Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Darwin lobbyist knows there’s no language in the genome, channels Berra’s blunder

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1963 Corvette StingrayFile:1963 Corvette Sting Ray.jpg

First, another blast from the past – Berra’s blunder:

If you compare a 1953 and a 1954 Corvette, side by side, then a 1954 and a 1955 model, and so on, the descent with modification is overwhelmingly obvious. This is what paleontologists do with fossils, and the evidence is so solid and comprehensive that it cannot be denied by reasonable people.

– T. Berra, Evolution and the myth of creationism,1990, pg 117-119

Absolutely, Dr. Berra, and it cannot be denied by reasonable people that the 1954 Corvette was the son of the 1953 Corvette and inherited his genes. And many generations of Corvettes followed, father to son, father to son, each inheriting the best of the naturally selected genes …

Automotive engineers are liars.

A friend offers this priceless 2007 remark from Joe Felsenstein on why genetic information requires no intelligence:

In this article, I want to concentrate on the main arguments that Dembski has used. With a few exceptions, many of the points I will make have already been raised in these critiques of Dembski — this is primarily an attempt to make them more accessible. Stephen Meyer, who heads the Discovery Institute’s program on ID, describes Dembski’s work in this way: We know that information — whether, say, in hieroglyphics or radio signals — always arises from an intelligent source. …. So the discovery of digital information in DNA provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a causal role in its origin. (Meyer 2006) What is this mysterious “digital information”? Has a message from a Designer been discovered? When DNA sequences are read, can they be converted into English sentences such as: “Copyright 4004 bce by the intelligent designer; all rights reserved”?

Or can they be converted into numbers, with one stretch of DNA turning out to contain the first 10 000 digits of p? Of course not. If anything like this had happened, it would have been big news indeed. You would have heard by now. No, the mysterious digital information turns out to be nothing more than the usual genetic information that codes for the features of life, information that makes the organism well-adapted. The “digital information” is just the presence of sequences that code for RNA and proteins — sequences that lead to high fitness.

File:1965 Corvette Sting Ray.jpg
1965 Corvette Stingray, grandson of '63.

Just like those 1950s Corvettes, it all just sort of happened. And the Darwinism that explains it is mostly paid for under protest by people who don’t believe it. Only natural selection could have brought about all these sweet rackets.

Comments
David, Life is more like a lottery in which 100 trillion tickets are sold, and there are 10^30 possible winning numbers. If you want to hit a dartboard on the moon, it's more about aim than how many darts you throw.ScottAndrews
September 13, 2011
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David... ba77:
No!, I am just maintaining the ‘hard line’ that as far as the origination of the ‘functional information’, that is required to make any ‘small leaps’ in corvette complexity or any ‘large leaps’ in biological complexity, the input of a ‘mind’ is, as far as we can tell, ALWAYS required….
David:
This strikes me as being an argument from analogy. Humans design cars. Life forms look designed. Therefore, life forms ARE designed through an agency analogous to human design. But this is almost like saying that clouds can look like human faces, we know humans have faces, therefore clouds are human! I can see there are points of similarity. I don’t understand why two entirely different processes must necessarily produce such different results that no similarities can be found. People are great at noticing patterns.
It's not an argument from analogy because we do not observe an abstract representation of functional information in biology; we observe actual complex, specified, functional information. This is in opposition to your cloud analogy, where we interpret a stochastic cloud formation as something like a human face. Your analogy would be much more accurate if you said that we can infer a human if we observe an actual human face, since the only place we have ever observed an actual human face is on a human (at least a functional human face...). We know that visual formations that can be interpreted to look like human faces can arise from many different mechanisms (cloud formation, toast charring, mud splatters, an actual human being, reflection of an actual human being..). So if I say "I observed something that could be interpreted to be a human face", you cannot confidently infer an actual human. But the only way of originating functional information, from our observations, is from intelligence (at least human-level intelligence). Therefore, the complex, specified, functional information in biology should be inferred to be the result of intelligence. That is a general thesis of ID.uoflcard
September 13, 2011
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I think you guys are talking about different things. The argument originated with Gil's comment #1 where he said:
cannot seem to recognize that the Darwinian mechanism of random errors accumulated by natural selection as an explanation for all of life’s complexity and functionally integrated technology is a completely illogical, mathematically absurd, and empirically falsified hypothesis.
He says "error", but more importantly he uses the adjective "random". Replace "error" with "variance" and Gil's point still stands. In comment #3, responding to Gil, David Gibson says:
I was taught that mutations are not “errors”, they are instead sources of variation.
This, perhaps unintentionally, misses Gil's main point, which wasn't that organisms are trying to make perfect copies of themselves, rather that the Darwinian mechanism is random change + natural selection, and it is a preposterous mechanism for creating complex, specified, deeply integrated technology beyond the current capabilities of modern man. In 3.2, Elizabeth says:
You can call that an “error” in the narrow sense that it would be an error if someone one had the goal of a perfect copy. As it is, it’s just what happens, just as it isn’t an “error” that not all snowflakes are alike. The mechanism that produces snowflakes is stochastic, and thus results in variety – same applies to the mechanisms that produce offspring from parents.
Responding in 3.2.1, Joseph says:
According to the current theory of evolution ALL genetic changes are accidents/ mistakes/ errors. If you don’t like that take it up with the evolutionary high priests.
3.2.1.1, DrBot responds to with:
There is an important difference between randomly generated, but necessary, variety and just unwanted errors.
Well, there is no difference, with respect to Gil's original point, and I think Joseph's thought process was along the lines of Gil's. Joseph isn't saying that it is an accident that offspring are different than their parents, but that the differences are accidents/random (according to Darwinian evolutionary theory). The rest of the conversation seems to be Joseph talking about genetic mutations and Elizabeth talking about intended (yet random) variance of sexually reproduced offspring. In 3.2.1.2, Elizabeth says:
Evolutionary theory doesn’t posit an intentional maker, so “error” is a meaningless term.
There is no intent in biology? Mechanisms "correcting" mistakes during replication aren't "intending" to correct the mistakes? When they miss a single varation out of thousands that they corrected, we can't call that an error? How is error meaningless in that context? And what of the citations Joseph provided of biologists using the term? I understand that variation during sexual production is not an "error" (although the results are stochastic), but why are you fighting for a universal ban of the word "error" in evolutionary theory when, as clearly cited in this thread, evolutionary biologists use the word as well as write papers about and build careers researching error-control mechanisms? Joseph, I think I disagree with your statement that adaptation is not predictable, at least when we have a situation where we know that a trait of a species varies in functionality with respect to an environmental factor. With the Galapagos finches, we know their beaks vary in size (I think they were designed to do this). We can then predict that when the nuts on the island are easier to eat with the larger beak, the larger beaks will become more prevalent. Perhaps you are talking about what specific genetic sequence will be generated and selected, in which case I would agree would not be predictable since the variation is stochastic.uoflcard
September 13, 2011
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1- There isn’t any evidence that stochastic processes can produce error-correction mechanisms Elizabeth Liddle:
Yes, there is. Lots. DrBot gave one a few weeks ago.
No, there isn't. There isn't even any way to test the claim. But please feel free to revisit DrBot's post. 2- Most mutations break things and by breaking them they are “useful” in that the organism survives. So yes, errors can be useful in that sense.
This makes very little sense. Mutations in somatic cels are generally not “useful” to the organism, and so repair mechanisms will be selectable. However, most mutations in germline cells are neutral – don’t “break” anything. And neutral mutations can propagate by drift, leading to variance in the population that renders it robust to environmental change, i.e. provide the “fuel” for adaptive evolution.
Geez Dr Behe just had a paper published that demonstrated exactly what I said- loss of function mutations seem to be the rule and neutral mutations have NEVER been observed to accumulate in such a way as to construct new and useful multi-part systems. 3- The use of “error” is not a methaphor in evolutionary biology. Evolutionary biology needs them.
Yes, it’s a metaphor, though nonetheless useful, as long as you don’t press them into contexts where they are not applicable, for example in the context of the generation of new alleles.
Except it isn't a methaphor and it is what evolutionary biologists say. 4- In what way is adaptation predictable?
In the usual way.
IOW you don't have any idea.
Look at the Galapagos finches, or Endler’s guppies. Specific environmental changes result in specific adaptations.
So now the environment drives the changes? That is NOT in the theory of evolution. You cannot predict what mutation will appear and you cannot predict what will be selected for at any point in time. 5- Behavioural variance is still variance and more likely to rule the day then waiting for some useful error.
Yes, behavioural variance is variance. It’s also heritable.
Yes but it also trumps genetics, doesn't help the theory of evolution at all and as a matter of fact should be evidence against it.Joseph
September 12, 2011
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1- There isn’t any evidence that stochastic processes can produce error-correction mechanisms
Yes, there is. Lots. DrBot gave one a few weeks ago.
2- Most mutations break things and by breaking them they are “useful” in that the organism survives. So yes, errors can be useful in that sense.
This makes very little sense. Mutations in somatic cels are generally not "useful" to the organism, and so repair mechanisms will be selectable. However, most mutations in germline cells are neutral - don't "break" anything. And neutral mutations can propagate by drift, leading to variance in the population that renders it robust to environmental change, i.e. provide the "fuel" for adaptive evolution.
3- The use of “error” is not a methaphor in evolutionary biology. Evolutionary biology needs them.
Yes, it's a metaphor, though nonetheless useful, as long as you don't press them into contexts where they are not applicable, for example in the context of the generation of new alleles.
4- In what way is adaptation predictable?
In the usual way. Look at the Galapagos finches, or Endler's guppies. Specific environmental changes result in specific adaptations.
5- Behavioural variance is still variance and more likely to rule the day then waiting for some useful error.
Yes, behavioural variance is variance. It's also heritable.Elizabeth Liddle
September 11, 2011
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teaching even the most well-established aspects of evolution to children upsets too many parents.
Realistically, parents should realize that schools will occasionally teach their children things they don't agree with. Neither schools nor parents can be right all the time. The trouble is that too many of the "well-established aspects of evolution" are really accepted, not established. This includes the deceptively simple notion that undirected variation and selection can produce innovative variation. But I'm not going to rail against the school system. My son is armed with the knowledge that smart people who write books can be wrong, and lots of smart people can be wrong together. He's prepared to think for himself.ScottAndrews
September 11, 2011
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1- There isn't any evidence that stochastic processes can produce error-correction mechanisms 2- Most mutations break things and by breaking them they are "useful" in that the organism survives. So yes, errors can be useful in that sense. 3- The use of "error" is not a methaphor in evolutionary biology. Evolutionary biology needs them. 4- In what way is adaptation predictable? 5- Behavioural variance is still variance and more likely to rule the day then waiting for some useful error.
Mutations in DNA sequences generally occur through one of two processes: 1.DNA damage from environmental agents such as ultraviolet light (sunshine), nuclear radiation or certain chemicals 2.Mistakes that occur when a cell copies its DNA in preparation for cell division.
See also- Errors Are a Natural Part of DNA ReplicationJoseph
September 11, 2011
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Take it up with the evolutionary biologists. Geez there are papers on error-correction and repair.
You seem to have forgotten where this discussion started. Yes there are papers on "error-correction" and "repair" because clearly a multicelled organism that cannot faithfully reproduce its own cells is going to be in trouble (and sometimes is). So "error-repair" mechanisms will be selectable. Similarly, populations with very high mutation rates will tend not to evolve, so mechanisms that limit the production of variance will again, tend to be selected at population level. We are talking about production of variance. Why use the metaphor "error" to describe something useful? If you want to use the metaphor for an event that is likely to be harmful to the organism or to the population, fine, but in that case, don't apply it to events that are likely to be useful.
Yes, variation is probably “down to chance” or rather, arise from stochastic processes (not quite the same thing).
Again, take it up with the evolutionary biologists.
If you think evolutionary biologists would disagree with me, please cite where.
Adaptation is highly predictable.
In what way? Does all adaptation come from mutation?
All adaptation comes from variance. Variance comes from change. Mutation means change.
And I simply don’t get your metaphor – in what sense are Dawkins and Coyne “high priests”? They certainly have no authority.
On the contrary- both have quite a bit of pull, ie authority, within the evolutionary ranks.
Can you provide any evidence for this?Elizabeth Liddle
September 11, 2011
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How can there be an “error” when there is no-one to say whether the answer is “correct”?
Take it up with the evolutionary biologists. Geez there are papers on error-correction and repair.
Yes, variation is probably “down to chance” or rather, arise from stochastic processes (not quite the same thing).
Again, take it up with the evolutionary biologists.
Adaptation is highly predictable.
In what way? Does all adaptation come from mutation?
And I simply don’t get your metaphor – in what sense are Dawkins and Coyne “high priests”? They certainly have no authority.
On the contrary- both have quite a bit of pull, ie authority, within the evolutionary ranks.Joseph
September 11, 2011
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Few of the papers submitted to most scientific journals end up being published.
I would agree that most journals probably reject more manuscripts than they accept. However, I would doubt that most papers fail to be published somewhere, unless the authors lose faith in their own case. Many good papers are rejected by high quality journals, not because they are poor but because competition is very high. Usually the editors make the reviews available to the authors anyway, for use when considering submission elsewhere, and of course sometimes the paper will be reviewed by the same reviewer, by which time it may either have been improved in the light of the reviewer's comments, or may be accepted by an editor who is less pressed for space. A paper has to be pretty irredeemable for it be be unpublishable somewhere. The most important part of the review process is after publication, which is why one important aspect of peer-review is ensuring that the paper has sufficient detail for full evaluation and replication by others. The peer-review process is messy and frustrating, but while radical ideas can sometimes be harder to convince reviewers and editors with, harder still are replications, which in some ways are more important!Elizabeth Liddle
September 11, 2011
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Censorship of science is what’s at stake, whether or not it’s legal.
I agree. Science as an enterprise rests on being as open as possible. Censorship of science is dangerous and insidious, especially if it's done for ideological reasons. One question this raises is, does peer review act to censor science, or to improve it? Few of the papers submitted to most scientific journals end up being published. The peer review process exists to improve both research and presentation of that research, and to weed out material which fails to follow scientific standards. The risk, of course, is that the peer review process occasionally throws out some wheat along with the chaff. So I did some more reading into the Sternberg case, and the more I read, the more convoluted things get. Consider Sternberg's peer review itself. One aspect of peer review is troublesome. As a matter of policy, the reviewers are always kept anonymous. If they were not, the focus would quickly shift away from the science itself, and onto the personalities, histories, and qualifications of the reviewers. But keeping the reviewers anonymous creates the opportunity for an unscrupulous editor to "game the system". The primary deterrent to this is, the editor who does so jeopardizes his job. Now, here's what I have read about the Sternberg case. I won't vouch for the reliability of all I've read, of course: 1) Sternberg was a rotating editor producing his last issue. He was unpaid. His job was not in jeopardy. 2) Sternberg and Meyer are both creationists, and presumably motivated to place a creationism-friendly paper into the scientific literature. 3) Sternberg and Meyer are known to have been in contact before the paper was submitted. Whether they discussed this possibility, neither will say. As they shouldn't, I agree. 4) Meyer's paper was both off-topic for that particular journal, and was a literature review paper rather than a research paper. 5) That journal, like most such journals, has a fairly consistent stable of reviewers they use. None of the reviewers in that stable was used for this paper. 6) Nearly all of Meyer's paper had been published before, mostly verbatim, in creationist outlets. Where it had nonetheless been critiqued by non-creationist scientists and found to be misleading, drawing conclusions not justified by the contents. Whether or not such critiques were valid, the chances of Meyer's paper passing review by the normal reviewers was extremely small. 7) Getting creationism-friendly work into peer-reviewed scientific literature is an admitted creationist goal, and creationists have milked maximum mileage out of their few successes. Clearly, this is being done in the Sternberg case as well. So let's look at it as a lawyer might. Sternberg clearly had the motive, the method, and the opportunity to circumvent the standard review process. Circumstantial evidence says he did so. Did he do it to avoid "censorship"? That's a gnarly question, getting back to whether peer review IS censorship. Is a literature review paper "science", especially a non-original review? That seems kind of borderline. Did Sternberg do this primarily for scientific purposes, or for ideological purposes? I'm not qualified to say, beyond the obvious observation that doing so is compatible with Sternberg's known ideology. Did the SI act "contrary to the purposes of advancing science"? Considering that Meyer's paper was a rehash of material he'd already published, and a literature review, this strikes me as a weak claim.
How is any student reading a textbook supposed to know whether they’re learning the best available science or merely the last theory standing after some bureaucrat took out whatever didn’t suit his ideology?
I don't think there is a simple answer to this. But in practice it's answered by initially presenting (to 9th graders) some explanation of the method of science, and some of the most well-established and best-evidenced scientific findings. These are established, for better or worse, through a consensus of the recognized experts in each discipline. Where even the best supported theories encounter ideological resistance, political battles are fought. I have read that in much of the country, teaching even the most well-established aspects of evolution to children upsets too many parents. In the interests of administrative tranquility, in most such jurisdictions evolution is simply not covered. Does this qualify as censorship? Good question. The suggestion that children "make up their own minds" about a complex scientific topic to which they have not even been exposed strikes me as disingenuous. I don't regard these as trivial issues.David W. Gibson
September 11, 2011
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How can there be an "error" when there is no-one to say whether the answer is "correct"? Yes, variation is probably "down to chance" or rather, arise from stochastic processes (not quite the same thing). But the resulting variation in reproductive success is not "down to chance" in any thing like the same sense. Mutations are highly unpredictable. Adaptation is highly predictable. And I simply don't get your metaphor - in what sense are Dawkins and Coyne "high priests"? They certainly have no authority.Elizabeth Liddle
September 11, 2011
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Geez Elizabeth how many references do I have to provide to support my claim? And just who are you to say that an error requires the intention of the maker? Again evolutionary theory posits all mutations are unplanned-> accidents/ errors/ mistakes are unplanned. According to Mayr variation belongs to chance. And of course there are high priests of evolution- Dawkins and Coyne are two of the living priests...Joseph
September 11, 2011
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If I make a copy of something, intending it to be an exact replica, and it isn't, I say it has an error. If I make a copy of something, intending it to be a variant, and it isn't, I say that it has an error. Whether a feature of a copy is an error or not depends on the intention of the maker. Evolutionary theory doesn't posit an intentional maker, so "error" is a meaningless term. What it does posit is that replication with variance, where that variance confers differential reproduction, will result in adaptation. So there is no reason for me take anything up with any high priests of evolution, which is just as well, because, of course, there aren't any.Elizabeth Liddle
September 11, 2011
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According to the current theory of evolution ALL genetic changes are accidents/ mistakes/ errors. DrBot:
I’m not aware of anything in evolutionary theory that says that the goal of reproduction is an exact copy.
Non-sequitur.
What is required for evolution to happen is actually reproduction with variance, so genetic changes serve a purpose – i.e. they are not accidents, mistakes or errors in the sense that they are unintended – but they are all random with respect to fitness.
They are all random, ie errors/ mistakes/ accidents, period: What Causes Mutations?:
Mutations in DNA sequences generally occur through one of two processes: 1. DNA damage from environmental agents such as ultraviolet light (sunshine), nuclear radiation or certain chemicals 2. Mistakes that occur when a cell copies its DNA in preparation for cell division.
Causes of Mutations:
1. DNA fails to copy accurately Most of the mutations that we think matter to evolution are "naturally-occurring." For example, when a cell divides, it makes a copy of its DNA — and sometimes the copy is not quite perfect. That small difference from the original DNA sequence is a mutation. 2. External influences can create mutations Mutations can also be caused by exposure to specific chemicals or radiation. These agents cause the DNA to break down. This is not necessarily unnatural — even in the most isolated and pristine environments, DNA breaks down. Nevertheless, when the cell repairs the DNA, it might not do a perfect job of the repair. So the cell would end up with DNA slightly different than the original DNA and hence, a mutation.
DNA Replication and Causes of Mutation:
DNA replication is a truly amazing biological phenomenon. Consider the countless number of times that your cells divide to make you who you are—not just during development, but even now, as a fully mature adult. Then consider that every time a human cell divides and its DNA replicates, it has to copy and transmit the exact same sequence of 3 billion nucleotides to its daughter cells. Finally, consider the fact that in life (literally), nothing is perfect. While most DNA replicates with fairly high fidelity, mistakes do happen, with polymerase enzymes sometimes inserting the wrong nucleotide or too many or too few nucleotides into a sequence. Fortunately, most of these mistakes are fixed through various DNA repair processes. Repair enzymes recognize structural imperfections between improperly paired nucleotides, cutting out the wrong ones and putting the right ones in their place. But some replication errors make it past these mechanisms, thus becoming permanent mutations. These altered nucleotide sequences can then be passed down from one cellular generation to the next, and if they occur in cells that give rise to gametes, they can even be transmitted to subsequent organismal generations. Moreover, when the genes for the DNA repair enzymes themselves become mutated, mistakes begin accumulating at a much higher rate. In eukaryotes, such mutations can lead to cancer. (bold added)
Yes evolution requires/ depends on variation and ID is not anti-evolution. ID just says that not all changes are accidents/ errors/ mistakes. So to put it another way you don't understand evolutionary theory and you do not understand ID. Thanks for clearing that up.Joseph
September 11, 2011
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David Gibson, The paper I quoted above was not written by or for Sternberg. It was a finding of the US Office of Special Counsel. I don't really know what happened, and I'm not doing my own investigation. But the findings of a preliminary outside investigation are noteworthy, given that they spoke to the individuals involved and read the e-mails. The legality of what did or didn't happen is irrelevant. The point is that a respected establishment with the supposed purpose of advancing science acted contrary to that purpose. How is any student reading a textbook supposed to know whether they're learning the best available science or merely the last theory standing after some bureaucrat took out whatever didn't suit his ideology? Censorship of science is what's at stake, whether or not it's legal.ScottAndrews
September 11, 2011
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But alas, as I said before, ‘Love is blind’.
Yes, you've made yourself very clear in this respect. Meanwhile, I've been looking at the Cambrian explosion to try to figure out exactly what the problem is. After all, there at least three such "explosions" in the fossil record, so pretty clearly this sort of thing happens. In what way is the Cambrian different? As I read it, the sticking point has to do with body armor. There was ample time for all the various body plans to develop. But how could so many of those plans have adopted hard parts as quickly as they did? Maybe there was some kind of horizontal transfer, but this seems unlikely. Maybe some common ancestor of the armored organisms started it off, but it hasn't been found. Maybe the armor feature was independently developed due to an arms race, across several lines of descent. But this also seems unlikely. And of course, maybe Divine Agency decided armor was a good idea and provided it accordingly, all at once. But positive evidence of this is unobtainable, so "support" for it ultimately becomes either "I can't think of anything else" or "I knew it before I started." Given currently available evidence, the Divine Agency explanation fits best - we DO see body armor showing up across phyla with no predecessor yet discovered. But as always in science, this explanation is tentative (or should be, anyway) and subject to change with each new discovery. And it should be noted that this explanation is inconsistent with an explanation that fits all other observations of biological change over time. When two entirely distinct proposals purport to explain the same data set, this is always positive because it suggests lines of research capable of deciding between them.David W. Gibson
September 11, 2011
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According to the current theory of evolution ALL genetic changes are accidents/ mistakes/ errors.
I'm not aware of anything in evolutionary theory that says that the goal of reproduction is an exact copy. What is required for evolution to happen is actually reproduction with variance, so genetic changes serve a purpose - i.e. they are not accidents, mistakes or errors in the sense that they are unintended - but they are all random with respect to fitness. There is an important difference between randomly generated, but necessary, variety and just unwanted errors. Evolution depends on variety so by definition variety in its self is not an error, or to put it another way - you don't understand evolutionary theory.DrBot
September 11, 2011
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ScottAndrews: As you may suspect, Steinberg's site gives Steinberg's side of the story. I admit he does a good job of it - in fact, so good it's uncanny. Is there just possibly another side to the story? Or is this purely a case of stifling an opposing viewpoint? On more (and more balanced) reading, the situation becomes much less clear-cut. Perhaps a hypthetical parallel case would illustrate: Let's say you get a turn (just one turn) to be editor of the sports page of your school newspaper. But instead of reporting on sports, you use your chance to criticize your math teacher, whom you intensely dislike. And let's say that all of your criticisms are accurate and correct. Now, part of your responsibility is to run your story past the athletic department, but either you don't run it past anyone or you have it approved by people who are flunking math (it's not clear to me exactly what review process Steinberg used). After the paper is published, the school administration protests that you have abused your responsibility. You accuse them of discrimination - an accusation with some tangential support, because the math teacher IS lousy. And you appeal to a committee with no official school administration authority - a committee which just happens to be composed of others who despise the math teacher. Sure enough, the committee finds that all you wrote is true, so you MUST be suffering discrimination. But the committee itself, on second thought, decides not to publish their "findings", so one of the members of the committee does so at his own expense. He hates the math teachers as much as you do, and can position his "findings" as being the result of a formal investigation. So here is where things get confusing. What, if anything, did you do wrong? The school administration says that what you did wrong was to write about the math teacher when your position was explicitly to be sportswriter. And that articles critical of the faculty violate school policy anyway. YOU claim that the administration is suppressing quality investigative journalism in an effort to stifle legitimate complaints about poor teachers. So here we have a case where everything both sides say, is true. The controversy polarizes into a dispute between those who feel school policy is legitimate and was violated, and those who hate the math teacher. As for who won the game, this is long lost in the noise.David W. Gibson
September 11, 2011
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Well David, I can see that you are dead set on spinning things as favorably for atheism/darwinism as you can, Thus I'll let you wallow in all the lies you want and shall respond no more to your inanity.bornagain77
September 11, 2011
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Elizabeth- According to the current theory of evolution ALL genetic changes are accidents/ mistakes/ errors. If you don't like that take it up with the evolutionary high priests.Joseph
September 11, 2011
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Well, unfortunately for you once again, the facts just don’t line up with ‘the spin’ you want to put on the facts. The ‘mystery’ of the Cambrian Explosion was known even to Darwin, and Walcott had found clear evidence, which he certainly was not ignorant of as you want to pretend, that confirmed Darwin’s worst fears, as well as severely compromised Darwin’s hope that the Cambrian was merely an artifact of incomplete sampling.
You are right that Darwin was aware of the Cambrian explosion, and that Walcott was as well. You are also right that even today, it presents mysteries. Solving them, however was not Walcott's motivation. He was a collector. He left explanation of ALL he collected, not just these fossils, for others to explain later.
Had Walcott properly used his position as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to which he was appointed in 1907, he could have made the Cambrian Explosion a major attraction of the Smithsonian’s natural history exhibits and forever compromised neo-Darwinism’s suffocating grip on this area of science.
Now YOUR spin is getting in your way. Walcott COULD have done many things other than what he did. You are attributing to him a devious motivation without any real indication, other than that Walcott was a collector and not a theoriest. You yourself COULD dedicate yourself to solving any remaining problems. Should we then accuse you of "suppressing" what you MIGHT learn if you tried? Should you be considered guilty of deliberate concealment?
No, the more I look at it, the more certain I am that Walcott knew exactly what he had and started a tradition of suppressing evidence that, apparently to a recent court decision, carries on at the Smithsonian to this day!
If your assessment is correct, then it has long been the case (and remains the case) that museum drawers everywhere are full of "suppressed evidence". And as already mentioned, the Smithsonian, like the DI, has policies about what they present, and this is perfectly legitimate. If you wish to make that case that in following these policies, BOTH the Smithsonian and the DI are engaged in suppression, fine. They are alike in this respect (And your understanding of the development of theory is somewhat new to me. My understanding is, if there is a well-supported theory according to all but one line of evidence, and the theory can't explain that one line very well, what happens is that the theory is extended according to what fits the evidence best. The resulting theory is required to explain THAT evidence while STILL explaining all the rest. What works well is not discarded. You are trying to reject the concept of transportation because of a flat tire!)David W. Gibson
September 11, 2011
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Well, unfortunately for you once again, the facts just don't line up with 'the spin' you want to put on the facts. The 'mystery' of the Cambrian Explosion was known even to Darwin, and Walcott had found clear evidence, which he certainly was not ignorant of as you want to pretend, that confirmed Darwin's worst fears, as well as severely compromised Darwin's hope that the Cambrian was merely an artifact of incomplete sampling. Had Walcott properly used his position as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to which he was appointed in 1907, he could have made the Cambrian Explosion a major attraction of the Smithsonian's natural history exhibits and forever compromised neo-Darwinism's suffocating grip on this area of science. No, the more I look at it, the more certain I am that Walcott knew exactly what he had and started a tradition of suppressing evidence that, apparently to a recent court decision, carries on at the Smithsonian to this day!bornagain77
September 10, 2011
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Well, unfortunately for those running the Smithsonian, who want to present only their extremely strongly biased atheistic neo-Darwinian (philosophically compatible) view of reality, they are, unlike the Discovery Institute, a government institution. And thus must abide strictly to the constitution of the United States of America, which forbids such suppression of freedom of speech of its citizens from the government. Frankly, it is a shame I have to point such a obvious point out to you. But alas, as I said before, 'Love is blind'.bornagain77
September 10, 2011
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David, perhaps it was a case of ‘cognitive dissonance’ on Walcott’s part, but none-the-less, despite the level to which Walcott suppressed that which was so surprising to him that it caused him to collect 60,000 specimens, it is certainly a clear example of a inherent materialistic bias
Not at all. Walcott was a collector. He squirreled away FAR more specimens than that; he collected fossils of any and all kinds from everywhere he went. He was not 'cognitively dissonent', any more than any other collector. He did not "suppress" anything, he simply collected it. Collectors do that. I know quite a few collectors, sometimes of some rather strange things. They enjoy having collections. I don't see their collections as "materialistic bias", though sometimes I don't see much more than a whole lot of, say, antique telephones. Not my bag, you know? From what I read, science was not set back at all. Conway Morris had a unique insight. The Burgess Shale had been excavated several times since Walcott, and THEY didn't know what they were looking at at the time either. Sometimes it takes a while for theory to catch up with evidence, before the evidence means anything. You might stop to reflect that, just maybe, those you oppose are not fighting you, and they might not share congruent motivations with you. Consider a footrace where the timekeeper is concerned with who crosses the finish line when, and Johnny's mother thinks he's out to punish her because Johnny didn't win. The timekeeper wants the race run according to the rules. Johnny's mother doesn't really care about times or rules, she cares about winning. Different goals and motivations.David W. Gibson
September 10, 2011
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I already said I found fault with both sides in the Sternberg affair. And as I understand it, the Smithsonian has internal policies they try to apply consistently. You may not agree with their policies - and I doubt the Discovery Institute would sponsor a Smithsonian presentation either. Are they intolerant, or do they simply have policies? If the DI restricted presentations at its facilities to those it found philosophically compatible, I would find no fault with that either. I'd regard it neither as intolerant nor as censorship. Oh, and I notice that once again, your presentation is filtered through evolutionnews. I find extremely strongly biased sources very rarely present all the sides to any story. Why, for instance, would CSC rent a facility for a pro-ID event, if this is against policy? Could it be they didn't know the policy? Or possibly they weren't fully apprised of the nature of the event? But I do appreciate your honesty in providing your source. And in not insisting that Souder's efforts were in any way investigative. I've met people of all scientific, philosophical and religious persuasions. None of them were blind, but they nonetheless didn't agree with one another. Nor do I think you are blind, I only observe that you confine your sources to those supportive of your views, despite the risk that you might be fed one-sided, misleading, or incomplete accounts of the material. Even if you choose to take an adversarial position, it helps to broaden your exposure just to know your enemy better. But we wander very far from the original topic, which as I recall had to do with evolutionary mechanisms.David W. Gibson
September 10, 2011
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here is the link to the above quote; Evidence Revealed in California Science Center Lawsuit Shows Intolerance and Efforts to Suppress Intelligent Design http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/08/evidence_revealed_in_californi050191.htmlbornagain77
September 10, 2011
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Well, if you are so enamored with the Smithsonian's integrity as to be fair in all thing scientific, perhaps this little matter of a recent judgement of $110,000 against CSC will put a little doubt in that trust you place in the Smithsonian's integrity as to tolerate descent from neo-Darwinian atheism:
The Smithsonian Gets Involved: "Cease and Desist" because ID is "Against SI/MNH Policy" CSC is a museum affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution. In this case, the anti-ID Smithsonian Institution marshaled its considerable influence over its affiliate, virtually mandating that CSC cancel AFA's event, a command happily followed by CSC. Staff members at the Smithsonian Institution were incensed that the CSC, one of their affiliate science museums, would rent a facility for a pro-ID event. SI spokesperson Linda St. Thomas exemplifies this intolerance:,,, This is one of our fears about affiliates. As you know, we cancelled an event about Intelligent Design (creationism) at MNH a couple years ago. It is against SI/MNH policy which is science and not religion. However, I have seen hundreds of twitters saying that SI is holding this premier, even though it is an affiliate in Calif. Can you tell them to cease and desist?
But David, something tells me that defenders of neo-Darwinism can do no wrong in your eyes. What is that saying about love being blind to flaws??? bornagain77
September 10, 2011
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Great reading on Sternberg's site. The US Office of Special Counsel's findings essentially say that Sternberg's position does not entitle him to legal protection from some of what took place, but states repeatedly that his claims appear to be true. After stating that the investigation would be closed,
My decision is not based upon the substance of your allegations; in fact, our preliminary investigation supports your complaint.
Later,
Our investigation also shows that there is a strong religious and political component to the actions taken after the publication of the Meyer article.
And,
Our preliminary investigation indicates that retaliation came in many forms. It came in the form of attempts to change your working conditions and even proposals to change how the SI retains and deals with future RAs. During the process you were personally investigated and your professional competence was attacked. Misinformation was disseminated throughout the SI and to outside sources. The allegations against you were later determined to be false. It is also clear that a hostile work environment was created with the ultimate goal of forcing you out of the SI.
Do the kids in school know that this is how it's done? Is there a chapter in the 4th grade text on stifling opposing viewpoints? Do they have practice sessions where one kid proposes an unpopular but reasonable idea and the rest poke him with sticks and call him names until he recants? They should, since that's how it works.ScottAndrews
September 10, 2011
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Should we believe the committees who found ‘clear evidence that Sternberg’s rights had been repeatedly violated’
This is an excellent question, especially considering the committee itself:
In the course of his defense Sternberg claimed he was the subject of religious discrimination due to his belief in intelligent design by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, where he served as an unpaid research associate. This resulted in Republican representatives, Institute affiliates and intelligent design advocates Mark Souder and Rick Santorum authoring a report supporting Sternberg's claim of discrimination. The report was commissioned by Souder in his capacity as subcommittee chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform but published by Souder as an individual representative without it gaining any official standing by the Committee, which never formally accepted it.
Now, let's say that it had been a committee of Democrats, with affiliates from Harvard rather than the Discovery Institute, commissioned by advocates of evolutionary theory rather than by creationists. In THAT case, would you suspect bias? Or would you "objectively" conclude that Sternberg was never treated improperly? What you've given me is a report commissioned by an intelligent design advocate, who produced a report never even accepted by an admittedly heavily stacked committee. What I'm trying to understand is What Happened? I can't help but be concerned that your motivation is entirely different - otherwise, you might even consider presenting the Smithsonian's side of the story.David W. Gibson
September 10, 2011
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