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Darwin defender PZ Myers on Biology of the Baroque

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If you watch the Discovery Institute, you’ll discover they’re constantly playing games, trying to find that winning PR technique that will persuade the hapless ignorati. Some of them are effective, even if dishonest: “irreducible complexity” injected all kinds of misleading chaos into the brains of their followers, and “teach the controversy” was a potent slogan. They’ve been flailing about in recent years, trying to emphasize their pretense of scholarliness with tripe like West’s efforts to use pseudohistory to blame Darwin for Hitler, or Meyer’s farcical, long-winded distortions of modern biology in Signature in the Cell. Those haven’t worked so well.

Etc.

A friend thinks Myers watches too many political debates on TV.

Baroque accompanies Michael Denton’s new book, Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis (2016)

Denton: the traditional notion that life is an integral part of the natural order has found renewed support in 20th-century physics and cosmology

See also: Biology of the Baroque released today on YouTube

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39 Replies to “Darwin defender PZ Myers on Biology of the Baroque

  1. 1
    Mapou says:

    PZ Myers is now a senile old fool. Someone should send him a one-year supply of pullups.

  2. 2
    Seqenenre says:

    PZ Myers is a biologist and associate professor at the university of Minnesota.

    Mapou is…?

  3. 3
    Mapou says:

    Mapou is a crackpot and a kook. Is that good enough credentials for you? LOL

  4. 4
    Virgil Cain says:

    PZ is the one who is flailing about. And that PZ is an associate professor shows the sad state of our education system.

  5. 5
    mike1962 says:

    “irreducible complexity” injected all kinds of misleading chaos into the brains of their followers”

    And yet PeeZee and his ilk can’t tell us the details of how something like a flaggelum came to be developed by the Blind Watchmaker over time, Nick Matzke’s retarded attempt notwithstanding.

  6. 6
    Mapou says:

    PZ Myers is an associate professor with a doctorate in dirt worshipping.

  7. 7
    TimT says:

    Re Mapou at 1 and Seqenenre at 2.

    I thought PZ had always been a senile old fool. The fact that he has a job at a university shows only that he has a job at a university, not that his extremely biased pronouncements on everything he hates are true. He’s not noted for acuity when he speaks on ID, creationism or religion.

  8. 8
    Mapou says:

    LOL. We should all join in and bash PZ. Being the malignant narcissist and psychopath that he is, I’m sure he reads everything that’s written about him. Hopefully, this thread will infuriate him to the point of sending him into a coma or something.

    ahahaha…AHAHAHA…ahahaha…

  9. 9
    Robert Byers says:

    I’m banned from Myers blog so
    NOT playing games! Its serious attempts to persuade. What does game playing mean after all this time in these matters?
    NOT PR! Its education and advocacy. Saying your opponents stuff is PR is just PR . Really!
    NOT hapless ignorants! Its the smarter people who pay attention to these things. Smarter kids too. Is anyone who things ID/YEC a “HI”. What if converted to evo side. Sudden;t not “HI”? this is high school putdowns.

    IC and Teach/controversy are ptent points because the the concepts are very potent. The reply’s are not potent. Because the concepts oppopsed are not potent.

    Discovery does not flail about but boxes with potent jabs.
    The boxer is sweating but doing fine and this program is another jab.

    Why doesn’t evolution thumpers make videos and books with potent jabs.
    I think evolutionism is the “sick man of old 1800’s “science ” ”
    If ID/YEC was on poor intellectual foundations then they should of been knocked out long ago.
    In reality every year is a embarrassment of riches.

    Hey Mr Myers unban me on your blog. If you can’t deal with a easy going Canuck, with poor poor grammar/spelling, then your preaching to old choir.
    On the wrong side of history. Strange for these left wingers eh!!

  10. 10
    REW says:

    PZ’s claim is that IDers are using contradictory arguments.

    The arguments around Denton’s book claim that evolution can never produce the useless features we see in living things, only an Intelligent designer can produce them.

    The arguments around junk DNA claim that there are no useless features in the genome and this supports ID because only evolution would produce useless features but a Designer never would.

    How do we reconcile this?
    Are there useless features in living things?
    Can evolution produce useless features?
    Would a Designer produce useless features?

  11. 11
    Mung says:

    …or Meyer’s farcical, long-winded distortions of modern biology in Signature in the Cell.

    Hilarious. Someone who finally admits the origin of life is a problem for biology.

  12. 12
    Virgil Cain says:

    REW:

    PZ’s claim is that IDers are using contradictory arguments.

    And our claim is that PZ is full of it.

    The arguments around Denton’s book claim that evolution can never produce the useless features we see in living things, only an Intelligent designer can produce them.

    That is incorrect as ID is not anti-evolution. Also Denton claim pertains to Darwinian evolution.

    That means all PZ or anyone else has to do is step up and demonstrate natural selection, drift or neutral construction is up to the task. Yet no one has. Perhaps you should do that instead of bitching.

  13. 13
    Mung says:

    The arguments around Denton’s book claim that evolution can never produce the useless features we see in living things, only an Intelligent designer can produce them.

    The problem is that Denton never claims the type-defining homologues are useless.

  14. 14
    Mung says:

    And we immediately know from our own experience that the claim that no designer would design for extravagant beauty is false.

  15. 15
    REW says:

    The problem is that Denton never claims the type-defining homologues are useless.

    No, but he claims that there are beautiful but useless features of living things. There are also ugly features and features that aren’t either/or. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the key thing is that its useless (according to him)

  16. 16
    REW says:

    Virgil Cain said

    That is incorrect as ID is not anti-evolution.

    Yes it is. Perhaps you should start taking notes

  17. 17
    Mapou says:

    REW:

    The arguments around Denton’s book claim that evolution can never produce the useless features we see in living things, only an Intelligent designer can produce them.

    Maybe I misunderstand your meaning but, to clarify, Denton is not saying that the features are useless but that they have no survival or evolutionary functions and cannot be selected for. Beauty can be explained by neither materialism nor Darwinism. It is a spiritual thing. It is useful to our souls/spirits.

  18. 18
    Mapou says:

    Darwinism and materialism are both cretinous worldviews because they cannot explain our infatuation with beauty, musics and the arts. This is one of the many reasons that jackasses like PZ Myers and Dawkins are a cretinous bunch.

  19. 19
    Virgil Cain says:

    REW, in what way is ID anti-evolution? ID is OK with a change in allele frequency over time, ie evolution. ID argues against natural selection, drift and neutral construction being capable of producing the diversity observed. However evolution by design is still evolution.

    Read the following- ID is NOT anti-evolution– I expect a book by that title to come out some time in the near future.

  20. 20
    mike1962 says:

    REW:

    Intelligently designed evolution:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXuR_soDnFo

  21. 21
    REW says:

    Mapou

    Maybe I misunderstand your meaning but, to clarify, Denton is not saying that the features are useless but that they have no survival or evolutionary functions and cannot be selected for

    OK, true. Useless in that evolution could never produce them.
    Junk DNA is defined as useless DNA. Is this why evolutionists who are strict selectionists would claim there is no such thing as junk DNA?

    Denton suggests that things that have no survival functions but are beautiful most likely were created by a designer who appreciated beauty. The best example I can think of is that stereotypical beautiful thing we think of whenever we think of natural beauty : flowers. What possible survival advantage could the beauty of flowers have? …Denton includes many images of flowers in the video of course.

    ** Come to think of it, a bouquet of flowers helped me survive Valentines Day on Sunday. My wife would have killed me otherwise.

  22. 22
    mike1962 says:

    For those interested, the ideological spectrum on design vs blind evolution runs something like this:

    1. Creationism on one end. Most of life was designed and fixed as is.

    2. Blind evolutionism on the other. Nothing was designed and very little is fixed, if anything.

    3. Something in between, where certain features of biological objects were designed/created, and certain features have evolved within the constrains that the designer established. The challenge is to try and figure out which category various biological objects belong.

    Dogmatists tend to fall in the #1 and #2 camp for various ideological reasons. The rest of us seem to be happy with option #3.

  23. 23
    REW says:

    Virgil

    If you were at the casino playing roulette and all the future numbers had been pre-determined, either by yourself or the casino, you wouldn’t really be gambling. Superficially it would look like you’re gambling, but you wouldn’t be

    Evolution is descent with modification where the modifications are small random changes to the population that build on each other.
    If there is a designer behind the scenes tweaking the mutations that’s not really evolution. It looks superficially like evolution but its not

  24. 24
    Virgil Cain says:

    REW:

    Evolution is descent with modification where the modifications are small random changes to the population that build on each other.

    And also evolution is descent with modification where the modifications are small non-random changes to the population that build on each other.

    If there is a designer behind the scenes tweaking the mutations that’s not really evolution.

    If organisms were intelligently designed to evolve and evolved by design it is still evolution. It just isn’t evolution by stochastic processes. It also means that a designer tweaking things is not required. You didn’t read what I linked to.

    You don’t get to use your personal definition of “evolution”, REW.

  25. 25
    REW says:

    You don’t get to use your personal definition of “evolution”, REW.

    I don’t have a personal definition of evolution. I’m going by the definition used by scientists, and I’m not a scientist.

    I think you may be correct. Most scientists would call the selective breeding of animals and plants evolution but I’m not sure if they’d call genetic engineering evolution. I guess the definitions are debatable

  26. 26
    Virgil Cain says:

    Oh my, read the article I linked to. ID is OK with all of those accepted definitions of evolution.

  27. 27
    REW says:

    …..on the other hand. When it comes to selective breeding, nature supplied random mutations in the populations of wolves and wild mustard. Humans decided which ones reproduced to lead to dogs and supermarket veggies- so humans just replaced the role of the environment. Its a slight variation on natural selection. But genetic engineering truly is ‘engineering’ so its a different mechanism entirely.
    In that case the role you’re claiming for the Designer would mean evolution isn’t occuring

  28. 28
    mike1962 says:

    REW: If there is a designer behind the scenes tweaking the mutations that’s not really evolution. It looks superficially like evolution but its not

    It’s about the unfolding of certain pre-programmed features over time, occasional intervention, and about filling niches. Niche filling with fitness functions that harness stocastic elements would be clever way to fill niches, if you didn’t want to be a nursemaid over every little thing.

    Have you ever used a genetic algorithm to solve a problem?

  29. 29
    Virgil Cain says:

    How was it determined that the mutations were random, as in happenstance occurrences? Also artificial selection has creative power whereas natural selection is impotent- it is just the elimination of the less fit over time.

    If organisms were intelligently designed to evolve and evolved by design it is still evolution. It just isn’t evolution by stochastic processes. It also means that a designer tweaking things is not required. You didn’t read what I linked to.

  30. 30
    mike1962 says:

    REW: In that case the role you’re claiming for the Designer would mean evolution isn’t occuring

    It depends on what you mean by evolution. Certainly, blind watchmaker evolution would not be responsible for the broad sweep of life on earth, as the Darwinists claim. That’s the point of contention. ID proponents who accept what the fossil record seems to more or less indicate a common descent tend to think along the lines of option 3 @ 22. For example, changing allele frequencies over time leading to some limited morphological and functional changes is not a problem for ID, and is an effective way to fill niches. All such results are not pre-programmed or predetermined by the designer.

    A major point of contention between ID and the Darwinists is where the “line” is between what is evolving due to stochastic input, and what is not; what fitness functionality and information was pre-loaded and what was not. What sort of information is driving the processes and where did it come from? Etc. Darwinists think their explanations cover all the evidence. ID proponents think they do not. Some ID proponents think that Darwinian explanations cover some of the evidence, but not all of it.

    As for your gambling analogy, casinos set the odds of the games, and can guarantee over time what the payouts and revenue stream for the casino is going to look like. But they don’t pre-program which individuals will actually win. This is an example of using stochasm with fitness constraints for a pre-determined high level outcome without pre-determining low level particulars. So yes, evolution, that is, gambling does happen at the micro level, even though the game is rigged at the macro level. There are forests and there are trees.

  31. 31
    DonaldM says:

    Two things that need to be noted about PZ’s little rant. First, he completely and intentionally misrepresents the ID arguments. Anyone can selectively focus on a series of quotes and then claim that’s the main argument for something. Indeed, PZ and his colleagues in ID bashing quite often accuse us of “quote mining”. And here’s PZ doing it in his rant-post. Secondly, for all his ranting about the video, it is worth noting that he offers not one bit of scientific refutation of Denton’s core argument regarding non-adaptive forms in biological structures. PZ claims that most evolutionary biologists would just say, how did PZ so eloquently put it, “Fu…wha?” Right. Indeed, PZ’s opening salvo that somehow ID is casting about for some sort of “winning PR technique” is so completely ludicrous as to be laughable. The sad thing is, PZ actually thinks that its true. He clearly has no grasp whatsoever of what Denton’s actual argument is. Further, Denton’s argument is only one among many arguments that demonstrate again and again that the Darwinian mechanisms simply do not explain the features we actually observe in biological systems: non-adaptive function, CSI, irreducible complexity, non-junk “junk” DNA, and the list goes on.

    Meyers seems to think that all ID does is promote counter-factuals. He writes:

    So evolution should produce only the biological equivalent of sterile gray Soviet architecture, and if you find something that is the equivalent of a Baroque church, then evolution is refuted. This entire argument is built around what Michael Denton calls “the fundamental assumption of Darwinism…that all novelties are adaptive”. To which biologists around the world can only say, “Fu…wha?” in total confusion. That is not one of our assumptions at all. Novelties are going to arise as a product of chance mutation; if they are not maladaptive (and sometimes even if they are), they can spread through a population by chance-driven processes like drift. And some elaborate fripperies can acquire a selective advantage, like that example of Soviet architecture, the peacock’s tail, which this video actually uses as an example of “non-adaptive order”.

    Notice how none of this actually responds to Denton’s core argument in the video. Also, notice, PZ is playing very fast and loose with his interpretation of Denton’s argument. Denton did NOT say that non-adaptive order “refutes” evolution, he said it poses a very specific challenge to Darwinism to come up with a viable explanation for it. Something that neither PZ nor anyone else seems to able to do. What Biology of the Baroque does show is that the list of things for which there are no Darwinian explanations on offer just keeps getting longer and longer. PZ can rant and rave all he wants. What he has NOT done is provide such an explanation. Probably because he can’t.

  32. 32
    mike1962 says:

    DonaldM: Denton did NOT say that non-adaptive order “refutes” evolution, he said it poses a very specific challenge to Darwinism to come up with a viable explanation for it. Something that neither PZ nor anyone else seems to able to do.

    When I read someone like Denton, it seems he has a sharp modern mind with respect to the entire range of issues confronting evolutionary biology. When I read PeeZee, he seems like a hack with a mindset stuck in the 1940s trying to bluff his way through.

  33. 33
    groovamos says:

    Groovamos: So these very rare mutations that are advantageous for a body part arising are somehow automatically advantageous for the other body parts too?

    REW: Yes, its called pleiotropy. Its covered in most high school biology classes

    Dictionary.com: pleiotropy: the phenomenon of one gene being responsible for or affecting more than one phenotypic characteristic.

    Notice that dictionary.com does not distinguish between the “affectation” being BENEFICIAL or not to more than one structure as opposed to just “affecting”. You would think REW would get my point considering that mutations beneficial for a structure arising are almost as rare as a 3 dollar bill considering what has been shown by the wikipedia quote regarding the work of two theoreticians at my post #1 here: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....o-a-whale/

    So REW is there another word for mutations that have been proven to be BENEFICIAL to two or more different structures?

  34. 34
    wd400 says:

    “synergistic pleitropy” is the more specific term for mutations that pull in the same direction across multiple traits. Here’s a recent example of one such pleitropy in experimental evolution.

  35. 35
    Mung says:

    REW: No, but he claims that there are beautiful but useless features of living things.

    Where does he say this? An actual quote would be nice.

  36. 36
    groovamos says:

    WS400: “synergistic pleitropy” is the more specific term ….

    Thanks for that, it appears to be behind a paywall. Does the work show that a single genetic mutation has been identified that can account for the outcome?

    Notice that in my original post I mention “body part” because we were discussing whale evolution, not viruses – clearly macroevolution, and I gave an example of a single genetic mutation causing the gonads to retract AND the teeth to disappear, not that this is actually what happened, and obviously I don’t think it possible. Also I used the term “structure” or “structural”. What would be the name of this kind of phenomenon? Note that if only a few thousand genetic mutations causes some kind of mammal to evolve into a whale, my gonads/teeth scenario should be in the cards.

  37. 37
    wd400 says:

    Does the work show that a single genetic mutation has been identified that can account for the outcome?

    Several single mutations (i.e. they re-run the experiment any different mutations arise with that improve two traits).

    Notice that in my original post I mention “body part” because we were discussing whale evolution, not viruses – clearly macroevolution, and I gave an example of a single genetic mutation causing the gonads to retract AND the teeth to disappear

    There is no reason to think mutations like that are required (they might exist, if they hit early developmental networks). There’s lot of evidence for synergestic pleitropy in non-viruses though. For instance, there are quite a few gene variants that lead to increased height and increased IQ.

    Also I used the term “structure” or “structural”. What would be the name of this kind of phenomenon?

    I don’t know… developmental I guess.

    ote that if only a few thousand genetic mutations causes some kind of mammal to evolve into a whale, my gonads/teeth scenario should be in the cards.

    I don’t really think so. But even then, there is no reason to limit that transformation a few thousand substitutions.

  38. 38
    groovamos says:

    Dictionary.com: pleiotropy: the phenomenon of one gene being responsible for or affecting more than one phenotypic characteristic.

    I’m wondering is there a definition of “characteristic” that is precise, that all scientists agree upon. We are talking science here, and I would think science should be precise.

  39. 39
    wd400 says:

    Phenotypic trait.

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