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Date: 2005/04/17 13:21:22, Link
Author: cewagner
Evolutionists are constantly complaining that proponents of ID do no scientific research to support their case. This is not true because there are dozens of articles published each year that support the notion of intelligent input. The support is not in the "spin" that the author puts on the data, it's in the data itself.    
   Here we have a system made up of multiple structures and multiple processes, integrated into the system and integrated into the surrounding systems in such a way that they can alter their behavior in the presence of an injury to the brain. I would like to know how this can be explained without invoking intelligent input. What kind of random, non-directed or accidental mechanism could possible accomplish this?
--------------------------------------------------------------------
   Resting Microglial Cells Are Highly Dynamic Surveillants of Brain Parenchyma in Vivo
   Axel Nimmerjahn 1, Frank Kirchhoff 2, Fritjof Helmchen 1*

   1 Abteilung Zellphysiologie, Max-Planck-Institut für medizinische Forschung, Jahnstr. 29, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.
   2 Abteilung Neurogenetik, Max-Planck-Institut für Experimentelle Medizin, Hermann-Rein-Str. 3, 37075 Göttingen, Germany.

   * To whom correspondence should be addressed.
   Fritjof Helmchen , E-mail: fritjof@mpimf-heidelberg.mpg.de

   Microglial cells represent the immune system of the brain and therefore are critically involved in various injuries and diseases. Little is known about their role in the healthy brain and their immediate reaction to brain damage. Using in vivo two-photon imaging in neocortex, we found that microglial cells are highly active in their presumed resting state, continually surveying their microenvironment with extremely motile processes and protrusions. Furthermore, blood brain barrier disruption provoked immediate and focal activation of microglia, switching their behavior from patrolling to shielding of the injured site. Microglia thus are busy and vigilant housekeepers in adult brain.

   Published online 14 April 2005
   Science Express

Date: 2005/04/18 17:57:00, Link
Author: cewagner
AndyG wrote:
Quote

Charlie neatly sums up one of the arguments for intelligent design, which is argument from ignorance. He has used this argument almost exclusively in his discussions on talk.origins and at the Panda's Thumb. The bottom line is that Charlie cannot possibly see how microglia could have arisen to respond to brain injury, and thus invokes an intelligent agent.

   If I were you, I wouldn't be bringing up the argument from ignorance. It is the main argument that evolutionists use to defend their theory.
    Arguments of this form assume that since something has not been proven false, it is therefore true. Conversely, such an argument may assume that since something has not been proven true, it is therefore false.
   Evolutionists routinely claim that since evolution can't be proven not to have occurred, then it must be true. In the same vein evolutionists routinely claim that since ID has not been proven to be true, then it must be false.
  For example, would you say that ghosts exist because no one has proven that they don't? Or that the Loch Ness monster exists because no one has been able to prove it doesn't? Or that the Big Bang is false because no one can prove that it's true?
   The burden of proof lies with the person making the claim. It is not the responsibility of others to prove the claims false. Evolutionists have gotten away with this little charade for too long. I don't have to prove *your* theory false. You have to convince me that it's true to a reasonable degree of certainty.
   If you think that the microglial system with all of it's complex structures and processes, all integrated into a system that has a clear purpose, arose by accidental, non-directed processes then it is incumbent upon you to prove it.

Date: 2005/04/18 17:59:48, Link
Author: cewagner
Or maybe you meant the argument from incredulity....

Date: 2005/04/19 12:50:30, Link
Author: cewagner
AndyG wrote:
Quote

You are claiming the microglial system is the result of intelligent forces. So go ahead, show us the evidence.

  I make no such claim. I offer it as a possibility. No one, not you, not I knows how the microglial system emerged nor does anyone have the empirical evidence to support such a claim.
I admit freely that I have no empirical evidence to support a claim that this system is the product of intelligent design.
  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. After all, science doesn't prove things, it merely tries to determine what is most likely.
    So, if you are making the claim that the microglial apparatus evolved by some mechanism of random mutation and natural selection then you must explain where the insight came from to assemble the components, the physical structures and the processes in such a way that they are integrated together and in such a way that they support the functions of the other components and work together to achieve a specific outcome, which is the protection of the brain from insult and energy.
  If you cannot do this, then you always have the option of admitting that your mechanism is only a just-so story, one that is unsupported by any empirical evidence and that your claim has no more merit than mine does.
  When intent can be demonstrated, as it has with this system, then insight is a prerequisite. And insight only comes from intelligence it doesn't come from random, accidental occurrences. How do you get around that simple fact?
Quote

Meanwhile, do some reading on teh relationship between microglia and macrophages.

  I happen to know quite a bit about macrophage since it was an important component of my Masters thesis. Microglia are sometimes characterized an the macrophage equivalent of the CNS. So anything I say about microglia probably applies equally to macrophage. The same questions I would have about the etiology of the microglial system could be asked in a more general way about macrophage behavior.
  One must wonder where the insight came from that allows these cells to transform from the "resting state" to the activated state in the presence of a threat. It requires insight to recognize such a threat and it requires insight to know what the correct response should be. Where did this insight come from?
  In addition, the activation of these types of systems involves cascade types of responses which are made up of many steps, each one dependent on the outcome of the preceeding step. Where did the insight come from that assembled these steps into a functionsl cascade that could result in t useful output? How did these cells aquire the  ability to recognize a dangerous signal as well as to sense a functional disturbance?
  As the integrative aspect of microgial/macrphage activation becomes clearer, it becomes harder and harder to attribute  to random chance the beneficial potential of these fascinating cells.

Date: 2005/04/20 08:46:23, Link
Author: cewagner
Russell wrote:
Quote

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...

 
  Yes. Microglial cells are much more complex and specific to their function. They both perform an immune function but in very different ways.
   There is a rich literature on macrophage functions but I was unable to uncover any papers on macrophage evolution. Do you know of any?
Quote

Isn't this a classic case of "begging the question"?


No, it's an argument by analogy, an important part of the scientific method and perfectly acceptable. In fact, most of science flows from inductive reasoning and analogy.
   I wouldn't be bringing up "begging the question" because it is one oif the most well known tactics of evolutionists:

Professor: Scientists say that evolution is true.
Student: How do they know this?
Professor: It's explained in any textbook on evolution.
Student: Well, who writes the textbooks?
Professor: The scientists.

Date: 2005/04/20 11:39:27, Link
Author: cewagner
AndyG wrote:
Quote

I think it came from Interleukin 1.


Yes, and I guess the insight on how to build a computer came from the electrons that came out of the power outlet. Cool!

Date: 2005/04/20 12:46:41, Link
Author: cewagner
AndyG wrote:
Quote

Actually, the exchange goes like this:

Professor: Scientists say that evolution is the best current explanation for life's diversity
Student: How do they know this?
Professor: Because the data that we have is best explained by modern evolutionary theory
Student: Does this mean we know how every organism and every biochemical system evolved?
Professor: No. But it's a start.


  First, I'm assuming this is Andy Groves. If not, I would appreciate knowing that.

I would really prefer to discuss the question that I started with, which referred to the evolutionary mechanism by which microglial cells might have evolved.

However, since you struck my funnybone, here's my experience:
Quote

Professor: Scientists say that evolution is the best current explanation for life's diversity
Student: How do they know this?
Professor: Because the data that we have is best explained by modern evolutionary theory
Student: I would be interested in knowing what you mean when you use the term evolution. Do you simply mean "change over time" or do you mean "change in gene frequency as a result of natural selection" or do you mean "the accumulation of fortuitous mutations over time as a result of natural selection leading to new adaptations, structures and processes".
Professor: Next question.
Student: OK, I'll move on. Perhaps you would care to describe some of this data that you refer to? Is it empirical data, in the form of observations or experiments and how does it support whatever it is that you call evolution?
Professor: <<sound of crickets chirping>>

Date: 2005/04/20 16:11:52, Link
Author: cewagner
AndyG wrote:
Quote

What's the point? If we delve into the literature and piece together a scenario for you, you will reply that it is insufficiently detailed and therefore, in your opinion, microglia are the products of intelligent design. Been there, done that.


  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.

Perhaps one of the other 197 people that have viewed this thread would like to take a stab at it.
Quote

Over time this will lead to new adaptations, structures and processes.

No it won't. And you can't produce even one shred of evidence that it can. Natural selection can change the frequency of alleles in a population but it can only act on what is already present. Mutation therefore, must do all the work of creating new variation. And it's a totally random process. There is no empirical basis for believing that, even in combinatioin, these trivial effects can do what you think they can do.

Quote

It is empirical data in the form of observations.


Cite one piece, just one piece, of empirical data that links the changes in allele frequency that occurs under selection and the appearance of new structures, processes or adaptations.

Quote

By the by, what data *would* satisfy you?


Well your theory claims that random mutations and natural selection have (and had) the power to create new processes, new structures and new adaptations where they did not exist before. Not variations on already existing structures, but proof that these variations can accumulate and organize into new processes, new structures, new adaptations and new organisms. In other words, a nexus linking these effects to the evolution of structures and systems like the bacterial flagellum, the blood clotting system, the biochemstry of vision and the emergence of the mammalian ear with its highly organized structures and processes that are integrated in such a way that they support each other and are integrated into the brain and the cranium in such a way as to allow functional hearing.

Date: 2005/04/20 17:42:21, Link
Author: cewagner
Russell wrote:
Quote

Evolution 0
Intelligent Design 0


I couldn't agree more. I would be happy if evolutionists would just drop their insistence on a darwinian mechanism and religious creationists would drop their insistence that the Bible is the answer and that these two ideological views would take a back seat to the one method that can inform us, the scientific method.
   
Quote

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?


It's not the end, it's the beginning. Science must move foward, unencumbered by ideological biases and obsolete paradigms. If we abandon the notion that everything we see can be explained in darwinian terms, then perhaps we will start seeing things with new eyes. I would be perfectly happy with a naturalistic explanation for life, but I will go where the road leads me.

Date: 2005/04/20 19:26:37, Link
Author: cewagner
AndyG wrote:
Quote

But anyway, your example of the evolution of a new structure, adaptation or process is the evolution of nylonases in bacteria.


AAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

THE RETURN OF THE DREADED NYLON DIGESTING BACTERIA!!!!!!

Run away...run away...

Let us taunt it! It may become so cross that it will make a mistake.

Have we got bows?

No, we have the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch!

The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch! 'Tis one of the sacred relics Brother Maynard carries with him. Brother Maynard! Bring up the Holy Hand Grenade!

And the Lord spake, saying, 'First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.'

And that was the end of the dreaded nylon digesting bacteria...

And everyone lived happily ever after.

Date: 2005/04/20 19:47:39, Link
Author: cewagner
Russell wrote:
Quote

I don't know which version you're using here.


   In order to avoid getting bogged down in semantics, I would like to reframe the question. What it comes down to is not what mechanism so much as the broader question: 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. To answer that question, we have to investigate whether systems of equal complexity and organization could have or have emerged by unguided, accidental processes. 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.
    Another way of approaching the problem is to investigate whether systems of this complexity and organization are capable of emerging as the result of intelligent input. Here, we can tentatively answer yes. We have numerous examples of highly organized, complex systems that are the result of intelligent input, although they are not as sophisticated as living systems and cannot replcate themselves..
   Applying Feynman's criteria, we then ask ourselves: at the present time, with our present knowledge, which mechanism seems most likely, the one based on random mutation and natural selection or the one based on intelligent input.
   You know my answer. What's yours?

All of this of course, does not and should not prevent us from investigating the actual processes and mechanisms that are present in living cells and their genomes. Perhaps we will uncover some previously undiscovered first principle that was involved. Perhaps we will never know.

Date: 2005/04/21 09:09:49, Link
Author: cewagner
AndyG wrote:

Quote

You did ask for one example, didn't you?


This is not a "new process", it's nothing more than a single frame-shift mutation in an already existing process. There's no way you can demonstrate that this will ever evolve beyond that single step into something "new" and you cannot demonstrate that the mutation was truly random or that intelligent input from the genome was not a factor.
   With respect to sticklebacks, your case is even weaker. All that was demonstrated is that a single gene controls body armor and that it can activate and deactivate under varying conditions. We know that the genome contains the regulatory apparatus that controls the activation and deactivation of genes, so this is not surprising. Humans still have the genetic instructions for hirsutism, but they have simply been turned off. We know this because we've seen examples (wolf boy?) where they revert. 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.

Date: 2005/04/21 09:39:42, Link
Author: cewagner
Russell wrote:
Quote

Nor can we point to any system of equal complexity and organization and declare that it did NOT emerge by "accidental processes".


Perhaps not as complex and highly organized as living things, but it's only a matter of degree. We can point to many highly organized and complex systems and in no case ever do we find such a system that emerged by random chance. All highly organized and complex systems found on the earth that we know the origin of, are the result of intelligent design. There are no exceptions.
   So, you have no support for the notion that any kind of highly organized, complex system, no matter what it's degree of sophistication, can emerge without intelligent input. Not even simple systems like a mousetrap can ever emerge without intelligent guidance and insight.

Quote

Have we decided that microglia were a red herring and "cut to the chase" as it were?


No, because it's not. You can't fall back on abiogenesis and claim that evolution is not the same and remove it from the question. If intelligent input was required, it would be required at every step of the way, from the very first molecules to the most advanced systems. 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.

Date: 2005/04/21 15:14:19, Link
Author: cewagner
AndyG wrote:
Quote

You mean Lamarckism?


Not in this particular instance. There's a lot of evidence accumulating that environmental factors can regulate, and in some cases alter the expression of genes. Since we don't know whether these effects can be passed on to future generations, we can't say for sure. Classic Lamarckism is a simplistic and obsolete notion about how genetic regulation and expression works and is inadequate in modern biological thinking but the ability of environmental factors to not only influence gene expression, but to pass these changes on to future generations cannot be ignored.
   We simply don't know enough yet about reverse transcription, retrogenes, retropseudogenes, retrosequences and retrotransposons to say that acquired characteristics can never be inherited.

Date: 2005/04/22 09:30:45, Link
Author: cewagner
To all my correspondents,
 I’ve recovered from my recent illness sufficiently and have had the time and energy to update my website and blog. Stop by and say hello!

http://www.charliewagner.com…
http://enigma.charliewagner.com…

Date: 2005/04/22 11:37:06, Link
Author: cewagner
AndyG wrote:
Quote

at present the only evidence that they can is some extremely controversial work from Ted Steele and colleagues in the only system in the body that undergoes significant genetic rearrangement during development.


Try running these terms (see above) through PubMed and you'll find dozens of papers describing research in this area. While none have reached the point where they can declare that acquired characteristics can be incorporated into the genome and passed on to future generations, clearly this possibility is under intense scrutiny. Ted Steele does not represent this body of work and the controversies surrounding him should not be used to discredit it.

Date: 2005/04/24 21:05:10, Link
Author: cewagner
cewagner (charlie wagner) wrote:

"I would like to know how this can be explained without invoking intelligent input. What kind of random, non-directed or accidental mechanism could possible accomplish this?"

416 people have viewed this thread but I've not gotten one single answer to my query. I wonder what that means?

Date: 2005/05/04 21:18:43, Link
Author: cewagner
"Molecular motors abound in the cell. Myosin motors power muscle contraction, kinesin motors move vesicles from one end of the cell to the other, and the ribosome processes along RNA."

"...all three types of rotary motor contain a central, ion-binding rotor ring that is embedded in the respective coupling membrane of the cell."

STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY:
Nature's Rotary Electromotors
Wolfgang Junge and Nathan Nelson
Science 29 April 2005: 642-644

Structure of the Rotor of the V-Type Na+-ATPase from Enterococcus hirae
Takeshi Murata, Ichiro Yamato, Yoshimi Kakinuma, Andrew G. W. Leslie, and John E. Walker
Science 29 April 2005: 654-659

Structure of the Rotor Ring of F-Type Na+-ATPase from Ilyobacter tartaricus
Thomas Meier, Patrick Polzer, Kay Diederichs, Wolfram Welte, and Peter Dimroth
Science 29 April 2005: 659-662

These molecular motors contain multiple structures and multiple processes integrated together and organized in such a way that the structures and processes not only support each other, they support the overall function of the motor.
    These molecular motors cannot be explained by any combination of random, unguided, or accidental processes and have clear and inescapable purpose. And purpose requires intent. To assemble these molecular motors requires insight, and insight requires intelligence.
   Their existence is prima facie evidence of intelligent input into living systems. If anyone believes that these systems can arise without intelligent input I would be interested in hearing alternative explanations.
http://www.charliewagner.com
http://enigma.charliewagner.com

Date: 2005/05/17 19:37:30, Link
Author: cewagner
Andy,
  I sent the following e-mail to Dr. Walker:

---------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Dr Walker,
  I read your paper in the recent issue os "Science" which I cite below. After reading your paper and the two others I made the following comment:
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

----------------------

"Molecular motors abound in the cell. Myosin motors power muscle contraction, kinesin motors move vesicles from one end of the cell to the other, and the ribosome processes along RNA."

"...all three types of rotary motor contain a central, ion-binding rotor ring that is embedded in the respective coupling membrane of the cell."

STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY:
Nature's Rotary Electromotors
Wolfgang Junge and Nathan Nelson
Science 29 April 2005: 642-644

Structure of the Rotor of the V-Type Na+-ATPase from Enterococcus hirae
Takeshi Murata, Ichiro Yamato, Yoshimi Kakinuma, Andrew G. W. Leslie, and John E. Walker
Science 29 April 2005: 654-659

Structure of the Rotor Ring of F-Type Na+-ATPase from Ilyobacter tartaricus
Thomas Meier, Patrick Polzer, Kay Diederichs, Wolfram Welte, and Peter Dimroth
Science 29 April 2005: 659-662

These molecular motors contain multiple structures and multiple processes integrated together and organized in such a way that the structures and processes not only support each other, they support the overall function of the motor.
  These molecular motors cannot be explained by any combination of random, unguided, or accidental processes and have clear and inescapable purpose. And purpose requires intent. To assemble these molecular motors requires insight, and insight requires intelligence.
 Their existence is prima facie evidence of intelligent input into living systems. If anyone believes that these systems can arise without intelligent input I would be interested in hearing alternative explanations.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

----------------------------
My comment was responded to by Andy Groves:
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-------------------------
John Walker, who you cite, was one of my undergraduate supervisors at Cambridge. His current web page is here <http://www.mrc-dunn.cam.ac.uk/research/walker.html>.

Please write to him and ask him if he thinks these motors are the product of intelligent design, and report back here. Thanks.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

--------------------------------
  I would be interested to know your opinion of my claim that these molecular motors are prima facie evidence of intelligent input into living systems and my further claim that they cannot be explained by any combination of random, unguided or accidental processes. Where do you think they came from?

Regards,
Charlie Wagner
http://www.charliewagner.com
http://enigma.charliewagner.com
----------------------------------------------------------------

I'll post his reply (if any) here when received.

Date: 2005/05/18 06:37:48, Link
Author: cewagner
Dr. Walker replies:
Quote

Dear Mr Wagner,

I do not accept your unsubstantiated opinions and claims about the  origin of molecular machines. A much more credible view, supported by  scientific knowledge and evidence, is that they arose by evolution.

Yours sincerely

John Walker


This is the usual reply that I often get from people.
"It's evolution...next question."

Date: 2005/05/18 08:03:21, Link
Author: cewagner
Sandor wrote:
Quote

Sounds to me like a fitting reply to CW's opinions and claims below.


On the contrary, it was a less than satisying reply.
First of all, I don't know what he means by "evolution" and he doesn't explain it. Intelligent design is perfectly compatible with evolution, so simply saying that these entities "evolved" means nothing. What mechanism does he propose? He doesn't say.
    The fact that there are at least 5 different types of these "motors" clearly demonstrates that they have changed over time and probably had a common origin. So, they "evolved". But was it by a darwinian mechanism of random mutation and natural selection or was it by some other mechanism, perhaps one that required intelligent input? Walker doesn't address this question at all.
    I know he's a busy man with more to concern him than my silly questions, but I interpreted his reply as a "brush off". I'm familiar with this kind off reply, I get it often. The first time was when I asked Isaac Asimov about flying saucers, He wrote back to me that anyone who believed in flying saucers was a moron. End of conversation.

Date: 2005/07/18 09:00:20, Link
Author: cewagner
Normdoering wrote:

Quote

We are seeing our own machines invented before we knew how to make them.
Human intelligence and evolution (or designer) do seem to be producing similar inventions. I think its fair to say these parallels point to something similar.


That, sir, is one of the most brilliant and insightful comments I have seen. It is an observation of profound significance.



Quote

But IDers assume intelligence itself is something outside the natural -- something supernatural -- and nothing natural can invent, produce information or whatever else they wish to share with God alone.


Not all IDERS.
Some, like myself, believe that there may be intelligences far above ours that comfortably fit into the natural world and have a scientific explanation. I see no need to invoke a supernatural entity when we haven't ruled out unknown natural entities.

Quote

Now here's a question: If we one day do invent a fully "conscious" feeling, creative A.I. -- a robot that can fool us into thinking it's human -- would that falsify ID theory?



I don't know what you mean by "ID theory". There is a range of intelligences and they can interact with each other. To me, ID theory simply means that we are the product of a greater intelligence than our own, not of a supernatural intelligence. In fact, there may not be any such thing as "supernatural" because as soon as something is discovered, it immediately becomes part of the natural world.
Quote

Does ID depend on intelligence being something supernatural?

Not by my definition. I am an atheist/agnostic IDer.


Quote

That's what we need -- a clear definition of "intelligence."

Any ID out there got one?


Sure. Intelligence is the ability to solve problems. The red rocks of Sedona are not intelligent because they have no ability to affect their own destiny or solve problems related to their surroundings. On the other hand, living organisms respond to their environment and take steps to modify it. This can occur on a whole range of levels from the simplest phototropism to the most complex machine-building. There is absolutely no reason to think that human intelligence is the pinnacle of intelligence in the universe.

Date: 2005/07/18 10:34:07, Link
Author: cewagner
Quote


Williams syndrome, a rare hypersocial disability, is linked to damaged amygdala


BY JAMIE TALAN
Newsday
July 18, 2005

Twenty-one missing genes on chromosome 7 is what it takes to create a person who is hypersocial - loving and open and trusting of everyone, yet uniquely clueless to the nuances of specific social cues. There is no "stranger danger." Everyone is treated like a favorite long-lost relative.

And while such people have a penchant for all things human, virtually all have heightened fears of nonhumans, such as snakes and elevators.

Now, federal scientists studying 14 adults with this disability, called Williams syndrome, have identified the precise area in the brain that is responsible for the exaggerated fearlessness and fearfulness.

"They are super nice and overly friendly," said Dr. Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, a scientist at the National Institute of Mental Health who has spent the last six years studying the syndrome.

One in 7,500 will be born missing this complement of genes.

"Understanding what is going on in their brains will tell us a lot about human nature and social cognition," Meyer-Lindenberg said. His latest study appeared July 11 in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Gifted in adversity

Many with Williams syndrome are shorter than average and share facial features that make them appear elf-like. Many have congenital heart problems. Many have borderline IQ scores, with very high verbal abilities, but low math ability. Their ability to construct things visually is all but absent: They can't find their way around a neighborhood and even an easy puzzle proves too complex.

On the other hand, they are extremely verbal and use language in a colorful and interesting way. Many also possess a great command for music. They don't understand spatial boundaries and can move uncomfortably close to people. While they don't pick up such social cues, they seem far more empathetic than normal, picking up even the slightest sadness in others and reaching out to comfort.

The federal researchers had a hunch that the missing genes somehow led to a damaged amygdala, a region of the brain that governs fear and emotion. Their idea was to put Williams patients into a brain scanner and study brain activity as they looked at pictures.

They found that the amygdala didn't respond to social threats (the pictures with threatening people) while it became overly active when the person was shown threatening pictures that did not involve people.

They traced the connections to an area in the orbital frontal cortex, where they found abnormalities of structure and function. "This region doesn't communicate with the amygdala like it does in normal people when they are experiencing emotions," Meyer-Lindenberg said. Studies on people who have had direct damage to the orbital frontal lobe have altered personalities and become wildly disinhibited.

This region is linked to decision-making, judgment and the processing of social information.

'Difficult to fit in'

As friendly as people with Williams syndrome are, none of the people in the federal study married. They ranged in age from 19 into the late 40s.

"A lot of people don't know how to treat us," said Denise Lanzon of Smithtown, now 25. "It was difficult to fit in with the other kids."

Lanzon has just completed a college music program designed for people with Williams. She has a boyfriend who also has the syndrome. Her anxieties can get the best of her, however. She is terrified of thunderstorms and snakes.

Parents often worry about these children, said Dolores Mavro of Douglas Manor whose daughter, 33-year-old Jessica, has the syndrome. She now works in a family business in Montauk. "She's struck up conversations that she should not have," Mavro said. "But for the most part, she always wins people over."

For more information: The Williams Syndrome Association: www.williams-syndrome.org.; NIMH scientist Meyer-Lindenberg's Web site is http://snp.nimh.nih.gov


These behaviors most likely did not "evolve" as a result of random mutations and natural selection, they've been hard-wired into the brain from the beginning. When you see people with the genes disabled, you can clearly see the important role they play in human behavior.
   
The logical conclusion that flows from this is that most likely a large amount of what makes us human is similarly hard-wired into our brains, rather than learned.

The aggressiveness that leads to war, crime and violence may be directed by genetic sequences that we did not "evolve", but inherited from our ancestors.

The down side of this is that these behaviors are probably able to be modified to a small extent, but overall, are largely intractable. The notion that poverty, neglect and other social factors cause crime and anti-social behavior must be revisted in light of this new information

(also see Carl Zimmer's article on musical hallucinations at "The Loom")

Date: 2008/08/11 18:35:35, Link
Author: cewagner
How can any intelligent person read this and still believe that evolution is the result of random processes and does not require intelligent input?

The Gang of Four at the Gateway of Life

by Nicholas Wade

"How does an egg cell divide and direct its progeny to turn into each of the many types of cell needed by the adult? Researchers led by Richard A. Young of the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge have been chipping away at this central question in biology. This graphic, from an article by Alexander Marson, Stuart S. Levine and others in the Aug. 7 issue of the journal Cell, presents the Young lab’s latest version of the genetic circuitry that controls embryonic cells.
The principal players in a cell’s governance are proteins called transcription factors, which control the activity of genes. The transcription factors bind to short stretches of DNA called promoters and set in motion the process of translating the gene’s information into protein. The promoters sit just upstream on the DNA strand of the gene they control. One transcription factor can control many genes — all that have the kind of promoter it binds to.

Four transcription factors control the embryonic cell. They are Oct4, Sox2, Nanog and Tcf3 (shown as blue circles on left). This gang of four binds to the promoters (red rectangles next to the circles) of their own genes, keep the genes constantly active, and thus perpetuate their own rule.

The four factors also bind to promoters (red rectangles to right) that control lower-level transcription factors and to promoters (purple hexagons) for another kind of control factors called micro-RNAs. The lower-level transcription factors each control major cell functions (black type at right).     (Access article to see graphic)

Embryonic cells must do two things: divide like crazy, and then direct groups of cells to morph into different cell types. The promoters in the top half of the central column control transcription factors (orange circles) that govern all functions that the cell must invoke to divide and multiply.

The promoters in the lower half govern cell fate; they tell each cell which of the major tissue types it is destined to become. But as long as the cell remains in the embryonic state, the action of all these promoters is held in arrest by a protein called a polycomb (green circle). Only when polycomb’s hold is lifted can the embryonic cells differentiate.
One of the gang of four, Tcf3, is influenced by signals from the cell’s environment. It may be a change in Tcf3 that upsets the gang of four’s rule and sends the mass of embryonic cells cascading down the cell lineages that lead to adulthood."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008....=slogin

Date: 2008/08/12 10:38:56, Link
Author: cewagner
I am not arguing for a supernatural explanation.

I am arguing that random, accidental or non-directed processes cannot do the job.

I do not deny that there may be some yet to be discovered "first principle" involved in the process that provides a perfectly natural explanation.

Date: 2008/08/12 13:18:08, Link
Author: cewagner
Quote
What part of selection is not direction?


None of it.

Selection is no different from ordering a truckload of stones and culling out all the stones that have masses greater than 500 grams. It will never build a house.

Date: 2008/08/12 13:23:35, Link
Author: cewagner
Quote
None of it.


My bad....double negative!

I should have said "All of it."

Is there no way to delete posts?

Date: 2008/08/12 15:51:13, Link
Author: cewagner
Quote
Why don't you tell them they are wasting their time and that you've in fact got it all solved already?


They are wasting their time.

There's not a shred of empirical evidence, either observational or experimental, that establishes a plausible nexus, actual or hypothetical, between the trivial effects of random mutation and natural selection and the emergence of the highly organized structures, processes and systems found in living organisms.

Just look at molecular motors.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molecular_motors#Examples

http://www.charliewagner.com

Date: 2008/08/12 16:16:53, Link
Author: cewagner
Quote
Don't you find posting more or less the same thing under different names is not really advancing the cause? Do you think people are going to read such blog posts and be convinced? You say it is so, and it is so?


I always post with my real name, except on Pharyngula.
PZ doesn't like me so he blocks my name and IP address (with no success, I might add.)

As a parent of 4 children and a teacher for 33 years, I don't underestimate the value of repeating the same thing over and over.
You just never know who is paying attention.

Date: 2008/08/12 16:35:50, Link
Author: cewagner
Quote
So, what happened then. According to you?


I don't have a clue...but neither do you.

Like everyone else, we just have to deal with being in the uncomfortable position of not knowing.

Date: 2008/08/12 20:10:02, Link
Author: cewagner
Quote

Effin' troll.


It always ends this way.

This is about the best argument I ever get...

HOPE IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS
by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Date: 2008/08/15 15:34:56, Link
Author: cewagner


"A very small cause which escapes our notice determines a considerable effect that we cannot fail to see, and then we say the effect is due to chance. If we knew exactly the laws of nature and the situation of the universe at the initial moment, we could predict exactly the situation of that same universe at a succeeding moment. But even if it were the case that the natural laws had no longer any secret for us, we could still only know the initial situation *approximately*. If that enabled us to predict the succeeding situation with *the same approximation*, that is all we require, and we should say that the phenomenon had been predicted, that it is governed by laws. But it is not always so; it may happen that small differences in the initial conditions produce very great ones in the final phenomena. A small error in the former will produce an enormous error in the latter. Prediction becomes impossible, and we have the fortuitous phenomenon"

Henri Poincare, 1903

Date: 2008/08/15 17:02:06, Link
Author: cewagner
Molecular motors – a lesson in nanotechnology from Nature
Roop Mallik



They are small, and there are billions of them inside you. Tiny machines, a thousandth of the thickness of human hair, but robust and designed for an amazing variety of functions. Science fiction? Think again … this is real, as real as flesh and blood !! If you can get your hands on a high school biology text book, flip through to the mandatory schematic of an animal cell. Look closely, what you will see is not a floppy bag with random things thrown in here and there. There is amazing structural organization within the cell, with several compartments (e.g. the nucleus, Golgi bodies, mitochondria) at specific locations. Many of these compartments are specialized “factories”, each with its own assembly line which requires specific raw material as input and generates specific products. A constant give-and-take of materials occurs within these factories, because each is dependent on the other. In the big picture of things this incessant exchange of material keeps the factories of the cell functioning, which in turn is what keeps us alive.

Read entire article:

[URL=http://www.tifr.res.in/~roop/NaturesNanotech.htm]

Date: 2008/08/16 15:43:25, Link
Author: cewagner
Quote
Out of interest, what is that multicoloured blobbycircle? It looks like a cellular automaton, something I've always felt the ID people should be studying.


This image is a cellular automaton generated by "Chaos: the software"
by Rudy Rucker and processed with Photoshop 6.0

Program can be downloaded here:
[URL=http://www.cs.sjsu.edu/faculty/rucker/chaos.htm]

I am an "ID person" and I have been studying fractal geometry and chaos theory for 10 years.

What does the one have to do with the other?

If you find this program too tame try Fractint
[URL=http://spanky.triumf.ca/www/fractint/fractint.html]

Date: 2008/08/16 16:05:54, Link
Author: cewagner
Quote
What does the one have to do with the other?


Allow me to answer my own question:

Nothing.

Fractal geometry and chaos theory examine complexity

Intelligent design examines Organization

They are not the same thing!

http://www.charliewagner.net/casefor.htm

Date: 2008/08/16 16:26:15, Link
Author: cewagner
Quote
The guys at UD seem to think everything produced by evolution is simply the expression of an algorithm, not unlike a cellular automaton. See front loading.


They are correct.

Fractals are not generated with algorithms, they are generated with iterations.

An algorithm is a finite set of well-defined instructions for accomplishing some task which, given an initial state, will terminate in a defined end-state.

An iteration is a computational procedure in which a cycle of operations is repeated, often to approximate the desired result more closely.

All algorithms are the result of intelligent input.

Date: 2008/08/16 17:23:52, Link
Author: cewagner
Quote
In my opinion, cellular automata are a perfect testing ground for ID hypotheses, because they are a universe which is under total control - unlike ours.


They are not, because they lack the defining component of intelligent input, ORGANIZATION.

Something made up of elements with varied functions that contribute to the whole and to collective functions.

Date: 2008/08/16 17:55:35, Link
Author: cewagner
Quote
Did you even read what I said?


Not only did I read what you said, I went and read up on "Garden of Eden" patterns.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not just blowing you off. This interface between chaos theory and life is a subject that I have grappled with often.

In fact, it is safe to say that my understanding of it is still a "work in progress".

What continues to drive me on is an unshakable belief that a natural explanation will be found, that will fall squarely within the realm of science.

Debunking darwinism does not mean accepting religious creationism. All it means is that Darwin was wrong and we've got to keep looking for scientific explanations.

Date: 2008/08/17 19:26:16, Link
Author: cewagner
Quote
POTW


Poem of the week?

OK!

STARRY SKIES

by Charlie Wagner

My life was like a canyon
As deep as it was wide
And I, a lonely traveler
Just looking for a place to hide.
My path was filled with darkness
And emptiness ahead.
Night after night, under starry skies
I wished that I was dead.
But then you came into my world
And darkness turned to dawn.
Your essence swept into my life
Helping me to be reborn.
Your specter crept into my dreams
Each and every night.
You wandered in my brain from room to room
Turning on each light.
You'll probably never realize
How much it meant to me
That you were there beside me
Helping me be free.
And you'll probably never realize
The emptiness inside
That comes to me each night you're not
Sleeping by my side.
But I've still got those memories
That swirl before my eyes.
Of you and I lying peacefully,
Beneath those starry skies.

[B][/B]

Date: 2008/08/18 13:36:19, Link
Author: cewagner


Wow!

LSD, Black Sabbath, e.e.Cummings, Pink Floyd and Jefferson Airplane!

Don't forget Rimbaud...

"It has been found again. What? Eternity.
it is the sea mingled with the sun"
from
Alchemy of the word, A Season in Hell

You guys ROCK!

Date: 2008/09/29 18:04:42, Link
Author: cewagner
http://enigma.charliewagner.com

Monday, September 29, 2008
Out Of Her League

Sunday, September 21, 2008
These People are Friggin' CRAZY!!!

 

 

 

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