, bent at the wrist.

Evolution works with what is. As the panda specialised, there was an advantage in making that action more efficient for grabbing bamboo and other food plants. Hence, a structure that optimised that action was selected for, and evolved. But it didn’t develop the fifth digit, because the bear doesn’t use it. It developed the wrist instead, which is the structure the bear does use.

So the panda’s thumb is explained by evolution. Now look at it the other way up. Nelson is trying to give the impression that this is a “challenge” for evolution, which it isn’t, but he’s also trying to imply that if evolution can’t explain it, then “designer did it” does.

Only “designer did it” explains nothing. Not the panda’s thumb, not anything to do with any structure of any living creature, not anything. So not only is Nelson wrong, he isn’t even in the contest. If this were a tennis game, Roger Federer would be serving for match point at Flushing Meadow while Nelson was looking for the stadium in Ouagadougou, wearing plus-fours and carrying a fly-fishing rod.

Professor X said:

It is no wonder that the producers of this website are so threaten by Paul Nelson; in just a few paragraphs of his speech he invalidates and discredits the antiquated claims from this website.

http://www.cross.tv/40166

Niiiiiice. This is worth replying to, but only in the sense that it illustrates so nicely just how a creationist can twist an argument. Luckett hit the key points. But just to underscore, the argument is NOT about whether the “thumb” works or not. Nelson knowingly omits the key point that the “thumb” is not the true thumb, thereby raising the question of why would God have to rely on a jerry-rigged apparatus when a perfectly serviceable structure is already there. Given that Gould pounded this point home over and over, there are only two ways Nelson could omit this point – 1) he is too stupid to understand it, or 2) he is deliberately omitting the point and thereby effectively lying. Take your pick.

IT IS NOT NECESSARY THAT THE PANDA’S THUMB BE AN ACTUAL THUMB ONLY THAT ITS THUMB WAS NOT CREATED IN A RANDOM EXPLOSION. MACROEVOLUTIONISTS THINK JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING LOOKS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT (JERRY-RIGGED) IT MUST BE THE PRODUCT OF A RANDOM EXPLOSION. THEY SHOULD TEST THIS HYPOTHESIS BY BLOWING UP A SKELETON AND SEE IF THAT MAKES A PANDA’S THUMB.

mplavcan said:

Professor X said:

It is no wonder that the producers of this website are so threaten by Paul Nelson; in just a few paragraphs of his speech he invalidates and discredits the antiquated claims from this website.

http://www.cross.tv/40166

Niiiiiice. This is worth replying to, but only in the sense that it illustrates so nicely just how a creationist can twist an argument. Luckett hit the key points. But just to underscore, the argument is NOT about whether the “thumb” works or not. Nelson knowingly omits the key point that the “thumb” is not the true thumb, thereby raising the question of why would God have to rely on a jerry-rigged apparatus when a perfectly serviceable structure is already there. Given that Gould pounded this point home over and over, there are only two ways Nelson could omit this point – 1) he is too stupid to understand it, or 2) he is deliberately omitting the point and thereby effectively lying. Take your pick.

That’s one way to capitalize on a concept.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on April 5, 2009 6:15 PM.

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