Joe Thornton beats on Behe

| 116 Comments

Joe Thornton is a distinguished researcher who works on reconstructing ancient biomolecules to study how they evolved into their present forms. Recently ID creationist Michael Behe has commented on Thornton’s work, interpreting it to mean that the molecules couldn’t have evolved. On Carl Zimmer’s Loom Thornton eviscerates Behe’s misintepretation. A couple of quotes to give the flavor:

Behe contends that our findings support his argument that adaptations requiring more than one mutation cannot evolve by Darwinian processes. The many errors in Behe’s Edge of Evolution – the book in which he makes this argument – have been discussed in numerous publications.

and

Behe’s discussion of our 2009 paper in Nature is a gross misreading because it ignores the importance of neutral pathways in protein evolution.

and

This brings us to Behe’s second error, which is to confuse reversal to the ancestral sequence and structure with re-acquisition of a similar function.

and

Behe’s argument has no scientific merit. It is based on a misunderstanding of the fundamental processes of molecular evolution and a failure to appreciate the nature of probability itself. There is no scientific controversy about whether natural processes can drive the evolution of complex proteins. The work of my research group should not be misintepreted by those who would like to pretend that there is.

Read the whole thing. (And don’t miss Matheson’s remarks on natural selection at the link below.)

Hat tip to Steve Matheson for calling my attention to Thornton’s piece..

116 Comments

You mean a creationist misrepresented the work of a real scientist and reached exactly the opposite conclusion as the scientist who actually performed and published the research! I’m shocked. No wait ,,, I guess I’m not after all.

Joe Thornton’s response is a MUST READ.

It is one of the most articulate and easy to follow descriptions of evolving molecular systems; and it illustrates clearly the underlying physics and chemistry of complex evolving systems.

I wonder how many other San Jose Sharks fans will do a double take at this article?

So, this is the same Behe who claimed, in court, that he would not be satisfied that a protein could evolve unless he was shown a step-by-step, mutation-by-mutation, function-by-function path from an ancestral protein to a modern one. Yet, when shown exactly this mutation-by-mutation path, he uses the very research that he said would convince him of evolution to then claim that Evolution is impossible.

And our resident trolls wonder why we call them the Dishonesty Institute Liars for Jesus.

Scott F said:

So, this is the same Behe who claimed, in court, that he would not be satisfied that a protein could evolve unless he was shown a step-by-step, mutation-by-mutation, function-by-function path from an ancestral protein to a modern one. Yet, when shown exactly this mutation-by-mutation path, he uses the very research that he said would convince him of evolution to then claim that Evolution is impossible.

It’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.

Plus, remember that Behe is contractually obligated to deny Evolution, no matter how dishonestly idiotic his claims make him seem.

And our resident trolls wonder why we call them the Dishonesty Institute Liars for Jesus.

If they get offended at being called “dishonest liars,” then why do they also obsessively insist on being “dishonest liars,” too?

Scott F said:

So, this is the same Behe who claimed, in court, that he would not be satisfied that a protein could evolve unless he was shown a step-by-step, mutation-by-mutation, function-by-function path from an ancestral protein to a modern one. Yet, when shown exactly this mutation-by-mutation path, he uses the very research that he said would convince him of evolution to then claim that Evolution is impossible.

And our resident trolls wonder why we call them the Dishonesty Institute Liars for Jesus.

If I recall correctly, Behe and all ID/creationists want science to prove that exactly the same organism evolves every time starting from exactly the same place.

This shtick is an egregious misuse of a concept in science that experiments must be repeatable or reproducible. It simultaneously mischaracterizes evolution and experimental results and what is meant by repeatable and reproducible in complex, evolving systems.

And it also comes from one of the fundamental misconceptions of ID/creationism that all of evolution must be targeted, and that what appears in each of the millions of species we see in nature is so improbable that it is impossible.

Joe Thornton’s response addresses these issues very clearly.

Another dishonesty or at leat negligence of Behe is his (ab)use of a fitness landscape figure by Gavrilets.

See here

Mike Elzinga said:

If I recall correctly, Behe and all ID/creationists want science to prove that exactly the same organism evolves every time starting from exactly the same place.

This shtick is an egregious misuse of a concept in science that experiments must be repeatable or reproducible. It simultaneously mischaracterizes evolution and experimental results and what is meant by repeatable and reproducible in complex, evolving systems.

And it also comes from one of the fundamental misconceptions of ID/creationism that all of evolution must be targeted, and that what appears in each of the millions of species we see in nature is so improbable that it is impossible.

Joe Thornton’s response addresses these issues very clearly.

Well, if evolution proceeds by random mutations and natural selection in a changing environment, you would’t really expect the same result every time, even starting from the same place. If there really is no goal and no planning involved, you would expect different results almost every time. So once again, they want scientists to test the GODDIDIT hypothesis instead of the real predictions of evolutionary theory, then when GODDIDIT is falsified, they claim that that proves that evolution couldn’t happen. The routine gets pretty old after the first few thousand times. Kind of makes you wonder if they really are this stupid and incapable of learning, or if it is deliberate dishonesty. Either way, only the ignorant will be fooled.

Mike Elzinga said:

Scott F said:

So, this is the same Behe who claimed, in court, that he would not be satisfied that a protein could evolve unless he was shown a step-by-step, mutation-by-mutation, function-by-function path from an ancestral protein to a modern one. Yet, when shown exactly this mutation-by-mutation path, he uses the very research that he said would convince him of evolution to then claim that Evolution is impossible.

And our resident trolls wonder why we call them the Dishonesty Institute Liars for Jesus.

If I recall correctly, Behe and all ID/creationists want science to prove that exactly the same organism evolves every time starting from exactly the same place.

There’s also a good discussion of this in “The Emergence of Life” by Luisi. It’s a discussion of determinism vs. contingency.

Determinism is what creationists deny, yet demand that evolution do. Basically, if you set the clock back, then you get exactly the same results. OTH contingency suggests that there are unique combinations of things that happened that results in life or wings or whatever. It’s not quite random or chance, but it heavily incorporates those ideas.

It is so satisfying when you can nail down EXACTLY where creationists get it wrong. Does Behe have even a shred of credibility left? With anyone?

Thornton’s piece is two years old (October 2009). Behe replied shortly after it appeared, at length. You can read his response (in four parts) starting here:

http://behe.uncommondescent.com/200[…]nton-part-1/

Paul,

First, the article you linked to doesn’t address anything and (surprisingly) there are zero links to any of his other replies. Do you have links for those or do they even actually exist?

Why does Behe (and all creationists for that matter) insist on using analogies? You’d think a biochemist could actually talk about the things he wants to talk about. I often use analogies for teaching, but that’s because my students are not yet to a high enough level of knowledge for the full power science. But when talking with other scientists, you’d think that they could actually say things.

The ‘crane’ analogy is just a made up story that almost makes sense, but doesn’t really, because it actually doesn’t apply to biological systems under discussion. Perhaps if Behe had actually explained the point behind his analogy, but he didn’t… at all.

It’s kind of like a long-hair cat. You brush and brush and brush, but the cat still gets hairballs.

Paul Nelson said:

Thornton’s piece is two years old (October 2009). Behe replied shortly after it appeared, at length. You can read his response (in four parts) starting here:

http://behe.uncommondescent.com/200[…]nton-part-1/

What did you think of Behe’s response, Paul? Do you think he addressed Thornton’s work accurately?

For example, in the second part of Behe’s response, do you think he might have missed something important when he equated “evolving to yield a given function” (his words) with “reversal to the ancestral conformation” (Thornton’s words)? He does the same thing in the third part.

My own position is that the difference between those two concepts is fundamentally central to the conversation, and that Behe made a very, very serious mistake in his response. When you correct the mistake, in my opinion, you realize that Behe’s challenge is misleading and inconsequential.

But it could be that I’m missing something important. What do you think?

Paul Nelson said:

Thornton’s piece is two years old (October 2009). Behe replied shortly after it appeared, at length. You can read his response (in four parts) starting here:

http://behe.uncommondescent.com/200[…]nton-part-1/

Michael Behe Wrote:

It’s really not that hard to understand. Here’s a little analogy to illustrate. Suppose some company claimed they could build a super-crane (tip of the hat to Daniel Dennett) which could hoist a whole mountain using a novel technology. Though untested, the great majority of the relevant engineering community was serenely confident it would work as advertised. In a carefully-devised, initial, “proof-of-principle” experiment, a laboratory at the University of Oregon demonstrated that the crane-technology could lift a smooth pebble. The work was published in Science, accompanied by a breathless editorial and a story in the New York Times. In a subsequent careful study published several years later in Nature, however, the same lab unexpectedly showed that if a pebble were even somewhat rough, the crane-technology would not lift it. Since mountains tend to be rough, too, if a super-crane wouldn’t move a rough pebble, then it certainly wouldn’t lift a mountain.

Behe is supposed to be a biochemist. His use of such an analogy illustrates clearly why Behe no longer does biochemistry.

ID/creationists as well as the pseudo-philosophers in that movement make use of analogies with complete ignorance of the relevance or appropriateness of the analogies.

They totally disregard matters of physics and chemistry, matters of energy and force scaling, matters of background environment, and matters of complexity and emergent properties.

Tornados in junkyards are used as an analogy for the assemblies of complex molecules. The building of cranes is used as an argument against the evolution of a complex molecule from an earlier molecular system.

At the levels of the assemblies of molecules, atoms are essentially indestructible building blocks with strong attractions for each other. At the levels of soft systems of molecules, atoms and molecules are still indestructible building blocks with complex, strong interactions with other molecules. The strength of such interactions is on the order, but slightly below the strength of the forces needed to tear the system apart.

So to take the crane “analogy,” the beams that make up the crane have to be materials that are indestructible. They would have to have very strong and complicated attractions to other beams. They would have to be flying around with kinetic energies comparable to the potential energies that form the mutual potential energy wells among the various beams and complexes of beams.

And the strength of these interactions has to be many orders of magnitude greater than the gravitational forces acting on the beams and beam assemblies. The kinetic energies of these beams have to be just below the “melting” point of the assemblies of beams, i.e., not quite enough to tear the forming assemblies apart.

Mutations and drift in the assemblies come from the fluctuations in the energy levels of the various assemblies as they fly around and latch onto each other; these fluctuations being sufficient enough to cause changes in the developing complexity of these self-assembling structures.

As Paul Nelson and Michael Behe so dramatically illustrate, pseudo-philosophy and pseudo-science are verschlecht.

Something from a few years back:

Tornadoes, Junkyards, and 747′s

It used to be a pocket watch that “proved” evolution can’t happen. Now that lame creationist analogy has apparently evolved to demand that it be possible for a tornado to assemble a 747 out of a junkyard before we can admit the possibility of evolution.

What the creationist always conveniently leaves out of the analogy is the power of NON-random selection on repeated events. Allow a little leeway here for differences between mechanical assembly and natural systems (chemistry and life). Have the tornado roar through repeatedly, several times an hour (representing the speed of chemical reactions, or of cells multiplying). Allow selection pressures to “favor” parts or accidental assemblies that could function as part of a 747 (they’re allowed to “survive,” i.e. are not torn apart). Let the experiment run a few million years and you will have your wide-body jet.

Admittedly, that’s still a pretty lame analogy, but it represents evolution way better than the creationists’ single windstorm. This would make it even closer to evolution: Don’t demand a specific product at the end (like a plane or a human). Instead, “favor” any chance assembly that would be useful for any purpose. Allow assemblies to reproduce with occasional random changes. Select the most useful. Hey, that is evolution. Give it some time and you will have some amazingly “well-adapted” and useful mechanisms. Granted, the chances of one being a 747 are effectively zero (unless it was intentionally selected for), but no biologist I know of ever claimed that evolution “intended” to produce a person.

Mike Elzinga said:

Behe is supposed to be a biochemist. His use of such an analogy illustrates clearly why Behe no longer does biochemistry.

Exactly. Behe demanded a step by step explanation of exactly how complex specified systems could evolve, that is what Thornton has provided. He can’t just dismiss the findings with some hand waving and inappropriate analogy. If he were any kind of real scientist, or had any honest interest in actually seeking the truth, he would get his lily white butt into the lab, construct the proposed ancestral and intermediate genes and proteins and test their function. Without that, all he has is misconceptions and misrepresentations. Joe published his results in Science, the most prestigious science journal in the country. Mikey published his nonsense on some web site. Who do you think is more likely to be right, the guy who does actual research, or the guy who sits on the sidelines and criticizes?

Two of my favorite analogies are the mousetrap (as used during the Dover trial) and the arch. The arch can be seen as irreducibly complex (remove any stone and it collapses), except that it is easy to imagine that some sort of scaffolding existed which is no longer present (like a mound of dirt).

DS said:

Who do you think is more likely to be right, the guy who does actual research, or the guy who sits on the sidelines and criticizes?

Sitting on the sidelines and criticizing is all they have - or have EVER had.

Matt G said:

DS said:

Who do you think is more likely to be right, the guy who does actual research, or the guy who sits on the sidelines and criticizes?

Sitting on the sidelines and criticizing is all they have - or have EVER had.

Carp all dayum.

One thing that comes up again and again in creationist arguments is the raffle fallacy.

It’s a priori improbable that any given ticket will win the raffle, therefore, according to the fallacy, once a ticket it has been chosen, it has to be a miracle that it was that particular ticket. The probability that some ticket will win (100% in simple examples) is mistakenly perceived as the probability that a given individual ticket will win. A post hoc rationalization is usually applied as well - “If Smith hadn’t won the raffle, he couldn’t have afforded the new computer speakers he wanted, yet it was precisely Smith, a man who wanted computer speakers, who won the raffle - the odds are 1000:1 against this, so it must be magic - and that magic must have been done by the god of my particular religion”.

I see three possibilities, although the final two are not mutually exclusive -

1) Some sort of cognitive difficulty in grasping this very basic concept. This seems odd but may be more common than one would expect.

2) Ability to grasp the concept, but unconscious emotional biases so strong that they cannot consciously apply it. I think that this is usually the problem. Affirmation bias is a strong bias. They are constantly looking for affirmation that the particular type of magic that they believe in is true.

3) Ability to grasp the concept, but conscious dissembling about it, in an attempt to deceive others. It’s probably somewhat rare for anyone to be purely in this state, not because this state is unlikely, but because affirmation bias and defense mechanisms are likely to usually be present as well. In fact, the idea that the theory of evolution must be suppressed because of the consequences of people learning about it (implied - accurate or not it must be suppressed for this reason) is commonly brought up in creationist material, and by the trolls here. However, they usually mix it with biases that convince them that it the theory of evolution not supported and that their preferred magic dogma actually is true. The pure Straussian awareness of advocating false ideas to keep the masses in line is possible, but usually defensive biases are also present. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Strauss

I suspect that all of these occur. Behe could fit into any of these categories, or into more than one of them. I realize that “1)” seems like a stretch in his case, but I have known people who had extraordinary “photographic memory” rote memorization ability, but difficulty with basic abstract logic. Such people do incredibly well in certain fields, for example, language translation. They may not be elegant literary translators but they can quickly develop vast vocabularies and unreflectively master grammar irregularities - indeed, they may be far less annoyed by grammar irregularities than more analytic types. However, sometimes they move into fields where abstract logic is more crucial. They may manage to meet the requirements of these fields via memorization strategies, even through the doctoral level, but eventually tend to run into frustration. I don’t mean to insult such people - they actually have a gift which is very valuable in many ways, when properly applied.

In short, Behe is probably driven by an ego syntonic affirmation bias.

But he could have a learning disability, or be consciously “lying for the greater good, to keep the masses from doubting the faith”.

harold said:

In short, Behe is probably driven by an ego syntonic affirmation bias.

But he could have a learning disability, or be consciously “lying for the greater good, to keep the masses from doubting the faith”.

There is another factor operating as well; once they have plunged into it and have reached the point of no return, they can’t quit.

It’s their very livelihood; and it is now the only livelihood that remains accessible to them. They have to keep up the bravado.

Publishing and selling books, getting theocratic sugar daddies to take them in, fund their institutions, and keep them fed, and keeping adoring rubes on the hook to buy their books and videos; they simply cannot loose face or admit they are wrong.

Mike Elzinga said:

There is another factor operating as well; once they have plunged into it and have reached the point of no return, they can’t quit.

It’s their very livelihood; and it is now the only livelihood that remains accessible to them. They have to keep up the bravado.

Publishing and selling books, getting theocratic sugar daddies to take them in, fund their institutions, and keep them fed, and keeping adoring rubes on the hook to buy their books and videos; they simply cannot loose face or admit they are wrong.

You mean some of them are out-and-out charlatans? I’m shocked…shocked I say!

Mike Elzinga said:

harold said:

In short, Behe is probably driven by an ego syntonic affirmation bias.

But he could have a learning disability, or be consciously “lying for the greater good, to keep the masses from doubting the faith”.

There is another factor operating as well; once they have plunged into it and have reached the point of no return, they can’t quit.

It’s their very livelihood; and it is now the only livelihood that remains accessible to them. They have to keep up the bravado.

Publishing and selling books, getting theocratic sugar daddies to take them in, fund their institutions, and keep them fed, and keeping adoring rubes on the hook to buy their books and videos; they simply cannot loose face or admit they are wrong.

That’s true, Mike, and although it kind of fits under my category “2) Ability to grasp the concept, but unconscious emotional biases so strong that they cannot consciously apply it”, it’s worth breaking out.

There’s a huge, huge human bias against admitting that you have been wrong. We all struggle with it. It’s even commonplace for major figures who have made strongly supported breakthroughs in mainstream science to take up crazy ideas later and resist all rational critique.

No matter what motivated Behe in 1995, he’s now got another enormous bias on board. Beyond the perverse financial and social incentives for being “the conservative movement rebel who sticks it to hidebound liberal academia”, beyond the sheer wishful thinking affirmation bias, now, after more than fifteen years, what would it do to him psychologically to say “wait a second, I was wrong”? By the time he published his first ID/creationist book, he had already violated the “when in a hole stop digging” rule, and he’s been digging like a badger ever since.

harold said:

By the time he published his first ID/creationist book, he had already violated the “when in a hole stop digging” rule, and he’s been digging like a badger ever since.

:-)

Love the expression.

But don’t let the Wisconsin Badgers or the Michigan Wolverines know.

ogremk5 said:

Why does Behe (and all creationists for that matter) insist on using analogies? You’d think a biochemist could actually talk about the things he wants to talk about. I often use analogies for teaching, but that’s because my students are not yet to a high enough level of knowledge for the full power science. But when talking with other scientists, you’d think that they could actually say things.

What makes you think they’re talking to scientists? They’re trying to make a sciency-sounding play for public opinion, not get published in J. Theor. Biol.

SWT Wrote:

What makes you think they’re talking to scientists? They’re trying to make a sciency-sounding play for public opinion, not get published in J. Theor. Biol.

Actually they’re doing both. Bogus incredulity arguments sell to most nonscientists, but they also distract scientists. In replying to all those misconceptions, critics tend to overlook the fact that (pseudo)skeptics like Behe say almost nothing about their alternate “explanation.” In fairness to critics, they do occasionally mention the blatant evasion in passing, as Carl Zimmer does in the referenced article:

Because Behe thinks that the new research shows that evolution cannot produce anything more than tiny changes. And if evolution can’t do it, intelligent design can. (Don’t ask how.)

To which I add: More importantly, don’t ask where or when. That’s especially ironic given that Paul Nelson made one of his rare appearances on this thread to defend Behe. If what little Nelson and Behe have speculated about the “wheres and whens” of those mysterious designer “interventions” truly represents what they personally believe, their internal differences could fill volumes, while their common objection to evolution reduces to the one-liner in the above quote.

I have a radical recommendation. Once in a while, let’s take a break from refuting them to help them, by asking what the designer did when. Is the evidence converging on a “billions of years of descent with modification (& occasional intervention)” like Behe thinks? Or on “lots of ‘kinds’ popping up a few 1000 years ago” like Nelson apparently thinks (at least as of a few years ago)? There’s a tremendous amount of science that screams to be done, not to mention healthy internal debates that would give ID peddlers some credibility. They can’t keep saying “we don’t need to connect no stinkin’ dots” forever.

The Thornton reply is a classic. He demolishes all of the arguments made by Behe and demonstrates once again exactly why ID proponents cannot do science, they simply cannot conceive that reality could possibly be other than what it is. They cannot conceive of a world in which they were never born. They have a deep psychological need to be the center of the universe, cherished by an all-loving deity who will never let them die. This unspoken assumption poisons everything they say or do, no matter how much they try to pretend to be scientific or objective.

For anyone who is interested in reading the original papers, here is a link to publications from the Thornton lab, complete with links:

http://pages.uoregon.edu/joet/pubs.htm

Joe is a real expert, he has a pretty good publication record. Behe is just crying sour grapes over spilt milk and letting it run under the bridge and down the river.

Matt G said:

Two of my favorite analogies are the mousetrap (as used during the Dover trial) and the arch. The arch can be seen as irreducibly complex (remove any stone and it collapses), except that it is easy to imagine that some sort of scaffolding existed which is no longer present (like a mound of dirt).

More interesting is the natural arch.

”DS” Wrote:

You mean a creationist misrepresented the work of a real scientist and reached exactly the opposite conclusion as the scientist who actually performed and published the research! I’m shocked. No wait ,,, I guess I’m not after all.

What you mean is that you’re “shocked, shocked.” Which is to be expected, since Behe has been playing this game for at least 15 years.

Unfortunately Thornton may have unwittingly given the ID perps more ammunition with his analogy of the 1996 Yankees. Along with compelling “evidence” of the designer’s identity.

Paul Nelson said:

Thornton’s piece is two years old (October 2009). Behe replied shortly after it appeared, at length. You can read his response (in four parts) starting here:

http://behe.uncommondescent.com/200[…]nton-part-1/

Well Paul, both Steve Matheson and Mike Elzinga have made several important points. Just pointing to what Behe he wrote in response to Thornton doesn’t account for Thornton’s conclusion - as noted in his reply to Carl Zimmer which Carl had posted on his blog - that Behe does not understand molecular evolution. That he does not understand it should have been clear to anyone who read his “The Edge of Evolution: The Limits to Darwinism” when it was first published back in the Spring of 2007.

DS said:

John said:

Steve P. may regard Natural Selection as either a “force” or an “outcome” (Hint: It is neither, but instead, as the name strongly implies, a natural process.). He most certainly does reject that it can act on modern human populations. Well, coincidentally, I just stumbled upon this report on a just published Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4477579[…]g/?gt1=43001 IMHO this is the key paragraph: “By studying an island population in Quebec, the researchers found a genetic push toward younger age at first reproduction and larger families. This is the first direct evidence of natural selection in action in a relatively modern human population.”

Of course, given Steve P.’s consistent streak of breathtaking inanity, he would conclude otherwise, claiming that this was indeed the result of an Intelligent Designer (e. g. The Almighty, Jehovah).

Actually, Matheson describes how selective sweeps leave evidence in the human genome. We thus have evidence for selection in humans and their ancestors going back millions of years. You could call that information in the genome, you know the kind that ID proponents claim cannot be produced by natural processes.

I am well aware of Matheson’s observation, but DS, this is quite literally just off the presses, and, as far as I know, the only study that does show Natural Selection at work on a modern human population, which Steve P. and the other creotard lurkers here at PT would reject immediately.

Joe T said:

Apokryltaros said:

Steve P said: “Don’t eat that yellow snow, that’s where the Huskies go.”

That’s not a word game, Steve P. is telling Mike to eat urine-contaminated snow in revenge for a request to quantify Intelligent Design. Steve P. isn’t interested about word games, he isn’t interested about discussing anything. All Steve P is interested in is is to insult, whine at and berate us for not being stupid, bobble-headed anti-science bigots like he and all the other Creationist trolls here are.

What is even worse is that he screwed up the Frank Zappa quote. From the classic album, Overnight Sensation, it should be:

“Don’t go where the huskies go,

Don’t you eat that yellow snow.”

I thought it was “Watch out where the huskies go. Don’t you eat that yellow snow.”

Sylvilagus said:

I thought it was “Watch out where the huskies go. Don’t you eat that yellow snow.”

This is almost correct. I believe the correct version is “Watch out where the huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow.” Sage advice from a musical genius!

In other words, Steve P. even botched an attempt to quote Frank Zappa. Maybe he got distracted with a fabric order for 200 motels …

Dave Luckett said:

You haven’t the faintest notion of what Mike Elzinga was talking about, have you?

Please, do tell.

Joe T said:

Apokryltaros said:

Steve P said: “Don’t eat that yellow snow, that’s where the Huskies go.”

That’s not a word game, Steve P. is telling Mike to eat urine-contaminated snow in revenge for a request to quantify Intelligent Design. Steve P. isn’t interested about word games, he isn’t interested about discussing anything. All Steve P is interested in is is to insult, whine at and berate us for not being stupid, bobble-headed anti-science bigots like he and all the other Creationist trolls here are.

What is even worse is that he screwed up the Frank Zappa quote. From the classic album, Overnight Sensation, it should be:

“Don’t go where the huskies go,

Don’t you eat that yellow snow.”

Er, no Mr. T.

It was from the album ‘Apostophe”.

What, that makes us even now? Feelin’ betta yet?

You betta, you betta, you bet.

DS said:

https://me.yahoo.com/a/pp5xXQ99k5zI[…]p8EkA-#8a574 said:

When faced with such a an obvious error, Elzinga defends.… and descends, waaay dowwwwn.

“Don’t eat that yellow snow, that’s where the Huskies go.”

When faced with an obvious error, Steve chooses to play word games and berate those whose understanding is far superior to his.

The point that Matheson was making is that ignoring the role of such processes as drift and hitchhiking is a blatant misrepresentation of the Thornton results. But of course, rather than admit that, Steve just harps on one word in a description of a complex process. Now we know that Steve doesn’t believe in selection. He doesn’t even believe that competition exists. Man, no wonder he tried to defend the right of a bigoted troll to lie and slander his way through this thread.

Face it Steve, the jig is up. Thornton has answered the Behe challenge in a convincing fashion, by reconstructing ancestral sequences and testing the effects of mutations experimentally. There are plausible pathways by which new genes and new functions can evolve. Irreducible complexity is nothing more than imaginary. More specifically, it represents a distinct lack of imagination. And now, it requires a level of willful ignorance that is unimaginable in any honest person. SImilar types of processes and pathways doubtless exist for any and all examples of anything that Behe imagines to be irreducibly complex. Deal with it.

I do love Behe’s timing. Seems he’s got a new post up on Thorton’s work.

Matheson et al have their work cut out to wriggle out of this one.

By the way, DS. You really need to get over that competition stuff. HGT is a perfect example of the cooperative nature of life.

Struggle seems true up and personal, but at the end of the day its cooperation that sustains life.

Again, you need to think in terms of giving. Organisms share themselves in order to collectively live. Rabbits give 9 in order to keep 3. Snakes give 100 in order to keep 5. Roaches give 10s of thousands to keep hundreds.

“Give and it will be given back to you. Take and it will be taken from you.”

Steve P., perhaps you can offer an answer to harold’s question.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/pp5xXQ99k5zI[…]p8EkA-#8a574 said:

I do love Behe’s timing. Seems he’s got a new post up on Thorton’s work.

And yet, Behe hasn’t done any research at all for over 2 decades. Not even for Intelligent Design. So, where does he get his information for what he says about science and Intelligent Design? Certainly not from his own labwork.

Matheson et al have their work cut out to wriggle out of this one.

Matheson et al cut Behe to ribbons everytime he opens his mouth. Your whining “it t’aint so” and insulting us for not worshiping Behe’s inane proclamations of what Evolution allegedly can not do do not change the reality of the situation at all.

By the way, DS. You really need to get over that competition stuff. HGT is a perfect example of the cooperative nature of life.

Struggle seems true up and personal, but at the end of the day its cooperation that sustains life.

This is why we think you’re a pompous idiot: you talk like you’ve never seen nature or animals behave. If all life doesn’t struggle, but cooperate, why do lions and hyenas steal each’s food when they’re not trying to kill and eat each other on sight? Why do hummingbirds attack each other all the time? Why do dogs growl and bite whenever you try to take their food from them?

Again, you need to think in terms of giving. Organisms share themselves in order to collectively live. Rabbits give 9 in order to keep 3. Snakes give 100 in order to keep 5. Roaches give 10s of thousands to keep hundreds.

“Give and it will be given back to you. Take and it will be taken from you.”

Have you done any research to verify this?

Have you ever come up with any reason at all to justify that your word magically carries more weight than all of the scientists in the whole wide world?

SWT said:

Steve P., perhaps you can offer an answer to harold’s question.

No, he can’t. All Steve P is physically capable of doing is gloating, and whining and insulting us for not being stupid, science-hating bobble-heads like he is.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/pp5xXQ99k5zI[…]p8EkA-#8a574 said: Again, you need to think in terms of giving. Organisms share themselves in order to collectively live. Rabbits give 9 in order to keep 3. Snakes give 100 in order to keep 5. Roaches give 10s of thousands to keep hundreds.

‘Give’ implies consent. But rabbits etc. attempt to escape from predators, they don’t welcome them.

IOW, your giving idea predicts behavior directly at odds with what we observe. As the kids say, epic fail.

Certainly the death of one prey animal may end up stopping a predatory hunt, allowing the the other prey animals to escape and live. But it can’t in any rational way be considered “giving” when the “giving” animal is clearly and obviously trying very hard not to be a gift.

Maybe they were talking about the Shmoo in Dogpatch?

https://me.yahoo.com/a/pp5xXQ99k5zI[…]p8EkA-#8a574 said:

I do love Behe’s timing. Seems he’s got a new post up on Thorton’s work.

Indeed he has and it’s priceless. His central point is that since RM+NS cannot reverse several unrelated random mutations to get back to the original functional code, it therefore cannot generate several unrelated random mutations to get to a new functional code. At last he has found a point of agreement with every other Evolutionary Biologist. Reaching a previously specified target in either direction is a tornado in a junk yard scenario.

I did contemplate posting this at http://behe.uncommondescent.com/, but he seems to have forgotten to enable comments.

Dave Lovell said:

https://me.yahoo.com/a/pp5xXQ99k5zI[…]p8EkA-#8a574 said:

I do love Behe’s timing. Seems he’s got a new post up on Thorton’s work.

Indeed he has and it’s priceless. His central point is that since RM+NS cannot reverse several unrelated random mutations to get back to the original functional code, it therefore cannot generate several unrelated random mutations to get to a new functional code. At last he has found a point of agreement with every other Evolutionary Biologist. Reaching a previously specified target in either direction is a tornado in a junk yard scenario.

I did contemplate posting this at http://behe.uncommondescent.com/, but he seems to have forgotten to enable comments.

Oh, man! That is indeed grotesque!

I can’t say I’m surprised or speachless; there are just too many rejoinders to choose from.

Behe seems to be getting senile.

Dave Lovell said: At last he [Behe] has found a point of agreement with every other Evolutionary Biologist. Reaching a previously specified target in either direction is a tornado in a junk yard scenario.

Talk about retreat. I guess he’s decided that as long as he finds some true “evolution shouldn’t produce X” statement, it doesn’t matter what X is. This X is completely unrelated to his original point OR reality. Yet, he’s probably going to declare victory over it.

Dave Lovell said:

https://me.yahoo.com/a/pp5xXQ99k5zI[…]p8EkA-#8a574 said:

I do love Behe’s timing. Seems he’s got a new post up on Thorton’s work.

Indeed he has and it’s priceless. His central point is that since RM+NS cannot reverse several unrelated random mutations to get back to the original functional code, it therefore cannot generate several unrelated random mutations to get to a new functional code. At last he has found a point of agreement with every other Evolutionary Biologist. Reaching a previously specified target in either direction is a tornado in a junk yard scenario.

I did contemplate posting this at http://behe.uncommondescent.com/, but he seems to have forgotten to enable comments.

Of course it can. All you need is a gene duplication and some genetic drift and presto. Now it might not be too likely, especially given a lack of selection pressure, but it certainly is possible. But then again, if it wer not adaptive, why would one want to prove that it could evolve in the first place?

eric said:

Dave Lovell said: At last he [Behe] has found a point of agreement with every other Evolutionary Biologist. Reaching a previously specified target in either direction is a tornado in a junk yard scenario.

Talk about retreat. I guess he’s decided that as long as he finds some true “evolution shouldn’t produce X” statement, it doesn’t matter what X is. This X is completely unrelated to his original point OR reality. Yet, he’s probably going to declare victory over it.

Right. It’s the old “evolution can’t produce a flying horse, therefore it can’t produce a bird or a horse” routine. Priceless.

DS said:

eric said:

Dave Lovell said: At last he [Behe] has found a point of agreement with every other Evolutionary Biologist. Reaching a previously specified target in either direction is a tornado in a junk yard scenario.

Talk about retreat. I guess he’s decided that as long as he finds some true “evolution shouldn’t produce X” statement, it doesn’t matter what X is. This X is completely unrelated to his original point OR reality. Yet, he’s probably going to declare victory over it.

Right. It’s the old “evolution can’t produce a flying horse, therefore it can’t produce a bird or a horse” routine. Priceless.

It is astounding that ID/creationists don’t recognize that even industrial processes that are used in the manufacture of “designer” drugs - or even in the complex chemistry and physics of solid state electronic devices - are often difficult to control and can go off in “wild” directions with small changes in temperature or any number of tiny variations in the process.

Humans have been using empirical methods for producing things for centuries. Many things humans work with are so complicated that only empirical methods for finding the right recipe are available to them.

But science not only shows why this has been true, it has now developed to the point that we continue to gain tighter control and predictability over the things we make.

Is this in response to Behe’s recent post on Time Asymmetric Reality Denial?

https://me.yahoo.com/a/pp5xXQ99k5zI[…]p8EkA-#8a574 said:

Back on topic.

Mr. Hoppe,

Regarding your suggestion that readers check out Steve Matheson’s comments you linked to on his blog on natural selection, it seems there is an obvious mistake in his reference to natural selection as a force. One of your own contributors here, in addition to other scientists emphasize that natural selection is an outcome, not some type of force. Off the bat, he gets the descripton of natural selection wrong.

One has to be skeptical of a writer that unwittingly or purposefully seeks to aggrandize natural selection.

It would have been better for everyone to ignore this comical semantic red herring, but here’s my take on the use of the word ‘force’ to refer to natural selection.

First, I have not seen the previous comments to which Joe T. is referring, so I won’t address that. It may be that Joe T. is not the only one playing semantic games, and those pastimes don’t interest me. Second, I hate to cite the dictionary in what should be a discussion of the merits of particular evolutionary ideas, but a well-known usage of the word ‘force’ is based on this definition: “power to influence, affect, or control; efficacious power: the force of circumstances; a force for law and order.” Elsewhere in that same dictionary, you will find this usage: “any influence or agency analogous to physical force: social forces.” The influence of natural selection is well-described by ‘force,’ and that should be obvious to any native English speaker.

Finally, whether or not the usage is clearly typical (which it is) or somehow peculiar, it might be useful to know whether evolutionary biologists tend to use ‘force’ to describe natural selection and other influences on evolution. Don’t take it from me; visit the literature. (No, really.) Start here.

Expect no further discussion of semantics on this thread; followups go to the BW.

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Behe’s cranes just made me all confused. Dennet’s cranes were a lot simpler to understand. Lol.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on September 30, 2011 7:31 PM.

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