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  Topic: Boredom, frustration, anger and even apathy!, How do you deal with loons and cranks?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,07:37   

Dear All,

Since a major part of all our online (and possibly even offline) existences is spent engaging in debate with various types of people. I was curious about a few things.

1) What actually motivates us to do this?

2) How do we cope with the inevitable  ennui that develops when one has bashed one's head against the brick wall of frothing ignorance demonstrated by some people?

We encounter the well meaning but currently ignorant (I was/am one myself, this is not a perjorative term), the deluded, the deliberately dishonest, the kooks, cranks and loons, and also the agenda ridden proselytisers. We have perfectly polite, curious people come to places like PT and discuss aspects of science and culture etc. We also get (and I am sorry to name names) people like "Ghost of Paley" who is clearly intelligent enough to google a few articles and string some words together but who is either a parody or so deliberately self deluding as to be beyond professional help.

I think this goes FAR beyond mere religion. We see this depth of "belief" and "faith" based extremism in many spheres, politics, spirituality, even mangement! So my third question is:

3) What is the basis for the extremes of what I can only call "kookery" that we encounter?

Lastly, I am currently experiencing a large amount of anger, and general boredom with the whole creationist/ID nitwittery. I simply haven't seen anything new in a decade from them (a stark contrast with my life as a research scientist where it's almost a struggle to keep up with what's new!;)). Again using "Ghost of Paley" as an example (something I am sure to regret, the guy is unhinged), the guy (or the guy playing him) is clearly not stupid, but the depths of dishonesty and delusion being displayed are staggering. The patience he is being dealt with borders on the saintly! How people like Cogzoid and EricMurphy etc can repeatedly deal with him so dispassionately is a talent I don't possess. I read the entire thread and I am annoyed! This annoyance has spilt over into a kind of apathy with the whole issue, it's a feeling I've had before when encountering utter lunatics. So the last question is:

4) How do you deal with the annoyance that these extreme loons cause, and the ensuing apathy towards an important scientific topic and social wrangle?

I am particularly interested in comments from people like Lenny, Wesley, Nick Matzke, PvM, etc i.e. people who have been involved in this "debate" for a long time, and/or who have been professionally involved.

Thanks.

Louis

P.S. See you Brits on Darwin Day, I've booked a day off btw, so if anyone wants to do the Natural History Museum it might be an option.

--------------
Bye.

  
Mr_Christopher



Posts: 1238
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,08:57   

Although you did not specifically ask for my opinion, I'll offer it just the same.

You cannot reason with a true believer.  And keep in mind they are trying to convince you of your mistaken notions just as much as you are trying to convince them of their mistaken ways.  

True believers play with a different set of rules and reason and logic are not a part of their cultural currency.  "Debating" them is a complete waste of time.  They simply reject evidence that conflicts or contradicts their own beliefs and have no use for the scientific method.

Look at all the wasted space and energy granted to Larry over at PT.  Has Larry ever admitted he was wrong?  I have seen some brilliant minds take on Larry (and I learned quite a bit just listening) but those "debates" never benefited Larry in any way.  He is as close minded and dogmatic as he was the day he strolled in.  Yet many brilliant minds keep ignorantly thinking they can reason with Larry.  And substitute Larry's name for any of the intelligent design creationists here or on PT.

Although I have fed more than one troll in my life, I knew then and I know now doing so is simply a waste of time.  Again, a true believer has no use for things like reason and logic or the scientific method.  Heck one of Dembski's "science" courses at Souther Baptist Theological Seminary talks about recognizing how "logic" can dangerously keep you from "Christian Truths".

Although I think it is valid to point out bad arguements or mistaken notions that are promoted by ID cultists here, good luck to anyone who thinks they can reason with a true believer.  And a reality check may be in order for anyone who thinks reason has any value to a true believer.  

And to keep pointing out the same things to the same people over and over (as if the number of times you repeat the same thing will somehow magically make them "get it") is just plain silly.  I mean who is not in touch with reality in that scenario?

Anyhow, that is my unsolicited $.02

--------------
Uncommon Descent is a moral cesspool, a festering intellectual ghetto that intoxicates and degrades its inhabitants - Stephen Matheson

  
GCT



Posts: 1001
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,09:17   

I will also answer (unsolicited).  I keep a smile on my face and think that it's all for the greater good.  My (probably naive) hope is that somebody looking on that hasn't become a True Believer™ will see the dishonesty and tricks that the IDists employ and will be swayed away from their spurious arguments.  Plus, sometimes it's just fun to laugh at truly ignorant comments.

  
J. G. Cox



Posts: 38
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,09:25   

edit: GCT beat me to the post, but my point is the same

Though tempted, I will not derail this thread with my speculations as to why some people are so difficult to convince on certain subjects using mere evidence and logic. As avoiding frustration, I imagine that one way is to keep perspective on the objectives of engaging such people in debate. One objective is, as you have mentioned, to try to change their minds. Frustration arises when this objective proves impossible to meet, as the whole effort seems wasted. However, a second (more important?) objective is to convince people who are merely audience to the argument Forcing cdesign proponentsists to lay out their arguments and then pointing out the deep flaws in the same gives people are are willing to change their minds something to latch on to. Lurkers abound, and are often the ones who are curious enough to listen and not so firm in their beliefs as to ignore evidence and logic (and immediately register and start posting, hence the lurking).
 My guess is that some people can avoid frustration because they realize that often the ones that they are truly trying to convince are not the ones with whom they are arguing. Thus, their effort is not wasted.

  
Mr_Christopher



Posts: 1238
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,09:43   

And one final comment from me.  Pointing out these deep flaws is an important part of forums like this.  Thinking that effort will result in a true believer getting it borders on dellusional.

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Uncommon Descent is a moral cesspool, a festering intellectual ghetto that intoxicates and degrades its inhabitants - Stephen Matheson

  
MidnightVoice



Posts: 380
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,09:44   

1) I actually learn something sometimes

2) I go away for a while

3)Ignorance, stupidity and fundamentalist religion.

:D

--------------
If I fly the coop some time
And take nothing but a grip
With the few good books that really count
It's a necessary trip

I'll be gone with the girl in the gold silk jacket
The girl with the pearl-driller's hands

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,09:46   

Excuse me for also jumping in.

Not much to say except that I tend to respond to posters for similar reasons as GCT and J. G. Cox.

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,09:52   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 25 2006,15:46)

I agree, there are hundreds of unteachable cranks out there (I could list at least 20 at PT alone!;), but I believe that for every crank there's several impressionable lurkers out there whose opinions still haven't calcified yet. If we take the trouble to pick apart the fifth-rate arguments of the True Believers, perhaps people who haven't made up their minds will watch and think "Boy, they sure shredded him. That guy really didn't know what he was talking about!", and hopefully come away from the experience with greater respect for actual evidence and reason.

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Tim Hague



Posts: 32
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,10:03   

Cranks do have their uses.  Some of the more interesting threads you will see will be 'crank inspired'.  

I have to admit I only got into the whole ID vs. evolution debate last year, and it was completely due to a crank on a football (soccer) forum I was on, who utterly refused to acknowledge logic.  Due to him, I ended up researching all over the web, and found Panda's Thumb among other excellent sites.  

The whole debate has reignited my interest to the point where I am seriously thinking about getting back in to proper science again - the last time I did any was towards the end of my Genetics degree 12 years ago.  I'm thinking about doing a masters in Bioinformatics, and possibly leaving IT to do science again full time.  

All inspired by a single crank.

   
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,11:58   

Sorry guys, I didn't mean to imply I was ONLY interested in the opinions of those named. I am interested in ALL replies from you guys, and thanks for making them. I agree with much of what's been said thus far. Cheers!

Louis

--------------
Bye.

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,13:19   

I must admit that sometimes I get frustrated. Especially when I forget who the real audience is and actually think some of the cranks might be persuaded by evidence.

Sheesh I know #### well by now they wont. Guess I just live in hope. I should remember to remove my rose tinted glasses. ;)

  
Henry J



Posts: 4565
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,16:42   

Yeah, to paraphrase what several have already said, "crank" = "somebody who's firmly convinced that 80,000 experts are unreliable sources of info in their own subject". Ergo, a few paragraphs (esp. from an amateur like myself) aren't gonna go anywhere.

I first encountered these arguments 10-11 years ago, after getting on the internet and discovering online bulletin boards. The Prodigy Science BB had an ongoing evolution/creation "debate" at that time. Didn't take long to figure out which side had logic and evidence on its side and which didn't.

Henry

  
keiths



Posts: 2041
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,18:18   

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned these factors:

1. Kooks are like snowflakes.  No two are exactly alike, and each is fascinating in his or her own way (though it does get old listening to the same kooks over and over -- it helps to have a steady stream of new kooks).

2.  The whole question of why people (both kooks and non-kooks) believe what they believe is extremely interesting.

3. It's entertaining to watch kooks in extremis.  Some of my best belly laughs of the past year have come from watching the goings-on at Uncommon Dementia (no offense to the honest and polite ID proponents there who are unfortunately overshadowed by the goofy or rude ones).

4. Defending a position properly requires knowing the subject matter thoroughly.  Even answering a kook will sometimes cause you to learn something new or to think through your position more carefully.

5. It's good to know your opponents' arguments as well as or better than they do, because then you can be confident that you're testing your own beliefs against the best available counterarguments.  Continued testing is the best prophylactic against complacent acceptance of comfortable (but wrong) ideas.

Having said all that, I think it's important to take a break if you start finding yourself to be more irritated than entertained.  There are plenty of intelligent and articulate Darwinians available to "cover" for you until you're ready to rejoin the fray.

--------------
And the set of natural numbers is also the set that starts at 0 and goes to the largest number.  -- Joe G

Please stop putting words into my mouth that don't belong there and thoughts into my mind that don't belong there. -- KF

  
Mr_Christopher



Posts: 1238
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,18:26   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Jan. 25 2006,19:19)
I must admit that sometimes I get frustrated. Especially when I forget who the real audience is and actually think some of the cranks might be persuaded by evidence.

Sheesh I know #### well by now they wont. Guess I just live in hope. I should remember to remove my rose tinted glasses. ;)

If they do not respond to reason by the second reply you can bet your money you're dealing with a true believer and not someone who is simply misinformed or one who has been hoodwinked.

That is my litmus test so to speak.  And trying to convince a true believer generally always ends up ugly or simply a race to see who can be more sarcastic.  Again, Larry is a good example.  But at least he doesn't get down right nasty in his replies like that evopeach did/does.

I figure lurkers seeing that ugly type of stuff are turned off to both sides of the arguement.  Don't get me wrong, I make fun on guys like Dembski and Behe for sport, and I can be snotty about it, but I try to avoid getting into it with true believers and that means mostly ignoring them once they demonstrate a resistance to using ordinary and accepted uses of logic and reason.  No reason in the world will overcome a belief grounded in magic that is not bound to natural laws.

--------------
Uncommon Descent is a moral cesspool, a festering intellectual ghetto that intoxicates and degrades its inhabitants - Stephen Matheson

  
Tim Hague



Posts: 32
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 25 2006,21:09   

"I believe it because it's true.
It's true because I believe it."

If you can't persuade someone that this is circular logic then you're wasting your time.

   
tiredofthesos



Posts: 59
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,01:32   

Would this diference be appropriate? A "crank" is someone entirely unpleasant in their idee fixe, or else entirely unpleasant in voicing their bald hypocrisy: this sort of person is, like the proverbial lump of dried shit, actively uses their fixation in seeking to harm others: racism, chavinism, sexism, bad-isms are often and easily spotted, especially in their attacks.  The crank doesn't finally care about their ideas, but rather seeks power over the thoughts of others.
 
 A "kook" or "eccentric" may occasionally be unpleasant, but often provides entertainment, sometimes even intentionally, and sometimes even insight.  A kook perhaps less likely to prove the hypocrite than the norm, since they are sincere in their pursuit of an idea, however obviously wrong. The kook wants to see their ideas accepted by their peers.

 The ToE, directly attacking the most fundamental basis of most "crank" ideas (as I'm choosing to define them) is therefore necessarily a, perhaps the, prime target of such people.

  
J. G. Cox



Posts: 38
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,07:16   

There was a really interesting (if brief) article in the New York Times about research some neuro/psycho scientists are doing.
 link: (may require registration)
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/24/science/24find.html?_r=1

Quote
Using M.R.I. scanners, neuroscientists have now tracked what happens in the politically partisan brain when it tries to digest damning facts about favored candidates or criticisms of them. The process is almost entirely emotional and unconscious, the researchers report, and there are flares of activity in the brain's pleasure centers when unwelcome information is being rejected.


 I'm guessing that the results would be the same for any strongly ideological viewpoints, and is pertinent to our discussion.  Anyone else think that we should stick some IDers in an MRI scanner?

  
guthrie



Posts: 696
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,07:45   

It always helps to maintain your sense of humour.  

Recently I've started telling ID and anti-scientists that I believe there is a large pink spider sitting on their ceiling above their computer.  
So far, on one occaision, it has led to a useful debate about the nature of knowing and science.  On another, the person I was addressing left the thread, so never answered it.  Now I've tried it on thordaddy, and got an entertainingly vague answer about nothing in science saying there might not be a spider there.

Proposing such a ridiculous thing helps make some things about how we know what we know, and how do I know you know what you know, etc etc much more clear.

  
Flint



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,08:03   

The creationists who hang around (we get drive-bys as well) tend to be a pretty good filter for the quality of our questions and responses. My informal scale is like this:

1) If your question or response is particularly cogent and well-expressed, the creationist will totally ignore your post.

2) If you phrased your question/response in any way that can be misconstrued, the creationist will do so in his response.

3) If you got off-topic in some way that the creationist can babble along with no need of knowledge, he'll produce a long meaningless response, usually changing the subject.

On the rare occasions when a majority of the posters join in asking the same good question, so that the creationist can only change the subject, he soon gives up and so do I. Nobody has any more to learn.

  
JLeigh



Posts: 1
Joined: Mar. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 31 2006,12:29   

For all the lurkers I thank you all for your endless patience. I've been visiting (okay lurking) at the Panda's Thumb for a few months now and I think I've learned more than I though possible about science, evolution and the whole ... I hesitate to call it a debate regarding ID. It's been your patience that has helped me understand a lot more about evolution, and even the way people think. So ... thanks again for your patience with the "Kooks".

  
PuckSR



Posts: 314
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 31 2006,12:32   

Hey...leigh...

Im glad you gained some knowledge...rest assured that most of us arent on a mission to change people's opinions...only a fool would try to do that....we are just trying to make sure that people base their opinions on good information and solid reasoning.

Good luck

  
thordaddy



Posts: 486
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 01 2006,01:13   

I just think the crank likes to bust up the sorority party?

  
DaveRAFinn



Posts: 15
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: April 03 2006,12:55   

Here is my $0.02 worth.

My normal position on scientific subjects is attempting to explain why the silly idea is silly. e.g. Planting by the phase of the moon makes no sense because a) if you calculate the forces involved they are far too small and b) if it really did have an effect then you would expect at least some flowering plants to have synchronised their flowering and seed production with the phase of the moon. I am familiar with and can and do work pro-science.

On the subject of ToE I find myself in the opposite role
in that what I observe in the world does not at all agree with what I expect from what I understand of evolutionary theory. In principle this might be because of a deficiency in my understanding of evolution, as many, especially lay, versions of theories contain serious logical errors (I have yet to encounter a lay version of black hole theory that is not logically inconsistent). So,if nothing else, an understanding of the queries being made tells you something about the quality of the teaching. However, when I raise my concerns there are three principle responses in order of frequency:
   a) abuse, I must be stupid not to see the received wisdom. I must be an IDer (I'm an atheist for Murphy's sake) etc.
   b) an attack on my point of view based on some minor essentially irrelevant detail. On the receiving end the impression one gets is that the post has been made as "here is something that can be interpreted as an error, therefore everything the guy says can be ignored".
   c) a reasoned criticism of an incorrect point of view that I am totally unable to account for as a possible interpretation of what I have written, followed by an explanation of a related issue which is often very similar to what I though I was saying in the first place.

There is something wrong with the communication process on ToE. Frankly I can get better engagement with visiting Jehova's Witless (although they do not like the idea that the bible as a compendium assembled by Caesar's committee to support Caesar's views an giving special prominence to one of Caesar's citizens (Paul) constitutes something of Caesar's not God's and promptly leave). I grant that there are a number of silly ideas based on religion or simple misunderstanding. However there are a number of serious issues in ToE where the response resembles pseudoscience rather than science. This is not just a personal opinion, refer to works on philosophy of science for similar, authoritative views.

An example of this suspect response can be seen in discussing the fossil record. There is a major problem classical ToE in that the fossil record exhibits a very noticeable granularity and species changes below a fairly large threshold simply do not appear, even in materials like chalk which preserve an almost day-by-day record. I have yet to see any pro-neo-Darwinist discuss this subject without, within one paragraph, referring to the issue as "missing fossils" and changing the subject to the totally different one of whether there are series of fossils and whether the gaps in the series can be explained. You can actually see the mental blinkers going on.

So some of us "kooks" out here do believe in science, logic and basing theories on data. We think we have an obligation to attempt to enlighten those who are unable to understand and follow the basic principles of science. This is especially true when, as appears to be the case, the majority of workers in a supposedly scientific subject come into that category.

  
Chris Hyland



Posts: 705
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 04 2006,12:41   

Quote
There is something wrong with the communication process on ToE


I agree, but it is a problem not easily solved. You can't teach the theory of evolution as an evolutionary biologist understands it to a high-school student or a layperson who does not have time to fully learn it. Consequently things are learnt that are not strictly true, as with all subjects that are taught at these various levels. Up to and including doing a biochemistry degree, I would have said that saltation was not compatible with modern evolutionary theory, however now I have done much reading I understand that it is. If I had left with just a high school science education, I would have said that change in allele frequency is sufficient to create the new species that we see and account for the complexity we see in life, but I now know that is not true.

The problem then comes when someone says something that has been 'watered down' the creationists accuse them of making false or unscientific statements that do not fit the data. I have experienced it many times, I make a simplified scientific statement on a creationist website, as I assume that not everyone I am speaking to is a scientist, and someone who has some knowledge of the science then assumes I am an idiot and wrongly interpreting evidence because of my atheistic commitment to materialism or whatever. For most of the people on this board and others the science is something they do in their spare time.

Most gaps in the fossil record are likely to be the result of missing fossils, but from what I understand from reading evolutionary biology papers saltation is also likely and we would expect to see it in the record. The point is I wouldn't expect most people who aren't geeks and spend time reading sceintific papers to know that. Nor should people have to for that matter.

..................

That's the problem with creationist kooks in general, they learn about several specific scientific points from different disciplines so its actually quite hard to argue with them. For example I couldn't argue with a creationsit about radioisotope dating even though I know their arguments are rubbish as far as geologists are concerned. You have to be some kind of polymath or memorise the entire of talkorigins . I honestly think you could fill a degree in anticreationsim.

  
DaveRAFinn



Posts: 15
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: April 05 2006,17:37   

Chris

One of the issues I have a problem with is the US paranoia about Creationism. Locally (New Zealand) it is not a burning issue - sure we have a few Creationists and other oddballs, but they do not form a significant or powerful lobby so there no for/against evolution battlefield. I am not coming from anywhere near a creationist viewpoint and keep running into someone else's war. My instinctive reaction is to take sides against anyone who says " if you are not for us you are against us" whatever the issue.

One way of looking at what I am saying is to consider the "aha" factor. An example, when we move to our current rural location we planted some walnut trees. These do not like standing water round the roots so we planted them on the ridgeline, thinking, we thought at the time reasonably, that since water flows downhill the location would be reasonably well drained. We now know otherwise. The reason the ridgeline is the ridgeline is that is where the particularly gooey, sticky, water retaining clay was, everything else washed away. "Aha".

I enjoy reading science subjects because I like the "aha" of finding out how something counterintuitive actually works. Alone amongst the reasonably solid sciences is evolution which never gives me an "aha" feeling. The process remains just as counterintuitive no matter how much I read and I am never able to say "that is how you calculate the correct answer". It can't be just my intuition because I have done some quantum mechanics and there is nothing to beat that for counterintuitive effects but I still get "aha" from it. Furthermore nobody ever publishes an example of the correct calculations. It is always "once upon a time" or "given enough time" or something else sufficiently vague to prevent numerical analysis. The argument that further study will make things clearer only works if some progress can be felt - astrologers and other crackpots all insist that their subject can only be really understood by initiates.

Anyway, as a result of planting trees I got to notice a strange phenomenon that resembled "saltation" to use your term. So I thought about it. I eventually came up with my own version of evolution, seriously different from neo-Darwinism but perfectly consistent mathematically and biochemically. This theory does give me "aha" feelings. This theory does give me correct calculations. So I say to some biologists "excuse me, but are you sure you have got it right, this approach seems to work better?" And I get accused immediately of being stupid religious crank who has not learnt or understood his lessons correctly.

Brief summary of alternative theory.
a) Although mutation is generally detrimental when an organism is far enough from a survivable equilibrium the potential advantages of mutation get to outweigh the disadvantages, a fatal mutation does not matter if you are going to die anyway. You can obtain confirmation of this point by checking the published liturature - seriously stressed bacteria increase their rate of mutation, selectively.
b) Lateral gene transfer is an especially efficient way of getting additional mutation in a short time scale. The potential advantage of getting a gene from something that thrives in the environment is significant and the worst of the bad mutations have already been filtered out. Mostly it is one #### of a lot of evolution in one convenient package so any organism that does it under the same conditions as the bacteria increase their mutation rate will tend to, on average, leave more descendants.

c) The process is self reinforcing in that any organism that is particularly good at recognising the right conditions and reacting to them will tend to leave more descendants that an indifferent player.

d) It works for all species as they are descended from bacteria which had the mechanism and still retain, albeit sometimes intermittent, contact between all their cells and the bacteria which produce bacterial plasmids.

Now, what is stupid or religious about that?

  
improvius



Posts: 807
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 05 2006,17:56   

You'll have to pardon my ignorance, but I don't see how what you describe is necessarily in conflict with any accepted ToE.

--------------
Quote (afdave @ Oct. 02 2006,18:37)
Many Jews were in comfortable oblivion about Hitler ... until it was too late.
Many scientists will persist in comfortable oblivion about their Creator ... until it is too late.

  
Chris Hyland



Posts: 705
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 06 2006,07:03   

DaveRAFinn

I was not referring to you when I said creationist kooks don't worry, I havent seen any evidence to put you in that category. Your hypothesis is interesting, but if there is a large amount of lateral gene transfer between eukaryotes this should be detectable, indeed some examples have been published.

If I understand right you are saying that somehow animals can absorb genetic material from other organisms and pass it on to their offspring? I would expect this to be quite easy to prove if it were true.

  
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