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Date: 2006/04/25 09:28:04, Link
Author: stephenWells
Let's not forget that meeting your Waterloo is fine so long as you're Wellington or Blucher.

Date: 2006/04/25 11:57:02, Link
Author: stephenWells
The interesting point isn't whether homophobes are turned on by lesbians. I think most straight guys are turned on by lesbians on the "more!" principle. The interesting point is whether homophobes are turned on by gay men. I think I've seen a study on this point though I don't have a reference.

A lot of that venom is coming from men who've been told that gays bad, all gays bad always, and then they find themselves musing a little too long over some quarterback's ass cheeks and OMG the defensive mechanisms kick in... they're trying to prove something to themselves.

Me, I'm straight, and when I think about sex I think about straight sex, mostly. The really rabid homophobes, they think about sex, they think about gay sex. Conclusions?

Date: 2006/04/27 07:15:58, Link
Author: stephenWells
Claiming this is "your hypothesis" is disingenuous; everything you claim here is standard young earth creationism.

Unfortunately, "your" hypothesis is already incompatible with known facts; example, strata sequences and fossil distributions are completely incompatible with catastrophism (global flood). Bear in mind that it's not so long since all scientists were creationists, and only a little longer than that since all astronomers were geocentrists. Ever wondered why everyone changed their opinions? It has a lot to do with evidence.

You use the analogy " Most of the "day-to-day management" of Planet Earth was delegated to mankind himself, similar to how modern parents delegate the day-to-day management of their children to a school or a day care center. " But you're already comparing human behaviour to that of children- e.g. disobedience to God's intentions; so that makes Earth a day car center being run by the children. Where's the adult supervision?

Also, who did Adam's children marry? And why is 98% of our genome shared with chimps?

In short, "your" account of YEC is no more convincing than any other account of YEC.

Date: 2006/04/27 10:16:56, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (thordaddy @ April 27 2006,00:19)
As for your last 2 questions...  I'm not married and have never been and so the point is moot.

Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse... this is hypocrisy of the highest order.

My 2 cents, and speaking as a very happily married man:

Marriage is institutionalised pair bonding. I'm heterosexual; I pair-bond with a member of the opposite sex. A small but significant proportion of the population pair-bonds with members of the same sex. As a matter of simple justice, those people should be able to have their unions recognised just as I and my wife can.

Opponents of gay marriage should remember that they, personally, will not be required to be in a gay marriage.

Thordaddy's opinions are not important.

Date: 2006/04/27 11:06:49, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (thordaddy @ April 27 2006,15:43)
Please explain the hypocrisy in saying that this "institutionalized pair bonding" has an inherent value in our society ABOVE all other unions?  Can only those that are married see the importance of marriage?  Then why did you marry when it was clearly not seen as valuable to your unmarried eye?

Please explain the hypocrisy in saying that gay "marriage" will redefine the very meaning of marriage and open the gateway for ANY and ALL consensual adult unions pining for state sanction?

I await your answer.

The only proposed change to the definition of marriage is that the genders of the two responsible adult human beings involved should not be relevant. It's a matter of human rights and simple justice.

You're a hypocrite for making such a big show of how important and special marriage is, when it's clearly not at all important to you. I'm married, I value my marriage very highly, and I think it's unjust to deny this happy state to couples whose relationship is indistinguishable from that of me and my wife, just because those couples happen to be homosexual rather than heterosexual. Your medieval mindset clearly can't grasp this.

You might want to cut down on the sheep-f**king, Leviticus says we can stone you to death for that.

Now I'll go back to doing serious work in protein biology, and you can go back to foaming at the mouth.

Date: 2006/04/28 10:54:52, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (thordaddy @ April 28 2006,15:41)
This is hilarious.  Why should anything be "relevant" if this is a "matter of human rights and simple justice?"  Why should the numbers of genders involved be relevant?  Why should the relation between genders be relevant?  Why should the species be relevant?  Look how discriminatory you are in who can and can't "marry?"
What a contradiction.  You say your marriage is "highly" valuable, but then turn around and ask how I could make such a "big show of how important and special marriage is?"  Huh?  

Then you say your marriage is "indistinguishable" from a "homosexual" couple.  But you only come to this conclusion because of your assumption that men and woman are "indistinguishable."  Surely, you wouldn't trade your wife for a husband, would you?  Is this not distinguishable in your eyes?
Lastly, you surely aren't arguing that gay couples can't exchange vows and make covenants and get married, are you?

In matters of human rights and justice, human rights and justice are relevant. I have the right to marry the person that I love. I think everyone should have that right regardless of their gender. That's not so hard to understand, now is it? No sheep are involved.

You need to work on your reading comprehension. YOU are a hypocrite because YOU claim marriage is the bulwark os society but YOU can't be bothered to marry. I think marriage is very important and I am happily married and I think denying this happiness to others on gender grounds is wrong. So my position is consistent and yours is not.
Actually, that's probably one of the biggest differences between us; I am happy, and you are angry.

Again, reading comprehension: I and my wife have a relationship between two people who love each other. I have friends who are also in a relationship between two people who love each other. Why should my friends be denied the rights and privileges that my wife and I enjoy, just because they happen to be of the same gender?
Fortunately, my friends are in the UK and they now have the right to marry, beyond the reach of your intolerance.

Did you ever think how much better your life would be if you thought more about love and less about hate? And more about people, and less about sheep?

Date: 2006/04/28 12:14:45, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (thordaddy @ April 28 2006,16:54)
Actually, that's probably one of the biggest differences between us; I am happy, and you are angry.

You can get this from such a small exchange?
I don't see 'homosexual" couples as important as traditional couples.  Our society and many societies have said as much for centuries.
You have no logical argument against ANY and ALL adult unions being sanctioned by the state.  NONE!
Very simply, you must tolerate ANY and ALL adult unions that seek state sanction lest you be a hypocrite.  
You must bless the man and his sheep...

Yes, it's easy, from this short exchange, to see that you are an angry, bitter man.

Your statement that you don't see homosexual couples as as important as traditional couples is the entire content of your argument this far. I know you don't see that. So what? I know that many societies have held the same view. On some issues, such as slavery, universal suffrage, geocentrism, or racism, you just have to accept that large numbers of sincere people have been completely wrong. Deal with it.

The logical end point of my argument is, as you note, that any consensual adult union, whose proponents can argue coherently that that their state is analogous to "traditional" marriage, should be recognised as a marriage. The difference is that I am fine with that, as tending to increase the sum of human happiness, whereas you are terrified. The specific case that's currently an issue is gay marriage.

I don't have to support man-on-sheep marriage, however much you insist, because a sheep is not a consenting adult human being. If you honestly can't tell that a sheep is not a consenting adult human being, then there is no hope for you. Similarly for rocks.

So, my position: marriage recognition for all consenting adult human relationships that seek it. Terrifying, eh?

Date: 2006/04/28 13:41:55, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (thordaddy @ April 28 2006,18:21)
You will readily admit to having no idea what potential negative consequences gay "marriage" may have on society?

Everyone here will readily admit to having no idea what negative consequences gay marriage might have. This is because you have comprehensively failed to show any such negative consequences.

In an earlier post you accused me of having been "brainwashed by homosexuals." This is not the case. I support equality in marriage rights because I was raised to believe that injustice is wrong, and should be opposed.

I see you're still babbling about sheep. The fact that sheep are not consenting adult human beings continues to escape you. Amusing.

Date: 2006/04/28 14:17:39, Link
Author: stephenWells
Thordaddy, you're still claiming that sheep are consenting adult human beings. What's wrong with this picture?

Date: 2006/04/29 09:58:59, Link
Author: stephenWells
Here's a neat prediction based on evolutionary theory:

Land vertebrates are descended from sea vertebrates.
The transition occured in the late Devonian (appearance of first amphibians in the fossil record).
Transitional forms would be fish-like creatures living in shallow water, whose fins have weight-bearing adaptations (e.g. digits).
Therefore, if we look in rocks that were laid down in the late Devonian from shallow-water (river delta) sediments, we should find transitional forms.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Tiktaalik.

Now, what does AFDave's "hypothesis" have to say on the subject?
If this creator God known how to make land creatures, sea creatures, and amphibians, each according to their kind, then no transitional form should exist.
Tiktaalik exists.
Dave's hypothesis is falsified.

Go, and sin no more :)

Date: 2006/04/29 10:11:51, Link
Author: stephenWells
Since the book of Genesis is not true, the question is entirely moot.

AFDave, haven't you noticed, that Genesis 2 4:25 is a different creation story, which contradicts the one in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 1:3? In Genesis 1, God creates all the animals ( verses 24-25 ) and then creates man and woman (vv 26-27). In Genesis 2, God creates a man (v 7), then creates all the animals afterwards (18-20) and finally creates a woman from the man's rib (21-22).

So Dave, did God create the animals before or after man? Have fun trying to explain that one :)

Keywords: P-document, J-document.

BTW Dave, have you read the Epic of Gilgamesh? Or the Eddas? There are other fun myths out there as well, you don't have to stick to just one.

Date: 2006/04/29 10:11:51, Link
Author: stephenWells
Since the book of Genesis is not true, the question is entirely moot.

AFDave, haven't you noticed, that Genesis 2 4:25 is a different creation story, which contradicts the one in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 1:3? In Genesis 1, God creates all the animals ( verses 24-25 ) and then creates man and woman (vv 26-27). In Genesis 2, God creates a man (v 7), then creates all the animals afterwards (18-20) and finally creates a woman from the man's rib (21-22).

So Dave, did God create the animals before or after man? Have fun trying to explain that one :)

Keywords: P-document, J-document.

BTW Dave, have you read the Epic of Gilgamesh? Or the Eddas? There are other fun myths out there as well, you don't have to stick to just one.

Date: 2006/04/29 18:41:57, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ April 29 2006,16:48)
I have also studied the different sections of Genesis and, as you can probably guess, have a different theory than you which I believe has excellent support.

Does your "different theory" say that animals were created after man, as it says in genesis 2, or before man, as it says in Genesis 1? One or the other.

Date: 2006/04/29 18:41:57, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ April 29 2006,16:48)
I have also studied the different sections of Genesis and, as you can probably guess, have a different theory than you which I believe has excellent support.

Does your "different theory" say that animals were created after man, as it says in genesis 2, or before man, as it says in Genesis 1? One or the other.

Date: 2006/05/01 08:00:25, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ May 01 2006,05:54)

As for the 2 accounts of creation ... which came first?  Animals or Man.  No time now ... stay tuned!

How much time could you possibly need to answer such a simple question? I'll help you out and give you three options:

A) Genesis 1 is correct (animals before man ) and Genesis 2 is wrong.

B) Genesis 2 is correst (man before animals) and Genesis 1 is wrong.

C) The man and woman created in Genesis 1 are not the same as the man and woman created in Genesis 2 (traditional attempt at reconciliation, leading to e.g. Lilith legend), further details to follow.

Now all you have to do is type A, B or C and then explain in more detail later. Easy, eh?

Date: 2006/05/01 08:00:25, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ May 01 2006,05:54)

As for the 2 accounts of creation ... which came first?  Animals or Man.  No time now ... stay tuned!

How much time could you possibly need to answer such a simple question? I'll help you out and give you three options:

A) Genesis 1 is correct (animals before man ) and Genesis 2 is wrong.

B) Genesis 2 is correst (man before animals) and Genesis 1 is wrong.

C) The man and woman created in Genesis 1 are not the same as the man and woman created in Genesis 2 (traditional attempt at reconciliation, leading to e.g. Lilith legend), further details to follow.

Now all you have to do is type A, B or C and then explain in more detail later. Easy, eh?

Date: 2006/05/08 08:44:50, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ May 08 2006,10:36)
Let me just explain that MY conception is this:

MORE EVOLVED=More Intelligent and More Abilities.

That would be your problem right there- this is also why people are telling you to do a little learning yourself. Insofar as "more evolved" HAS a meaning at all, it means: better adapted to your niche in the environment.

There is no universal tendency driving towards greater intelligence. Bacteria have no intelligence whatsoever but they're staggeringly successful and highly evolved; in evolutionary terms they're doing very well. As humans, our niche depends on being intelligent, so we value that trait highly. You just shouldn't confuse a value system specific to human beings with some sort of universal.

Date: 2006/05/08 09:07:46, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ May 08 2006,13:36)
None of this discussion here changes the simple FACT that ...


The fact that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors is as well established as the fact that the earth orbits the sun. That used to be controversial too. Should we let geocentrism have equal time in physics classes?

Looking at human society, behaviour, anatomy, physiology and genetics, our close evolutionary relationship to the great apes is obvious. Remember the vitC gene?

Date: 2006/05/11 09:24:35, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ May 11 2006,12:22)
Can you tell me what a "frameshift mutation" is?
Can you tell me the significance of a frameshift mutation?

Somewhat familiar ... I can read up on it quickly if I need to ...
But go ahead ... why is that significant here?  I honestly want to understand this

"Joystick? Altimeter? Throttle? Those sound somewhat familiar. I can look them up if I need to.

Now pay attention while I teach you how to fly a plane."

Date: 2006/05/15 11:02:17, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (jeannot @ May 15 2006,15:41)
But if you want a 100% identical gene between human and chimpanzee, I can find one for you. Would you take it?

Of course he'll take it. He'll take it as evidence for creationism (aka Common Design).

The rules are:

Anything that's evidence for common descent is evidence for common design.
Anything that isn't evidence for common descent is evidence for common design.
Any evidence against common design does not exist, or isn't evidence.

This is the AFDave rule set, as inferred from his posts thus far.

Dave, were the chimpanzees created before humans (Genesis 1) or after (Genesis 2)?

Date: 2006/05/15 13:32:59, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ May 15 2006,08:53)
There are many things in nature that seem very efficient to us, but there are also a great number of things that are horribly inneficient and badly 'designed', which is what we would expect if evolution were true.
But it is also exactly what we would expect if the Bible were true, because it speaks of a "Curse" as well as an originally perfect "Design."

Which makes the whole thing meaningless: ANYTHING you think is positive you explain as good design; ANYTHING you think is negative you explain as curse; since you can account for anything, post hoc, you can predict nothing and explain nothing.

Also this reflects your anthropocentric world view: the whole universe is supposed to be about US. Your only evidence for this point of view is the myths of ancient tribesmen who thought that the sun went round the earth. Some of those myths are very poetic, others are horrible, but all of them stem from ignorance rather than knowledge.

Date: 2006/05/15 14:43:40, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (PuckSR @ May 15 2006,18:45) attempt to save face was flawed.
Your right....i did use the wrong term...and independent is a more accurate term.

See, Dave? That's how rational people admit they were wrong.

Date: 2006/05/17 11:58:05, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ May 17 2006,08:51)
(3)  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.

That's rather like going to a gym and asking other people to lift weights for you; YOU will get no fitter without doing the exercises yourself; similarly, you will get no smarter or better informed without actually thinking and learning.

It's nobody's fault but yours if you can't follow the arguments, or understand the data. And until you learn something about evolution, so that you can follow the arguments and understand the data, then nothing you have to say on the subject is important, because you're not qualified to have an opinion. That may hurt your pride, but humility is a virtue.

Date: 2006/05/19 10:57:22, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ May 19 2006,13:59)
Rilke went into a tirade and called me an idiot on the "Evolution" thread because I said Portuguese was a mixture of Spanish and French.

Your claim is simply wrong and if you had an ounce of honesty you'd admit it and move on, instead of trying to achieve by obstinacy what you can't by knowledge.

Note that I speak French and Spanish and read Latin and Portuguese (among others) and I can tell you that you are wrong.

For comparison, popping onto the very useful Euronews and grabbing an article in several languages:

A Turquia sai em defesa da sua laicidade. Hoje, em Ancara, mais de 25 mil pessoas juntaram-se no mausoléu de Ataturk, o pai da Turquia moderna e laica. Um gesto simbólico de juízes, advogados e outros cidadãos para dizer que "a Turquia é um Estado laico e vai continuar".


25 000 personnes criaient ce slogan ce matin devant le mausolée d'Atatürk, le fondateur de la Turquie laïque. Une manifestation spontanée, avec à sa tête des juges, procureurs et avocats, en robes. Derrière eux, une foule compacte, d'hommes, de femmes et d'enfants, tous rassemblés pour défendre la laïcité.

Turquía amaneció conmocionada tras el ataque, ayer, contra el Consejo de Estado, bastión de la laicidad, que ha costado la vida a un juez y herido a otros cuatro. Unas 25.000 personas han desfilado ante el mausoleo de Mustafá Kemal Ataturk, fundador de la República turca, musulmana pero estrictamente laica.

Nobody in their right mind would think that Portuguese is a mixture of the other two, now would they?

[Bonus amusement points if it turns out Dave can't read any of the above]

Date: 2006/05/20 06:38:10, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (Hunter @ May 20 2006,09:52)
The African slave trade has existed for a couple of thousand of years. The European participation was short but unfortunately prolific.  Very few african slaves actually came to Europe, most were shipped to the Americas.

Full points to Hunter for total ignorance and lack of logic.

Factual error: your claim that European contact with Africans is recent.
Cape of Good Hope: European colony well established in seventeenth century. "Blame it on van Riebeck". My Huguenot ancestors were there in 1693 and one of them got killed with a large rock by a native who wasn't happy about having his land stolen. That's contact, and colonisation, and it didn't improve anyone's opinions about anyone.
"First comes the trader, then the missionary, then the red soldier" -Cetshwayo.
Lots of European traders along the Ivory Coast, and in East Africa- there were Royal Navy slavery suppression/regulation missions along there in the 18th century.
Read Aphra Behn, "Oroonoko, or the Royal Slave", 1688.

Factual error AND logical fallacy: your claim that if most 19th century Europeans hadn't met Africans they therefore didn't have an opinion about them. Trivially incorrect; it's really, really easy to have an opinion about people you haven't met, and the literary and historical record is FULL of viciously racist opinions.

Error and logical fallacy: your claim that there was no racism in the slave trade because most slaves were sold to traders by other African tribes. Firstly, the whole African side of the supply chain clearly says nothing about the European side, and I think it's pretty clear that buying people, packing them like sardines into the hold of a ship, and selling the survivors of the voyage to plantation owners, does not indicate very great respect for human rights, to put it mildly.

You point out that few slaves were brought to Europe. That has a lot to do with where the sugar plantations are, doesn't it? And who founded and established those? And who was profiting from running the trade? I used to live near Bristol. Big port. Half the city was built on slave-trade money.

The anti-slavery movement in Europe doesn't mean most Europeans were noble egalitarian liberal respecters of human rights. Not everyone is a Wilberforce.

It's simply a blunt historical fact that most people through most of history have been viciously and often lethally prejudiced against strangers, foreigners and outsiders in general. None of us need to feel guilt or shame for what people, who are now dead, did to each other long ago. But we should be very aware of history, so that the ghastly consequences of these habits of thought remain vividly before us as a constant reminder of what we're trying to avoid. Pretending that ethnic/political/national/religious group X - Europeans, in this case - were shining noble wonderful paragons of virtue is pointless and misleading.

Date: 2006/05/20 19:04:19, Link
Author: stephenWells
I think this business with the Portuguese illustrates something quite important about AFDave's thinking...

He think's he's won, when in fact he already lost. Rather like the Disco Institute and their perpetual Waterloos.

He made  blatantly false statement about Portuguese. Everyone here who knows anything about languages, including me, corrected him immediately. Yet he's still happily claiming to have won, apparently because he found an article saying that Portuguese is _phonetically_ closer to French than Spanish is... a fact whose importance can be judged from the fact that Italian is _phonetically_ closer to Japanese than English.

Dave is the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Come back here! He'll bite your legs off!

Date: 2006/05/24 10:46:53, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 24 2006,14:54)
It is possible for humans to have knowledge without reading a word of Scripture, but the existence of that knowledge depends on the Bible being true.

This is not true.

Firstly, at least parts of the Bible are not true, in that it contains statements that are mutually contradictory, and statements which are provably false.

Secondly, why would the existence of any form of knowledge depend at all on the Bible being true? Where's the connection?

Date: 2006/05/25 08:52:10, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (Faid @ May 25 2006,13:13)
"My dog was running around and barking all over my deck."

"o skylos moy etrehe gyro gyro kai gabgize pano sto katastroma mou".

Errr... Greek? Would have got it sooner except the latin orthography...

Date: 2006/05/25 09:08:10, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (Faid @ May 25 2006,13:58)
Quote (stephenWells @ May 25 2006,13:52)
Quote (Faid @ May 25 2006,13:13)
"My dog was running around and barking all over my deck."

"o skylos moy etrehe gyro gyro kai gabgize pano sto katastroma mou".

Errr... Greek? Would have got it sooner except the latin orthography...

Yup, it's my mommy tongue... I didn't count on dave's compy being able to display Greek characters, though, hence the Greeklish.

It's fun to use the wrong alphabets :>  Davayt'e govorit' po-russkiy! Eto n'e trudno,ochen' int'er'esniy yazyk. Ty n'e po-russkiy chita'esh? Normalno- zna'esh, Chukcha n'e chitatel', Chukcha pisatel'...

Note to Dave: No, Russian is not a mixture of French and Greek :)

Date: 2006/05/25 11:10:15, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ May 25 2006,15:19)
Hey, yob tvoju mat'!

(Just kidding.)

"No, no - is idiom. Very rich and complicated, nothing to do with your mother." - William Gibson, Idoru.

Date: 2006/05/26 07:25:39, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ May 26 2006,11:39)
Hello everyone!  Let's review some highlites from yesterday.

First, I'd like to clearly depict the Human-Chimp-Gorilla debate so we all are on the same page.  Are you ready?  





OK?  Are we clear?  This is scientists that say this, mind you ... the cream of the intellectual crop.  The barons of academia.

And what's more, we're right.

We also say that the earth goes round the sun. Now you can post a picture of the sun rising and the sun setting, and say "Look! The scientists say that this is caused by the earth rotating! Ha ha ha!"

Hint, Dave: your ignorance makew your opinions about natural science worthless. Swallow your pride, it goeth before a fall.

Date: 2006/05/26 14:12:07, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 26 2006,16:51)
The earth sits at the center and all other heavenly bodies revolve around it.

I'm now ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that Ghost of Paley is the most elegant of trolls; but just to play along, I'd LOVE to know how he explains the precession of the Foucault pendulum which hangs outside my office.

Date: 2006/05/26 14:17:05, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (Alan Fox @ May 26 2006,05:10)
Quote (Chris Hyland @ May 25 2006,23:57)
Because organisms tend to have a particular codon bias, this results in concentrations of tRNAs that reflect this. If certain proteins contain mutations from frequent codons to infrequent codons, then this effects the rate at which this protein can be translated. I don't know how widespread this is, but it seems to be something that's only recently been apprecited. I spoke to a guy a couple of weeks ago at a conference who had lots of data on it, basically showing genes that coded for long proteins with high expression levels had a much higher level of the more frequent codons, and that mutations to less frequent codons could affect their expression.

So tRNA concentration low for the synonymous codon (because said organism genome has low content in that codon?) means lower output of the same protein, lack of which may result in lower fitness?

(Fog of incredulity begins to disperse)

... and THAT little exchange illustrates the difference between scientists and creationists beautifully. Rationality is a wonderful thing.

Date: 2006/05/26 14:43:17, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (skeptic @ May 26 2006,19:32)
Look at protein assembly.  Currently, protein folding is completely unpredictable.

Though ROSETTA is doing rather well. And zipping & assembly looks promising. And secondary-structure-from-sequence prediction is up to ~80% accuracy...

Date: 2006/06/01 07:28:22, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (Occam's Aftershave @ May 31 2006,23:47)
Nah, just ask him why there is an International Agency devoted strictly to measuring the irregularities and wobble in the Earth’s rotational axis (necessary to precisely track LEO and GEO satellites).

International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS)

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.

Spacecraft launch phase

Then ask him why geostationary satellites (those with a very low eccentricity geosynchronous orbit), which are launched into orbit over the Earth’s equator at an altitude of 22,235 miles and a velocity of 6878 MPH (which matches the Earth’s rotational velocity) appear stationary to an observer on the ground.

Geostationary orbits

That should keep him busy refining his model.

And ask him where cyclones and anticyclones come from... he does know about Coriolis force, no? No?

And anyone who's used a GPS location device has tested General Relativity to at least first-order post-Newtonian effects...

And I'd love to know where he thinks Cassini and Voyager are, and how they got there :)

Isn't it odd that he hasn't put up a picture of his model? Little sketch of the earth and everything going around it? Maybe some distances and sizes? Look, Tycho Brahe did better than this 400 years ago:

Tychonian System

And babbling about Darwinists too... I wonder if he thinks Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Hooke, Halley and all were Darwinists?

Date: 2006/06/01 11:21:33, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (stevestory @ June 01 2006,16:04)
To keep the water out, Noah used a force-field generator given to him by the Asgard.

ITYM the Aesir, who live in Asgard. Since Asgard is accessed via Bifrost the rainbow bridge, and the rainbow only exists after the flood, they could not have reached Noah to give him the forcefield generator. Clearly it was actually given to him by Galadriel.

Date: 2006/06/02 05:57:42, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ June 02 2006,07:35)
And I'd love to know where he thinks Cassini and Voyager are, and how they got there

Cassini and Voyager, if they still exist, are in the hard drives

Okay, that was worth it for the entertainment value :)  Conspiracy theorists are so amusingly naive.

I notice he doesn't have any kind of response to the point about cyclones and the Coriolis effect. Or the GPS. Do you think he thinks satellites don't exist? What a loon.

Date: 2006/06/02 07:58:17, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (Glen Davidson @ June 02 2006,12:08)
Of course the moon landings were faked.  It's just that to be convincing they had to fake them on the moon.

...and my hat is off to you, sir, because my brain just exploded.

Date: 2006/06/02 11:15:09, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ June 02 2006,15:25)
First, the fact that some aspects of the model are a bit hazy does not refute what I've accomplished so far.

You haven't accomplished anything so far.

You haven't posted a geocentric model. You haven't accounted for any observation. All you've done is post some math. Big whoop.

Date: 2006/06/02 14:29:47, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (Ichthyic @ June 02 2006,19:13)

Now THAT's a meteorite!

Ooooh yes. Might have split Australia off Gondwanaland. Serious stuff. AND right at the Permian extinction event, too.

Discovered using satellite imaging, I notice, so Paley's Zombie will claim it's a fake...

And the DI will say they've discovered the location of Gomorrah.

Date: 2006/06/05 08:07:59, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ June 03 2006,14:23)
Because I believe that Einstein is wrong, and therefore can't abide the relativistic assumptions of Dirac.

Which is hilarious, because:

1) Electromagnetism. Even in an ether model you'd have to at least produce length contraction and time dilation, iow you need the Lorentz group.

2) Electron spin. Without the relativistic wave equation you can't explain the electron's half-integer spin, and without electron spin, you can't explain, you know, chemistry.

3) Global positioning system. Which relies on timing signals from satellite-born clocks. And the rate of those clocks is the rate predicted by general relativity, NOT the rate predicted by either Newtonian absolute time OR special relativity alone. How does GoP think the GPS works?

Ghost of Paley: he's not just wrong, he's a century late and wrong

Date: 2006/06/06 07:00:57, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ June 06 2006,11:27)
You were the guys saying, "Don't worry about going over my head", and "I've had 400-level math classes, so I can hang." Now you want me to treat ya'll as if you don't know how to solve for x. Make up your minds, dudes.

It's not the math that's the problem. It's the fact that your math is not representing anything.

Say, for example, I'm talking about Newtonian gravity, if I want to examine the orbit of a planet about the sun, then I have to start with a model and define some terms: say that there is a sun of mass M at the centre of a cylindrical coordinate system in a Euclidean space and a planet of mass m << M at a point (r,0,0) with initial velocity u in the theta tangential direction and that the interaction between the two is F=GMm/r^2.

With those defined, giving a clear physical picture of the situation, we can then start using math to examine the behaviour of the system, because we've established what our math is describing.

All you've done is post a bunch of math with no model. Start by describing the positions of the earth, sun, moon and planets, then maybe you'll have the beginnings of a model. Until then: "this isn't right. This isn't even wrong."

Of course, your modelling is already falsified because you think GR is wrong, and the GPS system, which works, tells us that GR is right.

Date: 2006/06/06 13:48:41, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (stevestory @ June 06 2006,18:36)
What do you all believe? I had about 20 choices, but the software's making me cut it down to 10. If you're not on the list, like Baha'i, add yourself in the comments.

I voted on the Agnostic category, but was torn between that and non-literal Christian. I'm with Ben Franklin: good moral code, shame about the religion.

Date: 2006/06/07 11:07:17, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (skeptic @ June 07 2006,12:20)
In order for parallel evolution to occur the processes that led to those ancestors are still in effect.  We can assume that free energy relationships are the same because we have no reason to believe otherwise.  This means that the reactions involving organic molecules are the same.  In this way the emergence and propagation of life is a favored reaction.  If it happens once it happens multiple times.

The one aspect that we're pretty sure has changed is the environment.  The relative composition of the atmosphere, the available components in the "prebiotic" soup, soil composition, etc.  But at what point did these factors change and what impact could this have had on evolution?

Some factors to consider.

Firstly, the "greediness" of self-replication: once one self-replicator gets going, it'll tend to gobble up all of the available ingredients. So you might have multiple origin-of-self-replication events at, say, different hydrothermal vents, but the first one to spread beyond a small locality will become dominant and others won't be able to get a toehold.

Secondly, competition. The first self-replicating proto-organisms, let's call them type A, were in competition only with each other. That competition (+random mutations + natural selection) would tend to lead to more efficient replicators- an evolved type A'. Now, suppose that later a second self-replicator, type B, emerges in the same way that A did. B is probably no better a replicator than A was when it emerged. But B has to compete with the more efficient replicator A'. So A' will probably win and B will not be able to establish itself.

Thirdly, environmental change. It's related to the above: established organisms create the environment in which newcomers must compete. Probably the biggest example of that is the development of photosynthetic oxygen production. The cyanobacteria changed the world from having almost no atmospheric oxygen to having the sort of level we have today, with drastic consequences for the ecosystem and even for the geology (e.g. Old Red Sandstone, full of iron oxides).

I think one reason you're getting so much flak on this topic is that you should really have found out all of this BEFORE demanding radical changes in evolutionary theory. It's not that hard and none of this is secret knowledge.

As for "parallel descent": check, for example, the patterns of amino-acid differences in cytochrome C, a protein common to bacteria, plants and animals. It'll rapidly become evident that the pattern only makes sense given common descent.

Date: 2006/06/08 06:54:21, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ June 08 2006,11:31)
2) Language comparison
Spanish haber hombre cuerpo noche hijo hecho bueno y
Portug haver homem corpo noite filho feito bom e
French avoir homme corps nuit fils fait bon et

Wow ... there is some similarity here!  Let's form a hypothesis:  Maybe Portuguese is a mixture of Spanish and French among other factors

Why didn't you form the hypothesis that French is a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish? :)

Here's a much more sensible hypothesis:
French, Spanish and Portuguese are all descended from a common ancestral tongue, Latin. Here's your word comparison:

habere, homo (genitive: hominis), corpus (gen. corporis), nox (gen. noctis), filius, facere, bonus, et.

This hypothesis, unlike yours, is supported by all the historical evidence, and by comparison to other languages, for example Italian and Catalan, as has been pointed out elsewhere.

And if you still don't get it, well, futue de se et caballum suum, as they said in Pompeii.

Date: 2006/06/08 07:32:21, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ June 08 2006,12:03)
And with that, guys, I have satisfied myself that the Long Age crowd has NOTHING substantive with which to rebut the Helium-Zircon findings of the RATE Group.

But you were satisfied with that to begin with, and you've failed to satisfy anyone else. So you run along and play, and we'll carry on with the competent science, 'kay? Your failure to address [He contamination, the known unreliability of He as a dating mechanism, the misidentification of the stratum as granodiorite, the lack of control for thermal history, the refusal to provide lab data, the failure to replicate the results at all] has been noted.

Date: 2006/06/08 09:37:14, Link
Author: stephenWells
In the context of AFDave's hopeless efforts to pretend he knows anything about languages, I thought it would be interesting to find out who speaks which languages around here.

For collection purposes, let's say we'll list languages you can either read or understand, if not perfectly, then at least functionally. Let's not list things we have only a smattering of.

My list:
English (native)

Over to you guys...

Date: 2006/06/08 10:14:41, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ June 08 2006,15:05)
English native

Plus, with varying degrees of control:


I hardly dare to ask what happens when you lose control of those...

Date: 2006/06/09 12:55:47, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ June 09 2006,17:02)
Or do you make them do it themselves because they learn better that way?
I'm happy to go search it out.  But it was Deadman who brought up the issue, not me.  Silly me ... I thought he was going to present some new great insight that he had.  All he did was spout stuff from Henke I had already read.

The point, Dave, is that you don't get to lecture us about the meaning of He results until you actually understand the results.

You've shown quite clearly that you don't grasp the significance of isotope ratios, which shows you don't understand what you're talking about.

Nobody needs to provide a "great new insight" here. There's a MASSIVELY OBVIOUS problem which you don't grasp, but anyone competent does.

Date: 2006/06/09 13:21:03, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ June 09 2006,18:15)
Stephen Wells...
Nobody needs to provide a "great new insight" here. There's a MASSIVELY OBVIOUS problem which you don't grasp, but anyone competent does.
Great.  Don't provide any great new insights and "NDE + Long Ages" will die all the sooner.

Nice failure of reading comprehension, Davey. Now go learn something about isotope ratios.

And if Davey wants me to provide new insights... I came up with rapid conformer generation by geometric simulation. Davey has come up with nothing.

Date: 2006/06/12 08:09:01, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ June 12 2006,12:53)
One simply can't discard inflation and maintain an atheistic POV.

A) What does atheism have to do with any of this?

B) You still haven't posted any geocentric model. Account for the motion of the Sun, Moon, and planets. Also account for the motion of artificial satellites, and the operation of the GPS system.

Date: 2006/06/13 07:52:37, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ June 13 2006,12:11)
(F)  Miscellaneous Topics
  (1) Portuguese is a mixture of Spanish and French (among other factors)
     (d) Comparison of F, S and P words shows the mixture

Prior to Darwin, the majority of scientists were YECs and Catastrophists.  My focus is on this time period up until the present day.  I am not sure who came up with the number 4.5 billion years for the age of the earth.  I would like to find out.

But we CAN conceive of God creating the planet on Day 1 and 2 of creation, just as a sculptor would fashion a head of some famous person out of clay.  We can imagine that this 'planet formation event' necessarily involved some pretty intense processes which we should not pretend to understand yet.

Chris Hyland...      
Just so we get this straight, are you proposing that some kind of meeting took place where it was decided that scioence would say the earth was a particular age just to prove evolution. Presumably you think that science is holding up evolution to disprove God?
I am not aware of any formal meetings to determine this specifically.  My guess is that someone with some established credibility published (erroneously, in my opinion) the 4.5 billion year old date first, then it may have been argued some, then generally adopted by the scientific community.

I see Dave is still claiming that word similarity means Portuguese is a mixture of French and Spanish. He clearly didn't bother reading my list of the same words from Latin- the COMMON ANCESTOR of Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian...

Maybe that's why Dave can't grasp linguistics- if he acknowledged common descent among languages, he might have to acknowledge it in biology, too.

And I love how he A) admits he knows nothing about the history of dating the Earth; but B) is already convinced that it's a conspiracy. It's a telling insight into how sciencce would get done if people like Dave were in charge of it- doctrines would be laid down, heretics would be punished, orthodoxy would be enforced.

In reality, of course, we have a fantastic story of hundreds of years of scientific detective work- Hutton and the insight of deep time- Darwin and the formation of coral reefs (side bet: Dave doesn't know about Darwin's geological background) - Agassiz and the Ice Ages - the fierce resistance of Lord Kelvin, who insisted that an old Earth was thermodynamically impossible - the discovery of radioactivity, obviating that objection - the development of atomic crystallography - radioactive dating - plate tectonics...

He even doesn't know that, until radioactive dating, people were thinking in terms of hundreds of millions of years, and the idea of a billions-of-years-old earth was a surprise to most everyone, geologist and biologist alike.

But Dave doesn't care about any of that. In his little mind, Prof X said "The earth is 4.5 billion years old. There will be no argument." and everyone just fell into line.

I'm glad that science is being done by people like us, and not people like him. He thinks that because he can imagine Santa poofing the Earth into existence, then it must have happened!

Date: 2006/06/13 08:23:38, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ June 13 2006,13:20)
Now, now... Dembski's wife is quite the looker.

No surprise. We conservatives get the best chicks.  ;)

I, and my wife, disagree with you :)

Date: 2006/06/13 09:53:18, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ June 13 2006,13:48)
"It is quite likely to me that gorillas and chimps did have a common ancestor." So what, exactly, is your basis for that statement?
Just look at them, Ved.  They are hairy all over, have hand-like feet, are good at climbing, have funky lips and beetle-brows, make animal sounds, both live in zoos, etc. etc.

The AFDave level of biology: they live in zoos!

Anyone remember the outtakes from Spinal Tap? "Yeah, they're basically sandwich-eating life-forms."


Maybe that's why Dave can't grasp linguistics- if he acknowledged common descent among languages, he might have to acknowledge it in biology, too.
In P=F+S, we can observe historical events that would have caused this.  With biology, we cannot.  It is pure speculation.

You still haven't grasped the point: we have a perfect historical record of P,F,S,I,R(omanian)... all descending from Latin. Yet you persistently claim otherwise. And biology, geology and paleontology are not "pure speculation". "God said, let there be light" is pure speculation.


B) is already convinced that it's a conspiracy.
Didn't say that and you know it.  Quit being trollish.

Yay! AFDave called me a troll! I join the pantheon! And you did claim that the dating of the earth was just a number scientists had agreed on without evidence- which is not the case.


But Dave doesn't care about any of that. In his little mind, Prof X said "The earth is 4.5 billion years old. There will be no argument." and everyone just fell into line.
Why don't you give me a quick summary of the history since you are an expert on it.  That way you can show you are not just mouthing off.

What don't you check a copy of Bill Bryson's "Brief history of nearly everything" out of your local library? It's concise, well-written, and full of references.

Oh no- I referred AFDave to another source! Another book for him not to read.


Hey Dave, you inadvertently skipped a step.  Please go over the reasons why you think all human history or all world history must be tied to the start of written human history.

I cannot prove conclusively that it was.  But I can be fairly certain that it is quite unbelievable to say "Poof !! Humans began writing 194,000 years after they evolved to modern form."

Ever looked at the development of cuneiform? Thought not.

Dave finds the historical development of writing quite unbelievable. Dave finds a literal Flood believable. There is something badly wrong with Dave's judgement.


Plus, how does a 4.5 billion year old earth really impact biology? Not much unless you're studying the very beginnings of life, and that only happens in the area before 550 million years ago. If evolution only needs 600 million years, why would biologists need to argue for 4.5 billion???
Good question.  I honestly cannot recall from memory how that came about although I read an account once.  I think Stephen Wells claims to be the expert.  Maybe he could enlighten us.

Don't you just love that snarkily defensive tone Dave takes with anyone who actually knows anything? And again he wants to be spoon-fed knowledge.

Once more for the hard-of-thinking: arguments for deep time originate in geology, not biology. Darwin's background was in geology; his understanding of deep time helped him understand that gradual changes over long eons could account for huge cumulative changes. In the late nineteenth century, there was a major controversy between biologists and geologists, arguing for an old earth of some hundreds of millions of years, and physicists (particularly Kelvin) arguing that the earth could be no more than some tens of millions of years old, as otherwise it would have cooled completely. The geological side of the argument was based on stratigraphy and deposition rates, and was not particularly influenced by the biology; Agassiz was an old-earth creationist. The discovery of radioactivity, which produces heat within the earth, resolved this dispute. Dating based on the uranium decay series in the '50s showed that meteoritic material is ~4.5 billion years old and the oldest surface rocks we've found are ~3.5 billion years old.

Note: science doesn't proceed by enforced uniformity. Science proceeds by constant arguments which are eventually resolved by comparison to observed reality.

As for me, it doesn't matter whether biologists need 1 billion+ or only 500 million years.  It's all baloney to me because I think the evidence points to thousands, not millions or billions.

And there you have it: AFDave THINKS the evidence points to X. Therefore X. The fact that the evidence doesn't point to X doesn't affect him.

Date: 2006/06/13 10:58:31, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (deadman_932 @ June 13 2006,15:28)
Right now, I'm deep off into a "controversial" debate about the nature of the Homo floresiensis "hobbit" fossils, Dave. One side says they're microcephalic H. sapiens. Another side says they're not. I agree with the latter, based on osteal morphology and what I could deduce from dentition.

I saw some interesting stuff on stone tools from the Flores site last week. IIRC it was arguing for a continuity of tool-making techniques from H. erectus to h floresiensis. I had the impression that a lot of the microcephaly arguments are rooted in multiregionalist theories of human origins. Are you working directly on the Flores samples? Must be an exciting field.

Date: 2006/06/13 12:40:43, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ June 13 2006,17:32)
That Bryson book is great, by the way. Well written, funny, and I learned a huge amount from it. He has a gift for zeroing in on the most interesting facts he presents in a way that keeps your attention. Considering that Bryson is not a specialist in any of the stuff he discusses, I'm impressed that he managed to marshall together all the necessary facts from so many disciplines.

I was really impressed by his attitude: starting from almost no real knowledge of science, he spent a few years going around talking to lots of specialists and experts, learned what they agree on and disagree on and how everything fits together, and came out with a wonderful book that really captures the wonders of the natural world and our enquiries into it.

He is the anti-Dave.

Date: 2006/06/15 07:46:09, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ June 15 2006,12:04)
However I have at hand a paper[6] that gives, among other data, the pressure effect on argon diffusion in glasses, such as rhyolite obsidian.

"Pressure effect."  

See that?  "Pressure effect"

the pressure effect on argon diffusion


See that? "Diffusion".

Why is this so hard to understand?


Date: 2006/06/15 07:53:31, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (Nebogipfel @ June 14 2006,05:57)
UK English

I have recently been obliged to learn Management, but I generally prefer my more fluent dialects of C++ and Tcl.

There's a point. How many machine languages do we muster, too?

I'll put in for Fortran90, C++ and a smattering of Python. Mostly under UNIX/Linux environments.

Note to all respondents so far: your data will be tremendously helpful for task assignment when we take over the world. Forward the conspiracy!

Date: 2006/06/15 09:04:03, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ June 15 2006,13:25)
Humphreys' diffusion rates are only assumed for a relatively short period --- 6000 years.

So, if you assume that the answer is 6000 years, you can make the answer come out to be 6000 years? Wow :)  And you were accusing scientists of making unwarranted assumptions about timescales when they do dating...

Date: 2006/06/16 07:39:54, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (ericmurphy @ June 15 2006,18:06)
You need to refine your terms here, Randy. Can "evolution" be falsified? Not really. Can the "Theory of Evolution" be falsified? Definitely, although by now, the chances of that ever happening are about the same as the chances of the Theory of General Relativity or Quantum Theory being falsified. I.e., basically nil.

That's a rather good way of putting it. "Evolution" is like "gravity" - it's a phenomenon in the natural world. "Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection" is like "Newton's theory of universal gravitation"- it's a model which gives a very good description of the phenomenon. Falsifying a theory doesn't falsify the phenomenon, any more than falsifying Newton's theory (e.g. anomalous precession of the perihelion of Mercury) made gravity stop working.

Date: 2006/06/16 07:55:08, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (stevestory @ June 16 2006,11:57)
eh, i don't know. Geocentric just means earth-centered. You could allow rotation or not, depends on how far off your meds you are.

The pale shade of Paley already said that he's not allowing rotation. Why, it isn't clear. Repeated questions about e.g. Foucault pendulums, Coriolis effects (you have to allow for that in artillery, let alone in weather systems), geostationary satellites, and the GPS system have been met with...

...repeated claims that he'll be posting a model real soon now.

Date: 2006/06/16 11:30:43, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ June 16 2006,14:51)
Established radiometric procedure states that C14 dates cannot be accurately determined for dates older than ~50,000 years.
I know that.  I'm not using it do date anything >50,000 years.  I'm using it to date something which I suspect is less than 10,000 years old.

Dave, first you claimed that you were using C14 to date the age of coal measures. You're using a method which only works on things less than ~50,000 years old. Now you claim that you know the method's OK, because you're dating something less than 50,000 years old. You're assuming what you were trying to prove, just like you did with the zircons.

Every OTHER line of evidence and dating technique agrees that the coal is way older than that, and therefore you can't reliable use C14 to date it, because the tiniest degree of contamination invalidates the result.

I'm seeing a theme here. With the zircons, the least reliable method possible is to look at the helium diffusion- because it depends sensitively on thermal history and environmental factors, which you don't know. So of course the YECs use that method, get the wackiest possible result, and insist that it's correct. With the coal, the least reliable possible method is C14 dating, because the groundwater contamination and the 14N-14C radioactive contamination swamp your signal. So of course the YECs use that method. Pathetic.

Date: 2006/06/16 11:56:18, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (ericmurphy @ June 16 2006,16:19)
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ June 16 2006,15:33)
Eric: Yes, I understand your objection. But there's more to my model than meets the eye; I'll introduce a new force Monday.

Mr. Bill, I'd like to introduce you to Mr. Occam…

In the meantime, I hope your force is going to do more than just force a star weighing millions of times more than a planet into an orbit around that planet. Does this mysterious force, which has so far eluded detection, perform any other function in your model?

Paley's extra force clearly makes Foucault pendulums precess, and creates cyclones and anticyclones; also, it makes geostationary satellites hang motionless in the sky.

For an extra $19.95 plus tax. it will shine your shoes, slice vegetables, and compose poetry.

Date: 2006/06/16 12:34:58, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (normdoering @ June 16 2006,17:09)
I googled "High retentive zircons" and got:

And, Dave, when you  read sentances from your link like "...folded Mesozoic miogeoclinal rocks unconformably overlain by mid-Tertiary volcanics..." what do the terms "Mesozoic" and "mid-Tertiary" mean to you?

What does "Lower Cretaceous quartzites" mean to you?

You're assuming that Dave reads and understands his links. He doesn't. He skims them, rejecting anything which makes him think about an old earth.

It's hilarious that he brings up this paper as if it supports him, when in fact the entire methodology of the paper completely trashes what Humphreys did with his zircons.

Date: 2006/06/19 11:02:25, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (jeannot @ June 19 2006,14:26)
Hello Folks.
I'm watching a documentary on what I may call our cultural channel ("Arte" for those who know it). It is about the ethnic groups that were considered as inferior in our western civilisation.
In this film, they claim that this racism culminated in "On the Origin of Species...", where Darwin described these people as primitive and missing links (between ape and civilised men, I assume). They even used the term 'evolutionist'.
I haven't finished to read the Origin Of Species, but I don't think Darwin said anything of the sort.
Can you confirm this?
See, I'm not used to hearing such things on TV, but you might be (Foxnews et al.). I'm wondering about writing and email to that TV channel. Do you think I should?

EDIT: In fact this is ambiguous. I recall Darwin using the word "primitive" in his book. But I don't think it had the meaning it has today.

Darwin did share some of the usual assumptions of his day about the "superiority" of white Europeans. However if you look at his comments on slavery from the voyage of the Beagle, you'll find that he was apalled at the inhuman treatment of slaves in South America.

Anyway, claiming that racism "culminates in the origin of species" is like claiming that geocentrism culminated in the Reformation, e.g. a category error. Origin isn't about race. Unless there's something viciously racist about pigeon breeding, or coral atolls, which I missed.

Date: 2006/06/19 14:40:18, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ June 19 2006,18:49)
In this installment, I give a math-free interpretation of the hubble flow, and relate it to both the crystalline aether and electron capture.

Even when math-free, your model is senseless:

           Picture a solar system within concentric crystalline spheres of differential thickness. The earth resides in the geometric center of the smallest shell
The phases of Venus can easily be accounted for if we accept Tycho Brahe's modification of the Ptolemaic system.

Tycho's system doesn't have concentric crystalline shells. You already defined the earth as being at the centre of all the shells, so if you add a Tycho mod, you have all the planets (which in this model orbit the Sun) smashing through your crystal shells.

This is a non-model.

Also I find it amusing that I posted a Tycho model to this thread weeks ago. That model predates the observation of the moons of Jupiter; so Galileo shot down "your" model centuries ago.


Earth, being bombarded with information energy, releases the macroequivalent of a neutrino.

You're babbling.


I will expand on the details in future installments and avoid math whenever possible.

Whereas people doing actual science have to dig into the math to show that their model can actually model anything.

MOND started out as an interesting heuristic, but it didn't become a scientific model till it could provably duplicate Newtonian and GR effects, e.g. with TeVeS.

Date: 2006/06/20 08:16:00, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ June 20 2006,13:05)
The relative weakness of the gravitational force has always been a problem for atheists.

Can you give any evidence whatsoever for this claim?


But the crystalline spheres are energy levels.

Word salad. In what sense can an energy level be crystalline?

Date: 2006/06/20 08:29:17, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (JonF @ June 20 2006,12:39)
Cripes, Leonardo da Vinci figured out in the 15th century that the marine fossils on mountains did not result from a flood!

Which has been a pet peeve/amazement to me ever since I read that bit of his notes. I mean, here's this guy, living in the 15th century, everyone around him thinks the earth is the center of the universe and that the Flood really happened...

And he takes a walk in the mountains, comes home, and writes a little entry in his notebook saying: obviously this marine fossils mean that these rocks were once on the bottom of the sea, so the landscape must have changed over a tremendous length of time. Incidentally, the stars are just like the Sun, they're just much much further away, and the earth is a planet.

And then he didn't tell anyone else! He had the scientific revolution right there in his head, he was centuries ahead of his time, and he just noted it down and then went off to design siege engines and invent the ball bearing and paint masterpieces and build mechanical dragons to frighten his party guests* and chat with the King of France and... gaaaah. Of course, that's probably because he could see perfectly well that getting done for heresy wasn't his best career move.

Leonardo is my pick for smartest human being on record.

*he really did this.

Date: 2006/06/21 09:39:07, Link
Author: stephenWells
Thanks to Incorygible for posting that excellent account of hominid origins- the contrast against Dave's babbling is glorious. It's especially noteworthy that the finding that we're genetically closer to chimps is so recent, and that it was a finding which contradicted everyone's expectations.

Quote (incorygible @ June 21 2006,12:47)
Genesis 1:

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth.

the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.

Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness.

God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." Thus evening came, and morning followed--the first day.

Looks to me like the stars and the light were made on the first day, two days before the earth, eh?  Don't you even know your own books?

Amusingly, the sun doesn't get created until 'day' three.

Notice, while we're at it, that God is not described as creating the waters. Heaven and earth, yes, but the waters are supposed to be there already. God divides them, in verse 7, and gathers them, in verse 9, but apparently he doesn't create them. This appears to be a development from the Sumerian and Babylonian myths; Sumer had earth and heaven emerging from the sea (Nammu) while Babylon starts with the sweet water and the bitter water (Apsu and Tiamat).

Dave, did God create the water?

Plus, of course, there's the problem that Genesis 1 has creation in the order

Dry land
Stars, sun and moon
Water creatures and birds
Land creatures
Man and woman

whereas Genesis 2 has it in the order

Paradise (plants)
Land animals and birds

You'll note that the two are in contradiction on the order of creation of man and plants, of birds and animals, and of man and woman. This is one reason why we gave up on taking the Bible literally; you can't, because it contradicts itself. Perfectly understandable to a rational mind, but apparently not to a fundy.

Dave said, long long ago, that he had an obvious explanation...

Date: 2006/06/21 12:15:56, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (incorygible @ June 21 2006,15:06)
Dave, if you're going to go with the standard tapdance (i.e., Genesis 1 is written in the perspective and order of events for God or a third-person observer; and Genesis 2 is written in the perspective and order of events for Adam), please don't bother.  We've heard it before.

And it doesn't work anyway- Genesis 2 specifically states that the creation of Adam happens before any plants grow. Even relativity won't save this :) there's no frame of reference where spatially colocated events are in order A->B in one frame and B->A in another.

But let's see Dave pull another "Cain's wife" non-explanation, shall we?

Date: 2006/06/22 09:17:59, Link
Author: stephenWells
We're all familiar with the Disco institute's "Explanatory filter." That's the one which goes: if not law, and if not chance, then design.

Inspired by the clarity and logical rigour of this, I would like to propose an equally telling insight in the field of Optics: the Colour Filter.

Our starting point is the observation that the primary colours of light are Red, Blue and Green. Just look at the phosphors on your TV screen. This allows me to conclude that:

Blue is the set-theoretic complement of Red and Green.

Which leads us to the Colour Filter, a rigorously scientific method of discovering what colour something is:

If it's Red, conclude Red.
If it's Green, conclude Green.
If it's neither red nor green, conclude Blue.

I tested this filter thoroughly by looking at a tomato (it was Red) and a lawn (it was Green). Having proved that Red and Green objects are correctly identified, I now know that the filter works.

Some of the results I received were rather surprising- for example, I had never realised that carrots and oranges were Blue. But the filter makes it perfectly clear. Also, all of my clothes are now the same colour, so everything matches.

A particularly interesting case is the middle light on the traffic lights as I was driving in to work today. It's clearly Blue according to the filter, but a policeman was very insistent that it was, in fact, Yellow.

I was confused at first, since the filter has no such category as Yellow. On getting to work, I immediately made some enquiries among my colleagues in optics. Imagine my surprise to find that there is no scientific consensus regarding Yellow! Yes, while some scientists insisted that Yellow could be made by the mixing of Red and Green, others were equally insistent that it could be a single colour all to itself- the first group waved insistently at their computer monitors, while the second indicated a sodium street-lamp just outside the window. (Since the lamp was clearly Blue, according to the filter, I didn't see how it helped them at all).

Even stranger, the two groups also claimed that they weren't really disagreeing with each other at all, and that really they all agreed about Yellow- in fact, that there were two different kinds of Yellow! Well, obviously that didn't fool me for a second- it was clear that Yellow was simply a conspiracy, and they couldn't even keep their story straight. Really, I felt quite proud of myself that with my simple Filter I'd gained more insight into optics than any of these people with their fancy degrees and laboratories.

They even presented all kinds of charts and graphs from something called a spectroscope, which they claimed showed both kinds of Yellow; one kind had spectral peaks in Red and Green, and the other was just a single peak. But I didn't find this at all convincing. Firstly, this whole business of two kinds of Yellow is obviously ridiculous. Secondly, all of this spectroscopy had been carried out by Yellowists- none of them had ever used my Filter or understood the real nature of Blue! So clearly all their results were biased and simply reflected their own beliefs and desired. I still don't understand why they're so insistent about Yellow, when the Filter makes it clear that Blue is so much simpler and more obvious.

Then I realised that many of them were atheists, or agnostics, or members of various religions which I don't agree with. Checking my Bible, I found that light was God's first creation. Therefore, it can only be studied by people who have the right attitude to God- like me, for example- and naturally all those Godless scientists like Newton and Descartes could never have understood it the way I do. All current scientists are simply repeating the conventional wisdom about "spectra" and "colours" and are blinded by their atheistic materialistic assumptions.

Finally, I would like to stress that the Filter is completely scientific and objective and has nothing to do with religion. I haven't yet published anything on it, or used it to achieve anything, but I think it should immediately be introduced into primary-school art classes.

Date: 2006/06/22 11:45:39, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (afdave @ June 22 2006,13:53)
To think that people with PhD's think that chimps and humans are closer than chimps and gorillas just because of their DNA truly staggers my imagination!

We think that chimps and people are GENETICALLY closer than chimps and gorillas because we have measured the GENETIC distance.

Rather like concluding that London and Cambridge are GEOGRAPHICALLY closer than London and Edinburgh because we have measured the GEOGRAPHIC distance.

If we measured, say "% of body covered with fur", the obviously chimps and gorillas would be more similar. But fur coverage is not particularly relevant to descent, whereas genetic distance is. Similarly, London and Edinburgh share certain properties, such as "being a national capital", which may make them metaphorically "closer" to each other than to Cambridge, but that's not relevant to geography.

Dave's imagination has fallen and it can't get up.

Date: 2006/06/27 12:02:20, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ June 27 2006,16:15)
My actual model isn't too hard; think of the universe as a large atom divided into concentric "spheres" (energy levels) surrounding a central Earth. Within the first sphere we have the solar system. All the planets save the Earth rotate around the Sun, with the Sun going around the Earth.

Your model is disproved by the Coriolis effect, geostationary satellites (satellite TV), the GPS system, astronomical observations of all kinds (e.g. aberration of starlight, parallax), and planetary probes. You were wrong before you even started. All the quantum blah is irrelevant.

Date: 2006/06/28 08:41:26, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ June 27 2006,19:17)
Like Brahe, I believe that the celestial sphere carries everything around the earth daily. Brahe's model accounts for rotation, revolution, and the rest so well, in fact, that Kepler had to poison him so he could steal Brahe's model. Nikolaus Baer was probably also involved in the conspiracy, because he hated to admit that his arguments were routinely, and easily, destroyed by Tycho. Kepler stole the idea for elliptical orbits from Brahe.

Like Brahe, you are wrong. Your conspiracy-theory version of history bears no relation to the facts. For starters, Kepler didn't poison Brahe, nor did he "steal" elliptical orbits from him.

Let's note in passing that Brahe's model is not consistent with what we know about gravitation. The GPS would not work at all.

Date: 2006/07/14 10:44:58, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (wiwaxiathumb @ July 14 2006,14:14)
Thanks for answering, I'll try to clarify:

First, I am refering to development in the course of evolution.
Second, it is clear that lineages indeed exhibit different ways of responding to evolutionary pressures and changes. Though each lineage is unique in its specific evolutionary history, I venture that these paths could be classified in a few categories. (This may be due to self-promoting or niche construction effects. )

For example, it seems that overall some lineages (or "evolutionary species") have followed the path of stability (i.e. withering environmental changes and conditions), other have pursued an ever tighter integration into a niche (e.g. the cheetah's predatory improvment ; and a great many species which exhibit what Nature show usually call "improvement") ; then some (read: us) have found themselves into the path of plasticity.

So, then, if there is a term in evo bio, it would sound as: crocodiles have followed the  schmoogle of resistance or such...

The reason I ask is I am using such a concept, and calling it an "Evolutionary path" (voie d'évolution in french).

I think this is something you can only define post hoc. I think I see what you mean- e.g. sharks seem to have stayed very sharky for a long time while primates keep changing shape- but I don't think you can validly say that sharks have "pursued a strategy" or "followed a schmoogle" of remaining the same; it's just that they're well adapted to a niche and neither the niche nor the adaptation has changed much over very long periods of time. If the environment alters to change the niche, sharks will either adapt or die out.

BTW I think you mean "weathering" changes, not withering.

Date: 2006/07/17 09:30:58, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (clamboy @ July 16 2006,13:27)
and let's not forget those freezing mammoths! - KASSSKKKKRRROOOOIINNNNKKKKLLEEEX!!! <--- the sound of a mammoth freezing very quickly

I'm afraid to ask, but---

How do you know what a rapidly freezing mammoth sounds like?

We have a tanker of liquid nitrogen out back, and the zoo here has elephants, but I'm not planning to run that experiment.

"What songs the sirens sang, and what noise the mammoths made when flash-frozen..."

Date: 2006/07/18 11:51:03, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (Henry J @ July 18 2006,16:46)
Re "Massive comet, asteroid, and meteor strikes within historical times;"

Wasn't there a big meteor strike in Siberia in early 1900's?


Tunguska, and it wasn't that big- airburst, not ground impact. Knocked a lot of trees down. I think in the paleontological sense we think of "massive" as e.g. K-T impact scale (craters miles wide). That weird creationist with his little coloured diagram seems to want ALL impacts in a few hours. Duck!

Edited for clarity: ducking will not help you survive the impact, but you may be able to kiss your a** goodbye.

Date: 2006/07/19 08:09:04, Link
Author: stephenWells
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ July 19 2006,10:14)
Dave, use another human-chimp comparison please. The chimp comes out ahead in your picture.
Here's a better comparison:
was image link:

Yeah, these two had a common ancestor. Suuuuuure, Darwinists.  :D  :D  :D  :D

Yes, Ghost, those two do indeed have a common ancestor. About 6 million years ago. I realise you don't grasp the depth of time, but that is not our problem. I refer you to Nature volume 441, page 1103, "Genetic evidence for complex speciation of humans and chimpanzees", Patterson et al., and references therein.

Particularly amusing is that you post pictures of two primates with multiple obvious similarities, and act like it's evidence AGAINST common descent. Were we all supposed to be blinded by lust?

Next up: Ghosty posts pictures of Britney Spears, Ghandi, Karl Marx and Danny Glover
  • , and says: Yeah, suuuure, these all had a common ancestor.

  • that was some party, I can tell you.
  • Date: 2006/07/19 08:37:57, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ July 19 2006,13:22)
    Probably got eroded when it was still soft ... or maybe there were other cataclysmic things going on ... I'm not sure of the precise erosion mechanism ...

    But I'm sure of this ...

    A rinky dink river (the Colorado River) cannot form the features of the Grand Canyon even if given millions of years

    Classic Dave: repeating a statement in bold is worth more than, oh, presenting any evidence at all. And the usual plausibility gap: he finds ordinary erosive processes impossible, and he finds impossible floods plausible.

    You know, a few months ago I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time. It was absolutely awe-inspiring. I found the experience particularly moving because many, many things which I'd known in theory suddenly became concrete and real to me. Earlier on the same day I'd visited Sunset Crater (volcanic eruption circa 1000 AD) and walked through a lava field there, so it was a day of major geological experiences for me. Phenomena which I'd seen in textbooks as a child suddenly became part of my immediate experience, and that sensation of meshing between my abstract and concrete knowledge was mind-expanding.

    I feel profound pity for people like Dave, who can see something like the Grand Canyon and, instead of recognising it for what it is, feel compelled to shoehorn it into their incredibly limited view of the range of time and space.

    Date: 2006/07/25 13:38:25, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (skeptic @ July 25 2006,17:29)
    So why should this matter?  After reading Dawkins and reflecting upon the Religion Poll post I'm realizing that many people defend evolution not based upon the facts but upon the fact that they need it to be true to support their philosophy.

    This is sheer projection. If you look all over the site, you'll find people who defend evolution with hard data and diligent research. You'll see that biologists "believe" evolution in much the same way the physicists "believe" gravity: because it's there. It's in the fossils, the genes, the biochemistry, the embryology and the anatomy. It's simply a socio-historical oddity that science has to be defended at all; because it's under attack from a religious movement who are immune to fact and logic.

    Date: 2006/07/25 13:57:17, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (skeptic @ July 25 2006,18:52)
    I see religion vs religion.

    If you can't tell the difference between religion vs. religion and religion vs. science, then you're beyond help. Here's a hint: scientists base their arguments on observable reality.

    I think you see what you want to see. Have fun with that.

    Date: 2006/08/03 12:45:21, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (C.J.O'Brien @ Aug. 03 2006,17:21)
    In your example of antibiotic resistance, you ask "do bacteria indeed rely on a strictly random search for resistance," and this puts the whole thing on a misleading teleological foundation that doesn't exist.  What bacteria "rely on" is the diversity of the population before there's any environmental crisis.  A few individuals, by chance, already have a mutation that happens to confer resistance to the unfamiliar agent.  Over generations, the descendants of these variants come to dominate the population.

    I think this connects interestingly to a common mistake: teleological approaches often seem to contain the idea that evolution is a way that a _particular organism_ responds to the environment, whereas in fact evolution describes how _populations_ respond; i.e. some individuals survive and leave more descendants, while others die out. An individual bacterium doesn't decide to alter its genome for e.g. more sulfate metabolism; but in a population of bacteria, those which happen to have enhanced sulfate metabolism will thrive when sulphur runs short.

    Does this connect at all to the tendency in sci-fi films for "mutations" to affect a particular organism, rather than its descendants? Anyone seen "The Relic?"- incredibly sucky movie where a guy "mutated" into a sort of wolf/lizard crossover. That sort of thing really annoys me.

    Date: 2006/08/03 13:55:37, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (Ichthyic @ Aug. 03 2006,17:49)
    yeah, but it sure was a cool looking monster though.

    When all is said and done, isn't that really the important thing in a monster movie?

    Eh. It was better when it was a menacing shadowy presence skulking in the darkness. The more visible it became, the more risible also.

    Though points to the movie for having the heroine squish a mutant bug with a huge biochemistry textbook.

    Date: 2006/08/08 07:50:32, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (Flint @ Aug. 08 2006,08:48)
    The CEO of Wal Mart makes something like 11 million a year, or as much as a thousand Wal Mart Employees do. Do I think that money would be more useful distributed amongst the thousand Wal Mart employees, in the form of higher wages? In a word, yes.

    OK, once again we have a clash of values. Maybe the world would be a better place if the money went to higher wages rather than into wherever it is invested. Maybe not. We'd need to know in great detail just exactly where the money would end up, and how this might affect standards of living broadly. But dammit, the money doesn't belong to, wasn't earned by, and should not be stolen for the WalMart employees.

    In what sense, exactly, was Walmart's money not earned by Walmart employees? It seems to me that, say, the guys on the checkout desk have a very direct claim to be earning money for Walmart.

    Date: 2006/08/08 08:06:50, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (skeptic @ Aug. 08 2006,05:24)
    as far as proteins being self-organizing, I've never been in favor of the RNA-world theory of origins, I lean more towards development of simple enzymes and then the preservation of information in nucleic acids at a later date.

    Just a comment- one of the reasons why RNA-world or similar currently seems more plausible is that RNA can perform the functions of information-storage and chemical activity simultaneously, whereas even the simplest enzyme requires a fair number of amino acids strung together and it's hard to see how that could happen without something to store the information for replication. An early RNA world with subsequent (incomplete) division of labour between peptides (activity, structure) and nucleic acids (information) thus seems the more economical model. Though of course, there is an element of what-song-the-sirens-sang about all this :)
    That being said, there are also some interesting possibilities in the area of inorganic substrates. I think I even saw the suggestion that the Fe4S4 cubic unit that's used in certain enzyme complexes, e.g. photosystem I, originated from the Fe4S4 cubic unit that's part of some iron sulphide mineral structures.

    I think it's unlikely that new life is emerging now on Earth, as a) the chemistry of the world now is vastly different, due mostly to the activity of life, and b) any newly emerging replicator would have to compete against the very efficient replicators that populate the world already. Though of course I could be wrong, and when the silicon-sulfur creatures that live in the mantle tunnel up to the surface at last, I hope they won't think I'm prejudiced :)

    Date: 2006/08/09 09:18:43, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Aug. 09 2006,13:58)

    OK.  I read the text on one of the formations.

    Still nothing about how they come up with 250 million years old for the Kaibab Limestone.

    Now what?

    Kaibab Limestone


    Darton, N.H., 1910, A reconnaissance of parts of northwestern New Mexico and northern Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin, 435, 88 p., (incl. geologic map, scale 1:1,000,000).

    Bassler, Harvey and Reeside, J.B., Jr., 1921, Oil prospects in Washington County, Utah, IN Contributions to economic geology, 1921; Part 2, Mineral fuels: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin, 726-C, p. C87-C107.

    Gilluly, James and Reeside, J.B., Jr., 1928, Sedimentary rocks of the San Rafael Swell and some adjacent areas in eastern Utah, IN Shorter contributions to general geology, 1927: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper, 150-D, p. D61-D110.

    Gregory, H.E. and Moore, R.C., 1931, The Kaiparowits region, a geographic and geologic reconnaissance of parts of Utah and Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper, 164, 161 p.

    McKee, E.D., 1938, The environment and history of the Toroweap and Kaibab formations of northern Arizona and southern Utah: Carnegie Institution of Washington Publication, no. 492.

    Blakey, R.C., 1974, Stratigraphic and depositional analysis of the Moenkopi Formation, southeastern Utah: Utah Geological and Mineral Survey Bulletin, no. 104, 81 p.

    Welsh, J.E., Stokes, W.L. and Wardlaw, B.R., 1979, Regional stratigraphic relationships of the Permian "Kaibab" or Black Box Dolomite of the Emery high, central Utah, IN Baars, D.L., ed., Permianland: Four Corners Geological Society Field Conference Guidebook, 9th Field Conference, Moab, UT, September 27-30, 1979, p. 143-149.

    Hamilton, Warren, 1982, Structural evolution of the Big Maria Mountains, northeastern Riverside County, southeastern California, IN Frost, E.G., and Martin, D.L., eds., Mesozoic-Cenozoic tectonic evolution of the Colorado River region, California, Arizona, and Nevada; Anderson-Hamilton volume: San Diego, CA, Cordilleran Publishers, p. 1-27. [Published in conjunction with the Geological Society of America symposium and field trip, April, 1982 Ulrich, G.E. (compiler), Billingsley, G.H. (compiler), Hereford, Richard (compiler), Wolfe, E.W. (compiler), Nealey, L.D. (compiler) and Sutton, R.L. (compiler), 1984, Maps showing geology, structure, and uranium deposits of the Flagstaff 1 degrees by 2 degrees quadrangle, Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous Investigations Series Map, I-1446, 2 sheets, scale 1:250,000.]

    Hopkins, R. L., 1990, Kaibab Formation. In: Beus, S.S., Morales, M. (eds), Grand Canyon Geology, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 225-245.

    Sorauf, J.E. and Billingsley, G.H., 1991, Members of the Toroweap and Kaibab Formations, Lower Permian, northern Arizona and southwestern Utah: The Mountain Geologist, v. 28, no. 1, p. 9-24.

    Anderson, R.E. and Hintze, L.F., 1993, Geologic map of the Dodge Spring quadrangle, Washington County, Utah and Lincoln County, Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Quadrangle Map, GQ-1721, 1 sheet, scale 1:24,000

    Condon, Steven M, 1997, Geology of the Pennsylvanian and Permian Culter Group and Permian Kaibab Limestone in the Paradox Basin, southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado: U. S. Geological Survey Bulletin, Report: B 2000-P, pp.P1-P46.

    Thompson, Kelcy Louise, 1995, Paleoecology and biostratigraphy of the Fossil Mountain Member, Kaibab Formation in northwestern Arizona: Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, masters thesis, 108 p.

    Billingsley, George H., 2000, Geologic Map of the Grand Canyon 30' by 60' Quadrangle, Coconino and Mohave Counties, Northwestern Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Investigation Series I-2688, Available on-line at:

    Mathis, A. and Bowman, C., 2005, What's in a number? Numeric ages for rocks exposed within the Grand Canyon, Part 2: Nature Notes ( Grand Canyon National Park ), v. 21, no. 2, p. 1-5.

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    You clearly didn't attempt to check a single one of the very comprehensive list of references, did you?

    If we showed you a recipe book, and there were a recipe on page 116 for an apple pie, and the recipe started by saying "Make a crust according to the pastry recipe on page 53", you would probably say: "I've read the recipe on page 116 and it still doesn't tell me how to make the crust!"

    Date: 2006/08/11 06:54:50, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Aug. 10 2006,18:23)
    You'll notice a few things. First, the Kaibab is overlain by the Moenkopi...which extends into Utah, too. Those layers you see on the Utah stratigraphic columns USED to exist in the Grand Canyon, too. 5000 or so more feet of layers were washed away in the Grand Canyon, but not the Moenkopi...
    5000 feet of layers washed away ... hmmmm ... did a dinky little river do that over millions of years?  Or perhaps was it a Global Flood?

    No, Dave, it was a river. You can tell because the river cut a typical river valley. A global flood would wash away EVERYTHING. And you can't HAVE a global flood, because there's no water to make it, and if there were, there'd be nowhere for it to go.

    Date: 2006/08/11 06:58:51, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Aug. 11 2006,11:46)
    Eric ...  
    How can there be lakes anywhere, when the entire globe is covered with a mile-thick layer of water?!
    Eric, YOU are the one being asinine now.  The lakes occur as a result of water being retained behind debris dams as the flood waters receded.

    Receded to where?

    Date: 2006/08/14 08:00:23, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    In passing, it's amusing to note that, while Dave continues to claim that we're all somehow religiously wedded to gradualism or some such, we have in the course of the discussion run across two examples (channeled scablands; meteor crater) or sudden, catastrophic events which are easily recognised as such on the basis of the, you know, EVIDENCE. Much as the gradual formation of the Grand Canyon is easily recognised based on the evidence. Dave, meanwhile, thinks that he can make his problems go away by claiming that all the GC layers are water-deposited, even though he knows no geology; has never been to the Grand Canyon; and ignores all the known facts. Pathetic.

    Date: 2006/08/31 06:35:06, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Since we seem to have segued to the Apocalypse (\daveBarry{Segue to the Apocalypse would be a good name for a rock band}), it might be worth pointing out that one of the reasons fundies like Dave panic over the long age of the earth is that his theology relies on the earth having a short future. If you think the world only begins in ~4000 BC, then the idea of it ending after only ~6000 years almost makes sense (for certain values of "makes sense"). But if the world extends billions of years into the past, it's much harder to make sense of an imminent end. Deep time completely undercuts apocalyptic eschatology.

    Science ought to bring us a certain humility, in that it tells us that we are not the centre of the universe- physically, biologically or temporally.

    Date: 2006/08/31 09:50:07, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (ericmurphy @ Aug. 31 2006,14:41)
    I wonder…has Dave given up on his attempts to refute the evidence for an old age of the Grand Canyon strata and the existence of paleosols in the Grand Canyon in particular and the world in general? Is he going to move onto more absurdities? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think he's made a substantive post in two days.

    If so, Dave, I have a question: given that you've provided no evidence for the existence of your flood, wouldn't it be a bit premature to start discussing Noah's ark? It doesn't seem like he'd need one, if there never was a flood.

    And speaking of which, here's my image of the "ark": a rough-hewn raft, maybe fifty feet square, with a cow, a couple of goats, half a dozen chickens, a few bushels of grain and maybe a bale of hay for the livestock, a few clay urns full of water, and off they go, as the Jordan river floods.

    Give it a few centuries playing "telephone," and you've got the ark myth. Not quite as exciting a story, is it?



    Date: 2006/09/01 12:15:35, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (skeptic @ Sep. 01 2006,15:55)
    A gene is just a really big molecule 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.

    Think a little about conformational change in the DNA. What you'll see in your LUMO idea if the strand containing a gene is, say, wrapped round a histone complex, is completely different from what you'd see if it's unwrapped and exposed for transcription. Come to think of it, even methylation will affect your orbitals.

    This is what makes your ideas about "more nucleophilic genes" meaningless, as several commentators have tried to tell you already.

    Date: 2006/09/08 08:14:46, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Sep. 08 2006,13:03)
    A much better explanation for the layers of the Grand Staircase which consists primarily of water-laid sediment is ...


    a) not all the layers are water-laid; this immediately disproves an origin in a single flood;

    b) the Great Fludde never happened.

    Have fun in the 17th century. Maybe you'll catch up one day.

    Date: 2006/09/08 12:52:26, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Sep. 08 2006,16:52)
    Stephen Wells...
    Do you seriously think that you are winning this argument?

    Interestingly, it wasn't me who asked that question. That reading disorder of yours is really getting worse; you should have that looked at.

    But thanks anyway for confirming the mismatch between your perceptions and those of, well, everybody else.

    Date: 2006/11/30 13:35:01, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Nov. 30 2006,11:33)
    The tester strains are specially constructed to have both frameshift and point mutations in the genes required to synthesize histidine, which allows for the detection of mutagens acting via different mechanisms. Some compounds are quite specific, causing reversions in just one or two strains. [1] The tester strains also carry mutations in the genes responsible for lipopolysaccharide synthesis, making the cell wall of the bacteria more permeable, [2] and in the excision repair system to make the test more sensitive. [3] Rat liver extract is added to simulate the effect of the metabolism, as some compounds, like benzopyrene, are not mutagenic themselves but their metabolic products are.[4]
     Again I say ... This does not say that a bacteria mutated and lost function, then mutated back again and regained that function.  Or if it does say this, I sure am not seeing it. Over to you.

    Isn't it hilarious that people can post articles which say "We took bacteria (which can synthesise histidine), mutated them so they couldn't synthesise histidine, then applied a mutagen, and observed some bacteria mutate back to a form that can synthesise histidine," and Dave's response is "This does not say that a bacteria mutated and lost function, then mutated back again and regained that function.  Or if it does say this, I sure am not seeing it." That's some weapons-grade denial.

    BTW, just got back from a great holiday in Hawaii. Dave's silly claims about the earth being only 6000 years old just don't compare to the experience of actually standing on a volcanic island, watching new land being formed as lava flows into the ocean; and looking out along a chain of such islands, each older than the one before, formed as the Pacific plate moves (at about the speed of fingernail growth) over the volcanic hotspot; and looking at a map of the undersea topography and seeing a chain of now-submerged islands leading all the way from Hawaii to Kamchatka...    reality is so much more beautiful and exciting.

    Date: 2006/12/12 12:34:01, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Dec. 12 2006,11:00)
    We see again the Statement of Darwinist Doctrinal Faith repeated by Crow: "Mutation is the ultimate source of variability on which natural selection acts; for neutral changes it is the driving force. Without mutation, evolution would be impossible."  (Never mind that Ayala said Darwin was wrong about this.)

    Several things ... glad you asked.  We have agreed that you can draw other conclusions from papers as long as they are supported by the author ... so this is what I do.

    I've already quoted the relevant passage in Crow's paper.  If this is not supported by Crow's statement, you need to show me HOW it is not.

    If you do not agree, then please explain how this can be.

    Firstly, Ayala did not say that mutations were unnecessary. He pointed out that most (not all) genotypic variation comes from shuffling of the currently existing set of genetic variation. However, that genetic variation does ultimately arise from mutations. Darwin, of course, didn't have our modern understanding of genetics, so it's unsurprising he didn't get all details right. Amusingly, this is a perfect example of why Dave can't grasp science; he thinks Darwin is some kind of bearded prophet whose word is unquestionable, whereas in fact he was just a really smart guy with some good ideas. That's why Dave thinks "Darwin was wrong about X" means "Evolution is false", which is a bit like claiming that, if Newton was wrong about anything (and he was- alchemy), then gravity doesn't exist.

    In regard to Dave's "new conclusions", #1 is probably correct; the current human population is probably genetically less fit than our stone-age ancestors. This is because we now have the technology to keep people alive in the population who would previously not have been able to survive. Example: I have extremely poor eyesight, about -6 diopters, a trait which (in stone age times) did not persist in the population because of, for example, leopards. Now, optical technology compensates for my disadvantageous trait, and I may well pass it on to my children.

    This illustrates an important point; just because I understand evolution doesn't mean I want it to happen to me. It's one of those things that is beautiful when seen from a sufficient distance. As Terry Pratchett put it: "On the long term, something wonderful was about to happen. On the short or medium term, something horrible was about to happen. It's the difference between the beauty of morning dew on a cobweb, and actually being a fly." Similarly, I have a very good grasp of the theory of gravity, but I'm not going to jump off a cliff to, er, participate in it.

    Conclusion #2 simply doesn't follow. Only very recently has our technology freed us from natural selection. Human evolution, from pithecanthropus to Cro-Magnon, took place in a brutally competitive environment (due to, again, LEOPARDS, also ice ages, droughts, and the tribe over the hill). I think the problem here is the timescale issue- Dave is too used to shoehorning everything into 6000 years, so the idea that the conditions of life, for humans, in the last few thousand years, differ from the conditions over the previous several million, probably doesn't sit well.

    Date: 2006/12/12 12:50:02, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Dec. 12 2006,12:34)
    What is wrong with this "ericmurphy" character's reading skills?  Of course I addressed it, the latest being this morning ...  
    Consider our very real quandary.  On one hand, we face extinction because of high tech medicine,
    What sems to be the problem, Eric?

    The problem is that you persistently equate "natural selection isn't operating on technologically advanced human populations now" with "natural selection never operated at all on anyone ever." This is your current most annoying error.

    Also, you seem to be arguing that we have to ignore science and believe bronze-age myths, because science says that bad things might happen to us. Childish, really.

    Oh, here's a good one for you. In Genesis 18, God apparently gets his information from hearsay, and has to travel to find out if what he hears is true:

    018:020 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is
           great, and because their sin is very grievous;

    018:021 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether
           according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not,
           I will know.

    How's that sit with your comforting fantasies?

    Date: 2006/12/12 14:07:00, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Dec. 12 2006,13:22)
    OK.  Hold it right there, then.  Please explain to me how the following scenario is plausible.  I am trying to accurately portray your view.  Here we go.  About 5 mya was when the Gorilla/Human LCA diverged, right?  After this point, one line from this LCA began to diverge toward gorillas and another line continued toward H. sapiens.  About 500 kya (?) we were at the Cromagnon stage which we could say is roughly the type of species Crow is talking about when he says "stone age ancestors."  Are we good so far?  Or maybe Crow is talking about H. sapiens at around 100 kya.  Is that better?  I don't think it matters, but let's assume the latter.  So now the time is 100 kya.  Our stone age ancestors are doing what they do--hunting, gathering, grunting, fighting, etc.--yet they are genetically superior to us, right?  (we already agreed on that).  And yet 100,000 years later, here we are--smarter, more cultured, more evolved, whatever--and mutations accomplished this?  Mutations!!??

    Firstly, that would be the divergence from the CHIMP/human LCA, not gorilla.

    Secondly, Cro-Magnons are really recent, more like 50kya rather than 500.

    Thirdly, no, mutations did not accomplish this. Mutations and recombinations PLUS NATURAL SELECTION accomplished this. Sure, a lot of mutations are harmful. When natural selection is operating, those harmful mutations get selected out because the organisms carrying them are less likely to SURVIVE and BREED. I'm capitalising the parts that, after several hundreds of pages, you still haven't grasped.

    You seem to have this weird idea that, for evolution to work, the net effect of mutations has to be positive. It doesn't have to be, and clearly it isn't. But when natural selection is operating, a small proportion of positive mutations are selected for, and a larger proportion of negative mutations are selected against. It's the selection, not the mutations, that's critical. And the selection process is not difficult to grasp: mutations that make their carriers less likely to survive and breed, are less likely to be passed on, because their carriers have fewer descendants, and vice versa for positive mutations.

    This is such a very simple, indeed obvious, idea, that it was discovered independently at least twice (Darwin and Wallace, that I know of). Given the observable nature of reproducing organisms, it's hard to see how it could possibly NOT work.

    Date: 2006/12/12 16:00:53, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Dec. 12 2006,14:48)
    1) Stone age ancestor has to get smarter, better lookin', more civilized, etc.

    aaaaand that's your first error right there. Stone age ancestor is probably doing just fine, individually. But any stone age (non-)ancestor with a genetic disadvantage- say, short sight- probably gets eaten by the leopards, and any stone age ancestor with an advantage- smarter, or better looking (to other pithecanthropes), or stronger, or more resistant to infections- probably leaves more descendants.


    2) What's a Pithecanthropus supposed to do to achieve this?
    3) Well mutate!  By golly!

    Second error; Mr. Pithy isn't personally _trying_ to _achieve_ mutations (Though it's a lovely mental image- apeman with a strained expression, trying to mutate :) )  but mutations are gonna happen anyway, sometimes.


    4) Mutate, mutate, mutate ... keep them dogies mutatin' (Note: recombination only makes varied Pithecanthropi, not Super-Pithecanthropi)

    You'll be getting a lot of recombination, plus some mutations. Anyway, onwards


    5) Problem: how do we keep the harmful ones from outrunning the good ones? (In spite of natural selection)

    You're hiding a lot in that "in spite of." For one thing, you've yet to demonstrate that we're even in a region of parameter space (e.g. mutation rates/genome sizes) where natural selection is insufficient.


    6) Truncation selection to the rescue!  Ta da!
    7) Problem: Crow says it doesn't work -- proposes "Quasi" version.

    Obviously, improving our scientific models is a terribly bad thing (/sarcasm).


    8) OK, does quasi work?  No, not according to Schoen et al

    Whose arguments have not convinced anyone, in case you hadn't noticed. That graph from a paper on seed storage lacked a certain something- relevance. Your remaining conclusions are based on assuming that natural selection doesn't work.


    12) Hey wait a minute!  Didn't Crow say we are genetically INFERIOR to these ancestors?
    13) How did we get to be genetically inferior if mutations made us smarter, better lookin', etc.?

    Again with the skipping around; Crow's argument is that, in VERY RECENT human history, what with the eyeglasses and the medicine, natural selection isn't operating, hence increased deleterious mutation load.


    Ladies and gentlemen, we have a serious problem.

    Conclusion:  A Designer, not mutations and recombination, created humans.

    Your conclusion doesn't follow from anything you've said up  'til now.


    Yes, I have understood all this for quite some time.  I do not have "this weird idea that, for evolution to work, the net effect of mutations has to be positive."  

    You certainly gave that impression- for one thing, your constant harping on 'how can mutations make us smarter etc.' without ever getting to grips with selection.


    But I do have the idea that enough good ones have to accumulate and be preserved to make new functions and structures.  And while this is going on, the nearly neutrals which get passed on with the good ones because they are unselectable (remember Kimura?) will hopefully not accumulate so much that the species loses fertility and goes extinct.  But alas, this is precisely what Crow and the others are talking about.  This is not possible in the real world.

    Kimura looked at the statistics of a model with no advantageous mutations. Be cautious about applying conclusions from that model to the real world :)

    Date: 2006/12/13 12:29:37, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (improvius @ Dec. 13 2006,12:13)
    Quote (afdave @ Dec. 13 2006,13:02)
    Waxing eloquent, I see ... "No"? ... just "No" ??

    I'll be happy to discuss it further with you once you figure out why your statement is wrong.

    Hint for Dave- it has to do with that word "purpose."

    Gotta watch that teleology!

    Date: 2006/12/14 12:32:10, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Dec. 14 2006,09:04)
    Everyone agrees that watches are designed.  But the fundamental difference between watches and butterflies is the DEGREE OF COMPLEXITY.  Therefore, everyone SHOULD believe that butterflies are designed.  Etc. Etc. with all the implications that this brings.

    So, watches and butterflies are different, therefore they're both designed?

    I've never seen "What is the difference between a duck?" advanced as a logical proposition before.

    And a watch factory is a watch's way of making other watches!

    Has Dave noticed that we can easily observe watches being produced IN FACTORIES, BY HUMANS, whereas we can easily observe butterflies being produced BY BUTTERFLIES?

    I'm amazed that one person can produce so much of teh stoopid. Unless AFDave is actually a team?

    Date: 2006/12/15 10:26:17, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Dec. 15 2006,08:01)
    Simply so that I can demonstrate to you that in both cases -- the watch and the butterfly -- we have been given reports of how they were made.  We just looked at the reports informing us about watchmaking.  And the report for how butterflies are made, of course, is in the Book of Genesis.

    (suppressed snorting noises).

    Did Dave really just argue that there's no real difference between believing that watch factories exists and believing in an invisible omnipotent superbeing? Wow.

    Were butterflies made before man was created, as "reported" in Genesis 1? Or were they made after man was created, as "reported" in Genesis 2?

    Anyway, everyone knows that butterflies, like everything else on earth, are really made from the body of the frost giant, Ymir. So it is written in the Eddas!

    Date: 2006/12/15 15:50:16, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Dec. 15 2006,14:14)
    They are REAL factories.  (in cells)

    There are REAL machines in those factories.  There are REAL shipping and receiving systems.  There are REAL communication systems.  There are REAL energy conversion systems.  There are REAL chemical factories.  There are REAL waste disposal systems.  There is REAL software.  There are REAL automated assembly lines.  And on and on.

    They are not analogues of the real thing.

    They ARE the real thing.

    And there are REAL Mack trucks pulling up to the REAL gates to deliver REAL crates and REAL invoices are signed on delivery and the REAL workmen have REAL coffee breaks at 11 and...

    Date: 2006/12/19 15:09:35, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (improvius @ Dec. 19 2006,14:34)
    As an English major, I'd say that "empty" is an absolute quality, and that "half empty" and "emptier" are technically incorrect uses of the language, and could perhaps be best classified as colloquialisms.  You're actually measuring content or space - not the quality of "emptiness" itself.

    "Unique" is another such quality.  It means that there is only one of something.  So terms such as "very unique" are incorrect.  This particular example is one of my pet peeves.  I cringe whenever I hear it.

    I can't help but feel that forbidding "half empty" is going too far, if only because of the optimism/pessimism thing. I think the meaning of "empty" shifts as we go from the adjective to its comparative form; if "empty" means "has nothing in it", I regard "emptier" as meaning "has less in it". That may be something of an elision, philosophically speaking, but it feels like a natural use. Otherwise we'd always have to ask "which glass has less in it" instead of "which glass is emptier."

    "Very unique" is a definite hackle-raiser- even typing it feels wrong. Yet I can't bring myself to condemn "almost unique" entirely; if there's only, say, two or three of something, "almost unique" seems quite natural. Thoughts?

    Date: 2006/12/19 17:46:36, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (Steviepinhead @ Dec. 19 2006,16:30)
    As long as we're just hanging around, waiting for dave to say the next stupid thing (stupider, more stupid, yet more stupid, etc.), and parsing the meanings of words, I'm having trouble with the use of "equivical" and "equivicate."

    First, unless those are hypertechnical terms in formal logic, not likely to appear in a general dictionary, the spelling would seemingly be "equivocal" and "equivocate."  Note that the second part of the word thus become "vocal."  Thus the meaning of "equivocal" is something like ambiguous--vouching for two statements to about the same degree, without being able to make up one's mind between them.

    Here, the intended usage seems to be more along the lines of "equivalent" (having the same value or force) and "equivalence."

    Again, my apologies if I'm unaware of a specialized spelling and meaning for these terms.  Pinheads aren't known for their extensive vocabularies, but we do like to try to keep up...!

    "Equivical" must be a typo- equivocal is correct, and it does come from speaking both sides of an issue, deliberate ambiguity. No relation to equivalence, which is from equal strength.

    Date: 2006/12/20 14:14:47, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (carlsonjok @ Dec. 20 2006,13:20)
    Here is an interesting story that reminded me of a recent UD discussion:

    Virgin Komodo dragon is expecting

    I'm thinking that "Jesus the Lizardman" would make a great TV series. Also a good name for a rock band [/davebarry]

    Date: 2006/12/21 12:35:47, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Dec. 21 2006,12:20)
    Anyone that uses their eyeballs (and their noggins) to evaluate those two motor pictures I posted will have NO trouble at all determining that BOTH are designed.

    Using my noggin, I note that:

    i) electric motors operate using the torque generated by changing magnetic fields. The flagellar motor operates using an electro_static_ mechanism based on the flow of hydrogen ions, an entirely different mechanism.

    ii) the electric motor has clear signs of workmanship on it; it has marks of tool use and various forms of manufacture, it's held together by screws, and it's made of materials (copper wire, steel casing, vulcanised rubber insulation) that don't occur in nature, only by human manufacture; thus it's easily identified as human work. The flagellar motor, on the other hand, has no such signs of workmanship; it's made of biomolecular components that are commonly present in all living things (in fact the amino acid components are even present in space, let alone on earth), and it has no marks of tool use (which connects to the whole "design is a mechanism" canard). It also doesn't have a stamp and a barcode on the side saying "made by God Industries, please contact us at Valhalla if you have any complaints." Ergo, there are no grounds for considering it designed.

    Now, I'll give you this much: the _model_ of a flagellar motor in the picture was clearly human designed. But you wouldn't be silly enough to mistake design in a model for design in the original, would you?

    For bonus points, on what grounds can I identify the model as human-designed?

    Date: 2006/12/21 13:37:26, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (ericmurphy @ Dec. 21 2006,13:13)
    But here's something to think about. When we decide that some artifact is human-manufactured, it's usually because we have some idea how humans manufactured it. Now, you think the bacterial flagellum was designed. Would you have any idea as to how it was designed, or manufactured? Any concept of how your putative designer actually implemented its designs?

    Because this is where ID and creationism always run spang into the brick wall. Evidently you guys have absolutely no idea how these designs were implemented, nor are you ever even doing research in the area. You're alway harping on scientists to study the designs, which of course they are doing, but you never talk about studying how those designs were implemented. In fact, your buddy Bill Dembski says:

    Intelligent design is not a theory about the frequency or locality or modality by which a designing intelligence intervenes in the material world. It is not an interventionist theory at all.

    In other words, ID isn't even interested in how biological structures came to have the design they do.

    I'd love to see a car engineering department run on "ID" principles.

    Designer: "And the engine block will be made of solid neutronium."

    Engineers: "How are we supposed to _make_ an engine block out of solid neutronium?"

    Designer: "By design!"

    Engineers: "But what mechanism do we use to manufacture and work the neutronium?"

    Designer: "Design _is_ a mechanism!"

    (Collapse of stout party).

    Date: 2006/12/21 14:36:09, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Dec. 21 2006,14:23)
    Looks like a motor ... rotates like a motor ... has a rotor like a motor ... has a stator like a motor ...

    .... but the Darwinists say it's NOT a motor!!!!

    Actually, nobody says it's not a motor. Everyone agrees that it IS a motor; it goes round and round and propels a bacterium.

    You're claiming that because it's a motor, it must have been designed by an intelligent entity, because motors designed by humans are designed by humans. That's the failure in your logic; the bacterial motor has none of the hallmarks of designed objects (particularly, no marks of manufacture). Instead it has all the hallmarks of naturally occurring, evolved, biological objects. You don't appear to believe in such objects, but that is, basically, your problem.

    Date: 2006/12/21 16:05:21, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (Mike PSS @ Dec. 18 2006,08:14)
    (O.K. Sulphur for you East Atlantists, I'll also state that Al-U-Min-E-Um is more correct but becoming more archaic.  Color....   errrrr  Colour me surprised that you cling on to this usage as "MORE" correct)

    Oddly, that element was originally called alumium (cf. sodium, potassium), aluminum is a more easily pronounced Americanism, aluminium is then a back-formation from that to recover the -ium ending. So, the ^^%^% with it, everyone's wrong :)

    Date: 2006/12/21 16:16:50, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Dec. 21 2006,16:01)
    That's the failure in your logic; the bacterial motor has none of the hallmarks of designed objects (particularly, no marks of manufacture).
    That's right ... no hallmarks of design in that baby! ... no rotor (just a fake one) ... no stator (just a pretend one) ... no rotation (it's just a mirage) ... Ah ... no marks of manufacturing, eh?  Didn't read up on how they are manufactured did you!

    Dave, of course it has a rotor, and a stator, and rotation. So?  How is that evidence of design? Why is a design origin more plausible than an evolutionary origin for this bacterial motor? Show me the maker's marks on the flagellum.

    You might have noticed that the picture of an electric motor you posted had a LABEL on the side. Where's the label on the flagellum? :)

    Date: 2006/12/21 16:53:49, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Born Zululand (South Africa), grew up in England, now in Arizona.

    Date: 2006/12/22 11:09:13, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Dec. 21 2006,17:26)
    IOW from our experience, MOTORS REQUIRE DESIGNERS.

    So long as our only experience of motors was of human-designed motors, our experience was that motors require _human_ designers.

    Now you've met the bacterial flagellum. Your experience- that motors require human designers- is no longer universally true; I think you'll admit that the flagellum is not designed by humans?

    And you have no information on the designed (or otherwise) status of the bacterial flagellum. So now our experience is; motors may, or may not, require designers.

    What you're doing is assuming that all motors (even bacterial ones) require designers, and then using this assumption to justify your claim that the bacterial flagellum requires a designer. Which is not so much a circular argument as point-like.

    Date: 2006/12/22 14:37:38, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Dec. 22 2006,14:28)
    We've got past all the silly nonsense like "it's not a real motor, it's an analogy, that's just a picture not the real thing, etc." ...

    ... at least with most people.

    No-one said it's not a real motor, Dave; stop lying.

    Date: 2006/12/22 15:09:34, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (afdave @ Dec. 22 2006,14:59)
    Uh ... OK.  The easiest example is on this same page ... Deadman ...  
    A flagellar "motor" is not a "real" motor in the sense of an inorganic AC or DC  motor, it's analogous to one, vaguely, but it is certainly not one.

    Retractions, please?  You and Mr. Wells I believe?  

    I think Russell said it too a while back, but I'm not going to go chase it down.

    I agree: the flagellar motor is not a motor in the sense of an inorganic AC or DC motor. It is an organic, chemical motor.

    Those words in italics there are not filler, Dave, they matter. Learn to read already.

    Nice try at a quote-mine, but no dice.

    Date: 2006/12/28 14:32:16, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (dgszweda @ Dec. 28 2006,14:15)
    I do believe that small changes can occur in a species, it is even observable today, and in reality is all the evolution supports, but I do not believe that all species originated from a single species.  I do not dispute that current measurements show a very old universe, I just don't believe that we can extrapolate that to a creation date of the universe.

    Can you explain why you don't believe in evolution from a single common ancestor? Wouldn't you expect to see much more variation in, say, the genetic code, if we had multiple independent species origins? And to take a specific example, do you think that humans and chimpanzees have a common ancestor, and if not, why not?

    Also- you seem to be arguing for creation with apparent age. Isn't that dangerously close to Last Thursdayism?

    Date: 2007/01/04 18:52:26, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 04 2007,18:17)
    > God does not contradict science, but a belief is God is not consistent
    > with the scientific viewpoint (i.e. it is not a falsifiable
    > hypothesis, there is no evidence etc.).

    The same is true of the belief that blondes are cuter than brunettes, or that Shakespeare is a better writer than Chaucer, or that vanilla ice cream tastes better than chocolate.

    I would strongly disagree. De gustibus et de coloribus non est disputandum, but that doesn't make statements of taste, or moral judgements incompatible with a scientific worldview, it just makes them not amenable to investigation by science. Belief in a god, however, involves proposing the _existence_ of a specific entity with specific properties.

    Imagine if I said that my favourite hair colour was neither blonde nor brunette, but Flunge. Flunge is not on any spectrum or chart of hues, nor is it observable even in principle in any way, as you can only see it inside your head when your eyes are closed. No-one on earth currently has Flunge hair, but Helen of Troy did.

    Are we going to bother discussing the importance of Flunge to hairstyling?

    Date: 2007/01/23 11:08:44, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (Occam's Toothbrush @ Jan. 23 2007,09:23)

    What.  Is.  Your.  Proposed.  Scientific.  Theory.  Of.  Intelligent.  Design?

    Just once, any IDer, anywhere, ever, please tell us what the theory is supposed to be.

    In case Avocationist feels that it's too much of a challenge to concisely state the Theory of ID, let's note that Mr. Darwin managed to summarise his ideas about evolution in one paragraph:

    "It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

    ID version, please?

    Date: 2007/01/26 15:47:12, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    For starters, how about some discussion of dentition and skull morphology, with regard to the claim that the thylacine and the wolf have "almost identical" dentition?
    We could start here: Thylacine museum, dentition

    Date: 2007/02/14 12:57:12, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (Henry J @ Feb. 14 2007,12:19)
    Re "Where did all those numbers come from, huh?"

    0 = {}
    1 = {0}
    2 = {0,1}
    n+1 = n + {n}

    That's where nonnegative integers come from, anyway. :)


    Should we read n+{n} as union of n and {n}?- I'm blanking  a little on whether + is OK in set notation.

    Date: 2007/02/15 16:15:11, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (franky172 @ Feb. 15 2007,15:53)
    Quote (steve_h @ Feb. 15 2007,15:30)
    Quote (franky172 @ Feb. 15 2007,15:08)
    So the odds of any 2 happening on a specified day are:

    (3,2) 1/30*1/30*29/30 or about 0.32 %

    The odds of any two happening on any day are:

    (2,1) 1/30*29/30, or about 6%.

    That's assuming my rusty combinatorics are still correct...

    I get a different result (9.8%) for the second calculation by using 1 - odds of all happening on different days.  However, my combinatorics never reached the dizzying height of 'rusty', so I could be wrong.

    A quick simulation showed that your result is correct.

    The odds of any two happening on the same day are approximately:
    1-1*29/30*28/30 = 0.0978

    or, also excluding the case when three happen on the same day:
    1-1*29/30*28/30-1/30*1/30 = 0.0967

    which is also:
    (3,2)*1/30*29/30   (because there are three ways to acheive this, any one mass murder could be the 29/30)


    which I originally had.  Thanks!

    You realize that if this little exchange had happened on UD:

    i) DaveScot would have calculated a probability of 95% for three murders every day;

    ii) all posters pointing out the error would be banned;

    iii) he'd realize the error, erase the thread, and calculate a probability of 10^-350;

    iv) this would then be evidence for Intelligent Murder theory.

    Date: 2007/04/04 15:30:23, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (eddiep @ April 04 2007,09:43)
    I hope it's ok to start a new topic even if you've only been a lurker for a long time. If not, sorry!

    Over on Pharyngula, Sastra posted:

    A clumsy, childlike understanding of "materialism" argues that anything which is not clearly made of matter and energy can't be accounted for. Thus, a "materialist" can't believe in abstractions, concepts, numbers, feelings, processes, thoughts, minds -- anything which can't be easily measured,weighed, and carried around in a hand. If he or she does, they're presumably contradicting themselves.

    ( Pharyngula, comment 31)

    I hope I don't come off as a concern troll, this is just an issue I've been interested in for a long time. I'm interested in your opinions. I've gained a lot of respect for the regulars here, and and professional or even amateur opinions on this topic are welcome.

    Specifically, how do we account for those things that are not made up of matter and energy? Or does that questions contain an incorrect premise in the first place?

    Consider Poincare's comment that "Science is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science." His point was that it's not only ingredients that matter, but also the relationship between them

    I think the same idea is how we deal with abstract concepts. Materialism- though I would prefer to call it naturalism, or realism- allows for not only matter and energy, but also relationships between entities made of matter and energy.

    Digression- I should note that the "matter and energy" card is a straw man anyway- time, space, charge, spin etc. are perfectly realistic and are not matter/energy.

    Anyway- once you allow relationships between "material" things then you get the semi-abstract ideas of length, duration etc.

    All of our ideas, even the most abstract, are ultimately patterns of brain activity, and perfectly physical/natural as far as we can tell, so our ideas are physically instantiated. Concepts like truth, in turn, I think are about the relationship between statements and reality, which in turn is about congruence between a mental model of the world and an observation of the world, which again comes down to brain activity.

    Anyway, materialism/naturalism for me is simply the idea that the real world is in fact real and not haunted by leprechauns. If you meet a real leprechaun then he gets to be part of the real world too :)

    Date: 2007/04/06 19:59:17, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (eddiep @ April 05 2007,07:56)
    How could I know that the 5 I think about and the 5 you think about are the same 5, unless 5 exists independently of us? And if it does, what is it made of?

    Again, so long as we're counting the same pebbles, we have the same number in mind when we say 5.

    It doesn't have to be made of anything. What is distance made of?

    Date: 2007/06/21 15:50:23, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ June 20 2007,13:21)
    Using a compression algorithm can shave a bit off of that, probably enough to make the compressed file fit on a CD-ROM. I used a specific genetic sequence compression program on some shorter sequences and, IIRC, it generally reduced a representation to about 0.8 of its full size. That would be an approximation to Kolmogorov information size.

    Interesting. If you took the representation and ran it through gzip, what kind of compression do you think you'd get?

    Date: 2007/06/25 13:57:03, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (Ftk @ June 24 2007,19:58)
    Quote (Ichthyic @ June 24 2007,19:52)

    didn't you JUST get done telling us you didn't think there was any conspiracy involved?

    I didn't say anything about a conspiracy.  I'm merely stating that scientists certainly wouldn't publish something that they feel goes completely and utterly against the grain.  Why would they?  Minds are set irregardless of the questions plaguing the theory.  The alternative would be to actually consider creation and ID theories seriously, and obviously guys like you are not going to be open to that.

    Yeah, you remember when Prusiner claimed that infectious proteins could produce diseases without any genetic component, completely against all the expectations of medicine and biology, and he was laughed at and blackballed and never allowed to publish anything?

    Oh wait, that didn't happen, he got the Nobel Prize for discovering prions.

    Date: 2007/07/02 13:34:35, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (guthrie @ July 02 2007,08:08)
    Personally I prefer "Myrmidons".

    (I first came across the word in a John Buchan book, the second in a trilogy, at the beggining of which one of the characters scores the winning try in a Scotland rugby match.  Now lets see how many people know their Buchan.

    Forget these piffling modern writers! Achilles led the Myrmidons at the siege of Troy, so I'll see your Buchan and raise you a Homer.

    Supposedly they were descended from a princess who had been seduced by Zeus, in the form of an ant. I can't even imagine how that is supposed to work.

    Date: 2007/07/12 15:32:58, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (Zachriel @ July 12 2007,12:41)
    Quote (Hermagoras @ July 12 2007,11:38)
    It would be good if Sal could start by spelling tectonics correctly.
    (Unrelated plug: my sister is kind of an expert on the actual science on this issue.)

    I thought you were a scholar of rhetoric. That's just a classic Appeal to Big Sister, argumentum ad magnus soror.

    Argumentum ad magnam sororem, o uneducated barbarian thou.

    Date: 2007/07/25 16:49:52, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (RedDot @ July 24 2007,22:25)
    Proteins, as they are used in living cells, cannot form from simple amino acids (without help from a skilled organic chemist). An amino acid: (1) is at a lower energy state than even a polypeptide (2) has water that must be removed carefully (it just can't be "boiled" off)

    Incorrect. Firstly, glycine will spontaneously form dimers in solution (there's an equilibrium between 2*Glycine  and piperazinedione + 2*H2O), which you'll note is a dehydration reaction. This may be what you thought you meant by "water must be removed carefully". Secondly, aluminosilicate mineral surfaces can catalyse the opening (hydration) of the cyclic dimer to form a linear dipeptide.

    Date: 2007/08/17 15:56:35, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (Alan Fox @ Aug. 17 2007,11:54)

    Where I live, during hot, dry conditions, in daytime, you find many snails with opercula tightly closed in vegetation such as vines about 1 metre from the ground. The strategy seems to help avoid dessication, as the ground surface can become much hotter than the air above. The shell is an essential element in this strategy, and may enable snails to thrive in drier climates. I have not seen a slug here, and our lettuces do very well.

    Whereas in a very damp German forest recently, I saw very large numbers of both slugs and snails, with the slugs being particularly prevalent in the deep, shady leaf-litter, and the snails being more prevalent in the leafy bushes. Indeed, I saw a large snail eating a leaf with enough voracity that I actually heard the rasping of its radula.

    So it seems we have a niche for creatures that rely on damp concealed conditions, and don't bother with the energetic investment of building a shell, and others which do build a shell and can occupy a broader range of environments.

    Which we all knew, except VMartin.

    Date: 2007/08/17 16:08:54, Link
    Author: stephenWells
    Quote (k.e @ Aug. 17 2007,01:03)
    D@mn! There goes one of those freakin' neutrinos again its travelling so fast, time is eternal, from it's POV. So souls are neutrinos or something like it---- test that hypothesis physics man.

    I once read a rather good French sci-fi novel (Les neutrinos vont-ils au Paradis?- Do neutrinos go to heaven) in which the protagonist's boss, a physics professor, not only (a) wastes his career on a flawed theory of the behaviour of neutrinos but also (b) apparently becomes a serial killer due to his conviction that the soul leaves the body in the form of neutrinos at the moment of death. All the lab's missing equipment turns up in the prof's bedroom.