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Chunkdz at the Panda’s Thumb


This just in from a colleague:

I encourage you to take a look at the Panda’s Thumb and follow the entire thread devoted to the optimality of the genetic code. It is simply priceless. Someone styling himself Chunkdz dominates the discussion and by virtue of a very considerable gift for profane abuse, succeeds in doing what I never thought possible, and that is reducing the entire PT crowd to sputtering, dim-witted incoherence. You must link to it.

Here is the link.

I thought I recognized the nickname "chunkdz". He or she was a user on UD during 06 and 07. Glancing at the logs it appears chunkdz rarely posted and stopped commenting here in March of 07 for no apparent reason. Patrick
Putting aside the insults and invectives, one must concede that the following sample of the PT people’s responses in their thread is not very sophisticated. They were indeed reduced to considerable incoherence. Look at their arguments for yourself. Here is what the Freeland et all. paper stated about the genetic code: The Best of All Possible Codes? When the error value of the standard code is compared with the lowest error value of any code found in an extensive search of parameter space, results are somewhat more variable. Estimates based on PAM data for the restricted set of codes indicate that the canonical code achieves between 96% and 100% optimization relative to the best possible code configuration (fig. 2c ). If our definition of biosynthetic restrictions are a good approximation of the possible variation from which the canonical code emerged, then it appears at or very close to a global optimum for error minimization: the best of all possible codes. Remember that the researchers mentioned that they did not know how the code evolved. So examine some of these comments with that in mind. First, the PT crowd argued that optimality does not mean design. Then they contested the idea that the code is optimal. Then they requested that Chunkdz demonstrate that the code did not evolve. They also used the typical tactic of advancing theological and metaphysical arguments as if they were scientific refutations. It seems that Chunkdz was not arguing for intelligent design. In many of his posts that term does not even appear. He/she was arguing that this finding would be met with the usual denunciation of design and the glorification of evolution. Despite the fact that we do not know how the genetic code evolved. He/She said, “Listen up, pansies - my only conclusion from this research was that it would turn you all into a bunch of drooling, gape mouthed, babbling, poo-flinging idiots. And the evidence which vindicates my conclusion is right here on the Panda’s Thumb for everyone to see.” Here is what Chunkdz claimed as his preliminary point: “My point was, and remains, that you moron critics love to point out that nature is expected to make kludgy hodge-podges. Then when confronted with evidence that the basis for every single biological system is a non-hodge-podged, sophisticated, elegantly designed, optimal “best of all possible codes”, you monkeys simply wallow in your own feces, ignore the research, and complain about the evils of Big Bad Billy Dembski.” Here are some of their responses: Wad of id If optimality is good design, then what does sub-optimality or lethality imply? David Stanton Chunkdz, You should be more precise. The genetic code is not the “code of life”. Also, the authors conclude that the code waas fixed, not designed. In any event my point still stands, the genome is not optimal in any way. Oh and sub-optimal means incompetent design. David Stanton Chunkdz, Personal attacks do not address the substance of the argument. You did not use the proper terminology, so berating others for not understanding is counterproductive. You have not shown that the genetic code could not have evolved. Indeed there is much evidence that it has. You have also failed to refute the point that the genome is far from an optimal design and therefore implies an incompetent designer at best. Well adapted systems give the illusion of design. What you need to do is devise a test that distinguishes between the two possibilities. Might I suggest the Explanatory Filter. Yea, that should yield a valid statistic that everyone can agree is biologically meaningful. I’m sure that everyone will be convinced by that. David Stanton If life really is designed, how come you are extremely hesitant to explain how it is designed beyond making the blanket statement of it being “optimal”? Are we to assume that this is the very limit of your evidence, and that your constant personal attacks are to deflect scrutiny from your lack of evidence? David Stanton So then can you demonstrate how optimality as evidence for Intelligent Design can explain things like Huntington’s Disease, or do you simply wish to continue your stream of insults and ranting? Mike Elzinga Living systems that get sorted over time and are the ones that survive for a time might, in a very loose sense of the word, be “optimal”, but there is enough variability in what is able to survive that one would be mistaken to claim that it is the “best” of what came through a sequence of contingencies. The laws of physics and chemistry are always operating, and what falls out has to be consistent with those laws. But that doesn’t mean they are designed. Some pretty sloppy stuff gets through the sieve. And there is still that issue which is never addressed by the ID/Creationists, namely, how does one infer design without having some notion of a designer? All we ever here from ID/Creationists is that they make inferences from what intelligent creatures do in the natural world. Yet they can never show the “science” that permits them to attribute such qualities to a supernatural deity. How do they know what characteristics such a deity has? The bait-and-switch tactic to a “natural designer” simply puts the origins of life elsewhere and at another time, but now they have to worship a master race of fully natural space aliens. What comet did they hide their space ship behind? Mike Elzinga: ID/Creationists have other difficulties with the nature of their designer. Why did their Designer make so many stupid scientists? Why are these scientists so defective that they can’t see the obviousness of design? Why did the Designer make scientists and judges who constantly vex the faithful by preventing the faithful from presenting their doctrines in public school science classes? Why are the vast majority of scientists so defective that they form professional organizations that put out position statements against intelligent design? Why are federal judges like John E. Jones and William Overton so defective that they would rule against the obviousness of intelligent design? Why would the Designer make such people? Why does the Designer allow the existence of the National Center for Science Education, Panda’s Thumb, and the various Citizens for Science groups? Why does the Designer allow these groups and organizations to spread Darwinism around the world? Why does the Designer allow these defectives to place the ID/Creationists carefully selected quotes of scientists back into context and change the meaning of those quotes? If this Designer is so great, why does it allow all these defective scientists to publish textbooks laced with Darwinism? Why would the Designer make atheists? And why would the Designer make theistic evolutionists, the worst of all possible kluges? Why would the Designer make other sectarian dogmas and other religions in addition to those scientists? Why is the Designer putting so many defective humans in the world to persecute and vex the Designer’s chosen ones? Is it possible that the Designer makes mistakes or, horrors, is deliberately messing with the minds of true believers? David Stanton: Chunky, Every time you stoop to personal insults you reduce your credability. You are now in negative values. Despite all your insults, you have still not addressed even one of the germane issues. Here is a short list to help keep you focussed: 1) There is no way to define “optimal” function. That conclusion will always depend on the criteria, which will always be subjective. 2) Even if you could define “optimal” in a sufficiently rigorous way, you still need to distinguish between optimal function produced by evolution and that produced by “design”. Until you do this, evidence of optimal function is irrelevant. 3) Even if you can demonstrate optimal design in some cases, you must also account for sub optimal design. In other words, if optimal design is interpreted as evidence of a perfect designer, then sub optimal design must be interpreted as evidence that no such designer exists. In order to forestall any further personal attacks, let me respond proactively with the following: I know you are but what am I? PT has taken notice of our thread here. They believe that we are praising Chunkdz for insulting them, but we are in fact observing their reaction to his arguments. We read your responses to his posts; that is why we are not impressed with all of you. The paper’s findings may not offer support for ID, but if these scientists freely confess that they do not know how the code evolved, then how can it offer support for evolution? It may make the debate more interesting! Adam23
Chunkdz's name-calling and abuse-dishing seems to be taking to a whole new level the phrase: "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s" :-) steveO
DaveScot asks "What’s that cryptic comment by PT author PvM “clean up cycle finished” supposed to mean?" Pim sometimes flushes trolls' comments if they're too off-topic or egregiously offensive. So what you see today may not fully show the moment-to-moment rough-and-tumble as the plot thickened - it's been somewhat edited (i.e., "cleaned up") and Pim is noting that his housekeeping cycle is completed. PaulBurnett
What's that cryptic comment by PT author PvM "clean up cycle finished" supposed to mean? DaveScot
"...and complain about the evils of Big Bad Billy Dembski." :-) CN
Some of his or her invectives appear to be the product of much thought. I mean some are Shakespearean in their poetic beauty. I have seen so many anti-IDers insult you people all the time that perhaps we should briefly relish in the PT crowds beating, but only briefly. I think that they all believe in divine providence now. Some of my favourite quotes are: "Prove to me that you are not some halcyon addled culture warrior sycophant and scold one of your own moron buddies for their vulgar ad-hominem attacks." "You imbecilic troglodytes on the other hand are insisting that their research must be flawed somehow - yet you can’t seem to bother actually reading their report." "Wow. Tresmal, the incredible typing chimp, has read the paper but has not bothered to read a single thing that I’ve said about it. Typical of you Miniver Cheevy-esque culture warriors to simply argue against your prejudicially perceived threats and not what I actually said." I love science because it will always give you something unpredictable as a result sometimes. That is why one should have an open mind in these debates on our origins. Adam23

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