Quote (Glen Davidson @ Feb. 26 2014,16:16)So you've been doing science as well?
I guess that the answer depends on how you define "doing science". If it involves bending over for the swellheads then no, I stay away from that.
Quote (N.Wells @ Feb. 26 2014,16:54)That would be the UD / ID world that's full of nutcases who use Intelligent Design as a wedge to promote a religious agenda.
Then you are saying that you have more in common with your enemy, than you are able to realize.
Quote (GaryGaulin @ Feb. 26 2014,15:42) Quote (fnxtr @ Feb. 26 2014,09:04)You're an attention whore.
After over 300 pages of being trashed for NOT being an attention whore for the science news media (primarily journals) your accusation is an oxymoron.
But do have fun with your sock-puppets, while I try to get some more science work done.
So we can add attention whore, science news media, scientific journals, oxymorons, and sockpuppets to the ever-growing list of concepts that you don't fully comprehend.
Quote That will teach me, for attempting to have a scientific discussion with hopeless nutcases, in a forum for promoting a religious agenda that uses the Theory of Intelligent Design as a weapon. That would be the UD / ID world that's full of nutcases that use Intelligent Design as a wedge to promote a religious agenda. The only hopeless nutcase around here is yourself. This site is more for amusement than serious science, but we are clearly in favor of science rather than religion and are holding Intelligent Design up for ridicule as its proponents have so far been unable to show that it is good for anything else. You have shown that you have no interest in scientific discussion, given that whenever someone raises a legitimate criticism (the way one does in scientific discussion), your responses are deflection, whining, insults, posting links to music, ignoring the criticism, changing the topic, and posting about supposed advances in your program. You give the impression that for you "scientific discussion" means only conversations that run along the lines of "GG: Here buried in this incomprehensible pile of verbiage without any supporting evidence is my self-evident model in all its amazing wondrousness; Rest of the world: Wow, that's fantastic, you're a genius". However, it isn't, you're not, and science doesn't work that way.
Quote (Richardthughes @ Feb. 26 2014,14:43)Over at Untelligent Reasoning:
Quote If you had my command of the englich language...
I don't think anyone knows Englisch like Joe.. Does it have Germanic roots?
We really must introduce him to Gary. Virtual vegan ticks, here we come!
Gene Ray makes more sense than you do.
Repeating lies, over and over again, is how the academically profitable scam is perpetrated.
Which makes it such a shame that 110% of nothing is still nothing.
Quote 40 points for claiming that the "scientific establishment" is engaged in a "conspiracy" to prevent your work from gaining its well-deserved fame, or suchlike. Quote 20 points for defending yourself by bringing up (real or imagined) ridicule accorded to your past theories. Quote 10 points for claiming that your work is on the cutting edge of a "paradigm shift". Quote 40 points for comparing those who argue against your ideas to Nazis, stormtroopers, or brownshirts.
Gary always gives 110%.
Heh. They used to play that on the local campus station at 6am Mondays. Now, thanks to a technology upgrade, we get "library on random". Bleh.
I'd love to see the tiniest bit of evidence that any money at all has been spent specifically to discredit Gary, his "work", or destroy him/his life.
That some or all of these things might have happened as a side effect of doing genuine scientific work of proven value is at most a happy side effect.
Gary's pathetic whiny self-importance is merely one ongoing symptom of his delusions of adequacy. He's just not very good at it.
Quote (Richardthughes @ Feb. 25 2014,00:29) Quote (sparc @ Feb. 24 2014,23:19) Quote "Another thing that makes me think that maybe this work is having an impact is that after it started gaining momentum, Michigan State University, home of Pennock’s Digital Evolution Lab, received a huge $25 million NSF grant in 2010 for BEACON (Bio-computational Evolution in Action CONsortium). I suspect that at least part of the rationale for the NSF giving our tax dollars to fund this boondoggle is the threat to Darwinian evolution posed by the Evolutionary Informatics Lab."
I was not aware that megalomania is measured in Dembskis.
ETA: just learned that the unit can only be properly expressed with caps lock on.
from the interview:
Quote Far better would have been to use those seven minutes to recount the record of accomplishment of intelligent design.
It would involve s p e a k i n g v e r y s l o w l y.
Think Sir Clement Freud on Just a Minute.
Well, I'd love to see you stop whining like a brat, but that's probably not gonna happen either. Such is life.
I would love to see what would happen where the situation were reversed, and massive amounts of funding were only allowed to be invested in the destruction of the lives and livelihood of those who play with Genetic Algorithms and all the other trivial garbage used to colorfully parade the academic sacred cow, where it brings in money by the millions, especially when a few thousand "science supporters" are running around claiming that the sky/science is falling (on account of ID).
Quote (GaryGaulin @ Feb. 25 2014,00:41) Quote (didymos @ Feb. 25 2014,01:17)Man, you really just don't get even the simplest things, do you? Also, re: your paranoiac whining? Yeah, we don't care about that either.
The whining in this forum is coming from asshole babies like you who think that their science-stopping shit does not smell.
Really, GarGar? You're resorting to "I know you are but what am I"? You're as skilled at insults as you are at science. And English composition.
How to build an animal
Whereas the focus in Part 1 falls on fossil evidence for an explosion of life in the Early Cambrian, we change gear in Part 2 and examine biological research relevant to the origin of animal phyla.
The starting point is the search for ways of measuring biological information representing different body plans. Shannon's theory of information (when applied to the animal genome) has the merit of mathematical rigour, but Meyer shows that this approach gives insight only into a sequence's capacity to carry information. Whether the sequence is functional is undetermined ? so discussion of biological information must extend far beyond quantitative measures. Meyer discusses the number of cell types as an indicator of complexity of embedded information. With reference to the genome, which uses digital codes, he uses the term "specified information", meaning that a genetic sequence can only be functional if the codons have a specific arrangement. Is the neo-Darwinian mechanism adequate to explain the origins of novel specified information associated with the Cambrian Explosion? Meyer describes this as a challenging question for Darwinists and claims that the necessity of "vast amounts" of specificity makes their explanations implausible.
To show that this argument is real, and not an argument from ignorance, Meyer devotes the next chapter to unpacking the issues surrounding specificity. In the early 1960s, Murray Eden (a professor of engineering and computer science at MIT) realised that there was a problem with neo-Darwinian theory and organised a conference to explore the issues at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. The theme was: "Mathematical challenges to the neo-Darwinian interpretation of evolution". The participants came from many disciplines and included Ernst Mayr (one of the architects of neo-Darwinism) and Richard Lewontin (Professor of genetics and evolutionary biology). Chairing the meeting was the Nobel laureate Sir Peter Medawar. The discussion provided by Meyer is extremely helpful in clarifying the nature of the problems and summarising some of the suggestions for resolving the dilemmas. The most favoured possible solution is explained in the quotation below, and is significant for stimulating a design-based research programme discussed in the subsequent chapter.
"The solution was this: even though the size of the combinatorial space that mutations needed to search was enormous, the ratio of functional to non-functional base or amino-acid sequence in their relevant combinatorial spaces might turn out to be much higher than Eden and others had assumed. If that ratio turned out to be high enough, then the mutation and selection mechanism would frequently stumble onto novel genes and proteins and could easily leapfrog from one functional protein island to the next, with natural selection discarding the non-functional outcomes and seizing upon the rare (but not too rare) functional sequences." (page 178)
As a research student in the late 80s, Doug Axe was not persuaded by Dawkins' rhetoric in "The Blind Watchmaker", and wanted to undertake research himself into aspects of genetic information. Reading the proceedings of the Wistar Conference stimulated many ideas for further work. This led Axe to join a protein engineering team at the University of Cambridge. Meyer's discussion of his experiments and results need to be read in full to appreciate the robustness of the empirical work undertaken. However, this is the conclusion of the first phase of Axe's research:
"Overall, therefore, he showed that despite some allowable variability, proteins (and the genes that produce them) are indeed highly specified relative to their biological functions, especially in their crucial exterior portions. Axe showed that whereas proteins will admit some variation at most sites if the rest of the protein is left unchanged, multiple as opposed to single amino-acid substitutions consistently result in rapid loss of protein function." (p.193)
In the next chapter, Meyer himself appears as part of the story-line. The year is 2004, when the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington carried Meyer's peer-reviewed article that made reference to Axe's work and the Cambrian Explosion dilemma. He argued that "the theory of intelligent design could help explain the origin of biological information" (p.209). In Meyer's own words, the publication of this paper created "a firestorm of controversy". Up to that time, opponents of intelligent design (ID) claimed that until ID made it into peer-reviewed literature, it could not count as science. Once they realised it had passed through, they left no stone unturned in trying to discredit the paper, the journal's editor and their peer-review process. Many months passed before anything looking like a scientific response appeared, drawing heavily on a 2003 review of thinking about the origin of new genes. Meyer devotes the rest of this chapter to analysing the arguments and showing that the research does not explain the origin of specified information and does not solve the combinatorial inflation problem identified by Murray Eden.
"Overall, what evolutionary biologists have in mind is something like trying to produce a new book by copying the pages of an existing book (gene duplication, lateral gene transfer, and transfer of mobile genetic elements), rearranging blocks of text on each page (exon shuffling, retropositioning, and gene fusion), making random spelling changes to words in each block of text (point mutations), and then randomly rearranging the new pages. Clearly, such random rearrangements and changes will have no realistic chance of generating a literary masterpiece, let alone a coherent read. That is to say, these processes will not likely generate specificity of arrangement and sequence and, therefore, do not solve the combinatorial search problem. In any case, all such scenarios also beg the question. There is a big difference between shuffling and slightly altering pre-existing sequence-specific modules of functional information and explaining how those modules came to possess information-rich sequences in the first place." (p.219)
Neo-Darwinians are remarkably satisfied with natural selection and their hypothetical models of gene evolution, so that platitudes often replace science. Meyer gives an example from an evolutionary text-book: "One need not go into the details of the evolution of the bird's wing, the giraffe's neck, the vertebrate eye, [. . .] Even a slight advantage or disadvantage in a particular genetic change provides a sufficient differential for the operation of natural selection." (quoted on p.234). Anyone who wants to grapple with the details soon meets problems that cast doubt on the adequacy of Darwinian mechanisms. Meyer introduces us to Tom Frazzetta, whose specialism is functional biomechanics. He found great difficulty defending the concept of gradual change because all the intermediate forms he could envisage would not have been viable. The interdependence of biomechanical systems meant that design changes could not be incremental and many would have to occur concurrently. Frazzetta came to the conclusion that "Phenotypic alteration of integrated systems requires an improbable coincidence of genetic (and hence hereditable phenotypic) modifications of a tightly specified kind." (quoted on p.233). This brings us to the work of Michael Behe and David Snoke, and their 2004 paper in Protein Science. They recognised that some inferred evolutionary changes require coordinated mutations, and they used the principles of population genetics to assess the likelihood of such coordinated changes occurring. The calculated probabilities are so low as to cast doubt on this being a widespread phenomenon in the history of life. Behe was to return to this theme later in his book: The Edge of Evolution (2007).
"In a real sense, therefore, the neo-Darwinian math is itself showing that the neo-Darwinian mechanism cannot build complex adaptations - including the new information-rich genes and proteins that would have been necessary to build the Cambrian animals." (p.254)
At this point, the focus of interest shifts from molecules to body plans; from population genetics to developmental biology. Paul Nelson (philosopher of biology) is introduced when commenting on the "great Darwinian paradox". This is the observation that mutations affecting early stage development are not beneficial, yet these are the very mutations needed if there is to be any change in the body plan. In Nelson's words:
"Such early-acting mutations of global effect on animal development, however, are those least likely to be tolerated by the embryo and, in fact, never have been tolerated in any animals that developmental biologists have studied." (p.262).
Early stage development appears to be overseen and coordinated by developmental gene regulatory networks, a concept pioneered by Eric Davidson. It is not a coincidence that developmental biologists like him have been pressing for a new evolutionary synthesis to emerge, because they are acutely aware that neo-Darwinism cannot be the way forward. The tightly integrated gene regulatory networks cannot be mutated incrementally so as to produce new body plans:
"contrary to classical evolution theory, the processes that drive small changes observed as species diverge cannot be taken as models for the evolution of the body plans of animals." (words of Davidson, quoted on p.269).
The challenge to the neo-Darwinian synthesis is even more formidable than this. The mindset of Darwinists is that life is digital. Everything is reduced to bits in the genome sequence. However, what happens to the adequacy of their theory if they are dealing with only part of the information story? What happens is some information is located in the cell independent of the genome? At very least, if this is true, the textbook orthodoxy can only claim to be a partial account of origins. But it also needs to be considered whether neo-Darwinism is a diversion to the real issues affecting life's diversity. These matters are discussed in Meyer's chapter dealing with the epigenetic revolution.
"Many biologists no longer believe that DNA directs virtually everything happening within the cell. Developmental biologists, in particular, are now discovering more and more ways that crucial information for building body plans is imparted by the form and structure of embryonic cells, including information from both the unfertilized and fertilized egg." (p.275)
Much of this chapter draws on the work of Jonathan Wells, whose analysis of the inadequacy of neo-Darwinian theory incorporates the growing evidence that epigenetic influences on development are substantial. (See also here.)
"Yet both-body plan formation during embryological development and major morphological innovation during the history of life depend upon a specificity of arrangement at a much higher level of the organizational hierarchy, a level that DNA alone does not determine. If DNA isn?t wholly responsible for the way an embryo develops - for body-plan morphogenesis - then DNA sequences can mutate indefinitely and still not produce a new body plan, regardless of the amount of time and the number of mutational trials available to the evolutionary process. Genetic mutations are simply the wrong tool for the job at hand." (p.281)
A particularly useful aspect of these chapters is that ID-related research is presented in a way that demonstrates the coherence and value of the design paradigm. Researchers operating within a design framework are addressing issues that are of central importance, publishing their work in peer-reviewed papers and other scholarly forums, and engaging in a constructive discourse with scientists working within the naturalistic evolutionary paradigm. Many will be aware of the work of individual scientists mentioned above, but Meyer's account shows how they contribute to the bigger picture and complement one another. This approach to science is exemplary and one hopes it will inspire young scientists to emulate their endeavours.
Where does this lead us? For the answer to that question, we must turn to Part 3 of Meyer's book.
"[T]he Cambrian explosion now looks less like the minor anomaly that Darwin perceived it to be, and more like a profound enigma, one that exemplifies a fundamental and as yet unsolved problem - the origination of animal form." (p.287)
To be continued.
Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design
by Stephen C. Meyer
HarperOne (HarperCollins), New York, 2013. 520 pp. ISBN 9780062071477.
Readers of Uncommon Descent will recall that mid-20th century Christian apologist C.S. Lewis's views on Darwinism and scientism have attracted considerable interest of late. And some misrepresentation as well, as some zealous followers of Darwin have tried to claim him as one of their own.
For His Substance-Free Contribution to the Debate with Stephen Meyer, American Spectator Readers Pummel John Derbyshire
As reported in ENV...Congratulations to The American Spectator for having such sensible readers. Sometimes it's gratifying to find that the people who should know better actually do.
In January, the conservative magazine featured paired articles by Stephen Meyer and John Derbyshire arguing respectively for and against intelligent design. Derbyshire "argued" only in the limited sense of tossing off snide insults and trying to paint ID absurdly with the brush of "Occasionalism," a medieval theological concept.
Christian Post contributor Anugrah Kumar writes that Casey Luskin, a proponent of Intelligence Design, says that most theistic evolutionists appear to be unfamiliar with what ID theorists say, and they wrongly maintain that it's a "God of the gaps" argument.
This is kind of slow, but here's a few Barry quotemines and their discussion at talkorigins:
[blockquote]No wonder paleontologists shied away from
evolution for so long. It seems never to happen.
[blockquote]I wish in no way to impugn the potential
validity of gradualism . . . I wish only to point out
that it was never ‘seen’ in the rocks.
[blockquote]The fossil record with its abrupt
transitions offers no support for gradual change
[blockquote]At the higher level of evolutionary
transition between basic morphological designs,
gradualism has always been in trouble
[blockquote]The absence of fossil evidence for
intermediary stages between major transitions in organic
design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination,
to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has
been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic
accounts of evolution
[blockquote]With the benefit of hindsight, it is amazing
that paleontologists could have accepted gradual
evolution as a universal pattern on the basis of a
handful of supposedly well-documented lineages
[blockquote]The main problem with such phyletic
gradualism is that the fossil record provides so little
evidence for it.
[blockquote]f we examine the fossil record in detail,
whether at the level of orders or of species, we find –
over and over again – not gradual evolution
[blockquote]yet to preserve our favored account of
evolution by natural selection we view our data as so
bad that we almost never see the very process we profess
[blockquote]The overwhelming prevalence of stasis became
an embarrassing feature of the fossil record, best left
[blockquote]The main impetus for expanding the view that
species are discrete at any one point in time, to
embrace their entire history, comes from the fossil
[blockquote]The record certainly did not reveal gradual
transformations of structure in the course of time.
[blockquote]Many species remain virtually unchanged for
millions of years, then suddenly disappear to be
replaced by a quite different, but related, form.
[blockquote]When we do see the introduction of
evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang
[blockquote]if you do collect a series of fossils up
through a sequence of sedimentary rock, and if you don’t
see much evidence of anatomical change through that
series, that is indeed evidence that substantial gradual
evolutionary change has not occurred