Egregiously stupid remark of the week by an IDiot

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It was a tough call given Casey Luskin’s stupidity about Ardipithecus, but we have a winner. In an account of Stephen Meyer’s talk at the University of Oklahoma last week, Jonathan Wells wrote

Furthermore, the similarity of HOX genes in so many animal phyla is actually a problem for neo-Darwinism: If evolutionary changes in body plans are due to changes in genes, and flies have HOX genes similar to those in a horse, why is a fly not a horse?

Hat tip to John Pieret.

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We have a twofer! In his account of his visit with Stephen Meyer to Norman, Oklahoma, a couple of weeks ago, Jonathan Wells made another totally stupid remark just following the one for which he got an earlier award. This one contains a deceptive analo... Read More

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Wait. What? No.

Seriously?

OK, I just went to the link, against my better judgment. Yes, he said it. No, the context doesn’t make it sound less bone-stupid and anti-logical.

That whole report is just a black hole. I love the little digs at Abbie Smith… her blog is “foul-mouthed” (shudder!) and she’s a “porn watcher” (double shudder!). But this isn’t about a conservative religious and social agenda, no siree bob!

I won’t be making Luskin’s little page a regular stop. I don’t know how you ID-watchers do it.

Apparently, he hasn’t heard of a horsefly.

why is a fly not a horse?

1. Fly HOX genes are different than horse HOX genes.

2. Both have lots of genes other than their HOX.

3. A baby horse wouldn’t fit in a fly egg.

Henry

jonathan said:

Apparently, he hasn’t heard of a horsefly.

Rats, beat me to it.

It appears to me that there is more than one egregiously stupid remark in Well’s report.

“If you apply Charles Darwin’s method of reasoning to what we know now that he didn’t, you come to exactly the opposite conclusion that he did,” Meyer said. “There is evidence of design in nature, and you find that evidence most obviously on display in the digital code that is stored in the DNA.”

So how does one decide that atoms are or are not designed? How about the highly choreographed dance of paired electrons in a superconductor? You don’t even have to get to the level of complexity of organic compounds and living systems to see organization and complexity arising from lower level processes.

It continues right on up the ladder of complexity. There are no obstacles along the way (such as “entropy barriers” or “genetic entropy”; or any of those other pseudo-science ideas to which Nature doesn’t respond).

The evidence shows that DNA is not only complex, but also highly specified to encode functional proteins. To people who claim that intelligent design is not science, Steve said, “It’s important to amend the rules of science to allow scientists to follow the evidence to wherever it leads.”

Simply asserting something is so complex that you can’t understand it isn’t sufficient reason to demand opening up science to supernatural explanations. Figure it out like a real scientist, for Pete’s sake!

Steve led off with a short statement explaining that we were not challenging the facts, but only the Darwinian interpretation of them. He acknowledged that there are disagreements over the duration of the Cambrian explosion—even among Darwinian paleontologists—but the real issue is the origin of information. Even if the Cambrian explosion had lasted 40 million years, as Westrop had claimed, there would not have been enough time for unguided processes to produce the enormous amount of specified complexity in the DNA of the animal phyla.

Yep, “different interpretations from different perspectives.” This is straight from the Ken Ham school of YEC. Wells still doesn’t understand science and objectively verifiable evidence. Getting both the concepts and the process wrong doesn’t get one very far in doing real science. Politics and propaganda are the only remaining options - which is just what this showing was all about.

And there is that “unguided processes” shtick again? Wells apparently still thinks atoms and molecules just bang off each other like billions of billiard balls. Condensed matter physics is by far the largest branch of physics; yet ID/creationists continue to ignore all the research and follow-on technology that, for over a century, has built on what we have learned with systems covering the entire range of organization and complexity we see around us.

I’m still amazed at how much they cannot see. They must be constantly running into walls and stumbling over every obstacle in their path. Such blindness! Even children can observe things these IDiots can’t.

I replied that biologists can establish that certain genes are necessary in the formation of specific organs, but they have never established that genes alone—much less any one gene—can account for any organ. Indeed, I pointed out, we can (and have) mutated the genes of fruit fly embryos in every possible way, and there are only three known outcomes: a normal fruit fly, a defective fruit fly, or a dead fruit fly.

He can think of only three possibilities? Sheesh! What is this; ID/creationist humor? He has to be playing to the gallery here.

The questioner became agitated and shouted out something to the effect that HOX gene duplication explained the increase in information needed for the diversification of animal body plans. I replied that duplicating a gene doesn’t increase information content any more than photocopying a paper increases its information content.

This completely misrepresents what duplication allows in any evolving system let alone biological systems.

I then pointed out that molecular evidence comes entirely from modern organisms; no biomolecules have been recovered from Cambrian fossils. The molecular data are fed into a computer that has been programmed to generate a branching-tree pattern; the computer is not given the option of concluding that the organisms may not share a common ancestor. Even then, different molecules—or the same molecule analyzed by different labs—can give different trees. So molecular phylogeny is riddled with inconsistencies, and when applied to the Cambrian phyla it is speculative at best.

No biomolecules recovered from the Cambrian fossils? And just what is the relevance of that response; more playing to the gallery?

And yes indeed, evolution progresses in many unpredictable directions; rerun it (or a simulation of it) and different results fall out. That is exactly part of what is meant by “unguided”. And, indeed, outcomes that are different may nevertheless cluster about certain “attractors” or avoid certain “repulsors”. This happens in all stochastic systems and is a well- studied phenomena at all levels. DUH!

A debate about HIV? I don’t know what relevance HIV has to the Cambrian explosion, and I didn’t receive any “request” to debate it, but I would have been willing to discuss the matter with Smith if she had had the guts to show her face.

If the talk was half as inane as Well’s report of it, I would have walked out also. A debate with Abbie Smith would only give the ID/creationists some superior lab coattails on which to leverage “respectability”. Good for Abbie to not allow it.

So our landing at Norman was a success. Despite all their taxpayer-funded professors and museum exhibits, despite all their threats to dismantle us and expose us as retards, the Darwinists lost. We’re now moving inland, and the end of the war may be coming into view.

Riiiight; you wish!

Jonathan, I hope your hands were clean because you just took the words right out of my mouth.

Wells ‘review’ of the DI at Oklahoma is just what one would expect. Much can be said about his write-up, but here are a few rebuttals and corrections:’ in the order in Well’s report:

(1) Only part of Mares statement was quoted and, when one reads ALL of his release, it can not be called ‘’appeasement,’ unless one takes the University and Museum policy on renting space as appeasement. For the full statement of the museum see: http://www.snomnh.ou.edu/blog/?p=77 and http://www.snomnh.ou.edu/blog/ .

(2) The Oklahoma Daily article by Jelani Sims was countered by comments on the paper’s blog. The Opinion Editor of the Daily, BTW, is a member of the IDEA Club.

(3) The estimate of 300 at Meyer’s lecture may be somewhat inflated. The balcony was essentially empty and the main floor was about half-filled. At Dembski’s lecture in 29007 attracted a large overflow crowd. Also, quite a few left Meyer’s talk, starting about half way through his presentation.

(4) Meyer did try to redefine science, something Behe did in Kitzmiller, but with a little different plea.

(5) Abbie Smith’s blogging comment about watching porn was a joke – perhaps an attempt to emphasize how boring the talk was.

(6) Abbie did NOT leave abruptly after the lecture, but engaged creationist/ID students in a respectful manner for some time after the lecture at the rear of the auditorium, as did several others defending evolution (me included).

(7) Dr. Westrop’s lecture was very well done and clearly refuted the main conclusions in the film. He had not seen the movie, but well before hand he had a full transcript of the film with descriptions of scenes and quotes from those interviewed in the film. Thus, his refutations were based on the film.

(8) Wells comment that he ‘caught’ several people glaring at him is interesting. Most of the time during the Q and A he was sitting in a chair well behind the podium. I wonder what he meant by ‘palpable tension.’ There was real interest in what was being discussed, but I would not call it tension. Perhaps it was his own tension?

(9) The IDEA Club issued 150 tickets (for 175 seats?) for the film that folks who wanted them had to pick them up in the Student Union during a few hours the morning of the lecture. They did offer 10 tickets to the student CFI group that opposes their views on evolution. To enter the film there were two lines, those with tickets and those without and only those without tickets and first in line were admitted. One can guess what that policy was about. The 200 persons Wells mentioned included those standing, but I am not sure it was 25 – looked less.

(10) My question that mentioned Morris’ and Valentine’s interviews in the film was based on information I received from what I considered reliable sources, including this statement from Valentine: ——————

“I wish to clarify my role in the new film Darwin’s Dilemma. When I was interviewed about a decade ago for the material used in this movie, I was unaware that this interview might appear in a film promoting intelligent design. My appearance should not be misconstrued as support for any creationist agenda.

“I support evolution.

“I disagree with the view that the best explanation for the Cambrian record is the action of an “intelligent designer” instantaneously creating phyla. Had the filmmakers bothered to read my book On the Origin of Phyla, they would have understood that I do not support a creationist interpretation of the Cambrian explosion or the fossil record. Scientific findings in many fields, including my own (paleobiology) as well as geology, geophysics, geochemistry, developmental biology, and systematics, have led to a synthesis of the events surrounding the Cambrian explosion that is in full accord with well-established evolutionary principles.

“When watching Darwin’s Dilemma, I ask viewers to note: My interview statements do not criticize evolution My interview statements do not promote creationism or intelligent design Even though my interview is interspersed with several intelligent design advocates, I do not share their interpretation of the Cambrian record

“I would like viewers to know: I think evolution is the best scientific interpretation of the fossil record While the religious views of individuals should be respected, scientists also merit respect earned by generations of hard work in their fields

Dr. James Valentine, University of California, Berkeley, 24 ———————

(11) The question about HOX genes was by a professor that teaches evolution and animal behavior, not a professor of developmental biology. He agitation was from the removal of the microphone when she tried a re-direct question. Indeed, this happened throughout the Q and A. The person in charge of the microphone, a retired professor (statistician) is a well-known creationist and an active member of the Trinity Baptist Church that co-hosted Dembki’s visit in 2007. The local IDEA Club is seen as an extension of Trinity’s Campus Pursuit Ministry (but the ID view is not religious, they say).

(12) The majority of questions in both venues was from evolution supporters, very few from those promoting ID. The very long, convoluted mini-lectures that served as answers by Meyer took a huge amount of time that prevented more questions. This seems to be a tactic of theirs when confronted by what they think is a ‘hostile’ audience. The questions were respectful and not hostile. Thus, there were few questions and they ended the Q and A long before those with questions were accommodated. They did say that people could come up front after the program for further questions. Most of those who did were their supporters. At least to his credit Dembski stayed and took questions until there were no more when he appeared here.

(13) The statement by the ‘emeritus professor of immunology’ point was not that the evolution of the immune system pointed to design.

(14) Wells’ statement that ‘the Darwinists lost’ is a matter of perception and he is welcome to his distorted view. His final statement that ‘the end of the war may be coming into view’ is just his wishful and deluded thinking and does not match the evidence.

Please forgive my typos above (e.g., Dembksi is 2007, not 20997. It is WAY past an old man’s bed time, I’m tired and all digits respond as thumbs.

For reviews of the DI film and also Meyer’s lecture, see Ian Ramjohn’s analysis at http://ianramjohn.wordpress.com/ .

Mike Elzinga, IANAS but I am with you 100%.

The way I see it though is that ID creationists are not interested. They do not want to know, they don’t think there’s anything they don’t know that they ought to know. If you already know ID is true, what’s the use in learning some science?

From time to time I take a look at Dembski’s blog and it is a weird experience. I’ve been interested in the search for human origins all my life, I have done my best trying to understand science and I have to say I find a saddening level of ignorance by most (being nice, ‘all’ would be more appropriate) of the cdesign proponentsists there.

“If evolutionary changes in body plans are due to changes in genes, and flies have HOX genes similar to those in a horse, why is a fly not a horse?”

“Huh?! What did you say?! Did I understand that?! That’s dumbfoundingly STUPID!”

“Well yes it is – but didn’t you think I was a genius for just a second? I mean, just for one second?”

Mike Elzinga Wrote:

Wells still doesn’t understand science and objectively verifiable evidence.

If you said Luskin instead of Wells I’d agree. But Wells is the guy who admitted getting a PhD for the sole reason of misrepresenting evolution. He didn’t use those exact words of course - that would be political suicide - but the intent was clear. My bet is that Wells knows how stupid the comment is, but also knows that it’s a sound bite that sells to his cheerleaders.

If there’s one thing about evolution that the general public - including most who accept evolution - can’t seem to grasp, is that it’s all about “similarities and differences.” But most people - including most who defend evolution - try to explain everything in terms of similarities or differences. Thus it’s either an ape or a human, an evolutionist or a creationist, etc. Yet while “creationist” is portrayed as a “kind” due to its consistency of argumentation style, the differences among individuals can be astounding. On one axis it ranges from the Behe’s who accept old life, common descent and think that reading the Bible as a science text is silly, to those who think that the Bible is the science text and that the Earth is only 1000s of years old (Wells seems to be somewhere in the middle but I suspect that he privately agrees with Behe). On another axis it ranges from those who can’t even spell “biology” to those who have PhDs in it.

The whole point of “cdesign proponentsists” is, IMO at least, to show the fascinating evolution of creationists, not to lump them in a “kind.”

My link above didn’t work. If this link doesn’t work either, it was to Jerry Coyne’s “More Crank Science”, a review of “Darwin’s Black Box” where he shows hoe Behe uses all the tactics of “crank science,” including quote mining Coyne.

vhutchison,

Thanks for setting the record straight with regards to Meyer and Wells’s “invasion” of the University of Oklahoma. But I should also note that, contrary to Wells’s assertion that Abbie was one of the “organizers” of the “abuse” heaped upon Dembski back in 2007, she most certainly not. Instead, it was a ad hoc committee of scientists and others, led most admirably by former technical writing instructor Daniel Dickson-Laprade, that ensured Dembski’s “warm” reception at the Norman, OK campus two years ago (In the interest of full disclosure, Dickson-Laprade contacted me for technical advice and feedback, including requesting my comments on the advertisement published in the student newspaper on the morning of Dembski’s visit to campus. Were it not for Dickson-Laprade’s heroic efforts, Abbie Smith would have been outnumbered by scores of campus IDiots. Her role in “taking down” Dembski has been vastly overrated and overstated by herself and others.).

Appreciatively yours,

John Kwok

vhutchison,

I might that I was thrilled to hear how Dembski wasted the first twenty minutes of his talk condemning the critical advertisement opposing his visit that was written by Dickson - Laprade. Apparently this was the first time that Dembski had encountered such organized resistance to one of his campus visits, and I am still delighted that I helped Dickson - Laprade and his fellow committee members, including at least one Zoology Department professor, from far distant New York City (The same night that Dembski was being “roasted”, I was enjoying an alumni event at my high school that was a “kickoff event” for a then brand new book written by my friend Alec Klein, now a professor of journalism at a major Midwestern journalism school.).

Abbie’s most important contribution came later, when she realized that a cell animation video shown by Dembski during his talk was, most likely, a XVIVO-produced cell animation video produced by XVIVO for Harvard University (Dembski would admit later online that he had maliciously “borrowed” it.).

While I greatly appreciate her excellent work against the Dishonesty Institute, I believe she needs to take a few lessons in debating creationists from my friend Ken Miller, not from PZ Myers et al. IMHO Ken does a much better job in debating creationists (And I know firsthand, having assisted Ken in his very first debate as a Brown University undergraduate many years ago, and having seen two more recent debates of his, most notably the AMNH ID debate that was held there back in the Spring of 2002.).

jonathan said:

Apparently, he hasn’t heard of a horsefly.

Many thanks, Jonathon - I do so enjoy starting the day off with a hearty chuckle.

Bob Maurus

Am still tired after a most eventful day yesterday, in which I appeared on an NYU panel discussion celebrating the life and work of a noted NYU alumnus, memoirist Frank McCourt so I made some typos and am reposting this message (see below) here:

vhutchison,

I should also note that I was thrilled to hear how Dembski wasted the first twenty minutes of his talk condemning the critical advertisement opposing his visit that was written by Dickson - Laprade. Apparently this was the first time Dembski had encountered such organized resistance to one of his campus visits. I am still delighted that I helped Dickson - Laprade and his fellow committee members, including at least one Zoology Department professor, from far distant New York City via extensive e-mail correspondence (The same night that Dembski was getting his just desserts at this unanticipated “roast”, I was enjoying an alumni event at my high school that was a “kickoff event” for a then brand new book written by my friend Alec Klein, now a professor of journalism at a major Midwestern journalism school.).

Abbie’s most important contribution came later, when she realized that a cell animation video shown by Dembski during his talk was, most likely, a cell animation video produced by XVIVO for Harvard University (Dembski would admit later online that he had maliciously “borrowed” it.).

While I greatly appreciate her excellent work against the Dishonesty Institute, I believe she needs to take more than a few lessons in debating creationists from my friend Ken Miller, not from PZ Myers et al. IMHO Ken does a much better job in debating creationists (And I know firsthand, having assisted Ken in his very first debate as a Brown University undergraduate many years ago, and having seen two more recent debates of his, most notably the AMNH ID debate that was held there back in the Spring of 2002.).

P. S. While this is probably not a fair comparison, in five minutes, I probably did a much better job conveying to NYU alumni as to why Frank McCourt was a wonderful and influential teacher than me, than I have seen from Abbie in her recent debates against creationists.

Good lord, yet another typo.

The P. S. should read as follows:

P. S. While this is probably not a fair comparison, in five minutes, I probably did a much better job conveying to NYU alumni as to why Frank McCourt was a wonderful and influential teacher, than I have seen from Abbie in her recent debates against creationists (An NYU video crew filmed the event, so it’ll probably be posted somewhere on NYU’s website in the near future).

(12) The majority of questions in both venues was from evolution supporters, very few from those promoting ID. The very long, convoluted mini-lectures that served as answers by Meyer took a huge amount of time that prevented more questions. This seems to be a tactic of theirs when confronted by what they think is a ‘hostile’ audience. The questions were respectful and not hostile. Thus, there were few questions and they ended the Q and A long before those with questions were accommodated. They did say that people could come up front after the program for further questions. Most of those who did were their supporters. At least to his credit Dembski stayed and took questions until there were no more when he appeared here.

When John C. West was a guest at the University of Minnesota back in 2007, he did the same thing. He was on the “Link between Darwin and Eugenics and therefore Hitler tour.” When Q & A came, many people who wanted to ask challenging questions were ignored by the moderator in favor of people who were asking stupid questions, and he spent far too much time on them.

(Gratuitous Miller v. Myers jibe by Kwok noted. Seriously, John, get a life.)

As to Wells, he also has never learned that swallowing a horse to get to a fly will kill the old lady. Any schoolchild knows that.

Frank J said:

Mike Elzinga Wrote:

Wells still doesn’t understand science and objectively verifiable evidence.

If you said Luskin instead of Wells I’d agree. But Wells is the guy who admitted getting a PhD for the sole reason of misrepresenting evolution. He didn’t use those exact words of course - that would be political suicide - but the intent was clear. My bet is that Wells knows how stupid the comment is, but also knows that it’s a sound bite that sells to his cheerleaders.

The actual quote isn’t any better-in fact it’s worse in some respects. I’d have to look up his web page to find the exact quote (and its too early in the morning for that kind of masochism) but it essentially amounts to: I got a PhD to please father (Reverend Moon) so that we could continue Moon’ project of debunking “materialism”.

If you really want to send ID advocates-especially Wells’ advocates into paroxsyms of rage, just bring up Wells’ Moonie connections-though they will insist that that is unfair (never mind how often they attack “Darwinism” by attacking “materialism” through attacking Dawkins).

If part of the goal of ID is to counter the nasty cultural effects of “materialist” science, then what does it say when you make common cause with people who by the standards of orthodox Christianity are “heretics” and bona fide cults besides?

Yet while “creationist” is portrayed as a “kind” due to its consistency of argumentation style, the differences among individuals can be astounding. On one axis it ranges from the Behe’s who accept old life, common descent and think that reading the Bible as a science text is silly, to those who think that the Bible is the science text and that the Earth is only 1000s of years old (Wells seems to be somewhere in the middle but I suspect that he privately agrees with Behe). On another axis it ranges from those who can’t even spell “biology” to those who have PhDs in it.

What is interesting is how much ground some of these people give to evolution. They are already admitting the age of the earth, the validity of many fossils, etc. They are already implicitly accepting a fairly liberal theology-yet their main base is staunchly fundamentalist. I’m not sure how much of this is “evolution” of the species, so much as it is that a different wing of Creationism has simply come to the forefront. Tactically, it’s brilliant.

If you think about the history of science and some ideas in philosophy of science, it seems to me that to the extent they have any real research agenda at all, that agenda is to revive a lot of discredited “Darwinian” ideas of the late 19th century. Note I put “Darwinian” in quotes. Because much of what they say is a tacit or explicit appeal to concepts like saltationism, vitalism, orthogenesis and Lamarckism. One could, incidentally (perhaps with the exception of vitalism) interpret most of those ideas materialistically. But they have all been rejected for good reason. But many of those ideas, for some reason, make it easier for people to believe in God: “Nobody can explain the saltations in evolution-including, perhaps especially the human brain-so therefore…some “supernatural” entity did it or maybe space aliens did it.”

“I replied that duplicating a gene doesn’t increase information content any more than photocopying a paper increases its information content.”

If that is so, then it seems to me that their entire ‘no new information’ argument is moot.

Furthermore, the similarity of HOX genes in so many animal phyla is actually a problem for neo-Darwinism: If evolutionary changes in body plans are due to changes in genes, and flies have HOX genes similar to those in a horse, why is a fly not a horse?

So the Discovery Institute does not believe in differential gene expression.

I think anyone and everyone who interacts with the DI needs to hang this piece of stupidity on the whole lot of them. That’s right, Paul Nelson. You obviously reject the notion that the differential expression of a common set of genes can give rise to differences between species, or organs, or tissues, or different cells within an organism. Mike Behe, you reject the notion that different genes are expressed at different times in development (or in response to stimuli, or at any time whatsoever in the life of an organism). Doug Axe, you are opposed to the idea that not all genes are expressed at all times and in all cells. Etc., etc., etc.

All genes are on all the time. Period. This is what must be taught in the ID classroom.

Mike Elzinga said:

It appears to me that there is more than one egregiously stupid remark in Wells’s report.

[He notes that Wells quotes Meyer as saying:]

“There is evidence of design in nature, and you find that evidence most obviously on display in the digital code that is stored in the DNA.”

The evidence shows that DNA is not only complex, but also highly specified to encode functional proteins.

…there would not have been enough time for unguided processes to produce the enormous amount of specified complexity in the DNA of the animal phyla.

Let me “add my 2 cents” to Elzinga’s detailed response. It is worth noting that what Meyer is really doing here (as related by Wells) is simply to repeat William Dembski’s argument about the Law of Conservation of Complex Specified Information. There is nothing new in Meyer’s argument, and he is mysteriously failing to add one important fact – that it has been shown that Dembski’s theorem cannot do what Dembski claims (i.e., it is irrelevant) and it has also been shown that Dembski’s “proof” of it is wrong.

[Wells as quoted by Elzinga again:]

The questioner became agitated and shouted out something to the effect that HOX gene duplication explained the increase in information needed for the diversification of animal body plans. I replied that duplicating a gene doesn’t increase information content any more than photocopying a paper increases its information content.

This completely misrepresents what duplication allows in any evolving system let alone biological systems.

While that is correct, the whole issue of duplication is actually unnecessary here. The increase of adaptive information in biological systems does not require gene duplication. To imply that – to concede that if there is no gene duplication, adaptation cannot increase – is to concede too much. Natural selection can choose, from among vast numbers of mostly-nonfunctional molecular sequences, ones of high fitness. That choice builds adaptive information into the gene. Responding to the argument by talking about gene duplication leaves Meyer’s (Dembski’s) argument unchallenged for variation at a single gene – and it needs to be challenged there, as it is completely wrong.

[Wells again:]

The molecular data are fed into a computer that has been programmed to generate a branching-tree pattern; the computer is not given the option of concluding that the organisms may not share a common ancestor. Even then, different molecules—or the same molecule analyzed by different labs—can give different trees. So molecular phylogeny is riddled with inconsistencies, and when applied to the Cambrian phyla it is speculative at best.

Here Wells evades the important point – yes, the program must get a tree, but different parts of the genome show similar trees. Not exactly the same tree, because it’s an estimate from data and there is (d’oh) noise in the estimation. David Penny and colleagues over 25 years ago showed that when you use multiple genes their trees are vastly more similar than would be the case if there was no common signal there. Anyway, this common signal is not new, not confined to molecular sequences. The concordance of the inferences of relationship from anatomy of different parts of the organism was the very evidence that was forcing biologists to accept evolution in the 1800s. Wells has managed to avoid talking about the biggest issue.

Mike,

Thanks for your observations regarding West’s visit to Minnesota. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if both West’s visit and the recent visit by Meyers and Wells to the University of Oklahoma is part of the Dishonesty Institute’s long-term strategy.

As for my remark about Myers, let’s be a bit objective here. It is a well-established fact that Ken Miller has been debating creationists successfully much longer than Myers has (Indeed, prior to 2002, I am sure that if you were to mention PZ Myers to anyone, they would have answered with, “Who is he?”.). For that reason, and that reason alone, if I wanted to learn how to debate a creationist effectively - which Ken has done on countless occasions - then the mentor I would approach first would be Ken, not PZ (This is off topic, but I’ve told McCourties - diehard fans of Frank McCourt - to go “Get a life” too in response to some weird online reactions I have seen from them, including several unsolicited e-mails, in reaction to his death earlier this summer. But back to the point, while I am a friend of Ken’s, I have not hesitated to criticize him for his espousal of a weak anthropic principle, which I have done more than once. I have yet to see any of PZ’s friends daring to criticize him for any reason online.).

Joe Felsenstein writes:

The concordance of the inferences of relationship from anatomy of different parts of the organism was the very evidence that was forcing biologists to accept evolution in the 1800s. Wells has managed to avoid talking about the biggest issue.

This is probably the biggest problem with ID/Creationists: none of them seem capable of synthesis.

Apparently Meyers has rejected the notion of differential gene expression in his book “Signature of a Cell”:

Arthur Hunt said:

Furthermore, the similarity of HOX genes in so many animal phyla is actually a problem for neo-Darwinism: If evolutionary changes in body plans are due to changes in genes, and flies have HOX genes similar to those in a horse, why is a fly not a horse?

So the Discovery Institute does not believe in differential gene expression.

I think anyone and everyone who interacts with the DI needs to hang this piece of stupidity on the whole lot of them. That’s right, Paul Nelson. You obviously reject the notion that the differential expression of a common set of genes can give rise to differences between species, or organs, or tissues, or different cells within an organism. Mike Behe, you reject the notion that different genes are expressed at different times in development (or in response to stimuli, or at any time whatsoever in the life of an organism). Doug Axe, you are opposed to the idea that not all genes are expressed at all times and in all cells. Etc., etc., etc.

All genes are on all the time. Period. This is what must be taught in the ID classroom.

His final statement{Wells} that ‘the end of the war may be coming into view’ is just his wishful and deluded thinking and does not match the evidence.

It may be correct but not in the way he hopes. Xianity is losing 1-2 million adherents/year. The areligious now number around 20% or 60 million US citizens.

I blame the fundies for destroying the religion in the USA. Attacking science, the basis of modern western civilization and US world leadership makes as much sense as attacking your liver.

There is some speculation that Wells’ own cult, the Moonies may not survive Moon’s death. It is a cult of personality with Moon calling himself Jesus the second. So what happens when Jesus II dies? Wait and see.

Wells said:

“If you apply Charles Darwin’s method of reasoning to what we know now that he didn’t, you come to exactly the opposite conclusion that he did,” Meyer said. “There is evidence of design in nature, and you find that evidence most obviously on display in the digital code that is stored in the DNA.”

Right. And if you start with a pile of bricks and a stack of wood and use the same tools (hammer, screw driver, wrench, etc.), you can only make one kind of house. It must be very difficult craming so much ignorance into one small sentence. If this guy doesn’t beleive in differential gene expression, perhaps he beleives in the magic invisible hologram. Shoot, we’ve known about gene regulation since the lac operon, get a clue.

Look, if you think that Hox genes are evidence for creation, why didn’t you predict their existence before they were discovered? Why didn’t you discover them? Why aren’t you studying them? What a bunch of lying hypocrites.

“Indeed, I pointed out, we can (and have) mutated the genes of fruit fly embryos in every possible way, and there are only three known outcomes: a normal fruit fly, a defective fruit fly, or a dead fruit fly.

Right. If you define anything different as “defective”. What about flies with four wings instead of two? Are they “defective” by definition, or are they evidence that simple genetic changes can indeed lead to large changes in morphology, exactly as predicted by modern evolutionary theory?

Come on Johnathon, if you want to criticize scientists then you have to actually do some science. If you want anyone to take you seriously, you have to constrcut testable hypotheses, make predictions and conduct experiments. Otherwise, you’re just sitting on the sidelines screaming that you could have made that play without ever putting on a uniform. Sure it is easy to scream from the side lines, but until you endure the punishment of three physical quarters of the real game, you have not earned the right to criticize those who have.

If you use the same kitchen implement to prepare whip cream and whipped potatoes, doesn’t that mean the the two foods taste the same?

Wells said:

“I replied that duplicating a gene doesn’t increase information content any more than photocopying a paper increases its information content.”

Right. OF course that completely misses the point. This is the same guy who claims that “random” processes cannot increase complexity. He conveniently leaves out the selection part of evolution, you know, the part Darwin actually said was important. Here he leaves out the divergence by random mutation part and the part about removing functional constraints from duplicate copies. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Now there are only two possibilities, either he knows this and is just choosing willful misrepresentation, or he actually is ignorant of all of the important issues and is thus completely unqualified to discuss the issues. Either way, why should anyone pay any attention to such nonsense?

John Kwok said:

vhutchison,

Thanks for setting the record straight with regards to Meyer and Wells’s “invasion” of the University of Oklahoma. But I should also note that, contrary to Wells’s assertion that Abbie was one of the “organizers” of the “abuse” heaped upon Dembski back in 2007, she most certainly not. Instead, it was a ad hoc committee of scientists and others, led most admirably by former technical writing instructor Daniel Dickson-Laprade, that ensured Dembski’s “warm” reception at the Norman, OK campus two years ago (In the interest of full disclosure, Dickson-Laprade contacted me for technical advice and feedback, including requesting my comments on the advertisement published in the student newspaper on the morning of Dembski’s visit to campus. Were it not for Dickson-Laprade’s heroic efforts, Abbie Smith would have been outnumbered by scores of campus IDiots. Her role in “taking down” Dembski has been vastly overrated and overstated by herself and others.).

Appreciatively yours,

John Kwok

John: You are correct that Dickson-Laprade was a major contributor in the opposition to Dembski in 2007. His idea and drafting of a newspaper ad against Dembski was great. However, as posted on several blogs after the event, the Dembski opposition involved many others that initiated tactics. For example, we collected the funds from many donors for the ad and discussed it with Dickson-Laprade, student groups sponsored the ad, passed out handouts before his talk, placed anti-Dembski chalkings on campus sidewalks, organized and asked excellent questions and did not allow Dembski to evade the questions, wrote letters to editors, etc. P.Z. Myers even posted an item ‘This is How to Do It’ on his blog.

This is not in any way diminishing Dickson-Laprade’s MAJOR help. I regret that he is no longer at OU to continue his thoughtful and energetic contributions.

Whatever “common design” is even supposed to mean. When human engineers copy a structure from one “lineage” of technology into another, they don’t change parts of it that don’t need to change to make it fit its new location.

Henry

Whatever “common design” is even supposed to mean. When human engineers copy a structure from one “lineage” of technology into another, they don’t change parts of it that don’t need to change to make it fit its new location.

True. And as an engineer, I deal with this every day.

As a point of fact, as products change and evolve, you will commonly see older components re-used over and over in new designs. In fact, you will see them used in places where they’re far from an ideal choice, and the new design surrounding them is actually complicated and compromised in order to make them fit.

Just today I reused a serial routine from an earlier product, despite the fact that the interrupt structure was far from ideal for this application. It was far easier to kluge the interrupts than to re-write the serial code.

That’s all part of the cost-benefit approach real engineers have to use to get real products out the door.

But eventually, a legacy component will become so dated that it makes sense to ditch the old one and redesign it from scratch. This is also a common hallmark of real-world design.

A common hallmark that is never, ever, ever seen in the natural world.

fnxtr wrote:

“Their schtick is still “common design, not common descent”.

Exactly, that’s why it is so important to point out observations that make no sense whatsoever from a common design viewpoint. You know, stuff that makes God, (er I mean the designer), look like a moron or a liar.

Some of my favorites data sets, (as everyone probably knows already), include SINE insertions, mitochondrial DNA gene order, nested genetic hierarchies and universality of the genetic code.

Unfortunately, most creationists are usually too ignorant to know exactly why these features would indicate stupidity on the part of a designer. Also, trying to explain why they make sense as predictions of evolution is usually lost on creationists as well. They usually just aren’t used to thinking in terms of predictions and hypothesis testing. Often times they are deficient in critical thinking skills as well. But I guess that’s a little redundant. After all, if they had an ounce of intelligence or knowldege, they would not be trying to defend a designer idea in the first place.

As a wise man once said - unitelligent design doesn’t get you anywhere - and I was right.

Yeah, when Creationists hear “SINE”, they just go off on some tangent.

Almost forgot. Much more on topic, Hox genes are a perfect example.

By the reasoning used by Wells, the similarity of Hox genes in so many animals that are so different argues strongly against common design. It is however a prediction of a theory that says that new forms come from preexisting forms and new developomental pathways come from modifications of pteexisiting pathways.

Funny how creationists never seem to be able to tell when the evidence is against them. They just keep denying anything real scientists claim no matter what, even when they disprove their own nonsense.

Henry J,

Don’t be so obtuse. Creationists couldn’t be right even if they were an angle. They are however perpendicular to reality. :-)

Obtuse? And here I thought I was being acute…

Henry J,

You are orthagonally acute. And that’s not just hyperbole.

If this keeps up, people will think the Coneheads are here…

But eventually, a legacy component will become so dated that it makes sense to ditch the old one and redesign it from scratch. This is also a common hallmark of real-world design.

Hmm. I’ll have to mention this to my buddy at Microsoft.

Hmm. I’ll have to mention this to my buddy at Microsoft.

Don’t do that; everybody would have to buy all new software. ;)

As it is, Vista SP2 screws up WMP11, and MS has said, basically, “tough”.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on October 3, 2009 10:17 PM.

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