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How Old Is The Earth? Answers from IDC Advocates

The Kansas State Board of Education held "unofficial" hearings in 2005 to decide between the antievolution-influenced rewrite of proposed state science standards and those developed by the writing committee. They brought in over twenty "experts" in "intelligent design" creationism to testify. Attorney Pedro Irigonegray asked many of them to give their opinion of how old the earth is. Their answers are instructive.

William Harris:
Q. Sir, I have only a few questions for you. As it was stated earlier, my name is Pedro Irigonegaray, I represent the majority. You've told us a little bit about your beliefs and your opinions and how you came to those. I'd like to ask you for the record, first, can you tell us how old you believe the earth is?

The Blind Wordmaker: An Evolutionary Game

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Sometimes you find something while looking for something else. A few weeks ago I was looking at Wesley Elsberry's version of Dawkins' Weasel and began wondering if it is possible to make a game out of an evolutionary search. I played with the options on the weasel page and tried searching for words instead of full sentences. I discovered that individual words could be found in a reasonable number of generations.

So I began the quest for an evolutionary game. As a game it needed to be fun to play. As a demonstration of cumulative selection it needed to be faithful to the core of Dawkins' algorithm. The variation generator must be blind to the past and future. Every generation must be derived from a parent without regard to goals and without memory of past generations.

Sequences and Common Descent

How We Can Trace Ancestry Through Genetics

By Wesley R. Elsberry
Last updated: 990425

If you think you've found a problem in the following, please email me at welsberr at inia dot cls dot org.  Organismal biology is my field, so I'd appreciate feedback from molecular biologists.

Some anti-evolutionists claim that sequence data from proteins and genetics disprove the idea of common descent. Because humans evolved from primates, who evolved from other mammals, who evolved from reptiles, who evolved from amphibians, who evolved from fish, etc. back to bacteria, then supporting data from sequence studies should show greater differences between humans and bacteria than between fish and bacteria, according to those anti-evolutionists.
 

Erroneous Views of Sequence Data IMG

The data from sequencing the cytochrome-c protein across a few modern species shows that the pattern of differences does not fit that view. Instead, virtually the same distance from the sequence in modern bacteria exists to all modern metazoans.  The anti-evolutionists would like you to believe that this poses a problem for the theory of common descent.  I will endeavor to explain why they are mistaken.

Criticism of Dembski's "Explanatory Filter": Vindicated

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I’ve been saying that there were problems in William Dembski’s “explanatory filter” for a long, long time. Dembski has finally admitted that was the case.

At the February 1997 NTSE conference, when I brought up the “traveling salesman problem” solved by genetic algorithm as an example that countered Dembski’s EF, he responded that his logic was sound and his premises were true, therefore his conclusion followed. Dembski in that instant dismissed empirical data as having any bearing on his work. It only took the better part of twelve years for Dembski to repudiate the soundness of his logic presented then.

Typing Monkeys: History of an Idea

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by Wesley R. Elsberry

1999/11/01

It is difficult to find the originators of certain concepts which
pass quickly into general use. The analogy of monkeys typing
at random on typewriters and eventually reproducing copies of
literary works is one such concept.

In tracking down who might have originated the concept, we will
find people who definitely use or reference it, as well as variants
of how it is expressed. We will also explore limitations upon
who might have originated the concept or when the concept might
reasonably have been first told to a general audience.

Florida: Open Letter on Learning from History

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The "academic freedom" and "critical analysis" bills currently being considered by the Florida legislature are old stratagems borrowed from antievolution efforts in other states. Ronda Storms and Alan Hays have been asked whether "intelligent design" could be taught in science classrooms. Storms and Hays steadfastly refuse to answer the question posed. You have to look at what has been done in the name of narrow religious antievolution and not what is said.

Expelled: Weekend data April 25 2008

expelled movie exposedAfter entering the top 10 in 8th place, "Expelled" has dropped to 13th place with Friday returns dropping to 40% of the previous Friday returns. In numbers this translates to $505,000 in 1,041 theatres or $485 per theatre and $97 per showing (assuming 5 showings). In addition 11 theatres have dropped the movie which opened in 1052 theatres. May I suggest the movie "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay" as an alternative?

PZ Myers: Basics: How can chromosome numbers change?

On Pharyngula, PZ Myers treats us with an incredibly accessible explanation why chromosome number can change.

The posting was in response to an email PZ received about the evolution of chromosome numbers.
How did life evolve from one (I suspect) chromosome to... 64 in horses, or whatever organism you want to pick. How is it possible for a sexually reproducing population of organisms to change chromosome numbers over time?

Firstly: there would have to be some benefit to the replication probability of the organisms which carry the chromosomes

Iowa State Board of Regents Turns Down Tenure Appeal

It is a small news item, but astronomer and Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Guillermo Gonzalez had an appeal before the Iowa State Board of Regents asking them to overturn Iowa State University's decision not to grant him tenure. The vote came down 7-1 confirming Iowa State's decision.

Gonzalez is one of three people featured in the forthcoming film, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed". That film has Ben Stein in the unenviable position of trying to convince everyone that there is something sinister about the fact that someone whose publication output and research funding suffers because he's spending his time promoting "intelligent design" creationism got denied tenure.

Barbara Forrest Speaks Out on Texas Education Agency Actions

Professor Barbara Forrest of South Eastern Louisiana University wrote a strong statement concerning recent actions of the Texas Education Agency in forcing the resignation of director of science curricula Chris Comer.

Forrest concludes,

The incident now involving Ms. Comer exemplifies perfectly the reason my co-author Paul R. Gross and I felt that our book, Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, had to be written. (http://www.creationismstrojanhorse.com) By forcing Ms. Comer to resign, the TEA seems to have confirmed our contention that the ID creationist movement -- a religious movement with absolutely no standing in the scientific world -- is being advanced by means of power politics. In December 2005, Judge John E. Jones III validated our contention that ID is creationism, thus a religious belief, when he ruled in Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/kitzmiller/kitzmiller_342.pdf) that the teaching of ID in public school science classes is unconstitutional. Judge Jones recognized that ID has nothing whatsoever to do with science; its proponents are merely using public education -- the public education of other people's children -- as the vehicle for their plan to undermine the teaching of evolution.

The one thing that should not be forgotten in this episode is that Ms. Comer herself has been injured, and Texas children have lost a valuable advocate for quality science education. I regret deeply that the TEA chose to use my work as an excuse to hurt Ms. Comer. Even more, I am incensed by it. However, what happened to her may be just the tip of the iceberg. This country has reached a sorry state of affairs when one of the largest, most prominent departments of education in the country fires a public servant for doing her job. But while I regret that the information I related in my presentation in Austin and in my book has been confirmed in such a sad way, my co-author and I have every intention of continuing our efforts as scholars and citizens to inform the American people about the threat that the intelligent design creationist movement continues to pose to public education and to the constitutional separation of church and state.

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