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Date: 2005/04/20 06:19:12, Link
Author: Russell
Just so I'm clear what we're discussing here: is there anything at all that the specialized situation of "microglia" - especially as discussed in the cited Science paper - brings to the table that the more general situation of "macrophages" doesn't?

There is a rich literature on the evolution of macrophages and response to signals of injury, inflammation, invasion...

Date: 2005/04/20 06:31:04, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
My argument is one of analogy, that since no such systems have ever arisen without intelligent input, it seems highly unlikely that this one did.
Isn't this a classic case of "begging the question"?

Date: 2005/04/20 16:43:24, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
This is nothing more than a huge cop-out. The best you could do is make up a story that might sound good, as has been done in other examples (blood clotting, bacterial flagellum, camera eye. etc.). If you say this to everyone who asks you then you never have to produce any evidence. Don't confuse just-so stories with actual empirical data. Just-so stories will continue to be rejected out of hand.
I see. So none of this "it might have happened this way" or a sort of "general scenario". Nothing less than the actual blow-by-blow, mutation by mutation, account will do. OK, if those are the rules, here's the score:

Evolution 0
Intelligent Design 0

Moreover, I can guarantee you that score will not budge any time in the conceivable future. Guarantee it.

Is that the end of the discussion? Or should we adjust the rules a little to allow for discussion of the relative plausibilities of the two kinds of explanations? Or the number of assumptions that need to be incorporated?

Date: 2005/04/20 17:57:21, Link
Author: Russell
OK. We agree that no scientific understanding of the history of life is likely to ever be "complete". And we agree that we're going to have to make do with "the scientific method" -  though I think you'll find that the definition of that is a little soft.  So, using the test case at hand, how do you propose to apply the scientific method to the development of microglia? Also, lest our terminology get away from us, whether or not this (or any other) evolutionist "insists on a darwinian mechanism" depends on the definition of that term, which I have seen all over the map. I don't know which version you're using here.

Date: 2005/04/20 22:16:37, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
So far, it seems to me that we cannot point to any system of equal complexity and organization and declare unequivocally that it emerged by accidental processes
Nor can we point to any system of equal complexity and organization and declare that it did NOT emerge by "accidental processes". So, once again, it's:

Evolution: 0
Intelligent design: 0

I'm beginning to suspect this might not be a useful way to make any progress on this question.
Quote
Is it possible for life as we know it to have emerged by a process that relies only on random occurrences or is some kind of intelligent input from the outside required?   As far as I'm concerned, that is the really important question.
Have we decided that microglia were a red herring and "cut to the chase" as it were? I might be interested in exploring the evolution of  particular systems. But on the origin of life, fascinating though it is, I'm OK with the high probability that no consensus is going to emerge in my lifetime. I find none of the arguments that "intelligent input" is somehow theoretically  required at all convincing. But until some dramatically new evidence is available, we can only guess. And,  frankly, I don't think your guess is as good as mine.

Date: 2005/04/21 09:16:52, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You also cannot demonstrate (as described above) that this was a random or accidental mutation and not the result of directed guidance from a dynamic and responsive genome to changes in environmental conditions.
Nor can you demonstrate that the decay of a carbon-14 nucleus is a purely a random event, rather than a dynamic process guided from a responsive intelligence within the nucleus.

Date: 2005/04/21 10:29:37, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Perhaps not as complex and highly organized as living things, but it's only a matter of degree.
As you have said many times, the value of this analogy is only as good as its power to persuade, which is nil. If your entire argument rests on this analogy, we're done here.
Quote
It's all one big continuum from start to finish and its disingenuous to try to separate it into two questions, because it's not two questions, it's one and the same question.
What is the evidence that the events involved in abiogenesis are the same as those involved in the morphing of proto-humans into humans? I can imagine some parallels and some ways in which the processes would likely be very different. What's the evidence? That being said, if you think the question is just as well addressed from either the abiogenesis angle or the (relatively) recent biological history angle, I'm for the latter, as there you have some hope of having some actual data to discuss.

Date: 2005/08/24 06:38:17, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
"Intelligent design is the theory that the directed organization of living things cannot be accounted for by purely blind natural forces but also requires intelligent agency for its proper explanation.
i.e. "intelligent design" is the "theory" that another theory is wrong, or incomplete. "Intelligent agency", without identifying it, without proposing how it works, without making predictions based on it, is hardly a "proper explanation" for anything. More of a not-very-effective fig leaf for the entirely negative content of ID (hence the willingness of the DI to substitute "teach the controversy" for "intelligent design": six vs. half-a-dozen.)

Date: 2005/08/24 09:54:13, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
So in a sense I guess right here at the beginning I am making a sort of concession. Not all critique of ID is sidestepping rhetoric. I think that alot of it is. I wonder if there would be anyone in your camp who would concede as much?
In other words, "OK, I admit that what I wrote was kind of, in a sense, technically, completely wrong. Now it's only common courtesy for you to admit that you were wrong, too, in calling me on it "

Date: 2005/08/31 18:28:59, Link
Author: Russell
"Paley's Ghost" strikes me as a way-over-the-top fake creationist. My bet is he [and the gender is almost certainly he] is a regular, evolution-accepting guy poking fun at creationists and/or evo-defenders he sees as taking it too seriously. That would be my bet.

Date: 2005/09/01 02:33:24, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Posted by Dave Cerutti on August 31, 2005 11:44 PM (e) (s)

Umm, you guys did realize from the name on my post that I was joking, right? Or shall I pull another admonitus and impersonate a creationist of some bizarre strain for many days before letting the cat out of the bag?


HA! Just as I suspected. Interesting, though. "Admonitus", if I recall correctly, threw in the spelling and grammar slips typical of creationists. Did "Paley's Ghost" consciously omit that, or did he just hastily fail to "reverse proofread"?

Date: 2005/09/01 03:46:18, Link
Author: Russell
Also -
"Paley's Ghost" didn't fool me for a moment. "Admonitus" took me a while. But "Salvador Cordova"! Brilliant! I bought that hook, line and sinker.

Date: 2005/09/01 12:20:22, Link
Author: Russell
I haven't been following this discussion, mainly because I see no danger that EvoPooch is going to convince anyone of anything, but browsing through - against my better judgment - I ran across this
Quote
By the way what's the latest opinion.. are we closer to chimps or orangs... pretty important thing to decide.. isn't it a shame that depending on the analysis used you get equal support for either, clearly impossible.

Please supply one reference to any  scientist who claims -or any analysis that indicates- that we are closer  (I assume you mean more closely related) to orangs than to chimps. Failure to do so will be interpreted as a tacit admission that you know you're pulling this stuff from your ass and inserting it, ironically, into a thread you started on "intellectual honesty".

Date: 2005/09/02 11:27:28, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Please supply one reference to any  scientist who claims -or any analysis that indicates- that we are closer  (I assume you mean more closely related) to orangs than to chimps.  

Dear Peachy: please note the tense in the above quote. I'm not asking you for historical, provocative, hypotheses that didn't pan out. You see, Peachy, that's the thing about science. It sort of converges on answers. Sixty or seventy years ago, there was some non-ridiculous difference of opinion over what the genetic material was. But if I were to ask for a "reference to any scientist who claims - or analysis that indicates - that protein is the genetic material"... I don't know, maybe in your weird universe you think they still exist. They don't in mine.
Quote
After you stick this up your butt you fart brained moron you might consider an aopolgy  

Looks like someone flunked charm school. But, no, I don't think any "aopolgy" is due. Not to you, anyway.

Date: 2005/09/10 14:23:33, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I believe Meyer, Demski and the rest of the ID gang have stumbled onto a large hole in evolutionary theory.
The "ID gang" throws everything they can at evolutionary theory - including debunked exemplars of "irreducible complexity", bogus mathematics, accusations of fraud, atheist proselytizing... To what "large hole" are you referring, genesmon?

Date: 2005/10/04 05:19:52, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You really ought to get in the real world sometime by reading Origins by Shapiro or Crick or any of the other 100 scientists of renown who walked away from this absolute impossibility a decade ago.

Walked away from what "absolute impossibility"? I haven't read Shapiro, but I have read Crick. So far as I know he never suggested that anything other than chemical origins of life - wherever that occurred - was a plausible explanation.

Date: 2005/10/04 07:26:02, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Just so people know the two Phd's with impeccible scientific credentials wrote in response to an article written by Dr. Miller
Which two PhD's might those be? Jeez, Peach, can't you even read the byline?

Date: 2005/10/11 13:34:41, Link
Author: Russell
Memo to EvoPeach:

Science does not work by finding one "iconoclast" from several years in the past and deciding that, because said iconoclast in some tortured way supports your own preconceptions, that must be the final word.

Why don't you try checking out what's become of Feduccia's hypotheses since they were proposed? You might start here:

RICHARD O. PRUM
The Auk 120(2):550–561, 2003
Quote
Feduccia can no longer deny the conclusive evidence that basal dromaeosaurs had feathers (Xu et al. 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003; Czerkas et al. 2002; Norell et al. 2002). In the end, he concedes that dromaeosaurs had feathers. In a rhetorical tour de force that conflicts with decades of his own work and most of his commentary, Feduccia (2002) then hypothesizes that dromaeosaurs are birds, but that the birds, now including the dromaeosaurs, still originated from some unknown early archosaurian ancestor and are unrelated to theropod dinosaurs.

Date: 2005/10/12 10:16:10, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
EvoPooch wrote: It's easy to say you've read all the critiques of ID. It's another thing entirely to explain why they're all wrong. That's a challenge I'm convinced you're simply not up to.
Fortunately, it's really up to the creationists (1) to explain why virtually every working biologist is wrong about evolution, and (2) to explain why ID - or any other brand of creationism - is a viable challenge. So far, they've failed utterly.

BTW, Poochy, Gish's PhD is in biochemistry, not microbiology.

Date: 2005/10/12 11:35:16, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I think you may have misinterpreted my post
Of course, you're right.

Date: 2005/11/14 09:39:14, Link
Author: Russell
Well, I'm game. IF let's say, pi to a hundred digits in base 4 were found in DNA, I can, at least at this moment, think of no plausible explanation for it. I wouldn't rule out, a priori, the possibility that there was an intelligent agency behind it.

That said, as you point out, this is nothing like the situation being discussed by the current champions of ID.

Also, just to forestall nitpickers, I think you mean nucleotides (of which there are, basically, four) not amino acids (of which there are, basically [acidicly?] twenty). And when you say "golden mean", I presume you mean "golden ratio": (1 + (5)^(1/2))/2.

Date: 2005/11/14 10:17:10, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I was actually surprised no one on the PT thread raised this point. Of course, if it happened a billion years ago, one would expect a certain amount of drift which could, I suppose, be used to date the intervention.
Well, since the whole scenario is contrary to our experience, what's one tiny increment of implausibility?

But, no. Without some kind of "selective pressure" I don't think there would be enough unmutated Pi to be able to recognize it after a billion years of genetic drift.

That's why if something like that were observed you would have to look for some explanation outside of the current theory of evolution.

Note, incidentally, that this is pretty much parallel to the prime number SETI radio signals in Carl Sagan's fictional work, "Contact". Sagan, being safely dead, is regularly trotted out by Dembski & co. in this context as if validating their project. If Sagan were not dead, I have no doubt he would take strong and eloquent exception to this abuse of his work. As Panda's Thumb has documented, the SETI people have no use for ID. (I'd give you the link, but I'm not that dextrous with this system just yet.)

Date: 2005/11/14 11:43:31, Link
Author: Russell
Oh dear. I'm afraid we don't have a very stimulating argument here, because I'm afraid I agree. As I said before: No, I would not rule out "design" in the case described.

Much in the same sense that I would be hard pressed to rule out just about any bizarre explanation if, when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, it turned out it was made of green cheese.

Now, lest I've just inadvertantly created a monster, I want to make it clear that high school science classes should not spend any time on the green-cheese-moon theory.

(Just for fun, though, when I have a moment I'll work through some of the math on the Pi in DNA scenario.)

Date: 2005/11/15 06:08:38, Link
Author: Russell
ooh ooh ooh! can I play?

Quote
1. What sequence of pi could not be explained by known genetic events?
None, of course. What would seem to call for an explanation is the remarkable coincidence that such a sequence should occur in a genome. To wit: 100 nucleotides of a pre-specified sequence having no conceivable (or at least no conceived of as yet) connection to the biology, chemistry or physics of DNA, should occur by chance about once in every 4^100, or 1.6x10^60 sites examined. H. sapiens, for example, has about 3x10^9 sites to examine, so the odds of finding it by chance would be around 2x10^-51. Examine a million or so more completely independent genomes (of course, they don't exist, due to common descent, but just for the sake of argument...) you've only increased the chances to 2x10^-45. In other words, finding it would so defy the odds it would seem to call for some explanation. But now include the possibility of finding either pi, or 'e', or the Golden Ratio, or any of about 3 billion more irrational numbers, and your chance of finding oneof them is pretty good. (This is essentially what Dembski does.)

Quote
2. What sequence of pi could not be explained by as-yet-unknown naturalistic processes?
None, of course.

Quote
3. What is more likely, 100 binary places of pi or 1700 consecutive GAA triplets on a chromosome?
The latter, since they can arise by known mechanisms of polymerase "stuttering" and homologous recombination.

Quote
4. How far into pi does your phone number occur?
Don't know, but it should be on the order of 10,000,000 decimal places (16,666,667 DNA base pairs) - not including the area code. I.e it has a good chance of being found at least a hundred times in the human genome. In fact, I think that might be where the telemarketers found it.

Date: 2005/11/15 09:04:26, Link
Author: Russell
I think Lutsko is on to something here! Far more useful than any of the games they're playing now, the ID crowd should immediately drop everything else and begin scouring the genetic databanks for any of the 3 or 4 most obvious irrational numbers. If and when they find any of them to at least 100 basepairs, using any of the 24 possible 1 to 1 nucleotide to base-4 digit assignment schemes, they will earned some attention. Until then, their demands for attention are just a nuisance.

Date: 2005/11/15 12:26:09, Link
Author: Russell
Bulman: you're right, the odds of getting a royal flush are the same as the odds of getting any hand of 5 cards. But the odds of saying: "The next hand I am dealt will be 2H,QD,JS,5H,KC" - and then getting it, in that order no less - would be a truly remarkable coincidence, or demand a nonchance explanation.

So, yes, finding any sequence of 100 nucleotides corresponding to an irrational number would be no more than "neat". But saying, in advance, that you're going to find one in particular - like Pi - and then actually finding it. Well, that would be impressive.

Dembski & co. are right if they say that finding such a thing would deserve more than a passing "neat-o" (provided, as I stipulated above, that (1) we know what we're looking for, and (2) define our "translation algorithm" before we start looking, and (3) what we're looking for has no plausible mechanism - like polymerase stuttering and homologous recombination to explain it in advance). But they're dead wrong in claiming that anything seen in any genome to date does anything like that.

Date: 2005/11/17 10:51:41, Link
Author: Russell
PaulC - coupla questions from someone who would like to have been a math geek but just wasn't smart enough:

I would have guessed that it was a significant find, as the odds against finding such a thing by chance with the smallish number of algorithms I could imagine trying (probably less than a million!;) strike me as astronomical. But I don't know how to formally apply the test you mention. Can you go through it step by step, or give a reference?

My second question is what exactly does "prefix of pi" mean? Is that just the first (however many) digits?

Date: 2005/11/18 09:53:53, Link
Author: Russell
Disclaimer: I don't think anyone participating in this discussion thinks ID is anything but a sham and a scam. Nothing I write should be interpreted otherwise!
Quote
...then we should not be very surprised to find that most biological data sets would tend to fail randomness tests
But do they? I think Dembski's "specification" (equivalent to stating beforehand that you're looking for Pi, or for string of greater than such & such Kolmogorov complexity in the above discussion) amounts just to "sequence corresponding to something biologically functional".

If you take a random chunk of DNA from, say, a human genome, you're likely to get a pattern that won't trigger any raised eyebrows by any mathematical analysis, but that corresponds to the gene for some essential enzyme. Does that qualify as failing a randomness test?

Date: 2005/12/03 13:10:44, Link
Author: Russell
Salvador T. Cordova, over at Panda's Thumb, wrote that Dawkins made a lot of "baseless and erroneous claims" about information theory, and that students familiar with the area "can recognize that Dawkins is full of garbage."

I'm not familiar with Dawkins on IT. I'm curious to know what he's written about it, and what serious students of IT have had to say about it, in print or online.

Date: 2005/12/03 16:27:28, Link
Author: Russell
Your suggested starting point is so flawed and irrelevant, I really don't know where to start. But suffice it to say that nowhere does it suggest that Dawkins made any claims - at all - about information theory.

Dawkins "methinks it is like a weasel" model just demonstrates the concept of how mutation/selection works. That's all. And what it says is pretty much unassailable.

I'm beginning to doubt that Dawkins ever did address information theory, per se .

Date: 2005/12/04 06:27:54, Link
Author: Russell
Again, Dawkins's comparison of nucleic acid sequence to digital information storage is completely unremarkable, unassailable, and has nothing to do with information theory.


Let's cut to the chase. Here's what you wrote:
Quote
Dawkins effectively makes a lot of baseless and erroneous claims about information theory, and until one is more educated in these topics one does not find the holes. At our last IDEA meeting we had quite a number of computer science and electrical engineering students at the senior undergrad and PhD level. They have an appreciation for communication and information theory and the open minded ones can recognize Dawkins is full of garbage.  


You have yet to show me where Dawkins even mentions information theory, and the couple of examples you've brought up that could remotely, tangentially, indirectly be related to topics that might be related to information theory are unassailable.

So, before we can continue this discussion, we have to get this straight.

(1) Does Dawkins, in any of his published material, address information theory?

(2) Regardless of the answer to (1), specifically what  are the "baseless and erroneous claims" you're referring to?

(3) What, specifically, did your IDEA club communications/information theory students identify as "full of garbage"?

Now, I see ID as more of an exercise in public relations than science or logic; I think you do, too. And one would be pretty foolish - or at least unrealistic - to hold the advertising industry to any standards of honesty or accuracy. But ID at least pretends to have a scientific basis, and it's on that notion that this discussion is premised.

So, before we go any further, do you want to edit the quote, above, to say what you honestly think is defensible, or do you stand by what increasingly appears to be either bluster too hastily slapped together or intentionally dishonest?

Date: 2005/12/04 10:13:40, Link
Author: Russell
Wow. To call these guys dirtbags would be a slap in the face to dirtbags everywhere.

Date: 2005/12/04 11:05:09, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Information Theory blows holes in evolution only in the minds of some zealots like Salvador Cordova.
I suspect that you're right about that.

But Cordova has written very much giving the impression that he has some specific statements by a specific author (Dawkins) that he can point to as being clearly incorrect. He even went so far as to say any "open minded" student of these matters can see that Dawkins is "full of garbage".

Now that's a fairly serious accusation to level at someone whose whole career is based on education in the area of biological evolution. I would go so far as to say that, unless there is some substance behind it, such casually calumnious remarks would be unethical.

And, while not religious myself, I want to believe that Christianity is a good thing for believers. But, heck, if it can't even inspire ethical conduct, my faith in its ability to inspire the kind of above-and-beyond goodness ascribed to Christ is shaken.

Date: 2005/12/05 03:05:28, Link
Author: Russell
I agree. Not the real Cordova. I put my money on DaveScot. This "Sal" addressed one of his middle-school barbs to "Flanky Boy". DaveScot, before he was banned at PT, addressed me as "Russy Boy". Coincidence? I think not.

Date: 2005/12/05 12:34:12, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Could someone tell me why troll-hunting is so popular on the internet? I admit that it satisfies a communal urge to gossip and speculate, but why does this sport so overshadow the content of a person's arguments?
In this case, we're wondering if the impersonation is responsible for the lack of content. I'm puzzled that the real Cordova hasn't protested, and I'm wondering if Wesley might be able to divine from IP addresses whether there's anything to this speculation. If it is DaveScot, it's just one more in a long list of despicable ethical lapses. If it's someone else, he deserves to be banned.
Quote
Are ideas really that boring? I'd appreciate any insight on this.
Oh, quite the contrary! I was just disappointed that Cordova (the real one?) seems to have abandoned my quest for his "ideas" on Dawkins, information theory, and integrity on the thread I started, and wondered if this whole imposter thing might have something to do with it.

Date: 2005/12/05 12:45:05, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Could someone tell me why troll-hunting is so popular on the internet?
The other thing is that if that is the real Cordova, I can see it was a mistake to try to engage him in a serious discussion. I had ascribed more maturity to him that "this" Cordova demonstrates.

Date: 2005/12/06 02:00:02, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I emailed Salvador, who confirmed that the posts are his
Thanks, Wesley.

Salvador: no need to respond on my "Dawkins" thread; I've learned all I need to know.

Date: 2005/12/17 16:01:06, Link
Author: Russell
I see that, after a long hiatus, Cordova has returned to this thread, but still without addressing the central issues that prompted me to start it:
Quote
specifically what  are the "baseless and erroneous claims" you're referring to?
and
Quote
What, specifically, did your IDEA club communications/information theory students identify as "full of garbage"?

Date: 2005/12/18 06:05:09, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
...the inappropriate response exhibited by the University of Kansas to the revelation of a PRIVATE email.  Any of us who deal with any university administration should use this case to point out just about the WORST possible response a university could have to this situation.
This is the thing that just astounds me.

Is it "reprehensible" or "repugnant" (or however  the UoK  administration characterized Mirecki's e-mails) to think that certain social/religious groups are a pain in the butt? To express that thought in a private communication?

The fact that this has garnered so little attention from the media that have run high profile stories on Sternberg's alleged martyrdom, and from  from civil liberties watchdog groups (so far, anyway) makes me wonder whether the, ahem, "conservative" bloggers quoted by Dr. Hurd didn't hit the nail on the head when they characterized their opposition as "sissies".

But maybe I just haven't been patient enough; maybe the ACLU is just preparing their case; maybe there is a "Tawana Brawley" element to the story; maybe all kinds of things.

But meantime, I thank The Designer for people like Dr. Hurd not just rolling over on this. I hope he reconsiders his take on Panda's Thumb; or - if not - that he will continue to publicly, prominently, call 'em as he sees 'em in the right-wing war on science.

Date: 2005/12/19 07:34:36, Link
Author: Russell
The weird episode of physical violence is one thing. Personally, I'm reluctant to offer any theories about it. But I would say this in Dr. Hurd's support: his "conspiracy theory" was couched in pretty careful language:
Quote
This is a potential reinforcement for my conclusion that it is likely that men somehow associated with law enforcement attacked Mirecki. This can be a number of professions ... If my speculation as the identity of the assailants is correct, then the following events are perfectly plausible... [emphases mine]


But aside from that, I still want to know:
(a) what is the justification for the university taking any actions at all on the basis of [unethically obtained and released] private e-mail?
and (b) - I ask this as a self-confessed legal ignoramus - is it legal to seize someone's computer - or anything else for that matter - without a warrant? Did they have a warrant?

Date: 2005/12/19 07:45:26, Link
Author: Russell
In light of Cordova's failure to defend his casual calumny, would it be premature to label his bluff called, his number had, and his comportment here an excellent advertisement to avoid like the plague whatever version of religion he credits as his ethical foundation?

Date: 2005/12/19 11:23:35, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Your computer can be seized at any time without a warrant pursuant to the patriot act.  all someone has to do is convince someone in homeland security that you have terrorist leanings or are somehow a threat to national security.  representatives of homeland security have the authority to do searches and seizures without the need for a legal warrant.  
So would I be correct in concluding that either:
(1) the police had a warrant to seize Mirecki's computer (in which case, I must have had a very naive picture of U.S. constitutional rights), or
(2) the computer was seized illegally, or
(3) someone in homeland security is convinced that Mirecki is a threat to national security.

Date: 2005/12/20 10:35:46, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
 'They ruled against us! Judicial activism!'
Yeah! Clearly, what this country needs is a president who will appoint judges who will not legislate from the bench!

Date: 2006/01/04 06:03:47, Link
Author: Russell
Carol Clouser and David Heddle often interject this notion into comment threads on Panda's Thumb. I find it a real head scratcher, but then I suppose any religious jew/christian/muslim would have to find scripture and science consistent in some way. So the question is: in what way.

For starters, I wonder if there's some internet archive of responses to all the commonly raised biblical, ahem, improbabilities: e.g. Noachian global submersion, the sun holding still (the earth's suspending rotation?) for Joshua, Methuselah living well into his 10th century...

Date: 2006/01/04 07:05:17, Link
Author: Russell
Thanks.
I see the "Skeptics" site you linked has a specific page:
science and history devoted to these things. But is there a site somewhere where the Clousers and Heddles of this world respond to these?

Date: 2006/01/04 08:34:21, Link
Author: Russell
Here are my responses, together with unsolicited commentary in italics. Except where the answer seems so obvious that no commentary is necessary.


1) Living organisms arose from non-living matter by a purely natural mechanism that is well understood. (2)
We don't have much, if any, idea what reactions actually occurred. But, as  none of the arguments that various plausible suggestions couldn't account for it hold up under scrutiny, I give it a "2" instead of a "1".

2) All organisms alive today share common ancestry at some time in the remote past. (6)
The molecular evidence for this is hard to deny. It's just conceivable, though, that life arising from more than one origin, being subjected to the similar unknown selective forces, evolved in parallel. So I give it a "6" instead of "7"

3) All organisms alive today reached their modern form as a result of mechanisms that are well understood by science (e.g., mutation, natural selection, drift, and the other elements in the modern theory of evolution. (6)
Depending on how generally one defines those elements. E.g. "sexual selection", though different in important ways from "natural selection" as typically understood, could be seen as a subset of natural selection, more broadly understood. Likewise, I doubt that any mechanism will be found that would not be similarly compatible with the "elements in the modern theory of evolution", but since it depends on definitions, (and, of course, one's interpretation of  "well understood") I give it a "6" instead of a "7".

4) Supernatural intervention has played no role in the development of living organisms as we see them today.(4)
Hmmm. Tricky. There's no evidence that it has played a role, but if there were any such evidence, it wouldn't be "supernatural". My neutral "4" is meant to convey my sense that science doesn't deal with "supernatural" at all, either proving it ("1") or disproving it ("7").

5) Supernatural forces are not required to account for the development of living organisms as we see them today.(7)

6) Human beings are related to other species.(7)

7) The physical form and behavior of human beings have been shaped by natural selection. (7)

8) Supernatural intervention played no role in the rise of human consciousness and culture, including moral and religious impulses. (4)
(see question #4, above)

9) Supernatural forces are not required to account for human consciousness and culture, including moral and religious impulses. (6)
Again, I don't think science can say anything about "supernatural forces". And, if such things exist, one could easily imagine that they were involved in the development of these things. Hence the "6" not a "7". But I see no reason that these things couldn't have developed without invoking the supernatural. Hence the "6 or 7", not a "1 or 2".

10) Natural selection is responsible for the rise of human consciousness and culture, including moral and religious impulses. (6)
Personally, I suspect it's exclusively responsible, but science can't prove that "supernatural" phenomena - or indeed other natural phenomena not covered under "natural selection" - were not also involved. Hence the "6" rather than "7".


(I hold a PhD in biochemistry, and work in microbiology)

Date: 2006/01/04 11:17:23, Link
Author: Russell
And thank you, Mr. Ghost. But I can't believe that educated sorts such as Clouser and Heddle would buy the kinds of unsophisticated attempts at explanations that your source makes. (I certainly don't.)

A lot of the "skeptics annotated bible" examples I find uninteresting, because it's so easy to invent a sense in which the verse might be construed as compatible with modern science - even though that usually looks like a stretch.  However, the whole exercise is pointless if, as your source (or rather your source's source) says in an attempt to explain the Joshua sun incident, that it's impossible to disentangle poetic from concrete language.

Date: 2006/01/06 07:28:25, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Your sniping at Dean is of course very clever, but not very informative.  

Indeed! Not just cleverclever beyond measure!

Date: 2006/01/11 06:29:37, Link
Author: Russell
Over at Panda's Thumb, David Heddle offers the following:

Quote
Oh, in addition to PTers caring (a great deal) about claims that the bible is consistent with science, many will not be happy that you (and I) disagree with Ken Ham. They prefer to paint with a very broad “creationist/fundamentalist” brush.


First of all, I note that you paint with a very broad brush when you presume, from the comments of a few, what "PTers" in general care a great deal about. That being said, I admit to some curiosity on the subject. (Heck, I started this thread in the thus-far-vain hope of engaging you on it!;)).

My interest in the subject is partly that what strikes me as an irrational stance has such a hold on so many of my fellow citizens; partly - as I've said before - I believe this sort of fundamentalism (sensu lato, of course) is indeed fundamental to movements like Al Qaeda. I'm not trying to be inflammatory with that - just stating a fact.

What do you infer from what you perceive as PTers' interest in the topic?

Date: 2006/01/11 11:20:25, Link
Author: Russell
I'll let Eric respond to the bulk of this, if he's so inclined, but I just want to point out one glaring error in Ghost's invite. Whereas Diamond is writing about New Guineans, somehow Ghost has generalized this to "black". Here in the U.S., for instance, "black" most often translates to "people of (relatively recent) African ancestry". I'm pretty sure New Guineans are at least as genetically distant from Europeans and the major African groups as either of the latter are from one another.

(And, just by the by, I read Guns Germs & Steel years ago and certainly don't recall anything that would justify calling Diamond a "racist".)

Date: 2006/01/11 11:32:41, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
[ Over on PT I have seen David Heddle called a fundie. Something that I consider to be untrue.

You have a point. With so many definitions of "fundamentalism" floating around, I find it not a whole lot more useful than "Christian". Originally I think it was used to describe a very conservative, biblical literalist version of Christianity embraced by folks that subscribed to a book written around a hundred years ago, called "The Fundamentals of Truth" - or something like that. But obviously these days when we speak of "fundamentalist muslims" the word has taken on a broader meaning. In my mind, the broader definition of the word would include biblical literalists, and I'm not  quite clear on how David's and Carol's "biblical inerrancy" differs from "biblical literalism". So, for the meantime, unless and until they care to enlighten us, I'm not particularly indignant if people describe them as "fundamentalist".

Date: 2006/01/12 01:05:41, Link
Author: Russell
Gregonomic and Sir TJ: I tend to agree.

But why are CC and DH so willing to jump into any PT comment thread - where their unusual (at least among scientists of my acquaintance) assertions are inevitably tangential and difficult to follow up without colluding in thread hijack - and so UNwilling to come over here, where I have repeatedly invited them to expatiate?

Should I take this personally?

Date: 2006/01/12 01:11:28, Link
Author: Russell
Was "affirmative action" really the target topic of a thread titled "Guns, Germs & Steel"? I guess we focus on different things in the books we read, but I have to admit that I can't remember anything about A.A. from my reading of GG&S, though it was some time ago.

Date: 2006/01/12 03:31:24, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I really dislike the idea of affirmative action or positive discrimination.  
I guess I'm going to have to get out my copy of "Guns, Germs and Steel" to figure out why affirmative action is central to the discussion of it.

Date: 2006/01/12 05:02:22, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Do you think that Diamond made a tactical blunder?
I guess that depends on what you assume is his strategic goal.  What do you assume that is?

Date: 2006/01/14 13:57:51, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Well, evolution happens, but Not Much.
Whenever you hear this, never miss the opportunity to ask "What determines the upper limit of 'micro'evolution?"

Date: 2006/01/14 16:47:36, Link
Author: Russell
I look forward to the day (alas, not to be in my lifetime) when heaping scorn on God and religion will seem as absurd as venomous denunciations of phlogiston.

Date: 2006/01/15 12:01:15, Link
Author: Russell
Stephen Elliott seems to be saying that religions, originally ideal and/idealistic, get corrupted and misused.
Quote
From the main monotheist religions, they tend to claim:
1) God is the creator of the universe.
2) God loves us.  
(First of all, I see no reason to limit ourselves to "monotheistic" religions; why exclude Hinduism and Roman Catholicism?)

But I think originally religion and nationalism were pretty much the same thing. The "god" that ordered the Israelites to destroy the Amalekites, Moabites, etc. apparently was rather selective in his "love". As I understand it, the etymology of "religion" is uncertain, but may derive from the Latin "tie back" - as in roping in those independent individuals straying too far from the national core identity. (I.e., it was a lot like "patriotism" to right-wing Americans).

The idea of religion in a "multicultural" society is pretty new and untried; I don't know if it can be made to work. Clearly the fundamentalist flavors cannot. I'm not sure what others can.

Date: 2006/01/15 14:31:56, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Remember that I am not a biblical literalist. Nor do I consider the bible inerant. Especially the OT.
Let me hasten to point out that [a] I never thought you were and [b] I - like Thomas Jefferson - am a "whateverist" and [c] I rather like and admire you, Stephen Elliott, as far as I know you through your comments. I'm just making some general observations about "religion".

And that is: God has always been made in man's image. When the Israelites were carving out a little lebensraum for themselves in the Middle East, a liberal, multicultural, every-Canaanite-is-beautiful-in-his-own-way  god would hardly fit the bill.  Nowadays, societies that realize they have to somehow accommodate more diversity find god to be more diversity-friendly than he used to be.

For me it boils down to this: is there really anything in this reality that [a] has a Will (i.e. preferences, desires, likes and dislikes) and [b] the wherewithal to implement said will, but [c] does not have a material, biological, body? I see no reason to believe that there is, and every reason to believer there isn't. But for those who see things differently (because, remember, I am a "whateverist") I really can't imagine how they can come to any kind of consensus on what the properties of this entity might have.

Date: 2006/01/16 15:19:06, Link
Author: Russell
Now that the execrable DaveScot is banning people left and right from UncalmIndecent, I take it he's left off whining (and misrepresenting) about his own banishment from PT. Yes?

Date: 2006/01/16 15:23:22, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
A creature's descendants will always be in the same clade(s) as that creature! Now that's a boundary evolution can't cross...
That's probably what Darwin thought. But he didn't know about lateral gene transfer.

Date: 2006/01/18 06:14:07, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Many design theorists, including myself
Is a "design theorist" someone who simply buys the proposition that there is any substance to "intelligent design theory", or someone who is an active player in developing said theory?

Date: 2006/01/18 08:14:31, Link
Author: Russell
Raging Bee - I think you misinterpret Luskin's position. I believe he says that determining whether something was designed is within the purview of science, but that determining the identity of the designer - especially if the designer turns out to be supernatural - is not. I know, it makes no sense. But he's not trying to prove The Designer is someone other than his god.

Date: 2006/01/18 11:05:00, Link
Author: Russell
A bit beside the point, but is anyone else impressed with what a really bad writer this Luskin fellow is?  Presumably the Disco Inst must have hired him for something other than communication skills.

Date: 2006/01/19 09:28:03, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I don't know why you think he's so bad.  His job is to use science-sounding jargon, write in a complicated fashion, and try to emulate a scholarly person.  The BS might be apparent to you, but most people would sort of gloss over it and then think, "He uses big words, so he must be smart, and he must be right; plus he's talkin' 'bout god, so I'm all fer it."
Take a look at the opening sentence; it makes no sense:
Quote
"I'm glad that..."
Why should what follows make him glad, sad or indifferent? And, more to the point, why would anyone care? And what fraction of Adkins's letter had consisted of quoting Luskin? Does anyone care about that?? In fact, it sounds like  grade-school playground rhetoric where the whole beside-the-point point is to inject some abrasiveness into the exchange and accuse this Adkins fellow of "attacking" him and the Disco Inst. Wasting space in a letter to an editor, where concise and to the point is the whole idea, is bad enough. But wasting space to reveal the mind of a petulant 10 year old - especially in your opening sentence - that takes a really bad writer.
Quote
Moreover, the machines in our cell are often said to resemble human design machines—such as the rotary engine found in the bacterial flagellum. This is powerful evidence that an intelligence was at work.
Oh dear. That wasn't so good, was it?
Quote
Thus Adkins assertions that I am “disingenuous” about my beliefs about the identity of the designer are thus baseless.
How much thus could a thuschuck chuck if a thuschuck could chuck thus?
Quote
What Adkins doesn’t realize is that his position is self-contradictory...
Unlike most holders of self-contradictory positions, who do realize it? Again, it's not just uneconomical; it sounds like playground rhetoric. If you think the position is self-contradictory, just say so; don't embarrass yourself with clumsy swipes at your opponent's mental status.
Quote
Many design theorists, including myself...
I contend it takes a really bad writer not to notice how pompous and ridiculous this comes off.
Quote
The observed products of intelligent agents are precisely what we observe in the cell.
When begging the question is, intentionally or otherwise, obscured by the complexity of the argument, it's a logical fallacy. But  to display it this baldly, this clumsily... that takes a really bad writer.
Quote
The designer very well may God, or a supernatural divine being.
Leaving aside the lack of a verb, isn't that rather inartfully redundant?
Quote
Intelligent design thus takes a bona fide scientific approach which is endorsed by a growing number of scientists and peer reviewed scientific publications.
Maybe this isn't Luskin's fault. It may be that the Disco Inst contractually requires all of its lackeys to include those buzzwords in every communication. But, aside from being just plain false, to end the letter with such a glaring non sequitur, that takes a really bad writer.

Date: 2006/01/19 11:00:08, Link
Author: Russell
GCT - actually, I did know what you meant, and I agree. It just jumps out at me that, while all the DI spokespersons are mendacious, evasive, and usually annoying, none of the others stand out, so far as I've noticed, as really bad writers.

Date: 2006/01/20 10:29:37, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Should a bit more respect come from both sides? And if one side is not up to that, shouldn't the other side still be respectful while firmly disagreeing?
Though, of course, we wouldn't want to generalize about both "sides". (I like to think at least this nonchristian scientist is respectful, at least on one side ;) )

I suspect that there will continue to be a spectrum of "respect" from participants in this apparently never-ending discussion.

In starting this discussion, it certainly was not my intention to "blast every propounder of religion-as-science". I am genuinely curious to understand at what level of concreteness our bible-friendly scientist friends understand this concept of "biblical inerrancy".

I believe, for instance, that David Heddle (PhD physicist) has said that he believes Methuselah literally lived for 969 years. I find that... remarkable.

Date: 2006/01/21 09:37:44, Link
Author: Russell
"That's why this debate not over"  quoth the Black Knight to King Arthur

Date: 2006/01/21 10:37:43, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
it would be interesting if [DaveScot] could participate in the next court case related to ID,
As long as we're scripting our best-case-scenario fantasy, let's cast Casey Luskin as lawyer for ID.

Date: 2006/01/22 04:02:40, Link
Author: Russell
That's it? The bible is totally, absolutely consistent with science - except when it isn't, and then it's a "miracle"? That's a bit disappointing, isn't it?

Date: 2006/01/22 08:31:10, Link
Author: Russell
Hey, Stephen Elliott, turn that :( into a  :) ! Anyone not banned by DaveScot has to be either an @$$#0!e, a moron, or has failed to be noticed.

Date: 2006/01/22 11:31:24, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Gee, I thought you guys didn't care about whether or not the bible was consistent with science.  
You were right. At least in my case. Whether the bible is consistent with science interests me about as much as whether the Iliad and the Odyssey are consistent with science. And if there were otherwise sensible seeming people that insisted that the I&O are consistent with science, I would find that intriguing.

And if they comprised a large chunk of the dominant political party, I would feel duty-bound to try to understand a little bit about what they think.

Your comment I quoted suggests you think there's a different reason for the interest. Care to share that with us?

Date: 2006/01/22 12:42:30, Link
Author: Russell
I followed the link to Planet FreeRepublic, where the article in question was reproduced in full, citing (I thought) a "good new magazine".

But follow that link, and you realize it's Good News Magazine. (You know, "Good News", as in "Gospel"). Then in the comments that follow, the Freepers are seriously asking "if ID is supposed to be religious, then what religion is it supposed to be associated with?"

(A clue might have been the list of Key Words at the end of the article, including "Christ")

Date: 2006/01/22 12:57:05, Link
Author: Russell
Heddle wrote
Quote
[on patriarchal longevity] I told you I do believe in the long ages are scientific, not miraculous.
Let's imagine, for the sake of argument, that some high-tech archeologist managed to locate and identify the remains of Methuselah, and proved somehow that the old guy had in fact lived to the impressive - for those days, I imagine - old age of 63. Would you (a) assume that the archeologist had to be mistaken, or (b) decide that the 900+ year age was not meant literally?

Date: 2006/01/22 13:03:16, Link
Author: Russell
There are indeed a lot of hilarious quotes to be found in the article. I think I like this one best:

Quote
Exciting information is coming out almost daily about "intelligent design," a concept challenging the reigning worldview of Darwinian evolution in classrooms and the media, not to mention in the biology labs.

Date: 2006/01/22 13:16:06, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
It is obvious to every fair minded person that if one view is religious, then both are religious; if one view is scientific, then both are scientific.
Indeed, I would go further: I see no reason why all views are not equally religious and scientific. It's a corollary of the deep philosophical observation that everything is everything.

But seriously... do these people really think that science and higher education are dominated - nay, tyrannized - by unusually unfair minded people?

Date: 2006/01/22 14:26:45, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Are you aware that in Northern Europe during the ice age the life expectancy of an adult was the same as now?
That's interesting. Not that I find it so very unlikely. I wouldn't have thought there were enough data to be very confident of it. What's your source?

Date: 2006/01/23 03:48:12, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
... a belief in biblical error reinforces your notion that the opposition is a bunch of mouth-breathing morons, and that their position would be dismissed by anyone who has married outside their own family. That’s why you want biblical inerrancy, especially scientific consistency, to be easily refutable.
Wow.

Speaking just for myself, I weigh the available evidence and use my best judgment as to what are credible and what are far-fetched claims. What I deem likely and unlikely, really, is not all about you.

Do you think my motivations for deeming the Iliad & Odyssey more fancy than fact are different from deeming other ancient works of literature more fancy than fact? Why or why not?

Date: 2006/01/23 04:20:44, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
[people] are either given the faith (as opposed to somehow mustering the faith) or they don’t have it and can’t have it. You see, you comfort yourself that you have rationally decided against believing, but in fact that’s not the case at all—it is impossible for you to believe unless you are drawn by God.
Probably this was written in haste, and otherwise would have been worded differently. When you wrote:
Quote
"in fact... it is impossible for you to believe..."
probably you meant to write  "I believe it is impossible", or something like that.

Or perhaps this points to a key difference in worldview here: I would say any statement at all about "God" has to be a belief, "faith" if you will, and not a "fact".

Date: 2006/01/23 05:53:32, Link
Author: Russell
I wrote:
Quote
Do you think my motivations for deeming the Iliad & Odyssey more fancy than fact are different from deeming other ancient works of literature more fancy than fact? Why or why not?
To which Heddle replied:
Quote
Of course they are different—you have no fear that a large number of people who take the Iliad as inerrant will ever obtain vast political power. I would think it obvious that everyone on here views “fundamentalists” as a formidable cultural movement.
I think you should question your certainty about who thinks what and why. Do you think that if some bizarre turn of events brought I&O "inerrantists" to power next week, the reasons I have today for being skeptical would cease to be? I was skeptical of the "inerrancy" of your bible back when I was incorrectly confident the religious right was too fringy ever to get their hands on the reins of the federal government. But that I feel it my patriotic duty to oppose their political agenda is due, in part, to my conclusion that bible-based reality is nonsense - not the other way around.

Date: 2006/01/23 06:53:37, Link
Author: Russell
As Heddle points out, this notion of "predetermination" is at odds with Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, etc. (another instance of a clock being right twice a day ;) ) and, well, mainstream christianity in general. A lot of the haranguing that evo-philes get from creationists (including those of the ID strain) is that "Darwinism" renders free will meaningless, and that spells the death of personal responsibility, and chaos and lawlessness necessarily follow. It seems to me that "Heddle-ism" is more antithetical to free will than "Darwinism" ever was. Those of us that drew the short straw before we were even conceived - I guess the only reason we have for not lying, cheating, stealing and going on murderous rampages is the fear of legal retribution.

IIRC, there are some fundamentalist christians whose interpretation - excuse me - objective reading of the bible puts the number of humans selected to be God's eternal companions at 144,000 (i.e. an infinitesimal fraction of humanity). If that's the case, it seems like a pretty weak buttress for ethical conduct, the whole christianity message being irrelevant to 99.9999...% of us. Does Heddle-ism similarly estimate the fraction of us destined to be God's pets?

Date: 2006/01/23 09:22:48, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
BTW, you don’t know for certain that you will not be drawn by God.
If so, the Big Guy better get his invitation in the mail pretty soon. (Either that, or your bible-based researchers will have to figure out how to fix the broken Methuselah gene pretty soon.)

So, what about that 144,000 number? What do you think: high, low, about right? Related question: Can one be a christian, and not be destined for Kennel in the Sky, or is one necessarily a "false christian" if one claims to be a christian, but is actually not among the fortunate few?

Date: 2006/01/23 10:38:09, Link
Author: Russell
Re: 144,000. I think that comes from "Revelations" the last book in the New Testament. Revelations reads like a log of someone's LSD experience, so it's hard to know whether to take a given passage as literal prediction, as metaphor, or merely as "inerrant". An apocalyptic catastrophe is described, of which there are 144000 survivors. I believe that some christians have taken the catastrophe as metaphorical for the ordeal of death, and that a total of 144,000 souls would survive before God rang down the curtain and closed the show.

Date: 2006/01/23 13:01:24, Link
Author: Russell
I've noticed that people often choose names that honor a family member, or someone the parents particularly admired. But of course those names had to come from somewhere, too. Since we don't buy the whole christian thing, we were uncomfortable picking an explicitly christian - or judeo-christian - name for our son. (That rules out quite a few, when you think about it: Christopher, Michael, John, James....)

We went with "Julian" - in honor of a few Julians, but especially the 4th century Roman emperor who set about reversing his uncle, Constantine's, establishment of christianity as the official religion of the empire. Unfortunately, that Julian died after just 2 or 3 years in office, and from then till quite recently (if even now), you couldn't rise to the leadership of any western nation without at least a nominal embrace of christianity.

One of the great "what ifs" of history: what if Julian had reigned as long as Constantine?

Date: 2006/01/23 14:01:44, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
One of the great "what ifs" of history: what if Julian had reigned as long as Constantine?
Quote
Then we'd be having all the same arguments with Jupiterian fundamentalists.
Maybe. But before Constantine, I think the official religion of Rome, and what Julian wanted to restore, was more "whateverism" than "jupiterism". ("You want to build a temple to Mithras? Sure, whatever. Isis? Sure, whatever"). Julian himself (according to Gibbon, Decline & Fall) undertook to rebuild the jewish temple in Jerusalem, but an earthquake intervened.

Date: 2006/01/23 16:21:04, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I would like to offer up that DaveScot really has no position on these things, except that everyone else is somehow wrong.
Now that it's become the DaveScot-Davison-Dembski three ring circus, I suggest there are two things they all have in common: the everyone else is wrong mindset, and right-wing politics.

Date: 2006/01/24 02:12:36, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
If Julian ever has a sibling, any thoughts on what you'd name him or her?
I could never decide, so Julian has remained an only child ;)
I'm partial to Roman/Greek, though. I have a nephew named Adrian, ultimately after another much praised emperor. I might be tempted to go with "Russell", after Bertrand Russell, but I'm not comfortable naming a kid after myself.

Date: 2006/01/24 05:43:36, Link
Author: Russell
I'm not so sure about the "denying God" accusation. The official ID line, insofar as there is one, is that we can use science to distinguish between something designed and something not designed, but that doesn't necessarily mean you can pinpoint the designer. I don't think the argument holds up very well under scrutiny, but it's not completely untenable on its face, and a lot of folks who favor the argument are not motivated to scrutinize it very deeply.

It's important to a lot of Believers that science at least not rule out their concept of God, if not necessarily prove it. And let's face it: the generally scientifically accepted version of evolution does, in fact, rule out certain concepts of God. A subpopulation of ID advocates would be happy enough with a version of science that requires some conscious intelligence without specifying it.

Based on my experience at the local level, most "ID" advocates are really old-fashioned creationists who occupy a spectrum ranging from those who actually want the biblical scenario in the curriculum to those who merely want it not ruled out.

Date: 2006/01/24 06:30:11, Link
Author: Russell
Well, I'm glad we had this discussion. I think now we're all clear on what Heddle*  means when he contends that the bible is consistent with science, and there's no need to rehash it on every third comment thread on PT. Should it come up, please steer commenters to this discussion.

*(and, I guess, Carol Clouser, though she chose not to speak for herself here)

Date: 2006/01/24 06:43:52, Link
Author: Russell
Interesting. Although the DI gets all indignant when you say they promote the inclusion of ID in school curricula...

Quote
When asked about how biology teachers should teach intelligent design theory, Dembski said teachers should “go as far as you can.”
(from FishyFred's link)

Date: 2006/01/24 07:24:05, Link
Author: Russell
you guys need to design some sort of clickable Effete Brit-twit icon.

Date: 2006/01/24 08:27:39, Link
Author: Russell
RE: "plausibility"

As others have pointed out, "plausibility" doesn't count for much in science. It ranks somewhere between "intuition" and "hunch".

But I'd like to point out a few plausibility related items:

(1) Very few people involved in the actual study of biology or allied fields share this sense of implausibility about evolution.

(2) Lots of people find lots of physics "implausible" (relativistic time dilation; light being both particle and wave, etc.) So far, no one has tried to elevate that sense of "implausibility" to the status of "alternative theory".

(3) I find ID implausible: mainly the notion of nonphysical supernatural things affecting physical natural things, and the "infinite regress" problem: who designed the designer?

Date: 2006/01/24 10:37:58, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
(! ) argumentum ad populum
Quite the contrary! First, it's not an argument at all, it's an observation. If you think your own personal "feeling" of implausibility counts for something, I'm inviting you to wonder why people who have devoted a heck of a lot of time, study and research into it don't share that feeling. If, on the other hand, you contend that your own personal feeling of implausibility counts for something because a largish fraction of the (nonspecialist) population shares that feeling, I would call that an argumentum ad populum.

Quote
(2)Yet we do find an alternate theory to evolution
What is that theory? (Note: "an unknown entity did an unknown thing at an unknown time" doesn't count as a theory. Nor does "I find evolution implausible, therefore it musta been God".)

Quote
(3)Your mind and intellect are not physical and they affect physical natural things
"Mind" and "intellect", like "metabolism", describe properties of my physical self. They affect physical natural things in the same sense my metabolism does.

I note, though, we are experiencing "thread drift" here. Possibly, if this discussion is worth pursuing at all, it might be best to start a fresh topic.

Date: 2006/01/24 14:52:17, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Just like if you asked me how did Trump Towers come into existence and I answered "Donald Trump had his people build it". It may not be a detailed explanation, but it is nevertheless an explanation and a true one at that.
It's only an explanation insofar as we already know the mechanisms by which "Donald Trump's people" build things. If I ask you how the rings of Saturn came into existence, and you tell me "Donald Trump had his people make them", you'll pardon my skepticism if I want to know a little bit about the how and when.

Date: 2006/01/25 03:34:44, Link
Author: Russell
Briefly recapping, Zardoz wrote:
Quote
Yet we do find an alternate theory to evolution

to which I responded:
Quote
What is that theory? (Note: "an unknown entity did an unknown thing at an unknown time" doesn't count as a theory. Nor does "I find evolution implausible, therefore it musta been God".)
to which... I'm still waiting.

So that's it? "A lot of my friends and I find evolution "implausible", therefore an intelligence had to be involved"?

Date: 2006/01/25 03:40:59, Link
Author: Russell
"marching orders", "free reign", "purges", "fearless leader"...

anyone detect a pattern here?

Date: 2006/01/25 05:22:00, Link
Author: Russell
While idly perusing UD, I came across some surprisingly sensible comments by DaveScot on the subject of altruism and revenge, in the context of evolution. But what I couldn't help chuckling over was this comment by ds:
Quote
An argument might be made that revenge is most highly developed in humans but it’s not anything to brag about.... But I’d reiterate that revenge is no virtue and while it might separate humans from other animals it doesn’t morally elevate us above them. Quite the contrary in fact.
in light of this:
Quote
blah blah blah
Jack - since I’m banned on Panda’s Thumb from commenting I see no reason why I should allow authors from Panda’s Thumb to comment here. Please make your responses elsewhere. -ds
and this:
Quote
Sorry Steve.
If I can’t comment on Panda’s Thumb you can’t comment here. What goes around comes around. -ds

Date: 2006/01/25 12:48:40, Link
Author: Russell
A common debating technique these days goes like this:

"I construe the point you just made as Fallacy XYZ, and therefore I'm going to just ignore it".

I see an important difference between:

"a lot of people believe p, therefore p must be true", and

"most people who have spent a lot of time studying this field have have come to the opposite conclusion".

But, as I said, it's not an argument, it was just part of pointing out that a "feeling" of "implausibility" does not count for science. Do you disagree with that?
It doesn't give you pause that, the more people study biology, the less they agree with you? Do you chalk that up to "brainwashing"?

Quote
I didn't make an appeal to popularity, the other person did.
No, your only appeal was to your own personal "feeling of implausibility". I assumed that might have been a reference, often asserted by DI types, that in effect "poll after poll shows the man on the street finds evolution implausible".  But if it's just your personal feeling, contradicted by the people that actually study the field, it's even weaker than an argumentum ad populum, isn't it?

Quote
That theory is that a known entity ( I know it), did a known thing (build all life), at an unknown time (a long time ago). You may not like that as a theory, but it is a theory. I don't mind if you call it something else.
Good; then you won't mind if I call that "Religion". I guess I don't mind if you call a dog a cat, as long as you don't run around making a nuisance of yourself insisting that everyone else, or at least the public schools, recognize that dogs are just as much cats as cats are.

Quote
"Mind" and "intellect", like "metabolism", describe properties of my physical self. They affect physical natural things in the same sense my metabolism does.
Quote
I disagree. What part of the brain contains thought? Is thought part of a cell? If so which part? Which part is consciousness?
What part of a car contains motion? What evidence leads you to the notion that thought and consciousness exist anywhere without a brain?

Date: 2006/01/26 05:20:56, Link
Author: Russell
I've read some of Schwartz's stuff before. He has no use for creationists, and I assume that includes those of the ID flavor. But he has a pet theory - totally at odds with all the evidence I'm familiar with - that humans are more closely related to orangutans than to chimps. And rather than abandon that theory, he's adopted the role of iconoclastic questioner of the status quo, and requires that something be seriously wrong with prevailing theory.

Date: 2006/01/27 06:50:18, Link
Author: Russell
Attack IDeas - Not the People Who Hold Them The latest post from the tireless enemy of ad hominem...(wait for it...) DaveScot!

Post here your favorite examples of egregious DaveScot ad hominems.

I'll start with the scurrilous bit of personal info (whether factual or fictitious - I really don't care) - totally unrelated to the whole ID/evo thing - that DS posted about someone he had just banned.

Date: 2006/01/27 06:56:46, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Intelligent Design IS a law of nature which is why it should never have been debated. Laws are not to be debated. They are to be accepted and diligently followed.

Comment by John Davison — January 27, 2006 @ 101 am
Quote
And sure, JAD ia a crank, but you don't see people falling over themselves to correct him.
No, not even the DI folks that insist that their only agenda is "critical analysis" of scientific theories.

Strange, that.

Date: 2006/01/27 07:22:56, Link
Author: Russell
This may be the quote:
Quote
Mark Perakh is a crazy Russian physicist known to say all sorts of crazy things. Russians are notoriously paranoid conspiracy theorists and bald faced liars.
I'm not sure about the alcoholic part - perhaps you're thinking of when Fearless Leader himself inexplicably called Perakh the The Boris Yeltsin of Higher Education. That left a lot of us wondering what it was supposed to mean, but figured it had something to do with Yeltsin's alleged drinking problem.

Date: 2006/01/27 07:29:58, Link
Author: Russell
RE: PuckSR's bad link:
the http:// is duplicated at the beginning. Fix that, and go to comment #15 on that post.

Date: 2006/01/28 08:16:05, Link
Author: Russell
I haven't read Davison's "manifesto", or any of his "Rivista" expositions. And, considering the portrait of himself he paints in his internet communications, it's not very high on my list of reading priorities. (Somewhere between the  Harlequin romances and the complete works of Rush Limbaugh.) But there are some themes in his rants I sympathize with (sort of).

"Evolution is over". Well, no. Obviously evolution is still going on. But the specialization of the more complex multicellular animals does constitute something of a "blind alley". The pre-Cambrian precursors  by virtue of their simplicity, had a kind of evolutionary pluripotentiality that modern cockroaches, humans and starfish don't. For instance, no matter what combination of natural selection forces are brought to bear, I'm pretty confident that no descendents of humans will evolve an exoskeleton. And in this sense, there is a meaningful analogy to be drawn with ontogeny: a lymphocyte, having made a series of epigenetic commitments in the course of development, does not have the option of spawning neurons.

The "Cambrian explosion" was possible because, at that time, there was a huge range of niches for which there was no biological competition. In expanding into those niches, each lineage of animal life made multiple, essentially irreversible, commitments. And nowadays, the available niches are pretty well spoken for. So a second "Cambrian explosion" will have to await some huge cataclysm clearing the decks of the entrenched forms.

So, I side with Davison against the uniformitarianism commonly (though I'm not sure completely accurately) associated with Darwin. And I see some merit in the analogy between evolution and ontogeny (though Davison seems to think it's more than an analogy). And, at least for the meantime, evolution of modern animal forms is largely i-dotting and t-crossing relative to the radical developments associated with the past. But what any of this has to do with "intelligent design" is beyond me.

Date: 2006/01/28 08:29:06, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
there is a problem if you can't tolerate that other people do not think the way you do *and* you won't change the subject.
The problem with that is certain religious movements with which I would otherwise be happy to "agree to disagree" (most obviously ID) won't let you change the subject. Unless, of course, you're willing to cede control over science and education.

Date: 2006/01/28 09:00:09, Link
Author: Russell
"emertitus", "Freudian slip"? I don't get it.

Date: 2006/01/28 11:21:13, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
"Attack Ideas - Not the People Who Hold Them"
Blog entry posted by DaveScot Jan 27.

Quote
“Attack Ideas - Not the People Who Hold Them” is new age BS. But I strongly believe that new age nitwits should listen to their own psychobabble and feel guilty about attacking people.
Comment #12 to that entry, by DaveScot Jan. 28

Date: 2006/01/28 15:22:06, Link
Author: Russell
O. Johnson doesn't mind Davison's mouth-foaming rants and nonstop insults, but he finds Arden Chatfield's quote of Davison offensive? Go figure.

Date: 2006/01/28 15:27:54, Link
Author: Russell
Who is this "O. Johnson" who seems to be claiming to have administrative privileges at UD?

Date: 2006/01/29 04:51:27, Link
Author: Russell
I may have muddied the waters with my use of the word "specialization". I didn't mean in the relatively narrow sense of adaptation to a niche. I meant the series of commitments that are made in the course of the evolution of a highly complex multicellular animal. A mammal doesn't have the pluripotential options that a single celled organism has. If a cataclysm of unprecedented proportions wipes out 99.99+% of all life, I predict that whatever rises from the ashes will be descended from the relatively simple forms, not from us. But until a really huge cataclysm happens, really radical innovations are unlikely because they would be at a disadvantage relative to those of us who have had millions of years of honing.

"Irreducible complexity", after all, has to evolve, and a truly radical innovation would have to be babied along for thousands/millions of generations in a relatively non-competitive environment in order to accumulate the layers of interdependent systems that (for reasons, again, that escape me) Behe thinks constitute an argument against evolution.

Date: 2006/01/29 05:21:00, Link
Author: Russell
Interestingly, among the credits ascribed to Dr Meyer:
Quote
Stephen C Meyer edited ‘Darwinism, Design and Public Education’ (Michigan State University
Press). He has a PhD in philosophy of science from Cambridge University and is a senior
fellow at the Discovery Institute in Seattle.
... the Telegraph left out his current employer, Palm Beach Atltantic University:
Quote
To assure the perpetuation of these  basic concepts of its founders, it is resolved that all those who become associated with  Palm Beach Atlantic as trustees, officers, members of the faculty or of the staff, must  believe in the divine inspiration of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments; that man  was directly created by God; that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin...[etc.]

Probably just an inadvertant omission.

Date: 2006/01/29 07:20:19, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Would modern bacteria ever develop into multicellular organisms if all other forms of life were destroyed?
My guess is "yes", but maybe only after "de-differentiating" somewhat. Because "modern bacteria" are also somewhat (I want to say "specialized", but maybe I should say "compromised in pluripotentiality by their complexity".)

My guess is that the ur-eukaryote - our ancestor that resulted from the fusion of the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes - was originally an awkward creature, not likely to survive competition with modern life forms.

Date: 2006/01/29 07:28:30, Link
Author: Russell
The latest from DaveScot:
Quote
The history of Of Pandas and People was the only formidable obstacle in a winning defense.
Right. If it weren't for that darn book, Mike "astrology is science" Behe would have won the day.

Date: 2006/01/29 09:05:37, Link
Author: Russell
"Judge Johnson's ruling"?  Could that be a Freudian slip?

Date: 2006/01/29 12:59:35, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You’re right, it was all about the book, it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Behe admitted under oath that in order for ID to be considered “science”, the definition of science had to be REDEFNIED to include supernatural explanations.

Comment by jon nickles — January 29, 2006 @ 2:15 pm
Quote
Jon
Behe admitted no such thing. He said astrology, 600 years ago when astrology and astronomy were the same art, would be science under his definition. If you care to argue he said something more than that feel free to provide a quote from the court transcript. Otherwise put a sock in it. ...[DaveScot]
Hey Jon, if you're reading this, at the bottom of page 30 of the Dover decision:
Quote
Defendants’ expert witness ID proponents confirmed that the existence of a
supernatural designer is a hallmark of ID. First, Professor Behe has written that by ID he means “not designed by the laws of nature,” and that it is “implausible that
the designer is a natural entity.” (P-647 at 193; P-718 at 696, 700). Second,
Professor Minnich testified that for ID to be considered science, the ground rules
of science have to be broadened so that supernatural forces can be considered.
(38:97 (Minnich)). Third, Professor Steven William Fuller testified that it is ID’s
project to change the ground rules of science to include the supernatural. (Trial Tr.
vol. 28, Fuller Test., 20-24, Oct. 24, 2005). Turning from defense expert witnesses
to leading ID proponents, Johnson has concluded that science must be redefined to
include the supernatural if religious challenges to evolution are to get a hearing.
Perhaps Dave should be counseled to "put a sock in it".

Date: 2006/01/29 14:09:06, Link
Author: Russell
More of the legal wisdom of DaveScot:
Quote
The first prong of the Lemon Test is to ask whether there is a secular motivation. All it takes is one good secular reason. It’s easy to show one good secular reason - the president of the United States recommends that evolution and ID both be taught so that the public understands what the debate is about. That is a secular reason.
I bet the  Dover defendants' legal team is just kicking itself for not having sought the legal advice of DaveScot.

On a side note, though, if this president can make warrantless wiretaps legal, in direct contradiction of the explicit language of the Constitution and the FISA legislation, perhaps he can make religion secular, and maybe turn water into wine.

Date: 2006/01/30 09:50:00, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Father Coyne is scheduled to deliver the annual Aquinas Lecture on “Science Does Not Need God, or Does It? A Catholic Scientist Looks at Evolution” at Palm Beach Atlantic University  
Great! Let's hope PBAU's Stephen Meyer is in the audience.

Date: 2006/01/31 04:06:14, Link
Author: Russell
I guess DaveScot is going to have to ban Paul Nelson.

So now the only difference between Dave's position and regular science is that regular science accepts that the input of information needed for evolution, (the "intelligence", if you will) is natural selection.

I predict DaveScot's reign of terror at UD will be over in a matter of days or weeks.

Date: 2006/02/01 03:56:18, Link
Author: Russell
Oh, DaveScot - since we know you're reading this: you're confusing Russell Doolittle with W. Ford Doolittle. Of course, being intimately familiar with all this literature, and with that 153 IQ of course, you probably knew that and just made a slip of the keyboard.

Date: 2006/02/04 09:54:18, Link
Author: Russell
According to Salvador, his creationism-embracing scientist:
Quote
... received her PhD under the guidance of Derek Burke, who discovered interferon.  
This is news. The discovery is generally ascribed to Isaacs and Lindenmann.

Date: 2006/02/05 09:40:08, Link
Author: Russell
Avocationist, in response to a suggestion that he had tacitly accepted "natural selection":
Quote
It just won't work. Random mutation isn't capable. Find more mechanisms. That one won't do.
It's important to keep your terms straight. "natural selection" and "random mutation" are two completely separate things. When you say "random mutation isn't capable": capable of what? Incapable of supplying the raw material for natural selection to act on? What evidence do you rely on, other than your personal incredulity? And when you say "random mutation", are you talking just about point mutations, or are you including chromosomal rearrangements, transpositions, duplications, etc.?

Date: 2006/02/05 11:35:35, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Crocker said, they are quite different from macroevolution. No one has ever seen a dog turn into a cat in a laboratory.

Quote
...Which proves that Crocker doesn't know anything about evolution.
But if Crocker really has the credentials she claims, she can't possibly have this superficial an acquaintance with how evolution really works. Unless she has suffered some kind of dementia process, she is just telling the creationists what they want to hear, and using her science background to lend it undeserved credibility.

Date: 2006/02/05 12:43:30, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
In other words, she is a good example of Intellectual Dishonesty.
Couple of oddities about the audio "autobiographical sketch" Cordova posted for Dr. Crocker.

First, I can't find a single paper published by Burke and Crocker. Perhaps she published under her pre-married name? But I can't even find a single publication with the appropriate first initials.

Secondly, she lists her history in research, starting with PhD study with Burke, then going into microbiology, then multiple sclerosis research, then - finally, because the challenge was so "awesome" - immunology. Yet she says she has a PhD in immunology.

I wonder if the dishonesty here is just of the abstract "intellectual" type?

Date: 2006/02/06 11:38:56, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
...about transpositions, rearrangements, etc., but ...I just don't know enough about those other mechanisms, except that they appear to be candidates for ID.
Yes, I guess the more one doesn't know about a given phenomenon, the better a candidate for ID it appears. From my perspective, these all look like pretty random phenomena.

Quote
I value my personal incredulity a lot, don't you? I can't imagine doing without it.
Indeed. But you can't base a logical argument on it, let alone a scientific theory.

Date: 2006/02/06 14:30:49, Link
Author: Russell
Clearly, Avocationist, you are a  true believer. But who are you to say someone's "out of his league" in judging whether Behe's argument makes sense? The fact that Judge Jones comes to the same conclusion as every major scientific organization that has weighed in on it - that doesn't give you a moment's pause? Can you point me to any scientist's* review of Behe's book that didn't pan it?  

* And I don't mean creationist that happens to have a degree. I mean someone whose public reputation is primarily as a scientist.

Date: 2006/02/07 03:43:24, Link
Author: Russell
"She" signed her letter "Albert Boynton". I guess it's just another crank letter-to-the-editor writer.

Date: 2006/02/07 10:45:21, Link
Author: Russell
OK. I'm going to flaunt my ignorance. What's "pangenesis", and what is the "main" mechanism of evolutionary change?

But just to contribute something, Darwin was wrong on human male/female mental characteristics.

Date: 2006/02/08 03:49:09, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
[Dawkins] said that when one looks at the molecular level, most of what one sees is neutral change, but that at the level of observable morphological traits, most of those are due to natural selection. Darwin said otherwise in his introduction to the Origin of Species: Furthermore, I am convinced that Natural Selection has been the main but not exclusive means of modification.
In my mind, this turns out to be something of a semantic question. Obviously, Darwin wasn't opining about changes in nucleic acid sequences; he was looking at observable differences, and in that area I'm not so sure natural selection doesn't still reign supreme.

(Btw, surely the comment about Darwin and Jesus was a joke, no?)

Date: 2006/02/08 04:18:38, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Well, I am pretty satisfied based on the books and articles I have read that there isn't much evidence for Darwinism, and that the IDists are more scientific than the Darwinists because the IDists are into detail.
No need for me to repeat everything Renier wrote. But be aware that this is the kind of statement that we in the science-education business find just exasperating.

Quick sum-up: in the real, practicing, professional scientific literature, there is no evidence for anything other than what you seem to mean by the not-very-useful term, "Darwinism". (Please stop using that word without some meaningful definition).

IDists are "into detail" in the sense that they're always on the lookout for arcane tidbits they can cite in order to appear erudite, without fear that their primary audience (the scientifically illiterate, eager to Believe) will be able to see through the fog. But notice, when it comes to "detail" that counts - you know, mechanisms, testable hypotheses - the IDists (I should say "anti-evolutionists", as they appear to be busily "rebranding" themselves) come up empty-handed.

Bottom line: "garbage in, garbage out". You get your information exclusively from demagogues selling books and promoting their social/political agenda, you will be "satisfied"  with their version of reality. The day anti-evolutionism has a significant representation in the professional scientific literature is the day their claims are worth the time it takes to read them.

Date: 2006/02/08 09:18:34, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
And why do you suppose that Darwin called Chrstianity a "damnable doctrine"
I've never run across Darwin's opinions on Christianity. Just out of curiosity, what was the context of this remark? I thought that, in his public work, Darwin went out of his way not to unnecessarily antagonize the pious.

Date: 2006/02/08 11:12:31, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I think it's odd you say ID ideas will be worth reading when they get into the literature. That's like a medieval Catholic saying the beliefs of the Cathars and Waldenses (who were massacred) will be worth considering when they get validated at a church council. It's all about the prevailing group in power. We are talking about psychological patterns of human behaviors.
If you really believe that the vetting of scientific ideas is comparable to the deliberations of church councils, then we're done here.

Date: 2006/02/08 14:12:53, Link
Author: Russell
For the trouncing of Denton's "Evolution: a theory in crisis", all you have to do is pick up Denton's more recent book "Nature's Destiny", where he simply abandons the whole premise of the earlier book - that common descent is increasingly challenged by the evidence - and jumps on the "cosmological ID". I.e. evolution (the very process the earlier book claimed to debunk) happened after all, but it was somehow predestined by the physical constants of the universe.

Date: 2006/02/08 15:29:56, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
If [Denton] at any time backtracked on his points in the first book, I'm unaware of it.

This lays it out pretty clearly.

Date: 2006/02/09 08:32:23, Link
Author: Russell
You might address the question, not just to ID supporters, but to the atheists who regularly insist in PT comments that evolution, or science in general, is inconsistent with theism.

It seems to me it all boils down to a matter of definitions. Certainly by some definitions of god - like the YECers' for instance - the two are incompatible. And, whereas continued study, accumulation of data, and open discussion generally tend toward consensus about definitions in science, no such process occurs in "theology".

Personally, I stay out of these discussions because I am an atheist, and I regard it as none of my business how theists reconcile faith and science. (Interesting, but none of my business.) And in a society where something like 90+% regard themselves as theists, my even stating my perspective on religion (in the context of efforts to promote understanding of evolution) is unhelpful.

Date: 2006/02/09 09:12:48, Link
Author: Russell
In response to:
Quote
Behe says that something that is IC is impossible to occur by chance, but he can't know that.  In order to know that, he would have to know all the chance occurances we know about, plus all the ones that we don't know about, which he can not do.

Avo wrote:
Quote
Well I disagree and I think they are well along the way to examing these issues. But you think we should give up because we just can't and that's that.
This is indeed baffling. Behe's concept of IC is that it cannot be explained by any conceivable evolutionary pathway. But, indeed, "they" are well along the way to examining these issues. Only "they" are not the IDers, they are the scientists (read: "Darwinists") behind the scores of publications presented to Judge Jones on the evolution of the immune system, for instance. It's Behe's thesis - that these "IC" systems couldn't have arisen by evolution - that says there's no point in trying to figure out how they evolved. What makes you think the IDers are "well on their way"? What research can you point to that actually supports Behe's thesis?

Date: 2006/02/09 09:32:48, Link
Author: Russell
No, Avo. Evolutionary theory - at least the basics - is not really really hard to understand. Read Ernst Mayr's "What Evolution Is" if you haven't already.

Behe and Denton don't fail to grasp it because they're too dumb or because it's too hard - they just don't want it to be true. That's why they don't go to the trouble of really learning what they're trying to critique: that would just make it harder.

As to Denton Then vs. Denton Now: it's really quite simple. His first book (with its "equidistance" argument you find so appealing, but that no educated biologist has ever found any merit in) was all about denying common descent. His second book accepts it. Pretty fundamental, no?

Date: 2006/02/10 05:13:44, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
No, what I meant is that Behe and Dembski and no doubt others are looking into how to realistically detect design and how.
What leads you to think that? I see absolutely no evidence of this.
Quote
But I don't think anyone, including Behe, thinks we should stop trying to understand these systems, and even if we think they were designed, does not mean we will not try to figure out how.
But that's the problem with Behe's thesis. It rests on there being no way for these systems to have come about naturally. So what kind of research program has any IDer proposed to figure out a mechanism by which something happened supernaturally? Also, I find it telling that you seem uninterested in the abundant evidence presented that progress is being made - plausible, researchable evolutionary hypotheses are being offered - toward each and every system Behe has held up as "irreducibly complex".
Quote
I do not think we have to know everything about everything to prove Behe correct.
No indeed. But it's Behe's contention now that we have to know everything about everything to prove him wrong. I'm not making this up. As I read Darwin's Black Box, I understood him to be saying "here's a bunch of systems for which no plausible evolutionary scenario can possibly account". OK. But then when plausible scenarios are suggested for every one of his "impossible-to-evolve" systems, he moves the goalposts. Now he insists that until "Darwinists" have the exact, mutation-by-mutation account of the evolutionary history of a so-called "IC" system, then he's unrefuted! (He wrote that on "IDtheFuture" - but, unfortunately, IDtheFuture seems to have erased its past, so I can't provide the link). By that logic, until we have a day by day,  centimeter by centimeter account of where the Indian subcontinent was in its trip from Africa to Asia, we should withhold judgment on continental drift.
Quote
Quote  
[Re: Ernst Mayr's "What Evolution Is"]
Is it a book? Isn't he ancient?
He died in 2004 at age 100. But believe me, there's plenty in that book - written for the layman and published in 2001 - that you need to learn if you want anyone to take your opinions on evolution seriously.

Re: Denton Then vs. Denton Now.  All of your dancing around the issue fails to change the stark fact. His first book - widely cited as inspiration by IDists Johnson, Behe, and others - was all about evidence against common descent. There is nothing left of that argument that he has not tacitly admitted to be refuted. You'll notice he is no longer among the Discovery Institute's "Fellows".  I think that, in their creepily Soviet style of information management,they have largely purged the record of their falling out with him.

Which brings me to my last point. Frankly, if Behe or any "ID theorist" wants a shred of credibility outside the circle of already committed true believers, he's going to have to distance himself from the Disco Inst.

Date: 2006/02/10 06:46:09, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
This experience is real and repeatable. Many people share the experience. Doesn't that qualify as science?  
No, it doesn't. You need some tangible property you can measure and report, and let other people see if they get same results.
Quote
Repeatable in different labor[a]tories?
How so?
Quote
if ID is simply allowing for the appearance of design in our universe, I don't see how it could be evil.
But that's not what ID is about. First of all, no one is arguing with the appearance of design, at least in biology. (In what sense does the non-biological universe appear designed?) It's just that evolution explains how that apparent design might have developed, and all the evidence I'm aware of is consistent with that explanation. ID says that apparent design could not have come into being without an "intelligence", but there's no science, no measurements, no mechanism to back it up. They have nothing more than you do: a feeling that  something conscious must have, at some point, somehow done something to effect a preconceived design. They try to dress it up with equations and sciencey language, but that's all it is.

I don't share your idea of God (I don't think I do, anyway). But it strikes me that the IDer's thesis that they can deduce anything outside of nature about the mechanisms by which creation was created is distinctly contrary to the christianity I was brought up in. The IDers say "we can say this is designed because it has the hallmarks of how we would design things. But the bible says "my ways are not your ways" (Isaiah 55:8 or so, if I remember correctly).    

Quote
I am beginning to get the feeling that most of you are sincere and probably right in a limited kind of a way
That's all I really aspire to.

Date: 2006/02/10 08:07:31, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
The problem is, this argument can easily be turned around. And it certainly seems to me that people who insist Darawinism is so obvious are glossing over the very good arguments against, which to my knowledge have never been answered because there exist no answers, and is every bit as blind as you think the other side is. You make the very good point that personal preference is a very strong, if not the strongest, cause for people to believe what they do. But if you think only the other side has that problem but not your own, then you may not have looked honestly.
Post-modernist anti-intellectualism. Somehow the mere posing of an alternate point of view makes both views equally valid, so you can never know anything, just have opinions. I reject that completely. I have read Mayr, Behe, Dawkins, Denton, etc. etc. and, in light of what I know about biology (which I suspect is considerably more than Avo does) the evo position makes sense, and the creo (or neocreo) does not. What are these alleged very good arguments against "Darawinism"?

Date: 2006/02/10 08:50:40, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
It is very difficult for me to believe that someone could say that smear tactics have been from the ID side... I hardly ever see it going in the opposite direction
Oh, really? So you think the accusations that the majority of scientists are engaged in a massive fraud to try to promote an atheist agenda is a pretty reasonable assessment? Are you familiar with this for instance? And you think Davison and DaveScot are pretty even-handed in their characterization of ID-critics?
Quote
In my own hometown newspaper, someone did a writeup of ID that not only was false, but he insinuated that if ID were to prevail, modern medicine would go out the window and we would rely on faith healers. This is a high level of hysteria and paranoia.
Given the effectiveness of your own blinders, I'm not about to take your word for whether the writeup of ID was false. But to point out the antiscientific nature of ID by comparison with faith healers does not strike me as a "smear". Perhaps your dismissing these concerns as hysterical and paranoid is a "smear". I won't pass judgment without reading the piece your criticizing (but not quoting), but I will tell you I honestly worry about the anti-science, anti-intellectual religious right mindset that seems to be inseparable from ID. And a lot of the "ID supporters" I've heard at the local level (as opposed to the slick operation run out of Seattle) would not be disturbed in the least to be accused of crediting faith-healers.

Quote
Go to the Discovery Institute and read what they have to say about the wedge document. They disown the wedge document and that should be good enough.
Go to the Discovery Institute and read what they have to say about the wedge document. They disown the wedge document and that should be good enough.[/quote]First of all,
they don't disown it at all. They say "So what?" But, no, taking the Disco Institute's word for anything is not good enough.

Date: 2006/02/10 09:34:54, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Faith is one of those support mechanisms and if you take it away...
Let's just be clear on one thing. Science (and scientists, and that generally covers what the IDists like to call "Darwinists") are not plotting to take away faith. There is no "atheist agenda" behind either the success of evolutionary theory, or the opposition of mainstream science to the anti-science of ID. The scurrilous accusations of many IDers to the contrary (DaveScot, JAD, just about every pronouncement from the Disco Inst) does not speak well of the character of the movement.

At the same time, science should not and cannot be concerned about whether objective reality conflicts with this, that or the other religious perspective. If your god is sufficiently abstract, I guess there's not a problem. But if your god is an entity that created the universe 6000 years ago, and created the first humans with no biological ancestors, etc. then I'm sorry; that just does not appear to be consistent with science. I know the more sophisticated of the IDers make more subtle claims than that, but so far as I can see, there's no substance to their claims.

Date: 2006/02/10 10:20:21, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Brian Greene claims something a bit different.

He says that statistically, it is far more probable that the Universe has only just "popped" into existence than it is 16 Billion years old.
Huh? how can you apply statistics to a single event? Do you have a reference? Greene seems to be mischievously inscrutable here.  

(Also - I doubt if Greene thinks humans were created with no biological ancestors!;)

Date: 2006/02/10 10:34:18, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
And if I'm right, then no doubt that will be discovered as our knowledge of evo devo improves
Well, no. "if I'm right, then one day I'll be proved right" doesn't really count as a prediction, in the scientific sense. A scientific prediction would be something like this:

Fifty years ago, we knew that DNA was the genetic material, but no particular sequences were known. It was predicted (by "Darwinists", I guess you'd say) that - if and when DNA could be sequenced - it would turn out to reflect the nested hierarchy of common descent.

Guess how that turned out?

(By the way: one genus two genera. Oh, you're welcome! No charge.)

Date: 2006/02/10 11:59:05, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
No one is saying that Darwinists are engaged in massive fraud. What they say is that Darwinian evolution will turn out to be one of the biggest false leads in science. The word fraud might be used, but not personally against anyone or the group. That is absurd.
Absurd? From Dembski's review of Jonathan Wells's "Icons of Evolution"
Quote
[Wells] found that on closer examination the key examples that Darwinists cite to support their theory are themselves either fraudulent, staged, or misrepresented
In fact, Wells's entire book - for that matter Wells's entire career - consists of exactly the accusations you deny. And tell me I've got Bruce Chapman, founder of the Disco Inst, all wrong here. The whole movement is based on the idea that an entrenched orthodoxy is propping up a broken theory in order to promote a supposed atheist, secularist agenda.

Absurd? hardly

Date: 2006/02/10 12:19:35, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Please tell me if all scientists agreed right now that the 6-day creation story is correct, why they could not create a flu vaccine?
Well, now, I can help you with that because vaccine research happens to be my job.

Early vaccines (Jenner's smallpox, Pasteur's rabies...) were based on empirical observations: they worked. But a lot of vaccine candidates don't work, or worse, actually exacerbate the disease they're supposed to prevent. Why they do that is the subject of intense research, involving all the tools of modern biology, to which evolutionary theory is integral. You can't pick up a journal, or go to a meeting, concerning vaccine development where evolution, whether of pathogens or of the immune system, is not explicitly or implicitly central to most of the articles or talks.

(...including mine... thanks, Gregonomic)

Date: 2006/02/10 12:42:14, Link
Author: Russell
AND... do you suppose the current concern over avian flu is predicated on the possibility of that nonexistent random mutation converting a barely competent human pathogen into a highly contagious agent, under the influence of the highly controversial natural selection? Or do you think scientists are just waiting to see if the Intelligent Designer is in a capricious mood?

Date: 2006/02/10 15:22:59, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Yes, the critters are very complex, all critters are complex and their interactions even more so. But please be more specific as to how it matters in what manner said critters arrived on the scene? Wouldn't everything work the same way even if God designed them all last week down to the last atom?
Are you intentionally being obtuse? Do you really think our understanding of biology, our ability to use it and predict it, is independent of our understanding of how organisms evolve?

Quote
Obviously little critters mutate as ABX resistance shows, and in fact they seem to have some input about it. Nobody in ID or even the creationsists dispute that the flu could mutate to jump species.
Excuse me while I bang my head against the wall for a while...
OK, I'm back. You just finished suggesting that the mechanisms by which organisms came to be what they are, are irrelevant to how we understand biology. We "Darwinists" (read: actual working scientists) think that mutation and selection are central to those mechanisms.  IDers seem to think mutation and selection are secondary at best. I'm telling you mutation and selection are all we have to understand how and why influenza changes. If you think there's some other force we need to be aware of, I suggest you contact the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control forthwith.

Quote
I think a book like The Origin of Species Revisited by Bird, while he seems to be a creationist, is one very long list of what appears to be in-context quotes from a huge number of well known and published proponents of the theory of evolution.
If you're interested in biology or science, why oh why are you  reading what some lawyer has to say about it? There really is no shortage of biology books written by actual biologists.
Quote
About half the book is quotes and it is surely the most documented book ever written.
Let me just repeat that for emphasis:
Quote
it is surely the most documented book ever written
I think I may resume banging my head against the wall. It seems to be more productive than this exercise in futility.

Date: 2006/02/11 04:42:02, Link
Author: Russell
our phishy friend wrote:
Quote
please...please...who do I believe...Phil Skell in Scientist or this Russell person who posts his important sayings on Uncommon Pissant???
Phred should definitely believe Skell, because clearly he's only interested in opinions that confirm his. But in his budding comedy career, Phred has really got a handle on the irony thing: in one sentence, sneering at "credentials" as the last resort of a losing argument, and in the next, reverently touting Skell's membership in the National Academies of Science.

For anyone seriously interested in the consensus of the most highly honored scientists, I would be the first to direct you to the statements of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academies of Science (the whole body; not just one religious-right chemist opining about biology), and any reputable scientific organization you can think of over the random thoughts of one Russell Who. (Who, incidentally, reserves his more serious observations for the peer-reviewed, professional literature).

Date: 2006/02/11 06:45:02, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
BTW, I suspect fishyfred is a spoof or exaggeration or something
Yeah, I suspect you're right. Whatever his act is, it doesn't really merit any attention. I just thought it was a good moment to remind folks of the unanimity of credible organizations on the ID/evo thing. Because even if these creationist alternate realities are brought up here in jest, it's useful practice to remind oneself of the corresponding reality this side of the looking glass.

Date: 2006/02/11 14:00:52, Link
Author: Russell
On the Uncommon Pissant thread, someone calling himself "PhishyPhred" suggests that the public statements of every major scientific organization on the ID vs. evolution "controversy" should be ignored in favor of the opinion of one retired chemist who has elected to spend his sunset years promoting the agenda of the religious right:
Phishy:
Quote
ah so...we have Russell Who??? with credentials? saying evolution is important to his work on an obscure message board read by no one important against NAS member Phil Skell asking 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin's theory was wrong. Every one said NO. please...please...who do I believe...Phil Skell in Scientist or this Russell person who posts his important sayings on Uncommon Pissant???

Russell:
Quote
Phred should definitely believe Skell, because clearly he's only interested in opinions that confirm his. But in his budding comedy career, Phred has really got a handle on the irony thing: in one sentence, sneering at "credentials" as the last resort of a losing argument, and in the next, reverently touting Skell's membership in the National Academies of Science.

For anyone seriously interested in the consensus of the most highly honored scientists, I would be the first to direct you to the statements of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academies of Science (the whole body; not just one religious-right chemist opining about biology), and any reputable scientific organization you can think of over the random thoughts of one Russell Who. (Who, incidentally, reserves his more serious observations for the peer-reviewed, professional literature).

Phishy:
Quote
russell you must have reading problem...skell asked 70 eminent researchers if darwin theory guided them...70 said no...my choice not pissant russell who? vs. phil skell in scientist it phil skell and 70 eminent researchers against pissant who?...skell go on to say his colleague will not rock darwin boat in public so we can not trust "official" NAS position...so save the drama for your mama...now i ask earlier if phil skell a liar...do you say he a liar?...please give me quote to spread around from russell who? is phil skell a liar?

("PhishyPhred", who describes himself as an aspiring comic, apparently affects this sort of pidgin English as part of his shtick. )

Anyway, to clarify: Here on this message board, readers can weigh Phishy's credibility against mine. Out there in the real world, it's not me vs. Phil Skell; it's Phil Skell against the world of science. Also, I didn't bring up my "credentials", or my work. I was responding to a specific question from "Avocationist" about the importance of evolution in vaccine research - in which I happen to be employed. I guess Phishy will hide behind his hilarious non-English speaker persona to excuse his failure to follow the conversation.

Skell was, in fact, at one time a brilliant chemist. But if he really believes that the,yes, overwhelming majority of the NAS, the AAAS, and every other scientific organization on record is against him because they're afraid of rocking the Darwinian boat... I have to say, I don't think that's very rational.

Is he a "liar"? I don't know. I doubt it. I suspect he's a True Believer. But without knowing who they are, I'm not assuming that his 70+ scientists are randomly selected and representive of any population other than Friends of Phil, or likely to be deemed "eminent" in the world of biological science.

And, Phishy, did I not explicitly advise you to believe Skell over me?

Date: 2006/02/12 06:20:35, Link
Author: Russell
Russell:
Quote
Also, I find it telling that you seem uninterested in the abundant evidence presented that progress is being made - plausible, researchable evolutionary hypotheses are being offered - toward each and every system Behe has held up as "irreducibly complex".
Avo:
Quote
SFAIK, that is mostly overblown. We'll see.
Well, now. "SFAIK" is pretty much the key question. How much effort have you put into finding out? And how well equipped are you to judge what you read? You display some very fundamental misunderstandings of basic biology (e.g. the difference between a virus and a bacterium, but I'll get to that in another post). Have you looked over the references presented at the Dover trial? Have you read Matt Inlay's summary of evolution of immunity? Or have you just accepted Behe's contention that there's a total vacuum of information there? Because, after all, if Behe says so, that makes it exactly as credible as anyone who says otherwise. Which brings me to...
Russell:
Quote
Post-modernist anti-intellectualism. Somehow the mere posing of an alternate point of view makes both views equally valid, so you can never know anything, just have opinions. I reject that completely.

Avo:
Quote
So do I. Down with postmodernism!
No, you don't. When you say such and such nonsense is good enough to convince Denton and yourself (and, let's face it, you're taking Denton's word for it), that elevates that nonsense to the same status of credibility as millions of person-hours of intensive research - call it what you want, but that's just postmodernist anti-intellectualism.

You continue to spill words on the subject, and insist that somehow I'm not reading them or not understanding them, but you haven't contradicted my extremely simple and concise observation: Denton's first book was all about "debunking" common descent. His "equidistance" genetic argument is posed in direct opposition to it. Not just to "gradualism" - a term I think you're a little fuzzy on - but to common descent. Genetic distance does not speak to the rate or pace of change, it speaks to the number of steps between organism A and organism B. Now, I have to admit I've only scanned his second book, because from my scan and the reviews I read, it looked like a thorough waste of time. But I gathered that he dropped that argument altogether. Perhaps you can set me straight: does "equidistance", or any other quibble with common descent -  play any role at all in his second book? You call that "Denton's thought progressing nicely". I call it a crackpot abandoning a 150 year old idea that he championed 15 years ago, but attempting to retain his iconoclast hero status with less obviously wrong - because less substantial - mumbo-jumbo.

Date: 2006/02/12 07:49:37, Link
Author: Russell
Avo:
Quote
I promise I'm not. I know that you are studying single-celled organisms, and that they do mutate a bit. But in what way is your research affected by descent with modification? Do you know what previous species of bacteria your bacteria evolved from? How would that matter as compared to how your bacteria behave right now?
I'm not studying single celled organisms. I'm studying the interaction of multicellular, vertebrate animals with (noncellular) viral pathogens. Our working theory is that both the virus and its host evolve. Do you doubt that? Do you think the fundamental mechanisms by which the two evolve are different? Do you think that "random mutation and natural selection" accounts for viral evolution, but that some fundamentally different mechanism is required for host evolution? Or do you think there's some intelligence we can't detect driving the changes that sure look like they're due to random mutation and natural selection in the virus?

With respect to descent with modification: it is our working theory that viruses, just like everything else in biology, evolved through descent with modification. Nobody has found any reason, as per Occam, that "random mutation and natural selection" are not necessary and sufficient to account for the divergence within family trees of viruses. If we didn't believe viruses were related to one another via descent with modification, we would organize our thinking differently. E.g., measles virus is clearly closely related to respiratory syncytial virus. Any novel function discovered in measles virus immediately sends us scurrying to see if the homologous structures and functions might be found in RSV. If we were similarly sent scurrying by every new function found in herpes virus or HIV, viruses bearing little if any family resemblance to RSV, we would be wasting a lot of time and resources.
Avo:
Quote
Your predictions may be based on learning more about how organisms mutate, but I don't see how your research is affected by the grand scheme of evoluton.
Well, that's why evolution is called the central organizing principle of biology. Biology makes a lot more sense, and so is a lot easier to learn, if you can see overarching principles at work. You don't have to learn different fundamental mechanisms for how viruses change and adapt, then learn a completely different set of mechanisms for how bacteria do, then yet another for fish, yet another for humans. And a very large fraction of all of biology depends on how organisms change and adapt.
Avo:
Quote
I know that you consider mutations the driving force of evolution, and that I don't..
Well, no. I consider the combination of mutations (and that includes all of those unpredictable changes in the genome: point mutations, deletions, duplications, transpositions...) and natural selection the driving force. Neither one alone gets you very far. But please, pray tell, what do you consider the driving force of evolution? Disembodied intelligence? Fascinating! Tell us how that works. Or, more to the point, tell us what evidence you have.
Avo:
Quote
As for being all you have, I really think that if it is bacteria you are studying, and their effects upon us, then mutation and selection are all you need
So you think there are fundamentally different forces at work? Granted, there are differences: most animals rely exclusively on sexual reproduction, and having a diploid genome introduces important technical differences, etc., but I don't see any evidence for forces that don't still fall under the umbrella of "mutation and selection". I guess it gets down to that "grand scheme" thing again. Biologists see both the unity of life and the diversity of life covered by that central organizing principle of biology: evolution.
Russell:
Quote
If you're interested in biology or science, why oh why are you reading what some lawyer has to say about it? There really is no shortage of biology books written by actual biologists.

Avo:
Quote
Oh, but that isn't to learn about biology. His book is kind of an eye-opener. It just gives a window into the thoughts and problems as expressed by category by the many experts in their fields.
Huh? I still don't get it. You read a creationist lawyer, with an obvious religious axe to gring, in order to get a window into current topics in... what? Biology, no? Do you think lawyers in general are pretty reliable, honest brokers of information? You still believe that Bird's book is, let me make sure I get this right, "surely the most documented book ever written"? Are you familiar with the art of "quote-mining"?
Avo:
Quote
I'm also interested in where you said some vaccines just make it worse. Are those vaccines the public never hears about?
The public can find tons of documentation of laboratory and clinical trials that didn't work out too well in the medical literature. It's not secret. It is, however, pretty boring. Though you seem to think designing a successful vaccine is easier than falling off a log (heck, they could do it 200 years ago, before Darwin even, right? Heck!, maybe the theory of evolution has actually impeded vaccine research!;), these days the news of a successful vaccine candidate is much more newsworthy than news of an unsuccessful one.

Date: 2006/02/12 14:40:40, Link
Author: Russell
Hey Phishy! I've started a whole separate topic just for you, so you can have the spotlight all to yourself, and people that - for whatever bizarre reason - don't want to have every discussion diverted by your, um, valuable contributions don't have to.

Date: 2006/02/13 03:00:18, Link
Author: Russell
Wow, Phishy. For someone whose dad was allegedly in the US military 60 years ago, you sure seem to have a problem with English. What's up with that?

And that whole shtick with worrying about PvM's identity and credentials while posting as "PhishyPhred": is that part of the irony act?

My guess, actually, is the Phishy is DaveScot. I can't imagine there are two people on the planet who think that DaveScot's public gaffes are in the single digit range.

Date: 2006/02/13 05:21:17, Link
Author: Russell
PressMyDigitator: Don't confuse "PhishyPhred" with "FishyFred". The former is a bad comedy act combining:
offensive imitations of chinese-english,
ad hominem insinuations about anyone who propounds views at odds with his Role Model &/or Alter Ego, DaveScot, and
a total disregard for the content of those views.

The latter is, so far as I can tell, a sensible person.

Do you really think it's a mistake not to rebut the ravings of an obvious lunatic like JAD? I figure he's his own worst enemy. If there's anyone that can read more than a couple of sentences of his without suspecting serious mental problems, I doubt any amount of rational rebuttal will reach him/her. And what would be the point of trying to trump JAD in the puerile insult competition?

Date: 2006/02/13 06:20:43, Link
Author: Russell
"height of hypocrisy" indeed! From Bruce Chapman, of all people.

Look into Chapman's CV. Do you think he's seriously interested in Science? Do you think he's seriously interested in the "religious" (i.e. loving thy neighbor, helping the poor, judge not lest ye be, etc..) aspects of religion?

The guy's a right-wing politician. The fact that he heads up the Disco Inst, and by extension the whole "ID movement" tells you all you need to know about their real agenda.

Date: 2006/02/13 08:23:39, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I am and remain a christian, whether that suits you or not.
and why in the world would it not???

Date: 2006/02/14 01:36:43, Link
Author: Russell
Hmmm. I can see I wasted quite a bit of effort on my replies yesterday. Oh well. Have a nice life, Avo.

Date: 2006/02/14 05:15:14, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
He was Sternberged 20 years ago by the Darwinian priesthood for heresy and has good reason to be hateful about it. What they’ve done and continue to do to him is despicable.

Quote
Was this common knowledge to people here?
Was what common knowledge? What does it mean to be "Sternberged"? What was done and what continues to be done? I generally don't waste too much time trying to check the veracity of rants involving  Darwinian priesthoods persecuting heretics; it always leads to the same results. But especially if it comes from DaveScot.

Date: 2006/02/14 05:33:29, Link
Author: Russell
I'm more or less familiar with the Sternberg story, and am not particularly impressed by his claims to martyrdom, nor by his professed innocence of creationist motives. (Exhibit A: consulting for the Baraminology Research Group; Exhibit B: participating in an ID advocates-only "conference" at Biola - the one from which Wesley was cordially uninvited).

But whatever happened in that case, and whether or not it was unfair, to say that Davison was "Sternberged" is uninformative, just inflammatory. In other words, typical DaveScot.

Date: 2006/02/15 03:05:48, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
But how would one go about disguising this? By staying on the move all the time?
I believe the local social news reporters regularly described him as "spry" (or whatever the authentic® Hebrew word was)

Quote
Your dates have Methuselah and Noah living concurrently for 600 years exactly. Nice number. I wonder why nobody bothered to record what they did together.
No mystery there. Ever tried to follow a blow-by-blow account of a 120-year shuffleboard marathon?

Date: 2006/02/15 03:10:40, Link
Author: Russell
Sorry about that. I regret being flippant. I can only hope our resident biblical scholars have a more flexible sense of humor than the cartoon-protesters so much in the news of late.

Date: 2006/02/15 12:05:09, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Hmmm. I can see I wasted quite a bit of effort on my replies yesterday. Oh well. Have a nice life, Avo.
Quote
How so? Because my answer was stupid, or because I didn't answer yet?
If you go over my last few posts, you'll see there are a number of "?'s". I don't think you addressed any of them. If you can't or won't... well, as I said: have a nice life.

Date: 2006/02/16 07:02:14, Link
Author: Russell
If and when I have an idle moment, I'll see if I can muster the patience to respond to Avocreationist. But for the meantime here's a thought to contemplate.

Know-it-all physicists are always citing "evidence" like the fact that water runs downhill, and the fact that we return to earth after we jump up, as evidence of "gravity". But aren't these just trivial examples of microgravity? Isn't it an unwarranted presumption to extrapolate this to macrogravity - the phenomenon that purports to explain the orbit of planets around the sun, or galaxies around their centers? Shouldn't we teach the controversy?

Date: 2006/02/16 08:37:14, Link
Author: Russell
,quote]The ancient Hewbrews were Henotheists.[/quote]Hewknew?

Date: 2006/02/16 09:56:30, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I once mentioned the whole microgravity vs macrogravity when discussing this topic with a friend.
Oh, sure you did! Now I suppose you're expecting me to share my imminent Nobel Prize with you.

Date: 2006/02/16 13:06:58, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
There are two motives. One is ego: the desire to be right. And the second is what I mentioned above, the desire to quell the inner void, to convince oneself that one knows anything at all.
Quote
looks like projection to me...

Date: 2006/02/16 13:22:20, Link
Author: Russell
Not that it makes any difference one way or the other (since exact numbers aren't available for estimating the chances of steps in early evolution), but just for the sake of verifying calculations: what consititutes a "perfect hand" in bridge? (I don't know anything about the game, but if the "perfect hand" is as easily defined as poker's Royal Flush, I guess anyone could verify it.)

I assume, Avocreationist, you've already gone through this exercise. Please don't tell us you're just taking Spetner's word for it.

Date: 2006/02/17 04:48:45, Link
Author: Russell
Hmmm. It seems as if the Davison PEH is making a surprising - and testable - counter-Darwinian prediction.

If a "front-loaded" genetic program was required to exist, and persist, for millions-billions of generations before being implemented, that requires that genetic information survive the randomizing effects of imperfect replication without the purifying crucible of natural selection. Is there any evidence to support this? It seems like the erosion of the identity in unused genetic material (e.g. pseudogenes) argues pretty strongly against it.

Though, I suppose, JAD might argue that ancestor life forms had replicative machinery orders of magnitude more error-free than anything currently living. (I doubt that JAD would want to invoke the really Fundie explanation: that DNA replication was absolutely error free before The Fall.)

With respect to the c-paradox: it's true that there's not much correlation between amount of DNA and "complexity" of organisms - at least among plants and animals. But as far as I'm aware, the paradox largely disappears when you correct for repetitious DNA.

Date: 2006/02/17 05:57:18, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
(Avo: ) But Dawkins didn't do the calculation. And I have to ask myself - is it because he has no feel for probability, or is he dishonest? According to Spetner, if the being played 100 hands of bridge every day for 100 million years, the chance of seeing a perfect hand of bridge just once in his life is one in a quadrillion. Definitely something to write home about.

Now, I can understand a bumpkin like myself making this mistake. But Dawkins has a PhD, a science degree, is a chair at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, has written books that specifically deal with the problems of evolution, and he is the Grand Poobah of the public understanding of science.
Quote
(Russell: )  I assume, Avocreationist, you've already gone through this exercise [of verifying the calculation]. Please don't tell us you're just taking Spetner's word for it.
Quote
(Avo: )  No Russ, I don't know how to calculate probabilities. But it should be easy enough to do. It's pretty simple. You have 52 cards and a perfect hand of bridge is when each of the four players gets an entire suit. Do you want Spetner's calc's?
So... you did just take Spetner's word for it??? Why would you do that???

Here's my calculation. (First of all, I assume the alien in question is only concerned about the hand he/she/it is dealt, not the hands of the other 3 players. Just as in poker, if I have a royal flush, its "degree of royalty" does not depend on the hands of the other players.) Being dealt the hand you describe should have a probability of  1/158,753,389,900. Here's why: the first card you're dealt has a 52/52 chance of being of one suit. Then three more cards are dealt before you get another one. All three have to be of a suit different from yours: 39/51 x 38/50 x 37/49. Then you're dealt another. Chance of it's being the same suit as your first card: 12/48. Repeat all the way through the deck, you get (12! )x(39! )/(51! ) = 1/158,753,389,900.

In 100 million years X 100 hands per day, you'd get 3,652,600,000,000 shots at it, so I would expect to get a perfect hand somewhere around 3,652,600,000,000/158,753,389,900 = 23 times.

Now, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if I neglected something in this calculation, but if so, I hope it's something relatively subtle. Please tell me what's wrong with my calculation. OR - if you can't - why you perceive egg on Dawkins face over this.

Could it be that you've just demonstrated, once again, your bias in whose word you're willing to take for things you don't or won't understand? And could it be that the egg is on your face?

Date: 2006/02/17 08:41:08, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Besides biological organisms....how can Bill's math be applied to any other "designed" artifact?
Once again, PuckSR, you're trying to horn in on one of my imminent Nobel Prizes. I've been asking for the calculations of Mt. Rushmore's "specified complexity".

Date: 2006/02/17 09:05:26, Link
Author: Russell
I'm not sure if the units of "specified complexity" have ever been named. Someone suggested "Dembskis", (kilodembskis, megadembskis, etc)

Date: 2006/02/17 10:48:08, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
[Behe and Dembski] are examining the question of how do we reasonably infer design.
Right. But for all the useful conclusions that have come out it, they might just as well be examining their navels. So far, I think you can summarize those conclusions as "If it looks designed, who's to say it isn't?"
Quote
It is not a refutation of ID if ID does not know how the designer did it.
I know of no research programs capable of detecting supernatural events.
So, if I understand correctly, ID says that because we don't know everything, we should leave open the possibility that some as yet unspecified explanation might emerge. OK. I'll buy that. It's when we start specifying scientifically - indeed, epistemologically - meaningless candidates (e.g. a "disembodied intelligence", "supernatural agency", "The Designer") that you lose me. The point is, ID doesn't provide anything substantial to refute.
Quote
But NDE (neodarwinian evolution) doesn't know a lot of things also. One person who has
at least taken a stab at proposing how things might have unfolded, albeit designed to do so,
is Davison.
Huh? The fact that the currently most successful theory "doesn't know everything" somehow validates Davison's crackpottery?

Quote
(Russell: ) What are these alleged very good arguments against "Darawinism"?
Quote
(Avo: ) This is what we are spiraling towards. I will have to give it some serious effort, hopefully tomorrow.
Quote
(Annie: )
The sun'll come out
Tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
I love ya Tomorrow!
You're always
A day
A way!
Quote
(Avo: )SFAIK, [research Behe claims is nonexistent] is mostly overblown. We'll see.
Quote
(Avo: )I just read today that Behe is planning an afterword in a 10th anniversary addition to DBB which will address said lack of any forthcoming refutation in the intervening ten years
Quote
(Annie: )The sun'll come out...
well, you get the idea.
Quote
It seems that the ID side usually goes through the literature with a fine comb and finds it wanting, having been promised far more than delivered. I don't actually go through the articles myself.
Need I say more? Apparently I do. Do you really think every contention the Disco Inst makes remains legitimate until the Disco Inst issues an explicit, public, notarized statement conceding that their scientific pretentions have been thoroughly demolished?
Quote
The bit about slappig down 59 or whatever it was articles during the courtroom trial
was just as Behe said - bad courtroom theatrics. It is not to be taken seriously.
I don't give a flying fig whether the references were "slapped down" in court, or brought to Behe's attention in a discreet private e-mail. The point remains: he said that all that research did not, and never would, exist. Why is it not to be taken seriously? References to evolution of immunity presented at Kitzmiller trial: Here.
Quote
(Russell: ) Have you read Matt Inlay's summary of evolution of immunity?
Here.  
Quote
All evidence used in trial is 'discoverable' which means it must be presented in adequate time to the lawyers of both sides.
Excuse me. I thought this was a discussion about science and evidence, not about courtroom procedural rules
Quote
When I am not equipped to judge what I read, I think I usually know.
I don't disagree: you do think that. But perhaps if you remember the key words, "Spetner" and "perfect bridge hand", you'll think twice.
Quote
I can't judge Demski's math, but I can certainly read and evaluate the logic of most of his essays.
What logic is there that is not completely dependent on the math? Have you noticed that no one who defends the conclusions can defend the math, and that no one who understands the math defends the conclusions?
Quote
I can't read biology papers that are beyond my level, which is low, but if it is written for the nonexpert, one would hope that I have at least a fair ability.
Let me just throw out this wildly hypothetical idea. What if the creationists purporting to critique the biologists are actually not so much trying to objectively explain, as they are to obfuscate and deny the science, and to justify a conclusion they're committed to by faith? Whoa! I think I just blew my own mind!  
Quote
I was intrigued by, but not able to verify or come to a firm opinion on Davison's Evolutionary Manifesto. That I think would require a pretty deep knowledge of biology.
So why do you suppose it has not been endorsed by anyone who possesses a deep (read: minimal professional) knowledge of biology?
Quote
I'm just not that moved by majority versus minority opinions.
Glad to hear it. I hope you relayed your unimpressedness to the Disco Inst over garbage like this .
Quote
Your argument is that the majority must be right,
Wrong.  My argument is that, if you're going to dismiss the conclusions of entire disciplines with millions of person hours of meticulously documented research that has been thoroughly vetted by the scientific community, in favor of an "iconoclastic", not-peer-previewed, thoroughly rebutted book, whose central point is later abandoned by its author, you should have some better justification than "looks reasonable to this untrained eye".
Quote
postmodernism says that if it's true for me then it's true for me - a completely different ballgame.
Forgive me, but the two ballgames look pretty similar to me.

Quote
(Russell: ) But please, pray tell, what do you consider the driving force of evolution? Disembodied intelligence? Fascinating! Tell us how that works. Or, more to the point, tell us what evidence you have.
Quote
(Avo: ) I have wondered this, and I don't have the answer. Look, ...a human being is floating in the endless black without a compass or coordinate.
And there are two kinds of people in this world. A tiny minority who have noticed this, and the rest who haven't thought about it.
Now, don't tell me; let me guess: which category does Avocreationist fall into? And is one's opinion of ID, or creationism in general, correlated with which group one falls into?
Quote
Pretending to have answers, or taking the nearest half-decent answer, doesn't satisfy me.
Unless, apparently, it comes from a Behe or a Spetner, in which case it doesn't even need to be half decent.
Quote
Yes, I think there is disembodied intelligence. My personal take on how it might work is that this intelligence, which may or may not be personal, is acting from within, guiding itself so to speak. This may answer the questions about why the creation isn't perfect or appears willy nilly at times. It very likely is.
Yes, well, that's all very fascinating, in a New Agey kind of way. But, I repeat: Tell us what evidence you have.
Quote
When did I misunderstand the difference between a virus and a bacteria?
When you  referred to influenza bacteria.
Wendell Bird - no obvious religious axe to grind? Either you are unfamiliar with the organization he's affiliated with: the Institute for Creation Research or you are very, very gullible.

There, I think I'm caught up.

Date: 2006/02/17 13:22:24, Link
Author: Russell
Sorry. I just can't resist...
Quote
But Dawkins didn't do the calculation. And I have to ask myself - is it because he has no feel for probability, or is he dishonest?
Dawkins didn't reproduce the calculation in his book. Did he do it? I guess I don't know for sure. But you seem to, Avo. How do you know that?

In general, when you find you have to ask yourself the hard questions, do you find that you have to frame them as false dichotomies?

And, in light of our little discussion, how do you answer yourself?
  (A ) Does Dawkins have no feel for probability? or
  (B ) Is he dishonest?

In failing to consider the possibilities C and D:
  (C ) that maybe Dawkins actually did the calculation, and it's consistent with his argument, and
  (D) Creationist apologists might be - well, we don't have to say "dishonest" - let's just say, not exactly "straight-talking guys"

... in failing to consider those possibilities, are you being naive, or - let's just say - not exactly a "straight talking guy"?

And should I regard this horse well and truly dead, or should I return in another post to beat it still more, just to be really sure?

Date: 2006/02/17 13:28:34, Link
Author: Russell
Oops. Wrong thread. That was supposed to go to the "Avocreationist" thread.

Date: 2006/02/18 03:43:05, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Unfortunately, the perfect hand of bridge involves all four players getting a full suit. I specified that!
Yeah, I saw that. I assumed that you were making a slip of the keyboard, because, after all, a "hand" is a "hand", No?  In any case, if the whole thing turns on a ridiculous technicality like that, don't you think you - and Spetner - have kind of missed the whole point?
Quote
I took Spetner's word for it in the sense that ...
"in the sense that I was determined he just had to be right; after all, he was telling me what I already knew!".
Quote
And I have you folks to help me out. If he is way off, I will personally write to him.
Well, what if he's just grasping at a far-fetched straw to dismiss a perfectly sensible illustration? Will you continue to stand by your man?

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"I don't see how" (X) occured is just not a convincing argument
Quote
Sure, but they say a lot more than that.
See, this would have been your golden opportunity to reference something that doesn't amount to a lot of words saying "I don't see how (X) occurred". But no.

Quote

It's when we start specifying scientifically - indeed, epistemologically - meaningless candidates (e.g. a "disembodied intelligence", "supernatural agency", "The Designer") that you lose me.
Quote
I'm sorry about that and I sympathize. But look closely at what Jeannot said on the pissant thread...
Oh, that's a good idea. Don't deal with what I wrote. Deflect the conversation with what someone else said, which may or may not have anything to do with anything, or may contain some technical loophole, like fudging the difference between a "hand" and a "deal", you can try to wriggle through. How about you just deal with what I wrote?

Quote
I'll of course try to give the immunity thing a go, but that is just one more thing to pile on. But you seem to have high hopes for it...
Quite the contrary. I'm certain that you will find some reason justifying Behe's willful ignorance despite any amount of evidence. The point is not for Behe to digest 59 articles while sitting in front of the judge. The point is that Behe has willfully ignored, and will continue to willfully ignore, any and all evidence that proves him wrong.

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You keep saying that everyone is lying. Behe, Spetner. I think the dialogue is not on that low a level.
I do? Where do I say that?

Quote
(Russell: ) Forgive me, but the two ballgames [postmodernism and thinking the mere statement of an alternate view renders it equally valid] look pretty similar to me.
Quote
(Avo: ) Oh,yeah? Well then our problems are solved. NDE is true for you, and young earth creation is true for scordova, and a new-age pantheistic consciousness god for me - and we're all correct.
'nuff said.

Quote
(Avo: ) I have wondered this, and I don't have the answer. Look, ...a human being is floating in the endless black without a compass or coordinate.
And there are two kinds of people in this world. A tiny minority who have noticed this, and the rest who haven't thought about it.
Quote
(Russell: ) Now, don't tell me; let me guess: which category does Avocreationist fall into? And is one's opinion of ID, or creationism in general, correlated with which group one falls into?
Quote
(Avo: ) No. Not at all. You asked me an ultimate truth-type question, and I gave you the straight dope. We're in dire straights here.
Of all the ways people bisect the human population  into us vs. them, I think perhaps the most pernicious is "the tiny enlightened minority" vs. "the benighted masses".

Quote
(Avo: )Evidence for a disembodied intelligence or a 'spiritual' aspect to reality - there's more than you might think but there's just no time.
Quote
(Annie: )"The sun'll come out
Tomorrow...

Date: 2006/02/18 07:54:57, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Russ, how could [Dawkins] have done the calculation and then said it would happen from time to time and be nothing to write home about?
I have to say that, since I don't play bridge, when I read The Blind Watchmaker, I more or less substituted "royal flush" for "perfect hand of bridge", took his point, and moved on. I didn't realize that, by pure logic, I could have there and then deduced that he was:

EITHER
(1) completely clueless about probability,
OR
(2) intentionally lying  through his teeth,

in which case I would have immediately put aside his book and  picked up a totally objective and absolutely credible author like Spetner.

You don't sense just a trace of egg on your face over this? Or  - to switch metaphors - how dead does this horse have to be before you ask me to stop beating it?

Date: 2006/02/18 08:16:08, Link
Author: Russell
or - more to the point - before you abandon your efforts at CPR?

Date: 2006/02/18 10:25:19, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
(avo: ) You keep saying that everyone is lying. Behe, Spetner. I think the dialogue is not on that low a level.
Quote
(Russell: ) I do? Where do I say that?
Was it not you, come to think of it, who thought Dawkins had to be (A) incompetent or (B) dishonest?
Seeing that Dawkins was, in fact, right and Spetner was, in fact, wrong - I at least grant Spetner the possibility of being "not exactly a straight-talking guy".

Date: 2006/02/19 13:39:09, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Alright....lets begin by assuming that both Russel and Dawkins assumed that Spetner meant a "perfect hand" of bridge and not a "perfect deal".
Since Spetner was criticizing what Dawkins had written, I don't think it was incumbent upon Dawkins to parse Spetner's future words! Rather, it's Spetner's duty to fairly represent what he's criticizing: what Dawkins wrote. And Dawkins wrote "hand", not "deal".
Quote
Russel and Dawkins however took Spetner literally to refer to a "perfect hand" of bridge....and a hand only refers to the cards dealt to one player.  You should, at least, forgive them for this misunderstanding.
Misunderstanding? What misunderstanding?  What does a "hand" in a card game mean? Why should I not take it literally? As I said, I don't play bridge -which is why I had to ask what constitutes a  "perfect hand". But in every card game I'm familiar with, a "hand" is what a player holds. Is that not true in bridge? The total distribution of the whole deck would be called a "deal". Am I wrong? Dawkins specifically referred to "hand", not "deal". (Blind Watchmaker, page 162). If there's any "misinterpretation" it's Spetner's and Avo's.
Quote
We did not miss the point. Dawkins made a simple statement  of chance and probability that was false.
OK. Quote me the exact words that Dawkins wrote that were false.
Quote
You are indeed correct Avo, Spetner did get his calculations somewhat correct.....You would not normally use probability in this way.  Your very old individual would have 1: 4 x 10^28 odds of getting a perfect deal every* time.
(emphasis mine, and *I think PuckSR meant "each" time, not "every" time.)
But aside from that, show me how you get that number - even for a perfect deal. Dawkins himself worked out the odds for a perfect deal in a passage separate from the long-lived alien scenario. (He whimsically suggests calling the number he gets a "dealion" - not, incidentally, a "handion").  I confirmed his calculation, using exactly the logic I showed you earlier for a perfect hand. I don't have the  number here, but it was about 1:2.3 x 10^27. So I'm not even sure Spetner got the deal number right. If you read what Dawkins actually wrote, though, not what Avo said that Spetner said that he wrote, I see no reason to suspect that he meant "deal" when he specifically wrote "hand".

Quote
I cannot understand your calling it a ridiculous technicality. Dawkins gave the scenario and it doesn't work. ... but to actually calculate the probability is a ridiculous technicality?
Again, you'll have to show me how Dawkins's scenario "doesn't work". But leaving that aside for the moment, what we have here is a very clear example of avo either:

(1) having reading comprehension problems
(2) being dishonest, or
(3) being "not exactly a straight-talking guy".

(My money's on #3)

How can you possibly construe anything I wrote to mean that I considered the performance of the calculation a "ridiculous technicality"? Is there any confusion at all in what I wrote that I was referring to the substitution of the word "deal" for the word "hand"? That's the ridiculous technicality, and - frankly - I think it's pretty generous to call it a that, because it seems to me that confusing the two is pretty self-servingly far-fetched.

So, as it happens, I don't see any problem with Dawkins's scenario, but even if there were one the point remains stunningly simple and clear: the probability of something "unlikely" occurring is dramatically affected by how much time is available.
Quote
Dawkins is trying to demonstrate that if the possibility exists....then you must accept that it could potentially occur.
ummm... should I not?

Date: 2006/02/19 13:44:30, Link
Author: Russell
Could someone post a reference where Phil Johnson endorses the Bible Code nonsense?

Date: 2006/02/19 13:50:13, Link
Author: Russell
I have to say, I am enjoying Avo's continued mouth-to-mouth heroics on this dead horse! It's such a stark case of defending the indefensible.

Date: 2006/02/19 15:52:36, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Dawkins is trying to demonstrate that if the possibility exists....then you must accept that it could potentially occur.
Oops. I accidentally ascribed that to Avo, and thought he was implying otherwise. In fact it was PuckSR, stating the obvious.

Quote
(Avo: ) I don't see a 3rd possibility to the two I mentioned.
i.e. incompetence or dishonesty. OK. Now that I hope it's clear that the gaffe was Spetner's, not Dawkins's:  what's your verdict?

Date: 2006/02/19 18:07:39, Link
Author: Russell
Hmmm. Now that I'm home, and have my numbers in front of me, I see that I do differ from Dawkins in my calculation of the odds of the perfect deal. (I continue to stand by my calculation, above, for the perfect hand.)

Dawkins calculates the odds of the perfect deal are 1:2,235,197,406,895,366,368,301,559,999 while I get 1:2,235,197,406,895,366,368,301,560,000.

The logic being: the first card has a 52/52 chance of being a suit, the second has a 39/51 chance of being a different suit, the third a 26/50 chance of being yet another, and the fourth a 13/49 chance of being different from the previous 3. From then on, the next 4 cards have a 12/48, 12/47, 12/46, and 12/45 chance of matching each players original suit, then 11/44, 11/43, 11/42, 11/40, and so on down to the last card. So the odds are 1:52!/(52x39x26x13x(12! )^4) = 1:2,235,197,406,895,366,368,301,560,000

Why, exactly, Dawkins subtracted 1 from that number, I don't know. But I'm willing to dismiss it as inconsequential. (I'm generous that way.)

What was Spetner's result? (For the perfect deal, that is; we've already established he didn't calculate the odds for the perfect hand, as was specified in the "long-lived alien" scenario.)

Date: 2006/02/19 18:38:12, Link
Author: Russell
Inoc. Mind wrote:
Quote
DaveScot ... posts a link to an amazing news story in Discover Magazine
You're not going to make me go over there and sift through all of DaveScot's verbal vomit to find it, are you?

Date: 2006/02/19 20:04:42, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Why, exactly, Dawkins subtracted 1 from that number, I don't know.
D'oh! Of course. A "1 in 10 chance" is the same thing as "odds of 1:9". Turns out Dawkins & I agree right down to the last unit. So what's Spetner's number?

Date: 2006/02/20 04:49:29, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
One thing that has always irked me is that rarely >>>ON THIS SITE<<<[i.e. the Dembski/DaveScot information clearinghouse] do we find any critics of ID attempting to challenge the tools/methods of ID directly..
Ha! I wonder how long such a challenge would last over there before being deep-sixed by the Open Debate czar.

Date: 2006/02/20 05:32:04, Link
Author: Russell
Hey, this is intriguing. Getting impatient for Avo's explication of Spetner's gaffe, I did a little googling and came across this:, posted by someone using the nom de 'nette "onething"
Quote
Tika mentions personal incredulity. This one of Dawkins favorite mocking points. And Darwinists in general constantly assure us that we have a problem understanding big numbers. Discussing the probability of life originating, Dawkins said we should drop our intuitive feeling for chance. He said we should imagine a hypothetical long-lived alien of millions of years. This alien might from time to time see a perfect hand of bridge. It would be nothing to write home about. Yet he never bothered to do the calculation, which turns out to be 4.47 X 10 -28., according to Spetner, Not By Chance.

And he says it is an easy, straightforward calculation. So, playing 100 hands of bridge per day for 100 million years, said alien has a chance of one in a quadrillion of seeing a perfect hand of bridge in his lifetime.

This has been bothering my mind for months now. Dawkins didn’t make the calculation, and it is one that an advanced high-schooler could probably make. He wasn’t caught off guard, speaking off the cuff. It was in his book.

I keep asking myself, is Dawkins dishonest, or can it be he actually believed what he wrote? Because if he did, it means that he has no feeling for chance or probability, and this is truly worrisome. Dawkins, after all, is both Britain’s leading intellectual, and the Grand Wizard of the Public Understanding of Science, and he is a professor at a famous university, and he writes books defending evolution.

I would have to assume that a person with a Ph.D in any science field would have some education in math and be able to do probability calculations. Probability difficulties are one of the greatest detractions from evolution theory. And he throws out comments like that about a bridge playing alien, but doesn’t bother to actually calculate and see if he is right.

And people like me are told that we have no feeling for the great periods of time that evolution calls for, and that we should be ashamed of making arguments about personal incredulity (although it is alright for them to be incredulous about any divine being). But if Dawkins had an adequate feeling about probability, he would know when to check his calculations.

He did not check, which means he is operating in a fantastical mode of thinking. He has no feel for it. Since Darwinism relies on the miraculous, they must have miraculous entities, albeit those entities cannot be living or intelligent. Time and chance are the deities, as others have noted. No wonder they find incredulity offensive, it is unseemly to question a deity.

I believe in God, but not in miracles.
So, either Avo & onething are one person, spreading the same uninformed blather over the net, or they're both part of an anti-evo network promulgating talking points without bothering to reword or investigate, or - most bizarrely - without bothering to check the very calculations they point out are so elementary!

Care to shed some light on this, Avo?

Date: 2006/02/20 09:50:22, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
IS Bill Dembski exploiting people, or does he honestly believe himself??

I think I have my answer.
The two possibilities are by no means mutually exclusive. Probably the best used car salesmen are the ones who manage to convince themselves first.

Date: 2006/02/20 13:33:23, Link
Author: Russell
Wow! And Dave (in his incarnation as PhishyPhred) doubted he could be pinned down on more than one or two glaring errors!

Date: 2006/02/21 02:29:18, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I see no reason why someone couldn't honestly sign both.
This is an important observation. Unlike the "Steve" statement, which makes a point of actually making a point, the Disco statement is pretty much meaningless. I would have no problem signing it, except for the fact that its only reason for existence is to bolster the illusion that "the" controversy in evolutionary biology is the one Johnson, Chapman, West, Luskin, etc., are on about.

Date: 2006/02/21 02:49:13, Link
Author: Russell
There's a natural affinity between Monty Python fans and avid ID watchers: connoisseurs of absurdity.

There are so many Pythonesque moments in the annals of ID. How many times, after an IDist argument has been disarmed, defeated, humiliated, destroyed, dismembered, and generally made the object of slapstick fun, have we witnessed the IDer, a la the Black Knight at the bridge, come back with "it's barely a scratch! C'mon! what are you afraid of?"

By the way, was Nurse Idle funny?

Date: 2006/02/21 03:00:00, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Thank you for sharing your vast knowledge of biology with me, John.
Awww. It's so touching, in a comic sort of way.

So, while there may be no more long walks, hand in hand, along the beach at sunset, at least Dave will always treasure valuable insights, like oxygen-bearing ABO antigens and bacterial genomes that dwarf humans', bursting at the seams with prescribed evolutionary information for yet to be unfolded body plans.

Date: 2006/02/21 05:01:08, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Funny how DaveScot excoriates the "Steve List" as being an argument ad populum (or whatever it is)
Dave needs to get his fallacies straight; it's an argumentum ad stevium.

Date: 2006/02/21 08:38:23, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
It appears from my own reading on the net that Dawkins ... mentioned both a perfect hand and a perfect deal. It is unclear then, what he meant. I don't have Dawkins book myself. So I would say that Spetner took it to mean a perfect deal. was Dawkins discussing two different points using an almost identical analogy?
OK. I'm starting to feel some pity now, so I don't mean to be too harsh here. Please read this in that spirit.

You have claimed, in multiple places, that Dawkins must be either incompetent or dishonest. You also claimed, in multiple places, that Dawkins never did the calculation. But I just quoted you the number he got (the odds of a perfect deal),  repeated the calculation, and got the same number. You admit now that you've never actually read what he wrote, but repeat, in high indignation, how he never bothered to do the calculation, and that this demonstrates his incompetence and/or dishonesty!

Do you see how some not necessarily malevolent people might detect a deviation from rigorous objectivity there?

Should we ascribe that lack of objectivity to you, or to Spetner, or to both?

Yes, I can see how it might be "unclear what he meant" - if your only source of information is his creationist critic. But when I actually read the actual book, it didn't strike me as unclear at all.

No, Dawkins was not using an almost identical analogy to make two unrelated points. He was using the game of bridge as a "theme" illustrating some not very controversial observations on the relationship between rare events and human expectations. If Spetner overlooked the fact that, on one page, he used the words "perfect deal" AND reported the odds against it, then on another page, after introducing the long-lived alien, used the words "perfect hand", then Spetner either consciously or unconsciously made a mistake. And published it in a book. And - so far as I know - never bothered to correct fresh-faced disciples such as yourself when they made themselves look foolish by publicly quoting him.

So - though I'm not sure I agree with you that these kinds of errors can be chalked up with absolute certainty to either incompetence or dishonesty - I accept that that is your view, and I ask you: what's your verdict on Spetner?

I strongly urge you, next time you're ready to play loyal footsoldier in the culture wars, to check out the actual words of the character you're assassinating. And to excercise a modicum of skepticism about the motives of the "officers".

Date: 2006/02/21 09:47:43, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Did Dawkins give the calculations for the perfect deal? What was it?
I told you he gave the result.  I quoted it, to 27 decimal places of accuracy: 1:2,235,197,406,895,366,368,301,559,999. I showed you how I calculated it. Dawkins only reported the number (the details of the calculation were not relevant, and indeed would have been distracting to the point he was making). But, since he got the same number I did - to 27 decimal places of accuracy - I'm going to go out on a limb here and speculate that, yes, he actually did the calculation, rather than making a lucky guess. I believe you'll find that Spetner's number is just the reciprocal of it. (Odds against X = 1/(probability of X) ).

So, according to your view of things, if Spetner "misunderstood", he must be either incompetent or dishonest. Which is it?
Quote
I never indicated I had read it. I gave an accurate description of what Spetner wrote.
And, as I hope you realize by now, that wasn't good enough.

Your dissection of the flagellum discussion looks as if you have approached it with the same degree of open-mindedness with which you approached the bridge game statistics. So I'm going to take a pass, for now, on trying to correct your errors, hoping that either someone else will take a turn at it, or that I will be busy enough with more productive enterprises that your failure to understand takes its rightful place as the least of my problems.

Date: 2006/02/21 12:30:22, Link
Author: Russell
Tacitus's observations are probably more insightful than mine, as I've lived in the US all my life - and haven't even traveled all that much.

But you ask a question that puzzles me, too.

I suspect a full answer to the question would be rather complicated, but here's some suggestions for fragments of an answer.

I think there's a strong undercurrent of religion as an aspect of nationalism (I'm not sure if the word "jingoism" means much to non-native English users - but if it does, that's what I'm getting at.) A lot of Americans seem to think that WE are the new "chosen people", and it's our duty to bring God (= our vision of how things are supposed to be) to the rest of the world. In many, many areas, the line between "patriotic" and "pious" is fuzzy or nonexistent.

We have a ritual here, for which I don't know if there's a Danish equivalent. At the beginning of every school day, every school child is expected to recite, in unison with the rest of the school, the "Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag". (This has always struck me as strange, and very much at odds with what I thought America was supposed to be all about.) Also, all kinds of official meetings - school boards, local legislatures, - also incorporate this ritual: the Reciting of The Pledge.

Here's The Pledge, as of about 1950:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, with liberty and justice for all"

At the height of the "Cold War", though, I believe in order to emphasize that God was on our side and that the enemy was Godless Communism, an official act of Congress inserted the words "under God" right after "one nation", and that's been part of the ritual ever since. (Pretty strange for a supposedly secular nation, in my opinion.)

Even questioning this is considered "radical". Lately there have been a few court challenges to this practice, but I believe EVERY SINGLE member of congress (certainly all 100 senators; it's harder to keep track of the 434 members of the "lower house") and, of course, the president, and every politician I've heard on the question, rushed to assure the public that they strenuously opposed removing God from The Pledge.

Despite the fact that separation of church and state is supposed to be a bedrock American principle, we have a long history of entanglement of politics and religion. Back in the days of slavery, the anti-slavery forces were pretty sure God would not approve of slavery. Likewise, during the Civil Rights struggles more recently, religion was a powerful organizing tool for people on the left. Meanwhile, the right has made an aggressive claim to have God on their side - the God of "traditional values", who regards homosexuality as an affront, who favors the state of women's rights that existed a hundred years ago, etc.

The first time I was aware of a national politician thinking that an appeal to creationism was a winning idea was when Reagan raised the issue in 1980.  Right-wing politicians ever since then have found it addictive, and seem to need a stronger and stronger dose.

Date: 2006/02/22 04:42:31, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I think you guys are waisting your time with Avo. "Nobody is as deaf as those who do not want to hear". He is not here to listen... nothing you say has any weight with him.
You're probably right. (By the way, I think Avo is actually "she", not "he").

I guess I assume at least some educability on the part of any refugee from UD, and accord some respect to anyone abused by DaveScot. But I admit that's more sentiment than rationality.

Date: 2006/02/22 05:07:48, Link
Author: Russell
Steve, you think PicoFarad is yet another incarnation of DaveScot? Admittedly, his suggestion that DS's biology gaffes are in the single-digit range would be consistent with that. But is DS able to step outside himself long enough to make this observation?
Quote
I bet he was a real sweetheart to deal with.  He seems to have made a career out of being a jerk

With respect to the ABO faux pas: Sure, maybe that was at the very beginning of his long journey to become a leading expert in modern biology. But unless there is somewhere a record of DS correcting his mistake, and admitting he was spreading uninformed nonsense, and showing some contrition for arrogant overconfidence, I don't grant him a break.

I personally hounded him into admitting his error in spreading as fact an internet typo that had made a bacterial genome larger than a mammal's. Finding the error, of course, was nothing special. But getting him to admit it - that took persistence.

Date: 2006/02/22 05:43:47, Link
Author: Russell
I don't know if it's different in Dover, but here in Ohio, the level of interest in, and information available about, school board candidates is statistically indistinguishable from zero.

Our (here in Columbus, the state capital, most populous city in the state, home campus of the state university) representative to the state board is the rector of parish of a right-wing splinter sect split off from the Episcopal church over such affronts to traditional values as women clergy. If 1% of voters even knew he was a minister or priest at all, I would be very, very surprised. I'd be very surprised it 1% of voters know it even now, after he's one of the leading champions of the "intelligent design" cause for the past four years.

Of course, in the most recent election in Dover, the electorate finally was aware, having been whacked over the proverbial head by the proverbial clue-by-four. Maybe next election in Ohio will be different, too. But, as the world learned in 2004, elections in Ohio can be pretty nutty; I'm not optimistic.

Date: 2006/02/22 05:49:39, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I personally hounded him into admitting his error in spreading as fact an internet typo that had made a bacterial genome larger than a mammal's.
 

Russell, How did you manage this?

Oh, sorry! I didn't mean to imply I did that on UD; as you know, that would be quite impossible. That was on a comment thread on PT.

I've never bothered to register at UD. I've never been tempted to join the circus, either.

Date: 2006/02/23 02:04:11, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
"If you look at the research into the origin of life, there isn't a single, plausible hypothesis or even proposed mechanism [within evolution] that would have worked," he said.

"That is the biggest shortcoming in the whole evolutionary scenario."
Oh, the blindness is much more pervasive than that! There isn't a single, plausible hypothesis within all of chemistry to explain the origin of atoms! And yet, chemists have been blithely building their submicroscopic castles in the sky for generations, as if that's not a problem!

Date: 2006/02/23 02:06:53, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Oh, you asked so hard for reasons why I am an IDer, but now you haven't the time.
Huh?

Date: 2006/02/23 03:36:26, Link
Author: Russell
If you saw how readily Avo bought Spetner's, um, "not-exactly-straight-talking-guy"ness - despite the easily verified facts - you'll know it's not going to be possible to convince her that Michael "prove to me that mutation X happened at time Y" Behe is full of crap.

Behe's "DBB" was my first introduction to ID also. I'd never heard of the Disco Inst, Phillip Johnson or any of the other ID celebs. But I do have a PhD in biochemistry. And my reaction was "you have to be kidding me!".

Date: 2006/02/23 08:26:22, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
The full article can be found Here
Honestly, I suggest you find a minute to read it, avo.
Just to be clear: you know, don't you, that that's the very article Avo thinks she is critiquing? (I think.)

Date: 2006/02/23 09:28:55, Link
Author: Russell
Avo wrote:
Quote
(Unfortunately, that argument [that E. coli's flagellum evolved from the type III secretory system, or a precursor thereof] is now obsolete, being largely abandoned in favor of the idea that the Type III system is actually devolved from the flagellum instead. Mike Gene’s reasons why the Type III is not a precursor was removed for brevity but is available)
 I'm not up-to-date on current thinking about flagellum evolution. If there are more recent developments not covered here, for instance, I'll have to read up on them.

But it's news to me that the consensus of bacteriologists has shifted to the view that the type III system was derived from the flagellum, and not vice versa. Surely - Avo, having learned from the whole Dawkins/Spetner discussion - surely you're going to cite some reference more compelling than "Mike Gene" said so. Surely, when you say such and such model has been "largely abandoned" - you can cite at least one review of the relevant literature by a relevant scholar of the field to substantiate that claim.

Or does "largely" just mean "by 'Mike Gene' and the ID community"?

Date: 2006/02/24 04:40:44, Link
Author: Russell
Not only does ID have nothing to do with religion - it's all about the science - it also has nothing to do with right-wing politics! That's why you have stuff like this:
(Culture War) The Final Rout of the Left Has Begun
on a blog all about the "Science" of ID.

Date: 2006/02/24 08:43:46, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I do note, however, that you have called Spetner malicious, and I find this a recurring theme in your assessments of various ID authors.
I did? Where did I do that once, let alone as a "recurring theme"?

Date: 2006/02/25 09:01:29, Link
Author: Russell
PicoIQ153Farad wrote:
Quote

It could take thousands and millions of years.  Yes.  It could also take forever plus a day.  It could also happen in the first generation.  
It  [the evolution of a flagellum or a nucleus] could happen in the first generation? I guess so, if you imagine that a single mutation could account for it. But if, like any literate biologist, you think that things like this are the result of the accumulation of many, many small changes that build on one another through an iterative process of mutation/selection, then no it couldn't happen in the number of generations available for observation in a single human lifetime. I guess I would second Chris's suggestion that you read up on a little biology.
Quote
The point is that NeoDarwinian theory makes no predictions about the things it purports to explain.
No? What do you suppose "NeoDarwinian" theory predicted about the relationship of DNA sequence similarity to phylogenetic trees, before any sequences were determined? What did "intelligent design predict?
Quote
A theory that makes no verifiable or falsifiable predictions ... It's a just-so story about unpredictable, irrepeatable, unwitnessed events in the distant past.
Yeah. Sort of like continental drift.

Date: 2006/02/25 09:54:55, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
How do you know it's more generations than we can possibly observe?
By knowing the approximate rate at which mutations happen, and by having a sense of the number of genes involved.
Quote

I know you can't answer those questions in a way that doesn't make you look stupid so I'll understand if you dodge them again
Thanks. You have no idea how much your indulgence means to me. By the way, how old are you? 10? 12? Is this your idea of witty repartee?

So, uh... Dave. Speaking of dodging, dipping and diving. I notice that you neglected to address my questions:

Quote
What do you suppose "NeoDarwinian" theory predicted about the relationship of DNA sequence similarity to phylogenetic trees, before any sequences were determined? What did "intelligent design predict?
, and declined to comment on the validity of continental drift.

Date: 2006/02/25 10:20:52, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
This [mouthing off on an internet discussion board where there's no quality control, or censorship] is WAY too easy.

Next!
You got that right. If you had any thoughts that actually had any merit, you would probably have published them in a reputable peer-reviewed journal.

I suppose the Darwinist Conspiracy silenced you.

Date: 2006/02/25 12:08:08, Link
Author: Russell
... and, of course, the controversy over whether HIV causes AIDS. We certainly wouldn't want to censor that controversy, would we?

Date: 2006/02/25 13:36:59, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
The only way PicoScot has an IQ of 153 is if he got tested before the accident.
Which reminds me: did all those college level biology courses come before or after the authoritative remarks about ABO antigens being parts of hemoglobin and carrying O2? [guffaw]

Date: 2006/02/26 03:47:48, Link
Author: Russell
Alan:

The quote you couldn't resist - it certainly has JAD written all over it. But where exactly does it come from? Is he back on UD, or are you going through the trash at JAD's own website?

I particularly love JAD going on about "rubber rooms"! The great thing about rubber rooms, I guess, is that they're not glass houses!

Date: 2006/02/26 11:14:00, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Time to bring an end to his interloping, then perhaps we can get on with something a little more enlightening.
Of course, Tacitus is right - there's  no point in trying to have a serious "debate" with a headcase like ds. That being said, this thread isn't really about "enlightenment"; it's dedicated to extracting as much entertainment as possible from UD, and davey certainly is a big part of that.

While he likes to pretend that "this is too easy", I suspect he's noticed he doesn't come off too well in exchanges here. So, while I'm sure he'd rather vote Democrat than admit it, I take a certain amount of pleasure from the likelihood his cardiovascular health is damaged with each visit to AtBC.

And even if he's too head-over-heels in love with himself to notice how foolish he comes off, it's kind of fun to rub his nose in the messes he's made, if only for the amusement of fellow AtBCers.

Like the O2-carrying ABO antigen subunits of hemoglobin! You have to admit - that was a hoot and a half.

Date: 2006/02/27 14:48:45, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Behe ... has accepted [co-option] as another explanation but he refutes it is also being extremely unlikely.
Saying, "I think it's extremely unlikely" does not amount to "refuting".
Quote
What random mutations have we observed that were useful?
I don't know about you, but I've observed many virus mutations that allow a virus to better cope with different hosts, different metabolic conditions, particular drugs, particular antibodies...  happens all the time. If it didn't, drug resistance in HIV wouldn't be a problem.
Quote
How do small mutations leading to better sight also manage to randomly mutate the needed nerve pathways and brain and skull reformations?
Are you being quite serious here? Evolution is an iterative process. Mutations build on one another. If one mutation leads to better vision, that presumably is beneficial in and of itself. Subsequent mutations leading to more brain development capable of using the better vision then become favorable, etc. Also, did you know that skull formation is responsive to brain formation? There are in fact mutations that result in severely limited brain development (microcephaly). Guess what! In those cases, you don't develop a normal skull with a tiny brain rattling around in it; the skull forms during fetal development in response to the forming brain.
Quote
I am not understanding why the existence of the Type 3 system makes the flagellum non-IC.
It demonstrates the one system is almost certainly related to the other by the process of "co-option" that Behe has "refuted" by declaring it unlikely. (Personally, I don't have an opinion about which, if either, is more "primitive"; I suspect they both evolved from a still  less complex system. But the point stands: an evolving system can have a series of  selectable functions without the "final" function being selected from the very beginning.)

By the way: you forgot to point out where I called Spetner "malicious".

Date: 2006/02/28 02:33:29, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I just spent way too much time seeking the spot where the word malicious was used.
apparently in vain. Is that your version of an apology?
Quote
The genetic similarity between us and chimps is exxagerated I am sure,
and I'm sure that you are sure, and that your certainty is based on... nothing at all.
Quote
Just the fact that we don't even have the same number of chromosomes would seem to refute the 99% estimate.
Oh really? What would you estimate is the similarity between yourself and a human with Down syndrome?

Date: 2006/02/28 02:45:50, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
It seems "PicoFarad" has come to the attention of DaveScot. I wonder how that happened?
In a bid to retain his title as Most Ironic IDalog, ds pretends not to be PicoFarad in a post accusing someone else of sneakiness.

Date: 2006/02/28 03:38:45, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Ventor: “It’s very simple, because every cell in our body has DNA.”

Oops.  

I thought everyone knew that mammalian red blood cells have no DNA…
Right. That's because they're too packed with the ABO subunits of hemoglobin to leave room for DNA!

By the way, dave, speaking of devastatingly embarrassing gaffes that betray a total lack of understanding of the subject matter: you spelled "Venter" wrong.

Date: 2006/02/28 03:58:00, Link
Author: Russell
Shirley Knott (nee Eugeste) wrote:
Quote
If there's a scientific theory of Intelligent Design, I'm sure we'd all love to hear it.
Shirley, haven't you heard: "the Scientific theory of Intelligent Design is that some aspects of life and the universe are best explained by  an unknown entity [which may or may not have been the God of the Bible] having done an unknown thing by unknown means at an unknown time".

Do try to keep up, won't you?

Date: 2006/02/28 09:59:38, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
"the Scientific theory of Intelligent Design is that some aspects of life and the universe are best explained by  an unknown entity [which may or may not have been the God of the Bible] having done an unknown thing by unknown means at an unknown time".


Quote
But Russell, dear, that isn't a scientific theory.
Its not a theory at all.
No!? Maybe it's because I was paraphrasing. Here - here's the exact quote from the horses, um, mouth:
Quote
The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
(from the DI's CSRC webpage, FAQ) Surely, Shirley, it doesn't get more scientific than that!

Date: 2006/02/28 10:08:07, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
The point, and I have made it several times, is that humans and chimps are remarkably similiar
Seems clear enough to me. (Not sure how Davison managed to miss that, but, then, who cares?)

Anyway, I wonder: is there any reason why a Martian Linnaeus, say, would assign us to two different genera?

Date: 2006/02/28 11:09:38, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Surely you don't buy that load of codswallop, now, do you Russell?
No, Shirley Knott.

I guess I should use the little emoticons to indicate tongue-in-cheekiness. But no, I find their attempts to define their theory somewhere between pathetic and hilarious.

At some level, they must be a little sensitive about that. For instance, here's an amusing editorial where they're attempting to dispel all the "misconceptions" about ID, but - strangely, while telling us all the things that ID isn't - they never get around to telling us what it is.

Date: 2006/02/28 11:24:49, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
strangely, while telling us all the things that ID isn't - they never get around to telling us what it is.
and, if you get a chance, Shirley, I'd be grateful if you'd relay that observation to your encyclopedic relative, Y. Knott.

Date: 2006/02/28 12:53:55, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Dayum that's stupid.
I don't think it can be summed up any more succinctly than that.

But just to belabor the obvious... what does "the theory of natural selection" tell us about the relationship between: (1) the number of human infections with the current strains of H5N1 (which are transmitted efficiently among birds, inefficiently from birds to humans, and not at all from human to human) and (2) the probability of the emergence of a strain that is efficiently transmitted between humans?

What does the "theory of intelligent design" predict about the same question?

Bonus question: who do you want in charge of preventing and, failing that, dealing with the pandemic: "evolutionists" or "intelligent design theorists?

Date: 2006/03/01 06:29:56, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
(GCT: ) I'm offended that you think you can twist the arguments around and not have me notice.
You know, I honestly don't think Avo notices when she twists the arguments around. This is the fundamental (pun only partially intended) problem with creationist thinking: whatever question you ask, the answer has to conform to the overall precommitment to goddidit. That's also why I want her to track down where she thinks I called Spetner "malicious". I suspect most creationists (and I use the term broadly) are like Avo in this respect: not "malicious", but wishful thinkers whose ability to perceive reality is seriously affected by this fundamental precommitment, to the point where they manage to make such otherwise inexplicable errors as Spetner did in the case we discussed. Thinking that I called Spetner malicious is just another instance of this distorted perception of reality.

However, I do think that the Disco Inst crowd (Wells, Dembski, Luskin, Berlinski, et al.) goes beyond mere wishful-thinking driven inadvertance. It's my assessment that they've crossed the line into what can only be called dishonesty. I suspect that has something to do with the fact that for these guys, anti-evolution isn't just an idea or a cause, it's a career. Even with them, though, I doubt it's completely "malicious". Indeed (and you'll think I'm really naive here) I actually believe that erstwhile congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham was, at least in a sense, sincere when he assured the press that the facts would prove those corruption charges baseless - six months before tearfully pleading guilty. As I've often noted, I suspect the most successful used car salesman is the one who manages to convince himself that he is - in some sense - telling the truth.

Quote
What is also bizarre is the fact that you somehow think reality is different depending on whether one believes in god or not.
That, and the fact that she doesn't see that as post-modernism.

On co-option (or is the proper term co-optation? I'm not sure):
Quote
(Chris Hyland: ) A good example of cooption is in the bacterium Sphingomonas chlorophenolica, which is able to digest PCP, which was first introduced into the environment 70 years ago.
I think the nylonase story is another great example, if Avo is seriously interested. But I suspect she's not, so I'll hold off on going to the trouble of digging up the links.

Date: 2006/03/01 07:11:38, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You should pose this question to our friends at UD. If they are at all intellectually honest about their theory they'll answer you.  I have a shiny quarter that says their answer would be something to behold.
Well, since we know that at least some of them are following this discussion, I guess I have posed it. That depends, of course, on whether that subset of UD readers that does peek over the fence is willing to engage the question (if that depends on davescot, I doubt it).  Still, I prefer to hold discussions this side of the Looking Glass.

Date: 2006/03/01 08:56:00, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
(some UDer: ) I find it disturbing that science questions are being waged through PR campaigns.
You see what I mean about the Looking Glass.

Date: 2006/03/01 10:20:38, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You know what I think is interesting.....that they rarely do come over here
Well, at least they rarely comment here. But then, I go over there to check out UD whenever I learn here of a particularly ridiculous post, or sometimes just for fun, and I've never left a comment. As I said, I prefer to hold discussions this side of the Looking Glass, where my comments are not subject to the whims of His Royal Absurdity.

Date: 2006/03/01 13:14:38, Link
Author: Russell
steve you left this one out:
Quote
... If science is so open, let’s see the journals start accepting the work done by the ID sciences. It’s part of the ploy, pretend that science is “based solely on merit” then define a system where only your interpretation has merit. The DI lists dozens of scientific papers. Let’s see one in “Nature”.?
Affirmative action for ID papers! What a concept! So until the number of ID papers balances the number of evolution papers, we'll know "Nature" is just part of the ploy. I don't suppose these guys are likely to notice the problems with the the DI's list, but I provide the link in case anyone's in the mood for a belly laugh.

Date: 2006/03/01 16:00:41, Link
Author: Russell
Did anyone else find it very odd how Dembski introduced that discussion of Ken Miller?
Quote
Perhaps Miller & Co. need to cut to the chase and take out a contract on key ID players. As I recall from the three years I lived in Rhode Island (I went to a prep school there), Providence, the city in which Brown University (Miller’s employer) is located, has an effective mob presence.
Is he suggesting that Miller finds ID so menacing he might contemplate assassination? Is he just straining to connect Miller with The Mob, however spuriously? Does having gone to prep school in Rhode Island have sufficient cachet it's worth going out of your way to mention?  Is this in some way witty and I just don't get it? Any ideas?

Date: 2006/03/02 03:58:13, Link
Author: Russell
I can't remember a time when I was ever a "creationist", in any Phil Johnson, let alone Ken Ham, sense of the word. But I was raised in the (Episcopal) church, and up until the time I was 14 or so, I guess,  it no more occurred to me that the church could be really wrong about something than that the moon was made of green cheese. I just found myself more and more having to say, "in some sense" this or that impossible thing must be true. Between the ever greater mental double-jointedness this took, and the increasingly obvious fact that devotion to this system did not make its devotees particularly admirable people, I reached a point where the obvious answer to the question "what's the point?" was "there is none". So I extracted what I decided was the key principle from all the world's religions: "Don't be an @$$#ole", and decided all the rest of it, and how believers choose to reconcile reality with it, need not be my concern.

I can imagine, though, if that sense that the church just had to be right were more absolute, I might have continued to find ways where this or that impossibility must be true in some sense.  That's my not-entirely-dictionary definition of Fundamentalism, and it's what I feel almost certainly underlies much of ID.

Date: 2006/03/02 04:19:00, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Maybe he's trying to make himself look more worldly. In fact, we just imagine a dorkier young Dembski in prep school, imagining himself exposed to the underworld.
A little beside the point, but you remind me of a Gary Larson "Far Side" cartoon. It shows a pudgy dorky kid looking up at the night sky. The caption reads "Carl Sagan as a child", and the kid is saying "Look at all those stars... there must be hundreds and hundreds of them!"

I picture Dembski trying to convince his classmates of the existence of Santa Clause based on numerology. (Hey, 12 days of Christmas, 12 reindeer. Coincidence? I don't think so.)

Date: 2006/03/02 04:47:44, Link
Author: Russell
By the way, if you haven't already, you might want to look at Michael Shermers book: "Why People Believe Weird Things"

Date: 2006/03/02 11:32:43, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
They [Miller's and Avo's] are both the same God, Miller just recognizes that with His omnipotence and omniscience...God could have been far more elaborate with his creation.
I've never quite bought this "we all worship the same God" thing. The deity worshipped by Christian fundamentalists has one set of properties (consigns gay people to he11, had a human son, spoke to Amos, Jeremiah, Pat Robertson, doesn't have much of a sense of humor...). The deity recognized by, say, Reform Jews has very different properties. Miller refers to his God as He, Avo refers to hers as She...

I guess the difference in perspective is the difference between a theist (say, PuckSR) and a nontheist (say, me; I'm not postulating any difference, by the way, between "nontheist" and "atheist" - it's just that the former seems neutral and descriptive, while the latter seems to connote in-your-face aggressiveness). The theist, and I guess I really mean monotheist, takes it as given that God exists, and that the faithful of various persuasions are mistaken about Its properties, while the nontheist thinks that, since these deities exist only in believers' minds, to postulate entities with different properties is to postulate different entities.

Date: 2006/03/03 05:32:29, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Another factor everyone seems to overlook is that the DI, recognizing that engineers have a lot of cachet from a public that doesn't really understand what they do, has recruited engineers to sign their propaganda.
The ID forces here got a lot of mileage out of recruiting a lot of creationist MDs, too. Same idea: these guys are not actually scientists, but the general public - and the school board - doesn't know the difference. And they are, after all, "real" doctors!

Date: 2006/03/03 06:26:34, Link
Author: Russell
Imagine you’re out walking your dog one day, and you happen upon Millie, that spry little old lady that’s just moved in three doors down. In the course of small talk, Millie says that, what with raising kids, juggling jobs,  etc., she’s never had the time to learn as much mathematics as she would have liked. But now she’s 72, widowed, kids on their own… just for the mental exercise, she’s trying to learn it now, if only to an educated layman’s level.

In a moment of neighborliness, you volunteer to spend Thursday evenings tutoring her. You cover the basics. You explain what’s the difference between algebra and geometry. You go over some basic theorems. You spend 3 consecutive weeks on the elegance of the Pythagorean proof. You show how trigonometry might be used in calculating  space shuttle trajectories. After a couple of months, you’re ready to introduce the idea of the calculus.

You bone up on it yourself (it’s been a while! ), you prepare a few illustrative examples. You meet Millie at the usual venue, the local Barnes & Noble café, with an armful of books. But before you get underway, Millie has just one question. She was at the beauty salon earlier that week for her blue rinse, when she learned from Madge, the hairdresser, that 8 wasn’t really a number at all; it had been made up out of whole cloth by some pointy headed professor to plug the holes in the theory of mathematics.

What do you say?

Date: 2006/03/04 06:06:21, Link
Author: Russell
Kudos to JayRay on the card shuffling illustration. Excellent point.

Sure, you could probably get a computer simulation to do it effortlessly, but then, of course, the IDers will say, "all bets are off, because the computer was the result of intelligent design." Which - of course - makes about as much sense as that the cards were shuffled by an intelligent agent, but as a bright shiny object to distract the easily (or willingly) distractable, it'll probably work.

Date: 2006/03/04 06:20:47, Link
Author: Russell
This 2LoT tomfoolery is the starkest example I've seen of the "God in the Fog" approach.

Anyone who has earned a passing grade in high school physics knows the law does not say what Mr. Anderson says it says. (Otherwise, the formation of every snowflake would require divine intervention.)

But they manage to generate thousands of words on this fascinating "new tangent of [their] ongoing self-delusion dialogue", fogging up the issue so that - even if there are no real gaps for a god-of-the-gaps to inhabit - there's plenty of fog in which a god-in-the-fog might be hiding.

Date: 2006/03/04 11:01:40, Link
Author: Russell
Maybe, after the pendulum swings back and the country realizes that the Bush administration was the worst thing that has ever happened, the religious right will face the fact that that was as close as they'll ever come to actually running the country, and revert to their secessionist mentality.

Here's a letter that appeared in the
the Columbus Dispatch this week:
Quote
Public schools immoral places for children
Monday, February 27, 2006

In December, I submitted a resolution to the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, urging pastors and parents to investigate the indoctrination of our young people into the homosexual agenda and to encourage concerned Christian parents to remove their children from public schools.

At the heels of the recent 11-4 decision by the State Board of Education to censor any criticism of Darwinian evolution, it has become clear that our young people are being indoctrinated into not only a pro-homosexual, but a humanistic religion, as well. Ohio schools have become officially atheistic, godless and toxic, morally, intellectually and spiritually, to our precious children. Ohio evangelical leaders and pastors must urge parents to remove their children from Pharoah’s oppressive schools and give them a thoroughly Christian education, through either Christian schools or home education. Why send them to Sunday School, only to have their faith torn asunder Monday through Friday? It is time to let the children go.

NICHOLAS A. JACKSON Executive director,
Reform America Ohio coordinator,
Exodus Mandate

Date: 2006/03/04 11:45:32, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Losing public education would simply make it even harder for the poor and disenfranchised to get a leg up in society.
I guess I'm allowed to share my political perspective here without fear of alienating potential evo-supporters.

I see the current Republican party as a coalition of plutocrats, religious right, and libertarian/gun, um, enthusiasts. Historically, and I think still, the plutocrat wing has called the shots and largely used the other two factions. But this using of other factions is not entirely a one-way street.

When it comes to abolishing - or just weakening - public education, the interests of the plutocrats and religious right overlap.

Date: 2006/03/06 07:02:45, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
However, if Darwinism is true, another pattern must exist for some genes X...

I hope this is now clear to everyone.  If there are still some who do not get it, they should consult with an expert.
It's not clear what you mean by "Darwinism", and I doubt that contacting an expert is going to clear that up. I take it there's some particular aspect of either common descent or natural selection that entails the prediction you describe. Can you be more specific?

Date: 2006/03/06 07:09:15, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
OK, correct me if I'm wrong but... did he just call himself a genius?
Oh, there's no doubt in Dave's mind that he's a genius. He's announced it several times. In fact, he has announced that his IQ is 153.

Date: 2006/03/06 09:30:02, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
In 1200 myr, human will show 0 or -25% identity to bacteria
Well, yes. If there's a version of "Darwinism" that predicts homology falls at a linear rate indefinitely - eventually producing negative % identity between two genes, that version is in trouble. Just like the version of physics that says that, if my phone battery is losing 0.05 volts per hour, it will eventually reverse polarity.

Date: 2006/03/06 12:28:18, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
To Russel, if no version of Darwinism predicts infinite mutation, then show me a version that predicts that at some point mutation should stop.
If you read the responses above, and have the ability, you will understand why mutation rate does not equal rate of change in homology. If you don't, I have more educable people I need to attend to.

Date: 2006/03/06 13:11:26, Link
Author: Russell
So after Shi revolutionizes biology, we'll all stop being "Darwinists" and become... "Shi-ites"?

(Sorry. I just can't read this thread any more except for laughs.)

Date: 2006/03/06 13:59:33, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
this is great. Salvador starts talking about ...
You know what's hilarious about that post is how Sal is just so full of himself that Nature and Genie Scott acknowledged his existence. Oooh! A real player in this unfolding drama! Why, oh why, didn't they get him to testify in Dover?

Date: 2006/03/06 14:18:36, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
If you do publish such a paper, please post the reference here, because I would be very much interested in reading it.
I guess I won't be so much interested in reading it, as in finding out what journal's review process such a paper had survived - and checking to see if one R. v. Sternberg was maybe on the editorial board.

Date: 2006/03/07 05:32:12, Link
Author: Russell
I think we're talking about Kathy Martin, a state school board member in Kansas. I'll look for it when I get a moment, but in case that hint helps, I offer it to Thealater or anyone else who wants to search.

Date: 2006/03/07 06:10:35, Link
Author: Russell
Oops. No, it wasn't Kathy Martin (though I think she's just as capable of embarrassing the ID movement). It was Connie Morris.

Date: 2006/03/07 07:05:25, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Just to be a tedious pain in the a55 about it.
I was going to ask whether "physicist" had addressed this issue, then I realized that that was lazy; if I wanted to know I should just go read for myself. Then I realized that would be an inexcusable waste of time. So I forgot about it.

But I do think that the distinction between temperature and heat is so fundamental to thermodynamics, that anyone that makes that faux pas and still thinks he knows what he's talking about can only be a sufferer of what mental health professionals will one day come to refer to as "DaveScot" syndrome.

(i.e. I don't think it's a pedantic technicality).

Date: 2006/03/07 11:46:33, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
 
How’s this for ID research …
That's the article that mentions Bill Gates funding. Someone started a thread here at AtBC wondering if Bill Gates's funding of that research (and maybe influencing the wording of that report) and his funding of the Disco Inst might signify some ID agenda.

I doubt it. It was probably just that writer using the topical "intelligent design" catchphrase to grab attention, without particularly worrying about the likes of Dembski extracting exactly the wrong message.

Pathetic, really.

Date: 2006/03/07 11:57:54, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
http://www.repentamerica.com/

love that title page.

Did you catch this item there?
Quote
Creation seminar coming to Dover Area High School


Repent America (RA) is bringing a creation seminar to Dover Area High School next month, featuring well-known creationist Dr. Kent Hovind.

Dr. Kent Hovind is considered one of the foremost authorities on science and the Bible. The former high school science teacher turned evangelist speaks over 700 times each year in public and private schools, universities, churches, camps, radio programs, as well as in many other settings. He has debated evolutionists at many colleges and universities across America and is dedicated to the proclamation of factual, scientific evidence supporting the Biblical record of creation and history of the world.

Hovind's fact-filled creation seminars are exciting and informative, causing even the most devout evolutionist to sit up and take notice. Christians will be encouraged in their faith, and non-believers will be seriously challenged to reconsider their beliefs.

Date: 2006/03/07 13:59:06, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
(Dembski: ) …but one has to appreciate, especially in the current climate of controversy, that the researchers are being up front about how intelligent design is at the center of their work and also that they resisted the urge to suck up to the establishment by offering ritualistic deference to Darwin and conventional evolutionary theory.
Quote
(the article he links to: ) According to the theory of divergent molecular evolution, primordial enzymes and other proteins started out as “promiscuous” so that primitive organisms would be better able to adapt to their environment.  Driven by selective pressures, these promiscuous enzymes and other proteins evolved along divergent lines to acquire the specialized functions needed by a host organism to survive.
So, uh, the “theory of divergent molecular evolution” turns out to be fundamentally at odds with good old fashioned materialistic “Darwinism”. Who knew?

Date: 2006/03/08 03:16:25, Link
Author: Russell
RE: DougMoran's latest wet dream about the future of science.

It's hard to gauge the depths of cluelessness of a group that keeps singing "Our Day Will Come" despite the abundant evidence that it's long since come and gone.

Recall the articles in that renowned science journal World magazine in which the DI dreamers imagined the demise of Darwinism from the year 2016, the endless predictions of impending Waterloos, the "theory in crisis", the crumbling orthodoxy, etc. etc. etc. - all that in light of the continuing nonexistence of ID in the scientific literature, and still growing rate of publications of sound evolutionary research and at the very same time invoke the image of Monty Python's pathetically dismembered Black Knight.

Really - if these guys are doing this intentionally, it's brilliant comedy.

Date: 2006/03/08 15:38:45, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I'm just actually someone stunned by the arrogance and blinkered view of many so "scientists."
Oh, please, do go on! I mean specifically: what's arrogant? what views are being "blinkered"?
Or is this just the generic, "those fools at the university" rant?  

If Shi's ideas are an example of what you think is unfairly dismissed, let me just say this:

Dismissed? - yes. Unfairly? - no.

Really, the flaws in the logic are high school level. If you can't see that, I'm afraid that your opinions, too, will have to be dismissed. Fairly.

Date: 2006/03/08 16:44:44, Link
Author: Russell
The challenge that Shi failed to address, and that I'm waiting for Thordude to address, is this: do you understand that a constant mutation rate does not translate into a linear decrease in homology over time?

Date: 2006/03/09 03:51:15, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Now DaveSLOT thinks that Panda's Thumb drove these students to set fire to churches
When it's a slow day in the newspaper's daily comics, you can always count on good ol' ds.

I guess he thinks DeLay's logic tying the Columbine shootings to teaching evolution is pretty sound, too.

Date: 2006/03/09 04:05:12, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
That sounds like an argument for irreducible complexity?
Nope. It has nothing to do with "IC".

Now, let me just throw this out for your consideration. Could it be that what you perceive as "arrogance and blinkered views" of scientists might, in fact, be limited patience with people who don't realize the limits of their own knowledge and understanding of science, but feel qualified to question not only the competence of others - not just individuals, but entire professions - who have spent decades studying it, but also their motives, character and integrity? Do you think that might be possible?

Date: 2006/03/09 07:26:53, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
(ds ) Next time you question me I expect you to have done a little reseach youself first or you’ll be asking questions on a different blog.
The resemblance between ds and Bill O'Reilly is uncanny:
Quote
O'REILLY: Mary Anne, how could we possibly take your analysis seriously? And I'm not saying this to attack you. I want you to call in again, I want you to be a listener. But I'm trying to send a message out to everybody. If you're going to call in this program -- this isn't the usual talk show, where you can just blather about stuff you don't know anything about. I'm gonna ask you questions! I'm gonna ask you to back up your position -- with facts!
(The facts, of course, turn out to support Mary Anne, and prove O'Reilly wrong. Check out the link if you want to see O'Reilly make a complete @$$ of himself, davescot style)

Date: 2006/03/09 08:12:19, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
 DaveScot, do you have any evidence that there is a link? If not, then apologize and delete your post.

    Comment by StuartHarris — March 9, 2006 @ 11:24 am
While you're at it, Stuart, command pigs to fly.

Date: 2006/03/09 09:04:22, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
(Aardvark: )
My grasp of the 'theory' of ID:
I can make whirlpools in the bathtub.
Therefore whirlpools are intelligently designed.

Is that it?
By George, I think s/he's got it!

Date: 2006/03/09 11:20:34, Link
Author: Russell
Well, I really don't know what Thordudy is on about, but it's pretty clear he's not addressing any of the questions put to him. So, I think I'll just join Tiredofthesos in regarding him as not worth my time.

Date: 2006/03/09 13:19:29, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Does Dembski know that you haven't read No Free Lunch
Now, that's not entirely fair. Dave just gloatingly directed Steve to a website that clearly makes Steve's point (describing, as it does distributions of wavelengths corresponding to different blackbody temperatures). Now, I can't believe Dave didn't read that site - there aren't that many words. It's his comprehension that's at issue.

Date: 2006/03/10 03:13:38, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I should keep my yap shut and let the real biologists respond here, but as an interested layman, ...
No, you shouldn't. Your perspective, once again, is spot on.  And I,  speaking as one "real biologist", have lost the will to try to get through to Thorguy.

Date: 2006/03/12 09:17:32, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Is there a word for how pathetic that statement is?
No, I don't believe so. Once again, dave is pushing the envelope.

Just for the record: I couldn't care less about "kelvins vs. "degrees Kelvin". I'm sure I've got it wrong before. But the "temperature of a photon" - that's right up there with the O2-carrying ABO subunits of hemoglobin, and bacteria whose genomes dwarf ours. It's good to know dave doesn't focus on just one science all the laser-like intensity of his ignorance; biology might have exploded.

Date: 2006/03/14 05:16:57, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
(GCT: ) Why must I repeat myself again and again just to have you repeat it back to me as if it's your argument?
Because she's totally committed to the creationist viewpoint. If you've heard of "Morton's Demon", you'll know what I'm talking about.

Case in point: quoting - well, no - cutting and pasting pages of "MikeGene", chock-a-block full of technical details about bacterial flagella, none of which does anything to advance the case that really, really complex = "irreducibly" complex. She dismisses Ernst Mayr (! ) as "simplistic", but takes "MikeGene" as the last word on flagellum research. Why? Is "MikeGene" an expert in the field? Does "MikeGene" do research in this area? Who is "MikeGene"? The only thing I know about "him" is that "he", too, sees the world through Design colored glasses. Yet, at the same time, she admits to a lack of understanding of very basic, easy to look up, genetics (the chromosome fusion business.)

I wouldn't get too worked up about it. She's never going to "get it". Any evidence or logic you present will be dismissed as just "one side of the argument".

Go ahead and argue with her, if you like. (Heck, I like solving Sudoku puzzles; hardly a more productive use of time! ) But you might find this more entertaining.

Date: 2006/03/14 05:27:23, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Frankly, I haven't been impressed with what you've had to say on this thread-- I'm not sure that you clearly understand your own arguments, and I'm not sure that you're ready to put in any hard work to learn the stuff you don't know
That's my take as well.

But I was inspired to take a peek a the sequences in question (cytochrome C) and I'm curious to know where this "35%" homology between human and bacterial sequences comes from.

Date: 2006/03/14 09:01:07, Link
Author: Russell
Again - where does this 35% identity number come from? What bacteria are we talking about?

AND, doesn't the fact that you're comparing a mitochondrial enzyme (yeast, human) to bacterial enzymes render your argument moot? I would expect the minimal basic function of an enzyme that has to operate as a soluble enzyme in a mitochondrial environment to be rather different from the minimal basic function of what I believe is generally a membrane bound enzyme in the huge range of environments lumped together under the heading "bacterial cytoplasm".

No?

Date: 2006/03/14 10:28:43, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
here is the human cyto C protein.  do a blastp with it against bacteria and find out for yourself.
Right. And when I do that, I see a large range of "hits" covering a large range of % identities, and including various size and various numbers of gaps introduced to align the sequences. (I don't know how you want to calculate the impact of gaps on your % identities, but obviously you can't just ignore them). The % identity dips well below 35%, if you recognize that BLAST only reports the % identity of that part of the sequence it can align. Also, you'll notice that there are a lot of bacteria in which no cytochrome C homolog is seen.

So... so if you still have a point, in light of all that, I've lost track of what it is.

Date: 2006/03/14 10:55:42, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
As someone commented in this thread, my point is rather simple. Apparently it is only simple to people who got it.
Apparently.

So far as I can tell, no one here thinks you have a point, at least not a point that makes any sense. But I only speak for myself.

No, wait! There was "Thordudy" - does he count?

Anyone else following this: do any of you see a point that makes any sense? Or am I just not simple enough?

Date: 2006/03/14 12:28:35, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I just give up.
Well, don't let us discourage you. Go ahead and make the most tightly reasoned argument you can, and try to get it published.

Just don't automatically blame closed-minded dogmatic Darwinists if Nature declines to publish it. Consider the possibility that - clear though your argument appears to be to you - it doesn't make any sense to anybody else*.

*(Except, of course, to creationists who wave their pom-poms for anything and everything that purports to challenge evolution, no matter how inconsistent with reality, logic, or even their other anti-evolution arguments.)

Date: 2006/03/14 13:20:57, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
The present theory has so many factual contradictions that it reqires many ad hoc hypotheses to get by.  The molecular clock is one
This is the kind of vacuous generality that most anti-evolution rhetoric boils down to.

So far, your attempts to point out any "factual contradictions"  have been, well, let's just say uncompelling.

"The" molecular clock? The idea that you can use the accumulation of mutations to say something about the relative antiquity of various phylogenetic  branchings seems pretty uncontroversial. The fact that there are limitations to that also fails to surprise me. If there's something basic to evolutionary theory that demands that every gene in every organism diverge at a constant rate, I missed that lecture.

Quote
Human has evolved for 5000-10000 years and has 4 billion years to go.
Now there's a doubly remarkable sentence. We've only been evolving for 10000 years? That will certainly constitute a "paradigm shift" for every anthropologist and paleontologist I've ever known. And we have 4 billion years to go? Not if we're like 99% of every species that have come before.

Quote
But the present lack of a better theory is no evidence for the truthfullness of the present theory.  It just means time is not ripe yet.
No, actually it means nothing at all. But the time is as at least as ripe as ever. How much of what we teach as evolution would Darwin even recognize? Genes, alleles, DNA... You think the theory of evolution is waiting for insights like yours to "evolve"? You may have delusions of significance.

Date: 2006/03/14 14:01:59, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
The present explanation of this so-called molecular equidistance is to say that cyto C in yeast has undergone the same rate of mutation as the lineage leading humans.
Can you point to anything, anywhere that states this "explanation"? You're trying to explain a nonexistent phenomenon.

Quote
At least with people like me, we have a chance, no matter how slim, to evolve the theory into a better shape.  But with people like you, the theory has nothing new to gain and no future.
Oh, don't worry about me. I just sort of use the theory of evolution in my work. I don't assume responsibility for improving it. Do let us know when your ground-breaking, paradigm-shifting theory is published. Or at least when anyone more credible than Thordude thinks you have a point.

Date: 2006/03/15 05:18:31, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I am really surprised by your lack of information.  Go to the paper by Elsbery and find out for yourself at ...
As I said before, within limits, I buy the concept of the "molecular clock". But my big problem with your idea is that it goes way beyond those limits. The reference you gave deals only with actual cytochrome C, by definition a mitochondrial enzyme. The constraints on its evolution - its rate of accumulation of differences after lineage splits - are at least comparable. When you talk about the bacterial homologs, all bets are off.

Fortunately, this very discussion board is Elsberry's baby, so he can explain to you whether or not his essay justifies the conclusions you draw from it. Wesley?

Quote
You could also read Michael Denton's book Evolution: a theory in crisis.  He made some good points but I am not suggesting that I agree with all his points.
Yeah, I have read it. I think Denton was wise to abandon this argument in his followup book, Nature's Destiny.

Date: 2006/03/15 08:56:30, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Okay. But you still need to explain why human, plant, insects, and fish all show equal identity (equal distance) to yeast in cytoC.  The present explanation, as examplified by the Elsberry paper, is the molecular clock idea.  That is that all these vastly different species share the same constant mutation rate in cyto C
Now that we're just talking about mitochondrial CytC, the picture is a little clearer. Within metazoa, say, I think the molecular clock works reasonably well. And - except for plants - we think all the creatures you mentioned diverged from yeast at the same time, no? So, isn't (approximately) equal levels of homology exactly what we'd expect?

However, Elsberry's paper suggested that the clock idea works for neutral differences. When you're talking about the difference between yeast and mammals, I would guess that the level of homology you see reflects just about the minimum you can expect for a functional CytC.

Also, there are important differences between yeast and mammals in terms of the functional demands on the molecule (range of temperature, range of oxygen tension) that may make that comparison unuseful.

Date: 2006/03/15 10:00:21, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Yes, it is exactly what you would expect if the neutral clock theory is valid.  But as I have said repeatedly (but you fail to get the point repeadly), in Dr. Ayala's own words, the theory 'is untenable'.
No, I didn't fail to get the point. I just don't think Ayala's objections to "the theory" apply to this kind of example. I'll have to take a look at what Ayala actually wrote - in context - but I find it hard to believe that he is discrediting the common sense aspects of evolution that apply here.

Date: 2006/03/21 08:16:27, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
To find human and fish are equally related to another fish in genotypes is unexpected for Darwin, for Mayr, for me, and for 99% of casual believers of the theory.
I'm not sufficiently knowledgeable about taxonomy and phylogenetics to be sure that there aren't different lineages of fish that diverged before one of those lineages split off our ancestors. So, without doing a little research, I'm not so sure the genetic relationship you describe would surprise me. But just to make things real, what two species of fish would you like us to consider?

Date: 2006/03/21 08:27:51, Link
Author: Russell
Indeed, according to this (fairly standard, I think)phylogeny, trout and humans are more closely related than are trout and sharks. Is that so surprising?

Date: 2006/03/21 09:05:00, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Why does everything have to be so absolute?
Which brings me to another point. Either the "molecular clock" works like, well, "clockwork", or it's useless? The strongest reason we've seen here for abandoning the molecular clock is that Francisco Ayala pointed out that it can be misleading. Yet Francisco Ayala published this:

Origin of the metazoan phyla: Molecular clocks confirm paleontological estimates. (1998) PNAS 95:606-611

In the "mirage" paper that seems to have made such an impression on Shi, Ayala lists 4 or 5 (depending on how you count them) factors that complicate a simplistic interpretation of the molecular clock. He goes through and shows that no one of them explains all "exceptions". I'm not particularly surprised. In the end, he writes:
Quote
I am not, however, willing to propose that we give up altogether the molecular clock. There are many evolutionary issues concerning both timing and topological relationships between species for which molecular sequence data provide the best, if not the only dependable evidence... If there is light in the molecular clock horizon, it must ultimately be obtained by combining data for several genes, as many as possible...

Remember: sequence divergence is more closely analogous to radioactive decay than it is to a "clock". If I have a chunk of radioisotope giving off, on average, 100,000 detectable decompositions per minute, I could - in theory - use it to tell the time pretty accurately. If I smash it, and pick ten tiny slivers of it, each giving off 1 detectable decomposition per minute, the time measured by one might differ from the time measured by another by a factor of two. Or ten. That doesn't mean the laws of physics have suddenly changed with the size of my chunk of radioisotope. It just means that it's a stochastic process, and statistical considerations apply.

I continue to see no substance at all to Shi's argument, let alone the long awaited "Falsification of Darwinism".

Date: 2006/03/21 09:53:55, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Russell,
Then, perhaps you can enlighten me why human, rats, frogs, and fish are all equally related to yeast, given that these different species all are proven to have different rates of mutations. If you cannot, then perhaps you can explain why it does not falsify the current theory.
I, and others have tried, repeatedly. Here. Let's give it one more go.

Humans, rats, frogs and fish diverged from one another - and developed their different rates of mutations - at some point in the last relatively short period of time, before which they shared a common ancestor that had already diverged so far from yeast as to retain only the minimal sequence resemblance dictated by the functional demands of the gene products. I expect any truly neutral sequence inherited from an ancestor common to both yeast and humans to be long since scrambled to complete randomness - i.e. unrecognizability.

Do you expect your great-great-grandfather's DNA to be measurably less divergent from a chimp's than your own?

Date: 2006/03/21 11:57:38, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Let me get it right.  So you are saying that human rats frogs fish etc shared a common ancestor yeast species A.
WHAT??? Are you doing this on purpose, or do you have serious reading comprehension issues? How did you get that, from what I wrote? Let's see what we can salvage from your understanding of my explanation. Yeast and humans (and fish and rice) are descendants of some (nonyeast!) distant ancestor eukaryote, let's call it A. After a billion or two years, A's descendants include B and C (among millions of others). At this point, B and C  have already diverged, hugely from A. Now the descendants of B go on for another billion years or so and eventually yeasts evolve from that lineage. Meanwhile,C further diverges, producing fish, frogs, humans, etc. Now, since they all have been diverging at hard-to-know rates from C, it's difficult to say if any one of them is any closer to C than any other. (Within the very crude limits of the "molecular clock", they'll all be about equidistant from it.)  I don't find it at all unlikely that B and C will have already reached saturation with respect to many, maybe most genes.

Quote
There are several problems with this explanation.  First, there are no independent evidence to say that 60% is the lowest possible identity in yeast.  Second, the time to reach saturation is not defined.  Third, you need to assume that each species has a species specific lowest possible identity.


These are not "problems". I don't need "independent evidence" to propose that there is a "floor" to the minimum functional sequence of CytC. Since I can't find any CytCs in nature with significantly less homology than between human and yeast, I suspect that limit is somewhere around that floor. Do I have any reason to think otherwise?

Your "second" really boils down to exactly the same thing as your "first". I don't need "independent evidence" to propose that "saturation" of divergence should occur. From the available evidence, the time since the divergence of humans and yeast from their common ancestor was adequate to achieve it. Do I have any reason to think otherwise?

Your "third" makes no sense to me, and I have made no such assumption.
Quote
Finally, it can be quite obviously absurd to explain other equidistance phenomenon.
? ? ?

Quote
According to your logic and explanation, human and monkey shared a rat-like ancestor species A that has diverged to maximum at 96% identity to rat species B.
I don't know how much of your misunderstanding is due to reading comprehension, and how much is due to commitment to the idea that you have an idea worth having, but I don't impute any "maximum"-ness to the divergence between rat and human CytCs.
Quote
Based on the substitution rate of cyto C (1% per 20 myr), rat A and B must have diverged for 80 myr.  That would leave the time to less than 1 myr since human and monkey diverged from rat A (since we dont know of any rats older than 80 myr).  See the absurdity here.  Given less than 1 myr of divergence, we would expect human and monkey to be nearly 100% identical to rat A in cyto C.  Another absurdity. The truth is that humans and monkeys are equally related to whatever rat species at the same 96% identity.  To explain away this absurdity, you could invoke another absurdity that human and monkey have, within less than 1 myr, mutated to saturation at 96% identity with rat A.  But what triggered such an accelleration in mutation rate from 1%/20myr to 4%/1myr?
Before I attempt to figure out what you're trying to say here, is this as clear as you can make it? Because, I have to tell you, if this were the answer to an essay question, I would have graded it "unreadable".

Date: 2006/03/21 15:23:26, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
In order for me to understand you, I would like to hear you explain an equidistance phenomenon we have more data on, the human, monkey and rat example that I used.  The fact, if you are not sure, is that human and monkey are equally related to rats at 96% identity in cyto C


Most of the differences between the rat and the human is the same differences as those between monkey and human. They didn't accumulate in the monkey at the monkey rate and the human at the human rate; they accumulated in the common ancestral (monkey & human) lineage, at the rate (or rather rates, since there's no particular reason to assume it's any more constant with time than it is from human to monkey). Only a  small fraction of them occurred since the last monkey/human common ancestor. And since we're already dealing with numbers too small to be very useful, a small fraction of such a number would be hard to distinguish from  statistical "noise".

Here's some actual numbers to contemplate:
The numbers I'm reporting here are nucleotide sequence rather than amino acid sequence, since it's more informative. (Incidentally, I believe that's what Ayala was writing about, too.)

The coding sequence for mammalian CytC is 318 nucleotides long.

Relative to the mouse sequence, here are the number of differences:

Rat                       8
Squirrel monkey     31
Western tarsier     19
Chimp                  32
Human                 30

Relative to the chimp sequence:

Mouse                  32
Rat                      30
Squirrel monkey     16
Western tarsier     19
Human                  3

What can we learn from this?

(1) That the number of differences is too small to make for very compelling statistics about anything. (What Ayala was getting at when he wrote "the more genes the better. And what I was getting at when I compared the accuracy of a radioisotope "clock" based on 100,000 counts per minute vs. 1 count per minute, average)

(2) There is strong "selective pressure" on cytochrome C. It doesn't tolerate much variation. We're not looking at a "mutation rate",which would presumably be reflected in the accumulation of completely neutral mutations. We're looking at the rate at which viable mutations accumulate, which is why this is not a very good gene to measure relatively small genetic distances.

(3) Accepting those limitations, the mouse and rat sequences show a difference of 8/318 - which, compared with the chimp/human difference of 3/318 -  is in reasonable agreement with the times the two pairs of species are thought to have diverged. But much too small, and therefore error-prone, a sample to say anything about relative rates of divergence.

(4) The tarsier appears to be less divergent from the rodents than the other primates. I would want to accumulate a lot more data, though, before I conclude that this reflects anything more than the statistical "noise" resulting from the small sample size.

(5) If you look at the actual sequences, rather than just the tally of differences, you'll see family patterns: i.e. there are several positions at which all primates have one nucleotide, and both rodents have another. There are also, obviously, more specific differences, such as the three differences between chimp and human (all of which are "synonymous", third-position-in-codon, substitutions).

(6) There's nothing here, so far as I can tell, that seems to be at odds with plain old boring, pre-Shi-ian- revolutionary, evolutionary theory.

Date: 2006/03/21 15:29:44, Link
Author: Russell
Hmmm. I tried to edit that, but the software said I was not allowed. Anyway, that should have read:

"Most of the differences between the rat and the human are the same differences as those between rat and monkey".

Date: 2006/03/22 07:45:33, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Now did I mis-understand you again this time?
Yes, you sure did. In your original scenario, I said that the divergence between yeast and, say, human cytC genes had probably reached "saturation". That is far from the case with human vs. monkey or primate vs. rodent.
Quote
I essentially used all your phrases and words.
... without noticing that key difference.

Quote
But what you stated is false.  Clearly you cannot say that monkey and human have the same mutation rate since their divergence from C.
No, I cannot. Nor did I.
Quote
You also cannot say that B and C have already reached saturation within 40 million years.  The time is simply too short.
Right! Which is why I didn't say that.
Quote
you also cannot say, as you implied, that mutations in monkey and human since their divergence from C do not count.
I'll take responsibility for what I say, not for what you infer. I didn't say they "didn't count": I said that there were so few of them, you're not likely to see much of a pattern through the statistical "noise".
Quote
Since you cannot say any of the above, your explanation fails.  So as far as I can tell, your explanation does not work.
Since I did not say any of the above, your understanding of my explanation fails.
Quote
If I had understood you correctly...
"If I had..." I like that: Subjunctive, contrary to fact. Too few native English speakers are versed in that. Very good.
Quote
I am not surprised at all that no body, not a single evolution biologist or clock specialist, has previously suggested what you have done as a viable explanation of anything.
I'm really not aware of any aspect of this where I differ in any significant way from Ayala.

Date: 2006/03/23 03:05:46, Link
Author: Russell
I offer you the very same Ayala paper you brought up. While I think he slightly exaggerates for rhetorical effect  the uselessness of the clock idea (witness the fact that he published the paper I cited earlier: Origin of the metazoan phyla: molecular clocks confirm paleontological estimates. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Jan 20;95(2):606-11) I challenge you to find me one substantive statement he makes in that paper that contradicts anything I've written.

I note your failure to address any one of the many specifics I've brought to your attention - most particularly your failure to grasp the concepts of saturation and the statistical limitations of small numbers. When someone avoids specifics in favor of  sweeping derogatory generalities, I take that as a sign of capitulation.

Date: 2006/03/23 11:47:16, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Then there is the whole issue of abortion versus conception.   Again, where are the scientists in this debate?
Apparently holed up in our labs. I had no idea there even was a debate on "abortion vs. conception"!

Date: 2006/03/23 12:51:06, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
So I ask, where are the scientists in the IQ debates, eugenics, AIDS and homosexuality or abortion and conception?  Why don't we hear the triumphant findings of the scientists in these areas of scientific exploration as it pertains to public education?  Where is the objectiveness?
Let's bear one thing in mind: biology is a really basic part of high school education. Every high school student I've ever known had to take some biology. Evolution is pretty much the heart and soul of biology, so when the wing-nuts take aim at evolution, they get the attention of a large proportion of scientists.

The "IQ debates"? What are they? How do they relate to high school curricula? What subject area should they be taken up in?

AIDS and homosexuality? What do you want the schools to teach? So far as I can tell, it's the same wing-nuts that want to downplay evolution who don't want the schools talking about sexuality at all. Heck, isn't Phil Johnson - the godfather of ID - one of the most outspoken skeptics of HIV as a cause of AIDS? Is that what we should be teaching?  Yes, homosexual men are at somewhat higher risk for contracting HIV than other groups. Most scientists favor more education on the subject, not less. But it's not scientists who stand in the way; it's the wing-nuts with their abstinence-only nonsense.

Abortion and conception? There's nothing particularly "scientific" about assigning an arbitrary definition to "when life begins". Scientists have been trying to tell you that life began more than 3 billion years ago. But again, the wing-nuts don't want to hear about it.

One could argue that scientists should be more active, and more public, about issues like pollution, global warming, etc. but somehow I don't think that would make Thordaddy very happy.

Date: 2006/03/23 13:02:12, Link
Author: Russell
This just in...
Quote

Tenn. Pastor Found Killed, Family Missing
- - - - - - - - - - - -
March 23,2006 | SELMER, Tenn. -- A church minister was found shot to death in his parsonage, and authorities were searching for his missing wife and three young daughters Thursday.
Can there be any doubt that this is the work of crazed Panda's Thumb readers?

DaveScot - alert the UD Minutemen!

Date: 2006/03/24 03:11:56, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Remember how Homer would talk down to Lisa about some sophisticated topic, because he was so clueless he thought he was brilliant? That's Uncommon Descent.
Exactly! That's the image that's been floating around my subconscious every time I check in on UD. And, being a die-hard Simpsons fan from day one, I begin to understand my otherwise inexplicable compulsion to check in on UD from time to time.

Date: 2006/03/26 09:17:16, Link
Author: Russell
Thordude:
Quote
Russel,
Is it your contention that no debate beyond that involving ID and evolution are to be found between science and the public school system?  And you really wonder why some religious people think science is highly politicized?  Are they not witnessing a group of hypocrites?

Stephen Elliott:
Quote
What does that mean? I have read it several times and cannot make sense of it.
I can't make any sense out of it either. Perhaps, if there is some meaning behind it, Thordude will rephrase it in a non-spluttering way.

Date: 2006/03/26 09:33:13, Link
Author: Russell
Tacitus:
Quote
It took me longer than a year, but eventually I decided I had become an atheist... thank you America.
We've had this discussion before about American religiosity, and the perception of American religiosity by the rest of the western world. I would not have predicted that going from the sort of low-key, pro forma Christianity of Europe to the more intense, urgent version in America (my perception, anyway) would result in atheism. But maybe it does make sense.

In the previous discussion, I think I made the point that as long as religion is quietly simmering along on "the back burner", it's easy to say "It must be true, in some sense", and leave it at that. But if you're aggressively confronted with preposterous claims, and forced to decide, a lot of potential "in-some-sensers" will opt out altogether.

By the way, what's the "word-faith" movement?

Date: 2006/03/27 05:42:21, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
If we find even one system that truly cannot be explained by random mutation, then evolution is in trouble. As for selecting one system, we must start somewhere...
And how do we rigorously prove that system X "cannot be explained by random mutation"?  (And, bear in mind, these days biologists recognize a lot of different DNA modifications where you somewhat misleadingly (or perhaps "misled-ly") write "random mutation": substitutions, duplications, insertions, transpositions, acquisition of plasmids...)  

Here's the thing. If you really could find prove that system X could not possibly have evolved, then yes: then we would be in the market for an alternative explanation. But if your evidence is just your opinion, or Behe's opinion, that it seems improbable, or that there are lots of biological systems whose evolution has not (and  never will be - there being a limit to resources available for research) explained, step by step, back to the origin of life - actual students of the field are not  impressed.

Quote
Well, a lot of people are not satisfied to simply decide to believe in evolution because the evidence that paleontolgoy points to is unacceptable.
Who are those people? Specifically. Are they the ones who have seriously studied the evidence, or are they the usual gang of creationists precommitted to rejecting evolution?

Date: 2006/03/27 13:25:14, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Why do you even bother asking this question Russ?
Actually, I'm looking for specific names and references. It's my observation that when you try to nail down creationist rhetoric to specifics, in fact it never gets more specific than "a lot of people say..." or a   Mike "who the #### is he?" Gene cut'n'paste bombardment. Can't hurt to ask. Who knows? Maybe I'll be surprised.

Date: 2006/03/27 14:28:43, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Actually, the question is why scientists are ONLY vocal on the ID versus evolution debate?  There are many contentious issues that are regularly dismissed in the public school system that are bolstered by strong scientific data.
You seem not to have contemplated the answer I gave to this last week.
Quote
For instance, science has shown IQ difference between races.  Does this not have an important impact in public education?
What is your obsession with this all about???  What about my earlier answer did you find unsatisfactory? I repeat: evolution is central to biology - a core component of every high school education. Psychometrics (or whatever rubric IQ measurement falls under) is not. What do you think schools should be doing on this that they're not? And how in the world can you ascribe so much confidence to the "science" of the completely invented phenomenon of "IQ" when you so airily dismiss the much more solid science behind the facts that evolution deals with?
Quote
Science has also shown AIDS to be a disease primarily contracted by homosexuals and intraveneous drug-users.  Does this not have an educational impact if we are lying to our children and claiming they can get AIDS as easily as others?
What does "primarily" mean? A disproportionate number? More than half? Nearly all? As I pointed out before, the logical place where this will come up in high school education is sex education. Do you think that sex education should give the impression that if you're thoroughly heterosexual, you don't have to worry about AIDS? And if you're really concerned about it, why are you worried about scientists and "liberals"? Why aren't you worried about the much more clear and present danger of right-wing wing-nuts who don't want any information about safer sexual practices discussed?

Date: 2006/03/27 18:11:27, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Why are you guys debating with this guy? It's a total waste of time, he's completely unreachable.
Well, yeah. I'm just doing my usual exercise of asking for specifics, whereupon blowhard arguments like Thordude's reveal themselves devoid of substance. (See the Avo thread, for instance.)

Rarely do I get as gratifying a capitulation as this, though:

Quote
You are necessarily getting bogged down in the details of my examples while leaving the bigger point dangling in cyberspace.

Date: 2006/03/28 01:29:29, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
... by goodness where are the debates between science and its "facts" and the public school system?

That's a direct question that needs an answer?  Would you care to oblige?
That's your idea of a "direct question"? ? ?

How about this one: "what is the connection between ozone depletion and the color red?"

No, a direct question would be something like: "what percentage of HIV infections (in actual numbers) occur in homosexual vs. heterosexual people? Please supply reference." or "what do you think public schools should be doing with IQ data that they're not?"

You know, actual questions about specifics, for which actual, meaningful, specific answers are at least conceivable.

Date: 2006/03/28 13:12:06, Link
Author: Russell
Oh dear. I seem to have accidentally stumbled into the abortion discussion area. Could someone direct me to where they're discussing science education issues?

Date: 2006/03/29 04:44:54, Link
Author: Russell
There's so much hilarity in that DaveScot quote, I don't have time to "critically analyze" all of it. But just focus on this:
Quote
Genomic Luddites. A rotten shame really as many of them are otherwise fairly bright people that might have contributed something useful to the world if they’d just swallowed their pride and admitted their error.
Let's just quickily review which contributions to modern biology, biotechnology, medicine, etc. were made by "Darwinists", and which were made by "Design Theorists"...

It's quotes like that that often make me wonder if "DaveScot" is really just a made-up persona, sort of like the "Stephen Colbert" played by Stephen Colbert - a perfect storm of bigotry, bloated self-esteem and obliviousness that really can be quite entertaining as long as you know it's not real.

Date: 2006/03/29 12:05:21, Link
Author: Russell
Not sure if you need a subscription, or can read this without and be subjected to ads, but you really ought to check this out: "GOP War On Sinners"

Date: 2006/03/29 12:09:44, Link
Author: Russell
Here's a teaser, showing you why you really ought to check it out:

Quote
"I believe the most damaging thing Tom DeLay has done in his life is take his faith seriously in the public office, which made him a target of all those who despise the goals of Christ," said Scarborough, a former college football player and longtime DeLay ally. Taking the stage before the 200 or so adoring activists in the banquet hall, DeLay ran with the end-times theme. "We have been chosen to live as Christians at a time when our culture is being poisoned and our world is being threatened, at a time when sides are being chosen and the future of man hangs in the balance," he said. "The enemies of virtue may be on the march, but they have not won, and if we put our trust in Christ, they never will."

Date: 2006/03/30 04:40:00, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Why are we teaching this statistically dangerous and deadly lifestyle to younger and younger children under the guise of a normal alternative lifestyle?


Now, much as I suspect Thordaddy is an unhinged wing-nut, I can imagine a high-school curriculum that fails to communicate the dangers of unsafe behaviors. Never ran across one myself, but I can imagine such a thing.

So, Thordaddy: can you give us any (and I'm sorry to sound like a broken record here) specific examples of what you're talking about?

Date: 2006/03/30 06:41:20, Link
Author: Russell
Did Thordaddy ever take the test Wesley suggested earlier?

Suppose you're in a fertility clinic when a fire breaks out. You've got seconds to decide: do you rescue the two-month old baby or the petri dish containing 5 blastulas?

I'm not going to allow for the easy out that Wesley suggested, though: the fact that the blastulas are not likely to survive the rescue. I'm going to change the petri dish with 5 blastulas to a thermos containing 100 frozen embryos. All you have to do is get the thermos to a reliable source of liquid nitrogen and you've rescued 100 humans. Or, just the one.  Your choice.

While I'm here, though, Stephen Elliott wrote:
Quote
The whole subject of when a fetus becomes a human is at present unanswerable by science.
This reminds me of one of the reasons Ronald Reagan - the patron saint of American wing-nuts - gave for his opposition to abortion rights. He said something like "science can't yet say for sure, so the moral thing to do is err on the side of caution".

But, of course, science never will answer that question. As has been pointed out here repeatedly, it's not a science question. It's a legal one. Clearly, a civilized society is going to draw some, necessarily arbitrary, lines around what is and is not a person. Nowadays, infanticide is universally beyond the pale. In earlier times, not so much. Is that because we've "learned" so much more about how human an infant is? Guess again.

(By the way, I'm not trying to pick a fight with Stephen Elliott. I assume that was a slip of the keyboard, and not a restatement of the Reagan canard.)

Date: 2006/03/30 10:11:47, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
In the end, I am Damned if I know. Not exactly a black/white decision.
My point, exactly. And no amount of science is going to change that.

Date: 2006/03/30 10:17:28, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
As my brother used to say, "I don't eat anything that casts a shadow."
A very effective weight-loss program, anyway.

Date: 2006/03/31 03:45:31, Link
Author: Russell
Why do you suppose Thordude is avoiding the "fire in the fertility clinic" test? It's obviously not for lack of time.

Date: 2006/03/31 03:55:34, Link
Author: Russell
Talk about angels, it IS scientific, look!:

[long quote from Pastor Billy-Reuben landoverbaptist.net]

Just in case there's any confusion, "Landoverbaptist" is a spoof. I've seen a lot of people - mostly from outside America - that don't realize this. And who can blame them? I was sure Newman's piece was a hoax. At this point, I assign it to the unknowable, like so much of anti-evolution. It's impossible to tell the difference between a hoax and the real thing. Either Newman is nuts, or he's a high-level mole from our side of the Looking Glass.

But Landover is a spoof. I'm sure of that.

Date: 2006/03/31 04:35:33, Link
Author: Russell
I note that the thread devoted to Shi's revolutionary insights scrolled off the bottom of the page. It's been more than a week since I proposed this challenge:

Quote
I challenge you to find me one substantive statement [Ayala] makes ... that contradicts anything I've written.

I note your failure to address any one of the many specifics I've brought to your attention ... When someone avoids specifics in favor of  sweeping derogatory generalities, I take that as a sign of capitulation.

Now, apologies for sending what looks like a "form letter" to all our anti-evo friends, but I contend  that their arguments always founder when you demand specifics: specific quotes, specific numbers, specific data...

If you let them get away with "it's common knowledge that..." or "Darwinists always claim that...",  it never ends.

Works for Shi, works for Avo, even works for Thordaddy. (Oh, sure, Thor keeps coming back for more, but you'll notice he never follows up - he just changes the subject.)

Date: 2006/03/31 06:08:12, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Are you saying I couldn't come up with names and references of people who find problems with paleontology and other aspects of NDE?
That's  exactly what I'm saying. At least not credible (i.e. published in peer-reviewed professional journals) people, with objections that have anything to do with the issues you raise.

Quote
I find this useless. I don't have endless time.
Yeah. Me too.

Date: 2006/03/31 06:53:45, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
So far all you've done is mock his credentials and my cut and paste.
 
Did I mock "Mike Gene's" credentials? Please quote me. For all I know,  s/he's a brilliant something-ologist with three PhD's. What I was trying to point out is that, with no shortage of experts on bacterial flagella to choose from, with research records, and lots of evidence that they have not only thought about what they're writing, but have subjected their ideas to professional scrutiny, it seems unwise to rely on someone who won't even tell you his name, let alone why you should take his word for anything.

Quote
You strongly urged me to get some specific arguments, but you don't really want them. You don't really want to look, do you? It's just all about tossing insults. And who has the right credentials to toss those insults
I am genuinely puzzled by this.

What evidence do you have about what I "really want"?  I could be wrong, but I've always thought of myself as being unusually slow to "toss insults". Again, any specific instances you can cite? Last time, you accused me of calling Spetner (or someone) "malicious", I challenged you to find the quote. You never did. Of course, you never retracted the accusation - you just said you didn't "have time"  to track it down, or some such.

Well, I'm suggesting that it's the same story with your list of Darwin-doubting paleontologists, and much of your other rather tenuous intimations of supporting data. I'm suggesting that, when we do take the trouble to track these things down, it always plays out just like the Spetner thing did: your trusting Some Guy's argument, because he agrees with you, rather than agreeing with Some Guy, because he's actually made a compelling case.

BTW - are we still waiting for Spetner to get back you on why he screwed up, and what steps he's taking to set the record straight?

Date: 2006/03/31 12:21:30, Link
Author: Russell
Thordude, avoiding the "fire in the fertility clinic question":
Quote
I would save whatever human life was feasible.  Again, no innocent person is morally obligated to die for another innocent human being.  But if said person did die in the course of saving innocent life, I would say that person was most noble.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Wouldn't we all. But that doesn't answer the question, does it? Here: let me repeat.

If you have to choose between saving the 1 two-month old baby and the thermos with 100 frozen embryos, what do you do?

Date: 2006/03/31 13:31:38, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I assume you are still sticking to the original question that INCLUDED A FIRE.  Therefore, my CHOICE would be based on that FIRE.  Do you have a location for the fire as it relates to the baby and embryos?

PS Can we assume that the FROZEN embryos aren't too close to the FIRE?
Wow. You're really determined to avoid the question, and yet not admit that you're avoiding the question, aren't you?

You can assume that you've got time to get EITHER the two-month old out, or the thermos out, NOT both, and that whatever is left in the building is toast. Whether it's a fire, flood, or the fact that "pro-life" loonies have planted a bomb in the adjoining clinic DOESN'T MATTER.

Date: 2006/04/01 04:14:44, Link
Author: Russell
I'm sorry, Thor. You dithered too long. They're all dead now.

And what a perfect metaphor for all your posing here. A total waste of time, never getting anywhere.

I'm with Faid - outta here.

Date: 2006/04/01 04:52:33, Link
Author: Russell
Let's recap:
Quote
(Avo: ) Well, a lot of people are not satisfied to simply decide to believe in evolution because the evidence that paleontolgoy points to is unacceptable.
Quote
(me: )Who are those people? Specifically. Are they the ones who have seriously studied the evidence, or are they the usual gang of creationists precommitted to rejecting evolution?
Actually, I'm looking for specific names and references. It's my observation that when you try to nail down creationist rhetoric to specifics, in fact it never gets more specific ...
Quote
(Avo: )Are you saying that I couldn't come up with a list if I were willing to spend the time on your homework assignment? Are you saying I couldn't come up with names and references of people who find problems with paleontology and other aspects of NDE?
Quote
(me: )That's  exactly what I'm saying.
Quote
(Avo: ) Obviously the most famous paleontologist with a problem is Gould. Not that he gave up on evolution, but he definitely saw a problem with the data.

Right. Gould. Just as I expected, someone with issues having nothing to do with yours.

I see a pattern here. You believe what you believe; facts, evidence, the fruits of millions of person-hours of research - they are made to fit your preconceptions. Some are ignored, some are "mis-remembered". Lee Spetner, "Mike Gene", Behe (and I'm guessing Dembski, Wells and the rest of the DI's propagandists?) - their word need not be questioned. And to back up their skepticism, there's this ghost army of Darwin-doubting paleontologists that exist in your mind. When pressed, and pressed, and pressed again for any specific examples, you offer up... Stephen Jay Gould!

And you're not interested in petty bickering, but you accuse me of being only interested in "tossing insults" - without being able to identify one.

'nuff said.

Date: 2006/04/01 05:48:42, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I'm surprised nobody seems interested.
Well, I'm interested (or amazed, or appalled, or something) in the fact that in the 21st century people are still asking this question. But interested in the study itself or its results? Not much more than in the confirmation of the existence of gravity by letting go of this pencil. (Clunk! Sure enough. Still there! )

And, while I suppose it's a good thing to have the carefully documented statistics on record, you know the true believers are not going to be influenced. In terms of knowledge gained per research dollar spent, I think the pencil experiment wins, hands down.

Date: 2006/04/01 05:55:23, Link
Author: Russell
I haven't been following the antics at UD. Could someone just summarize? Is Tiax a sensible person trying to confront the asylum inmates with sense, or is Tiax an IDer still trying to reconcile ID and reality?

Date: 2006/04/02 04:28:15, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You ignored the part where I said I once had a list
Rather than be accused of "tossing insults", I'll just repeat this. I think it speaks for itself.
Quote
But when I said a lot of people, I didn't mean only actual paleontoloists.
That's true. You said:
Quote
Well, a lot of people are not satisfied to simply decide to believe in evolution because the evidence that paleontolgoy points to is unacceptable
So I'm challenging you to name some of them. I want to see whether there's any reason to believe any of them understand the paleontology they question.

Quote
And I don't know why you say Gould's issues have nothing to do with mine. I haven't read his books,
Hmmm. That is  a dilemma. Hey! I've got an idea! Why don't you read one or two of them?  
Quote
but I have read some excerpts.
Yeah. So have I. Excerpted by scrupulous scholars, like our friends at Answers in Genesis, or the Discovery Institute. Are you familiar with the term "quote-mining"?

Let's cut to the chase. Your whole issue is that the evidence - paleontological, molecular, whatever - leads serious students of the field to the conclusion that life on earth requires intelligent input, right?  There's no doubt where Gould stood on that issue, and it wasn't with you. If you want to discuss the timing and dynamics by which "random mutation and natural selection" happened, then Gould's your man.

But that's not the point, is it?

Date: 2006/04/02 06:39:32, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You ask for details on why I doubt evolution, but when I provide them I get little comment.
"Providing details" has to amount to more than "I once had a list of authors I haven't read who have been quote-mined by creationists" or "it seems improbable to me - and to Behe, too!" Was there something more substantive than that that I missed?

Date: 2006/04/03 04:14:38, Link
Author: Russell
RE: good research from bad funding.

A bit off-topic, but my first job after college was working as a technician at what is now the very prestigious Scripps Research Institute. The next-door lab was Richard Lerner's (later president of Scripps and Major Dude of science). Some of their work involved cancer-causing retroviruses, and was funded by tobacco money. Reason being - I guess - the tobacco people wanted to play up non-tobacco causes of cancer. Either that, or they naively imagined that funding cancer research might produce a cure so smokers could stop worrying about that pesky side-effect.

Date: 2006/04/05 07:54:17, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
There is new talk of a "gay gene" being profferred by "scientists."
Is there? Where?

Date: 2006/04/05 08:56:28, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
And all this (pointing out that creationist arguments always founder when you insist on specifics) because I pointed out that a lot of people are disturbed by the problems in paleontolgoy, more perhaps than anything else.
Why, no. You seem to have jumped to that conclusion because that happens to be the most recent request I made for you to substantiate your claims. Seems to me we've gone through a few cycles of your assertions turning out to be baseless when you really get down to the details. Starting with your claims about what Dawkins wrote.
Quote
And you've gone from wanting a list of paleontologists, to just a list of said people.
And here I thought I was doing you a favor; I thought it was you that wanted to expand the scope from Official Paleontologists to scholars of any description who could read the paleontology literature sensibly. Hey, either way is fine with me!
Quote
But I have authors here in my bookcaase that discuss problems with paleontology.
Do you! Who are they?
Quote
What is so special about this "detail"
Nothing at all. That's my point. Every one of your arguments, when you get down to the details, founders.

Quote
...avoiding the details that I have brought up to discuss - such as why do you and others here think that Miller ever really refuted anything that Behe said about the flagellum in his paper the Flagellum Unspun
What details? I believe I pointed out that Behe never made any claims beyond "seems improbable to me" that even could be refuted.
Quote
and what is your reaction to the very specific details that Mike Gene brings out in the assembly and function of the flagellum?
I believe you will find the answer to that if you go back over this thread. But just to summarize: my reaction is "Biological systems are, indeed, complex. Really complex. Really, really complex. But no amount of documenting how really, really, really complex they are gets us any closer to 'couldn't have evolved'". Now, if there's anything that you feel "Mike Gene" wrote that actually argues "couldn't have evolved" - as opposed to "is really complex" - that I failed to address, please: point it out. I certainly don't want to pass up any opportunity to pursue these things right down to the specifics.
Quote
But no, you think you've got brownie points for asking me to come up with names of people who have a problem with paleontology.
Hey, I can take or leave  "brownie points". But it is passing strange how much effort you've expended on explaining your not providing these references, because providing them would just be too much effort.

Here's the thing. And correct me if I'm wrong about any assumptions. When you said:
Quote
Well, a lot of people are not satisfied to simply decide to believe in evolution because the evidence that paleontolgoy points to is unacceptable.
I assumed that you meant that "a lot of people" had concluded from an informed analysis of paleontological data that the basic idea of "evolution" was fundamentally inadequate - that the idea that species evolved from pre-existing species as a result of random genetic change and selection was incompatible with the bones and fossils.

Well, "a lot of people" turns out to be five. On a list you lost. And the only one of them you've supplied a name for is Stephen Jay Gould, whom you have only read as quote(mine)d by creationists. And his issues have nothing to do with those I assumed you were suggesting.

Date: 2006/04/05 10:36:31, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
just curious; when were you there, Russel?
Oh, geez. Here's where I have to admit how old I am. It was 1973/4

Date: 2006/04/06 04:28:17, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
There is new talk of a "gay gene" being profferred by "scientists."

I repeat: Is there? Where?

I suggest this whole thread is just Thorthingy making stuff up again and chortling while a bunch of potentially productive people waste time on it.

Date: 2006/04/06 07:54:04, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
When certain evolution detractors have put forth what would appear to be the search space, the possibility of a solution to this or that problem is often quite out of reach, no matter how many e coli you have working for you
Citation, please.

Quote
It may be that the organism turns on a mutation feature, and in a specific area of the genome, and then suddenly gets the mutation for digesting nylon. For me, that's just too good to be true but we must also account for the organism's ability to direct itself like that in the first place.
I can't make much sense out of this. Can you state it more clearly? I do get the sense, though, that you're rejecting the simplest explanation - random mutation and selection. Why? What evidence is there for a "mutation feature" in this bug? And what "ability to direct itself like that in the first place" are you talking about?

Quote
Behe complains that there are none in the literature that are really any good. If we had a couple of quite good and plausible routes for some very complex systems to evolve, then the pressure would be off. It wouldn't matter that we couldn't explain each one.
Seems like circular reasoning to me. The "very complex systems" are, by definition, the ones that are very difficult to figure out a likely route. Any system for which a plausible route is offered is defined as not one of the "very complex" ones. And any route that is offered for one of Behe's "very complex" paradigms is dismissed as Behe confuses "plausible" with "likely" with "actual".
Quote
I'm referring to the problem that homologous organs often do not arise from the same genes, and that during development, they are often grown from different body segments or in a different order or from a different group of cells. Animal forelimbs develop from different body segments. Homology is difficult because many or most genes control widely divergent body parts. The eye color of drosphila is controlled by a gene th also controls female sex organs. Mouse coat color and mouse size are on the same gene. Chickens are subject to a detrimental mutation in a single gene that causes a wide array of malformations, some of which are unique to birds and others which are shared by other vertebrates.
Here's a passage that could really benefit from a few specifics to anchor it to reality.

"Homologous organs do not arise from the same genes". Do you envision a "one gene - one organ" hypothesis? What does this refer to?

"Animal forelimbs develop from different body segments." I suppose. What systems are you talking about, and how does that bear on evolution vs. ID?

"Homology is difficult because many or most genes control widely divergent body parts". In what way does that make homology difficult?

"The eye color of drosphila is controlled by a gene th also controls female sex organs." Again, what gene, and what bearing does that have on evolution vs. ID?

"Mouse coat color and mouse size are on the same gene." Well, that's just wrong. Color is controlled by multiple genes, and size is controlled by multiple genes. Maybe one of those genes is in both sets. Which one are you referring to? And, so what?

"Chickens are subject to a detrimental mutation in a single gene that causes a wide array of malformations, some of which are unique to birds and others which are shared by other vertebrates."
Again, what gene, and what bearing does that have on evolution vs. ID?

Date: 2006/04/06 08:06:51, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
(Stephen Elliott: ) I think that there has been (new talk of a "gay gene" being proffered by "scientists".

You provided a bunch of google hits, but what's the "new" talk? Anything from this millennium?

I understand, of course, that there are and have been ongoing discussions about "nature vs. nurture" on this, as on so many issues of human behavior. But my question, specifically, is what is the "new talk"? Have any new data been found? Any new research reported?

Or is it just Thorthingy perseverating on one of his compulsions?

Date: 2006/04/06 10:01:18, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I am not claiming there is scientific evidence that there is a gay gene. I am not claiming there isn't either.
Yes, I understand what you're saying, and I'm pretty much of the same opinion.

What I don't understand is: what's new? When ThorGuy says
Quote
There is new talk of a "gay gene" being profferred by "scientists."
is he referring to the stuff you found from several years ago, or is there really anything "new" to bring to the discussion? And I want to know why the ThorGuy puts quotes around "scientists".

I suspect that trying to engage in this discussion without being clear on that is bound to be a waste of time.

Date: 2006/04/06 11:19:11, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Uncommonly Dense is doing is a technique familiar to anyone who's seen fox news and rush limbaugh &c. Find someone who's certifiably insane, and portray him as a representative of your opposition
As Faid pointed out, there's nothing particularly insane about what Pianka had to say. So far as I can tell, he gave a lecture very much like one I gave two days ago.

I showed a graph of human population over the past 2000 years. I showed that within a couple/few generations, it's going to reach a maximum. That much is certain. Almost as certain: there will be a number of factors contributing to the leveling or decline in population; it won't just be one factor, like suddenly everyone getting with the birth control program. Limitation of resources (famine and drought), ecological despoliation, wars over limited resources... I suspect all of these will play a role. But I'd be particularly surprised if infectious disease isn't right up there at the top of the list.

Now, will it be Ebola? Personally, I doubt it. But one of these years, something like the 1918 flu virus is going to reappear. I'm not advocating it. I just think it's likely.

Can anyone point me to any statement that Pianka made that comes any closer to advocating killer pandemics than what I just said? If not, either Dembski has hit a new low, or I should be reported  to the DHS as well.

Date: 2006/04/06 13:04:37, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
nothing new, nothing novel, nothing even too controversial. ... again, nothing new, nothing novel.
No, not in the warped thinking of IDists, but if Dembski literally picked up the phone, and literally reported this to the DHS, then that moves his mental issues out of the area of just blather and into the world of actions for which one has to take responsibility. It seems to me at least as reprehensible as what DeLay did in trying to use the DHS against Democratic Texas legislators.

But maybe Dembski isn't really that insane; maybe this is just another episode of "street theater".

Date: 2006/04/06 13:48:24, Link
Author: Russell
I don't suppose I'll have any more luck here than on the other "gay gene" thread. But, just for the record...

What "new talk" is there about a "gay gene"? Who said what?

And what, specifically, are what "scientists"  putting into what public school curricula that you so object to, Thordude?

You know: quotes, references, links... that sort of thing.

Date: 2006/04/06 14:53:36, Link
Author: Russell
re: the Brain Research institute study.

That's it???

No new mention of a "gay gene".

No half-educated person is suggesting that sexuality isn't largely - though not exclusively - determined biologically.

No "scientists" - or scientists - telling anyone what public schools to teach...

In other words, TD is full of ####.

Wow. What a surprise. Next thing you know, the sun will rise in the east.

Date: 2006/04/06 19:26:56, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You are essentially claiming a "self-destruct gene."  Are you proposing this Russell?
You're spluttering again, Thordude. Take a deep breath. Now, let it out slowly. Good! Now another...There now. Feeling better?

I asked you to point out specifically what was said, and by whom, that has you in such a lather. You never answered. Someone less hysterical was kind enough to point me to the website, where I found a not very surprising article providing more evidence that people don't simply decide whether they're going to be homo- or heterosexual.  You disagree?  Great! I guess the only difference between you and the Brain Research Institute is they have data.

But let's get to the real heart of the matter, shall we? I mean, who cares whether it's the direct action of a gene, or the indirect result of dozens genes interacting with who knows what in the environment? Anyone with half a brain will surely agree that (1) sexual orientation is largely a product of biology (2) that a small, but significant, fraction of kids will turn out to be homosexual. So, given that, what do you, Thorguy, propose should be taught in school about it?

Date: 2006/04/07 13:00:18, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Oh yes, uncommon descent.  Maybe they have a new policy for avoiding us commenting on anything there.  IT involves not saying anything.
You wish! Actually, they've taken note of your talk of explosives and nerve gas, and have been too busy alerting the CIA to tend to the blog. Within hours you'll find yourself in a dark cell in Guantanamo.

Date: 2006/04/07 14:15:07, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
(Arden Chatfield: ) Again (third time! ), got any EVIDENCE for the assertion ...
Also, 3rd time again,...Shouldn't we be teaching women to emulate [lesbians]? If not, why not?

I don't suppose I'm going to have any more luck with my question:
Quote
Anyone with half a brain will surely agree that (1) sexual orientation is largely a product of biology (2) that a small, but significant, fraction of kids will turn out to be homosexual. So, given that, what do you, Thorguy, propose should be taught in school about it?

Because apparently Thordude has the "most enjoyable time on this website" by avoiding ever answering questions.

Date: 2006/04/08 12:38:02, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
If you are going to deny that this "education" is taking place then maybe you need to do a little more research like I have.
See, that's why I keep asking for references, citations, links... specific examples of what you think is being done wrong.

All to no avail.

Date: 2006/04/08 13:46:55, Link
Author: Russell
Now, that's just really dumb. Even by your standards. You want me to provide references to education that doesn't have you all in a lather, to refute your claims that some programs are inappropriate? Geez. Do you think before you type?

Date: 2006/04/08 17:34:22, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
...who has surely read the student review saying Pianka PREACHES that 90% of the population SHOULD be wiped out by airborne ebola
Not to MENTION the roommate of the brother of the student whose friend took the class, who SWEARS that Pianka ate three babies right in front of the class!

Date: 2006/04/09 08:12:02, Link
Author: Russell
"stuff" indeed.

I see a whole lot of stuff there from a source that doesn't inspire much confidence in its objectivity. And - while there may be something linked to something linked to something there having to do with the issues we're talking about (morbidity and mortality) I haven't found anything except "morality" issues, a persecution complex that their position is given short shrift due to viewpoint bias, and a central notion that I find very much at odds with my perception of the data and the world around me - that a significant fraction of homosexuals can be "converted" into heterosexuals.

If there's something more specifically germane to this discussion, please point it out more specifically.

Date: 2006/04/09 08:26:58, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
we can’t in good conscience assume that the rest of Mims’ interpretation was correct. This doesn’t mean that he’s a liar, and I don’t think he is.
See, that's the important lesson to learn here. Whether "liar" means "someone we don't like who knowingly and malevolently says untrue things" or "someone who's grip on reality is dubious and doesn't reliably distinguish between true and untrue things" - in the end, matters not one whit. You pass on and endorse false, stupid, injurious rumors as true - without checking - and you become the problem. And in doing so, whether you are evil, stupid or crazy* doesn't really matter.

*(or, obviously in this case, all three)

Date: 2006/04/09 11:11:50, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
What in those many examples of educating about homosexuality (gay lifestyle) did you disagree with?
First of all, your "stuff" link consists of sixty-some-odd articles, among which it's hard to find any that actually deal directly with the content of school curricula. Which is what we need to see here.

Second, the general message that seems to be the theme of that website and the organization that sponsors it is that homosexuality can be "cured" - a notion for which, as I've said repeatedly, I find very little support.

Finally, to pull one specific quote out of the hundreds of pages of articles there that I find emblematic of everything I disagree with, I strongly disagree with the implicit approval accorded this guy:
Quote
Teacher Richard Thompson at West High School in Tracy, California, reportedly told students in his class that homosexuality is unnatural and allegedly told a student during a private conversation that associating with homosexuals is as sinful as being gay.

Date: 2006/04/09 12:38:10, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Teaching 6 year olds about two daddies.  This is what our kids go to school for?
I guess at age six, the nature of families probably is a reasonable school subject. As I recall, my kid was learning the concept of "communities" at about that point, and the concept was extended from family to town to nation, etc. I see no particular problem with that. Do some kids have two mommies or two daddies? My understanding is that, yes, they do. Should that fact be part of the "curriculum" on family? Or should it be censored? I guess I lean toward not censoring it. Is that an "ideological" position? Could be. Maybe you're right.
Quote
What is "natural" about homosexuality, I ask?  What is "normal" about homosexuality?
That reminds me of an amusing interview on the Daily Show a little over a year ago. A penguinologist explains to fake news reporter Samantha Bee about the gay penguin phenomenon. Bee responds "Just because it happens in nature doesn't make it natural".  

But seriously...  It's true that sometimes a penguin, or a bonobo, or a human experiences sexual attraction toward a fellow penguin, bonobo, or human of its own sex. It happens more than rarely, and, once again, I guess I lean toward not censoring that fact. I don't think loading it up with a lot of guilt is particularly "scientific" or otherwise helpful.

Now, if schools are teaching that it's perfectly normal and natural to experience strong sexual attraction to a penguin, or a bonobo - of either sex - then I'm right there with you with my picket sign!

Quote
Are these descriptions scientifically-based positions or simply ideological positions?
That seems to me like something of a false choice. It's not "normal" to have a AB/Rh-negative blood type. But some people do. It's not "natural" to vaccinate your kids, but I highly recommend it. Are these "scientific" opinions or ideological?

Quote
I see no science in your position, but mere ideology.
What position is that? That I don't think it's appropriate for public school teachers  to be telling kids it's sinful to associate with certain other kids?

There's another thing about your NARTH website. They seem to be really down on female homosexuality, as well as male homosexuality. And, as we've discussed here, that's probably the least risky of "lifestyles". So, if your issue is about science and health and not just ideological, you'll disapprove of that at least as much as I do.

Date: 2006/04/09 13:50:23, Link
Author: Russell
There's an issue here that is less pressing but more general than the ethical one: the role of judgment in science.

In some sense, the creationists have a point when they say that you don't know that the earth is billions of years old, or that DNA homology reflects common descent rather than common design. These conclusions are tentative, but in view of their consilience with the fabric of everything else we "know" (in the same sense), in my judgment, it makes sense to accept them and move on, rather than devising new tests for these conclusions. It comes down to a matter of judgment, what you're going to commit your time, effort, or reputation to.

Likewise with people. Do I know that Pianka isn't the homicidal maniac that Mims describes? How could I? It just seems highly improbable in light of any of the quotes I've seen reliably attributed to Pianka - even via Nancy Pearcey. And the fact that he got an at least nearly unanimous standing ovation from the TAS - even according to Mims. Would a speech "advocating" killing 90% of the planet's human population get that kind of response? That just does not mesh with the fabric of everything else I "know" about humans, scientists, and Texas.

In exactly the same way, you have to use your judgment about which community of opinion you're going to credit. You could go with the  "consilient" world of boring old mainstream academic science, with its peer-reviewed journals and its innumerable connections between disciplines (math, physics, chemistry, biology...). Or you could go with ID-world, which appears to its inhabitants just as self-consistent  as ours does to us, but you have to accept that all those professors, Nobel prize awardees and awarders, all those entire disciplines, etc. have missed something that Dembski, Mims, and DaveScot have figured out.

Is that the argumentum ad populum or argumentum ad auctoritatem fallacy, or sensible judgment? I guess it depends on which world you live in.

I write this, not so much in the spirit of preaching to the choir, but in the knowledge - or hope - that some UDers, alerted  by the Mims/Pianka debacle to the wackiness of their gruppenfuhrer, will poke their heads out of ID-world and read this thread dedicated especially to them.

Date: 2006/04/09 13:58:30, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I don't know what they teach in the US but I was certainly taught that gays get more STDs), then a large number of men will decide not to become gay after all?
Thordiddy might be interested to know, by the way, that I have personally taught these very statistics. (Not to high school students, but to medical students learning about infectious disease.)

Date: 2006/04/09 14:21:12, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I really hope that doesn't make surgeons "abnormal" in his eyes.
Well, surgeons actually are abnormal, but that's a whole 'nother story.

Date: 2006/04/09 15:43:27, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Davetard doesn't think the life we see here on earth began here?
He's neither the smartest guy nor the dumbest guy to entertain that notion. Read Francis Crick's "Life Itself".  Conceivably, the planet was seeded - either intentionally (yes, space aliens) or accidentally - by hardy spores that arose from a start somewhere else. Unfortunately for Dave, moving the origin to a different place and time doesn't make Intelligent Design any more sensible.

But the fact that life got all the way to cells with DNA, ribosomes, genetic code, hundreds of coordinated metabolic pathways presumably associated with the bacteria-like creatures dated to within a 1B years from the planet's origin - including a lot of what must have been pretty inhospitable years - has caused some sane people to speculate on the possibility it got a jump-start from a lineage that had more time at its disposal.

If I had to bet, I would put my money on terrestrial origins. But I'll sooner bet that, in my lifetime, we won't get a whole lot closer to even a vague idea how it actually happened.

Date: 2006/04/10 03:13:21, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You don't believe that because something exists it is "normal" and "natural?" Wouldn't such a stance normalize and naturalize murder, rape, pedophile, necrophilia, AIDS, leprosy, etc.?
What I think you're saying in your inscrutable, never-answer-a-question-when-you-can-dodge-it-by-asking-another style, is that you agree with me that "natural" and "normal" are not very useful concepts in the context of sexuality and sex education.

Date: 2006/04/10 04:25:47, Link
Author: Russell
Over at PT, Inoculated Mind wrote:
Quote
There are some folks running around claiming that genetics support the ark myth, notably Reasons to Believe, but they never pony up the data, while there’s tons of stuff that gives evidence to the contrary.
It never occurred to me that the Heddles and Clousers of the world might actually think the entire human gene pool is derived from the 10 haploid human genomes supposed to have been aboard that boat. I don't want to derail another thread over there, so I thought I'd revive this one. I know Heddle is a  Reasons to Believe believer. If you're reading this, David or Carol, I'm curious. Is this one of those situations where the bible is "inerrant" but but not "literal"?

Date: 2006/04/10 10:06:18, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I'm disappointed to see that Crick's big numbers tend to look like Dembski's maths.
I've forgotten. Did Crick present "calculations" in "Life Itself"? Or somewhere else?

I agree with you, though. There are so many assumptions involved that it's hard to take seriously any calculations about rates and probabilities involved in origin-of-life chemistry.

Date: 2006/04/10 11:12:13, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Look at the abuse hurled Thordaddy's way for daring to suggest that a disproportionate number of homosexuals engage in destructive behavior... If he's wrong, better to show him why, even if you don't think he's met your burden of proof. I'm interested in the evidence.
I'm not sure what conversation you're having. He claims that AIDS, for instance, is overwhelmingly a disease of homosexuals. While I think that's overstating it, I agree that (male) homosexuals are at greater risk than some other groups. That's not my question. My question is: what should the role of public education be in this? Specifically:

What is being taught in school that he thinks should not be?
What is not being taught that he thinks should be?
What should science and scientists say about it that they don't?
What should science and scientists not say about it that they do?

I'm not getting very far.

Sometimes I get the sense he's complaining that science is being inappropriately ideological rather than scientific. Sometimes I get the sense that he's saying it's impossible for science not to be ideological. Sometimes I get the sense he's saying it has nothing to do with science. Sometimes I get the sense that he doesn't know what he's saying, but somehow the country's going to h#ll in a handbasket, and it's all the fault of leftists and homosexuals.

Quote
I'm interested in the evidence.
So, what conversation are you having? You're interested in the evidence for what?

Date: 2006/04/10 11:55:10, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I believe Russell claimed "sexual orientations" as a result of evolution.
I don't even know what that means. It doesn't sound remotely like a claim I would make.
Quote
Secondly, given the statistics above, in what manner is "homosexuality" normal and natural?
I thought we concluded that "normal" and "natural" are not particularly useful terms in this discussion.
Quote
Lastly, given both the inherent danger involved in practicing homosexuality and the ambivalent nature of the "behavior," why is such a topic of early child education?
You have yet to show us anywhere that it is a topic of early child education. Unless you're counting "Johnny has Two Daddies" as a how-to manual on sodomy techniques. In which case, you need to get a grip.

And I'm still puzzled. Are your concerns just about health risks? Are you, in fact, OK with "Johnny has Two Mommies"? If not, why not?

Date: 2006/04/10 12:11:08, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Secondly, given the statistics above, in what manner is "homosexuality" normal and natural?
How would these stats help us answer that question? Are you saying the fact that 60% of AIDS cases among men in the US  are ascribed to homosexual activity means that that activity is not normal or natural? What are we to make of the fact that 75% of AIDS cases in women are ascribed to heterosexual activity? Does that mean heterosexual activity is abnormal and unnatural - but only for women?

Date: 2006/04/10 13:55:27, Link
Author: Russell
Steve, I don't think I am arguing with him. I'm just trying to figure out what the heck he's trying to say. But you're right; that doesn't seem to be getting anywhere either. Call it a useless hobby. Like solving crossword puzzles.

Now, if you'll excuse me, back to T-diddy:
Quote
Your attempt is to muddy the waters and keep the issues in a state of ambiguity.
Quite the contrary, I assure you. I'm trying to get you to tell us what the heck you're on about. Honestly, I can't make any sense of it.
Quote
Read those stats for the US again.
Pay particular notice to the percentage of AIDS cases between men and women.
Look. Here are the stats in question (as of the end of 2002):
Quote
Approximately 40,000 new HIV infections occur each year in the United States, about 70 percent among men and 30 percent among women. Of these newly infected people, half are younger than 25 years of age.(3,4)

Of new infections among men in the United States, CDC estimates that approximately 60 percent of men were infected through homosexual sex, 25 percent through injection drug use, and 15 percent through heterosexual sex. Of newly infected men, approximately 50 percent are black, 30 percent are white, 20 percent are Hispanic, and a small percentage are members of other racial/ethnic groups.(4)

Of new infections among women in the United States, CDC estimates that approximately 75 percent of women were infected through heterosexual sex and 25 percent through injection drug use. Of newly infected women, approximately 64 percent are black, 18 percent are white, 18 percent are Hispanic, and a small percentage are members of other racial/ethnic groups.(4)


Now, what's your point? US Men get AIDS more than US women. Right. We knew that. Homosexual behavior is the largest risk factor for men, apparently being about 4 times as risky as heterosexual behavior. Right. Sounds about right. Heterosexual sex is the biggest risk factor for women: apparently being about infinitely more risky than homosexual behavior. I pointed that out to you. What is your point?

Quote
Secondly, the prevalence of AIDS amongst homosexuals isn't what defines homosexuality as "unnatural" or "abnormal."  Science at one time defined homosexuality as a pathology.
Then why did you say:
Quote
Secondly, given the statistics above, in what manner is "homosexuality" normal and natural?
Does that make any sense?

I ask you to focus your attention on the four questions I put to you earlier:
Quote
What is being taught in school that you think should  be?
What is  being taught that you think should be?
What should science and scientists say about it that they don't?
What should science and scientists not say about it that they do?


Once you've addressed those questions, I'm also curious to know:
what makes you "...believe Russell claimed 'sexual orientations' as a result of evolution" (whatever that means),  And  are you, in fact, OK with "Johnny has Two Mommies"? If not, why not?

There you go. A list of discrete, specific, concrete questions. No rhetorical flourishes, no digressions, no "attempts to muddy waters". Can you deal with that?

Paley: you come late to the conversation. It's not about the
Quote
... relevant hypotheses for the origin of homo/heterosexuality
(which I don't really see in a high school curriculum anyway), but what should or should not be taught in public school in the area of AIDS and other STDs. (At least that's what I thought we were discussing. It seems to be something of a moving target with T-diddy.)

Date: 2006/04/10 14:24:29, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
The truth is, the social conservatives make a lot of sense, and you ignore their warnings at society's peril.
Yeah, like teaching evolution leads to school shootings, there's no such thing as global warming, homosexuality is just a matter of sin, rape and incest victims should be required to carry the baby to term...

Those social conservatives are just a fountain of wisdom!

Date: 2006/04/10 15:30:45, Link
Author: Russell
Rats. I just realized there was a typo in my last attempt to get T-diddy to focus. That should have read:

Quote
What is being taught in school that you think should not be?
What is not being taught that you think should be?
What should science and scientists say about it that they don't?
What should science and scientists not say about it that they do?

Date: 2006/04/10 17:42:47, Link
Author: Russell
Geez, Avo. You're like a cartoon of quote-miner. Check out all your favorite quotes, in context, here.

As for this motley crew:
W. R. Bird, Jonathan Wells,  Richard Milton, ... Lee Spetner, Philip Johnson.

They have about as much credibility with people who actually know what they're talking about as do Ken Ham and Pat Robertson. Personally, I have zero respect for any of them. I can only guess that they've earned yours by the usual route: supporting a conclusion that you're already committed to, even if the arguments they use to support it are illogical and mutually contradictory. I know. You say potayto, I say potahto. But there's a reason these guys are not part of the ongoing dialog known as science. Can you guess what that might be?

As for Behe and Denton, I thought we decided that they were OK with the standard evolutionists' interpretation of the paleontological record. Have we changed our minds again?

Now, let's get one thing out of the way, once and for all. Your issue is the inadequacy of "random mutation/natural selection" to account for the unity and diversity of life, right? Not the kinetics by which those things occur in biological populations. Right? Go through those mined quotes - in context - and tell me how many of them have anything do do with your issues.

If your problem is "gradualism" vs. "punctuated equilibrium" that's a whole different thing. Darwin's rough approximation to the history of life was a lot closer than his creationist predecessors'. But we've learned quite a bit since then, haven't we? And we've refined our understanding. In light of what we know now about DNA, population genetics, environmental metastability, etc. etc. why would you think that a punctuated equilibrium pattern is at all inconsistent with good ol' RM/NS? Gould certainly didn't.

As for "sudden appearance" of species - remember, we're talking "sudden" on a geological time scale. Read Gould on this. (Not just the mined quotes.)

So at this point, I regard your "list" as the null set - until such time as you show your skeptics have anything to say about the inadequacy of RM/NS or the need to invoke intelligent design.

As for Behe's Irreducible Complexity scam, read the current post on Panda's Thumb about evolution of hormone-receptor complexity. If that doesn't explain what I mean by the difference between "really really complex" and "irreducibly complex", I can't help you.

Date: 2006/04/11 05:07:11, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I am consistantly surprised by the ages of people met sight unseen.


I don't know if it surprises anybody, but despite the immaturity I repeatedly display in not just letting T-diddy et al. stew in their ignorance, I recall seeing "Easy Rider" during my freshman year in college.

Date: 2006/04/11 11:49:52, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
homosexuals are gay males and lesbians are gay females
Perhaps T-diddy thinks that the "homo" in "homosexual" is from the Latin homo  ("man", like in Homo sapiens) and doesn't realize it's from the Greek 'oµo ("same").

I suspect he's phallocephalic.

Date: 2006/04/11 11:58:03, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
[avo:] Darwin's argument for natural selection was an argument from ignorance, because he was so utterly ignorant of what he was dealing with.
Quote
[a dumbfounded Jeannot:] WHAT? Have you read his book?
Probably not. But she's read all the important parts, as quote-mined by creationists!

Date: 2006/04/11 12:09:11, Link
Author: Russell
Oh my goodness... Shi is back!

Perhaps we can return to the challenge he left unanswered a couple of weeks ago:
Quote
I challenge you to find me one substantive statement [Ayala] makes in that paper that contradicts anything I've written.
Though that laundry list of nebulous mysticisms makes me think we're not headed in the direction of anything concrete or specific.

Date: 2006/04/11 12:29:52, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Maybe neither of you are American?  Homosexual is commonly used to mean gay MALES while lesbian refers to gay FEMALES
First I've heard that, and I've lived in America my whole life.
But hey! Don't take my word for it (or Merriam-Webster's). Why don't you poll all your gay friends?  :D :D :D
Consider the possibility that you're just as wrong in your other perceptions as you so obviously are on this.

Date: 2006/04/11 14:42:52, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Scientists are looking for a "gay gene."
I'm pretty sure they're not. But maybe that's just T-diddy's sloppy shorthand for "scientists are looking for genetic components of a predisposition towards homosexuality".

Date: 2006/04/11 16:32:27, Link
Author: Russell
OK. Here you go, T-diddy. Here is a handful of articles in what I deem respectable journals. I've excerpted some of the more relevant bits of the abstracts, just to give you an idea what each is about. But, by all means, look up the abstracts (given as links), or - if you have library access - the full articles.

This reflects the pretty much unanimous - so far as I can tell - sense of science that sexual orientation is largely biologically determined before birth, including a significant genetic component.

Do you disagree?
Do you think these studies reflect ideology rather than science?
Can you cite reputable scientific studies that reach a different conclusion?

[Please note: those are three (3) specific questions - not an invitation to go off on a  nonresponsive diversionary rant]

Arch Sex Behav. 1995 Apr;24(2):109-34.
Quote

a thesis is presented that a major type of Kinsey grades 5 and 6 male homosexuality is determined by a gene in the Xq28 region
Am J Psychiatry. 2000 Nov;157(11):1843-6.
Quote
RESULTS: All analyses demonstrated familial resemblance for sexual orientation. Resemblance was greater in the monozygotic twins than in the dizygotic twins or in the dizygotic twins plus nontwin siblings. Biometrical twin modeling suggested that sexual orientation was substantially influenced by genetic factors, but family environment may also play a role.
Hum Genet. 2005 Mar;116(4):272-8. Epub 2005 Jan 12.
Quote
Given that previously reported evidence of maternal loading of transmission of sexual orientation could indicate epigenetic factors acting on autosomal genes, maximum likelihood estimations (mlod) scores were calculated separated for maternal, paternal, and combined transmission. The highest mlod score was 3.45 at a position near D7S798 in 7q36 with approximately equivalent maternal and paternal contributions. The second highest mlod score of 1.96 was located near D8S505 in 8p12, again with equal maternal and paternal contributions. A maternal origin effect was found near marker D10S217 in 10q26, with a mlod score of 1.81 for maternal meioses and no paternal contribution.

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 Jun;989:105-17; discussion 144-53.
Quote
People discover rather than choose their sexual interests. The process of discovery typically begins before the onset of puberty and is associated with an increase in the secretion of sex hormones from the adrenal glands. However, the determinants of the direction of sexual interest, in the sense of preferences for the same or opposite sex, are earlier. These preferences, although not manifest until much later in development, appear to be caused by the neural organizational effects of intrauterine hormonal events. Variations in these hormonal events likely have several causes and two of these appear to have been identified for males. One cause is genetic and the other involves the sensitization of the maternal immune system to some aspect of the male fetus. It is presently unclear how these two causes relate to each other...

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2005;29(7):1057-66. Epub 2005 Apr 25.
Quote
Here, evidence is reviewed which supports the proposal that sexual orientation in humans may be laid down in neural circuitry during early foetal development. Behaviour genetic investigations provide strong evidence for a heritable component to male and female sexual orientation… [C]urrent theories have left little room for learning models of sexual orientation.

Date: 2006/04/11 16:51:35, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
talk about pearls before swine...
blood from a stone, man.
You're right, of course. But - aside from the fun of watching T-diddy try to justify his
Quote
Homosexuality, given all the current evidence, is a product of free-will and a lifestyle choice
in light of, well, current evidence - I thought other, more sentient, folks might appreciate those references, too.

Date: 2006/04/12 02:16:19, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Do you disagree?
Do you think these studies reflect ideology rather than science?
Can you cite reputable scientific studies that reach a different conclusion?

[Please note: those are three (3) specific questions - not an invitation to go off on a  nonresponsive diversionary rant]
Quote
Again, all these articles start with the assumption that evolution provides for a "sexual orientation"
After you deal with my three specific questions, I'll be curious to know:
(1) what, if anything, does "evolution provides for sexual orientation" even mean?
(2) what evidence can you muster to support the notion that these articles do start with that assumption?

...but only after you address my three specific questions. Focus, T-diddy, focus!

Date: 2006/04/12 05:52:52, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Thordaddy, do you think I'll get any rational responses to this? Eric and Flint, maybe. The rest, I'm not so sure.
So, T-diddy is your arbiter of "rational"?  Wow.

I wonder what a rational response would look like?

(A). Irresponsible homosexual behavior is a big problem: therefore we should impress high-school kids who might be homosexually-oriented that they should just be heterosexual instead.

(B). Irresponsible sexual behavior is a big problem: therefore we should teach kids to not even think about sex until they marry (and then make sure they only marry other virgins!;) otherwise they're just asking for trouble.

©. Kids should learn about all the behaviors associated with AIDS and STDs, and steps that can be taken to avoid them.

Date: 2006/04/12 06:23:26, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Well, wasn't too long ago that somebody claimed that water had to have evolved - that comes kind of close.
That's just ridiculous.

Water couldn't have evolved; it's irreducibly complex! Two protons need to come together with an oxygen nucleus, and 10 electrons. What are the odds all those things are going to come together at the same time and the same place, in just the right configuration? Take away any one of them, and it doesn't function as water.

Let alone the fact that 8 protons have to come together with 8 neutrons to make the oxygen nucleus in the first place - a process that has never been observed, in nature or the laboratory!

Date: 2006/04/12 11:49:20, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
All the evidence I've read so far only goes as far as saying that there MAY BE a genetic component to a homosexual predisposition with the environment being that which manifests this predisposition.
You could have said there “MAY BE” a genetic component even before you collected any evidence! In light of the evidence, you’d have to say “there most probably is”.  What evidence (data, studies, publications) are you referring to when you talk about “the environment being that which manifests this predisposition”? I get the impression that’s your way of rephrasing “personal choice”  which – it’s my impression – has very little to do with it.

Quote
So, if we are teaching young American school children that homosexuality is a normal "sexual orientation" while study after study shows incredible risk in engaging in homosexual acts, what exactly is the public school system trying to accomplish given what we know about the science?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record: What is being taught that shouldn’t be? Should kids be taught that homosexuality is “abnormal”? Would that solve your problem? If you just report to them the percentage of homosexuals and heterosexuals in the population, would that get your point across? Or is it really important to you that the word “abnormal” be used?  As for “incredible risk” – it’s elevated relative to other groups. But “incredible”? Would it not be wise to talk about all risky behaviors – about which you can do something, rather than sexual orientation, about which you can’t (except in NARTH fantasyland, of course).

Quote
If one's environment is critical in manifesting a homosexual predisposition…
a huge and highly dubious “if”…
Quote
then it should be clear that we are teaching young children to engage in dangerous and deadly behaviors.
See, here’s where some specifics would really come in handy. What young children? Are you talking about 6-year olds learning that “Johnny has two daddies” again? Are you talking about not trying to warn high-school kids against being homosexual? What are you talking  about???

Quote
This to me is outrageous and with friends like this, who needs enemies.
What is outrageous? You think we’re killing gay kids with kindness for not insisting they be straight?
Quote
Homosexuals (gay males) are estimated to be about 1-2% of the American population.
Estimated by whom?
Quote
About 60% of new AIDS infections are contracted through homosexual sex (anal sex).
No, about 60% of the cases among men, i.e. about 60% of 70%, or about 42% of the total.  

Quote
Again, if the homosexual act is indistinguishable from the homosexual then how can we teach young children about the "normalcy" of homosexuality?
Did you notice that this sentence makes no sense at all? There isn’t even a part of this sentence that makes sense.

Quote
If science tells us that one's environment plays a major role in manifesting a possible genetic homosexual predisposition…
which, so far as I can see, it isn’t…
Quote
aren't we in fact teaching young children to engage in dangerous and deadly behaviors with our non-discrimination and tolerance policies?
Huh? You think what gay kids need is the “tough love” of discrimination and intolerance – so they’ll become heterosexual, and therefore at lower risk for HIV?

Date: 2006/04/12 17:50:22, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
BTW, don’t think for a second that anyone buys your “it’s due to AIDS” reason that you’re so anti-gay.  You’re just using that as an excuse for your religious-based bigotry, and we all know it.
I do wonder why he never responds to my question: is he OK with "Johnny has two mommies".

Date: 2006/04/13 09:26:58, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Well my, my, my! It looks that the Marxists have fled the field, leaving poor Flint by his lonesome.
I was not aware we had Marxists in the discussion. Who were they? I may have missed the Marxist shibboleths that gave them away.
Quote
Now that we've seen that the liberal side of the issue is completely unsupported...
and what, pray tell, is the "liberal side of the issue"?  Your straw-man argument that all bad behavior is ascribable to discrimination? Surely you're not so gullible as to believe your own cartoon.

I don't know what the official "Marxist", or the official "liberal" position is (synonyms in the weird world of Paley?). My position is:

(1) trying to change someone's sexual orientation is an exercise in futility
(2) persecution, discrimination, and intolerance are unfortunate characteristics of small-minded people I don't want anything to do with, and certainly should not be enshrined as  government policy. Policies to marginalize or even criminalize homosexual activity on the pretext that some homosexual behavior is unhealthy strike me as counterproductive. Consistent with this, policies such as opposition to gay marriage strike me as nonsensical.
(3) sex education should be honest, frank, and complete
It should include all measures - not just encouraging abstinence - available to reduce risk.

Date: 2006/04/13 10:42:57, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
[changing people's sexual orientation is] not the primary goal of Ghost's brand of conservatives.
I didn't mean to imply that it is. I'm stating my position, which I suspected our vaporous friend was lumping in with "Marxist" and/or "liberal". If it is, that's great. The more the merrier. But it also appears to be the position of sensible conservatives. In light of the fact that sensible people seem to be more or less in agreement on this, it puzzles me that our vaporous friend would regard T-diddy as a his natural ally in "rationality" when he's the only participant that holds the opposite view. Perhaps being a member of the anti-evolution far-right wing-nut club trumps the actual content of the discussion.

Quote
Without calling people names, I think (I hope) what you're saying here is that "persecution, discrimination and intolerance" are *bad things* a priori.
Well, as a general rule I guess I would endorse that perspective. But I'm wary of overgeneralizing to the point of tolerating intolerance. What I'm really saying here is that particularly in the case of sexuality, persecution, discrimination and intolerance are not only characteristics of small-mindedness, they're profoundly counterproductive, if the goal really is to minimize anti-social and self-destructive behavior.

Date: 2006/04/13 14:53:03, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Here Russell...,
Gay Gene
Hey, T-diddy. Did you notice that that news article was all about one of the very articles I referred you to? Did you notice that, despite the dumb title on the layperson's article, the paper in question was, in fact, not a search for "the gay gene"?

Quote
But notice the assumption upon which the "gay gene" is built?  The assumption is that evolution provides for "sexual orientations."
No, I don't notice that assumption. Please elaborate. Perhaps you are making that assumption, or perhaps you are assuming that other people are. But I see no evidence for that at all, outside your fevered imagination.

Date: 2006/04/13 15:02:48, Link
Author: Russell
T-diddy: I suspect that no one's going to answer your question. Do not assume that means that you've "stumped" everyone. More likely it means that (1) despite your statement that "the question is very simple", in fact you still haven't stated a question that makes sense and (2) we're still waiting for your answers to my questions. Have you forgotten? Here they are again:
Quote
What is being taught in school that you think should not be?
What is not being taught that you think should be?
What should science and scientists say about it that they don't ?
What should science and scientists not  say about it that they do ?

Date: 2006/04/13 18:16:42, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
One way to refute the claim that random chance and infinite time can do anything.  Within 50 million years of fish creation, some type of fish evolved into amphibian 350 million years ago.  So such a evolution jump is possible within 50 million years.  If random chance can do it in 50 million years, how come in the subsequent 350 million years since the creation of amphibian, no fish ever evolved again into an amphibian.
The first amphibian faced no competition from land vertebrates. Who knows how many fish lineages would have made the transition if they weren't eaten by the resident land creatures? Oh look! Here's one now!

Date: 2006/04/14 04:30:53, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
If you would like to engage like an adult, I would love to field your questions.
Oh good.   
Quote
What is being taught in school that you think should not be?*
What is not being taught that you think should be?
What should science and scientists say about it that they [b]don't ?
What should science and scientists not  say about it that they do ?

*(especially, what is "the AIDS lie we have been fed"?)

Date: 2006/04/14 07:58:47, Link
Author: Russell
from Merriam-Webster
Quote
Main Entry: 1nor·mal
Pronunciation: 'nor-m&l
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin normalis, from norma
1 : PERPENDICULAR; especially : perpendicular to a tangent at a point of tangency
2 a : according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle b : conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern
3 : occurring naturally <normal immunity>
4 a : of, relating to, or characterized by average intelligence or development b : free from mental disorder : SANE
5 a of a solution : having a concentration of one gram equivalent of solute per liter b : containing neither basic hydroxyl nor acid hydrogen <normal silver phosphate> c : not associated <normal molecules> d : having a straight-chain structure <normal pentane> <normal butyl alcohol>
6 of a subgroup : having the property that every coset produced by operating on the left by a given element is equal to the coset produced by operating on the right by the same element
7 : relating to, involving, or being a normal curve or normal distribution <normal approximation to the binomial distribution>
8 of a matrix : having the property of commutativity under multiplication by the transpose of the matrix each of whose elements is a conjugate complex number with respect to the corresponding element of the given matrix
synonym see REGULAR
I presume we're talking about definitions #3 and/or #4b, under which, yes, homosexuality would be considered "normal". I don't know what the evidence is whether child molesters would qualify as "normal" (def. #3), but I don't know of any responsible body of opinion that would consider them "normal" (def. #4b).

(Interestingly, according to definition #5d, "normal" could be construed as "straight" - in organic chemistry. But somehow I don't think that's what we're talking about here.)

Date: 2006/04/14 10:04:47, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Obviously the first reptile is not eaten by the amphibians
Oh? How do you know that? What makes you think reptiles (and birds and humans...) are not descended from the 47th "reptile-like" offshoot of amphibian ancestors, the first 46 having been eaten?

Quote
Why chance did not cause a fish to evolve, under selective pressure from amphibian, into an organism that the amphibian has no interest to eat or dare not to eat, such as a reptile look-alike amphibian or an amphibian that can bite with lethal venom?
Well, eventually it did, didn't it?

See, I think you might be confusing evolution with something like "intelligent design". In the evolution scenario, changes happen by chance, and are incremental. Depending on what selection is then operative, they'll either thrive or not.

In the evolution scenario, changes like air breathing, land-mobility,  predator evasion/repulsions innovations can happen incrementally. The predator evasion/repulsion mechanisms would be expected to co-evolve with the predators' tools.

In the "intelligent design" scenario, on the other hand, the designer needs to poof all of those things into existence simultaneously, in anticipation of his/her/its project-creature's needs, otherwise the prototype is killed and eaten by the entrenched competition. So in the "intelligent design" scenario, one might reasonably expect new lineages of land vertebrates arising from fish every few tens of millions of years - or whenever the designer felt like it.

I think you'll find that the evidence is consistent with the "evolution" scenario.

Date: 2006/04/14 10:36:59, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
In fact, if the draft is ever reinstated, guess which gender will be targeted? And guess which sexual orientation?
You've probably heard that "two (or more) wrongs don't make a right". I think there's some wisdom in that.

If there is a draft, it should be universal. I see no reason not to challenge the heterosexual male only draft as vigorously as any other officially approved form of discrimination.

Insurance rates are another matter. I will refrain from offering an opinion (seeing as how my opinion is so desperately needed in other matters!;)).

Date: 2006/04/15 01:18:03, Link
Author: Russell
RE: pearls before swine.

Yep. I've seen the light.  It's going to take a "bunker buster" to get through that skull.

I'm outta here.

Date: 2006/04/20 16:32:51, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
... liberals ... have little interest in restoring civil liberties for majority groups. Gay marriage? Oh yes, must be done, regardless of the impact on society. Freedom of association for everyone (as opposed to minority groups only, which is the situation in America)? #### no, because a few bigots might make it a little harder for minorities in some ways.
I haven't been following this conversation closely, once I concluded it was going nowhere. So forgive me if this is covering old territory, but what this is code for? What conservatives' freedom of association is being blocked? KKK sockhops?  Timothy McVeigh memorial scout troops? People blocking access to minorities' access to schools? People blocking access to medical clinics? What?

Date: 2006/04/21 12:24:40, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
If we could do the trial over, I feel that more could have been said to discredit Miller’s testimony, and to bolster Behe’s. Perhaps Dembski should have testified, although much of what he might say would have gone over Judge Jones’ head.
A comment on
UD, under Cordova's post accusing Ken Miller of perjury.

I believe the commenter wrote that with a straight face. But there's no way of knowing. I guess it doesn't really change the humor content, either way.

Date: 2006/04/22 11:57:05, Link
Author: Russell
I think you'll find Heddle has been reasonably consistent on "ID is not science".

But then he goes off on this "fine tuning" argument, seeming to say that ID is the only viable explanation for it.

The other insufferably annoying assertion that he makes is that evolution is no more science than ID is.

Date: 2006/04/22 15:19:08, Link
Author: Russell
What he really seems to make no serious effort to defend is his assertion that evolution is no more scientific than ID. You may have to do some digging to even find it.

Hey, if someone operates in the real world by the rules of the real world, but has private conversations with his invisible friend, I have no reason to get involved, upset, or even interested.

And the cosmo-ID stuff - I don't really care all that much about that either. It's too far removed from anything accessible to actual experimentation or seriously credible theorizing for me to worry about. Sort of like Darwin conceding - at least for the sake of argument - the concept of "the Creator breathing life" into the original life form.

But the "evolution is no more scientific than ID" shtick... No. Just, no.

Date: 2006/04/22 15:32:36, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I doubt either of them is truly dishonest. They  may be wrong, but I think they believe what they are typing.
I suppose. And there are regions in the USofA where the T-diddy mindset holds a lot of sway. Which means, unfortunately, that you can't just ignore it.

Ghosty - I don't know about him. His spelling seems to indicate a British (or Australian or something) origin - not American - so if he does reside here in the USofA, he's probably dismissed by those with a brain as a crank, and by those who might be open to his message as a "dam# furriner".

Date: 2006/04/23 12:18:58, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
And explain why [marriage is] scale-free.
Oh, that's easy.
Once you're married, and finding a mate is no longer an issue, gaining weight ceases to be a concern.

Date: 2006/04/24 06:18:30, Link
Author: Russell
RE: "AFDave" ( = "Air Force Dave")

Interestingly, in the early days of Panda's Thumb, there was an obnoxious troll who called himself "Navy Davy". His "persona" on that occasion was the "open-minded evo-skeptic" - i.e. someone who had no particular reason to doubt evolution, but - as an objective outsider with "no dog in the fight" - thought that the case was far from proved, and that mainstream scientists were blinded by dogmatism.

It turns out it was one David Steele, who had previously made a name for himself as an internet troll, posing (?) as an "HIV-skeptic".  When confronted with this, he dissembled and prevaricated, and eventually disappeared.

What a jerk.

What do you think? AFDave, NavyDavy... weird coincidence or persistent troll?

Date: 2006/04/24 06:51:22, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I've already cited several instances
I've scanned all your input since I asked the question: what is "freedom of association" code for?  I haven't found a response.

Date: 2006/04/24 09:58:03, Link
Author: Russell
Well, Ghosty has convinced me he's too much of an a$$hole to have a sensible conversation with. I guess anyone who continues to converse with him after that outburst must have a different opinion. I'd be curious to know why.

Date: 2006/04/24 12:18:20, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Ghost, I agree with what you are saying in your last post.
Agree with what? What is Ghost saying in his last post? I'd be very wary of accepting at face value any news items right-wing wing-nuts present as evidence of eroding their rights. I fail to see how decisions the New York Times makes about hiring erodes wing-nuts' freedoms. And the fact that a kid Arkansas is raped and murdered does not make national news, unfortunately, is not particularly shocking because, unfortunately, it's not all that uncommon. Now, if the kid was raped and murdered because of his sexual orientation, that would be news - as was the sickening Mathew Shepard story.

I might be troubled by some of the apparent infringements on freedom of speech suggested by the English, Irish, and Canadian cases, but (a) there's a limit to how much righteous indignation I can muster about how other countries manage their affairs and (b) I would need to read about it - in context - from some more reliable source than the Ghost Man and his obviously slanted sources.

Date: 2006/04/25 02:43:38, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I agree with Ghost that double standards are operating in the media.
Given the fact that media is plural, it would be pretty distressing if multiple standards were not operating. But  specifically, what did our vaporous friend raise that you think is hypocritical, which I guess is really more the point?

Date: 2006/04/25 04:37:07, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Assuming it it true, this:
[comparing Mathew Shepard with Jesse Dirkhising stories]
 Why? The point of the national press coverage of the Mathew Shepard story was that he was murdered because of his homosexuality. Unfortunately, horrors like the Jesse Dirkhising story are all too common and are, correspondingly and appropriately, covered in the more local press. Ghosty seems to be suggesting that news of homosexual on heterosexual atrocities is suppressed in the media.

If the national press did play up the Dirkhising story, I would wonder why is that horror more nationally newsworthy than all the other adult-on-child rape/murders that never make it past the local press. Because the perpetrators were homosexual?

Stephen, you're too smart to fall for Ghosty's shell games.

Date: 2006/04/25 06:21:14, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Maybe it is because I live in the UK then. Adults killing/raping children are big news here. Probably because it is rare.
Apparently the story was picked up by the Assciated Press, which qualifies as "the national press". Note, also, that the story dates back seven years. You'd think, from Ghosty's remarks, that the liberal press's war on heterosexuality was getting more blatant, and that he could find a more current example. Going back seven years has the advantage that no one will remember the details, like how widely the story was covered, and Ghosty and his right-wing spin-buddies can get away with whatever version they choose.

Now, so far as I can tell, the story about the Anglican bishop - for which Ghosty only had to go back 2.5 years - is real, and if it were my country, I would object. In our country, at least, saying uninformed moronic bigoted things is not supposed to subject you to police investigation. In fact, prominent churchmen say such things all the time and, so far as I know, the police don't get involved.

In fact, the ACLU has pissed off a lot of "liberals" in defending the free speech rights of KKK and neo-Nazi types. I hope Ghosty has expressed his support for them.

Date: 2006/04/25 07:29:27, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Who is going to be manly enough to answer the obviously embarassing question of why most people in the USA are still creationists in spite of the evolutionists virtual monopoly over US schools, universities, publications and the media for at least 40 years?
I've generally found "afdave" eminently ignorable, but this really is amusing above and beyond the usual.

Quick quiz: where do Americans get more of their information: supermarket tabloids or the college bookstore?  Which of these is more friendly to the creationist perspective?

I suppose it's true, the "evolutionists" have a near-monopoly in the "intelligent and educated" segment of society. It's possible, however, that that suggests something other than bias and bigotry.

Date: 2006/04/25 08:15:28, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
There is without question a goodly number of fellow conservatives combing the media (including the net) for examples where overreactions to bigotry have occurred; these are collected in a few places. I suppose the idea is, if we skim the worst offenders off the top and represent them as typical, we're doing a fair representation of what we should be concerned about.
Given the length of time over which the Ghost-Man has been searching for examples, and the unconvincing nature of those he's found, I'd say he's pretty well laid to rest the boogeyman of the so-called "liberal" mainstream press. (You know, that left-wing cabal that even now is giving Bush et al. a pass on WMD, Rove/Libby, warrantless spying... all in a diabolical plot to give them enough rope to hang themselves when, in a surprise about-face, the press suddenly stops playing along with them by distracting the public with bogus issues like the doomsday threat of gay marriage.)

Date: 2006/04/25 10:32:20, Link
Author: Russell
[edit; see below]

Date: 2006/04/25 10:56:37, Link
Author: Russell
I wrote:
Quote
Ghosty seems to be suggesting that news of homosexual on heterosexual atrocities is suppressed in the media.
To which our vaporous friend responded with a list of media reports of racial hate crimes.

The point being... what?   That they were reported by some newspapers and not by all newspapers?

Was anyone under the impression that racial hate and hate crimes were restricted to white against nonwhite?

What do any of these incidents have to do with anything we're discussing here?

As to the so-called liberal bias in the mainstream media -I'll let David Brock, erstwhile darling of the right-wing propaganda mill, explain why that's a crock of horse-s##t.

Date: 2006/04/25 14:13:20, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
A young boy being repeatedly sodomised, tortured, and murdered by a pair of next door neighbors is not that common. The very luridness of the case should have guaranteed moderate national coverage.
First of all, as I pointed out, the story was carried in the Associated Press. The Washington Post printed it. I imagine other newspapers that subscribe to AP did as well. (Being, as it was, seven years ago, it's a little hard to document). So the point is, what? That the Mathew Shepard story unfairly received more attention? That the Arkansas case was hushed up because the murderers were homosexual? What do you make of the Versace murder case? Do you suppose the mainstream press was dragged, kicking and screaming, into disclosing the murderer's homosexuality just because of the victim's fame?
Quote
Russell made a clear claim: that the Mathew Shepard story was a national sensation precisely because of the bigotry behind it.
...so far, so good...
Quote
I showed, in extensive detail, that his claim was false.
I guess you showed that to your satisfaction. Personally, I can't see how you've even addressed it. If anyone else reading this sees how he's shown this, please: chime in. Are you trying to show that the Mathew Shepard story was a national sensation for some reason other than the bigotry behind it? Are you trying to say that the Mathew Shepard story received such attention just because of the savagery involved and that the bigotry was beside the point? Are you trying to say that the Arkansas case is symmetrical - a hate crime committed by homosexuals against this kid because he was heterosexual? Honestly, I really don't know what you think you've shown.

Quote
This supports one of my major contentions, which is that multiculturalism and freedom can't coexist.
Does it, indeed. Your concluding that supports my contention that this attempt to rationalize your bigotry does not even brush up against logic and reality.

Quote
But that crap ain't gonna work with me; I'm a former liberal and I'm on to all your shabby tricks. Your name calling, hee-hawing, and shell games are over.
Tell me, Ghost - are you flattered or insulted to know that I see you as a Bill O'Reilly clone? The point being: one man's name calling is another's compliment.

If you're trying to make a case for left-biased mainstream media, you're failing miserably. I find David Brock's case for a  right-leaning - or at least right-intimidated - mainstream media much more lucid and compelling. Why don't you take him on, with current news stories, rather than going through the garbage of seven years ago, and maniacally changing the topic from sexual orientation to racial hatred to Muslim bashing?

Date: 2006/04/25 15:06:50, Link
Author: Russell
Indeed, that was the reference I had in mind:
Quote
"Christians are a lot more bold under Bush's leadership, he speaks what a lot of us believe," said [pastor and school parent Ray] Mummert.
"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture," he said, adding that the school board's declaration is just a first step.

A truly wonderful quote destined to hound creationists for generations to come. Illustrating the principle that many a true word is spoken in stupidity.

Date: 2006/04/25 18:03:44, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Once again, you were the one who demanded proof that the MSM quashes stories. When I supplied some, you said it wasn't "enough", the sources were "biased", the stories "too old".
You're making stuff up, GhostMan, and you don't even seem to know it. Now, if these stories were "quashed", how do you know about them? You're just unhappy that they got less attention than other stories. What do you want? Affirmative action for news stories?

Here. Let's take a close look at your laundry list of "quashed" news stories - that you somehow learned about. Yeah, they're all terrible. But I suspect that the reason that most of these are not nationally notorious has something to do with the fact that most of them are just not as lurid, sadistic, or fatal as stories that are.

Exhibit A.
Quote
Essig called 911 after the attack, but she could not give a good description of any particular person in the crowd who rushed her car -- only that many of the attackers were black and that they were wearing green.
Yep. A mob - some fraction of which is apparently black - menaces occupants of a car involved in some kind of traffic contretemps. Heavens! I imagine that, once this scourge of a liberal press is removed, kids will be reading about this in history books chronicling the twentieth century.

Exhibit B
Quote
The victim was treated and released at a hospital.
Oh my goodness! What are all those bleeding heart journalists doing, wasting their time on Darfur, when this stuff is going on!?

Exhibit C
Quote
...struck a 17-year-old girl in the back of the head with a rolled up package of papers with such force that she became dizzy and nauseous.
What!? And the press would have us believe the sky is falling just because some guy is chained to a truck and dragged until pieces of his body are being scattered around the Texas roadside? Where are our priorities?

Exhibit D
Quote
"I think they would have attacked anyone with white skin," Dechape, 18, told the Star-Bulletin.

But two high-ranking police officers expressed doubt that race motivated the attack. "That's the first time I've heard that," said Assistant Chief Thomas Hickcox.

Capt. Robert Hickcox, the assistant chief's brother, also said he doubted a racial motivation, suggesting instead that alcohol led to the alleged attack.
Hmmm. Sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference between a racist mob and a bunch of drunks. You're right! CNN should have been all over this one.

Exhibit E
Quote
Mall slay seen as hate crime
The slaying of a law-firm receptionist at a Westchester mall will be prosecuted as a hate crime because the ex-con charged with the crime confessed "he wanted to kill a white person," District Attorney Jeanine Pirro said yesterday.
Well, now. Here's an actual murder. But guess what? There are dozens of murders in the country every day. All of them are horrible. A lot of them involving crazies, like this guy. Do you think every one of them involving a white murderer and a nonwhite victim is national news?

Exhibit F
Quote
In Australia's New South Wales Supreme Court in December 2005, a visiting Pakistani rapist testified that his victims had no right to say no, because they were not wearing a headscarf.
Now, just in case there's any confusion - I'm not a big fan of any of these religions. Call me an anti-religious bigot if you will, but I think religious fundamentalism is one of the scourges of humanity. So I think this should have made national news. And I hope it did. In Australia. Where it happened.

Exhibit G
Quote
"I want the death penalty," he said. "I want to die. But I wanted to kill somebody white first."
(See Exhibit E, above)

Exhibit H
Quote
...the same girl was back - with a box cutter - threatening to kill Alexis. On the ride home after that incident, Jacob displayed a large bruise on his arm from being shoved to the ground and called a "stupid white boy."
Yeah. It's a darn shame. Kids can be pretty barbaric. But again... if the Mathew Shepard story is worth, say, 1000 "horror units", how many should this one be assigned?

Exhibit I
Quote
The men started beating him and struck his passenger after she exited the car, according to police. Fliers with racist epithets against whites were also found on car windshields and utility poles in Greensburg.
...the men then chained the woman to a fence, beat her senseless and left her to die as her swollen brain herniated through the base of her skull. Nah. I made that last part up. But you know, if that had happened, I bet it would have made the nightly news.

Exhibit J
Quote
The worker does manage to get up and walk back to his cart.
Not sure what this one's all about. Is the mob one race and the victim another? I don't know. In any case, the report was on the local CBS nightly news. If the worker had not managed to get up and walk back to his cart, perhaps we would have heard more about it. But like I say, with dozens of lethal crimes in the country every day, there's a bit of competition for news coverage.

Exhibit K
Quote
The Zebra Killings occurred in the San Francisco bay area between 1972 and 1974 and left 71 people dead.
You're telling me the news did not cover this story? Where were you at the time?

Now here's a couple of "exhibits" for you. As I recall there was a news story that some small fraction of the press made some to do over several years back. It involved a murder in which an African-American man was accused of murdering his estranged Euro-American wife. "O.J"- something-or-other. Ring a bell? And are you familiar with the "Central Park Jogger" story from 15 years ago or so? You know how that one played out? Here's a hint: the press did not do itself proud.

So you see, I'm not saying the press is doing a great job, or that they are fearlessly facing down pressure and intimidation, Edward R. Murrow-style. In fact, I think the failure of the press is one of the main reasons for a lot of the most vexing national problems . I just disagree with you on the source of the pressure and intimidation that they're bending to.

Quote
But that crap ain't gonna work with me; I'm a former liberal and I'm on to all your shabby tricks. Your name calling, hee-hawing, and shell games are over.

Shabby tricks? Hee-hawing? Who's calling whom names here?  Now, don't get me wrong. I don't want to pretend that I don't think you're a bigoted moron; I do. But I like to think I address the content of the argument, and not the character of the arguer. If I've strayed from that goal, I do beg your pardon.

Date: 2006/04/26 04:35:24, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I would prefer that you give me YOUR arguments in YOUR own words.  I am learning that you guys don't like me to refer you to AIG, and in the same way I don't like to just be shoved off to TalkOrigins.
And I would prefer that motorists invent their own wheels rather than sponging off the work of anonymous prehistoric inventors.

Hey, if AiG states your case, I have no problem with your linking to it. It saves me the trouble of finding out you don't have anything new to say. The TalkOrigins site is a great repository of well stated, well documented information.

You'll notice, too, this key difference between the two sources. The information on TO is continuous with the rest of science: what you might call consilient with the fabric of observations and theory you find in current university textbooks, professional journals, academic conferences, across all scientific disciplines. The AiG information is pretty much the opposite: you have to carefully avoid current research and entire disciplines in order not to see the obvious contradictions.

Sure! Go ahead and cite AiG, if that's your best case. Just don't be all hurt when everyone laughs.

Date: 2006/04/26 08:29:58, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Russell, I'll have to deal with your pathetic rebuttal later
Oh, well. If it was "pathetic", you needn't spend more than a minute on it. What seems to be the problem?
Quote
.....are you implying that the media doesn't have space to cover hate crimes that don't involve murder?
No.
Quote
In other words, it should be impossible to find a well-hyped white-on-black hate crime that didn't end in torture and/or murder, correct?
No.
Quote
Also, do you consider multiple rape, confinement, and murder to be a serious crime, especially when the criminal does all three to the same victim(s)? Just "Yes" or "No", please.
Yes.

Date: 2006/04/26 09:00:54, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
... I have to take Russell over my knee and give him the spanking...
Well, I guess the theme here is "consenting adults", but, um... I'm not into that stuff. You'll have to find another partner.

Date: 2006/04/26 10:59:46, Link
Author: Russell
I'm also not aware of having lied about any of GhostMan's views. But I never cease to be amazed at how creationists perceive the data, so who knows what he thinks we're "lying" about.

Date: 2006/04/26 11:11:20, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
20th century in many ways was a grand experiment in secularism in science and in many other areas and it failed miserably.
Wow. That's right up there with
"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture"

Date: 2006/04/26 11:15:55, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
can you please also explain how gays refuse to be assimilated by Western culture
Well for starters, they eschew that bedrock institution of western culture, marriage.  :D

Date: 2006/04/26 11:26:48, Link
Author: Russell
RE: "name-calling"

In response to this question:
Quote
I've scanned all your input since I asked the question: what is "freedom of association" code for?  I haven't found a response.
the GhostMan spat this:
Quote
"Freedom of Association" is not code for anything. Yes, I'm aware that bigots use freedom of association as shorthand for, "Let's git the #### away from all the queers, kikes, gooks, chinks, wetbacks, and coons". ####, I know this better than you: I live in Atlanta, Georgia. But libertarians do not have this meaning in mind, and lumping conservatives sympathetic to the libertarian POV with the radical right is just as stupid as claiming that Wes and Kenneth Miller are really atheists since they support atheist-friendly Darwinism. I mean, lots of atheists argue that evolution proves that life has no purpose, so boy, all Darwinists are just atheists in disguise, right? Change yer diaper before your behind gets as pink as your politics.

I'll try to address the adult criticisms later today.
Remind me again -  who's calling whom names?

Date: 2006/04/27 06:17:51, Link
Author: Russell
Since the "Will a "Gay Gene" Refute Evolution?" discussion – which had morphed into a gay marriage discussion - got sidetracked by Ghost of Paley's obsession with the supposed leftward bias of the mainstream media, think of this thread as a budding off of the media discussion into a separate thread. A speciation event, if you will.

A quick recap. The GhostMan – and correct me if I misstate this - contends that the U.S. media have a liberal “multicultural” agenda, and that the reporting of “hate” crimes is filtered in such a way as to give an inflated impression of majority on minority crimes. (Originally straight on gay, but the GhostMan segued into racial incidents – apparently seeing these as part of the same media anti-majoritarian agenda). In support of this view, he listed (April 25 2006, 14:29) 12 news items - melodramatically labeled “Exhibits” A through L – signing off with
Quote
Oh, this is nothing. I just wanted to give you a little sample for now......
I’m inclined to agree: the list really did nothing to make his case. And if it’s just a “sample” of the “more” he promised, he should not waste his – and our – time.

I pointed out that his list of horrors ignored by the media was culled from, ahem, media reports. But, he protested, those were merely locally reported stories:
Quote
Let's get one thing straight from the start. Local coverage does little for people who don't live in the areas where the crime takes place. As a citizen, I want to be informed about major events in the whole nation, because this influences my political and social choices. So the difference does count.
I.e. “exhibits A-L” should have received national attention –like the Mathew Shepard story, and the reason for the difference in treatment is – you guessed it – the liberal agenda of the mainstream medium. (On a side note, I think Ghosty can be assured that his “political and social choices” are as safe from factual input anyway as are his "thoughts" on evolution. Would his choices lean any further rightward if the press consisted entirely of Fox News and clones thereof?)

I went through (April 25 2006, 23: 03) all 12 of his horrors. I stipulated at the outset that they were, indeed, all horrible. I proposed, though, that their lesser notoriety relative to the Mathew Shepard and James Byrd incidents reflected (a) the fact that the bigotry involved in those two stories was an important component of their newsworthiness AND the fact that most of them were, well, less spectacularly horrible than those two stories. (Please note the emphasized words; let’s not get sidetracked, yet again, by all-or-none, “either it’s the Manson murders or it’s jay-walking” caricatures). While the Shepard and Byrd incidents involved spectacularly brutal, vicious, hateful torture/murders, most (9/12) of Ghosty’s incidents did not involve killings. I pointed out the national press – and the national attention span – can’t deal with more than a very small fraction of them.

A little arithmetic. There are about 300,000,000 people in the country. The homicide rate is about 8x10^-5 per year. That works out to about 66 murders every day. (Note: All of them are horrible.)  I don’t think anyone would quibble with an estimate that criminally nasty hateful incidents of the order of the nonfatal ones on Ghosty’s list occur at least 10 times as frequently. That’s more than 600 such incidents every day. Today’s New York Times had 22 stories in its “National” section. Most of them dealt with the doings of the President, Congress, stories with economic impact… only a couple of them had to do with crime of any sort. (And, no, I didn’t choose the NYTimes because it’s a left-wing rag intent on distracting its readers from the real news of the War on White Christians. The Columbus Dispatch had only 23 articles covering national and international news.)

Well, according to the GhostMan, my challenge to the evidence supporting his “liberal agenda of the mainstream media” theory was unpersuasive:
Quote
Russell, I'll have to deal with your pathetic rebuttal later
I was, of course, crestfallen, but I figured our vaporous friend was either (a) doing the Disdainful False Confidence display characteristic of his species (where bluster and bravado substitute for data and logic) or (b) he would bring something new to the discussion we hadn’t considered.

Alas, it turns out to be (a). The Insubstantial One “destroyed” my case with his eventual comment (April 26 2006, 20:45). Exhibit A: [I had pointed out, after stipulating that all of the “exhibits, A-L” were indeed deplorable, that this particular story didn’t quite rate national news, in light of the limitations outlined above. Ghosty implied that I was quoting selectively to downplay the seriousness of the crime:]
Quote
(GoP: ) Let's read a little more, shall we? All emphases are mine. [quote]"Just a whole bunch of people rushed the car. I was thinking 20 girls; my husband said more like 30," said Michelle Essig, who was driving to the hospital when the people stormed her car. "They opened up my car door and started punching my friend, who just had a C-section three weeks ago..."
Of course, that’s newsworthy because the mob in question had undoubtedly done their research and had known that the friend in question had had a C-section three weeks before.
Quote
..."Essig said she attempted to escape the mob.
"They shook the car, they were jumping on the windows. There was a guy on the roof of my car," Essig said. "They tried to pull me out of the vehicle, that's when I gassed it and floored it. They continued to assault my vehicle."
She said the incident was unprovoked, but she has one theory about why it happened.
"I took great offense to the stuff they were yelling. It seemed to be a racially-motivated thing," Essig said.
"'You white b's, you racist b's.' I don't remember everything -- I was caught up in the moment," said Sharon Roffitt, who was in the car when it was attacked. "My window was down. They were swinging at me and hit me."
Whatever the motivation was, witnesses said the attack escalated fast.
"They were shaking this car. It's hard to shake, but the group could have rolled it over," witness Russell Anderson said.
Essig called 911 after the attack, but she could not give a good description of any particular person in the crowd who rushed her car -- only that many of the attackers were black and that they were wearing green.
(GoP again: )
Quote
 What would have happened to them if they hadn't escaped? The mob was attempting to beat them and drag them out of the car. Some "contretemps"!
Now, I repeat: unfortunate, deplorable, illustrative of brutish, hateful, racially charged nastiness? – yes. National news? – no. The objects of the mob’s ire call it “unprovoked”. Well… “uncalled for” perhaps; but not completely out of the blue. The incident followed what I characterized as a “traffic contretemps”:
Quote
KMBC's Chris Nagus reported that two cars with two different couples were on the way to Children's Mercy Hospital when another car cut between them. One of the drivers asked the cutting driver not to block them. Then, things got out of control when a mob came out of nowhere, Nagus reported.
But then Ghost more than implies that I had called the whole mob scene a “contretemps” – when clearly I was referring to the obnoxious driving behavior that had led up to the mob scene. Now, is Ghost being intentionally deceitful here, or just not reading very carefully? Only Ghost knows for sure. But if the latter, is he really ready for the >100-fold increase in reading load he seems to be demanding from his daily national police blotter? (See the arithmetic interlude, above).

OK. At this point, the Ghost Guy skipped over to Exhibit D. I had pointed out that the scene in question, involving a mob of Hawaiian natives menacing some white people, was – though, again, not pretty -  not the stuff of national news, and may have been as much alcohol-fueled as hate-fueled.

A vigilant and indignant Ghost, exercising his on-again off-again attention skills, pointed out:
Quote
You snipped out the previous sentence. Here it is:

Quote
Kai Dechape said yesterday that he heard one attacker say, "Any f..... haoles want to die?"

Know what a "haole" is?
Why, yes, I do. For the benefit of readers who might not know, it’s a pejorative native Hawaiian term for white people. Sort of like “cracker”, I guess. But – again – someone involved in a (nonfatal – sure: nasty, deplorable, criminal, etc.  - but apparently not resulting in serious injuries) incident saying that he heard threatening abusive language… it’s just a few ticks shy of the Mathew Shepard or James Byrd horrors.

Finally, Ghost pleads for a little “balance” in reporting, citing an item from that model of journalistic balance, David Horowitz's e-zine, and finished up with another lurid vicious horrible grisly terrible deplorable sickening incident involving black criminals and (presumably) white victims. A story in which the criminals were arrested and charged with “second-degree lynching”, but apparently Ghost and – not coincidentally – Fox News is outraged because
Quote
local prosecutor David Schwacke commented, "We haven't been able to establish hate as a motive."
.Now I have a few things to say about this. First, and most importantly, horrible vicious etc. etc. things happen. They happen way too often. But reporting one of them – or even lists of them – culled by idealogues like David Horowitz (or the RightWing Roundup, or whatever) does absolutely nothing toward demonstrating that the media is selectively exaggerating anti-minority, or ignoring anti-majority, hate crimes.

Second, this incident may indeed have been a “hate crime”. But. As the prosecutor noted, the fact that the criminals were of one race, and the victims were (I guess) of another, is not enough for him to make – let alone prove – the case that it is.  

Finally, I read in Ghost’s parting shot:
Quote
Does this meet your level of brutality?
an insinuation that I – or anyone else who thinks his LAMSM theory is as unfounded and, frankly, ridiculous as his view of evolution – am selectively insensitive to brutality depending on the political correctness of the victim/perpetrator minority/majority identities. I find that way beyond offensive. If I’ve read that wrong, I’d be interested to learn what the purpose of the question really was.

Date: 2006/04/27 08:12:23, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I welcome your comments!
I have just one. This is one of those posts that illustrates my oft-stated position that it's impossible to tell the difference between a sincere creationist and a mischievous prankster.
If this is really meant seriously, I have just one question. Have you ever read an actual book* on the topic of evolution?

*(pop-up books don't count)

Date: 2006/04/27 09:18:32, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
as my last post stated, I'm not finished replying to your original response
You mean the one from two days ago? One can only imagine how much time and effort you might have expended had it risen above the level of "pathetic".

Date: 2006/04/27 14:49:52, Link
Author: Russell
Are we in re-runs? I could have sworn I've seen this episode before.

As in, Comment to "Will a Gay Gene refute evolution" comment posted April 26 2006,20:45

Well, maybe GoP is onto something. Since he just keeps posting the same suggestion of an argument over and over, why not just skip the charade of rephrasing it? Why not just paste exactly the same long screed, repeatedly? Accomplishes the same goal, AND saves a lot of time!

Date: 2006/04/27 18:35:04, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
But then why did the New York Times deign to cover the Cronulla riots? They obviously didn't give a toss about the systematic Muslim intimidation that led to this crude, violent "contretemps". Or concern themselves with the riot I mentioned in the last post (you know, the one that actually happened in Amurica).
I'm sorry. Did you mention a riot that happened in "Amurica" on the scale of
Quote
thousands of drunken white youths attacked anyone they believed was of Arab descent.
I may have missed that. Or did you miss my point about how, space being limited, newspapers necessarily have to make judgment calls, for instance between a domestic riot on the scale of tens vs. a foreign riot on the scale of thousands? For instance.
Quote
Notice that our friend snips around the systematic racial bullying:
I "snipped" because I don't want each post to double the length of the previous one. But, in case it wasn't clear, I stipulated that all these incidents were, indeed, ugly. Further, I stipulate that they represent racial bigotry. Now, if I try to trim the verbiage, it's to try and make my point as clear and concise as possible. That point is NOT, I repeat, NOT that these incidents were admirable, tolerable or excusable (GoP: please initialize this box to indicate that you have read and understood: [] )  My point is that that there are differences in enormity between the incidents that do get national attention, and those that don't, and that these differences in scale are a more credible explanation for differential coverage than your LAMSM theory.

Now your AP story about harrassment of Asian kids in a Bensonhurst high school surprised me. Well, no. The harrassment didn't surprise me, but your racial stats did. You see, I lived in Brooklyn for 8 years, till 1996. And, when passing through the Bensonhurst neighborhood, I never saw a black face. Does the name Yusuf Hawkins mean anything to you? You seem to be a whiz a Googling; why don't look it up?
This sounds more like the Bensonhurst I remember:
Quote
Black people? No. They’d never come in here," says Jessica S., 18. "In here we all know each other and we’re all from the same neighborhood," meaning Bensonhurst. "If a black kid came in here, he would probably leave right away because the guys would abuse him."
How a Bensonhurst high school winds up with this large a black population is a puzzle to me. But if your point is that the AP is trying to hide the "fact" that it's overwhelmingly nonwhites that beat up on other kids, I can assure you, that is not the case. Just ask Yusuf Hawkins. Oh. That's right. You can't. He's dead.
Quote
If you click your mouse, up pops a new window with a cool video. Check the upper left-hand corner. I'll let the viewer make up his own mind about the news-worthiness of the story.
Hmmm. I wonder if there's some creative way I can phrase this that makes it any more clear...These are nasty, ugly, deplorable, unforgivable, inexcusable actions, and the perpetrators appear to be thoroughly despicable specimens of humanity. Newsworthy? You bet! That's probably why it was...ON THE NEWS. But with an average of 66 MURDERS a day in the country, unfortunately, mere mob beatings where the victim gets up and walks away JUST DON'T MAKE NATIONAL NEWS. Think about it Ghosty. The average nightly news is, what?, half an hour? With commercials, that gives us time for about 20 seconds for each murder victim, if we don't cover anything else. Include the beating victims, and we won't even be able to read their names as they scroll up the screen. Now, I'm getting on. These old eyes aren't as sharp as they once were. Perhaps you can tell me: what are the racial identities of the young hoods in that clip? And, when the local news people say they're baffled as to what motivated this attack, do you suppose they're just withholding the "obvious" fact that it was pure and simple racial hatred? Really; what would you have the national news anchor say to accompany that clip? I'm really curious.

Quote
That's all for now. Don't worry Russell, I've saved my heavy hitters for last ......
Oh, finally! Is this where you get to the point? Is this when you, at long last, give us something other than random anecdotes with no statistical significance that demonstrate the shocking fact that a lot of humans are dirtbags, that humans are by far the most vicious primates on the planet, and that humans of European descent do not have a monopoly on barbarity? Because we already know all that. Perhaps this is where you finally reveal the hitherto baffling logic behind the megacorporations that own the media in this country plotting the downfall of capitalism and the subjugation of white christians. Please, by all means - surprise us!

Date: 2006/04/29 10:06:37, Link
Author: Russell
Ghost - you seem to be trying to prove points that are not in contention.  I, for one, believe that the Diallo, Rodney King, etc. stories ARE more about racism than the propriety of police conduct in these particular cases. I also, for one, believe that cases of majority-on-minority racism have a lower threshold for causing that media-public positive feedback loop known as a "news sensation" than do cases of minority-on-majority racism. I also want to be clear - and I think I've said this already - that I don't believe the contemporary press is doing a very admirable job at telling it like it is. It would not surprise me if they were less aggressive than they should have been in a case like the Charles Baum incident out of fear of public reaction.*
* (That being said, apparently, I believe that story was carried on the national news. How else did your source, Tremoglie, become aware of it? The fact that it didn't become a "sensation", again, I suspect has at least as much to do with the lack of the public part of the media-public feedback loop as any failing of the press).

But the failure of the press to hold the administration responsible for knowingly using false pretenses to drag us into a war costing tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars - a caving-in to the right, not the left - strikes me as much more reprehensible.

In other words, if your point is that the press is not only not perfect, it's not even living up to minimum standards of competence, then I agree; end of dispute (at least as far as I'm concerned). But what you haven't provided any evidence for is any "liberal agenda".

If you were serious about backing up your theory, you would address Eric Murphy's comment (Posted on April 28 2006,16:54). And if you were seriously interested in the ideal of objective reporting (and I use the word "ideal" advisedly, since it can only be aimed for, never achieved) you would not be relying on such thoroughly discredited sources as David Horowitz and WorldNutDaily.

Date: 2006/04/29 12:16:38, Link
Author: Russell
"But just wait until the big guns come out....."

This would be a variation on the Disdainful False Confidence Display* I pointed out above.

*(Sometimes known as the Cordova Cockstrut)

Reminds me of the standard parting shot of the kid who just got the snot beaten out of him: "Just you wait till my big brother comes after you! Then you're gonna be sorry!"

Date: 2006/04/29 12:34:40, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
(GoP: ) ... the media lied about the percentage of white serial killers

Quote
(Faid: ) What that it's 85% ? How did it lie, exactly? and where? and how did that affect police work? [quote]
[quote](GoP: ) Look, DC is a majority-black district. Given that blacks are overrepresented among serial killers, not underrepresented as the media would have it, the police were irrational to assume a white killer.

I'll take GhostGuy's gripes about media integrity a little more seriously when he demonstrates that he at least understands the concept.

Here's a specific assertion: "the media lied". Which media? Where? Either admit that that was itself a lie (Oh, OK: call it "hyperbole" if you want to save face. Or, what's Dembski's term? "Street theater"?) or back it up. It's really quite simple.

Quote
Gotta run.
Isn't that the truth!

Date: 2006/04/30 04:01:19, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
This is backed up by a search of newspaper archives. If you check the Washington Post, for example, you'll see that they extensively covered the Diallo shooting before the major marches and candlelight vigils.
Was that link supposed to prove that point? If so, it failed.

Look. The point that I made - and this is as close as you've come to recognizing it - is that news "sensations" generally represent a media-public positive feedback loop. This is no exception. Within hours of the incident, Al Sharpton was drawing attention to it. Do you think the public ignored him, and the press, for a month before there was any significant public feedback? That's not the way I remember it.

Do you have anything else to show for your search of newspaper archives, or is that the extent of it? It wouldn't surprise me if it is. That's very much the pattern of creationist "research":  sift through data until you come up with some published factoid that - on its face and without too much probing - seems at odds with the overwhelmingly consistent fabric of observations that support the consensus view, and claim that it's everybody else that is not exercising critical judgment.

Date: 2006/04/30 10:42:06, Link
Author: Russell
Faid wrote:
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Stupid of me(*)... I should have noticed at once that Paley snipped off, in mid-paragraph, the actual reasons the authors of the essay propose for this observed bias- and their justification:
and then proceeded to document how the Ghost Guy, by surgically excising the relevant context, distorted the message of his source beyond recognition.

This is the same Ghost, mind you, who wrote this:
Quote
Notice that our friend snips around the systematic racial bullying(**) ...  But this is nothing new for liberals.

I can't help but wonder whether  Ghost Guy is  intentionally deceitful, whether he's simply "blinded by the right", or whether there really is a meaningful distinction between the two.

*(Faid should not be too hard on himself, though, as tracking down all of Ghosty's apparent lapses in intellectual integrity would consume far more time than it's worth.)

**(I invite anyone who is sufficiently curious, and/or looking for diversion from more productive endeavors, to go back and check whether my "snipping" was to minimize the bullying in question, or for the sake of conciseness - in light of the fact that I included the most egregious instance - the death-threat by the box-cutter wielder.)

Date: 2006/04/30 12:08:51, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Oh, man, do I love debating liberals! This is too funny....you guys really think that I would try to distort a source that I linked to?
Not necessarily. If you read the quote you just quoted, I allowed for the likelihood that you are merely "blinded by the Right". Actually, I rather favor that explanation. It's just that, if you read the quote you just quoted, you'll note that I don't see much meaningful difference between the two.

Date: 2006/04/30 12:34:32, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I just want the author's data and reasoning on the topic we were like, you know, actually discussing: media bias.
Just to keep things focussed here: you're trying to demonstrate a systematic liberal bias - at least that's what I'm arguing is nonsense.Your essayist points out that if there is a "media bias", it's a bias toward increasing revenue, not towards advancing any particular political agenda.

My own view is not so exclusively revenue-focussed. I don't see how, for instance, giving Bush a pass on lying us into war, ignoring the Downing Street memo, etc., is good for sales. I suspect it's just lack of spine.

Date: 2006/05/02 08:08:45, Link
Author: Russell
Hmmm. Interesting thought. I guess I used to have a notion that society, culture, etc. distorted human nature, and that one might contemplate this "feral child" scenario to get an idea what we're really "supposed to be" like.

But an older and wiser me thinks now that we evolved the brains that we did as social animals, that language - and the exercise thereof - is central to our natures, and that, interesting though this thought experiment is to contemplate, large chunks of this child's brain would be essentially lost due to disuse. (Much like, I believe, if you're deprived of light for the first few years of life, you'll be essentially blind for life.)

Date: 2006/05/02 08:40:41, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I don't mind if the media focuses on the Diallos and Shepards - just provide some context for these crimes.
Like the context you've provided here, you mean? All the min-on-maj crime that you contend is under-reported? Or do you mean context specifically of the Diallo and Shepard cases - mitigating circumstances etc?
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But it's too late for that I fear....the apple's rotten to the core. Thank God for the internet.
Well, indeed. Now you can find out The Real Deal, from such reliable and non-agenda driven  sources as... WorldNetDaily.

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Will you, Russell, and Eric clearly concede that the media underreport minority-on-majority violence...and part of this is due to race?
I concede it's possible. First we'd have to establish some definitions:

What does "underreport" mean? Does it mean covering all or most majority on minority crime, while covering little or no minority on majority crime?

Does it mean covering a fraction of both categories, but - recognizing that there will always be space and time limits to what fraction of misdeeds are covered - that media often give majority on minority crime more newsworthiness points?

Then, we'd have to weigh the seriousness of the misdeeds being compared. I would say most items on your list just don't rack up as many newsworthiness points as the notorious majority-on-minority crimes you're trying to compare them to. Come to think of it, I don't think any of them do.

But here's one that did: the Central Park Jogger case. I keep trying to get you to comment on that. Do you think that was an aberration? Do you think the press did itself proud there? If not, how might they have done a better job?

Date: 2006/05/02 11:16:09, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Well, let's take the Diallo shooting for instance. Would it have killed the media to also report the Haggerty case?
OK. Let's.
From your favorite reliable and non-agenda driven source "FrontPage Magazine":
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According to one account from the March 18, 2000 Chicago Sun-Times:

“Haggerty… was riding with Raymond Smith when partners Williams and Daniels stopped Smith's car…after he double-parked to talk to friends.

Smith suddenly drove off, and the chase paused at 95th and Cottage Grove, where Daniels, Williams and Wilson fired at Smith's Oldsmobile Cutlass.

Daniels told the police board she was standing on the side of the car when she saw a "silvery object" rise slowly as Haggerty talked on a cell phone. Smith already was out of the car and Daniels said she yelled at Haggerty to exit. Daniels said she fired when she saw Haggerty turn toward her. A padlock — the silvery object — was found on the floor.


Diallo: man on foot cornered by four cops in an apartment lobby.
Haggerty: woman - one of two suspects being approached by two cops after a car chase - a car chase the suspects led the cops on even after the cops shot at the car, suggesting they should be taken seriously.

Diallo: object mistaken for gun - wallet.
Haggerty: object mistaken for gun - "silvery" padlock.

Diallo: shot 41 times
Haggerty: shot once, so far as I can tell

All in all, I don't think these cases are all that comparable.

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If nothing else, the Haggerty story shows that Diallo-like overreactions are possible even if the suspect and cop belong to the same race.
I don't believe the degree of overreaction is demonstrated. In fact, in light of the facts, I'm not sure the Chicago officers' actions could be called an overreaction at all.
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I can't see how a halfway responsible media would give the Diallo case saturation coverage, with inflammatory editorials about "racist" cops, when they have evidence that paints a different picture.
Well, I'd have to see the editorials you're complaining about before forming an opinion. Also, we're trying to maintain a distinction, are we not? between editorials and coverage. Editorials are supposed to be opinion. But aside from that, what evidence are you referring to? The fact that police shot Haggerty? What evidence helps us understand why 41 shots need to be fired?  I can't see a halfway responsible medium not posing that question.


P.S. I'm going to ignore Thormoron here. I suggest others do the same.

Date: 2006/05/02 11:42:02, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
They're people wearing religious and political blinders, who will refuse to see your point, and it's stupid to argue with them.
True enough, if the point is to persuade them, or get them to see the error or their ways. But some of us enjoy the sport of exposing the flaws in the argument. I compare it to the the pleasure of solving sudoku puzzles in the daily newspaper.

(Engaging Thormoron, on the other hand, would be more equivalent to solving puzzles in "Highlights for Children")

Date: 2006/05/02 13:53:40, Link
Author: Russell
Ya know, Ghosty, if you don't start reading with a little more comprehension than Thordudy, I'm going to have to consign you the same bin: too stupid to argue with. Here's what I mean.
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... the fact remains that Diallo got saturation coverage while Haggerty didn't get much, if any
How often do you suppose people get shot when, after resisting arrest by leading cops on a car chase, the cop mistakes an unwise move for reaching for a gun? What fraction of those cases do you suppose you hear about? Suppose Diallo had been shot once by one cop, when the cop mistook reaching for a wallet for reaching for a gun. Do you suppose that would have been national news? I'm guessing no.

But, just for the record, I don't think the fact that the victim was black and the cops all white was immaterial to the story. Do you?

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But if you're going to argue that Haggerty didn't deserve coverage due to extenuating circumstances, then may I submit the Rodney King case for inspection.
First of all, the Rodney King story would not be a story at all if there were not an extremely disturbing videotape recording of it. That pretty much lays to rest any relevance of the comparison right there. If there were a videotape of the Haggerty incident, I don't know, but I suspect it would look a lot more like a cop making the kinds of snap judgment call that comes with the job than the Rodney King incident did. And again, you seem to be ignoring the point that I keep making: the Rodney King incident is a classic example of a media-public positive feedback loop. Do you really wonder why the public reaction to the Haggerty incident is less? Do you think that's the fault of the news media?

Quote
I mean, it's not like anyone died, so by your "reasoning" it shouldn't have even made the national press, krrrect?
So, you have deduced from what I've written, that I think nothing less than a homicide merits newsworthiness? Pardon my saying so, but that would require your either being really dumb, or intentionally misreading.

Now, here's an example of really obnoxious arguing. I wrote:
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I don't believe the degree of overreaction is demonstrated. In fact, in light of the facts, I'm not sure the Chicago officers' actions could be called an overreaction at all.
to which the GhostMan responded:
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Some would beg to differ witcha. And unlike you, they'd be willing to put their money where their mouth is.
Look, dipwad*, when I say "I'm not sure" it reflects the fact that there's not a whole lot of information I have to go on here. You seem to be implying that I'm making the case that the police actions in this incident were entirely by the book and beyond question. And that not "putting my money where my mouth is" (or isn't as the case may be) is somehow pusillanimous.
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...it's unlikely that the amount would have survived a trial & appeal even if she won, which according to Russell probably wouldn't happen anyway.
Why don't you restrict yourself to addressing what I actually write? Why do you find it necessary to invent fictional opinions to argue against?

*It's with some hesitation that I devolve to this kind of personal insult. But not without reason. I don't believe the kind of misreading documented here can be taken as benign sloppiness, and I want to communicate that that really pisses me off. If that's your goal - great. But I think you make yourself look pretty bad in the process.

Date: 2006/05/02 16:33:30, Link
Author: Russell
Look. Here are three specific questions directed at you, Ghostface:
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How often do you suppose people get shot when, after resisting arrest by leading cops on a car chase, the cop mistakes an unwise move for reaching for a gun? What fraction of those cases do you suppose you hear about? Suppose Diallo had been shot once by one cop, when the cop mistook reaching for a wallet for reaching for a gun. Do you suppose that would have been national news?
Is this your idea of an answer:
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Funny, that sounds a lot like the Diallo shooting, except in the Diallo shooting, one of the cops shouted, "Gun!" That might explain the overkill. Oh yes, and seeing one of their buddies staggering backwards might have also unnerved them a little.
Maybe if I ask them one at a time, I'll have better luck. Let's just go with this: do you suppose that if Diallo had been shot by one or two cops, once or twice, because they mistakenly thought he was reaching for a gun, that would have been national news? That would be one (1) "Yes or No" question.
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As far as the Rodney King videotape, the Charles Baum beating was taped by a NBC news affiliate. Didn't do him much good, did it?
Is there a point here, somewhere? First you brought up Rodney King to show how skewed the (non)coverage of the Haggerty incident was. Well, that really didn't work. So now you're substituting the Baum case. First of all, no one is denying that the Rodney King case was all about - real or perceived - racism. Did you have the impression that someone was? Do you think that's inappropriate?  Secondly, setting aside the question of race just for a moment and for the sake of discussion, were the two beatings, or more to the point, the two tapes similarly brutal? I seem to recall several incidents of bad police behavior caught on videotape, but the only victim whose name I remember is Rodney King. I suggest two reasons why that might be (1) it was particularly vicious, and (2) there was that media-public positive feedback loop I keep trying to get you to acknowledge. (We'll consider the fact that the cop/victim ratio was 4/1 and 1/1 in the King and Baum cases, respectively, as part of reason #1). The Baum case certainly does sound like police misconduct. But, regrettably, police misconduct - even the white on black kind - is not necessarily national news. Baum was "struck" 8 times - after being handcuffed. No doubt about it; that's not good. But what does that mean? Have you seen the Baum videotape, Ghost? Can you tell us whether the brutality of the assault, or seriousness of the injuries, was comparable to the Rodney King case? Or does that not matter?
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(Russell: ) But, just for the record, I don't think the fact that the victim was black and the cops all white was immaterial to the story. Do you?
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(GoP: ) No, I think it's relevant and newsworthy.
Good. I'm glad we got that out of the way.
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So what about Charles Baum?
Much less so. Minority on majority police brutality is not going to set off alarms about oppression, triggering that all-important media-public positive feedback loop I keep telling you about.
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So are you agreeing that minority-on-majority violence is more emphasized than the converse? Or not? Because if you argue that it isn't, your hypothesis makes no sense.
Huh? Agreeing with whom? What hypothesis? Is there a typo or something in there, the correction of which would render this sensible?
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But these earlier comments imply that you were judging crimes primarily on their lethality
Geez, Ghosty. You're really getting desperate here; either that or your reading comprehension issues are more serious than I thought.

Let me try to break this down for you. Crimes - whether or not a racial angle is involved - come in a huge range of brutality. There are far too many crimes on a daily basis to be covered by the national press. Now, you can be pretty sure that disorderly conduct, including, say, hurling racial epithets, is not going to make national news. One factor that increases the newsworthiness of a crime is its brutality. All murders are brutal (at least the way I see it). But not all egregious brutality is murder. Can you grasp that? Moreover, as I've said all along, there are other factors, too, beyond brutality that influence the newsworthiness of a crime. One of those would be racial implications. Now, do you really think you can defend your characterization that I claimed nothing short of murder was newsworthy?
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But now I don't know - somtimes it's the seriousness of the injury; sometimes it's whether or not it was videotaped; other times, you count the number of bullets and/or shooters and make that the criterion.
I doubt that I need to point out to anyone reading this how lame this is. All of these things contribute to the newsworthiness of an incident. As does, sometimes, the racial disposition of perpetrators and victims. Now here's another direct question for you, Ghosty: Which of these factors that I've brought up do you think should not contribute to the newsworthiness of the incident in question?
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You've always got an excuse, though. Even when I gave you a lexis-nexis search on five similar cases, it still wasn't enough.
Wasn't enough for what? What do you think your lexis-nexis revelations proved?
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But spin it like a spinning top, Russie-Russ; I'm enjoying the show.
I'm so glad. Just think how much you'd enjoy it if you actually understood it. But I'm afraid that, unless you show some effort and/or ability in that direction, the show's over.

Date: 2006/05/03 05:10:38, Link
Author: Russell
Lots of pasting; still no point.

No source listed for those last two dumps. I assume they came from the usual impeccable bastions of impartiality. Still, the responsible thing to do would be to acknowledge your source.

That way, maybe we could learn enough about the Gideon Busch story, for instance, to form some basis for comparison. As it is, we don't know nearly enough, like why he attracted the attention of the police in the first place.

Rodney King: a story that ignites a media-public positive feedback firestorm because of real or perceived racial animus

Thomas Jones: a story with similar brutality, but missing any credible racial animus, gets national coverage, but less. It fails to ignite that all-important media-public positive feedback loop. Is this unfair? Was the King coverage excessive? Was the press negligent in covering the Jones case?

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Not up to your standards?
No. It's not. Is it up to yours?

Date: 2006/05/03 07:31:54, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
this is the same source we've been arguing about for over two pages now! You know, the one that I've been "quote-mining" from! The one that "supports" your feedback loop hypothesis! Kids, liberalism rots the brain.....Exhibit A: Posters on Panda's Thumb.
Oh, really? Go back over your posts and see when the last time you acknowledged that source. You quoted from it extensively yesterday, again without acknowledging it. In the last two pages, I see a Wikipedia quote cited, and before that, a FrontPage article. Regrettably, I have to use my admittedly limited memory capacity for purposes other than keeping track of your quotes from dozens of posts back. Now, I might be tempted to draw conclusions about how poor scholarship and attention to details like acknowledging sources correlates with troglodyte politics, but that would be wrong.
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In other words, you do concede that the media covers minority-on majority crimes/ brutality cases differently from the converse, correct?
Oh, was that not clear? I thought I had gone over that about a dozen times while explaining the whole media-public positive feedback loop to you. Yes. There are differences in the coverage of the two groups. Majority-on-minority crime - all other things being equal - merits a bit more newsworthiness than the reverse.
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Does the media emphasize majority-on-minority crime, and de-emphasize minority-on-majority crime? Just yes or no, please.
You'll have to make do with the answer I just gave, unless you define what "emphasis" is relative to. Relative to the coverage you think is appropriate? Relative to the coverage you'd expect in the absence of any racial component?

Date: 2006/05/03 07:46:47, Link
Author: Russell
edit

Date: 2006/05/03 08:04:31, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
[Russell] denies that the media is underemphasizing minority-on-majority crimes
Did I? Perhaps I misstated my position. Please refer me to where I denied that. I want to make sure I didn't accidentally leave this concept of "emphasis" unexamined.
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Plus, he just forgot the existence of a source, the same source Faid and I have been arguing over for the past two pages, despite the fact that Faid and I have probably quoted every word of it during our debate.
You seem to think I should take you more seriously than I do. Like memorizing your quotes from... when was the last time you acknowledged it?
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Look, Russ, I'm sorry I called you a loon and implied yer brain was rotten. But stop making bone-headed arguments, will ya?
Gosh. I was a little hesitant to buy your argument based on the lack of support, the many questions you've left unaddressed, and the fact that your sources are either WingNut Central or a student essayist who fundamentally disagrees with your point, once you read him in context. But now that you've labeled my arguments "bone-headed"... well, I guess there's just no countering that.

Date: 2006/05/03 09:02:26, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
So I'm assuming from now on that all of us (Paley, Faid, Russell, Eric) agree that the media underemphasize minority-on-majority violence relative to majority-on-minority violence. This is true for brutality cases and for criminal cases. If anyone disagrees, say so now.
Foreseeing, as I do, potential "meaning-drift" on that term ,"underemphasize", in any ensuing discussion, I'm going to clarify what I'm agreeing with.

In news stories involving "man's inhumanity to man" (crime, brutality, savagery involving rolled up newspapers, etc.)  a majority/minority perpetrator/victim configuration generally gets more ink than the reverse - all other things being equal.

Date: 2006/05/04 04:32:13, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
narcissistic
What a remarkable coincidence! That's exactly the adjective that popped into my mind!

Date: 2006/05/04 08:19:03, Link
Author: Russell
Geocentrism? GoP's going to actually defend geocentrism?

OK. This has to mean either:

(1) GoP's been putting us on all along with his ridiculous positions
or
(2) GoP is going to expound some kind of sophistry along the lines that, since there is no border to the universe, you can justifiably call any point the center.

I'll vote for geocentrism because (1) it's a discussion tht presents very little danger of my being sucked into, and (2) it promises to provide abundant reason to dismiss GoP's claim to be taken seriously, on anything, once and for all.

Date: 2006/05/06 15:20:57, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
....^&%# Marxists.
Huh? What does all this have to do with Marxism? Or is this a little Ghostly humor that I'm not getting?

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And Russell will claim that the Black students must have been flown in by helicopter.
Hey, the student body is what it is. I don't argue with that. I'm just telling you, it's surprising given the makeup of Bensonhurst. Perhaps it reflects busing, or something.

But Ghost never saw fit to comment on the Yusuf Hawkins story. Or the Central Park Jogger story... Is his attention any less selective than the AP's?

Date: 2006/05/06 16:51:21, Link
Author: Russell
I can’t locate it right now, but yesterday some reasonable commenter commented on the fact that we seem to let the creationists call the shots here. They start new threads, we react. They insist we “vote” on which full-or-crap argument they’re going to deign to defend, or we’re “cowardly” (however that logic works).

Well, I guess since the theme of the discussion  board is “antievolution”, the fringe elements are justified in claiming more attention than they merit in the real world. Still, they need to be reminded that it’s their position that is universally rejected in the world of science, and that there are very sound reasons for that. Indeed, letting them make their case as fully as they can only serves to illustrate that journal editors and curriculum designers are more than justified in ignoring them.

But GoP, with his pretensions of expertise ranging from journalism to biology to physics, causes me to pause and ponder the bigger picture, which I sum up as Pseudointellectual Anti-intellectualism.

I recall back in college seeing a notice for some Campus Crusade for Christ lecture where they were going to disprove the notion that their movement was “anti-intellectual”. I had never really thought about it in those terms, but it struck me that that is exactly what they are, and that what they stand for is the very antithesis of what my concept of the university community was all about. Someone, as a joke I guess, had ordered me a subscription to wacko-fundamentalist Garner Ted Armstrong’s (Worldwide Church of God; Ambassador College) monthly rag, “The Plain Truth”, which used to rail about the arrogance and folly of substituting “man-made philosophy” for divine revelation (i.e. Garner Ted Armstrong’s reading of the Christian Bible). Neither the Campus Crusade in particular, nor fundamentalists in general (and I use the term broadly, including, e.g. “Muslim fundamentalists) have ever offered any evidence that even begins to dissuade me from the conclusion that, in fact, anti-intellectualism is the very core of their movement.

Back then, fundamentalists were fairly straightforward about their distrust of academia, science, and “man-made philosophy”. Reading “The Plain Truth” was sort of a glimpse at a mindset that might be caught on insomniac TV faith-healer shows (does anyone remember Kathryn Kuhlman?), but had very little to do with real life. At the time, I suppose Henry Morris and the “creation science” crowd were making their claims, but I never heard of anyone with a decent high school education, let alone a member of the university community, who regarded them as anything but a joke.

But now we’ve got the “intelligent design” movement – which, as was demonstrated quite convincingly at the Dover trial, is actually just rebranded creation science – claiming to beat the pointy-head professors at their own game. Here’s William Dembski, with his multiple graduate degrees, using impenetrable jargon to comfort the faithful with the illusion that their distrust of book-larnin’ and “man-made philosophies” was respectable and could be (trust him!;) proved with mathematical formulas. (Never mind the fact that David Wolpert characterized Dembski’s supposed development of his [i.e. Wolpert’s] “no free lunch theorems” as “written in jello”. Never mind the fact that no scientist, statistician, or mathematician has ever written a positive review of his work, excluding Jesus-oriented websites and such.)

It’s this “beating the pointy-head professors at their own game” gambit that I suggest sums up GhostGuy’s virtuoso sophistry, and I dub pseudo-intellectual anti-intellectualism. It works something like this. How many readers of, say, Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” or Brian Greene’s “The Fabric of the Cosmos” are in a position to critique the math behind the book? Not a lot. Based on the fact that their disciplines accord them a lot of credibility, we in the general public likewise assume that their attempts to explain really arcane subjects are not just some con game.  Dembski, Behe et al. abuse this trust by presenting their degrees and university affiliations in lieu of the respect their academic disciplines do not accord them. (Again, witness Dover.) Posers like Ghosty go even further. No credentials of any sort; just internet blowhards professing to know more than the professors in, apparently, every discipline they’ve given a moment’s thought. All in the service either of bloated egos or their fundamentalist memes or both.

Our job here, the way I see it, is to expose the hollowness of their pretensions. Every “I just don’t have time to prove it right now”, as far as I’m concerned, is a concession of defeat. An absurd argument (geocentrism comes to mind) is not made any stronger by the claim that six other absurd arguments compete for defender's attention. Quite the contrary.

Just thought I’d say that.

Date: 2006/05/07 01:04:14, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I'm not trying to teach them. I've tutored people for years. These idiots are unteachable. But they are good for some laughs.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting otherwise. My point is the power of the pseudointellectual anti-intellectual approach in swaying others.  You're not suggesting, are you, that anyone that might be conned by this shell game is an idiot beyond hope of learning?

Date: 2006/05/07 09:25:25, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
The ones who take up arms (verbally) against biologists, physicists, etc, over and over, who aren't swayed by argument, who've seen what all the experts say but think they know better--Thordaddy, GoP, Salvador, and the like--they're idiots, and unteachable.
While I agree these guys are all unteachable, I make a distinction between them on the pseudointellectual anti-intellectualism scale i.e. their ability to confuse the confusable. Salvador and GoP are the worst offenders - GoP with his 7-dimensional rotationally isotropic Jesons, or whatever the h#ll he's on about, and Salvador with his Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle proving intelligent design.

If Thordaddy is even trying to play the smarter-than-the-smart-guys game, he's failing miserably. AFDave seems more like a victim than a master of the PIAI con game.

I'll let someone else find Larry's place on the continuum; his combination of dumb, pompous, prolix and boring is beyond my tolerance for this kind of crap.

Date: 2006/05/08 04:59:53, Link
Author: Russell
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There is no such thing as "less evolved" or "more evolved" in the context you want to use them. There is only more fit or less fit to the niche you find yourself living in.
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This is an amazing statement to me.  Do most of you guys really believe this?
Is there some reason not to?

Date: 2006/05/08 05:13:38, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
No one here will argue that an ape is a human. Apes are apes. Humans are human. They are similar in some respects, but different in others. That's all.
Much as no one here will argue that mammals are humans. I, however, would argue that humans are one of the 5 surviving species of great apes.

Date: 2006/05/08 06:46:40, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Out of answers and energy, perhaps?
or patience, perhaps. If you think there's some new challenge here, you're deluding yourself.
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I'm starting to make sense and you are frustrated?
I suspect there may be some frustration. But it's not because you're "starting to make sense". Quite the contrary.
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Maybe evolutionary explanations are not so great as they once seemed to you?  But you still want to hang onto them because you have your life invested in them?
All I have invested in is what works. If creationism offered some explanations of the otherwise unexplained, if it made any predictions at all that worked, I still have my life and my work. It wouldn't cost me a thing to adopt it. If it worked. But it doesn't.

Now, let's talk about what you have invested in creationism. Suppose we were able to convince you that AiG is just as obviously, glaringly, unambiguously wrong about everything else as I hope you have come to realize they are about the chromosome fusion story. Suppose you had to accept what every scientist who's looked at the evidence objectively accepts: that the earth is billions of years old, and that humans are just one little twig on the tree of life, that has been on the scene for but an infinitesimal fraction of the planet's history. Would that make you reassess your thoughts on life and your alleged god?

Date: 2006/05/08 09:08:41, Link
Author: Russell
A couple quick comments:

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(Jeannot: ) - The divergence between chimps and human occurred 15 My ago, IIRC.
I think the consensus these days is more like 5 My ago. About 50% longer ago for the (human/chimp)-gorilla divergence, and maybe about double that for the (human/chimp/gorilla)-orang utan divergence. Humans are more closely related to chimps (and bonobos) than chimps are related to gorillas.

Quote
(AFDave: ) WE REALLY DON'T KNOW FOR SURE IF HUMANS EVOLVED FROM APE-LIKE ANCESTORS, AND I'M NOT SURE WE EVER WILL.

Why are we standing up in science classes and teaching kids that Ape to Human Evolution is a FACT?  This is dishonest and potentially damaging to society for any number of debatable reasons.
"We" don't know to your satisfaction, perhaps. But you have demonstrated here that you are not really competent to judge.

I am quite confident that we "know" this as well as other conclusions we call "known" in science - like that the earth is billions of years old, or that ordinary matter is composed of atoms.

Are we "lying" when we teach these things in science class? Should we teach "both theories" about matter: that it is composed of atoms, and that it's not composed of atoms?

Date: 2006/05/08 10:11:34, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I just found my notes on a conference I assisted. There, Yves Coppens (French paleo-anthropologist) said that pre-humans diverged from pan some 10 Mya.
(emphasis mine)
Well, there you go. Need I say more? I mean, it was the French who would have had us believe it was a mistake to invade Iraq. (Oh... wait a minute...)

But seriously, I think that the molecular evidence favors the more recent date, and my (American!;)) paleontologist friend says he's comfortable with that, too.

I refer you to Richard Dawkins's "The Ancestor's Tale" for the dates I'm (provisionally) going by.

Let me take this opportunity to repeat a point that AFDave seems not to have absorbed. Chimps, bonobos, gorillas and orang-utans are all fully apes, right? No one of them is "apier" than another, right? Now, since humans are more closely related to chimps and bonobos than they are to gorillas, by what possible criterion could humans not be fully certified, card-carrying, dues-paid-up members of the Ape Club? Speaking of humans as opposed to apes makes no more sense than speaking of humans as opposed to mammals.

Date: 2006/05/08 10:57:46, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
followed by the founding of the United States squarely upon the Bible also
absolutely not.

Add American history to the list of subjects AFDave knows less about than he thinks.

Date: 2006/05/08 11:07:42, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Molecular datation can't contradict geological datation. It is calibrated from geological datation (fossils or other biogeographical data).
No, indeed. But with molecular data, you're not limited to the fossils of the particular animal in question; you get to use a much larger data set of animals with their attendant geological correlates - at least insofar as you can rely on molecular clock assumptions (a whole other discussion).

(By the way, I think we just say "dating" in English).

But it strikes me that this is a much more productive subject to explore than whether AFDave accepts a round earth, atomic theory, or other elements of modernity. What do you say we start another thread?

Date: 2006/05/08 12:11:52, Link
Author: Russell
Hey, Ghosty - What is it with you and "liberalism"? We're talking about science, evolution, stuff like that. You think that's a "liberal" position? Why don't you take it up with Charles Krauthammer, or George Will? Or self-proclaimed "right-wing Professor" Harbison?  

And don't you have about a dozen "iconoclastic" positions you're supposed to be defending? I see there's some kind of new medication for adult Attention Deficit Disorder. You might want to look into that.

Date: 2006/05/08 13:31:18, Link
Author: Russell
I have no desire to promote a pi55ing contest. But I am struck by this bit of illogic, and I wonder if, upon mature reflection, GhostGuy wouldn't concede that it is, indeed, illogical:
Quote
See? Steve doesn't realise that people who think differently than himself may also contribute something valuable to the discussion. I bet I could find living Young Earth Creationists who have made more significant contributions to science, technology and/or society than he has, but that doesn't matter.
Notice that we went from talking about "contributing something valuable to the discussion" (presumably this discussion - the one about chromosomes and evolution) to "making contributions to science, technology and/or society". Can Ghosty find us a Young Earth Creationist who has contributed anything to the study of chromosomes, genetics, and/or evolution?

Date: 2006/05/08 14:13:32, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You don't think Ghost knows about Gregor Mendel and  his pea plants?
oops. I had meant to include, as Ghostguy did, living Young Earth Creationist. But now that you mention it, I didn't know Mendel was a YECer. Was that still more typical than not in those days? I mean, sure, the "C" part of YEC was; but I don't think Darwin was particularly unusual in contemplating an earth much, much older than Bishop Ussher's.

Date: 2006/05/08 14:51:17, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
LOL!  Oh... the irony.  And I suppose referring to my non-guilty children as "bastards" was another example of "liberal" nondiscrimination and tolerance?
ummm, Thordude? You seem to be confusing Webster's definition #1 ("illegitimate child") with definition #3a ("an offensive or disagreeable person -- used as a generalized term of abuse"). The first meaning does not impugn the child, just the parent.

You needn't take offense on their behalf. According to the official account, Jesus's Mom never married his Dad, so, yes, Christ was a bastard.

Date: 2006/05/09 02:25:34, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
What I would be interested in is how much CoP et al are aware they are acting like this?  Do they realise how silly they look trying to out expertise the experts?
That's a good question. For any one creationist it's hard to know whether he's propping up a mythology that keeps himself from becoming a mass-murderer/philanderer/child-molester or whatever inner demon he fears, or whether he's propping it up because he fears his neighbor will revert to such bad behaviors without the Falwell-style SkyDaddy keeping him in check. It seems to me the Straussian neocons more or less acknowledge the latter view, though of course they phrase it a little less starkly. But  there's nothing mutually exclusive about the two motives; I suspect most creationists represent some combination of the two.

I might have thought that a more subtle, less easily debunked, SkyDaddy would serve the purpose better.But in light of the poll numbers, which seem to support the conclusion that close to half of Americans buy a literal biblical version of origins, perhaps - as is so often the case - the creos understand their target audience better than I do.

Date: 2006/05/09 02:47:42, Link
Author: Russell
It's true there's nothing about Mendel's work that's obviously at odds with a creationist view; I don't have any reason to doubt creationists' claims about him (aside, of course, from their general reputation of mendacity, no near-pun intended). I'm just curious to know how far the recognition of an old earth had penetrated the various spheres of intellectual life by what date, and how wedded the Catholic church ever was to a young earth.

There's a book "The Map that Changed the World" by Simon Winchester, about geologist William Smith, that describes the first real evidence for a very old earth around the end of the 1700's. I guess it would not be too surprising to find less than unanimous acceptance of it among Mendel's circle just half a century later.

Date: 2006/05/09 02:56:40, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Even more, one can make a great case that Christians thru the last two millenia have demonstrated a similar degree of evolution.
I'm a little confused about the antecedents here. Similar to whom? To the Nazis, or to the Jews?

[just for the record, I'm not trying to be polemical here; I can see a case for either position]

Date: 2006/05/09 03:30:41, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Russell,

Your problem is the IDENTICAL assumptions you bring to every answer.
I had no idea I could lay claim to such admirable consistency. Unfortunately, the next paragraph was of no help at all in identifying what those assumptions might be, and whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Date: 2006/05/09 05:22:21, Link
Author: Russell
There is much in what you say.

One might be tempted to conclude that Dembski (Paley, et al.) should accord actual science and scientists some respect and should be a tad more humble about their scientific claims. And that we should, in return, accord Dembski, Paley, et al., due respect for their expertise in theology.

Only I have to admit that, to me, the respect due expertise in theology is similar to the respect due expertise in water-witching. I know this sounds narrow-minded, and I'm open to being shown the error in my thinking, But so far I have not been.

Date: 2006/05/09 05:45:03, Link
Author: Russell
Geez, AFD. You've got way too much time on your hands. Pity you can't use it to learn something. For instance, I doubt that among the "Main Points [you] Learned Yesterday", there was a single one of them of which you were not fully sure the day before yesterday.

I'll just comment on this one, and get on to more productive activities.
Quote
(Russell: ) But you have demonstrated here that you are not really competent to judge.
Quote
(AFDave: ) Agreed.  That's why I enlist the help of Morris, Dembski, Meyer, Denton, Behe, etc. etc.
If you're not competent to judge information that is presented by scientists who don't care about your religion, what makes you think you are competent to sort out fact from fiction coming from these guys whose stated agenda is to align science with their religion? You're not "enlisting their help", you're just playing their stooge.

Date: 2006/05/09 06:44:27, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I've actually never read any of Dawkins' books. Can anyone recommend what the best one to start with would be?
Depends on what you're after. I think he's a wonderfully clear explainer of ideas, which is what bugs the bejeezus out of creationists, and why, rather than actually take on the content of his explanations, they resort to a cartoon of a rabid militant atheist.

Anyway, his first book "The Selfish Gene" is relatively short and succinct. His latest "The Ancestor's Tale" is the opposite, but does two things: One, it gives a neat overview of the whole history of the tree of life going from the human twig to the root, and Two, as the various organisms are joined to the tree, it brings up individual issues that illustrate important concepts and tools in evolutionary biology.

For dealing with the issues raised by creationists, it's hard to beat "The Blind Watchmaker".

Date: 2006/05/09 06:49:03, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I need to explain more fully why I believe the similarities favor Common Design over Common Descent.  I will try to address this soon.
This should be entertaining. I hope your explanation for the vitamin C story will be a prominent part of it.

Date: 2006/05/09 09:07:45, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
do you really think we could tolerate another human species (say Homo neanderthalensis)?
Makes for a really interesting thought experiment, doesn't it?

Quote
…blablabla COMMON DESIGN blablablabla…
What observation could falsify common design?
Vitamin C?

Date: 2006/05/09 10:42:14, Link
Author: Russell
English Waterloo: yes, the American Revolution. But more specifically, the final battle, Yorktown, after which Cornwallis surrendered.

Vitamin C: The Designer apparently decided to give humans, chimps, gorillas AND guinea pigs broken vitamin C making enzymes. Well, it's been said The Designer works in mysterious ways; I suppose He must have had a reason for doing that. But why did he give all the primates the same defect, and the guinea pigs another? Seems a whole lot more compatible with common descent than common (mis)design to me.

Date: 2006/05/09 10:52:43, Link
Author: Russell
I've probably gone on about this before, but I also see both the "God in the Fog"  and the "Postmodernist Premodern" phenomena as aspects of the whole pseudointellectual anti-intellectual strategy.

(Interesting, by the way, how none of the AtBC creo regulars have seen fit to join this particular thread.)

Date: 2006/05/09 12:36:02, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Do gorillas have the broken Vitamin C gene? I thought it was only humans and chimps.
Apparently it's all primates. The broken gene is thought to be inherited from an ancestor common to all the primates about 40 million years ago. So you've got all these primates with a broken gene. And, once it was broken, of course, there's no selection that prevents it from accumulating more mutations. And, just like other DNA that's not under strong selection, you generate a nested hierarchy of mutations that pretty much overlaps the nested hierarchy of mutations in any other representative sample of the genome. Now, how does the "common designer hypothesis" explain that?

(Actually, I don't know how much of the relevant data is already in; I certainly can't cite the relevant research. So you can regard it both as a sketchy summary of the sketchy data that's already in and a prediction of data yet to be produced. What predictions does the "common designer hypothesis" make about it?)

Date: 2006/05/11 05:55:48, Link
Author: Russell
No reason to belabor the point: normdoering made it very well. It's the ultimate answer to any hopeless argument: "Sure, it looks like an open and shut case now, but sometime in the future we may learn something totally unexpected that changes everything!"  That's kind of a science stopper, isn't it? Why bother trying to understand anything, knowing that some future information might change our conclusions?

Here's a ground rule we'll just have to accept in order not to render all discussions ridiculous: explain observations based on currently known data, or admit that you really can't explain it.  For instance, given the data on the broken vitamin C gene, it could be explained by (A) common inheritance of a mutation that occurred in a common ancestor, or (B) it could be explained by an as yet unknown explanation.
Quote
Now, here is something else ...

How do you explain the similarity of the GLO gene "defects" of humans and guinea pigs? (you knew I was going to go here, didn't you)  Apparently, something like 36% of the substitutions are the same when compared to the functional rat GLO gene.  If we assume that there is some pro-simian ancestor that has a functional GLO gene, then it would appear that humans are more closely related to guinea pigs than to this pro-simian ancestor.  This would seem to defy the evolutionary scenario.  How do you explain this?
Now, this may prove interesting. We can think of it as an experiment. (I'm not familiar with the data you're talking about, so I'm going to assume it's in the Max article - if not, please clarify.) Now I would predict, based on evolution, that the errors would be essentially random, and that we should not see a statistically improbable coincidence in guinea pig and primate errors. I gather you're saying that we do, which I guess you contend challenges evolution. In fact, if the errors are sufficiently similar, it might be construed as consistent with the "common designer hypothesis". (I.e. The Designer says to Himself, "for reasons known only to me, I see the need to give guinea pigs, humans, and all the monkeys and apes a broken vitamin C gene. No need to reinvent the wheel, I'll just give them the same broken gene!"). I predict that a careful examination of the data will prove you wrong. Further, I predict that you won't admit it.

Quote
And here's one I like from Dr. Max that confirms what us YECers so often say about mutations ...
Wow! You guys are way ahead of us! Do you also stake out such bold claims as "water is wet"?

Actually, believe it or not, geneticists have always known that mutations are more likely to be detrimental than beneficial. But unless you can quantify the odds in some meaningful way, relative to the "statistical resources" (i.e. the number of "trials" available), it's completely useless.

Date: 2006/05/11 06:02:02, Link
Author: Russell
Now, let's not jump to conclusions. Sure, it may seem like Ghosty's horror story has no point, but clearly he's just staging a cliff-hanger. Obviously in Part 2 he's going to tie it all together and show how it actually proves something. Probably that's when he'll explain how the Central Park Jogger case, which would seem to run counter to his thesis, is actually the exception that proves the rule.

Date: 2006/05/11 11:07:02, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Maybe the engineer who implemented the design just used a prior existing life form as a starting point, and the one he/she/it picked just happened to have that gene broke?
No, that still wouldn't explain the nested structure of the hierarchy. Let's say, for instance, that The Designer's project for the day is primates. So He picks a prior existing primate or proto-primate genome, tweaks it here and there, and - poof! - a gorilla; tweaks it a little differently, and - poof! - a chimp; a little differently again, and - poof! - a lemur. So the original prototype had a defect in the GLO. You might expect all these primates to get it, perhaps decorated with extra mutations either randomly or intentionally introduced. But why would you get a set of mutations that are almost the same comparing chimp to human, mostly the same comparing (chimp/human) to  gorilla, less so comparing (chimp/human)/gorilla) to lemur?

It would make sense if The Designer started with a common prototype for chimp and human, and that prototype was derived from a previous prototype from which the gorilla was also developed, which was derived from a previous prototype from which the lemur was also developed. In other words, it would make sense if The Designer was... evolution.

I believe AFdave is trying to tell us that the evidence fits the "common designer hypothesis" better than the "common descent hypothesis". So far all we've got is if you make all kinds of excuses and ad hoc fixes, you could conceive of a Designer mimicking the results that evolution predicts occurring naturally. Call me closed-minded, but I just don't find that very convincing.

Date: 2006/05/11 13:03:19, Link
Author: Russell
Ummm, Thordude? You seem to have inadvertantly posted your "gay marriage" screed on my "pseudointellecual antiintellectualism" discussion. This thread is all about using intellectual sounding blarney to make the case that intellectual efforts are wrongheaded and a waste of time.

Date: 2006/05/11 14:00:53, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
The author then proceeds to support these assertions. Keep digging yourself a hole, Russell - sooner or later you're bound to strike oil.
Here I am, sticking up for you, telling folks that, surely your next post would tell us what your point is, and you let me down again.
Quote
By the way, is this the Central Park Jogger case you've been yammering about? It seems that some details got lost along the way....
That's the case all right. The point that seems to have gotten lost - on you anyway - is that the wrong guys were convicted, amidst a great deal of press sensationalism about black on white crime. What's your point? That the wrongly convicted kids were dirtbags and therefore no one should lose any sleep over their being wrongly convicted? I think I'll take the press, with all its biases, over you and your biases, thank you very much. I think you're a lot more dangerous.

Date: 2006/05/11 15:53:47, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You may object to Ms. Coulter's anger and overheated language, but you gotta admit the facts are a bit more complicated than the media would have us believe.
My point exactly. The media would have had us believe that it was an open and shut case against the kids that, in fact, got convicted and spent years in prison.  The media did not question the police procedures that somehow produced confessions from kids that contradict the confession of Reyes. The media, in short, behaved exactly the way you say they never do: they hyped up a sensational story involving black-on-white crime.

And, no, I don't accept the word of Ann Coulter for anything. In the absence of any solid evidence to the contrary, I think it's generally a good bet that whatever Coulter says is pretty much the opposite of reality. Is Ms. Coulter not, though, a member of that MainStream Medium you're telling us not to trust?

Date: 2006/05/12 02:39:36, Link
Author: Russell
I never did figure out how to do nested quotes. If it's working now, can someone give me a clue?

(I certainly hope that box Wesley just posted was not the procedure!;)

Date: 2006/05/12 02:48:00, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I've got to start preparing my physics, guys.....
so I guess you're done here? You've shown us all you've got on the Mainstream Media's Liberal Agenda? Color me "unimpressed".

Date: 2006/05/12 05:06:03, Link
Author: Russell
AFDave wrote:
Quote
How do you explain the similarity of the GLO gene "defects" of humans and guinea pigs? (you knew I was going to go here, didn't you)  Apparently, something like 36% of the substitutions are the same when compared to the functional rat GLO gene.  If we assume that there is some pro-simian ancestor that has a functional GLO gene, then it would appear that humans are more closely related to guinea pigs than to this pro-simian ancestor.  This would seem to defy the evolutionary scenario.  How do you explain this?
If you're seriously interested in exploring this, you'll need to give a reference for the data. It's not in the Max paper.

Of course, it's possible that you're not serious about exploring it, but that you just wanted to throw out some mumbo-jumbo with numbers in it, to appear as if you have a clue.

Date: 2006/05/12 08:21:27, Link
Author: Russell
RE: Max's "Huge Assumption"
It's not Max's assumption. It's the basis of the Nishikimi work and hundreds - thousands -  of papers with which the Nishikimi papers mesh, if you care to start reading the references. It's called "evolution", and it provides a framework for understanding why Nishikimi's group coud reasonably expect to find homologs to gulo sequences in the primate and guinea pig genomes.

What is your explanation as to why these similar sequences exist, if their function was never the same?

Date: 2006/05/12 11:52:40, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Others here: Can you answer those questions?
Yes, but I'm not sure what the one answer to the "top level predator" question should be.

Date: 2006/05/12 12:02:27, Link
Author: Russell
Oh, gaaack!

Does Paley's latest post put anyone else in mind of the "I've had worse jobs, philosophically speaking..." scene in Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life"?

Date: 2006/05/12 14:52:36, Link
Author: Russell
AFDave: Your smugness is quite grating. I assume you're doing that on purpose, no? It always amazes me how the preachiest christians lack what I would have thought would be the "zeroth commandment" of christianity: humility.

YOU need to reread the Vitamin C discussion. I asked you some specific questions that you have ignored.

Nobody really cares what your goals are and what they aren't. I can answer specific questions, if they're phrased sensibly and if I think that either you or some other reader might be interested.

Quote
Your [i.e. scientists'] problem is simply your interpretation of data and your sometimes faulty logic.
We check that on a daily, if not hourly basis. It's part of the job. Has it occurred to you that your interpretations and logic might be faulty, especially in light of the fact that your grasp of the basics is tenuous at best?

Now to cover some specifics:

Quote
Your mistake in logic is that you have ASSUMED that humans and apes at one time in their history actually had a functional GLO gene.  This has to be your assumption if you say it is "broken" now, and the fact is that you do not know this.
This is among the things I explained and you ignored. I'll try one more time. It's not an assumption. It's a tested hypothesis that follows from the theory of evolution. It's been cross-checked in thousands of organisms and it fits neatly with all the data. I asked you to explain why Nishikimi could expect to find gulo-homologous sequences in humans, orangs and guinea pigs, if not because of common descent. No response.

Quote
Please tell me that you guys ARE aware of all the new information coming in about "junk DNA" that apparently isn't junk after all (the gene we are discussing IS one of those genes, right?)?
Not only are we aware of it, we know what the research is actually saying. Moreover, we -at least no scientist I know-  never suffered from the cartoon misunderstandings that creationists so smugly infer from the unfortunate term "junk DNA".

This has become the creationists' all-purpose "get out of any argument free" card; when asked to explain some aspect of genetics that only makes sense in light of evolution,  you can always invoke a yet-to-be-discovered function of DNA, as you are doing here. What you are ignoring, though, is that there are real differences between the severity of the constraints imposed on DNA sequence by the requirement of functional protein coding and by the various "new" roles of non-coding DNA. There is no function of DNA that we know of, or that has even been suggested that imposes the kind of sequence constraints seen in the gulo pseudogenes, other than protein coding. As I pointed out yesterday, you can either explain it coherently in the framework of common descent, or you can admit that you just can't explain it, and hope that some future discovery will rescue your hypothesis in some completely unanticipated way. Sorry. That's just not an argument.

Date: 2006/05/13 06:28:20, Link
Author: Russell
Chris Hyland wrote:
Quote
Dave, could you give me a reference that says the guinea pig pseudogene appears to be more closely related to the human pseudogene than the other simians, thanks.
Yes. That's what I've been trying to get out of him for a couple of days now. I proposed an "experiment", above, based on this. In his latest volley, AFdave mentions an article by Inai et al. in connection with this 36% number. I paste the abstract, below, but my library is apparently less encyclopedic than AFdave's as I don't have access to the full article. (I assume AFdave must be basing his extraordinary claims on the article, not on the abstract - which doesn't support them - or on AiG reinterpretations, since surely he's learned by now how foolish that would be.)
Quote
J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2003 Oct;49(5):315-9.

The whole structure of the human nonfunctional L-gulono-gamma-lactone oxidase gene--the gene responsible for scurvy--and the evolution of repetitive sequences thereon.

Inai Y, Ohta Y, Nishikimi M.

Department of Biochemistry, Wakayama Medical University, 811-1 Kimiidera, Wakayama 641-0012, Japan.

L-Gulono-gamma-lactone oxidase (GULO), which catalyzes the last step of ascorbic acid biosynthesis, is missing in humans. The whole structure of the human gene homologue for this enzyme was disclosed by a computer-assisted search. Only five exons, as compared to 12 exons constituting the functional rat GULO gene, remain in the human genome. A comparison of these exons with those of their functional counterparts in rat showed that there are two single nucleotide deletions, one triple nucleotide deletion, and one single nucleotide insertion in the human sequence. When compared in terms of codons, the human sequence has a deletion of a single amino acid, two stop codons, and two aberrant codons missing one nucleotide besides many amino acid substitutions. A comparison of the remaining human exon sequences with the corresponding sequences of the guinea pig nonfunctional GULO gene revealed that the same substitutions from rats to both species occurred at a large number of nucleotide positions. From analyses of the molecular evolution of Alu sequences in the human GULO gene homologue, it is thought that two Alu sequences were inserted in the vicinity of a presumed position of lost exon 11 during the same period as GULO lost its function. It is predicted that six LINE-1 sequences located in and near the gene homologue were inserted not during that period.

Date: 2006/05/13 06:59:29, Link
Author: Russell
Yes. But where is that 36% number coming from? Does dave, in fact, have the whole article? Or is he taking someone else's word for it?

And Dave, if you haven't checked out Faid's links, please do. Especially that second one. It's a sort of tutorial that addresses a lot of the issues we've been talking about.

Date: 2006/05/13 07:18:53, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
After all, it could be that the Flying Spaghetti Monster created us with his noodly appendage.
Quote
I admit this is a logical possibility.  I challenge you to find evidence which supports it.
Well, this devout pastafarian admits he's stumped. I just have to accept His Noodly Appendage on faith. Now, I challenge you to admit that the christian SkyDaddy case is in exactly the same position.
Quote
Have I not demonstrated humility by "eating crow" graciously about the chimp chromosome issue?
Not really. Obviously you had to admit the fact that AiG was flat wrong about that. It's not like you had much of a choice there. But you failed to concede the obvious conclusion: that common descent is pretty much inescapable. No, the occasion called for a serious crow banquet; you barely sniffed at it.
Quote
I think what you perceive as smugness here is in reality a little bit of satire and poking fun at a theory.
Oh, I see. It's another example of the "Cordova Cockstrut", an ostentatiously disdainful display of false confidence in lieu of any actual supporting evidence.  
Quote
I am trying very hard to use innovative tools to jar people's thinking.  I think Darwinists are so steeped in logical fallacies that it takes something rather jarring to make them wake up and see the errors.
Motes and beams, dave. Motes and beams.

Date: 2006/05/13 11:48:08, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
My model predicts that commercial interests would prevail in local areas where the crime couldn't be covered up, and only in those places.
Have you actually stated a "model", or should we just accept the version of it I outlined at the start of this thread?

Date: 2006/05/13 12:00:45, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Does dave, in fact, have the whole article?
 
Quote
I think he read an AiG article and it looks like they have read the full article
:O Oh, no. Here we go again. How many cycles of debunking AiG will we have to go through before AFDave comes to be just a wee bit suspicious of their reliability? ???

Date: 2006/05/14 06:00:40, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I think the GLO situation we have in humans and apes today could just as easily support Common Design Theory.  
I keep asking, and you keep not answering: what, in the "common design theory", would have led Nishikimi to expect to find gulo homologs in humans and guinea pigs?"

If you can't answer that, then, no, the common design theory is not "just as easily supported".

Date: 2006/05/14 06:39:29, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You said you would readily accept any evidence for common descent. I don't think you are sincere. What kind of proof would convince you?
Jeannot asks an important question, in fact the important question, here.

The only evidence that I can imagine persuading AFD is AnswersInGenesis publicly admitting that they're wrong, and that the case is, in fact, every bit as solid as the scientists say. And that's not going to happen.

Think about it. AiG has a far-fetched answer for everything, and it was like pulling teeth to get AFD to see the lameness of even the lamest B.S. Even then, it doesn't seem to have put much of a dent in his confidence in them. So we move on to the next AiG bogosity, then the next, and the next... until AiG runs out of money. (I was going to say, runs out of arguments, but as we all know, they just start recycling at that point.)

I think it's a valid question, and AFD should probably address it before he wastes a lot more time with his claims to open-mindedness:

Apparently the fossil evidence, DNA sequence analysis, chromosome structure, and a coherent theory are not enough.
What kind of proof would convince you?

Date: 2006/05/14 08:15:46, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
However, their sentence puzzles me: "from rats to both species occurred... ". Since when are modern rats the ancestors of primates and other rodents?
I suspect that's exactly the problem.

I don't have access to the paper, either. But I do have access to GeneBank. What do you want to bet that most of that 36% will turn out to be rat-specific mutations from the consensus?

Date: 2006/05/14 08:21:33, Link
Author: Russell
...and if that does turn out to be the case, what is the more likely explanation for AiG's mistake: incompetence, or dishonesty?

Date: 2006/05/14 12:06:10, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
From what I hear, he's busy posting over at his newfound haven at UD right now.
(see comment #5 on this UD thread:)
Quote
I spend a lot of time over at Panda’s Thumb at “After the Bar Closes” refuting evolution and defending Intelligent Design …
[guffaw]
Is that what you think you're doing here, Dave? Better not tell DaveSnot that what you're really doing is arguing against common descent. He'll ban your a$$ over there faster than you can say "AnswersInGenesis".

Date: 2006/05/15 05:45:12, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
The apparent convergence of 36% could be significantly reduced, only if several substitutions accumulated in the rat lineage only, which is not likely since the active GLO is subject to purifying selection.
I just did a quick look at a 3-way comparison of (1) the rat coding gulo sequence, (2) the (NON-guinea) pig coding gulo sequence, and (3) the corresponding guinea pig sequence.

Guess what?

Out of 151 point mutations between guinea pig and rat, 54 (36%! ) of them are the exact same nucleotide in the "pig" pig!  (Those are hand-counted, so don't hold me to the exact numbers; I probably missed a few).

Wow! What do you suppose? Two hypotheses occur to me.

(1) The same mutations "independently" occurred in both "pig" pig and guinea pig. If - as I suspect they will - these largely overlap the mutations that coincide between human and guinea pig - the ones that have AiG and AFDave all excited - then they "independently" occurred 3 times!. Applying Dembski's Explanatory Filter, I'm pretty sure we would have to conclude that The Designer is trying to tell us something, and we should get busy trying to figure out what it is.

OR

(2) These mutations, as I suggested before, occurred once, randomly, in the rat lineage after it diverged from the guinea pig.

Date: 2006/05/15 07:42:59, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
What kind of proof would convince you?

 
Quote
100% identicalness of the GLO gene between apes and humans would be a good piece of evidence to me.
But evolution doesn't predict 100% identity! So why would the fulfilling of a prediction that evolution doesn't make convince you of evolution? That doesn't make much sense, does it?

As for 95% being "consistent with common design"...  Your common designer hypothesis has your designer designing humans, chimps, apes, guinea pigs, rats, and earthworms. What is it about the "designer" hypothesis that predicts that the gulo pseudogene - or any other piece of DNA - would be closer between humans and chimps than between humans and earthworms? Face it: it's not the "common design" hypothesis that the 95% (or whatever it is) similarity is consistent with; it's observation. You're just saying, more or less explicitly, what we've known all along: the "common design" hypothesis is consistent with any and all (after the fact) observations, because it makes no predictions!

I can't imagine, for instance, what about 100% identity between human and chimp gulo would convince you. (In fact, you know as well as I do it wouldn't.) Why would that not just another instance of "common design"?

Date: 2006/05/15 08:31:39, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
(afd: ) Just as several different codons can code for a particular protein (I think that's correct, right?--help me all you genetics experts).
Quote
(CH: ) Codons code for amino acids. This isn't something only genetics experts know, it is something anyone who claims to refute genetics should know.
And yet, afdave has a copy of this rather difficult to find paper from Nishikimi's group! You have to wonder what he does with it.

Date: 2006/05/15 08:47:25, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I would expect it to be around the same as the general genetic similarity -- 95-97%.  This would be consistent with Design Theory.
Quote

Please explain how design theory predicts this and common descent does not. Why does evolution predict that the sequences would be 100% identical?
Yes, afdave, as you can tell we're all on the edge of our seats.

Meanwhile, here's another prediction from evoluton relevant to the current discussion. I don't know if there is enough data available to check it yet, but I predict - based on evolution - that the divergence of the gulo pseudogene between primates will turn out to exceed the overall rate of divergence for non-broken, protein coding genes as you compare more and more distantly related primates. What does the "common designer" hypothesis predict about this?

Date: 2006/05/15 09:59:36, Link
Author: Russell
Oooh. The fear of The Other is palpable. Gives another layer or two of meaning to "white as a ghost", doesn't it?
Quote
Roughly 7 out of 8 violent interracial crimes are minority-on-majority.....
Refresh my memory...where can we confirm those statistics?  
Quote
If a white man is beaten by minority cops, the national media will ignore the story, even if the beating is videotaped.
Again - forgive the faulty memory - did you respond to my request for some clue as to the relative severity of the Baum and King beatings? (Those are the ones at issue, no?)    
Quote
The national media will ignore a juicy story, even in the face of circumstantial evidence of its commercial potential, if the tale undermines liberal dogma.
Except, say, the Central Park jogger case, or the OJ Simpson case.

Hey! That reminds me. When you quoted Ann Coulter making the case that Reyes was probably lying in his no-consequence confession as some kind of favor for fellow prisoner Kharey Wise, and that the original convictions and subsequent imprisonment of the original defendants was not a miscarriage of justice, neither Coulter nor you mentioned the DNA evidence. Why is that? Is it that whole distrust that right-wingers have toward DNA, evolution, and stuff like that? Would that be an example of the kind of journalism you think the media should strive for?

Date: 2006/05/15 12:15:48, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
(jeannot: ) Now, the abstract you posted (Inai et al.) was actually misealding. They clearly imply (unconsciously?) that the gene copy in rats was the ancestor of the copies in humans and guinea pigs, which was a unwarranted assumption.
I assume you're referring to this:  
Quote
A comparison of the remaining human exon sequences with the corresponding sequences of the guinea pig nonfunctional GULO gene revealed that the same substitutions from rats to both species occurred at a large number of nucleotide positions.
I agree. That's either poorly worded or they really did think the rat gene was a reasonable approximation of the ancestral one. This may bear some relationship to the fact it's in an obscure journal.

Anyway, there's a serious point hiding in all of this. The authors may have been so enamored of the idea that a "broken" gene would diverge more rapidly after breaking that they uncritically ignored the obvious possibility that it occurred before that. That it should decay faster to one degree or another seems like a reasonable hypothesis, but what degree that is still needs work.

[And, of course, my criticism of the article should be taken with a grain of salt, as I haven't read it!;)]

Date: 2006/05/15 15:03:18, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Please explain how design theory predicts this [degrees of DNA homology among species] and common descent does not. Why does evolution predict that the sequences would be 100% identical?
I do hope that afdave is planning to say more on this than:
Quote
If we are just talking about the same difference as with other genes, then this is just as easily explained by common design as common descent.
The common descent explanation is pretty obvious. It's by no means obvious why common design predicts anything at all. Why would the designer not stick with one gene for earthworms, rats, monkeys and humans? And, once we allow that, for whatever reason, the designer doesn't stick with one gene, why would the designer install a set of genes that shows exactly the sort of graded homology you'd expect from common descent? And why should all the genes follow the same family tree? Why wouldn't the designer want to use, say, some bird genes - presumably designed to accommodate an aerial lifestyle - for a bat? Why do all of a bat's genes seem to indicate a close relationship with rodents, and not some of them with, say, canaries?

See, common descent pretty much explains these things. You keep saying that they're "just as easily explained"  by common design. But somehow we never actually get that explanation. It's almost as if the whole "explanation" consists of saying that it's easily explained.

Likewise, after Dr. Max's thorough examination of the "shared error" argument, for you to simply say:
Quote
He does not have an argument, in my opinion, if the error is not copied 100%.  Remember the copyright case that Dr. Max made an analogy to?
is no rebuttal at all.

Here's an hypothesis: possibly opening up multiple threads in which to not address the key questions is what leads to the exasperation of certain Wesleys that shall remain unnamed.

Date: 2006/05/16 02:15:27, Link
Author: Russell
GoP's description of "liberal" is more or less the opposite of what "liberal" means to me. He describes himself as a "former liberal", so presumably all those things apply to himself, as of a while back.

Whoa. Talk about self-loathing! Perhaps we see here a peek into another troubling aspect of fundie-ism: the idea that without Jebus the adherent is worse than scum, and therefore the whole missionary, exclusionary, don't-allow-the-slightest-doubt mentality is a desperate addiction to stave off that h#ll of self-loathing.

Date: 2006/05/16 02:34:26, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
According to Tree of Life , bats are closer to primates than they are to rodents. Doesn't affect the argument here, but I thought it was interesting anyway.
Yeah, "rodents" was not the best choice of mammals I could have made (without handy reference tools, I think I was influenced by the German word, "Fledermaus"). But, of course, the point is that they're mammals, and their genes all reflect that.

Interestingly, now that I have consulted Richard Dawkins's "The Ancestor's Tale", I see he actually puts rodents a little closer to primates (having diverged 75 mya) than bats are (having diverged 85 mya). He puts bats in a large group called "laurasiatheres", that includes a bunch of other creatures I might have thought of as rodents (shrews, moles, hedgehogs), as well as dogs, horses and whales.

Date: 2006/05/16 03:29:51, Link
Author: Russell
(pssst... afd:
this is your cue to cluck the "you evos can't even get your story straight, phylogeny du jour" routine.)

Date: 2006/05/16 05:14:44, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
It appears to me that no one here has a convincing argument that favors Common Descent over Common Design to explain the "broken" gene in both apes and humans.  Either one can explain it just as well.

Am I correct?  Or am I missing something?
Oh Lord. Did you read any of what was addressed to you yesterday?

You seem to have missed the entire point of the Max article. Shared ancestry predicts shared errors. That's what you see in the primate gulo gene. A completely different set of errors is seen in the guinea pig gulo gene, indicating a separate origin. Got that? Common ancestry predicts the same errors in humans and the other primates; a separate set in guinea pigs. If the errors occurred independently in guinea pigs, chimps, monkeys, and humans, you would expect the errors to be similarly diverse in all of them. Since that's not what we see, the data are consistent with common ancestry, but you're going to need some ad hoc fix to make common design work. So: what is your ad hoc fix?. Now, mind you, the fact that an ad hoc fix is required is points off in the first place. But not even having an ad hoc fix is even worse. A lot worse.  (I assume you recognize by now the error of your baffling "100%" canard, and we that we don't need to revisit that.) So far as I can tell, the "common design" argument is that The Designer put in whatever The Designer felt like putting in. How do we derive from that any predictions we can check?

Now, it's clear how shared ancestry would result in the picture that we, in fact, see. How - you know: by what mechanism - would the common design argument explain it? Until you come up with some kind of answer to that, your constant repetition of    
Quote
Either one can explain it just as well.
just doesn't cut it.

Do me a favor. If you feel that you still have a case, make it!. Don't come back, yet again, with "a case could just as easily be made. It's getting beyond frustrating.

Date: 2006/05/16 06:23:52, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Shared ancestry predicts shared errors ... no problem.  I agree.  But Creationism predicts the same thing, namely, the Creator made apes and humans as separate kinds with functional GULO, then both might lose function through mutational degeneration.  Big deal.  This is what creationists expect.  I would expect other species to lose the function in years to come also.
Wow. You're avoiding the same questions, asked in about half a dozen ways - just to increase your chance of getting it - by about half a dozen different people. If the gulo gene broke once for guinea pigs, once for humans, once for chimps, once for macaques... why are all the primate defects the same, and why is the guinea pig one the only one different?  
Quote
What do we find in apes and humans?  Voila!  95% similar broken GULO!  No surprise there.  Even if it is the same substitution (or deletion or whatever) in apes and humans, so what?
Why is there no surprise there? What about the common designer theory predicts this? There's "no surprise there" because there are thousands of separate observations that confirm this - not because there's anything in your theory that explains it. Common ancestry explains it.  
Quote
Humans and Guinea Pigs have 36%  (High percentage to use Inai's words) identical substitutions.  Why shouldn't apes and humans also have an even higher % of identical substitutions?
Look. You really don't know what you're talking about on this. If you want to pursue it, we can. But don't keep saying "it's a side issue; let's drop it" when it's inconvenient, and then bringing it up all over again when you need to fog up the argument. It's not helpful. For the record, Jeannot & I covered this yesterday. If - and only if - you do want to bring it back into the discussion, demonstrate that you understand what we wrote.
Quote
Russell-- you have proven nothing.  
Indeed. There's very little left for me to prove. The ball is in your court - and it's gathering dust.

Date: 2006/05/17 04:54:53, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Someone has pointed out that I just want everyone else to run around chasing data and I myself don't want to do any "real scientific work."  Well, in this case, YES.  The burden is upon you to try to convince me.
I'm not going to waste any time on this today, because I've got an actual job in actual science to do... the kind of work that would be literally impossible if I bought afdave's concept of logic.

I'll just take a moment to point out that there is no "burden" on the science side. If we choose to do afdave a favor and give him a peek at how science is actually done, he should be grateful. The progress of science continues apace whether he understands it or not.

Secondly, despite this convenient definition of roles, until afdave faces the question I and others have put more times than I can count, namely:

How does the "common design" explain anything at all about what to expect in the DNA sequences we've discussed here?

he's just demonstrating that he's either not honest with us or with himself, and that further efforts to educate him are a waste of time.

Date: 2006/05/18 07:40:47, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
[afdave:] Again, scientists do much wonderful work.  Where they go wrong is when they write volume after volume of speculation about how the immune system might have evolved and similar things.  They would be much more productive if they hypothesized that it was designed and studied it from that perspective.
Quote
[incorygible:] Again, Dave, why do you think you know where scientists go wrong?  You've admitted you're not on their level in their respective fields.  I would never presume to tell you where pilots go wrong...
This is why I'm done here. It might be fun to watch a non-scientist experience the "aha!" experience  as he learns how scientists know what they know, but the impenetrable arrogance of this guy - the certainty that it's the scholars, teachers, practitioners of the field that need to learn from him "where they go wrong"

Have a nice life, afdave.

(I strongly recommend you find some other use for your spare 4 hours a day; it's clear that you're not going to learn anything.)

Date: 2006/05/18 15:54:58, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
At least the media shouldn't cover up evidence, for goodness sakes.
There's a difference between "covering up evidence" and not sharing White-as-a-Ghost-of-Paley's obsessions.

Date: 2006/05/19 05:35:04, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
What I don't understand is why the others here bother trying to teach you anything when you clearly have no desire to learn, and are primarily here to feed your own egotistical delusion that you are fighting a good fight against evolutionary theory.
Well, count me among those who have no illusions about teaching the unteachable.

I am curious about a side point, however. Afdave described Richard Dawkins as an "apologist" (as opposed to a scientist, I guess). What distinction is being drawn here? Who would be an example of a writer (about evolution) who is not an "apologist"?

Date: 2006/05/19 05:42:14, Link
Author: Russell
Ghost has demonstrated on this forum that he's not just out there; he's way out there.* So I have to ask:

What's your take on the moon landings? Real or faked?


*(Though I reserve the possibility that he might be just a perverse leftist determined to make conservatives look bad.)

Date: 2006/05/19 07:23:31, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
A somewhat greater than expected proportion of those substitutions (36% observed vs. 25% expected) are shared, suggesting the involvement of mutational hotspots.
If you refer back to the exchange Jeannot & I had on this, I think you'll see that you don't have to appeal to anything so esoteric as mutational hotspots. The high percentage of substitutions between* rat and guinea pig sequences shared with the substitutions between* rat and human probably reflects nothing more puzzling than the fact that the rat lineage evolved rat-lineage-specific mutations in the millions of years since it diverged from the guinea pig. Unless, of course, we're talking specifically about substitutions that would result in loss of function (like missense mutations) - but I don't think we are.

(Note the careful use "between X and Y" rather than "from X to Y", since it's this thinking that somehow the rat sequence == the ancestral sequence that generates all the confusion on this point.)

Date: 2006/05/19 09:35:19, Link
Author: Russell
While I have no immediate interest in Portuguese history, this little diversion does serve the purpose - who was it? - someone wanted to see the nature of afdave's discussion style on some subject other than evolution, as a kind of test as to whether he had a mental "blind spot" on that one subject, but was functional elsewhere. I think the answer's in.

From where I sit, afdave has made no attempt to support his original claim: that Portuguese is "a mixture of Spanish and French". While his contention about Henry of Burgundy does have some connection with reality, the specifics are wildly wrong.

So, what do we learn from this?

I see a lot of parallels between the two lines of argument - "shared errors", if you will - suggesting that, in fact, it's not just an evolutionary blind spot, but a pervasive flaw in reasoning tools.

Overconfidence
Reluctance to consider alternative views
Reluctance to acknowledge superior expertise
Inability to focus
Inability to define central question
Inability to acknowledge error and self-correct

Oh - and as BWE notes - typological thinking in the areas of biology and language

All characteristic of both discussions. If I were a career counselor, I would say this guy should not go into science.

Date: 2006/05/19 11:33:15, Link
Author: Russell
Yeah, the 25% number is kind of irrelevant.  After all, if we're comparing mutations relative to the reference sequence, by definition it's one of the three nucleotides that the reference is not. So the baseline would be 33.33% (I.e. given that humans and guinea pigs both differ from rat at the following 1000 nucleotides, you expect about 333 of them to be the same nonreference nucleotide, just from chance alone, assuming %A=%C=%G=%T)

The more informative thing here is that, far more than you would expect from chance alone, you have substitutions in both human and guinea pig DNA at so many of the same positions.

Date: 2006/05/20 06:22:49, Link
Author: Russell
Is it too soon to wonder if the silence of the dave signals a long-overdue moment of reflection on the possibility he might be wrong?

Date: 2006/05/20 11:25:11, Link
Author: Russell
Still on about the Wichita horror story? [yawn]

I, for one, am not persuaded that the case was "under-reported", nor that the coverage of it shows any discernible liberal media agenda, nor that there's much of a case for pursuing it as a "hate crime". Mainly I'm persuaded that GhostGuy is, as I pointed out, way out there.

Which renews my curiosity: what's your take on the moon landings, Ghosty?

Date: 2006/05/20 13:59:25, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
AF Dave says that Spanish and Portuguese were essentially the same language until 1143 AD when Portugal broke away from Spanish control under a French nobleman by the name of Henry of Burgundy.
I'm not about to get into a hair-splitting contest over what  "essentially the same language" means, when we're talking about a family of Romance languages/dialects in the process of, yes, evolving. There is nothing "ambiguous", though, about your contention that Henry of Burgundy was alive and kicking in 1143.

Getting back to the earlier point, though, you apparently contend that:  
Quote
phonetically Portuguese is somewhat closer to Catalan or to French.
is equivalent to  
Quote
Portuguese (which of course is Spanish and French mixed).
... and you think it's "arrogant" to think otherwise?

I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree with you on that one. But you have a nice time in church tomorrow regaling your fellow fundies with tales of how you showed those infidels!

Date: 2006/05/20 17:33:31, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Hey Toejam ... I remember something about you promising to become a Creo if you saw me win an argument on an unrelated topic ...
Did I miss something? Did afdave win an argument on something? Did he, in fact, prove that Portuguese is a mixture of Spanish and French? Or that Henry of Burgundy peeled Portugal off the Spanish in 1143? Or perhaps that there is an argument to be made whereby "common design" could explain the Vitamin C story? What did I miss?

Date: 2006/05/20 17:40:25, Link
Author: Russell
Perhaps it was his assertion, on one of these threads, that the U.S.A. was founded on the christian bible (IIRC).

By the way, afdave, it's perfectly all right to consider me an infidel. I believe it's technically accurate.

Date: 2006/05/21 03:17:47, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Eric ...you just lost a stupid little side argument that doesn't even matter in the big scheme of things ...
There it is again... what did I miss? What did Eric contend that davey proved wrong?

I suspect another instance of the Cordova Cockstrut here.

Date: 2006/05/21 03:55:58, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
And BTW, I'm not a female.
You'd think, with davey's expertise in Romance languages, he would have figured that out.

Date: 2006/05/21 09:10:11, Link
Author: Russell
You know what I can't help wondering: in all these transformations (Galician/Latin/Spanish/Portuguese... or Germanic/Chaucerian-English/Modern-English...) what was the role of the Tower of Babel?

Date: 2006/05/22 02:24:27, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You've explained the 'apes and humans are similar' argument many times, and I have also many times argued that 'apes and humans are similar' argues just as easily for Common Design as it does for Common Descent.
Here we go again. Over and over, we have explained how common descent explains the particular similarities we're talking about, and for the nth time afdave tells us that common design could explain it just as easily. And, I predict, for the (n+1)th time, he will not get around to giving us that "easy" explanation.
Quote
Renier, if you stick with me long enough, I will be systematically dismantling all the basic underpinnings of evolution and establishing the credibility of the YEC position.  

I have dismantled Dr. Max's argument, and I will continue to dismantle many more.
We're talking, here, either serious Andy Kaufman style comedy, or seriously delusional thinking.

Date: 2006/05/22 04:13:18, Link
Author: Russell
Imagine that about half the Portuguese vocabulary were identical to French, and half identical to Spanish. IF that were the case, would you have any reason to suspect that they shared a common origin, or could it be "just as easily explained" that the Portuguese independently just happened to pick the same words for the same things? After all, if the French picked a combination of phonemes to represent a particular thing, that shows that it can happen once, and there's no reason the same thing wouldn't happen in Portugal, too. And if it could happen once, there's no reason to doubt it would happen for half of the thousands of words that constitute the basic vocabulary. Anyone see anything wrong with this logic?

Date: 2006/05/22 04:33:37, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
So, I'll let others who may be more patient explain to you...
Yeah, well. Count me out. I'll wait to see a glimmer of understanding, or willingness to understand, before spending any more time trying to explain to afdavy high school biology - or anything else that challenges his Sunday School world.  

But on the AiG gaffe about chromosome fusion: Lying? Lying-for-Jesus? Self-deception? Self-deception coupled with the mandate to spread the gospel? I don't see much point in trying to draw distinctions between these possible explanations. BUT here's an argument that is so clearly wrong that even afdavy has come to recognize it. Surely the error has been brought to AiG's attention - if not by dozens of AiG readers, at least by afdave - right? Is the essay still posted on their website? Has the error been acknowledged and corrected? If not, what are we to make of that?

Date: 2006/05/22 04:50:54, Link
Author: Russell
Ah, the Cordova Cockstrut continues. I don't personally know Rilke's Granddaughter, so I can't call myself a friend. But I and several others have pointed out that you haven't presented a single piece of evidence that there's any significant French in Portuguese. Faid, in fact, just listed several what-look-like fairly authoritative articles on the language that would surely have mentioned it, if it were real. So when you say RGD is all alone in challenging you, what the fork are you talking about?

Now my curiosity is piqued. You claimed  
Quote
if you get a good Medieval History Encyclopedia, you can get all kinds of details about this period in history when Portuguese and Spanish diverged.  What you will see is massive Burgundian influence beginning with the influx of thousands of Burgundian knights
I would have no reason to doubt this. It still doesn't prove your point about the language, and Arden Chatfield only allowed that a massive French influence would be necessary, not sufficient to leave a significant linguistic footprint. But, again, I would have no reason to doubt it, except for the fact that you stated it, and you have an unbroken record for being wrong. So I'm going to check it out, and report back. See you then!

Date: 2006/05/22 05:43:52, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
OK, Russell, for the (n+1)th time ... 95% similarity between apes and humans supports common design in the same way as it does in house building or car building, for example.  A Ford Aerostar is 95% (?) similiar to a Ford Fiesta (do they still make those?) and this is because they have a common designer.
Nope. You've dodged the question again. But at least you acknowledged that there was a question. Perhaps that's progress.

The question is not just "why is there similarity?" The question is "why is the pattern of similarities organized just like a phylogeny? Presumably your common designer designed guinea pigs, rats, monkeys and humans, right? Why is there a nested hierarchy of similarities in DNA sequence?

Shall we go for (n+2)?

Date: 2006/05/22 06:52:33, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
All by itself, a broken GULO gene does not prove much of anything -- but it is one line of evidence.
Quote
Thank you, Norm.  Would you please explain this to your friends and to Dr. Max?  They don't seem to get this simple point.
Surely, davy, surely after pages and pages of discussion on this, you're not going to pretend that Max's only evidence is "a broken GULO gene". Surely you're not going to ignore the fact that the nature of the "breaks" in the gene reflects and was predicted by the common descent view, and not the common design view. Surely you're not going to do that, are you?

Date: 2006/05/22 07:02:33, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Oh really?  How do you explain my very forthright and honest concession that I was wrong about the AIG-chimp-chromosome thing?
I chalk it up to having absolutely no choice. But what was AiG's response when you confronted them on that? I'm really curious.
Quote
You can go argue that one against me with Rilke until you are blue in the face if you want.  But you'll be talking to the wind.
or a brick wall, as the case may be. But just for the record, it's not just one or two "holdouts" - so far as I can tell no one here other than you thinks you "won" that little dust-up.

Date: 2006/05/22 07:08:18, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
And just so Dave knows, folks: let's take a little poll. Who here believes that Dave has established the truth of his original assertion: that Portuguese is "Spanish and French mixed"?
I suppose that, given the way this is worded, one could take lack of response as a vote against dave. But I'll make it explicit: I, for one, don't believe he has even begun to establish it.

Date: 2006/05/22 08:00:27, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
…well, all I can say is that you're deeply delusional.
I take it, then, you don't think much of my Andy Kaufman hypothesis?

Date: 2006/05/22 10:23:38, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Surely, davy, surely after pages and pages of discussion on this, you're not going to pretend that Max's only evidence is "a broken GULO gene".
D'oh! You are, aren't you!?
Quote
I'm sure he has many more reasons why he thinks he is related to chimps, but the item of discussion on this thread most recently is THIS piece of evidence.

Look. This is from his essay:  
Quote
4.1. Shared unitary pseudogenes. Many of the unitary pseudogenes in humans described previously are shared with other primates. By "shared" I mean more than simply that the same gene is inactive in two different species, since that situation could result if the corresponding genes of the two species were inactivated separately by independent mutations. Instead, in all the examples I describe, the pseudogenes in primates carry many of the same crippling mutations found in the corresponding human pseudogenes. Since independent random mutations would not be likely to be identical in two different species, the identically mutated pseudogenes are strong evidence that the mutations occurred in a common ancestral species.
So you see, as has been pointed out to you about a thousand times, it's not "A broken GULO gene", it's the pattern of breaks in it, and the fact that said pattern reflects, and is predicted by, common descent. Now, despite this being pointed out to you about a thousand times, in several different ways, by several different people, with several different modes of emphasis, you come back yet again with:    
Quote
And let me say again ... I agree, it's a piece of evidence.  But it argues equally well for both Common Descent and Common Design.  Remember the Aerostar and the Fiesta?

Remember my question in response?  
Quote
The question is not just "why is there similarity?" The question is "why is the pattern of similarities organized just like a phylogeny?" Presumably your common designer designed guinea pigs, rats, monkeys and humans, right? Why is there a nested hierarchy of similarities in DNA sequence?

 
Quote
But just for the record, it's not just one or two "holdouts" - so far as I can tell no one here other than you thinks you "won" that little dust-up.
 
Quote
most of them probably do agree with me, but they wouldn't dare admit it and betray "the team."
Ah, the old "the lurkers support me in e-mail" gambit. Pretty sad. Heck. Why not just be done with it, and claim that Max privately agrees with you?

This, again, looks to me like classic projection. Defeated six ways to Sunday, afdave will be damned (perhaps literally) if he's going to let down Team Jesus by admitting it!

You know, you're not going to convince anyone reading this discussion that you have made the slightest dent in evolution in general, or Max's essay in particular. But you are making a very negative advertisement for your version religion. If I were in the market for one, I'd steer as clear of yours as possible.

Date: 2006/05/22 10:46:02, Link
Author: Russell
Perhaps this explains the afdave phenomenon:
Quote
"If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world."
Antonin Scalia

Based, I guess, on this:  
Quote
Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
(1 Corinthians 3:18-19 KJV)

Date: 2006/05/23 01:44:42, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
there is no threat [from ID] and [confronting IDists] justs wastes time that could be applied to real work.
From my vantage point in Ohio, I am going to have to go ahead and disagree with you on that one.  The Fundies, under the guidance of the infamous Discovery Institute, made a concerted assault on science education in Ohio, starting around 2002. Only a few months ago, after the persistent, laborious, time-consuming, leg-work of a lot of scientists and concerned citizens, did the State Board of Education reverse its endorsement of the stealth ID beach-head that had been established in the biology curriculum.

No threat? To whom? Where do you live, Mr. Skeptic? Do you have - or plan to have - kids? If I had the web savvy of stevestory, I would insert at this point an image from the South Park episode where the town decides that the only way to protect itself from Fundie Wrath* is to import 18 trucks full of sand and have each resident bury his neighbor's head in it.

*(Islamic, in this case, but same idea).

Now, sure, D/2 bashing may seem a bit like swatting a fly with a sledge-hammer. But it's been my experience that, if you don't engage these guys, or at least follow their "logic", you're literally too stunned when you hear it for the first time at the school board meeting to make a coherent reply. Well, heck, why don't I just refer you to the Why Do We Do This thread on Panda's Thumb?

Date: 2006/05/23 02:00:15, Link
Author: Russell
A side question to the side question, for anyone out there knowledgeable about European linguistic history.

While trying to scratch out whether there's anything to D/2's assertion that "thousands of Burgundian knights" migrated to Portugal to help wrest the country from the Castillians, I get the impression that, at the time, Burgundy was more German than French, and that their language was the germanic Franconian, more akin to modern Dutch than to modern French.

But, I hasten to add, I'm no expert, and I'm asking a question, not making a claim. (Probably not a bad attitude to take when venturing into an area in which one is completely unschooled, don't you think?)

Date: 2006/05/23 04:01:14, Link
Author: Russell
Based on admittedly af-assed internet research, I think that Burgundy was more or less in the Holy Roman Empire sphere of influence (a largely germanic world) at the beginning of the twelfth century, and gradually over the next two centuries was absorbed into the French nation. Meanwhile, what would become the French, Latin-derived language was growing largely west to east, displacing germanic dialects like the Franconian I suspect was spoken in Burgundy at the time.

I'm finding it surprisingly difficult to nail down, though, with the internet. I may have to (gasp! ) visit the brick-and-mortar library.

Date: 2006/05/23 05:26:53, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
[afdave] If you go look at that discussion [the Portuguese = French + Spanish discussion], you see an embarrassing "changing of the subject" by many participants.  Even Steve Story didn't have the guts to challenge my statement after I shot Rilke down.  He chose rather to jump on a silly little side statement I made which had nothing to do with the main discussion.  It's funny how you guys admonish me to admit when I am wrong, which I do, but you guys never do, even though this one was so obvious its hilarious.
Yes, apparently I'm so sure you're wrong I can't even see the hilariously obvious. For instance, I can't see - even though I'm sure it must be staring me in the face - where you've given any evidence at all about the language  (you know, "words", "grammar", stuff like that) and how there's any French in it. And I was fooled into thinking that your statement about Henry of Burgundy taking Portugal in 1143 was a key part of your case, based on this:
Quote
Oh really?  How much money do you want to risk that I'm wrong?  Here's the specific statement that I am defending:

1)  AF Dave says that Spanish and Portuguese were essentially the same language until 1143 AD when Portugal broke away from Spanish control under a French nobleman by the name of Henry of Burgundy.  From this point on, the languages diverged into the modern situation.  The primary influence on the linguistic divergence was the French language.

2)  Rilke and Toejam say I am wrong

How much are you willing to bet?
See, I thought that if you went to all the trouble to define the specific statement you're defending, that meant that that was, well, the specific statement you were defending. But hey, apparently I was wrong, and missed the whole point. So, do all of us poor blinded-by-Darwinism sods a favor and point out what you proved that anyone contested, and I for one will humbly acknowledge it.

By the way, could you give the specific reference to this "medieval encyclopedia" you rely on? I'm curious to learn how little Burgundy was able to spare thousands of knights for such a distant enterprise, and what language those knights were speaking.

Date: 2006/05/23 05:46:43, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Not only should there be multiple hominid 'societies' in existence today, there should be many, many living 'transitional' species.  The fact that there is not throws all of 'macro-evolutionary theory' (as Theobald calls it) into huge doubt.
This is your conclusion, but (a) you know squat about evolution and (b) no one who does know anything about evolution agrees with you. Any theories about why that might be?

But I have to say, you have finally addressed the question raised by the GULO story, the nested hierarchy of shared errors.

To sum up: the "Darwinist" position is that errors creep in if they're not pruned by selection, and are inherited down through the family tree, leaving an imprinted geneology. I think that's pretty understandable. There's no step in that argument that seems at odds with what we know about how physics, chemistry and biology work. And, at long last, the creationist position is:      
Quote
It may be that the nested hierarchy of living things simply is a reflection of divine orderliness.  It also may be, as Walter ReMine suggests, that nested hierarchy is an integral part of a message woven by the Creator into the patterns of biology.  (See, e.g., ReMine, 367-368, 465-467.)  The point is that the hierarchical nature of life can be accommodated by creation theory as readily as by evolution.  Accordingly, “[i]t is not evidence for or against either theory.” (Brand, 155.)
I guess that's as close as we're going to get to that "how" question I keep raising. I.e., not very. And that's why you'll never understand science, davy.

Date: 2006/05/23 06:11:14, Link
Author: Russell
Indeed, it is no coincidence that, ever since Henry of Burgundy, one of the major exports from Portugal has been olive oïl. I rest dave's case.

Date: 2006/05/23 07:38:46, Link
Author: Russell
After that non-explanation, afd has the cluelessness to announce:  
Quote
Common Design explains nested hierarchies better than Common Descent
but of course, that raises the obvious question: "explains to whom?" Certainly not to anyone asking a "what happened? how did it work? what evidence can we use to verify it?" kind of question.  
Quote
and this is not to mention the innumerable difficulties that Common Descent theory encounters everywhere one looks.
Indeed. Let's not mention them, unless you're prepared to examine them in enough detail to see whether they really are "difficulties".  
Quote
I will now be abandoning this thread since I have established my point.  Please bring any further discussion of this issue over to the "Creator God Hypothesis" thread.
Translation: "lalalalala I can't hear you!"

You've established a point, all right. But I suspect it's not the one you think.

And, no, I don't think I'll be joining in the fun on your "Creator God Hypothesis" discussion. I couldn't care less about your religion, and I'm grateful that you've labeled the discussion in such a way that there's no confusion about what it is.

Date: 2006/05/24 03:18:00, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
OK.  Shoot me down if you can!
Nope. Not taking the bait this time. I suspect there's no one reading this who doesn't recognize the BS, and you have convinced me that you are literally ineducable.

Date: 2006/05/24 05:38:34, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Is that right, fellow evolutionists?
Things will certainly tend in that direction. Since evolution almost invariably involves optimizing genes, and combinations of genes, you'll generally find that the initial mutation that enables survival of some previously insurmountable obstacle, like, say, an antibiotic, creates a situation that is suboptimal with respect to other aspects of survival and replication, and that here again mutations that improve that situation - without destroying the original antibiotic-survival mutation - will accumulate. There's nothing in theory, however, that says the bacterium would necessarily achieve the same replication rate (or whatever measure of fitness you choose) in the absence of antibiotic as one that doesn't carry the mutation in question. It might; it might not.

In my own personal experience, I have dealt with bacterial strains that differ only in the presence or absence of an antibiotic resistance gene. I have tried to measure a difference in their rate of replication with and without the antibiotic. If there is one, it's too small for me to detect.

But, once again, I'm not going to attempt to "shoot [afdave] down"; as far as I can see, he has yet to get off the ground.

Date: 2006/05/24 07:29:14, Link
Author: Russell
Nah. Don't ban him. I don't think it's against the rules to be impervious to facts and logic. And, in a way, I agree with him that this whole exercise is to help him educate the public. For instance, after I asked him countless times to provide the creationist answer to this explanation of the Vitamin C gene defect data:      
Quote
The "Darwinist" position is that [genetic] errors creep in if they're not pruned by selection, and are inherited down through the family tree, leaving an imprinted geneology.
after dodging the question so many times it became embarrassing, even to afd, he cut'n'pasted this:      
Quote
It may be that the nested hierarchy of living things simply is a reflection of divine orderliness.  It also may be, as Walter ReMine suggests, that nested hierarchy is an integral part of a message woven by the Creator into the patterns of biology.  (See, e.g., ReMine, 367-368, 465-467.)  The point is that the hierarchical nature of life can be accommodated by creation theory as readily as by evolution.  Accordingly, “[i]t is not evidence for or against either theory.” (Brand, 155.)
It's stunning enough that he thinks that's an explanation at all. He even goes on to say it's a better explanation than the evolutionary one!

Now if that doesn't educate the public as to the quality of creationist thought, I don't know what will.

Date: 2006/05/24 07:52:25, Link
Author: Russell
So far, Skeptic has said nothing sufficiently specific to even attack, so  consider this dog not only not loosed, but unable to detect a scent.

One thing s/he said, though, that I find kind of intriguing is that s/he dismisses ID out of hand, but says evolutionary theory cannot explain biological diversity.

WTF? If you read the Lords of ID over at the Disco Inst - as close as a definition of ID as you're likely to get - there's really not much more to it than that evolutionary theory cannot explain biological diversity.

Perhaps Skeptic belongs to the same category of anti-evolutionists as Berlinski, who also has never written anything substantial enough to engage my interest, but likes to pose as The Cool Guy; too Cool to see the merit in all that pedestrian work-a-day research that supports evolution, too Cool to dirty his hands with "pathetic details" (Dembski's phrase, but applies just as well to Berlinski), too Cool even to officially endorse ID. (But not too Cool to take their money and let them advertise his disdain for "Darwinists")

Date: 2006/05/24 08:41:33, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
AF Dave needs to sharpen his arguments because he is actively involved in the education of children with regard to Origins.  See www.kids4truth.com.  He does not want to lead these children wrong, so he wants to test his arguments against some evolutionary biologists.  He has big plans for greatly expanded information to be available at k4t.
You "ID" enthusiasts (though in your case we can admit that it's just good ol' creationism, can't we?) are always on about weighing "both sides". In the interest of "truth" (for kids) are you open to posting on your k4t site a writeup of the gulo story by us AtBCers?

Date: 2006/05/25 03:56:25, Link
Author: Russell
Well, I still see nothing substantial enough to sink my teeth into. But Skeptic made one remark in passing that I have to check up on.

Skeptic says    
Quote
It seemed for awhile that punctuated equilibrium would gain some traction, but not so much.  Thats not a case of 'forced fit' exactly, but it did deviate from the accepted theory and faded.
I may be behind the times, I freely admit, but could someone point me to a reference that documents the demise of "punctuated equilibrium"?

I never thought the idea was all that revolutionary, but that it made a lot of sense, and fit both the fossil evidence and the modern understanding of genetics better than Charles Darwin could have been expected to, given what was known prior to 1859.

So what's wrong with it?

As an aside, I think Skeptic asks several very good questions - for an individual trying to understand evolution, as an individual. What rubs people the wrong way is the assumption that, because Skeptic hasn't thought these things all the way through, that no one else has either. The fact that Skeptic has attracted the sympathetic attention of a blatantly anti-intellectual young-earther should give him/her pause, and to say to him/herself "there, but for a modicum of humility and a decent respect for smart people who have spent lifetimes working on this stuff, go I".  But we'll see. If there really is reason to completely abandon the punctuated equilibrium idea, perhaps it is I, not Skeptic, who has paid insufficient attention to smart people working on these questions.

Date: 2006/05/25 04:04:59, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Now, how on earth does your common design argument fit into all this. Was the errors in GULO after the fall the "common design"?
Geez, Renier. Do try to keep up! Afdave clearly answered that:
Quote
It may be that the nested hierarchy of living things simply is a reflection of divine orderliness.  It also may be, as Walter ReMine suggests, that nested hierarchy is an integral part of a message woven by the Creator into the patterns of biology.  (See, e.g., ReMine, 367-368, 465-467.)  The point is that the hierarchical nature of life can be accommodated by creation theory as readily as by evolution.  Accordingly, “[i]t is not evidence for or against either theory.” (Brand, 155.)
I mean,  could there be clearer, more complete explanation of the nested hierarchy of mutations that characterize the Gulo story?

Date: 2006/05/25 04:24:29, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
IIRC, this is another area Wes is an expert in.  Check the section on Gould in the Talk Origins archive for a nice rundown.
Thanks! That is a great resource.

I'm still waiting for Skeptic, or someone, to point me to a reference documenting the demise of PE. Perhaps what Skeptic is referring to is a lot of the misconceptions and hype surrounding PE, including the exaggerated distinction between PE and what Darwin laid out in "Origin of Species".

Date: 2006/05/25 04:28:48, Link
Author: Russell
By the way - with respect to species selection: how else would you characterize the Homo neanderthalensis vs. Homo sapiens encounter?

Date: 2006/05/25 05:34:47, Link
Author: Russell
Sir TJ - I don't take issue with anything you said. All I'm saying is that the definition of "species selection" as laid out in Wesley's piece:
Quote
PE asserts "species selection" as the way in which major adaptive trends proceed. Closely related species are often likely to overlap in niche space (5 above). Ecological processes may cause the displacement and possible extinction of certain species due to competition with other species. If adaptive change in large populations is largely inhibited (6 above), then each species represents a "hypothesis" that is "tested" in competition. This is one of the more controversial points in PE.
doesn't seem incompatible with the H. neanderthalensis - H. sapiens story. I.e. are we talking about something deeper than semantics here?

Date: 2006/05/25 06:39:56, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I think we could consider species selection only if species fitness (which remains to be clearly defined) can produce better predictions than those based on inclusive fitness (allelic fitness). I don't think that is the case.
For instance, when the reproduction rate of a gene and the fitness of its bearer conflict, models and observations indicate that the former always outweigh the latter.
This way of looking at it seems to make a clearer distinction between "species selection" and "individual selection", and you can sensibly distinguish between them. In the definition I quoted, I don't see the two as mutually exclusive.

I have seen this discussion framed as "what is the unit of selection: species or individual? And I think the answer to that is individual. But if the issue boils down to "what is a better predictor: the reproduction rate of a gene or the fitness of its bearer?" I would have thought that it would be the latter (which I would visualize as the reproduction rate of a combination of genes). But that's what actual data is for.

Date: 2006/05/26 03:57:12, Link
Author: Russell
Aside from codon bias, another way synonymous point mutations might affect fitness of a given gene is by influencing the secondary structure of the mRNA in question.

Date: 2006/05/26 06:49:36, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
As far as I understand, drift (neutrality) and selection are mutually exclusive, by definition.
This looks like another job for ... Obvious Man:
Probably what they meant was that both can happen; it doesn't have to always be selection, it doesn't have to always be neutral drift. (obviously)

Date: 2006/05/26 13:02:10, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Take the Krebs Cycle, there are about 10 different enzymes involved in this reaction, thats 10 different genes that need to be expressed via feedback mechanisms and that implicates further supportive enzymes.  I'd be interested to hear a step-wise evolutionary description of the development of something this complex.
Wouldn't we all.

It's conceivable that at some point in the future there will be enough background information to put together such a history. It's not going to happen in your lifetime, though. That doesn't necessarily mean it didn't evolve, or that there's something fundamentally inadequate about current evolutionary theory.

Are you just repeating the Behe theory: "I can't imagine how it evolved, therefore it didn't". Or are you proposing something more profound? It's not very clear.

Date: 2006/05/26 13:15:35, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
About three years ago in an issue of The Scientist, I came across a letter to the editor discussing evolution and a Berkley biology professor stated that he would never write a letter of recommendation for graduate school for an undergrad who did not fully accept the modern synthesis.  His reasoning, I'm paraphrasing, was that it indicated that the student was irrational.  This set off a mini-firestorn that lasted a number of issues but it certainly was upsetting and close-minded.
This is one of those cases where "paraphrasing" really doesn't cut it. It makes a big difference whether the professor's criterion was - as you state and as I doubt - "fully accept[ing] the modern synthesis", or just the basics of evolution. If a student wanted my recommendation for anything that involved biology, being a creationist is definitely points off. Now, I could go ahead and give my honest opinion, I could dissemble and give a dishonest opinion in order to avoid offending the postmodernist premoderns, or I could tell the student my opinion first. Which is most closed-minded and upsetting?

Date: 2006/05/27 05:14:31, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Well, there's always creationism which explains things quite well ... just a thought.
I don't suppose reiterating yet another time will make any difference, but just for the sake of completing the ritual:
There's an important difference between saying an explanation exists, and offering one.

Date: 2006/05/27 05:42:51, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Your guy is saying <1% cost = no cost.  Come on.
He's saying that, if there is a cost, it's too small to measure. What's Anderson saying? That "creationist theory" predicts that there will always be a cost, which may or may not be detectable? That's just dumb.

Also, when you say
Quote
because evolutionists desparately* need to account for the origin of this type of mechanism, but they have come up empty handed.
What type of mechanism are you talking about? What's your idea of an proposed origin that doesn't work? I have some ideas, but since the standard creationist response to any explanation is "Yeah? well, what came before that?", we need to have some idea, in advance, what the question really is. I.e., let's anchor those goalposts before we start aiming for them.

*it's spelled "desperately

Date: 2006/05/27 06:53:04, Link
Author: Russell
Well, the good news is that the more outspoken and annoying the afdaves are with their christian reconstructionist agenda, the greater the reaction against W et al. is going to be next couple of elections. Let's encourage him!

Date: 2006/05/27 10:30:44, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
And how does macroevolution happen, you may ask?  By microevolution happening over millions of years according to the Evos.
I'm not so sure all "evos" would agree with this. In fact, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't. You certainly have these smallish mutations - small deletions, insertions, point mutations - and I've never seen anyone define a limit to how much such mutations can accomplish over millions of years. But you also have huge, abrupt changes - like whole genome duplication, chromosome fission/fusion, and, of course, endosymbiosis.

In a sense it's just "micro-evolution writ large", in that it still boils down to random changes in the genetic code + selection, but the scale of the mutation might be rather different.

In the case of bacterial antibiotic resistance, of course, you have the phenomena of plasmid exchange, phage transduction, and transposition. There's plenty of evidence that such phenomena have also played a part in our own genomic history.

Date: 2006/05/27 12:30:01, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
In fact, can you give examples of ANY of these abrupt changes?
yes.

Date: 2006/05/28 04:23:05, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
EVOLUTIONISTS DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THEIR OWN ARGUMENTS ARE
Here's a news flash for you dave.

Since we "evos" don't  recognize a sharp boundary between "micro-" and "macro-" evolution, it's not terribly surprising that this, that or the other piece of evidence is this side or that of that fuzzy boundary, according to this, that or the other "evolutionist".

There's no particular reason why we should all agree on some arbitrarily defined boundary.

Quote
I am an electrical engineer and this means I design things which very much resemble biological systems.
[guffaw]
I sing in the shower, which means I create music pretty much the same as Beethoven. Never mind. Yours was much funnier.

Date: 2006/05/28 04:53:43, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
ll this talk about selective pressures, stabilizing seletion, yada yada must be impacting upon a physical process in the organism.
Look. I'm a biochemist too. In fact, more "chemist" than "bio" in my heart of hearts. But you would do well to take all that "yada, yada" a little more seriously.

Here's the thing. Suppose the chemistry of DNA replication is the same for crocs and humans. But that the optimum configuration for crocs, in an essentially unchanged environment, is essentially unchanged. Therefore, any deviation from the optimum DNA configuration would not thrive quite as well. Our environment, on the other hand, has been very unstable. Therefore, it's not surprising that we should be "rolling with the punches", in terms of which DNA variants are favored from generation to generation.

(Incidentally, we should be able to test your theory - which, on the bright side, is not all that wacky, but on the down side is not all that revolutionary - by looking at the distribution of neutral mutations. In fact, I believe the fidelity of rodent DNA replication is known to be particularly low compared with other mammals).

Date: 2006/05/28 05:21:28, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
The reason I yada yada those descriptions is that they tell me nothing about what's going on at the molecular level and they don't even attempt to.
And what I'm trying to tell you is that, until we see that there really is an unusually low rate of neutral mutation in these "stable" species, there is little reason to look for "chemical" differences in DNA stability. All that "yada, yada" means that you can have exactly the same fidelity of replication, but two very different stabilities of phenotypes, depending on the stability of the environment.

There's another aspect hiding in all that "yada, yada", too. I imagine it's possible for species to "evolve themselves into a corner".  Our ancestors had a lot of options - vegetarian, carnivorous; forest-dwelling, savannah dwelling; social, not-so-social; etc. Our hands, our brains, etc. are "pluripotent". Sharks, on the other hand, may be so committed to their particular adaptations and all their systems so well tuned and integrated for their niche, that backing up to a more flexible position, evolutionarily speaking, is not an option.

Date: 2006/05/29 04:45:51, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You can not ignore what is happening on the molecular level, that is where the fundamental changes are occurring, where variation is being favored or not favored, where new genetic material must be arising.
Oh, indeed! But we already have a pretty good idea what's happening on the molecular level. It's called mutation and there's a bunch of different mechanisms for it. What you have yet to show is that any aspect of evolution needs some revolutionary new mechanism to account for it. Vague Behe-esque platitudes about how some evolutionary developments are just too big don't cut it.

Date: 2006/05/29 04:52:59, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
The reason that loss cannot count as a mechanism for macroevolutionary change is quite simple and should be obvious.  If organisms are going become more complex, they must add functions not lose them
No. That's assuming all macroevolutionary change = becoming more complex. Not true. For instance, in the evolution of various kinds of parasites, losing the machinery to make stuff they can get from the host makes them more efficient.

Date: 2006/05/30 01:24:01, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Dave admits that bombers were too boring so he probably had the same feelings about the ...
I haven't been following all this Air Force stuff, but perhaps herein Dave's basic problem with science: it's just too boring, compared to the Vegas-style magic show he calls christianity.

Date: 2006/05/30 02:32:21, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
then you guys took me on a very long rabbit trail about broken GULO only to be shown that what we have is that "the morphologies and genetic sequences of apes and humans are very similar."  OK.  I knew that already
That's all dave took away from that whole discussion? That's... too bad. Well. Not a total waste, anyway. I learned some things about it I hadn't known.
Quote
Nothing is evidence on its own, this is one piece of evidence.
I'm pretty sure that what Chris means is that no one piece of evidence is absolute proof on its own. But some of these individual pieces are pretty compelling, nonetheless. For instance, the GULO story. Dave's dismissing it with "I knew that already", aside from missing the point, doesn't explain it. Evolution explains it.  
Quote
I showed you that resistant bacteria is a foundational evidence for macroevolutionary theory and that it is inadequate because it involves loss of function, not gain.
Perhaps I breezed by that one too fast, having decided after noting his ICR affiliation that the author was an idiot. This guy is claiming that all antibiotic resistance mechanisms (phosphorylations,  hydrolyses, membrane pumps as well as mutations in antibiotic-binding RNA sequences) are loss of function? Or has dave, once again in his haste to grasp any sciencey-sounding straw to justify his "skepticism", just completely misunderstood?

Date: 2006/05/30 06:37:02, Link
Author: Russell
I, for one, am not ready to conclude that Skeptic is dishonest, or an out-and-out creationist. My guess is that he (I'll stick with "he" unless corrected) is sympathetic to creationists (a "fellow traveler", if you will) and is eager to show that "evolutionists" are closed-minded, unfair, arrogant, rude, etc. I don't think we are, of course, but his continued intimations that he recognizes some real, definable inadequacy in current evolutionary theory - without ever defining it - that he is a Big Picture thinker, while we're all mired in details... I think that's goading people into appearing to confirm his stereotype.

So I'll just say again: whatever your problem is with current theory, Skeptic, you have either not succeeded in communicating it (at least to me), or it's pretty basic stuff - hardly a compelling call to "reinvent" the theory.

Date: 2006/05/30 07:00:14, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
hey can someone start posting updates on this in another thread.
Its getting really grating to read through all of the topic just to watch Dave make an ass out of himself.
Yeah. There are way too many dave threads, and generally I stay away from this one, since its title pretty much admits it's religion, not science, and I don't care about individuals' religions. I suggest everyone with any comments that have anything to do with the scientific pretensions of dave's "hypothesis" migrate to the "YEC evidence" thread.

But while I'm here, a couple of comments:
Quote
he has persuaded me that he is far more brain damaged than I thought was humanly possible.

He has persuaded me that he can persist in his delusions in spite of all the evidence against them.

He has persuaded me that he lives in his own mental fundy world and not in reality.
I guess the $64,000 question (or whatever it's worth in 2006 dollars) is how atypical is dave? Is he just more outspoken than that the rest of the 45% or so of Americans that polls always report as basically subscribing to YEC? Are the rest of them really basically sane, but at least nominally accept this bit of irrationality for more or less social reasons?

and on this, from Rilke's Granddaughter:
Quote
That's what Christianity does best: provides liars with a defense mechanism; provides cowards with some cover so that they don't have to face the real world; provides excuses for murder, child-abuse, rape, slavery - pretty much any ill you can name.
Ouch! I'm not a big fan of christianity (in fact I named my son "Julian" after the last Roman emperor who tried to disestablish it as the official religion of the western world). But let's be fair. I mean, think Wilberforce (the abolitionist, not Huxley's foil), think Martin Luther King Jr, think all those clergy that took a stand against the Vietnam war, think the Rev in the Doonesbury strip...

Date: 2006/05/30 07:30:30, Link
Author: Russell
There's an interview with Karen Armstrong on Salon Magazine that looks kind of interesting (I'm not sure if you need a subscription, or if you can read it if you agree to be subjected to ads):
Quote
Armstrong now calls herself a "freelance monotheist." It's easy to understand her appeal in today's world of spiritual seekers. As an ex-nun, she resonates with people who've fallen out with organized religion. Armstrong has little patience for literal readings of the Bible, but argues that sacred texts yield profound insights if we read them as myth and poetry.

Date: 2006/05/30 10:02:52, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
any stories like wasps making zombie slaves out of their cockroack prey in the bible?
No, the book that dave likes is relentlessly anthropocentric. That's my main problem with that whole family of religions. I don't think anthropocentricity works very well in the modern world, even in the best interests of anthropoi (Faid - that one's for you!;)).

But refresh my memory - where can I read about the zombie cockroaches?

Date: 2006/05/30 10:41:46, Link
Author: Russell
Thanks! That truly is one of the most amazing zoological stories I've ever seen.

Date: 2006/05/30 12:43:51, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
As far as reinventing the theory, I think history bears me out that it will happen its just a matter of when.
History bears out the prediction that theory will be modified by data as it becomes available -some aspects added, others rejected. But I see no particular reason to suspect that the core of the theory of evolution - mutation, heredity and selection - will be discarded - any more than, say, the notion that the behavior of electrons and their orbitals makes up the core of chemistry.  
Quote
Right now the "circle the wagons" mentality tends to hamper innovative thought because anyone who voices concern is some crazy, ignorant, fundamentalist creationist.
You, for instance? But you haven't raised any cogent concerns yet. Dembski? Behe? They've had their "day in court" (literally and figuratively) and they have no case. Lynn Margulis? Stanley Prusiner? Who? Whose innovative ideas are being marginalized by the alleged wagon-circlers?

Date: 2006/05/30 12:51:01, Link
Author: Russell
Unless and until you supply a credible example, I'm going to regard this "wagon-circling" cliche as yet another argumentum ad platitudinem. (Probably the fallacy taxonomists already have a name for it; but since I'm too lazy to look it up, I've coined a new one.)

Date: 2006/05/30 13:30:55, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I don't think thats there's anyroom for scientific disagreement concerning evolution in the scientific community right now.  That inhibits the next generation from looking outside the box so to speak.
More argumentum ad platitudinem; still no examples.
 
Quote
I've posted some of my specific concerns that arise when I look at evolution from a molecular viewpoint.
Speaking as one who is more than a little familiar with the molecular viewpoint, I have been unable to find any substance in in your concerns as described here.

Date: 2006/05/31 02:51:52, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
The dyslexic amnesiac insomniac  agnostic lays awake nights pondering the existence of Dog. Which sounds a lot more productive than Dave's mission to corrupt the youth of America.

Date: 2006/05/31 06:33:28, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
A T. rex fossil, for crying out loud, is clearly transitional between earlier theropods and birds.
A very naive and trivial complaint that creationists often have (I'm not accusing Skeptic; his complaints remain too vague to critique) is that T. rex is not transitional between anything and birds, since birds are not directly descended from T. rex.

Date: 2006/05/31 09:59:20, Link
Author: Russell
For Dembski, the %-dissonance/%-fun&profit may vary from day to day. But the bottom line for him is it's a job.

Think about it. Imagine (and it will take imagination! ) that some piece of evidence surfaces tomorrow that vindicates ID. I'll be surprised. I'll be fascinated. And I'll continue doing the job I'm doing. (I'm not paid to "believe in" or defend evolution.)  

On the other hand imagine some piece of evidence surfaces that shows ID to be untenable (shouldn't take too much imagination.) If Dembski admits it, that's the end of his job and his career.

Having committed the sin of honesty, he would be an apostate, and unemployable by any of the organizations that have supported him in the past. If it were just about the money, of course, he could launch a new career exposing the dark side of creationism. But I don't think it is; I think that, fundamentally, he's a fundamentalist.

Date: 2006/05/31 12:40:50, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
but I know that the earth doesn't move
If we ever get beyond talking about what we're going to talk about, I'll be interested in seeing the proof of this.

Date: 2006/05/31 12:48:09, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
In fact, somebody round these parts created the term: "pseudointellectual intellectualism"  

which kind of fits Davey boy to a "T".
I assume you mean "pseudointellectual antiintellectualism" ©2006

Date: 2006/06/01 07:21:08, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
[Russell:]For instance, the GULO story. Dave's dismissing it with "I knew that already", aside from missing the point, doesn't explain it. Evolution explains it.[
Quote
I didn't miss the point.
It's abundantly clear that (a) you did miss the point, and that (b) you don't understand the subject nearly well enough to begin to understand how you missed the point. I can't fix that. This will be my last post on this thread. Have a nice life.

Date: 2006/06/01 07:38:22, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Then ask him his explanation of why spacecraft are almost always launched in an Easterly direction to take advantage of the extra velocity boost provided by the Earth’s rotation.
Ooh, ooh, ooh! Can I play?
The reason is that NASA (and international equivalents) all assume the earth is spinning, so they never tried the other direction!

Date: 2006/06/02 04:38:42, Link
Author: Russell
So I guess I have my answer: GoP thinks the moon landings were faked.

GoP apparently lives in an alternative universe, where, fortunately, his nutty ideas won't have any impact on the one I live in.

Date: 2006/06/02 05:21:21, Link
Author: Russell
?

Originally, if I recall correctly, Skeptic said that the fossil record was incompatible with the mainstream understanding of evolution.

I guess now he's saying that it's irrelevant; you can see in it anything you want - or are predisposed - to see.

OK. Fine. Let's stick entirely to molecular evidence. What is it that can't be explained without "reinventing" evolution?

Date: 2006/06/02 10:53:38, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I will use the time to test some of my ideas relating the topological constructs to energy eigenvectors.
Oh fer chrissake.  
Paley, have you gone off your meds?

Date: 2006/06/03 09:15:40, Link
Author: Russell
This would be a good opportunity to recommend a book I read last year: When Life Nearly Died
It covers a lot of stuff of interest to folks here, and spends some pages discussing the idea that the Permian extinction was caused by just such an impact.

Date: 2006/06/04 06:17:17, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Because PhysRev doesn't accept papers which are crazy and stupid?
Indeed, there's no way our vaporous friend could make it in the world of science. And with his, um, interesting ideas about gays, blacks, hispanics, immigrants, liberals, scientists, media people... in short, other people, one has to wonder if he could function in any capacity that requires interpersonal interactions. Has the GhostGuy ever shared with us what it is he does for a living?

Date: 2006/06/05 15:28:06, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
[GoP:]To improve ourselves, heal society, and seek truth: these goals shape our [religious conservatives'] thoughts and deeds. Proof? Just look at the societies and communities we create. Measured against the ideal, they may fall woefully short; measured against the pagan past, they more than clear the bar.
[guffaw]
I know I promised not to post to this ridiculous thread any further, but a couple of glasses of wine, and the fact that I just passed this quotation in a storefront window make me want to share:
Quote
"I like your christ. I do not like your christians. Your christians are so unlike your christ" - Gandhi
GhostGuy - and Dave - I believe he was speaking of you.

Date: 2006/06/07 03:45:54, Link
Author: Russell
I don't want to initiate yet another official "poll" - but I decided this morning I would use my spare time either to decipher Paley's mathematical "proof" of geocentrism, or to read and contemplate Lee Smolin's "Three Roads to Quantum Gravity". Which do you suppose would be a better use of my time?

[ ] Paley
[ ] Smolin

Date: 2006/06/07 07:45:02, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I'm not inclined in that direction but like I said it is an unfortunate consequence of this line of reasoning.
Nothing "unfortunate" about it. Indeed, that's how we can tell you're headed in the wrong direction, which saves a lot of time.
Quote
I'm going to look at this alittle more closely when I address nested hierarchies.
Right. If you can address nested hierarchies in a way that (a) doesn't involve common descent and (b) doesn't resemble AirHead Dave's total failure to understand the phenomenon, you'll have my attention. I hope you'll forgive me if, in the meantime, I don't hold my breath.

Date: 2006/06/07 13:35:15, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Nobody drinks beer anymore
I do. That's why I didn't vote. Well, really it's because I can't drink much else besides beer. Almost every other variety of alcohol gives me a headache. I hate headaches. I really hate headaches. Unfortunately, the generally notorious - and therefore tempting - aspects of alcohol always involve a headache.

But I like beer.

Date: 2006/06/08 04:35:08, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
No doubt you'll say something like, "Well, I'm tired of trying to get a stupid Creobot to understand science ... see ya later."  This is what usually happens when people get tired of defending indefensible theories such as ToE, Long Age of the Earth, etc.
If he's smart, he will. I suppose the real reaon I don't bother any more is that AirHead has me totally stumped?

Nah. I don't need, or expect, Dave to acknowledge the thoroughness with which his silly arguments are destroyed before his very eyes. I'm OK, knowing that there is no textbook, no scientific organization, no respected professional journal, no respected institution of education, no credible authority on primary education that regards the flaky arguments of the likes of AirHead Dave as even worthy of notice.

(Also no linguist.)

I'm comrortable knowing that AirHead Dave is much more likely to repel, rather than attract, any potential converts to his religion, and in this unintended way, he might be construed as something more than a waste of carbon.

Date: 2006/06/08 05:13:53, Link
Author: Russell
I'm still curious, by the way, if anyone has any good leads as to the nature of language in Burgundy in the early 12th century. Was it not more of a germanic language than a romance language?

Date: 2006/06/08 12:15:45, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Direct investigation of human sperm chromosomes became possible by karyotyping spermatozoa after penetration of zona-free hamster oocytes....
Would these be the "animal-human hybrids"  Bush is worried about?

Date: 2006/06/08 12:32:01, Link
Author: Russell
I wouldn't claim to be "fluent" in anything other than English. I once passed an exam that allowed me to claim fluency in German - but that was some time ago. I had about 5 years of Latin, and was reasonably good at reading it, but never spoke it. Also took courses in Italian, Greek (koine), and learned a little Russian, a little Spanish, and a little (modern) Greek on my own.

Date: 2006/06/09 02:48:42, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
How many cases are known of a chromosome fusion spreading throughout the species? Any besides the human case that's been discussed here?
I don't have time right now, but PubMed or Google "Robertsonian race AND mouse"

Date: 2006/06/11 17:05:34, Link
Author: Russell
I see AirHeadDave is declaring victory over on his "Creator Hypothesis" thread. I am loath to contribute to that discussion, lest I lend credence to the pretense that it is a discussion. Since his deafening silence on this thread already serves as eloquent testimonial to the vacuity of his "science", I thought this would be a good place to sum up what we've learned.

First, let's keep in mind Dave's self-proclaimed reason for being here. It's not to learn, and it's not to teach. It's to gain facility in anti-evolution rhetorical technique, specifically for the purpose of inoculating children against the everlasting damnation that results from having any confidence in - or understanding of - of science, insofar as it is inconsistent with his primitive religion. With that thought firmly in mind, we won't get too frustrated with his consistent failure to recognize the solidity, interconnectedness, and downright overwhelmingness of the evidence he's so determined to deny. And we will recognize his puerile "victory dance" for what it is: another instance of the "Cordova Cockstrut"*.

*Named for Salvador Cordova, who routinely makes himself look ridiculous with displays of false confidence after having one of his creationist arguments dismantled and decisively demolished, and as a semi-formal announcement that he's abandoning efforts to defend it. See also, "Baghdad Bob"
and Monty Python's "Black Knight"

Mind you, AHD announced that that is his purpose, but the fact that he has repeatedly demonstrated that honesty - with himself, let alone with us - is not his first priority, might lead one to take with a grain of salt any statement of purpose.  I suspect, too, that AHD, being human, occasionally strays from his stated purpose, and gets drawn into attempts to actually defend his "science".  

Anyway, I think we should focus, not on trying to teach AHD, but on studying the substance and style of his creationist arguments.

First and foremost, of course, is his inability to separate religion and science. He claims of course, that that is not the case; that he judges science solely on the evidence, but that he regards the Bible as a perfectly sensible source of "hypotheses". But a "hypothesis", by definition, can be right or wrong, whereas AHD takes as axiomatic that the Bible can't be wrong. Go figure. The flip side, of course, is that AHD deploys the old (inaccurate) tu quoque, claiming that scientists have the opinions that they do, not because of the evidence, but because of a supposed precommitment to an "atheistic" worldview.

Now there's another interesting twist to the AHD conflation of religion and science. He thinks that we're missing an important part of life in not "getting to know our Creator" - as he thinks he does. But the creator he thinks he has personal knowledge of is one that makes specific truth-claims about physical reality, that are at odds with everything science knows.

Then there's this interesting gambit most clearly illustrated in the GULO exchange: the substitution of the assertion that the creationist explanation is at least as successful as the real-world one, for the explanation itself. Note: he never offered this explanation; merely asserted that (a) it exists and (b) it fits the data better than the one accepted by the tens of thousands of PhD's who have spent their lives studying the data. Note also we saw this same strategy deployed in the "Portuguese = Spanish + French" argument: no actual evidence offered; just the assertion repeated ad nauseam, coupled with the claim that anyone that didn't recognize the conclusiveness of the (non)evidence must be "blind".

The heart of the whole creationist enterprise, of course, is the baffling supposition that somehow any question is still open as long as some crackpot like Russell Humphreys is refusing to bend to reality. As if the tons of peer-reviewed literature and the consilience of all of science commands less attention and respect than the scattered, and inconsistent, pleadings of the odd fanatic whose religious commitment to the dissenting view is obvious, acknowledged, and absolutely central to his psychology. Even after having his nose rubbed in the mess that AiG made of the human/chimp chromosome fusion story, AHD still cites AiG (and ICR, and Dembski, and any and all creationist "scientists") as if they're just as trustworthy as the peer-reviewed journals that professional scientists rely upon and contribute to.

Is it "child abuse"? Well, I'm with Stephen Elliott and stevestory on this one. Yes, I think AHD's whole project - inasmuch as it's aimed at indoctrinating his and others' children - is a disservice. But I don't think it's more reprehensible than any a lot of other ignorance and superstition that parents and pastors attempt to impose on impressionable youngsters. Like madrasas in Pakistan: it's not how I would want kids educated, and lots of bad things will undoubtedly result. But with parents - and pastors - physically, sexually abusing kids, realistically I think society needs to pick its battles, and reserve the word abuse for the more concrete cases.

I may have more to say on the "meta-analysis" of AHD's enterprise, but that's all I can stomach for tonight. Anyway, I urge you all to think not so much of how you can show him the error of his ways, as to show others (school boards, newspaper readers of letters-to-the-editor, kids that need deprogramming...) the error of his ways.

Date: 2006/06/12 08:00:03, Link
Author: Russell
A nice illustration of the Wonderland (as in "Alice in...") that YEC's call home:
Quote
Only a lunatic or a blind man would say that chimps are 40% (or whatever your number is) closer to humans than gorillas are.
So virtually every primatologist, geneticist, and every other kind of scientist on the planet that studies these things is either blind or a lunatic.

Once again, there's no point in trying to convince the denizens of Wonderland that their world makes no sense (as Alice learned). But to the outside observer with any familiarity with science at all, this sort of nonsense pretty much speaks for itself.

The frustrating thing about arguing with creationists is that you have to step into Wonderland to even have the discussion. But for all their predictions of imminent triumph and other forms of Cordova Cockstrutting, out here in the Real World, science takes even less notice of them than we (aficionados of freak shows) do. One has only to page through any serious science journal to be reassured of that.

Now the serious challenge we face is that a shockingly high percentage of the general population - at least in the U.S. - can't tell the difference between Wonderland and the Real World. That speaks very poorly for the state of education in this country. Can it be fixed?

Date: 2006/06/12 09:48:39, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
they called out to the dog, and then clearly pronounced the command, "Heel!"

Quick as a wink, the dog jumped up, put his paw on the man's forehead, closed his eyes in concentration, and bowed his head.
Typical. Another ad homonym argument from those vicious evilutionists.

Date: 2006/06/22 04:40:15, Link
Author: Russell
In "Descent of Man" Darwin also made some amusingly wrong (in light of today's data) observations on the neurological/behavioral differences between men and women in areas such as political.

And I believe Lincoln* - yes, the Great Emancipator - is on record asserting or assuming the superiority of white over black people.

Even the most visionary among us can't entirely escape the prejudices of his (or her!;)) times.

*Mandatory trivia recitation: Lincoln and Darwin were born on the same day.

Date: 2006/06/22 07:26:30, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I am finding that many of the rebuttals at Talk Origins (I didn't even know T.O. existed before I came here ... there's something I learned) are rebutting arguments that the "mainstream YECs" don't even use.
"Mainstream YECs"?

Are they anything like Catholic Branch-Davidians?

Date: 2006/06/22 13:39:16, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
[afdave:] Show me evidence that what you say makes a difference.  I'm betting you cannot.
evidence:afdave::water:duck's back

Quote
[The Wraith of Gawd:]Molecular phylogenies are definitely a weakness for Darwin.
I'm sure as he11 not going to go through all 561 posts on that thread to get to the punchline of that joke, but I'll note, just for the record, that actual scientists appear not to agree with Paley on this.

Date: 2006/06/23 05:26:43, Link
Author: Russell
RE: "The" Flood.

There was some speculation a few years back that the day the Mediterranean spilled into what then became the Black Sea might have inspired some of these flood stories. I think Ballard - of Titanic fame - found the remains of inundated villages way under the current shoreline. Anyone up on this?

Also - I'm drawing a blank on the Roman/Greek version of the flood story. Can someone recall the protagonists' names - or the gist of the story?

Date: 2006/06/25 08:19:48, Link
Author: Russell
I see afdave has reached a new low in accusing others of being insufficiently concerned and involved in the welfare of children. I'm not going to bother looking up the exact quote, but I recall a bit of advice from Jesus somewhere in the New Testament. Something like, "don't 'pray' like the Pharisees, 'I thank thee, Lord, that thou didn't make me like other men' ". I get the impression that Jesus was really down on self-righteousness, don't you?

On another note though. The New Testament "documents" an incident that surely would not go unnoticed by contemporary Jewish, Roman and Greek historians if it actually happened. The "slaughter of the innocents", I think it's called, where Herod the Great supposedly had all newborn boys in his realm murdered to eliminate his prophesied successor. Is there any hint of this anywhere outside of Christian scripture?

Date: 2006/06/26 03:16:11, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
What staggers me is that people here are still prepared to give you the time of day.
I'm not one of them.

I just checked in for the first time in I don't know how long to confirm that my "vote" for the geocentric argument achieved its purpose. The argument - such as it is - is so ridiculous I'm not tempted to get drawn into it.

Quote
Yes, I plan to show how the forces come together Tuesday.....gotta run.
Someone alert me if he ever delivers the punchline to this drawn-out comedy act.

Date: 2006/06/26 03:46:46, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
So Afdave is saying that if his God (via another man) tells him to kill woman, children and even babies, that he would do it and be ok with it...
I don't think it's an "invidious comparison" to point out that that's exactly what 9/11/2001 was all about.

Date: 2006/06/26 05:04:20, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Oh well, Tuesday should show some progress.
Is this a conscious or unconscious homage to Popeye's friend, Wimpy, who is forever promising to pay, Tuesday, for a hamburger today?

Date: 2006/06/26 05:08:52, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Intelligent design may or may not be true but they have to prove it.
A plausible mechanism would be a handy starting point.

Date: 2006/06/26 09:32:47, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
[afdave:] How can a measley human be in a position to judge God?  I am not stupid enough to pretend that I can see the things that God sees.  So how can I presume to judge God's actions?  No, I cannot.  Now what I can do is observe that there really is such a thing as God, judging from all the evidence available to me.  And I can make a decision about whether he means business or not about wanting humans to do His will.  I've decided He is, and He has.  So I've decided that it's a wise thing to obey.
And, to continue my theme,  does this differ in any significant way from Mohammed Atta's views on 9/11/2001?

I don't know if anyone reading this is old enough to remember the Kennel Ration pet food ads on TV about 40 years ago, but they featured a little kid singing:
Quote
My dog's better than your dog,
My dog's better than yours.
My dog's better 'cause he gets Kennel Ration.
My dog's better than yours
Now - if you can remember the tune  - substitute "god" for "dog", and "Christian prayers" for "Kennel Ration", and you've got a pretty good idea how seriously I take afdave.

Date: 2006/06/27 10:50:24, Link
Author: Russell
I guess all those creationists who are forever prophesying the imminent collapse of "Darwinism" (read: "modern biology") are just continuing in the noble tradition of Ezekiel.

Date: 2006/06/28 04:59:43, Link
Author: Russell
Did afdave - or anyone else - have anything to say about the socalled "slaughter of the innocents"? If so, I missed it.

Seems to me that's a major problem for advocates of  biblical accuracy.

Date: 2006/06/29 12:00:33, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Go back 10 pages ( never mind the preceding 80+) and look at how many times you were shown to be utterly wrong, Dave...
I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that you're talking to a brick wall.

It has been said that George Washington could not tell a lie; that Richard Nixon could not tell the truth; and that Ronald Reagan could not tell the difference.

Afdave makes Reagan look like a paragon of judicious objectivity.

Date: 2006/06/30 06:04:02, Link
Author: Russell
Of course, the simple (and certainly correct) statement that humans and chimps are descended from common ancestors covers a lot of different specific scenarios. This paper hints at them, but there will always be another deeper layer of detail we won't be able to nail down. If that lack of even the prospect of certainty makes one crazy, one can always become a creationist.

I know the banter about humans & bonobos is not serious, but it reminds me that bonobos and chimps diverged from one another a lot more recently than humans did from the (chimp/ bonobo) line. So when this interbreeding was going on, who knows what the (chimps/bonobos) were like? Were they more chimp-like or more bonobo-like?

There was a book a few years back by Gribbin and Cherfas called "The Third Chimpanzee" (i.e., us) that offers the interesting suggestion that proto-human ancestors, like Australopithecus, are also ancestral to chimps. I'm not sure what the current status of that idea is, other than to say that Dawkins, in "The Ancestor's Tale", pronounced it "not as crazy as it sounds" (or words to that effect).

Date: 2006/06/30 10:39:34, Link
Author: Russell
First, third... I'm always mixing those up.

Date: 2006/09/01 07:42:06, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
getzal, a quick approximation of nucleophilicity could be obtained by calculating the LUMO energy.  This is a molecular level descriptor and not as precise as needed for this example.  Since electron density is essentially what we're refferring to an examination of atomic frontier orbital energies would work.
It's nonsense like this that really tries my patience. Again - the pseudointellectual anti-intellectual gambit: "sure, the learned, highly educated types think that up is up, but if they were just a little smarter - like me, for instance - they would see that up is in fact down"

Skeptic: please give us an example of calculating the "LUMO energy" of two genes, and some reason to believe that such considerations would rise even to the level of "negligible" when compared to, say, accessibility of actively transcribed vs. dormant DNA to chemical attack.

Date: 2006/09/01 07:54:05, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
All that's required is some eyeballs and some functioning synapses.
Who knew that essentially every geologist on the planet lacked one or both of these requirements?

Date: 2006/09/01 12:12:35, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
barnes and Russell, I hate to say this because I've seen it used so many times on these threads as a diversion but the truth is neither of you seem to have a clue as to what you are talking about.
I love it! I challenge you to actually perform this calculation, in order to show you, in the process of trying, that you don't have a clue what you're talking about. And, rather than making the least effort in that direction, you simply tell me, I don't have a clue what I'm talking about.

Quote
A gene is just a really big molecule
Is that so? I was under the impression that a gene was a segment of a typically much larger molecule called "DNA", and that the reactivity of any part of that DNA would be a complex result of a lot of factors, of which your "LUMO" is going to be of negligible impact. But then, I don't have a clue what I'm talking about, so you'll have to illustrate it by actually performing the calculation

Quote
so please explain to me the problem with calculating the LUMO of this molecule and then instruct me on why using the frontier atomic orbitals to assess regions of this molecule is so incomprehensable.  If you can then you've succeeded in invalidating an entire field of study that has shown tremendous success over the last two decades, please I'm all ears
Well, as the kids say: "I asked you first". You show me where this approach has been of value in predicting the relative mutability of two genes.

Date: 2006/09/01 12:18:42, Link
Author: Russell
Steverino hits the nail on the head when he writes:
Quote
You [afdave] have yourself convinced that you have refuted the work of thousands of scientist much smarter than you or I with your misunderstandings.
This is where the arrogance of the creationist belies the alleged humility of the alleged christian.

Date: 2006/09/01 15:38:43, Link
Author: Russell
Skeptic wrote:  
Quote
In my years as an educator
I've been away for a couple of months, tending to more pressing issues [did y'all miss me?], so I may have missed the background to this. Skeptic is (was?) an "educator"? ? ?  God help us.  I hope the subject didn't have anything to do with science.

Date: 2006/09/03 06:39:20, Link
Author: Russell
Hmmm. I wonder, if I had not taken a long break from the long break from this nonsense that I did, would I be, by now, so frustrated with afd that I would be hurling epithets like "dishonest Schmuck" and "sh!t-for-brains". Quite possibly. But I'll try not to.

Here, for instance, afd writes:
Quote
NOTE:  Some of you have the idea that I am trying to become a scientist and present a hypothesis that could be published in a scientific journal or something.  I have no such illusions.  Here at ATBC, I am really in the role of Investigative Journalist.  I write materials for kids.  And I want to write accurately.
Hmmm. What to do? Be the 1000th scientifically educated person to try to get him to recognize where "accuracy" really stands among his priorities? Or just laugh?

Date: 2006/09/10 21:24:53, Link
Author: russell_y
This is great. I love seeing the fantasies of theology get so solidly rebuttaled.

Date: 2006/09/10 23:59:04, Link
Author: russell_y
I agree and I am supporting this cause.

Date: 2006/09/16 11:46:32, Link
Author: Russell
Wow. 193 pages of this crap! Truly impressive. Kudos to all with the perseverance to keep holding afd's feet to the fire. But beyond a certain point, incinerated feet can't get any more incinerated.

Seriously. It occurs to me that the only reason sane people take the time to even confront this pre-medieval silliness is because of the scary political prominence of the would-be theocrats. So to those of us in the U.S. - let's resolve to devote at least as much time, energy and resources to the upcoming election as to diversions like Davey-doodles.

Date: 2006/09/18 05:53:02, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Ho ho. All this from the man who gets his stats on black-on-white crime from White supremacist websites.
to which GoP responds:
Quote
And wins the debate.
causing me to muse:
Quote
How would Dave GoP know if he won the debate? What criteria are you using?


I'm going to give GoP the benefit of the doubt here, and assume the irony is intentional.

Date: 2006/09/18 11:43:41, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
...too bad that the fundamental assumptions appear to be wrong ... and apparently even Dalrymple cannot defend them anymore.
Do I understand correctly? Is afd concluding that Dalrymple has abandoned this methodology because he doesn't bother to argue with a couple of fundy wing-nuts, publishing in fundy wing-nut rags?

Earth to Dave: One thing you can bank on - these creationists are just like you in that they will never, ever concede. If you think Dalrymple is conceding every argument he chooses not to waste time on publicly destroying, it's possible that you're even more delusional than I thought.

Should I assume that you tacitly acknowledge every criticism you haven't publicly countered? Or, more to the point, can I assume that the countless times* in this thread you've ignored inconvenient data and questions reflect the failure of your "hypothesis"?

*Since life is way too short for me to go and list them all, I'll just let the most recent failure to address Stephen Elliott's questions about the Grand Canyon serve as typical.

Date: 2006/09/18 11:58:45, Link
Author: Russell
I don't have the graphics to go with it, but I've always thought one of the most compelling arguments for ID was that there are holes in a cat's skin and fur exactly where its eyes are!

Random chance? I think not!

(One "yellow fatty bean", I think, offered this nugget on PT a couple of years ago. I chuckle every time I think of it. Anyone have an earlier citation?)

Date: 2006/09/20 14:43:48, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
It's also pretty interesting that people like PZ Meyers have been lying to kids about our origins for years
Now here's a particularly loathsome piece of sliminess.

Would you care to document a single specific instance of PZ lying to kids? Or perhaps you'll want to hide behind the construction "people like PZ" (e.g. people with two eyes, people older than 30...).

Really. If your Jesus approves of this sort of calumny, I want nothing to do with him.

Date: 2006/09/20 16:49:54, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Even a couple of years ago, when I was knocking heads making a fool of myself toadying  for Bill...

Date: 2006/09/21 03:34:45, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Hey, aren't you the guy that said it was a waste of time to argue with me?
One of many. And, no, I haven't wavered on that. Pointing out that your rhetoric is beyond the pale of any normal person's definition of decency should not be confused with "arguing with you".

Quote
So am I irresistible?
My work involves "germs". I admit I'm fascinated by viruses, bacteria and the like; can't get enough of them. Does that tell you something?

Date: 2006/09/21 08:25:13, Link
Author: Russell
The hypothetical made-up data thing is priceless.

Let me make sure I've got this right though; correct me if I'm wrong:

Given a plot of 38, 380, or 38000 (X,Y) data points, even if they all fall on a line, no matter what the correlation coefficient is, you can never have any confidence about the relationship between X and Y, because it's possible those 38, 380, or 38000 were complete flukes, and the next 380000 points will probably,  might, for all we know,  could conceivably could, with a probability somewhere around 10^-47(*), demonstrate no significant X-Y correlation.

* (A number I pulled out of thin air. Surely it's as valid as any other!;)

Date: 2006/09/22 13:40:15, Link
Author: Russell
Davie's original quote of Dalrymple, before proper application of QuoteMine™ Scissors:
Quote
One of the principal tasks of the geochronologist is to select the type of material used for a dating analysis. A great deal of effort goes into the sample selection, and the choices are made before the analysis, not on the basis of the results. (my emphasis)
... and after:
Quote
One of the principal tasks of the geochronologist is to select the type of material used for a dating analysis. A great deal of effort goes into the sample selection

Seems a bit - what's the word I'm looking for? - dishonest?

Date: 2006/09/23 06:19:21, Link
Author: Russell
Recapping...
Davie's original quote of Dalrymple, before proper application of QuoteMine™ Scissors:
Quote
One of the principal tasks of the geochronologist is to select the type of material used for a dating analysis. A great deal of effort goes into the sample selection, and the choices are made before the analysis, not on the basis of the results. (my emphasis)
... and after:  
Quote
One of the principal tasks of the geochronologist is to select the type of material used for a dating analysis. A great deal of effort goes into the sample selection
to which the irrepressible AF "Don Quixote" Dave responds:  
Quote
What difference does that make?
Well, now. That's a good question. Why did you excise the bolded part? To save precious bandwidth?

What we have learned so far:
No matter how thoroughly, devastatingly, "over-killingly" Davie's bizarre take on reality is demolished, he will keep summarizing all his ignominious defeats and retreats as glorious victories, thus firmly securing his reputation as the "Baghdad Bob" of internet creationists. One could, I suppose, go back and re-demolish each one of those "victories", but then one will have fallen for Davie's ploy of having one run around in infinite circles, covering the same old ground over and over.

Instead, one might ask Dave why, if actual practising scientists have been so decisively shown wrong on these extremely basic points, why are these "fallacies" still universally accepted in textbooks and in the professional scientific literature and practice?

Though that, too, would be covering old territory, as Davie will undoubtedly return with some variation of the "Atheist/secular humanist" conspiracy.

Here's one question, more or less randomly chosen from what must be at this point hundreds of dodged unanswered questions, I'll take as emblematic of the rest: Davie dismisses all the isotopic dating results as "unreliable" or "meaningless". Which, if it were the case, would predict a random, meaningless, array of dates for the age of the earth. Yet he's been shown volumes of data that all converge on the same remarkably narrow age: 4.55 x 10^9 years.

Which brings us back to the Dalrymple quote, and Davie's artful editing of it. I believe Davie's hilariously lame response to the obvious question is "cherry-picking".  So Davie is accusing Dalrymple (and the entire scientific community, for that matter) of the most contemptible sort of malfeasance when they point out, as Dalrymple did in the quote, that samples are selected before analysis.

I'm seriously considering using highlights from this thread for the very purpose Davie claims to be passionate about: teaching kids. I'm convinced that any high-school science student incapaple of recognizing the difference between "science" and "deluded zealotry" is beyond the reach of more sophisticated logic, and should probably not be wasting the time of science teachers anyway.

Date: 2006/09/23 06:41:31, Link
Author: Russell
Or, more to the point, why the West no longer needs science, as understood and practised by actual scientists, but instead needs to have science redefined by right-wing wing-nuts.

Date: 2006/09/23 07:39:00, Link
Author: Russell
Last I checked, DeVos and incumbent Gov. Granholme are dead-even in the polls. I wonder whether DeVos's ID gambit will have any impact, plus or minus. I.e. is Stupid still a winning strategy?

Date: 2006/09/30 11:43:01, Link
Author: Russell
Creationism/ID irks me more than other versions of pseudoscience because it's religion masquerading as something else. (Just look at the  nonsense AFD spews.) Religion isn't necessarily a bad thing; I know lots of good people to whom religion is extremely important. But let's face it: some pretty scary herd behaviors fall under the heading "religion".

Nonreligious pseudoscience buffs might be quirky, ignorant, delusional, illogical, etc. etc. But they're rarely as motivated as creationists. And even if one occasionally is that motivated, he or she will not constitute the clear and present danger of a movement.

Also, I've always been a big fan of the whole "church/state" separation concept. Other pseudosciences aren't hellbent on eroding that.

Date: 2006/10/02 10:14:00, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Someone here will know this, but don't some bacteria have 'more' DNA than humans?
I don't think so. DaveIQ153Scot made this claim in a comment on Panda's Thumb, thinking it supported his ridiculous "frontloading" version of ID. It turns out he failed to recognize a misplaced decimal point in a table he found on "the internets". I had a lot of fun rubbing his nose in that.

Date: 2006/10/02 10:54:55, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
To answer Argy's question, I would guess that there is VERY LITTLE sequence difference among modern bacterial DNA
Why guess? There's tons of sequence data freely available. And - as Edmund pointed out -  the differences between fruitflies' and human's DNAs are minor, compared with the differences between two divergent bacteria.

So, Dave, how come your Ultimate Science Textbook didn't prevent you from making that gaffe?

Date: 2006/10/02 14:31:26, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I think the "blinded by what they want to believe" applies to, er ... let's see ... what can we call them?  "anti-Biblicists" ? "skeptics" ?  ... you know ... folks like Russell who are going to school board meetings fighting people like me.
Oh, I can hardly wait to find out... what do I want to believe?

And, tell me, why do I drag myself to school board meetings? Is it because I don't want kids to learn "the truth"? Is it because I hate Jesus?

I wonder if dave's psychological insights come with the same level of certainty as his biological, geological, chemical and physical insights.

Date: 2006/10/03 06:14:54, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Russell-- Just a guess, but my guess is that you want to believe that Evolution is true and that Genesis 1 & 2 are merely nice, religious myths.  How close did I get?
Not very.

Do I believe that massive objects attract other massive objects - a phenomenon known as "gravity" - because I want to believe it? Or because I find the evidence pretty persuasive?

Do I believe "Evolution is true", or that the development of life was an extremely complex and almost unimaginably long process, and that the description of it by mainstream science is considerably more accurate and informative than deductions tortured out of ancient religious documents?

Now, when I go to school board meetings, believe it or not, no actually elected members are rushing to embrace the YEC position. They understand that to actually endorse, out loud, the nonsense you endorse would be to political suicide. No, what they're trying to do is to what politicians do: have it both ways.  They're trying to straddle the gulf between reality and religious fundamentalism with the imaginary bridge called "intelligent design". They're trying to say "sure, we support science, and technology, and medicine, all the cool toys and drugs and all, but there's this complicated dodge - way too complicated for me to explain right now (heck, I barely understand it myself! - but these distinguished gentlemen from the Discovery Institute assure me it's legit) - whereby up can simultaneously be down, negative is actually positive, and saying otherwise is the rankest form of viewpoint discrimination".

What would I like to believe? That's kind of a foreign concept to me. I want my perceptions and understanding of the universe to be as accurate and complete as possible, and not to be clouded by unwarranted assumptions, wishful thinking, and superstition. I suppose if I could arrange my "fantasy reality", I might entertain notions of being immortal, of getting having loved ones who have died resurrected and we could hang out indefinitely together enjoying good food and good times... oh, and can I keep my cat?  I might want an all-knowing Big Daddy in the Sky to intervene at key moments to save me and my fellow Homo sapiens from our short-sightedness, and to assure me that even though I am appalled at some of my own deviations from my idea of proper conduct over the years, that all is forgiven, no need to worry about it.

I might like to believe there's no need to challenge ignorance and backwardness, because knowledge and understanding, being inherently more powerful, will always prevail with or without my input.

What I actually believe is that a new round of Dark Ages is entirely possible, and it's advent would look a whole lot like this morning's newspaper.

Date: 2006/10/03 08:14:17, Link
Author: Russell
ericmurphy wrote:  
Quote
Dave, this morning's discussion is getting pretty far afield, so I'd like to yank things back on track, if I might. There are currently two very current outstanding issues you need to address (on top of the 70 or so other issues that are there in the backlog of unanswered questions and unaddressed objections).
Eric must be young and idealistic, and think there's actually a chance Dave's going to seriously engage scientific facts. I admire that. Hope springs eternal, and all that. Me, I figure that since this whole thread is all about religion, and nothing about science, maybe there's a better chance to get Dave to engage in religious questions.

But on another note...

Denton can't be fundamentally wrong about evolution, because he has a PhD in developmental biology (oh, and a MD). But then,  99.99% of molecular biologists with PhDs can't be fundamentally wrong when they say Denton is fundamentally wrong, because, well, they have PhDs (in the actual subject areas, by the way, that Denton is writing about).

Oh no! My head just exploded! Again!

Date: 2006/10/03 08:30:51, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Denton's book has been out for over 20 years, rings true as ever, yet most of you haven't even read it
Just for the record, I have read it. Having actually studied this stuff extensively in many years of schooling, I had no trouble in instantly determining that it was ridiculous, for exactly the reasons the inexplicably patient people on this board have been trying to explain to you.

Have you read Denton's followup book, "Nature's Destiny", in which he quietly abandons the whole thesis of the earlier book, and accepts common descent? Probably because inexplicably patient people who actually understand molecular biology were able, finally, to show him how fundamentally wrong he had been?  
Quote
and you are blindly wandering around in a fog, totally unaware that the Darwinist ship is sinking.
Motes and beams, Dave. Motes and beams.

Date: 2006/10/04 11:51:16, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
I don't think this guy has suddenly become your ideological ally, Russell, as you seem to imagine.
I imagine no such thing. The guy is flailing, clearly had to abandon his earlier thesis, but couldn't very well publish a brand new book saying, "oops... sorry about the boneheadedness".

No. It's the same dodge - "somehow evolution is wrong". But he had to abandon the molecular biology angle because he had no answer to the very criticisms you are so thoroughly failing to deal with here. So he found a new set of arcane sciencey words, now having to do more with physics - in which his claim to expertise is even more suspect.

Believe or not, dave, even though you and Muqtada al Sadr probably disagree on just about everything, neither of you is closer to being my "ideological ally" than the other. It's a lot like the relationship between streptococcus, salmonella, and chimpanzees that way.

Date: 2006/10/04 15:37:34, Link
Author: Russell
Davey - simple question:

Does your hero, Michael Denton, as of his most recent book, accept the notion of "common descent"? Yes or no.

Date: 2006/10/05 05:26:08, Link
Author: Russell
Dave?  Did you miss my question?

Does Denton accept common descent?

Date: 2006/10/05 06:05:22, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Russell ... do you know the meaning of the word "Sure"?  It means the same as "Yes" in the context of your question.  Now go read my answer at the end of my post.
Oops. My bad. I didn't wade through all the same old same old to get to the end.

Now that we've cleared that up - do you think that Denton accepted common descent in his earlier book "Theory in Crisis"? Again - simple question. Simple yes (or "sure" as the case may be) or no.

Date: 2006/10/05 06:53:32, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Russell, Dave is saying that Denton accepts the "sciencey" evidence in favor of evolution, but does not consider the additional "supernatural" evidence that supports creationism.  As long as one disregards this "supernatural" evidence, there is no choice but to accept evolution.  Dave has been quite clear on this point recently.
I have to admit I have not been paying really close attention.

I'm just trying to point out that Denton is a pretty pathetic source for Davy to be relying on, and for a number of reasons:

1. Denton has never been taken seriously by anyone who knows anything about molecular biology in the first place.

2. Denton's position in "Evolution - a Theory in Crisis" is contradicted by Denton himself in "Nature's Destiny"; all the tables and charts Davy is quoting from ETiC are supposed to be arguments against common descent. (What else are they supposed to prove???) But now Denton says he has no problem with common descent.

3. Not only does Denton not buy the YEC position - at this point, I believe you'll find that Intelligent Design Headquarters (i.e. the Discovery Institute) is distancing itself from Denton; once a "fellow" of the institute, widely cited by Wells, Dembski, Johnson etc, as being key to their own thinking, now you'll find scant mention of the old kook.

4. Not only did Denton misunderstand evolution and the relevant the molecular data when he wrote ETiC (he may get it now; I don't know), but Davy doesn't understand how Denton misunderstood.

Date: 2006/10/05 07:55:46, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
So what is that supposed to mean
It's supposed to mean that if you're having trouble getting anyone to take you seriously [as you are, Dave; you do recognize that much, don't you?], it's not a good strategy to use, as your pillar of credibility, someone that no one takes seriously.

Quote
No establishment scientist takes ANYONE seriously who dares breathe a word against their hallowed master, Darwin.
Really? So if I go on record, here and now, as saying Darwin was wrong on Lamarckism and on genetically determined human male/female mental characteristics, I will be shunned by all "establishment" scientists?

Quote
I see, Russell, that you have no real defense at all for any of the specifics in any of my posts
I don't think I have anything significant to add to the errors pointed out ably and at great length by others here, nor do I think there's any point in even trying. If the fact that 99.99% of scientists think you're an idiot doesn't give you pause, I doubt that 99.99001% will tip the balance.

Quote
I think you have no idea how true this [the fact that I haven't been paying close attention to Dave's "arguments"] is.
Tell you what. When you and your kind have had anything more than zero impact in any of the professional literature that defines science as far as I'm concerned, I'll take the time to read what you have to say. In the meantime, I'm just skimming for laughs.

Just as you are perfectly justified in not spending too much time reading what I have to say about, say, what Jesus thought about homosexuality. Especially if I go on about it for hundreds of pages.

Date: 2006/10/05 12:07:54, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You know, the more I think about it, the more I think that NO ONE can be wrong about Evolution.
Logically, then, that will be your last post here.

Despite the title of this thread, for these 200+ pages you've provided no evidence for your so-called hypothesis, only attempts (pretty feeble ones, long since rejected by anyone with a high-school education worthy of the name) to find problems with standard science. Not terrifically surprising, since that's all creationism has ever amounted to.

So, unless you're prepared to produce the long-promised but never delivered positive evidence for your alternative "hypothesis" (actually, "hypotheses", since you need to replace the existing explanations of biological diversity, radioactive decay, thermodynamics, star formation, geological structures, and probably others I'm too lazy to go back and identify) - if all you have to offer is observations in an area where you have declared that "NO ONE can be wrong" - why are you still here?

Date: 2006/10/05 13:24:09, Link
Author: Russell
ericmurphy wrote:
Quote
And, of course, a more fundamental question, one that could easily be posed by a third-grader:

How can both of these statements be true:

4.55 billion years is not nearly long enough for life to have evolved from a few thousand species to the tens of millions of species in existence today.

4,500 years is plenty of time for life to have evolved from a few thousand species on Noah's ark to the tens of millions of species in existence today.
You see, dave, it's your total inability to address this simple but excellently posed question that tells me it's pointless to come up with yet more puzzles for you. If you can answer this one, I promise I'll make an exception and actually read, not just skim, your answer - even if it doesn't quite make it to the level of peer-reviewed professional scientific publication - at least up to the invocation of magic, which I will take as your concession of defeat.

Date: 2006/10/05 15:04:12, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
One time, I saw one of the crazier ones preaching to a parked Jeep. An empty, parked Jeep on Hillsborough street.
Well? Don't leave us hanging... was the Jeep saved? Did it accept Jeepus as it's personal lord and savior?

Date: 2006/10/06 03:48:04, Link
Author: Russell
Grey Wolf wrote:
Quote
I'm not asking for the truth here, just that you demonstrate the ability to not misrepresent the ToE.
I'll go a step further and ask for a prediction from Dave's alternative "hypothesis". Suppose tomorrow, by some unexpected twist of fate, we get our hands on some ichthyosaur DNA. Will that DNA show greater sequence similarity to: dolphins'? sharks'? crocodiles'? yeasts'?  Please show your logic.

Date: 2006/10/06 05:08:26, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
Hmmm ... I get the feeling, Russell, that you are like a windsock.  You will point in whatever direction the wind happens to be blowing.  IOW you accept only what the "experts" determine is true, not what YOU have determined is true.
I am one of those "experts". I publish what I determine to be true in professional journals, and document how I make those determinations. An important part of that process is evaluating what other "experts" have determined. If you read what I've written (here, for example), you'll notice that evaluation is  not simply a process of accepting everything that's been published, even in respectable sources (not to be confused with jokes like AiG.)  
Quote
America (and modern science) was built by radical, out-of-the-box thinkers with stout spines.  America and the world needs more people like this.  I challenge you--as my English teacher in 11th grade once did to me--to stop following and start leading.
I suggest that you, of all people, are in no position to distinguish between leaders and followers in science. Name me one significant advance in science since, say, 1900 made by a scientist who rejects evolution, or a millions-of-years old earth. Note: "significance", to count as such, has to be detectable in the reality-based community.

Date: 2006/10/06 05:39:21, Link
Author: Russell
Note, that while Margulis complains about "neo-Darwinists", she describes herself as "definitely a Darwinist". What distinction do you suppose she's making, Dave? Does that question interest you at all?

Date: 2006/10/06 12:25:28, Link
Author: Russell
Me:  
Quote
Note, that while Margulis complains about "neo-Darwinists", she describes herself as "definitely a Darwinist". What distinction do you suppose she's making, Dave? Does that question interest you at all?
Dave:  
Quote
Yes. Fill me in.
Oh, no. It's your job to figure that out. Suffice it to say that, until you understand the distinction, your abuse of the Margulis quote reveals you as [surprise!] a shallow quote-miner of no understanding.

Did you at least follow the link?

Date: 2006/10/06 14:42:43, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
You should compare shark vs. lungfish vs. human, it'll be interesting.
I believe we had this discussion with one of our resident outside-the-boxers - ("Shi" or "Skeptic"; can't remember exactly).

But it's a good point for Dave to ponder. What does ToE predict about the degrees of similarity between the following pairs of DNA's:

salmon and shark
shark and human
human and salmon

What does Dave's theory predict?

Date: 2006/10/07 05:18:49, Link
Author: Russell
I was about to ask what this  
Quote

FISHES:  Tuna vs. Bonito = 2% difference
LAND MAMMALS:  Horse vs. Dog = 6% difference
BIRDS: Pekin Duck vs. Pigeon = 3% difference
PRIMATES: Human vs. Chimp = 1.5% difference?

...proves my point quite clearly.
was supposed to prove. But incorygible's post cleared that up for me. Thanks, incorygible.

Dave, this misunderstanding of data makes your claims of having any grasp at all of the subject matter you so confidently and arrogantly call "a hoot" even more laughable than does your mishandling of the Margulis quote. Which is saying a lot.

Date: 2006/10/07 12:26:17, Link
Author: Russell
This question has probably been asked and answered before...

But what's with the extremely frequent "page currently not available" errors for this site? And for Panda's Thumb? It seems that whenever the one is unavailable, the other one is also unavailable. I'm pretty sure the frequency of those unavailabilities is a lot higher than any other site I ever visit.

Date: 2006/10/07 17:05:38, Link
Author: Russell
Skeptic wrote:
Quote
I just read this off the newsbot and I'm betting most of these never get read.  I thought this was very well written and might be worth discussing here:
Actually, I thought it was rather poorly written, and I'm curious to know who wrote it. The attribution is just "The Sunday Times". Which Sunday Times? London? And I'm not prepared to accept the author's characterizations ("cleverly harangued", "manipulative trick", etc.) without reading the original work, thank you very much.

Date: 2006/10/07 17:20:55, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
And I see Russell went beaming off in the same direction with Cory, also failing to see my point.
Well, when you're right, you're right, Dave. I do completely fail to see your point.

You've listed a series of pairs of Cytochrome C amino acid sequences, right? And - once we correct your error, and recognize that the Human vs. Chimp value is "0.0% - the values correspond pretty well to the degree of evolutionary distance between the members of each pair, right?

Cytochrome C is a pretty poor tool for making these kinds of comparisons, though, because relatively little leeway is possible in such a central, critical protein. You'd have a more useful measure if you focused on some sequence under relatively lax selection. Is there some reason you don't want to do that?

Date: 2006/10/07 17:55:50, Link
Author: Russell
afdave:
Quote
OBFUSCATION BY CORY, RUSSELL AND OTHERS,
By the way. I take strong exception to your accusation that I'm "obfuscating". That is certainly not my intention; my intention is exactly the opposite. If I've failed to grasp your point, well, I admit that. Apparently I'm not the only one.

Quote
AND A VERY INSIGHTFUL POST BY "SKEPTIC"
And how, pray tell, is cutting and pasting someone else's suspect critique of a book that none of us has read "insightful"? Is it because it's critical of Dawkins? If I cut and paste a review of Dawkins that is neutral, or even favorable, is that necessarily not "insightful"?

Date: 2006/10/08 03:14:19, Link
Author: Russell
Do we know what the source of the problem is? Is it a software issue, or a hardware issue (an overburdened server, for instance)?

Date: 2006/10/08 04:25:31, Link
Author: Russell
Quote
1) Evolutionists NEED Deep Time for ToE to work.
Right. Just like we need mutable genetic material. Do you suspect that DNA and its imperfect replication mechanisms were "invented" by Jesus-hating molecular biologists?        
Quote
This heavily influences the selection of rocks for RM Dating and the judgment of "good" and "bad" dates.
You've shown us no evidence that such "selection" is being exercised.        
Quote
Example:  the RM "dating" of a human skull at Koobi Fora [URL=http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2006/0816dating-game.asp]
That is, you've shown us no evidence from a source with a credibility greater than zero. I'm not wasting my time at AIG. If they, on the other hand, list references to the reality-based community, feel free to share those here. I'll be glad to check them out.          
Quote
2) If ToE were true, there would exist a direct ancestry between a "UUC" (Unknown, unicellular creature) and a Human.  This might look something like UUC>Wormlike>Squidlike>Fishlike>Lungfishlike>Amphibianlike>Proto-Apelike


>Ape>Human.
That's basically true except (1) I've never heard of "squidlike" ancestors being part of our lineage. I recommend "The Ancestor's Tale" (by, who was it? Oh yes! Richard Dawkins) to clear up any confusion you might have on current thinking about our particular lineage. And (2) humans aren't just descended from apes, they are one of the five extant genera of great apes.        
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3) ToE advocates should expect a sequential nature when examining sequence data of modern organisms which resemble the ancestors listed above...
You mean: "there should be a nested hierarchy of genetic similarity between, say, humans and representatives of species sharing increasingly distant ancestors."

You haven't shown any instances where this prediction fails.
     
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4) We have no reason to believe that "living fossils" should have significantly different sequence data than their "ancient" counterparts, other than the ASSUMPTION of ToE.
Right. We have nothing other than ToE, at least at the moment, to say anything at all about their genetic sequence. At this point, however, it's wishful thinking on your part to characterize that as an "ASSUMPTION". Still, this point seems kind of tautological, and, well, pointless.  
     
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5) Whenever we compare modern organisms, we find that Similar Organisms reveal very similar sequences.
? ? ?
Didn't we basically cover this under (3)?
Yes, as we compare, say, genetically related humans, we find a nested hierarchy of genetic relatedness that reflects how far back you have to go to find a common ancestor. Same with species. But here's the interesting thing that ToE predicts that you seem to miss: When you have similar-looking species, as for instance with the thylacine wolf [http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/11/video_time_caps.html] you expect the DNA to reflect the ancestry, not the morphology. Now, as it happens, I don't know anything specific about the the DNA of the creature in question here. But apparently the DNA exists; if sequence data is not currently available on Genebank, I guess they will be soon (I haven't checked). I'm willing to make a prediction based on ToE: I predict the DNA sequences will be closer to koalas and kangaroos (which these creatures don't resemble) than to wolves (which they do). How about you, Dave? What's your prediction?

Date: 2006/10/08 05:18:30, Link
Author: Russell
Actually, it occurs to me this "making predictions" game might be an interesting turn for this discussion to take.

I predict, for instance, that Dave will not be able to find a single gene in which mice more closely resemble rats than humans do chimps. It's easy to see how that squares with the ToE; how would it square with Davism?

Other evilushunists (a.k.a. members of the reality-based community): please list your predictions and corresponding challenges for Davism-based predictions. I imagine many such predictions and challenges can be found in the history of this thread. Let's collect them in one place!

Date: 2006/10/09 04:09:54, Link
Author: Russell
Skeptic:  
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Dave, you're falling in the same trap that Dawkins has sprung.
Or that Liddle opines that Dawkins has sprung. I am, if you'll pardon the expression, Skeptical.    
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... You can not prove that God exists any more than Dawkins can prove that God doesn't.  Any attempt to do so belittles both disciplines.
"Godology" is a discipline now?

OldMan:  
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I'd add to that "science can make predictions". Can you provide a prediction that we can test Davey?
Yes. Speaking of predictions, should I be surprised that Davey has made a reappearance here, completely ignoring my specific  challenges w/r/t thylacine wolves and mouse/rat vs. human/chimp gene similarities?

I think not.

Date: 2006/10/09 04:39:32, Link
Author: Russell
Hmmm.
Still no predictions.
Imagine that.

Date: 2006/10/09 05:13:29, Link
Author: Russell
See, this whole confusion on Dave's part about what is science and what is not is intimately tied to this very reluctance inability to come up with predictions.

Predictions are inferences, drawn with logic from data.

I predict that Halley's comet will return in 2062. Has anyone proved this in a lab? No. It's an inference from collected observations, applying logic.

I predict that no one will ever produce a perpetual motion machine. Now, you can't very well prove a negative like that in the laboratory. My prediction is based on the enormous body of data and logical analysis collectively known as thermodynamics.

I predict that no rabbit fossils will ever be found in Pre-cambrian rocks - based on the enormous body of data and logical analysis collectively known as the theory of evolution.

None of this should be confused with "metaphysics". When Davism can offer any consistent, testable predictions, perhaps it should be considered for inclusion in science class.

Till then, this ridiculous conflation of religion ("it's all just metaphysics. Dawkins is given more credence than Ken Ham only because of the atheistic bias of the powers that be") is plausible only to the terminally brainwashed &/or ineducable.

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Why is it that YOUR non-verifiable things can be discussed, but MINE cannot be?  
Because ours make predictions, and yours don't. Why don't you prove me wrong?

Date: 2006/10/09 07:12:57, Link
Author: Russell
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Science journalists--which is a fair label for someone like me, considering my work at Kids4Truth--don't make scientific predictions.
[guffaw]
Actual "science journalists", like scientists themselves, have to subject their work to peer review: editors, educated readers, people who can assess their summaries and explanations and pass on their merit. Who can vouch for the merit of your work, Dave?

I don't need to be a scientist to make the kinds of predictions I challenged you to (thylacine wolves, mouse/rat vs. human/chimp sequence similarities). If I were a high-school science teacher, I would flunk any high school science student if he/she refused to even take a stab at it.  

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And when a crime has been committed, an investigator gets involved.  From my perspective, a crime has been committed.  What is the crime?  Large scale lying to kids in the name of Darwin.  So an even better description of someone like me might be "Investigative Science Reporter."
And yet, you have thus far (1) failed to identify a single "lie" told in the name of Darwin and (2) you have ignored the many lies we've documented for your benefit told by AIG in the name of Jesus.

Exhibit A: chromosome fusions. Did you ever follow up on what you yourself finally acknowledged was just plain wrong, but AIG continues to peddle as The Truth? Did you get them to correct or at least acknowledge their error? Are you concerned at all that your precious Kids will be not only misinformed, but misinformed, intentionally, in the name of Jesus?

Investigative Science Journalist, indeed.

And I'm the Tooth Fairy.

Date: 2006/10/09 07:27:39, Link
Author: Russell
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So an even better description of someone like me might be "Investigative Science Reporter."
I couldn't help thinking of Dave Hood when I read this. My kid loved the Dave Hood "There goes a..." series when he was 3 or 4.
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Dave Hood created, wrote and starred in the There Goes a... videotape series, a set of children's videos which aimed to be both informative and entertaining... Each one featured a different kind of vehicle, as in There Goes a Train or There Goes a Monster Truck. He played a bumbling, overenthusiastic guy named Dave, whose title changed for the format of the episode, usually introduced this way:

Hello, kids, I'm Racecar Driver Dave...well, I'm not a real racecar driver, but the real drivers have let me pretend for the day, so I can show you all about race cars
The specifics, of course, changed for each tape.

His catch phrase was "I shouldn'ta done that!", as he caused one disaster after another while trying to do the jobs of the drivers of the given vehicles.

Date: 2006/10/09 07:35:51, Link
Author: Russell
My kid loved the Dave Hood "There goes a..." series when he was 3 or 4. We always referred to them as "the Dave movies".

ericmurphy:
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You say you you have an answer for this; what is that answer?
Eric - you're thinking of last week's video, "There Goes a Scientist".

This week it's "There Goes an Investigative Science Reporter". ISR's don't answer questions. They report actual scientists' answers - and judge their truthfulness.

Dave: "you shouldn'ta done that".

Date: 2006/10/09 07:47:25, Link
Author: Russell
Jeannot:
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it is well know that strong selection and founder effect (drift) can accelerate the fixation of new alleles.
And Gould model is based on Mayr's ideas, specifically peripatric speciation.
Yes, well, surely being honest and thorough, Investigative Science Reporter Dave will have explained these concepts at "Truth4Kids". Could you supply us with the links to said explanations, Dave, so that we can peer-review them for you?

It's all for The Kids, after all.

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Russell--  Shame. Shame.  People who cannot refute facts presented to them which contradict their position often resort to caricatures and name calling.
What "facts" can I not "refute"? Have you in fact provided the predictions - either yours or Whitcomb's or Morris's or anyone else's - I challenged you to? The caricaturing is all of your own doing. I can't help it if you remind me of Dave Hood.

Date: 2006/10/09 07:59:39, Link
Author: Russell
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Russell ... What facts?  Try defending ToE in the face of all the authorities I have just quoted this morning for starters.
If you've read these authorities in context, you'll know that they themselves defend ToE just fine, thank you very much.

I'd be glad to take on any specific challenge (as opposed to "defend ToE against grape-shot quote-mining) after you've dealt with my specifics. Remember? Thylacine wolves and mouse/rat vs. human/chimp sequence similarities.

And, by the way, what names are you accusing me of calling you?

Date: 2006/10/09 08:10:11, Link
Author: Russell
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Russell--  Shame. Shame.  People who cannot refute facts presented to them which contradict their position often resort to caricatures and name calling.
Just out of curiosity, do you guys get some kind of formal training in this gambit? I mean the "deflect unanswerable criticism by accusing your opponents of avoiding unanswerable criticism by name-calling (in other words, by deploying name-calling yourself)" gambit.

It's so universally used, and so elegantly Lewis-Carrollian, I find it hard to believe it was independently invented by every verbose creationist on the planet.

Date: 2006/10/09 08:17:53, Link
Author: Russell
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Russell-- I didn't say you called me names.  I said    
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People who cannot refute facts presented to them which contradict their position often resort to caricatures and name calling.
Oh, my mistake! I thought that somehow these observations were supposed to apply to me. Perhaps it was that "context" thing we seem to be having trouble with. As you recall, the actual quote was  
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Russell--  Shame. Shame.  People who cannot refute facts...
See, that led me to think that, somehow, that what followed applied to me in some negative way. Silly me. I guess I'm just too thin-skinned.

Dave, if I call you "dishonest", it's not "name-calling" - it's a simple observation.

Date: 2006/10/09 10:13:55, Link
Author: Russell
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There you go, Russell ... I would hope that Nature qualifies for you as the "reality-based community."
Very good! Yes, it does. Now, what specifically is stated in those articles that you think any of us have trouble with?

 
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Russell...    
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And how, pray tell, is cutting and pasting someone else's suspect critique of a book that none of us has read "insightful"? Is it because it's critical of Dawkins? If I cut and paste a review of Dawkins that is neutral, or even favorable, is that necessarily not "insightful"?
 
No.  It could be quite insightful as well.
Great! Here's my entry for the coveted "Dave Considers it Insightful" award.
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No, Dave, you haven't been paying attention. We've shown you two "similar" organisms—yeast and bacteria—
Oh, and have I mentioned thylacine wolves?

Date: 2006/10/10 03:15:07, Link
Author: Russell
So now afd, rather than explaining:

why 4,500,000,000 years is not enough time for macroevolution under "Darwinism", but 4500 is plenty for macroevolution under Davism

what Davism predicts about thylacine wolf DNA

what Davism predicts about mouse/rat vs. human/chimp DNA similarities

what Davism predicts about anything at all

afd cuts and pastes a quote from [drum-roll, accompanied by kazoo fanfare]... DaveScot. I didn't think afd could do worse than AiG for credibility, but I stand corrected.

How... insightful.

Date: 2006/10/10 15:48:22, Link
Author: Russell
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Creationists have been making predictions for years and they have been right--a great example being their prediction of the absence of transitional forms in the fossil record.
Oh geez. Round and round we go. Are you seriously going to tell us that you're still claiming to believe that, in light of this, this, this, this, this, this,this, all of which I pulled up from the first 3 pages of a Google search for "transitional fossils"? See, whether that's the result of pathological [lack of] thinking, or calculated dishonesty is no longer of interest to me. It is a lie.
   
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This was such a successful prediction that Gould and Eldredge came up with "Punctuated Equilibrium" to try to explain this glaring absence.
If you don't know by now that Gould and Eldredge don't claim an absence of transitional fossils in light of