Creationist vs. creationist on Homo habilis

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For many years, Discovery Institute spokesperson Casey Luskin has been telling the world that the genus Homo is preceded by no transitional forms, because the species typically thought to be transitional between australopithecines and Homo, Homo habilis, is actually an Australopithechus itself. Poof, there goes the transition. As I pointed out long ago, this argument about what names to apply to fossils under Linnaean taxonomy is basically pointless – the fossils stay transitional in time and in morphology no matter what names you give them – but creationists like Luskin don’t care about that (and don’t give me that silliness about ID advocates not being creationists, Luskin is arguing for the special creation of humans, for goodness’ sake!).* Instead, they love to misrepresent the terminological dispute to obscure the actual big picture of the data.

Unfortunately for Luskin, though, other creationists play the same game, and, don’t you know it, it turns out that the transitional specimens come out as transitional in their latest analysis. Bryan College creationist Todd Wood is announcing his “baraminological”** analysis of Homo habilis, Australopithecus sediba, and other fossils. He took a bunch of cladistic datasets from the paleoanthropology literature (all based on crandiodental characters) and put them through his “baraminological distance” algorithm to see where there are clusters and gaps. He concludes that the recently-discovered Australopithecus sediba should actually be Homo sediba, but this is just this is what several paleoanthropologists said after it was published. More significantly for our interests, instead of saying that habilis is just another ape far removed from Homo, Wood concludes that habilis clearly groups with the rest of Homo, and that big, unfillable, magical God-obviously-acted-here gap, which all creationists mindlessly, dogmatically believe in come hell or high water, is actually between habilis and the australopiths. Whoops!

Here’s some quotes:

Casey Luskin, September 2006:

“These rapid, unique, and genetically significant changes are termed “a genetic revolution” where “no australopithecine species is obviously transitional.” One commentator proposed this evidence implies a “big bang theory” of human evolution. Now that “Homohabilis is best recognized as an australopithecine due to its ape-like skeletal structure (see “The Human Genus,” Science, 284:65-71), it is no wonder an article in Nature last year recognized the lack of a clear-cut immediate ancestor for our genus Homo…”

Casey Luskin, August 2007:

“In other words, habilis can no longer be considered the ancestor to the rest of the genus Homo.”

Casey Luskin, March 2010:

But the exhibit gives no evidence of dissent from the official party line, such as an admission from Ernst Mayr in 2004 that “[t]he earliest fossils of Homo, Homo rudolfensis and Homo erectus, are separated from Australopithecus [sic, should be italicized] by a large, unbridged gap,” and therefore we’re in a position of “[n]ot having any fossils that can serve as missing links.”

I guess according to the Smithsonian’s exhibit, this large, unbridged gap is just more evidence for evolution.

But Todd Wood (2010) says

Most surprising, three controversial taxa appear to be unequivocally grouped with the homininans: Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, and Australopithecus sediba. As noted above, Hartwig-Scherer (1999) considers H. habilis an australopith, but Lubenow (2004, pp. 299-301) and Line (2005a) believe some H. habilis specimens might be human. Additional creationists who reject the human status of H. habilis include Gish (1995, p. 279), Hummer (1979), Mehlert (1996), Murdock (2006), and Young (2006). Likewise, though Lubenow (2004, pp. 328-329) and Cuozzo (1977) believe H. rudolfensis to be human, Hartwig-Scherer and Brandt (2007) consider it a kind of ape. As of this writing, there has been no creationist commentary or interpretation of Au. sediba, but given sediba‘s extremely ape-like forearms (Berger et al. 2010), it seems likely that many creationists would prefer to place sediba among the australopiths.

So there you have it. Wood has “saved” the distinctiveness of humans, but only by including habilis and sediba, which some paleoanthropologists (and even more creationists) thought were so different from humans that they should be in a whole different genus, and which had brains much closer to the size of chimp brains than to modern human brains. Wood continues by looking for the silver lining:

Despite these contradictory opinions, the present results strongly support the classification of all three species in the human holobaramin. All analyses showed all three taxa clearly clustering with other homininans and separately from other australopiths.

Well, except for Australopithecus africanus, which just happens to be the australopithecine that is the closest relative of Homo…

The position of Au. africanus is somewhat less clear. In the BDC analysis of the datasets of Strait and Grine (2001; 2004) and Smith and Grine (2008), Au. africanus was positively correlated with one and four homininans respectively. In both cases, Au. africanus appeared as an outlier from the Homo cluster in 3D MDS. In the case of Strait and Grine’s 2001 dataset, the positive correlation between Au. africanus and H. rudolfensis had bootstrap support of only 62%, indicating that the positive correlation was especially sensitive to changes in the character states used to calculate baraminic distances. Likewise, the bootstrap support for the africanus/rudolfensis correlation in Strait and Grine’s 2004 dataset was 59%. In the case of Smith and Grine’s (2008) dataset, reduction of the number of outgroup taxa eliminated all positive correlation between Au. africanus and homininans. In BDC analysis of the Strait, Grine, and Moniz (1997) and Berger et al. (2010) datasets, no positive or negative correlation was observed between Au. africanus and homininans. Zeitoun’s (2000) dataset showed significant, negative BDC between the Au. africanus specimen Sterkfontein 5 and most of the homininan specimens. In summary, the evidence for including Au. africanus within the human holobaramin appears quite weak.

However, Wood neglects to point out that afarensis doesn’t form a (phenetic, remember) cluster with the apes or other australopithecines, either. In some of his MDS (multi-dimensional scaling, a way of representing distances between a bunch of points where each point has measurements in many dimensions) plots, afarensis comes out pretty much exactly between Homo and non-Homo.

Wood concludes:

this present study should end charges against creationists that classification of australopiths or “early Homo” as human or ape is arbitrary and meaningless (for example, Conrad 1986-1987; Kitcher 1983, p. 154; Miller 2008, p. 93; Nickels 1986-1987). Rather than looking at a handful of traits or casually declaring australopiths to be apes, the present study has supported the separate classification of humans (genus Homo sensu lato) and as many as three groups containing australopith taxa, based on a suite of characters selected from conventional paleoanthropology studies.

Unfortunately, it still remains the case that creationist classifications of hominins are arbitrary and meaningless. The first principle of baraminology is that the Bible is always right, and if the rest of the data contradicts the Bible, then so much the worse for the data. So Wood, whatever spark he may sometimes show amongst the pitiful intellectual trainwreck that is creationism, has already committed intellectual suicide on this issue and guaranteed that the data could never change his mind on the key question he is allegedly assessing, the special creation of humans. Even if he did decide to give the data the final word, his analysis consists of drawing circles around phenetic clusters, with no principles about how to decide when things are in the same cluster or not (such methods do commonly exist in statistics, but they would create the danger of getting an answer one doesn’t like).

And finally, it’s pretty clear that people like Luskin and the Discovery Institute aren’t going to change their mind on this one. Unless you are prepared to take the Todd Wood/Kurt Wise position and simply assert that the literal interpretation of the Bible comes first and the data fundamentally don’t matter, if you’re a creationist and you admit that Homo habilis shares common ancestry with Homo sapiens, it’s all over but the whining.

* Actually understanding these naming and classification issues in paleoanthropology involves delving into the history of systematics and cladistics in evolutionary biology generally and in paleoanthropology specifically. Each time Luskin quotes someone, you have to ask if the writer in question is a fan of Mayrian “evolutionary systematics”, where you lump specimens into species and genera based on overall similiarity and some kind of gestalt sense of what a “genus” is. Or are they adhering to cladistic principles of “phylogenetic systematics”, where only shared derived characters are considered informative? Does the writer think taxa should be monophyletic, or is polyphyly ok? Are they defending some taxonomic scheme for reasons of convenience, or as an approximate description of the morphology, or to buttress some hypothesized set of ancestor-descendent relationships, or to propose an explicit, cladistically testable phylogeny? Is the writer Ernst Mayr, arch-defender of “evolutionary systematics”, writing at the age of 99 on a topic well outside his speciality? [also, Mayr says in a footnote that Luskin leaves out of his quote, “I follow those who place Homo habilis in the genus Australopithecus”] Or is the writer some marginally-informed journalist who couldn’t tell you the difference between “evolutionary systematics” and “phylogenetic systematics”, the difference between Linnaean taxonomy and rank-free taxonomy, the difference between characters that are shared with outgroups (and thus don’t give any grouping information about the ingroup) and characters that are only shared by a subset of taxa in the ingroup (and thus give grouping information), or the difference between classifications that allow polyphyly and those that don’t, and therefore sprinkles their article with vague comments about “big differences” and “small differences” and “ancestral”/”not ancestral”, without any sense of the (very narrow!) scale of the actual differences between these positions when applied to a bunch of closely-related hominin fossils?

** “Barminology” is the creationist study of “bara mins” (“created kinds” in Hebrew). The key metric, “baraminic distance” basically seems to be a phenetic clustering method, where groupings are done by eye and outgroups are excluded if they make the ingroups seem too similar.

74 Comments

Do baraminologists use a baraminometer?

How long before some IDiot claims this means barimology works???

Vince said:

How long before some IDiot claims this means barimology works???

I think baraminology is great. They make trees and then decide that species that all fit on a tree are the same “kind”. I say, they should keep at it! Sooner or later that tree will include all vertebrates, then all animals, then …

“bara min” is not the Hebrew for created kinds. They screwed this up also since the creationists (not too surprisingly) don’t know much Hebrew. They took the word for kind (min) and added the past tense form for “created” as a transitive verb. The correct Hebrew would have been “min baru” but “bara min” would mean “[unknown male] created a kind] or something like that.

Sorry that should be “[unknown male] created a kind”.

What gets me about this is the blithe confirmation from the creationists that there was a whole genus of primates that were somewhat apelike (apart from details) from the neck up, but that were perfectly bipedal.

That is, that this whole genus, the Australopithecines, display a set of characteristics intermediate between apes and humans. How on Earth does it make any difference to quibble about where H. habilis fits?

Evolution predicts - and always predicted - a range of forms with characteristics transitional between humans and their apelike ancestors, and here they are. The theory’s on the money. What’s so hard about this?

Serious question: among professional systematists, is there really anything but a small minority of people who AREN’T proponents of phylogenetic systematics?

It all depends on the field. Evolutionary-systematic-style argumentation seems to be mostly dead in vertebrate paleontology, but still alive in e.g. certain parts of invertebrate paleontology, or in paleoanthropology. The whole issue of science devoted to Ardipithecus did not contain a cladistic analysis if I recall correctly…

For those who want to learn more about baramins, see http://www.conservapedia.com/Baraminology. For further applications of baraminology, see, for instance, http://www.conservapedia.com/Kangar[…]_Creationism or http://www.conservapedia.com/Mammoth#Origins

Joe Felsenstein said:

Vince said:

How long before some IDiot claims this means barimology works???

I think baraminology is great. They make trees and then decide that species that all fit on a tree are the same “kind”. I say, they should keep at it! Sooner or later that tree will include all vertebrates, then all animals, then …

As far as I can see they are just doing multidimensional scaling (of some sort, I could not get to the actual description, though I did not dig far and sadly do not subscribe to their magazine), and claiming that variation in distances among clusters somehow proves they are not descended from one another (while things in the clusters are).

Anyway, I read the article today, and got the idea that wouldn’t it be cool to submit a paper to that “journal” and see what kind of review it got? So I went to the site and looked at the instructions for authors. Not surprisingly, the criteria for acceptance involve confirmation of the Biblical account of creation and the flood. Etc etc etc. Probably worth putting in a slide for a presentation, just in case some creationist claims that they are doing “objective” science.

** “Barminology” is the creationist study of “bara mins” (“created kinds” in Hebrew). The key metric, “baraminic distance” basically seems to be a phenetic clustering method, where groupings are done by eye and outgroups are excluded if they make the ingroups seem too similar.

It seems bizarre that Wood’s baraminic/phenetic approach would classify Au. sediba in Homo, and Au. africanus in another genus. After all, if you put an africanus and a sediba side by side, they’d look like identical twins compared to a human. The Homo features in sediba are pretty subtle in comparison to the overall bodily similarity to africanus.

Dave C said:

Serious question: among professional systematists, is there really anything but a small minority of people who AREN’T proponents of phylogenetic systematics?

Depends on what you mean by “phylogenetic systematics”. If you mean making only monophyletic groups in the classification system, this is overwhelmingly the standard approach. If you mean using shared derived states (synapomorphies) to reconstruct phylogenies, this is used more for some kinds of characters (mostly morphological ones) than others (DNA sequences, for example).

In my view these two issues get muddled together and should not be considered the same (one is about the classification system, the other about the logic of reconstructing phylogenies). Most textbook descriptions are, on this point, a total muddled mess.

However, keep in mind that the number of people in systematics who agree with me on this is very small and my view on this is regarded by many as marginally crackpot.

It seems bizarre that Wood’s baraminic/phenetic approach would classify Au. sediba in Homo, and Au. africanus in another genus. After all, if you put an africanus and a sediba side by side, they’d look like identical twins compared to a human. The Homo features in sediba are pretty subtle in comparison to the overall bodily similarity to africanus.

Well, the actual classification is done by Wood drawing circles around the clusters his eye thinks are clusters…but that said…

Regarding “bigness” of similarity/difference: Wood just took the data matrix from the Berger et al. 2010 paper on sediba and stuck that into “bdist” (their baraminic distance perl script) and MDS. The data matrix is basically 1s and 0s scoring different characters. The computer doesn’t know anything about what are “big” character differences and what are “small” differences. I.e. 0/1 could be tail/no tail (well, if they weren’t doing craniodental characters only here), or it could be the presence/absence of some tiny but consistent bump on some tooth.

A morphometrics approach can capture some of that broader picture of morphology difference/sameness that the human eye sees, but incorporating morphometrics data in phylogenetic reconstruction is a somewhat hairy business. I believe our own esteemed commentator Joe Felsenstein has pushed the theory on incorporating morphometrics about as far as it has gone to date…

Joe Felsenstein wrote:

If you mean using shared derived states (synapomorphies) to reconstruct phylogenies, this is used more for some kinds of characters (mostly morphological ones) than others (DNA sequences, for example).

It seems to me that anytime someone roots an unrooted tree with an outgroup, they are essentially saying that shared derived character states indicate shared history, and that shared ancestral character states do not (within the ingroup). So this would apply to not just parsimony but likelihood methods etc. as well, and both molecular and morphological data. This would mean the only people who don’t prefer shared-derived character states are those who still think UPGMA is the best method, aka pheneticists. But perhaps I’m missing what you are getting at? (Like maybe Felsenstein zone issues where shared characters can be independently derived on two long branches?)

(PS: Yes, for the record, I just brought up the Felsenstein zone in a thread in which Felsenstein is participating.)

If this Luskin guy is a creationist then good for us. Yet I.D folks are not biblical creationists. Thats why they used the segregated term. They don’t believe in Genesis as a true witness of origins. They just believe there is a creator and he intervened in nature on the some big points. These ‘fossils” of claimed people ancestors are poverty stricken evidence. Find 30 or more of each type in order to accurately describe human connections. Any creationist to any audience can easily wave away these bits and bytes of bones used to make such great conclusions of human origins.

In my view these two issues get muddled together and should not be considered the same (one is about the classification system, the other about the logic of reconstructing phylogenies). Most textbook descriptions are, on this point, a total muddled mess.

Regarding “evolutionary systematics” vs. “phylogenetic systematics”, I think of them as two big schools of thought, each with a number of characteristic attitudes which usually but not always go together.

E.g. evolutionary systematists prefer or accept overall similarity, ranked Linnaean taxonomy, gestalt/expertise recognition of ranks, paraphyletic groups, and treat species as a another, particularly real rank. Phylogenetic systematists disagree on all these issues, although finding one that has abandoned each and every feature of evolutionary systematics might be hard, outside of Brent Mishler.

These are indeed all separable issues – but I suspect that the tendencies reinforce each other within the camps. E.g. a fondness for Linnaean taxonomy in paleontology leads pretty rapidly to an acceptance of paraphyletic groups based on overall similarity, which then requires one to subjectively delineate the paraphyletic groups based on some fairly arbitrary “it looks like a pretty big difference to me” criterion.

(Full disclosure: I have been TAing for Mishler this semester and this may have affected my brain…)

Robert Byers – how many fossils would you like? http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]omini-1.html

…and this is only from fossils available back in 1997 or so…

Joshua Zelinsky said:

Sorry that should be “[unknown male] created a kind”.

I think that “bara min” would be closer to “a kind created [something or other]”. Ordinarily, the subject follows the verb, and the object is indicated by a prefixed “at-“, so “he created a kind” would be “bara at-min”. Ironically, the expression “bara min” represents a change in the Biblical “bara elohim” = “God created” by replacing “God” with “a kind”, and is thus a statement of naturalism. The Polish-language Wikipedia article “Baramin” mentions this.

My guess is that the person who coined this expression didn’t quite grasp the difference between the English past tense active verb and the past passive participle, as well as not being familiar with Hebrew grammar.

Robert Byers said: If this Luskin guy is a creationist then good for us.

Most of us here at PT would agree that Casey is a creationist, even though he calls creationism “the scientific theory of intelligent design” (see http://www.caseyluskin.com) - but here at PT we all know the two terms mean the same thing.

Yet I.D folks are not biblical creationists.

Actually, that’s incorrect - almost all “I.D. folks” are biblical creationists but won’t admit it in public.

Well, Nick is both right and wrong about this:

Dave C said:

Serious question: among professional systematists, is there really anything but a small minority of people who AREN’T proponents of phylogenetic systematics?

Phylogenetic systematics - which was how Willi Hennig described his new methodology - that was later referred to derisively as “cladistics” - seems to be the prevalent method for systematics in many aspects of vertebrate paleontology and increasingly, even in invertebrate paleontology (It’s also become popular in hominid paleontology, especially when practiced by the AMNH and British Museum curators and their research associates.). While I am not familiar with recent literature - and for that, of course Nick is a much better guide - it is quite reasonable to state that much research in systematic biology is conducting now via the lens of phylogenetic systematics - or, if you prefer - cladistics.

He’s been among the most ardent advocates of cladistics in botany but he isn’t the only one. His old friend and colleague Michael Donoghue (one of my grad school profs) is another, the brothers Maddison and quite a few others:

Phylogenetic systematists disagree on all these issues, although finding one that has abandoned each and every feature of evolutionary systematics might be hard, outside of Brent Mishler.

(Full disclosure: I have been TAing for Mishler this semester and this may have affected my brain…)

For many years AMNH was the epicenter of “transformed” cladistics as practiced by Nelson et al., but that’s simmered to mere ripples since many of those advocating that have either retired or left or passed away.

He’s not just a creationist, but a bona fide example of a Dishonesty Institute mendacious intellectual pornographer. IMHO, that’s worse than being just a “creationist”:

Robert Byers said:

If this Luskin guy is a creationist then good for us. Yet I.D folks are not biblical creationists. Thats why they used the segregated term. They don’t believe in Genesis as a true witness of origins. They just believe there is a creator and he intervened in nature on the some big points. These ‘fossils” of claimed people ancestors are poverty stricken evidence. Find 30 or more of each type in order to accurately describe human connections. Any creationist to any audience can easily wave away these bits and bytes of bones used to make such great conclusions of human origins.

Grammatical correction, now fixed:

John Kwok said:

Well, Nick is both right and wrong about this:

Dave C said:

Serious question: among professional systematists, is there really anything but a small minority of people who AREN’T proponents of phylogenetic systematics?

Phylogenetic systematics - which was how Willi Hennig described his new methodology - that was later referred to derisively as “cladistics” - seems to be the prevalent method for systematics in many aspects of vertebrate paleontology and increasingly, even in invertebrate paleontology (It’s also become popular in hominid paleontology, especially when practiced by the AMNH and British Museum curators and their research associates.). While I am not familiar with recent literature - and for that, of course Nick is a much better guide - it is quite reasonable to state that much research in systematic biology is BEING CONDUCTED now via the lens of phylogenetic systematics - or, if you prefer - cladistics.

Joe Felsenstein: However, keep in mind that the number of people in systematics who agree with me on this is very small and my view on this is regarded by many as marginally crackpot.

Outside the Hennig Society, who? I certainly agree with everything you said there, and I haven’t encountered much disagreement.

Though I was once told that if I didn’t include two successive outgroups in an analysis, I was just doing phenetics. (And it was a parsimony analysis.) I explained that successive outgroups are the very best possible way to produce long-branch attraction, and the response was to repeat the claim.

On topic, Todd Charles Wood is a very smart guy, who would if he chose would be capable of doing good science. Instead he’s descended to producing poor simulations of science’s surface characteristics – algorithms, diagrams, etc. But only in the service of seeing just what he wants to see. Still, you have to admire a creationist who can say this:

“Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well.”

http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/2009/[…]olution.html

John Harshman said:’

Still, you have to admire a creationist who can say this:

“Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well.”

It is true that Todd Wood said that.

It is equally true that Todd Wood subsequently said:

I believe that God created everything that you see in six consecutive days around 6000 years ago.

I believe that Adam and Eve were the very first humans and were directly created by God.

I believe Adam and Eve sinned, and that sin brought death, carnivory, disease, and suffering into the world.

I believe that people really lived to be 900+ years back then.

I believe that there was a truly global Flood that inundated the entire planet.

I believe that humans and land animals were preserved on an Ark (approximately 450 feet long for those keeping score).

I believe that the humans after the Flood gradually stopped living to be 900+.

I believe that the humans after the Flood tried to build a tower in Babel to prevent their dispersal across the globe, in direct contradiction to God’s command.

I believe that God punished the builders of Babel by miraculously confusing their languages.

—-Todd Wood blog, 10-08-09

FL, placing both quotes together provides an example of someone who maintains their Christian belief while acknowledging that the ToE is a productive framework, a well-working scientific with amazing explanatory power.

You seem, in other words, to have provided a perfect counter-example to your own typical position. Good job.

Joe Felsenstein said:

I think baraminology is great. They make trees and then decide that species that all fit on a tree are the same “kind”. I say, they should keep at it! Sooner or later that tree will include all vertebrates, then all animals, then …

All currently known life on Earth is part of a single holobaramin.

I believe it will be discovered that while ‘baramin’ might derive from Hebrew, that Hebrew phrase’s ultimate source is as a loan word from the English ‘barmy’.

Ummm, eric, Todd Wood offers no rational explanations that reconcile the two separate quotations.

For example, he wrote:

I believe Adam and Eve sinned, and that sin brought death, carnivory, disease, and suffering into the world.

In direct contrast, evolution REQUIRES that death etc. has always been present in our world, not merely after humams appeared on the earth. No wiggle room on that one.

Wood has no rational reconciliation for that contradiction. Eric has no rational reconciliation for that one. Me neither. Nobody does.

And then there is Wood’s first line, of course.

I believe that God created everything that you see in six consecutive days around 6000 years ago.

Can you rationally reconcile THAT claim with evolution? Nope? I can’t either.

So let’s be honest. Evolution is incompatible with biblical Christianity. Evolution is irreconcilable with biblical Christianity.

Neither the Christians, nor the non-Christians, have rationally figured out HOW to resolve the huge incompatibility. Not at all. Not even Todd Wood.

FL said:

Ummm, eric, Todd Wood offers no rational explanations that reconcile the two separate quotations.

For example, he wrote:

I believe Adam and Eve sinned, and that sin brought death, carnivory, disease, and suffering into the world.

In direct contrast, evolution REQUIRES that death etc. has always been present in our world, not merely after humams appeared on the earth. No wiggle room on that one.

None the less Woods recognizes that the scientific evidence supports evolution theory. He believes a literal biblical account of origins but accepts that the evidence doesn’t support what he believes. I agree that this is irrational, but there is a difference between opinion and fact and at least Woods seems to know this and understands that the facts don’t support what he believes.

Wood has no rational reconciliation for that contradiction. Eric has no rational reconciliation for that one. Me neither. Nobody does.

And then there is Wood’s first line, of course.

I believe that God created everything that you see in six consecutive days around 6000 years ago.

Can you rationally reconcile THAT claim with evolution? Nope? I can’t either.

So let’s be honest. Evolution is incompatible with biblical Christianity. Evolution is irreconcilable with biblical Christianity.

Neither the Christians, nor the non-Christians, have rationally figured out HOW to resolve the huge incompatibility. Not at all. Not even Todd Wood.

If you replace biblical Christianity with Creationism, I agree with everything you say here. But even you acknowledge that there are Christians who are able to both believe in the Bible and accept scientific theories. Since the majority of Christians are able to reconcile science and faith, your assertion that the two are incompatible seems weak at best.

Gyan said:

Life is ever changing, or we can say that change is the life. living things is in motion but dead can’t. So motion is the mother of life. If you are move.. may be it in wrong direction! But you have start moving so ultimately you will able to find a right direction. But If you have fear about moving in wrong direction, you will not start move, you can’t distinguish among right and wrong.

So a drunken random walk is better than sleeping it off?

Mike Elzinga– They tested that on Mythbusters. Yes, exercise helps sober you up. :)

hoary puccoon said:

Mike Elzinga– They tested that on Mythbusters. Yes, exercise helps sober you up. :)

Yeah; I think I saw that program. Those guys have a great job; I’m jealous. :-)

The exercise thing has been known for a long time. Many eons ago, when I was a submariner, guys who came back from shore leave drunk didn’t get off watch. They would most likely get sent up to do topside watch, especially in rough weather where they got tossed around, got soaking wet, and could puke over the side. They sobered up pretty quickly while up there.

Mike Elzinga said: Many eons ago, when I was a submariner, guys who came back from shore leave drunk didn’t get off watch. They would most likely get sent up to do topside watch, especially in rough weather where they got tossed around, got soaking wet, and could puke over the side. They sobered up pretty quickly while up there.

Um, so it was considered good match to assign drunk men to stand around on of a rolling, pitching, sea-splashed cylinder of slick, wet, streamlined, steel in the middle of the ocean?

On watch. Where they could use their powers of alert perception to look out for collisions and suchlike.

Wow. On-the-job training really meant something back in the day.

Mike Elzinga said:

Gyan said:

Life is ever changing, or we can say that change is the life. living things is in motion but dead can’t. So motion is the mother of life. If you are move.. may be it in wrong direction! But you have start moving so ultimately you will able to find a right direction. But If you have fear about moving in wrong direction, you will not start move, you can’t distinguish among right and wrong.

So a drunken random walk is better than sleeping it off?

It’s more fun, that’s for sure. Just look at the duck billed platypus. That thing just has to be the result of a random, drunken evolutionary walk.

stevaroni said:

Um, so it was considered good match to assign drunk men to stand around on of a rolling, pitching, sea-splashed cylinder of slick, wet, streamlined, steel in the middle of the ocean?

On watch. Where they could use their powers of alert perception to look out for collisions and suchlike.

Wow. On-the-job training really meant something back in the day.

Yup; as long as the guy wasn’t out cold already, and it was his watch, he didn’t get out of it.

So you have typically three people up there, port and starboard enlisted personnel strapped into their lookout positions and an officer.

On the old diesel boats, you didn’t submerge to ride out a hurricane because, if you couldn’t stay down long enough and had to surface, the boat passes through a very unstable point where the center of buoyancy is at the center of gravity. A wave slap could easily roll the boat over. So you rode out rough weather on the surface.

Being drunk didn’t get you out of duty, but in might get you busted. Guys who thought they might get out of work by getting drunk didn’t get out of work; they were made miserable enough that they were less tempted to try it again.

The vast numbers of submariners were a highly selected and competent bunch. Even when drunk, they performed well as a result of repeated training. They didn’t stay drunk for long. The two or three habitual drunkards I knew were extremely competent. The young ones who attempted to reduce their work load got over it quickly or were gone when we returned to port.

Mike Elzinga said: Being drunk didn’t get you out of duty, but in might get you busted. Guys who thought they might get out of work by getting drunk didn’t get out of work; they were made miserable enough that they were less tempted to try it again.

I seem to recall reading about a similar practice on naval sailing ships. The sickbay was intentionally located in the fore, even though that provided the worst ride in rough weather. It was done that way to prevent sailors from claiming to be sick to get out of duty. You had to be really sick to want to lie down in the fore of the ship. (Also, because a sailing vessel can never travel directly into the wind, it meant any smells from the sick bay would generally not waft over the ship.)

On the topic of drunken sailors, wikipedia tells me that the standard rum ration for the british navy for about two centuries was 1 pint rum mixed with 1 quart of water, and you got that twice a day. Yeeee-haaa! I think my meetings would be a lot more enjoyable.

Mike Elzinga said:

So a drunken random walk is better than sleeping it off?

Wow, what a great philosophy!

hoary puccoon -

Yes, exercise helps sober you up. :)

From a medical point of view, that’s simply the expected result. A different result would have been surprising.

A modest but significant proportion of blood ethanol is secreted directly by breathing it off as a vapor (which is why breathalyzers work); Wikipedia says up to 5% (implicitly, of ethanol metabolized per unit of time), which sounds about right. It’s quite plausible that it could be even more than that if you really get moving.

Also, liver and kidney breakdown would certainly not be reduced by increasing metabolic rate through exercise; it wouldn’t surprise me if it made that route of elimination go up as well.

Also, caffeine is somewhat effective. Obviously, you shouldn’t expect it to make you completely sober, but its psychoactive effects do partly counter those of ethanol, and it is a diuretic, which, while augmenting the dehydration situation, also probably increases the rate of elimination.

Black coffee has the added benefit of being an emetic. Ethanol is absorbed far more slowly from the stomach than from the small intestine, and the stomach helpfully tends to shut down the pylorric sphincter if you really fill it with high concentration ethanol. Any booze you puke out before it has been absorbed is guaranteed not to make you drunker. Whether this practice is wasteful or not depends on what you were drinking. I would personally recommend pouring some black coffee into a drunken sailor before putting him on watch. Assuming fluids are available and he has the sense to drink them.

IMPORTANT - This information can be very helpful for people with healthy cardiovascular systems who have mildly overindulged. If acute ethanol intoxication is suspected (for example, if respiratory rate slows), get emergency help immediately.

harold said:

I would personally recommend pouring some black coffee into a drunken sailor before putting him on watch. Assuming fluids are available and he has the sense to drink them.

Strong coffee is one of the staples on the boats; and we drank lots of it, especially on patrols where we worked our butts off and lost weight even while eating well.

But it came with an added kick.

The coffee urn sat in the galley, right under the main hydraulic valve that opened the main induction (main air intake for the boat and the engines). There was always hydraulic oil dripping into in the coffee. A few drops could add plenty of “flavor.”

Most of the guys drank it “with pride.” I started drinking tea because the hot water could be taped right out of the jacket of the coffee maker before it came in contact with the hydraulic oil.

harold– Thanks for the long explanation in response to my post. I’d always just kind of figured exercise burns calories, and alcohol has calories, so.…

Ah, so exercise drives out the spirits without even needing to call an exorcist?

It really bugs me when Australopithecines get called “apes” by these religious morons. ALL APES have big canines and a CP/3 shearing complex. NO AUSTRALOPITH has canines that resemble an ape, even though they have a brain that’s apelike in size.

Henry J said:

Ah, so exercise drives out the spirits without even needing to call an exorcist?

Depends on how fast you rotate your head.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on May 5, 2010 4:56 PM.

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