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Dinobird: Practically anything, no matter how false or ridiculous, is given serious attention in the science press as long as it appears to support Darwinism

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File:Archaeopteryx lithographica, replica of London specimen, Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Karlsruhe, Germany - 20100925.jpg
Replica of the London specimen/H. Zell

In “Science stunner! ‘Missing link’ for 150 years and now it isn’t?” ( World News Daily, , July 28, 2011) Bob Unruh puts his finger on the key point about an otherwise routine reclassification ofa fossil from bird to dinosaur: “Expert says Nature report highlights sands on which Darwin theory built”:

The report says the latest discovery suggests the assumption that Archaeopteryx is “the evolutionary link between the two [birds and dinosaurs]” may need reconsideration.

A legitimate debate. That said, this fossil was purchased, not found. Plus the report author admits the hypothesis that knocked the dinobird from its perch is only “weakly supported” by data. So how sure are we? Anyone remember “Feathers for T. Rex”? Oh wait, that scam fell down the memory hole, so we are not allowed to remember. Which is a problem.

Unruh grasps the central point when he asks,

But what about the century-plus that Archaeopteryx was considered “the ideal ‘missing link’ with which to demonstrate evolution from non-avian dinosaurs to birds”?

What about it? It falls into the same memory hole as T. Rex’s feathers, that’s what. We’re all supposed to dumbly worship and believe at the temples of Darwinism (museums) and pay for its sacred texts to be force on students in school. We are supposed to regard as experts Darwinists, who are routinely the marks for Holy Icon scams. And Archaeopteryx was only ever important as a Most Holy Icon of Evolution. Otherwise, it is just a beautifully preserved fossil from time out of mind.

Who knows what will become of the dinobird, real or imagined? Practically anything, no matter how false or ridiculous, is given serious attention in the science press as long as it appears to support Darwinism. No one working there considers (or is allowed to consider?) the cumulative effect of repeated frauds, failures, and offenses to common sense.

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97 Replies to “Dinobird: Practically anything, no matter how false or ridiculous, is given serious attention in the science press as long as it appears to support Darwinism

  1. 1
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    In the olden days, up to and including Jonathan Wells, creationists all insisted that Archy was “just a bird”. Now, suddenly, they’re all delighted to say “it’s just a feathered dinosaur”.*

    Over here in The Land of Actual Science,

    (a) *all* birds are “just feathered dinosaurs”, thus the media coverage of this study as saying that Archy is “a dinosaur not a bird” is highly misleading;

    (b) the actual suggested move of Archy on the phylogenetic tree is actually quite minor in the grand scheme of things — since the early “birds” and feathered dinosaurs were all quite closely related on previous analyses, and are still quite closely related on this analysis as well.

    (c) the definition of “bird” is pretty arbitrary, anyhow. “Crown group birds” *can* be coherently defined as the common ancestor of all living birds, and all its descendants. But once you start including branches on the tree lower than that common ancestor, it becomes arbitrary how far you go before you stop calling the fossils “birds”. We already knew of fossils that were below the stem but above Archy. All this study is move Archy a little lower down the stem, and move a few of the other dinosaurs a little higher up. Maybe. (I say “maybe”, because the resolution is poor, which is actually the *expected* result as you get more and more in-between intermediate fossils.)

    Ask Todd Wood if you don’t believe me.

    Scientists will *never* take you guys or ID in general seriously unless and until you bother to understand the actual science before ranting and raving about it.

    * (Which, by the way, is as much proof of the transitional status of Archy as a reasonable person could want.)

  2. 2
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Also important, I would have thought, for ID credibility, is the differentiation between evidence for Common Descent, and evidence that Darwinian mechanisms are the explanation for adaptation down the lineages.

    Phylogenies are nested hierarchial models fitted to real data. The fact that nested hierarchical models fit the phenotypic data so well is itself an explanandum. Darwinian evolution might be one explanation for the fit of the model; ID might be another; some baraminology model might yet be another (as Todd Wood believes).

    But shaking garlic at any news about phylogenetic refitting seems a bit silly to me 🙂

    Wake me up when someone finds a fossil mammal with bird lungs.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Elizabeth you state:

    ‘Also important, I would have thought, for ID credibility’

    now hold on Elizabeth,,, Should not neo-Darwinists at least have some type credibility for their own theory, as far as the actual empirical evidence is concerned, before they they start to worry about ID’s credibility?

    =================

    Dr. David Berlinski: Random Mutations – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGaUEAkqhMY

    Guy who DOESN’T support ID: Genomics has “overturned” Darwin’s iconic Tree of Life
    Excerpt: The genomics revolution, Koonin argues, … ‘effectively overturned the central metaphor of evolutionary biology (and, arguably, of all biology), the Tree of Life (TOL), by showing that evolutionary trajectories of individual genes are irreconcilably different. Whether the TOL can or should be salvaged — and, if so, in what form — remains a matter of intense debate that is one of the important themes of this book. Uprooting the TOL is part of what I consider to be a ‘metarevolution,’ a major change in the entire conceptual framework of biology.’
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....e-of-life/

    Here is a page of quotes by leading paleontologists on the true state of the fossil record:
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=15dxL40Ff6kI2o6hs8SAbfNiGj1hEOE1QHhf1hQmT2Yg

    Here are four more pages of quotes, by leading experts, on the fossil record here:

    Creation/Evolution Quotes: Fossil Record #1 – Stephen E. Jones
    http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/fsslrc01.html

    etc.. etc..

    furthermore,,,

    “Despite a close watch, we have witnessed no new species emerge in the wild in recorded history. Also, most remarkably, we have seen no new animal species emerge in domestic breeding. That includes no new species of fruitflies in hundreds of millions of generations in fruitfly studies, where both soft and harsh pressures have been deliberately applied to the fly populations to induce speciation. And in computer life, where the term “species” does not yet have meaning, we see no cascading emergence of entirely new kinds of variety beyond an initial burst. In the wild, in breeding, and in artificial life, we see the emergence of variation. But by the absence of greater change, we also clearly see that the limits of variation appear to be narrowly bounded, and often bounded within species.”
    Kevin Kelly from his book, “Out of Control”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-392638

    as well,,,

    New Research on Epistatic Interactions Shows “Overwhelmingly Negative” Fitness Costs and Limits to Evolution – Casey Luskin June 8, 2011
    Excerpt: In essence, these studies found that there is a fitness cost to becoming more fit. As mutations increase, bacteria faced barriers to the amount they could continue to evolve. If this kind of evidence doesn’t run counter to claims that neo-Darwinian evolution can evolve fundamentally new types of organisms and produce the astonishing diversity we observe in life, what does?
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....47151.html

    And, in light of such poverty of ‘actual’ evidence for neo-Darwinism, I think the ‘credibility’ of ID is doing quite well thank you,,

    Cells Are Like Robust Computational Systems, – June 2009
    Excerpt: Gene regulatory networks in cell nuclei are similar to cloud computing networks, such as Google or Yahoo!, researchers report today in the online journal Molecular Systems Biology. The similarity is that each system keeps working despite the failure of individual components, whether they are master genes or computer processors. ,,,,”We now have reason to think of cells as robust computational devices, employing redundancy in the same way that enables large computing systems, such as Amazon, to keep operating despite the fact that servers routinely fail.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....103205.htm

    Systems biology: Untangling the protein web – July 2009
    Excerpt: Vidal thinks that technological improvements — especially in nanotechnology, to generate more data, and microscopy, to explore interaction inside cells, along with increased computer power — are required to push systems biology forward. “Combine all this and you can start to think that maybe some of the information flow can be captured,” he says. But when it comes to figuring out the best way to explore information flow in cells, Tyers jokes that it is like comparing different degrees of infinity. “The interesting point coming out of all these studies is how complex these systems are — the different feedback loops and how they cross-regulate each other and adapt to perturbations are only just becoming apparent,” he says. “The simple pathway models are a gross oversimplification of what is actually happening.”
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....0415a.html

  4. 4
  5. 5
    News says:

    “Wake me up when someone finds a fossil mammal with bird lungs.” Elizabeth Liddle, be careful what you wish for. The duck-billed platypus, after all, shows mammal, bird,and reptile traits. It is only reasonable to suppose that creatures as strange have moved on the Earth in times past, as there is no special reason to think that the present day is uniquely likely to produce them. Why even be surprised?

    ID types did not elevate Archaeopteryx to anything in particular, and would be unlikely to have done so. It the Icon is under suspicion now, it is not owing to them.

  6. 6
    junkdnaforlife says:

    Neo-Darwinism had a good run with Archy, generations over the course of a century were worked over with this fossil. It was a sweet run Nick.

  7. 7
    Joe Bozorgmehr says:

    Nick Matzke is once again propagandizing for the goons at the NCSE. Archy was a bird, and a perching bird at that. Deal with that!

    It likely had a modern avian lung – completely different from that of dinosaurs – along with a breastbone and a full plumage of complex feathers. The alleged “dino” features – teeth, claws, boney tail – are not anatomically specific to theropod dinosaurs. Moreover, close examination finds that these shared traits are not so similar in fact.

    This latest dinobird find could well have been purchased from a fake fossil factory situated in Liaoning Province, northeast China.

  8. 8
    Joseph says:

    Over in imagination land Nick Matzke tells us:

    (a) *all* birds are “just feathered dinosaurs”, thus the media coverage of this study as saying that Archy is “a dinosaur not a bird” is highly misleading;

    Yeah Nick. Unfortunately you don’t have any scientific evidence to support that claim.

    NickMatzke:

    Scientists will *never* take you guys or ID in general seriously unless and until you bother to understand the actual science before ranting and raving about it.

    1- Those “scientists” cannot suppoort their position

    2- The vast majority of people say your position is a joke because it is untestable.

  9. 9
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    News: No, I won’t “be careful what I wish for” News! Why should I be?

    If Common Descent turns out not to be true, that would be really exciting!

    However, it is simply not true that the platypus shows bird traits, by which I mean traits that mean that it straddles lineages.

    Here is a cladogram for diapsids:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyn.....ram_lg.php

    As you can see, there is no problem in fitting monotremes into the cladogram.

    Certainly egg-laying is no problem, and simply indicates that monotremes diverged from the branch of mammals in which vivipary evolved.

    And if you are thinking of the “duck bill” – well, no 🙂

    Sure, it looks a bit ducky at first glance, but here is an anatomical drawing of a duck skull:

    http://www.pjpellicane.com/Duck%20skull.psd.jpg

    And here is a platypus skull:

    http://www.savalli.us/BIO370/D.....SkullL.jpg

    The only similarities are that they are both elongated skulls.

    The “bills” are not homologous.

    But bird lungs in a mammal really would get the joint buzzing:)

  10. 10
    DrREC says:

    Considering this is at least the fourth post on this subject, does linking over to WND really contribute to the
    discussion?

    Did the birthers catch something you and the rest of your links missed?

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    So Elizabeth, does drawing lines on a paper, between different kinds of animals, as your first site did, constitute actual evidence, or does it not honestly more realistically constitute drawing imaginary relationships with no solid empirical proof whatsoever???

    ,,,I got a few drawings of my own Elizabeth:

    Origin of Phyla – The Fossil Evidence – Timeline Graphs
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc.....#038;hl=en

    Here is a graph showing a partial list of fossil groups showing their sudden appearance in the fossil record- (without the artificially imposed dotted lines) – Timeline Illustration:
    http://www.earthhistory.org.uk.....groups.jpg

    Deepening Darwin’s Dilemma – Jonathan Wells – The Cambrian Explosion – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4154263/

    Challenging Fossil of a Little Fish
    What they had actually proved was that Chinese phosphate is fully capable of preserving whatever animals may have lived there in Precambrian times. Because they found sponges and sponge embryos in abundance, researchers are no longer so confident that Precambrian animals were too soft or too small to be preserved. “I think this is a major mystery in paleontology,” said Chen. “Before the Cambrian, we should see a number of steps: differentiation of cells, differentiation of tissue, of dorsal and ventral, right and left. But we don’t have strong evidence for any of these.” Taiwanese biologist Li was also direct: “No evolution theory can explain these kinds of phenomena.”
    http://www.fredheeren.com/boston.htm

    This following quote sums up the implications of these findings:

    “Without gradualness in these cases, we are back to miracle,”
    Richard Dawkins – River Out Of Eden pg. 83

    Ancient Fossils That Have Not Changed For Millions Of Years – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4113820

    THE FOSSILS IN THE CREATION MUSEUM – 1000’s of pictures of ancient ‘living’ fossils that have not changed for millions of years:
    http://www.fossil-museum.com/f.....8;limit=30

    Fossils Without Evolution – June 2010
    Excerpt: New fossils continue to turn up around the world. Many of them have an amazing characteristic in common: they look almost exactly like their living counterparts, despite being millions of years old,,,
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100618a

    Oldest fossil shrimp preserved with muscles – November 9 2010
    Excerpt: Rodney Feldmann and Carrie Schweitzer (both Kent State University) report on the oldest fossil shrimp known to date. The creature in stone is as much as 360 million years old and was found in Oklahoma. Even the muscles of the fossil are preserved.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....scles.html

    —————–

    Mighty to Save
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJmyg22Z9-o

  12. 12
    junkdnaforlife says:

    News: “The duck-billed platypus, after all, shows mammal, bird,and reptile traits.”

    Liz: “However, it is simply not true that the platypus shows bird traits, by which I mean traits that mean that it straddles lineages.”

    I don’t recall news saying the “platypus straddles lineages,” only that it shows “mammal, bird, and reptile traits.”

    Slick. Textbook. You lead with the hammer: it’s simply not true… then slip in the cover: *by which I mean…* Nicely done.

    But anyhow:

    “The duck-billed platypus: part bird, part reptile, part mammal — and the genome to prove it.”

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....131453.htm

  13. 13
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    ba77:

    So Elizabeth, does drawing lines on a paper, between different kinds of animals, as your first site did, constitute actual evidence, or does it not honestly more realistically constitute drawing imaginary relationships with no solid empirical proof whatsoever???

    Neither, ba77. The drawing is a fitted model and it is fitted to actual data.

    In other words, the evidence supports this model.

  14. 14
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Not slick, DNA – just referencing my own point about bird-lungs in mammals.

    News was implying that somehow the “bird traits” in platypus is the equivalent to bird lungs in a mammal.

    I’m explaining the sense in which they are not equivalent, i.e. clarifying my point.

    As for the Science Daily article – try reading the paper it actually references.

    Do people here really think that the platypus is a chimera?

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    What evidence, the fossils certainly are not there for you as previously noted, and you certainly have no demonstrated mechanism in which to account for such large scale macro-evolutionary changes, and as well, despite your continued reference that genetic phylogenetics supports your ‘imaginary’ drawings of branching patterns, the truth turns out to be, once again, quite different than what neo-Darwinists had originally led us to believe:

    ==============

    Why Darwin was wrong about the (genetic) tree of life: – 21 January 2009
    Excerpt: Syvanen recently compared 2000 genes that are common to humans, frogs, sea squirts, sea urchins, fruit flies and nematodes. In theory, he should have been able to use the gene sequences to construct an evolutionary tree showing the relationships between the six animals. He failed. The problem was that different genes told contradictory evolutionary stories. This was especially true of sea-squirt genes. Conventionally, sea squirts – also known as tunicates – are lumped together with frogs, humans and other vertebrates in the phylum Chordata, but the genes were sending mixed signals. Some genes did indeed cluster within the chordates, but others indicated that tunicates should be placed with sea urchins, which aren’t chordates. “Roughly 50 per cent of its genes have one evolutionary history and 50 per cent another,” Syvanen says. .”We’ve just annihilated the tree of life. It’s not a tree any more, it’s a different topology entirely,” says Syvanen. “What would Darwin have made of that?”
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....-life.html

    I would like to point out that this, ‘annihilation’ of Darwin’s genetic tree of life, article came out on the very day that Dr. Hillis, a self-proclaimed ‘world leading expert’ on the genetic tree of life, testified before the Texas State Board Of Education that the genetic tree of life overwhelmingly confirmed gradual Darwinian evolution. One could almost argue it was ‘Intelligently Designed’ for him to exposed as a fraud on that particular day of his testimony instead of just any other day of the year.

    Here is another article, written by an evolutionist mind you, that states the true pattern found for life, from comparative genetic evidence, is not the tree pattern Darwin had envisioned:

    A New Model for Evolution: A Rhizome – May 2010
    Excerpt: Thus we cannot currently identify a single common ancestor for the gene repertoire of any organism.,,, Overall, it is now thought that there are no two genes that have a similar history along the phylogenic tree.,,,Therefore the representation of the evolutionary pathway as a tree leading to a single common ancestor on the basis of the analysis of one or more genes provides an incorrect representation of the stability and hierarchy of evolution. Finally, genome analyses have revealed that a very high proportion of genes are likely to be newly created,,, and that some genes are only found in one organism (named ORFans). These genes do not belong to any phylogenic tree and represent new genetic creations.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....izome.html

    Since evolutionists continually misrepresent the true state of the evidence for molecular sequences, here are several more comments and articles, by leading experts, on the incongruence of molecular sequences to Darwin’s theory:
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1S5wXsukzkauD5YQLkQYuIMGL25I4fJrOUzJhONvBXe4

    As well, completely contrary to evolutionary thought, this following article and video shows that the ‘same exact genes’ in different species have actually been shown to produce ‘completely different’ body structures:

    A Primer on the Tree of Life (Part 4)
    Excerpt: “In sharks, for example, the gut develops from cells in the roof of the embryonic cavity. In lampreys, the gut develops from cells on the floor of the cavity. And in frogs, the gut develops from cells from both the roof and the floor of the embryonic cavity. This discovery—that homologous structures can be produced by different developmental pathways—contradicts what we would expect to find if all vertebrates share a common ancestor. – Explore Evolution
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2......html#more

    Neo-Darwinism’s Gene Homology Problem – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6P6bXA50c0

    etc.. etc.. etc..

    Yet, I’m fairly certain that you already knew all this Elizabeth, For crying out loud even evolutionists admit it,,, thus why are you so dishonest to the evidence as to continually misrepresent the true state of the genetic evidence???

  16. 16
    ScottAndrews says:

    *all* birds are “just feathered dinosaurs”,

    I can’t wait to see the look on my son’s face when I tell him that penguins are dinosaurs. I’ll make sure he tells his teacher, too.

  17. 17
    ScottAndrews says:

    I’m also thinking of a really great real-life version of Jurassic Park that would really disturb some animal rights activists.

  18. 18
    ScottAndrews says:

    We’ll sell pillows at the gift shops.

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    Elizabeth, a more realistic, and thoroughly researched, picture of the history of life on earth is a such:

    Accidental origins: Where species come from – March 2010

    Excerpt: If speciation results from natural selection via many small changes, you would expect the branch lengths to fit a bell-shaped curve.,,, Instead, Pagel’s team found that in 78 per cent of the trees, the best fit for the branch length distribution was another familiar curve, known as the exponential distribution. Like the bell curve, the exponential has a straightforward explanation – but it is a disquieting one for evolutionary biologists. The exponential is the pattern you get when you are waiting for some single, infrequent event to happen.,,,To Pagel, the implications for speciation are clear: “It isn’t the accumulation of events that causes a speciation, it’s single, rare events falling out of the sky, so to speak.”
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....tml?page=2

    And that thoroughly researched finding from genetics matches up extremely well with the fossil record once we remove the artificially imposed imaginary lines that neo-darwinists have forced on the actual fossil record:

    http://www.earthhistory.org.uk.....groups.jpg

    http://palaeo.gly.bris.ac.uk/p.....MELINE.JPG

  20. 20
    News says:

    Elizabeth Liddle, Goodness, how did you take all this from what was said? Who said anything about cladograms? There is no difficulty with a life form having the traits of a different type of life form without being closely related. Indeed, it’s common. The suggestion was that you not base any theory important to your position on not finding a mammal somewhere with an avian-type lung. Of course you can if you wish, but why risk unnecessary falsification? Many unusual life forms have come and gone.

  21. 21
    David W. Gibson says:

    As I understand it (and I am not a biologist), homologous structures share some common ancestral structure, and varied from there. And therefore, any structure that develops AFTER that initial branch cannot be homologous to the original. It can be morphologically similar and functionally equivalent, but not homologous.

    Personally, I see the attempt to reconstruct evolutionary history based on extremely fragmentary evidence as inherently problematic. We have enough fragments to see the overall pattern (common descent, nested hierarchies), but nowhere near enough to identify all the organisms that ever lived, or which were the ancestors or descendents of which. So, like someone doing a jigsaw puzzle, we place unconnected pieces tentatively – where it seems they are most likely to fit pending more pieces.

    And of course, pretty often we find pieces that dislodge the tentative positioning of others. This hardly means there’s no overall picture, or that if we had all the pieces they wouldn’t all fit together snugly. It just means there’s a sharp limit to our detailed kinowledge, which in practice means constant reshuffling as we learn more.

    It somehow doesn’t bother me that some dinosaur lineage eventually developed into modern birds, or that in the process it produced a great many very similar branches that did NOT survive to the present day, making it speculative as to which organisms lie on which branch. Now, if new discoveries did NOT lead to rearrangements of the proposed tree details, then I would be suspicious, because it would imply that certainty had begun to trump evidence.

  22. 22
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Well, you didn’t actually say the word, “cladograms” news, but you talked about what I assumed was the move of Archy on the phylogenetic tree, i.e. a tweak to the tree.

    My comment was that if a mammal fossil was found with a bird-type lung, that would not simply involve tweaking the tree – it simply couldn’t be accommodated on a tree! Because bird-lungs appear further down stream in the bird lineage than the point at which the mammal departed.

    So if a mammal with bird-lungs was found, the entire edifice of common descent would crash (well, the only alternative hypothesis would be convergent evolution, but to support that you’d need a whole load more data, and the whole field, as I said, would be buzzing!).

    To which you brought up the platypus.

    So I showed a cladogram of amniotes showing that the platypus in no way violates nested hierarchies.

    The bill is clearly “convergent evolution”, because even a cursory glance at the skulls of a platypus and a duck is enough to show that they are not homologous.

    There is no difficulty with a life form having the traits of a different type of life form without being closely related. Indeed, it’s common. The suggestion was that you not base any theory important to your position on not finding a mammal somewhere with an avian-type lung. Of course you can if you wish, but why risk unnecessary falsification?

    I find this passage rather astonishing, news 🙂

    First of all, I do not choose theories on the basis of whether they are “important to my position”, lol, but on the basis of whether they are well-supported explanations of the data.

    Second, you ask “why risk unnecessary falsification?” which makes the double error, firstly, of regarding my statement as a “risk” (risk of what? finding out something cool?), but secondly of apparently misunderstanding “falsification”. If a “falsification” is “unnecessary” then it isn’t a “falsification”! It’s just a mistake! However, assuming you meant that I would be taking the erroneous position that bird-lungs in mammals would falsify common descent, I think you are making the different mistake of confusing functional features (wings; fins; eyes) with what phylogeneticists call characters, namely features (which can be phenotypic or genetic) that vary along a continuum, even though the function of those features may differ at different points in the continuum. For instance digits are a phylogenetic character, and in both birds and bats become wings. But “wings” is not a phylogenetic character, because the characters that in some species form wings, in other species (penguins!!!) serve as pectoral fins.

    What would make bird lungs in a mammal far more problematic than a duckbill on a mammal is that we can trace the characters that contribute to a bird lung right through the therapod lineage, a lineage that begins well after the mammal lineage split off. Whereas the lineage of characters that result in a platypus bill, or the platypus egg, are perfectly well accommodated within the mammalian lineage.

    The thing is, pace ba77, that phylogenetics isn’t just a case of drawing lines on paper and hoping the evidence turns up to support them. They are carefully fitted models, and the data they are fitted to are phylogenetic characters. Contrary to what is often alleged here, there are many potential life-forms that would present major problems for common descent, and not just the precambrian rabbit. The interesting thing is that we do not find them! Chimeras are notable by their absence!

    Although future phylogeneticist are going to look at the results of genetic modification and think: something interfered with common descent here.

    And of course they will be right. Common descent is falsifiable (and indeed, is partly untrue – HGT being an example). But moving Archy to a slightly different bit of the tree doesn’t falsify it, just adjusts the model parameters slightly.

    Trying to accommodate a mammal with bird-lungs, on the other hand, would fry a lot of computers.

  23. 23
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    ScottAndres:

    I can’t wait to see the look on my son’s face when I tell him that penguins are dinosaurs. I’ll make sure he tells his teacher, too.

    She probably knows already, because she’ll have been told already by lots of other little boys!

    My son used to telling people he’d seen a live dinosaur, then showing them a pigeon!

    And you can make a cool dinosaur model out of chicken bones, and learn some neat comparative anatomy at the same time:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Make-Y.....0060952261

  24. 24
    ScottAndrews says:

    Are iguanas and pigeons and penguins and pythons all dinosaurs?

  25. 25
    bornagain77 says:

    Liz states; ‘And you can make a cool dinosaur model out of chicken bones, and learn some neat comparative anatomy at the same time:’

    That’s all fine and well if you want to severely mislead your children,,, yet the actual evidence states,,,

    “The whole notion of feathered dinosaurs is a myth that has been created by ideologues bent on perpetuating the birds-are-dinosaurs theory in the face of all contrary evidence”
    Storrs Olson, the curator of birds at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History

    Discovery Raises New Doubts About Dinosaur-Bird Links – June 2009
    Excerpt: “one of the primary reasons many scientists kept pointing to birds as having descended from dinosaurs was similarities in their lungs,“ Ruben said. “However, theropod dinosaurs had a moving femur and therefore could not have had a lung that worked like that in birds. Their abdominal air sac, if they had one, would have collapsed. That undercuts a critical piece of supporting evidence for the dinosaur-bird link,,, “The findings add to a growing body of evidence in the past two decades that challenge some of the most widely-held beliefs about animal evolution.” —-“For one thing, birds are found (many millions of years) earlier in the fossil record than the dinosaurs they are supposed to have descended from,” Ruben said. “That’s a pretty serious problem,”…
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....092055.htm

    further notes:

    No Evidence For Birds Evolving From Anything
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1UF3DhlUnDM0Qrwh8ZmyLJA2r9hGFvHjoXki6WTzYg5M

    same for bats:

    Bat Evolution? – No Transitional Fossils! – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6003501/

    and same for Pterosaurs

    The Unknown Origin of Pterosaurs – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP6htc371fM

    as well, using Darwinists’s own mathematical models, from population genetics, for predicting change, we find neo-Darwinism is grossly inadequate to explain the pattern of diversity we see for life on earth:

    Whale Evolution Vs. Population Genetics – Richard Sternberg PhD. in Evolutionary Biology – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4165203

  26. 26
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    pigeons and penguins are; iguanas and pythons aren’t.

    http://faculty.weber.edu/bdatt....._clado.gif

  27. 27
    bornagain77 says:

    It seems the entire argument for inferring the supposed fossil sequence for whale evolution, in the fossil record, is primarily based on the erroneous readings of ‘bone homology’, or bone similarity, between different species. Yet this entire line of reasoning, for establishing scientific certainty for any proposed evolutionary sequence of fossils, is anything but ‘certain’, as this following video and quote clearly point out:

    Investigating Evolution: Homology – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgXT9sU6y18

    If you want to make evolutionist Henry Gee mad at you remind him that he once wrote this following ‘true’ statement:

    “To take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story, amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific.”
    Evolutionist – Henry Gee, editor of Nature, on the feasibility of reconstructing phylogenetic trees from fossils

    As well, there are very many similar creatures alive today (Marsupial and Placental mammals for one example) that, hypothetically, have completely different evolutionary paths yet their fossils are virtually indistinguishable from one another:

    Are look-alikes related? – September 2010
    http://creation.com/are-look-alikes-related

  28. 28
    bornagain77 says:

    As to millions of ‘missing pieces’ argument for the fossil record:

    The Fossil Record – The Myth Of +99.9% Extinct Species – Dr. Arthur Jones – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4028115

    “Stasis in the Fossil Record: 40-80% of living forms today are represented in the fossil record, despite being told in many text books that only about 0.1% are in this category. The rocks testify that no macro-evolutionary change has ever occurred. With the Cambrian Explosion complex fish, trilobites and other creatures appear suddenly without any precursors. Evidence of any transitional forms in the fossil record is highly contentious.”
    Paul James-Griffiths via Dr. Arthur Jones

    “Now, after over 120 years of the most extensive and painstaking geological exploration of every continent and ocean bottom, the picture is infinitely more vivid and complete than it was in 1859. Formations have been discovered containing hundreds of billions of fossils and our museums now are filled with over 100 million fossils of 250,000 different species. The availability of this profusion of hard scientific data should permit objective investigators to determine if Darwin was on the right track. What is the picture which the fossils have given us? … The gaps between major groups of organisms have been growing even wider and more undeniable. They can no longer be ignored or rationalized away with appeals to imperfection of the fossil record.” Luther D. Sunderland, Darwin’s Enigma 1988, Fossils and Other Problems, 4th edition, Master Books, p. 9

    “There is no need to apologize any longer for the poverty of the fossil record. In some ways, it has become almost unmanageably rich and discovery is outpacing integration. The fossil record nevertheless continues to be composed mainly of gaps.”
    Professor of paleontology – Glasgow University, T. Neville George

  29. 29
    bornagain77 says:

    Liz you state:

    pigeons and penguins are (related to dinosaurs); iguanas and pythons aren’t (related to dinosaurs).

    And then, for evidence, you reference a drawing with imaginary lines drawn where no fossil evidence exists, not does recent findings of genetics support. So once again Liz I ask, do imaginary lines drawn on a piece of paper represent hard evidence for you???

  30. 30
    Bantay says:

    I’ve seen goalpost moving….but some of the comments from the Darwinists participating in this thread beat them all. It’s almost as if they are desperate to do damage control, before science itself does their little pet theory in for good.

    For example, Mr. Matzke’s first comment, written with such a flourish of zeal that he probably managed to even convince himself it was true…but let’s see how convincing his comments were.

    On his comment no. B, he tries to gloss over the fact of Archy’s move on the phylogenic tree as “minor in the whole scheme of things”. Of course it’s only minor…like Haeckel’s drawings being fake…the fact that animal macroevolution has not been observed…the fact that Darwinism, no matter how it is redefined over the last 150 years, is simply inadequate to explain the Cambrian Explosion…yep, just minor little details….

    On his comment C, he then gives more attention to the (his) definition of “birds”, a definition that fits the fading paradigm he so desperately clings to. Wow. That’s convenient.

    But not too long after he defines birds, he says “the definition of bird is pretty arbitrary”….Really? Then why are you so quick to define what a bird is in a way that so circularly supports Darwinism?

    He then says “Ask Todd Wood if you don’t believe me.”

    Evidently, you’re not too believable Mr. Matzke, otherwise you wouldn’t have felt the need to make such an invitation.

    No Mr. Matzke, I think we’re better off going where the evidence best points. At this point, it appears as if winged dinos appear suddenly in the fossil record, feathered and not feathered. Darwinism is simply inadequate to explain that fact.

    He then has the gall to say “Scientists will *never* take you guys or ID in general seriously unless and until you bother to understand the actual science before ranting and raving about it.”

    No Mr. Matzke, the general public, thinking people and students will never have enough faith to believe nature does the magic you over at NCSE wish it did. Last time I checked, science was not about nature performing magic, or about special interest groups like NCSE promoting philosophical views in public taxpayer funded science class to unsuspecting students who are not allowed or encouraged to openly and freely question your attempts of dogmatic, misguided indoctrination.

    And finally, you seem to be under the misguided impression that science is about promoting Darwinism and its cultic doctrines, as if science was firmly established upon it. No Mr. Matzke, good science began by scientists who had a theistic worldview as an assumption upon which scientific research went forth. Good science continues, not because one world view is true or false, but because students and researchers are both allowed and encouraged to question the contemporary paradigm of their day. Rob students the opportunity to question Darwinism, and you’re robbing them of good science.

    In the interest of good science, you need to step down from NCSE while you still can. You would be the first of many. It’s only a matter of time.

  31. 31
    Mung says:

    Over here in The Land of Actual Science,

    … the definition of “bird” is pretty arbitrary, anyhow.

    Got it.

    That would of course, include the definition according to which birds are “just feathered dinosaurs.”

  32. 32
    Mung says:

    Phylogenies are nested hierarchial models fitted to real data [except when the data doesn’t fit]. The fact that nested hierarchical models fit the phenotypic data so well [except when they don’t] is itself an explanandum.

  33. 33
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    Darwinian evolution might be one explanation for the fit of the model; ID might be another; some baraminology model might yet be another (as Todd Wood believes).

    Please explain how random genomic changes plus natural selection explains why some phylogenies based on molecular characteristics fit some phylogienies based on phenotypic characteristics.

    Please explain why you think that ID purports to offer an explanation for why some phylogenies based on molecular characteristics fit some phylogienies based on phenotypic characteristics.

    Do they exhibit CSI or something?

    Or are you just confused about ID. Again. Still.

  34. 34
    Doveton says:

    Lizzie,

    My son used to telling people he’d seen a live dinosaur, then showing them a pigeon!

    I don’t know about pigeons, but I can’t help think of Jurassic Park when I’ve see these birds:

    http://www.kenyabirds.org.uk/secretary.htm

  35. 35
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    However, it is simply not true that the platypus shows bird traits, by which I mean traits that mean that it straddles lineages.

    A trait that straddles a lineage.

    Is there a technical term for that?

    I want to look it up so I can perhaps make some sense out of what you’re saying.

    I think you are making the different mistake of confusing functional features (wings; fins; eyes) with what phylogeneticists call characters, namely features (which can be phenotypic or genetic) that vary along a continuum, even though the function of those features may differ at different points in the continuum. For instance digits are a phylogenetic character, and in both birds and bats become wings. But “wings” is not a phylogenetic character, because the characters that in some species form wings, in other species (penguins!!!) serve as pectoral fins.

    Translation: We define what is going to be a character based on or assumptions of common descent. That way, no character can be used as evidence against common descent.

    Brilliant. But wrong.

    character — Heritable trait possessed by an organism; characters are usually described in terms of their states, for example: “hair present” vs. “hair absent,” where “hair” is the character, and “present” and “absent” are its states.

    http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/g.....ary_1.html

    The input data used in a maximum parsimony analysis is in the form of “characters” for a range of taxa. There is no generally agreed-upon definition of a phylogenetic character, but operationally a character can be thought of as an attribute, an axis along which taxa are observed to vary. These attributes can be physical (morphological), molecular, genetic, physiological, or behavioral. The only widespread agreement on characters seems to be that variation used for character analysis should reflect heritable variation. Whether it must be directly heritable, or whether indirect inheritance (e.g., learned behaviors) is acceptable, is not entirely resolved.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.....acter_data

    It can be difficult to decide whether a character is in fact the same, and thus can classified as a synapomorphy which may identify a group, or whether it only appears to be the same, and is thus a homoplasy which cannot identify a group. There is a danger of circular reasoning: assumptions about the shape of a phylogenetic tree are used to justify decisions about characters, which are then used as evidence for the shape of the tree.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cladistics

  36. 36
    David W. Gibson says:

    I must admit I’m confused about all this. As I see it, life has a very long and complicated history, with countless bit players, where nearly all historical lineages died out before today. And I see an effort to use what data we can collect to reconstruct this history as well as we can. And this is an iterative process – each reconstruction suggests a different view of the data, which suggests different ways to seek and collect data, which in turn leads to different views, endlessly. How science always works.

    I think there is a qualitative difference between whether or not there IS a “tree of life” and common ancestry (which seems very well supported, but with known limitations like HGT), and whether or not we have reconstructed that tree without error, which seems hopelessly unlikely.

    I would expect the details of our reconstruction of life’s history to change with nearly every discovery. This is the thrill of discovery, isn’t it?

    I sense different understandings of the underlying theory. As I read it, our theory attempts to explain mechanisms of change, but does NOT attempt to reconstruct biological history, species by species. Just as a theory of roadbuilding isn’t going to predict whether some intersection has a stoplight.

  37. 37
    Joseph says:

    This is starting to remind me of “Fletch” playing a jet mechanic:

    It’s all ball bearings dinosaurs.

    We are all just modified dinosaurs, who are just modified reptiles, which are just modified amphibians, which are just modified fish, blah, blah, blah.

    We are all just modified prokaryotes.

    Case closed.

    Thank you.

    Nothing to see here. Please move along.

  38. 38
    material.infantacy says:

    Be careful Bantay, I’m told Nick is a proper Slayer, complete with armor, broadsword, and a helmet made from the skull of a creationist!

    Holy ground, Highlander!

    Happy halloween, ladies.

  39. 39
    bornagain77 says:

    material.infantacy, if Nick is a ‘proper slayer, he may enjoy this song:

    Creed – Bullets (Video 2009)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPzhUp8mWgs

  40. 40
    Collin says:

    Elizabeth,

    This is the reason why the platypus does not fit into a nested heirarchy. http://www.uncommondescent.com.....hattering/

  41. 41
    Ilion says:

    Mung:Translation: We define what is going to be a character based on or assumptions of common descent. That way, no character can be used as evidence against common descent.

    Brilliant. But wrong.

    Similarly with homology and dis-homology.

    For instance, some DarwinDefenders will point to the fact that all mammalian species have exactly seven neck vertebrae as being very strong evidence for Darwinism – and only for Darwinism. Yet, if someone else happens to point out to the DD different bird species have different number of neck vertebrae, and that by the reasoning he has just asserted, this can *only* mean that bird species do not share a common ancestor, and are thus absolute evidence against Darwinism, suddenly that fact about birds doesn’t matter.

  42. 42
    material.infantacy says:

    Hey BA77, that looks like machinima!

    Thanks for the vid,

    mi

  43. 43
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Well, this thread is exhibit A for these propositions:

    (a) despite regular protestations that ID isn’t against common ancestry, the rank-and-file of UD *hates* common ancestry and doesn’t know a thing about the field of phylogenetics. I.e., they’re straight-up creationists.

    (b) Whoever does actually support common ancestry amongst the ID people isn’t man enough to tell the creos what’s what, even when they are engaging in the crudest kinds of know-nothingism.

    A question for you guys: is Archy a bird or a dinosaur? You seem very certain that it’s not transitional, you should then easily be able to tell me which category it is in.

  44. 44
    material.infantacy says:

    Creos. That’s…nice. Do you have pet names for other religious or racial groups?

    You’re a classy fellow, Nick, a proper gentleman. Do you attribute that to genetics or upbringing?

  45. 45
    bornagain77 says:

    Nick, you state this with disdain (and I imagine spittle flying from your lips),

    ‘I.e., they’re straight-up creationists.’

    I don’t know about anyone else’s take on Common Descent Nick, but from the scientific evidence alone;

    Intelligent Design – The Anthropic Hypothesis
    http://lettherebelight-77.blog.....is_19.html

    Short summary of previous paper:
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc....._5fwz42dg9

    ,,,I find atheistic materialism, and neo-darwinism in particular, to be a complete and utter joke as far as as rigorous science is concerned!!! EVERY SINGLE THING, presented as evidence for neo-Darwinism, falls completely apart upon scrutiny!!! So if that makes me a ‘creationist’ so be it. It is certainly better than living in a lie as you are currently doing!!! ,,, Moreover,,, I find that there is evidence for ‘quantum non-locality’ in life, on a massive scale, that gives strong indication that the ‘transcendent’ Creator, and Sustainer, of this universe also had a direct hand in the formation of all life on this earth,,, and for even greater shock, Nick, to your pure as driven snow atheistic sensibilities, from the scientific evidence I firmly believe that a very strong case can be made that the transcendent Creator of this universe inhabited the body of Jesus Christ and literally ripped a hole in the entropic space-time of this universe, when He rose from the dead;,,,

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355

    ,,, So Nick, I guess you can now call me a ‘Christian Creationist’ with disdain, and spittle flying from your lips, for that I certainly am. 🙂

    Hillsong United – Lord of Lords – music video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFkY5-Xp710

  46. 46
    Joseph says:

    Nick Matzke:

    (a) despite regular protestations that ID isn’t against common ancestry, the rank-and-file of UD *hates* common ancestry and doesn’t know a thing about the field of phylogenetics. I.e., they’re straight-up creationists.

    No one hates it Nick. It is just that the “evidnce” that supports it is all circumstantial, at best, and can be used to support alternative positions.

    I used to be all for it until I started looking at the evidence a little more objectively.

    Science Nick, not speculation and imagination, should rule the day.

    Nick:

    (b) Whoever does actually support common ancestry amongst the ID people isn’t man enough to tell the creos what’s what, even when they are engaging in the crudest kinds of know-nothingism.

    Well Nick you could just start pointing at the genes that DETERMINE what type of organism will develop. But you won’t because no one knows if such genes exist.

    Nick:

    A question for you guys: is Archy a bird or a dinosaur?

    It’s a fossil Nick.

    A question for you- how do you know our definitions/ classifications of organisms is correct?

    How do you know Archy isn’t a bird/ dino hybrid escaped from the Island of Dr Moreau?

    The Island of Dr Moreau- that is basically a documentary for you evolutionists, isn’t it Nick. I bet you sit there watching it saying “If only they would let me alter the DNA in all those lab embryos, I would show them transitionals” (cue maniacal laugh)

    Sorry Nick, I saw the movie, it is only a movie, Nick, and it made me laugh- comedy gold.

  47. 47
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    It is certainly clear that few people if any on this thread know anything about phylogenetic analysis.

    Or even, I suggest, about model fitting.

    An analogy might help: nobody rejects a correlation just because hardly any of the dots actually sit on the best-fit line. The model – a linear fit – is supported if the gradient of the best fit line is simply significantly different from zero.

    Phylogenetics is just a fancier version of that. The model – a tree – is parameterised against the data. Not all the data will be a perfect fit even to the best fitting tree, and new data will result in re-parameterising of the tree.

    The important thing is whether a tree is supported, not the precise details of the tree parameters, which will always tend to move about a bit in response to fresh data.

    However, if a mammal fossil with bird-lungs was discovered, however, the tree itself would blow up. It wouldn’t be a case of tweaking the odd parameter – we’d have to conclude: this is not a tree.

    And my point is: people here seem to think that if the tree doesn’t fit perfectly, and if it isn’t completely populated with data, it is just “unsupported” “lines on a page”.

    As though anything other than a perfect model is no better than a randomly selected one, and that therefore all models are unfalsifiable.

    Whereas in fact, the whole reason we use statistics in science is to determine whether our fitted models are indeed better than a randomly selected one!

  48. 48
    Joseph says:

    Elizabeth:

    However, if a mammal fossil with bird-lungs was discovered, however, the tree itself would blow up.

    Why? Where is it written in the theory of evolution that a mammal can never evolve a bird lung?

    What if evolution never found a mammalian lung and bird lungs were it?

    How about a fish with wrists? That should blow up the tree then also.

    Do you know that Doug Theobald wrote that an organism with a mix of charcteristics would ruin the nested hierarchy. A transitional form, by definition, is an organism with a mix of characteristics.

    Even Darwin understood that if all the (alleged) transitional forms that had to have existed were still alive today we would not be able to construct the tree he did.

    *shrug, sigh*

  49. 49
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Joseph:

    Do you know that Doug Theobald wrote that an organism with a mix of charcteristics would ruin the nested hierarchy. A transitional form, by definition, is an organism with a mix of characteristics.

    OK, you are confused. Not to worry, it is confusing.

    First: Theobald is correct, but “a mix of characteristics” is a somewhat imprecise expression of what he is saying. The characteristics in question are not any old feature, like, say “wings”. They are specifically what are called “phylogenetic characters” which are heritable features that vary along some dimension. And what phylogeneticists find is these features – have a very characteristic distribution – they can be used to place organisms on a deeply nested hierarchical tree. Moreover, these characters are called “primary” when they are found in an organism that appears to be the earliest to bear it, and “derived” in populations that descend from that organism.

    And if you were to find a fossil in which a set of derived characters from one lineage were found in an organism that also had derived characters from a quite different lineage (as with fur and bird-lungs), then that would break the tree – falsify common descent.

    Secondly: A transitional form is not an organism with derived features from more than one lineage. In fact, “transitional form” is a very misleading term. All organisms, in some sense, are “transitional forms” in an evolutionary framework. A better concept is “transitional series”, used to denote a series of fossils in which derived characters can place them into a chronologically ordered lineage.

    I think it’s important to understand these things, whether or not you think that common descent is true (and many IDists think it is). You won’t pull down Darwinism unless you know what the theory actually is, and what the evidence is that supports it!

    And I do think you are backing the wrong horse if you attack Darwinism by attacking the evidence for common descent. It is far more rigorous and extensive than you seem to give it credit for.

    If you want my advice, which is worth no more than what you paid for it, if you want to falsify Darwinism, concentrate your fire-power on the mechanisms of variance 🙂

    Because common descent and natural selection are home and hosed.

  50. 50
    Mung says:

    Nick Matzke:

    (a) despite regular protestations that ID isn’t against common ancestry, the rank-and-file of UD *hates* common ancestry and doesn’t know a thing about the field of phylogenetics. I.e., they’re straight-up creationists.

    Actually what we hate are lousy and circular arguments and questionable evidence stated as fact.

    Which version of phylogenetics did you have in mind, and why do you think each of them thinks the other is wrong?

    Oh, and can you show us how to fit “so what’s your theory to explain it” into a syllogism? I really am not clear on that argument.

    And why do you think the lack of a competing theory is your best evidence?

  51. 51
    Joseph says:

    Eliizabeth:

    If you want my advice, which is worth no more than what you paid for it, if you want to falsify Darwinism, concentrate your fire-power on the mechanisms of variance

    How can one falsify something that cannot be tested?

    Pull down Darwinism? Evidence that supports it?

    I am waiting for evidence that supports it.

    But anyway for now I will settle for the reference that says mammals cannot evolve bird-lungs.

    Evidence for common descent? Seen it and I can take that evidence and use it to support a common design, for example.

    You do realize that the “tree” is based on shared characteristics, ie a common design.

    And natural selection is hosed alright:

    Chapter IV of prominent geneticist Giuseppe Sermonti’s book Why is a Fly Not a Horse? is titled “Wobbling Stability”. In that chapter he discusses what I have been talking about in other threads- that populations oscillate. The following is what he has to say which is based on thorough scientific investigation:

    Sexuality has brought joy to the world, to the world of the wild beasts, and to the world of flowers, but it has brought an end to evolution. In the lineages of living beings, whenever absent-minded Venus has taken the upper hand, forms have forgotten to make progress. It is only the husbandman that has improved strains, and he has done so by bullying, enslaving, and segregating. All these methods, of course, have made for sad, alienated animals, but they have not resulted in new species. Left to themselves, domesticated breeds would either die out or revert to the wild state—scarcely a commendable model for nature’s progress.

    (snip a few paragraphs on peppered moths)

    Natural Selection, which indeed occurs in nature (as Bishop Wilberforce, too, was perfectly aware), mainly has the effect of maintaining equilibrium and stability. It eliminates all those that dare depart from the type—the eccentrics and the adventurers and the marginal sort. It is ever adjusting populations, but it does so in each case by bringing them back to the norm. We read in the textbooks that, when environmental conditions change, the selection process may produce a shift in a population’s mean values, by a process known as adaptation. If the climate turns very cold, the cold-adapted beings are favored relative to others.; if it becomes windy, the wind blows away those that are most exposed; if an illness breaks out, those in questionable health will be lost. But all these artful guiles serve their purpose only until the clouds blow away. The species, in fact, is an organic entity, a typical form, which may deviate only to return to the furrow of its destiny; it may wander from the band only to find its proper place by returning to the gang.

    Everything that disassembles, upsets proportions or becomes distorted in any way is sooner or later brought back to the type. There has been a tendency to confuse fleeting adjustments with grand destinies, minor shrewdness with signs of the times.

    It is true that species may lose something on the way—the mole its eyes, say, and the succulent plant its leaves, never to recover them again. But here we are dealing with unhappy, mutilated species, at the margins of their area of distribution—the extreme and the specialized. These are species with no future; they are not pioneers, but prisoners in nature’s penitentiary.

    The point being, that IF it were left to direct scientific observations, evolutionism fails miserably and all that is left is wishful thinking supported by speculation.

    All that is left for Nick, Elizabeth or any other evolutionist to do is to assert that Dr Sermonti is mistaken. But one will quickly notice that total lack of evidentiary support for such a premise.

  52. 52
    Mung says:

    It is certainly clear that few people if any on this thread know anything about phylogenetic analysis.

    Right, most of us have never even cracked a book on the topic.

    Certainly nothing like:

    Molecules and Morphology in Evolution: Conflict or Compromise?

    Or this one:

    Phylogenetic Systematics

    Nor this classic:

    Molecular Evolution and Phylogenetics

    We’re just a bunch of rubes.

  53. 53
    Joseph says:

    Also there isn’t any nested hierarchy nor tree to be found amongst most (if not all) single-celled organisms.

    Does that then refute the theory of evolution?

  54. 54
    SCheesman says:

    I seem to find myself agreeing with a lot of what Nick Matzke says these days. He picked up on the fact (like I did in a previous post), that the YEC crowd quite confidently put archy in with the birds for quite some time.

    I personally don’t see why something that looks transitional should be any sort of threat to ID, but I can see how it could be to YECs, and I suspect that many in the ID crowd sometimes forget that the ID position gives a great deal of freedom to interpret what is found, and personally I think we need to step back and just consider where the evidence leads.

    I’m also not afraid to say that the “predictive power” of ID is often no better than what we criticize the Darwinian crowd for. ID is more a conclusion than a prescription, and just because we infer the action a designer does not mean we are any better at discerning, a priori, how that designer would have operated.

    So why not just sit back, enjoy the research as it is done (as archy bounces around the tree), and not worry about the fact that it’s not all settled yet?

    Maybe archy is sort of a “dinosaurian” platypus, or maybe it really was part of a transitional step between one form of (pre?) dinosaurs and one form of birds as part of front-loaded evolution. I’m happy to let the cards fall as they may.

  55. 55
    Mung says:

    Phylogenetic Systematics

    And yet another:

    Cladistics: The Theory and Practice of Parsimony Analysis

    Rubes I say! Can’t be bothered to crack open a book on the subject!

  56. 56
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    But there is, Joseph.

    Although because of HGT, for single-celled organisms the tree is much bushier.

    And Mung: perhaps you do know something about phylogenetics, if so cool. You probably know more than I do.

    But most of the comments on this thread seem to be from people who don’t.

    Certainly, anyone who thinks that the platypus is chimera is confused about phylogenetics.

    And Joseph, testing is possible.

    Oh well.

    My main point I guess, which I’ll try to make once more, is that the evidence for a tree is extremely strong.

    Darwinism, however, is not the only explanation for a tree. As Joseph says, you could (and Todd Wood would) argue that common design is a viable alternative.

    I’m just a bit amazed that there is so much opposition here to the tree itself, which, after all, was first noted by Linnaeus!

    It seems to me like you all just have to disbelieve anything that could possibly be supportive of Darwinism!

    So, don’t listen to me. Listen to Denton, or Behe, or even Todd Wood.

  57. 57
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Mung:

    Translation: We define what is going to be a character based on or assumptions of common descent. That way, no character can be used as evidence against common descent.

    Not exactly, but of course you have a point. Where your implication is wrong is the idea that any old character can be pushed in or out of the set depending on whether it supports the conclusion, and that any evidence could be selected that would support any conclusion.

    It’s an iterative process, and what is an observable is that a large set of characters form a clear tree – are clearly non-random if you like.

    Indeed, you could even argue that the distribution shows evidence of design!

    But here’s an analogy: let’s say you have a box of old jigsaw puzzle pieces: you put together some sky, and some ground, and you start to get a corner, larger pieces start to fit together, and so on. But you get stuck. Some pieces just don’t seem to fit anywhere, and some pieces are clearly missing.

    What do you conclude? That it isn’t actually a jigsaw puzzle? Or do you, rather, conclude that the bits you have are clearly part of a jigsaw puzzle (the fact that so many of them fit together cannot be chance) but that some pieces have got lost, and some pieces appear to belong to a different puzzle.

  58. 58
    Mung says:

    But “wings” is not a phylogenetic character, because the characters that in some species form wings, in other species (penguins!!!) serve as pectoral fins.

    However, if a mammal fossil with bird-lungs was discovered, however, the tree itself would blow up.

    Or not.

    Perhaps lungs are like wings. Not characters at all.

    If you ask me, pectoral fins are wings.

  59. 59
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Well just “lungs” are like “wings” probably. That’s why I specified bird-lungs.

    But look, Mung, if you’ve read those books on phylogenetics, you know all this. Why are you arguing?

    You know that phylogenetic characters arent’ functional categories like “wings”. That’s why, in fact, we can say that in some instances a pectoral fin in one critter is homologous to a wing in another, but we can also say that the wing of a bat is not homologous to the wing of a bird, and certainly not to the wing of an insect.

    Ditto the bill of a platypus.

    Anyway, if you really want to falsfiy the ToE, look out for the fossil of an angel.

    Better than a precambrian rabbit, or a platypus, or even a mammal with bird-lungs.

  60. 60
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    My main point I guess, which I’ll try to make once more, is that the evidence for a tree is extremely strong.

    Surely this was known long before Darwin, and by creationists, no less.

    Some creatures have lots of things in common, others have less in common.

  61. 61
    bornagain77 says:

    I’m just still left wondering where the Cambrian Explosion fits in all this ‘tree thinking’ that Darwinist are so enamored with?!?

    Darwin’s Dilemma – Excellent Cambrian Explosion Movie
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyZjQFN_DUw

    Response to John Wise – October 2010
    “So, where then are those ancestors? Fossil preservation conditions were adequate to preserve animals such as jellyfish, corals, and sponges, as well as the Ediacaran fauna. It does not appear that scarcity is a fault of the fossil record.”
    Sean Carroll developmental biologist
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....38811.html

  62. 62
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    I’m just a bit amazed that there is so much opposition here to the tree itself, which, after all, was first noted by Linnaeus!

    Oh, lol. I missed that.

    Will I don’t dispute a tree-like pattern. I’m not sure that many ID people would depending on the way you phrase the question.

    Darwinism, however, is not the only explanation for a tree.

    By Darwinism you mean descent with modification? You don’t mean random genetic changes plus natural selection, right?

    So you now agree with me that Darwinism is a theory of common descent? GREAT!

    😉

    It seems to me like you all just have to disbelieve anything that could possibly be supportive of Darwinism!

    We’re very leery of circular arguments. If Darwinism is an explanation for the pattern, in what way is the pattern evidence for Darwinism, without being circular?

  63. 63
    Joseph says:

    The tree Linne noticed wasn’t based on common descent.

    Darwinism explains a tree but it doesn’t expect one and Darwin knew it. There isn’t anything in the theory that prevents diverged lines from converging. And there isn’t anything in the theory that prevents multiple origins to animals.

    But anyway I am really interested in how to test the premise that the bacterial flagellum, for example, evolved via an accumulation of genetic accidents. Or as Dr Behe said:

    Let’s turn the tables and ask, how could one falsify the claim that, say, the bacterial flagellum was produced by Darwinian processes?

  64. 64
    ScottAndrews says:

    Elizabeth,

    It’s unimaginable that finding a mammal with avian lungs, living or fossilized, would break or blow up anything. It would either be a bird that convergently evolved mammalian features, or the other way around.

    The goalposts have moved too many times. Lack of gradualism in the fossil record? There’s not enough fossils. Or evolution occurs gradually but in a way that doesn’t leave a gradual transition of fossils.

    Find something, or a whole bunch of things, that can’t be explained by step-by-step changes? That’s called an argument from ignorance.

    Contradictions lead to new buzz words which show up in phrases like, ‘This mammal with avian lungs is a perfect example of [something],’ making it sound like it’s as common as grass.

  65. 65
    bornagain77 says:

    Joseph, As to Dr. Behe’s comment:

    ‘Let’s turn the tables and ask, how could one falsify the claim that, say, the bacterial flagellum was produced by Darwinian processes?’

    ,,,Well, I hold that the following finding falsifies the claim that the flagellum can be produced by the purely neo-Darwinian processes (by purely reductive materialistic processes):

    INFORMATION AND ENERGETICS OF QUANTUM FLAGELLA MOTOR
    Hiroyuki Matsuura, Nobuo Noda, Kazuharu Koide Tetsuya Nemoto and Yasumi Ito
    Excerpt from bottom page 7: Note that the physical principle of flagella motor does not belong to classical mechanics, but to quantum mechanics. When we can consider applying quantum physics to flagella motor, we can find out the shift of energetic state and coherent state.
    http://www2.ktokai-u.ac.jp/~shi/el08-046.pdf

    I hold this falsifies the reductive materialistic claims of neo-Darwinism, for the flagellum, simply because quantum coherence/entanglement cannot be reduced to the reductive material framework of neo-Darwinism in the first place!

    =============

    notes:

    First, Here is the falsification of local realism (reductive materialism).

    Here is a clip of a talk in which Alain Aspect talks about the failure of ‘local realism’, or the failure of reductive materialism, to explain reality:

    The Failure Of Local Realism – Reductive Materialism – Alain Aspect – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4744145

    The falsification for local realism (reductive materialism) was recently greatly strengthened:

    Physicists close two loopholes while violating local realism – November 2010
    Excerpt: The latest test in quantum mechanics provides even stronger support than before for the view that nature violates local realism and is thus in contradiction with a classical worldview.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....alism.html

    Quantum Measurements: Common Sense Is Not Enough, Physicists Show – July 2009
    Excerpt: scientists have now proven comprehensively in an experiment for the first time that the experimentally observed phenomena cannot be described by non-contextual models with hidden variables.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142824.htm

    And yet, quantum entanglement, which rigorously falsified local realism (reductive materialism) as the complete description of reality, is now found in molecular biology on a massive scale!

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA & Protein Folding – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    ===============

    further notes:

    i.e. It is very interesting to note that quantum entanglement, which conclusively demonstrates that ‘information’ in its pure ‘quantum form’ is completely transcendent of any time and space constraints, should be found in molecular biology on such a massive scale, for how can the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ in biology possibly be explained by a material (matter/energy space/time) ’cause’ when the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ falsified material particles as its own ‘causation’ in the first place? (A. Aspect) Appealing to the probability of various configurations of material particles, as neo-Darwinism does, simply will not help since a timeless/spaceless cause must be supplied which is beyond the capacity of the energy/matter particles themselves to supply! To give a coherent explanation for an effect that is shown to be completely independent of any time and space constraints one is forced to appeal to a cause that is itself
    not limited to time and space! i.e. Put more simply, you cannot explain a effect by a cause that has been falsified by the very same effect you are seeking to explain! Improbability arguments of various ‘specified’ configurations of material particles, which have been a staple of the arguments against neo-Darwinism, simply do not apply since the cause is not within the material particles in the first place!
    ,,,To refute this falsification of neo-Darwinism, one must falsify Alain Aspect, and company’s, falsification of local realism (reductive materialism)!

    ,,, As well, appealing to ‘non-reductive’ materialism (multiverse or many-worlds) to try to explain quantum non-locality in molecular biology ends up destroying the very possibility of doing science rationally;

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    ,,,Michael Behe has a profound answer to the infinite multiverse (non-reductive materialism) argument in “Edge of Evolution”. If there are infinite universes, then we couldn’t trust our senses, because it would be just as likely that our universe might only consist of a human brain that pops into existence which has the neurons configured just right to only give the appearance of past memories. It would also be just as likely that we are floating brains in a lab, with some scientist feeding us fake experiences. Those scenarios would be just as likely as the one we appear to be in now (one universe with all of our experiences being “real”). Bottom line is, if there really are an infinite number of universes out there, then we can’t trust anything we perceive to be true, which means there is no point in seeking any truth whatsoever.

    “The multiverse idea rests on assumptions that would be laughed out of town if they came from a religious text.” Gregg Easterbrook

    =================

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007

    =========================

    To dovetail into Dembski and Marks’s work on Conservation of Information;,,,

    LIFE’S CONSERVATION LAW: Why Darwinian Evolution Cannot Create Biological Information
    William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II
    http://evoinfo.org/publication.....ation-law/

    ,,,Encoded classical information, such as what we find in computer programs, and yes as we find encoded in DNA, is found to be a subset of ‘transcendent’ quantum information by the following method:,,,

    This following research provides solid falsification for Rolf Landauer’s contention that information encoded in a computer is merely physical (merely ‘emergent’ from a material basis) since he believed it always required energy to erase it;

    Quantum knowledge cools computers: New understanding of entropy – June 2011
    Excerpt: No heat, even a cooling effect;
    In the case of perfect classical knowledge of a computer memory (zero entropy), deletion of the data requires in theory no energy at all. The researchers prove that “more than complete knowledge” from quantum entanglement with the memory (negative entropy) leads to deletion of the data being accompanied by removal of heat from the computer and its release as usable energy. This is the physical meaning of negative entropy.
    Renner emphasizes, however, “This doesn’t mean that we can develop a perpetual motion machine.” The data can only be deleted once, so there is no possibility to continue to generate energy. The process also destroys the entanglement, and it would take an input of energy to reset the system to its starting state. The equations are consistent with what’s known as the second law of thermodynamics: the idea that the entropy of the universe can never decrease. Vedral says “We’re working on the edge of the second law. If you go any further, you will break it.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134300.htm

    ,,,And here is the empirical confirmation that quantum information is ‘conserved’;,,,

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed. This concept stems from two fundamental theorems of quantum mechanics: the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem. A third and related theorem, called the no-hiding theorem, addresses information loss in the quantum world. According to the no-hiding theorem, if information is missing from one system (which may happen when the system interacts with the environment), then the information is simply residing somewhere else in the Universe; in other words, the missing information cannot be hidden in the correlations between a system and its environment.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

  66. 66
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    ScottAndrews:

    Elizabeth,

    It’s unimaginable that finding a mammal with avian lungs, living or fossilized, would break or blow up anything. It would either be a bird that convergently evolved mammalian features, or the other way around.

    The goalposts have moved too many times. Lack of gradualism in the fossil record? There’s not enough fossils. Or evolution occurs gradually but in a way that doesn’t leave a gradual transition of fossils.

    Find something, or a whole bunch of things, that can’t be explained by step-by-step changes? That’s called an argument from ignorance.

    Contradictions lead to new buzz words which show up in phrases like, ‘This mammal with avian lungs is a perfect example of [something],’ making it sound like it’s as common as grass.

    I do understand that this is your perception, and that it is widespread. I think it is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of scientific methodology, and, in particular, of model-fitting.

    If something doesn’t fit a model, you have to change the model. Every time you refit a model, you falsify the old one. But mostly what you falsify are previous parameters, not the entire model.

    That’s why I gave the example of a correlation, because most people understand that you don’t have to have every datapoint sitting bang on the regression line in order to infer a significantly linear relationship.

    Archy doesn’t falsify the tree, it just means that the best fitting tree is a little different from the previous best-fitting tree.

    But if a mammal showed up with avian lungs showed up, either those “avian” lungs would have to be shown to be not, in fact, homologous with bird lungs, or the tree would collapse.

    But far from being a sloppy “oh, it’s probably convergent” process, this is a a powerful constraint on the inferences you can draw, and if there was NO evidence that the lung was anything other than completely homologous with a bird lung, then you’d be absolutely right to object to anyone trying to say that it was.

    The idea that this not a rigorous process is, I suggest, a very important mistake. There is a reason why the vast majority of scientists accept common descent, and it isn’t sloppy thinking.

  67. 67
    kairosfocus says:

    H’mm:

    Let’s put it in a phrase: mosaic creatures. And the debates over good old c 1861 Archeopteryx, run into the same barrier.

    Not to mention, the issue is to account for the FSCO/I involved in creating the new body plan.

    We have yet to see a cogent, solidly empirical observation anchored answer on random walks in config spaces rewarded by trial and error success leading to being in a position to do hill climbing.

    The only empirically sound cause of that relevant subset of CSI called FSCO/I is design, with abundant inductive empirical warrant.

    GEM of TKI

  68. 68
    Joseph says:

    Elizabeth:

    There is a reason why the vast majority of scientists accept common descent, and it isn’t sloppy thinking.

    So what is the reason this alleged vast majority cannot come up with a way to objectively test their position to the exclusion of all alternatives?

    BTW I am still waiting to see how we test Darwinism…

  69. 69
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Joseph:

    So what is the reason this alleged vast majority cannot come up with a way to objectively test their position to the exclusion of all alternatives?

    The nature of the scientific method.

    It has its limits. And actually, its limits are what gives it its power.

  70. 70
    Joseph says:

    If that is the case then those scientists accept common descent for unscientific reasons.

    And that is pathetic if you ask me.

  71. 71
    ScottAndrews says:

    Elizabeth,

    The problem isn’t science making corrections. The problem is when you have a theory so vague that it can stand regardless of any specific evidence or predictions.

    What started as variation and selection has morphed into ‘anything not designed or directed by intelligence.’

    You can mess with the tree some, but the tree still stands. If you take out the tree, you can replace it with a bush. HGT instead of descent. The more you alter the specifics and the evidence, the more meaningless the theory becomes. It becomes the theory of living things changing over time, somehow, undesigned.

  72. 72
    ScottAndrews says:

    Re-fitting the tree wouldn’t be a big deal except that the tree is used as evidence of itself. I.e., of course common descent is true, look at the tree.
    The model isn’t used to test the theory. The very existence of the model is held as support for the theory. That leaves you with a theory for which the evidence is interchangeable (not to mention vague.) IOW, the theory can exist independently of its evidence.

  73. 73
    Joseph says:

    To sum up-

    Neither Darwinism nor universal common descent are testable claims, yet seeing that some alleged majority of scientists accept them for unscientific reasons, we, the people, are just supposed to blindly follow along.

    Am I missing something?

  74. 74
    Mung says:

    Now I’d like to remind everyone that in a different thread Elizabeth argued that Darwin’s theory was not a theory of common descent.

    Yet here she is in this thread arguing that Darwinism offers an explanation for the tree-like pattern which can be created by grouping past and present organisms based upon their similarities and differences.

    That is to say, that Darwin’s theory of descent with modification explains the pattern, but that Darwin’s theory is not a theory of common descent.

    iirc, her “reasoning” in that thread was that Darwinism could be reduced to certain fundamental claims about it’s mechanism, and that common ancestry was not required for the mechanism to function (iow, the mechanism could still work even if all life did not descend from a common ancestor), therefore, Darwin’s theory was not a theory of common descent.

  75. 75
    David W. Gibson says:

    Joseph,

    You might be missing the fact that the “alleged majority of scientists” exceeds 99%, that they embody centuries of dedicated, focused research, that they are under the impression that these claims (of common descent, and relative reproductive success) have been tested at least millions and millions of times (and thousands every day), and that all of this was done in strict accordance with the scientific method.

    We the people, of course, need not accept anything they have discovered. But saying that those centuries of very meticulous science is “not scientific” kind of stretches the meaning of the word a bit.

    I expect scientists will continue to make new discoveries indefinitely, and many of those discoveries will result in rearranging what they thought was true into something that fits better. It’s a never-ending process. “Scientific truth” is inherently tentative, by definition. Often wrong, always incomplete. But useful.

  76. 76
    David W. Gibson says:

    “iirc, her “reasoning” in that thread was that Darwinism could be reduced to certain fundamental claims about it’s mechanism, and that common ancestry was not required for the mechanism to function (iow, the mechanism could still work even if all life did not descend from a common ancestor), therefore, Darwin’s theory was not a theory of common descent.”

    Well, more or less. I interpret her to mean that common descent is compatible with natural selection, but that natural selection isn’t a theory of common descent. Just like the game of baseball is compatible with theories of physics, but physics is not a theory of baseball.

    (And in fact, HGT is a known, observed, and tested mechanism which is INcompatible with common descent.)

  77. 77
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Mung @ #74 David Gibson has responded to your post more eloquently than I could do.

  78. 78
    Joseph says:

    David W. Gibson:

    You might be missing the fact that the “alleged majority of scientists” exceeds 99%,

    Then there is a problem when 99% can’t support their beliefs.

    that they embody centuries of dedicated, focused research, that they are under the impression that these claims (of common descent, and relative reproductive success) have been tested at least millions and millions of times (and thousands every day), and that all of this was done in strict accordance with the scientific method.

    David, there isn’t any evidence that the transformations required are even feasible. Evo-devo has been a bust and it was the last hope.

    We the people, of course, need not accept anything they have discovered. But saying that those centuries of very meticulous science is “not scientific” kind of stretches the meaning of the word a bit.

    Zero centuies of meticulous science behind universal common descent. No one knows if the changes required are even do-able.

    I expect scientists will continue to make new discoveries indefinitely, and many of those discoveries will result in rearranging what they thought was true into something that fits better.

    The more they find out the better ID looks.

    It’s a never-ending process.

    Where have I heard that before? Oh me!:

    As I like to say- science is our search for the truth, i.e. the reality, to our existence via our never-ending quest for knowledge.

  79. 79
    Mung says:

    Darwin’s theory was not a “theory of common descent.”

    Ah, I just re-read that thread and you retracted that claim. My bad for bringing it back up.

    OK, Mung, I will retract that claim, and rephrase

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....nist-then/

  80. 80
    kairosfocus says:

    DWG:

    Joseph is right.

    Origins science is under captivity to an evolutionary materialist a priori imposition, as Lewontin and others summarised.

    Here is Lewontin:

    ___________

    >> . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [[i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [NYRB, Jan 1997. If yo8u think the following words justify the actions just described, or that they turn this into a quote-mining exercise, kindly continue reading here. Also note the other three following clips from Coyne, US NAS and NSTA.] >>
    ___________

    Philip Johnson’s rebuke is apt:

    __________

    >> For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.] >>
    ___________

    We are facing a reigning orthodoxy locked into an essentially ideological position, and one routinely enforced by the most untenable means.

    The only question in my mind is when it will collapse, and, then, how much damage it will do to the credibility of institutional science and science education, as well as the major media houses when that happens.

    (Observe the almost unreported but nonetheless drastic impact of the Climategate incident.)

    GEM of TKI

  81. 81
    David W. Gibson says:

    Joseph:

    Then there is a problem when 99% can’t support their beliefs.

    So long as we understand that those 99% THINK they are supporting their beliefs. They are following the scientific method developed and honed over the last 300 years, and following it assiduously and meticulously. And according to that method (which IS science), their belief is as supported as science gets.

    Now, one might argue that the scientific method doesn’t actually “support” anything at all, and easily gives rise to erroneous understandings. And while this is possible, the scientific enterprise (by which I mean, the rules science is played by) goes to considerable lengths to eliminate confirmation bias or other distortions. For example, things like peer review, replication, active debate, competing hypotheses, accuracy of predictions, null hypotheses, construction of methods (to avoid building conclusions into the method) etc. are all very carefully accounted for.

    So when you say they “can’t support their beliefs”, this again stretches the meanings of words. They support their results, not their beliefs. And those with different expectations or mental models (you might call these “beliefs”, I suppose) are quick to construct different experiments. Then there are dueling results, leading to yet more studies. And so science stumbles forward.

    David, there isn’t any evidence that the transformations required are even feasible. Evo-devo has been a bust and it was the last hope.

    Again, this seems very much a matter of interpretation. Certainly the 99+% of scientists who work in the field and are intimately familiar with every nuance, THINK these transformations are not just feasible, but inevitable. Evo-devo, as I understand it, is a fairly new field, developing rapidly but already considered (by these scientists) to have added huge dollops of explanatory power to existing theories, and extended those theories in important ways.

    And again, there are always different ways of defining and identifying “evidence”, which is bound to lead to disagreement. I can only observe that your statements would find little or no agreement among more than 99% of the specialists in the field.

    Zero centuies of meticulous science behind universal common descent. No one knows if the changes required are even do-able.

    And once again, those scientists would strongly disagree with you. Maybe we could write this off as a matter of battling areas of expertise? Certainly more than 99% of practicing biologists would regard these changes as already demonstrated at considerable length, and indeed taken advantage of in many ways. As I understand it, common descent is a deduction based on a combination of genetic, molecular and morphological analysis. It kind of emerges as a necessary implication of a rather extensive body of observations, but once again, science is always tentative. It might be, if not wrong, at least not entirely correct.

    The more they find out the better ID looks.

    I regard that as very positive, since I believe there is only one history and only one reality, and all approaches to such things must eventually dovetail and agree. Currently, the problem with ID is, it’s a bit short in terms of making testable predictions. And possibly even shorter on willingness to return to the drawing board if those predictions flop badly.

    Conducted properly, science is a humiliating exercise. One must FIRST make one’s predictions, usually publicly, and to get funding one must specify in advance what method will be used to test them, and the default must be failure (the null hypothesis). And most of the time, the null hypothesis wins, and the prediction was wrong. Publicly.

  82. 82
    David W. Gibson says:

    kairosfocus:

    Origins science is under captivity to an evolutionary materialist a priori imposition, as Lewontin and others summarised.

    Minus the slanted adjectives, yes, this seems to be quite correct. Science has carved out for itself a purely and strictly material domain. This was done deliberately, and with full knowledge that there may be extremely important matters which lie outside this domain, but which therefore lie outside the competence of science to investigate or even comment on.

    And so Philip Johnson is exactly correct. The materialism MUST come first, because if it does not, it would not be possible to devise the scientific method, which rests on that materialism entirely. While it might often seem useful to allow a divine foot in the door, the result would not be science, and the scientific method could not be used.

    And certainly materialism and rationality are not at all the same thing. At least as I understand it, materialism MEANS being concerned strictly with the material, to the exclusion of anything else, with the understanding that any conclusions are themselves restricted to materialistic understandings. Rationality is something quite different, namely the correct application of logical inference to reach conclusions.

    Within the purview of science, the postulates to which rationality is applied, must necessarily be material. But certainly this is not a requirement for rati0nality. In pure reason, postulates are simply taken as given and not evaluated per se. With the rational understanding that screwy postulates will lead to entirely reasonable screwy conclusions.

  83. 83
    Joseph says:

    David W. Gibson:

    So long as we understand that those 99% THINK they are supporting their beliefs.

    Well, David, most scientists are so specialized they really have no say in the matter, scientifically.

    They are following the scientific method developed and honed over the last 300 years, and following it assiduously and meticulously.

    This scientific method:

    There is no such thing as “THE Scientific Method.”

    They support their results, not their beliefs.

    There aren’t any results that support their beliefs.

    Certainly the 99+% of scientists who work in the field and are intimately familiar with every nuance, THINK these transformations are not just feasible, but inevitable.

    And when they find evidence to support that people will start listening.

    As for universal common descent there still isn’t any way to test it. Cladistics assumes it based on shared characteristics.

    Genetic, molecular and morphological data can be used to support a common design.

    As for predictions, I have yet to see any based on the theory of evolution’s mechanism of accumulations of genetic accidents. And certainly never in public.

    Heck it has already been admitted that darwinism cannot be tested. neo-d is in the same boat.

    But anyway I am pretty sure that Creation publicly predicted the universe had a beginning and there is reproductive isolation.

    Do they win?

  84. 84
    Joseph says:

    Zachriel has a new sock. News at 11…

  85. 85
    David W. Gibson says:

    Joseph,

    Well, David, most scientists are so specialized they really have no say in the matter, scientifically.

    I don’t think I understand what this statement is intended to mean. Presumably, you practice a profession at which you are quite expert. What would you say to an outsider who observed that you must have so much expertise that you don’t know what you’re talking about? You might not take such a comment seriously.

    As for “THE” scientific method, I agree it’s basically a fiction, a kind of misleading composite of multiple approaches to solving different sorts of problems. And this is why I tend to refer to the “scientific enterprise”, which is the set of fairly common practices by which science is actually done.

    There aren’t any results that support their beliefs.

    But they THINK the results support their beliefs, and they THINK that their beliefs are based on their body of results. Now, their results might very well not support YOUR beliefs, and they might not even support the beliefs YOU THINK that THEY have. But those are somewhat different formulations.

    As for universal common descent there still isn’t any way to test it. Cladistics assumes it based on shared characteristics.

    Well, Linnaeus produced his taxonomy long before Darwin. He lacked any explanation for WHY biological organisms nested so neatly into such a hierarchical model, of course, but the facts were plain even if the reason behind them was not.

    Common ancestry is a proposal designed to fit this body of observations and in the bargain to be as simple as possible a proposal that fit all the facts. So in a sense, you could say that every new organism discovered that fits neatly into that taxonomy, is a “test” of any proposed explanation.

    And without question, a common design is another proposal that neatly fits all the observations. And if some new organism fails to fit either common descent OR common design, then both proposals must be questioned.

    Do they win?

    Win what? I think the goal here is greater understanding of the universe we live in. Anything that increases that understanding wins. So long as we recognize that understandings are always tentative. For example, there are many proposals for the “beginning” of our universe, that describe it as nothing more than a phase change from one sort of universe to another, with a long history prior to that phase change. If this should be demonstrated (though I don’t know how it would be), then creation would need appropriate modification to fit our new and greater understanding.

  86. 86
    kairosfocus says:

    DWG:

    Once science has been allowed to be locked up into a philosophical materialistic circle by imposed a priori, it is being censored through question-begging.

    And, once the public begins to realise what is going on, especially for origins science, the game is over.

    For, we all know where politically correct — ideological — philosophical — a priori impositions and censorship leads. Hence of course the pretence that for centuries the successful rule of the game in science is so-called methodological naturalism, now used to say that science can only explain by “natural causes.” NOT! (And a few other myths about the roots of science are popped here.)

    When pressed, that imposition boils down to you can only work in the circle of matter, energy, space, time, chance and forces of mechanical necessity. Precisely the a priori evolutionary materialism that Lewontin identified, and as others also back up.

    The “only” problem with this is that it leaves out of the reckoning exactly the forces that allow us to do science at all, i.e. that we are self-moved, freely thinking intelligent beings who can follow LOGICAL connexions by reasoning, and by observing and evaluating facts of the empirical world. As Haldane pointed out ever so long ago:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    In short, if you reduce our mental capacity to a product of chance plus necessity acting on matter and energy, through genetic and socio-cultural conditioning, you end up in a self-referential absurdity. And tossing around word-magic terms like “emergence” and conscious software looping, is just that: word-magic, not serious explanation.

    Your sysrem of explanaitons must leave room for a self-aware, self-moved mind that can think, decide, reason and act for itself, or the first premise of science collapses in self-refuting ruins: science requires scientists who can freely think, reason, and know.

    So, the sort of a priori materialistic censorship we see you trying to justify locks out the very intelligence that scientists must use to do science at all, and the question as to whether that intelligence may sometimes leave empirically testable, reliable signs that point to its source.

    For instance, in comment 82 just above, you put up a post in this thread in English, using 1612 ASCII characters. Based on the 7-bit code, the number of contingent possibilities for that many characters is: 128^1612 ~ 6.6*10^3,396.

    We may ignore for our purposes the debates on the redundancy of English as a digital code and the different proportions of letters in English, as on pure chance each character would be equiprobable. So, we are dealing with 7*1612 = 11,284 bits. (At even 1 bit per character as an average, we are still well beyond the resources of the observed cosmos so this is without loss of materiality of the argument.)

    Applying the log-reduced Chi metric on the gamut of our solar system of some 10^57 atoms (mostly Hydrogen in the sun, BTW), we can see:

    Chi_500 = I*S – 500

    Where, I = 11,284 , and as we are dealing with an instance of a code known to be vulnerable to perturbations, the specificity dummy variable S is 1.

    Chi_500 = 10,784 bits beyond the solar system threshold.

    The import of this is that the only credible cause of something that has that many functionally specific bits is intelligence as we OBSERVE it, based on the challenge of finding islands of specific function in a large space of possibilities, beyond the solar system [our effective universe] threshold. (FYI, over the time since the usual estimate for the big bang, 10^57 atoms would go through about 10^102 Planck time quantum states where it takes bout 10^30 such to do the fastest — ionic — chemical reactions. 500 bits is about 10^150 possibilities, 48 orders of magnitude beyond, that is, a search of 10^102 steps at most will not sample enough of the possibilities to plausibly capture something that is UNrepresentative of the distribution as a whole.)

    And, plainly, functionally specific configs are going to be absolutely overwhelmed by gibberish in the space of possibilities.

    If you are looking for needles in haystacks but sample only 1 in 10^48 of the haystack, overwhelmingly you are going to be picking up a tiny bit of straw. The gamut of search is not reasonable relative to the isolation of the target in the field of possibilities. To give an idea, let us say that a needle and a straw both weigh about a gram. Looking for a 1 gram object in a pile of straw weighing in at 10^42 tonnes [and at about the density of water, 10^42 tonnes would be a cubical bale of straw, something like 625 billion miles on the side . . . ], by sampling 1 gram at random just does not cut it as a reasonable search.

    So, we see a simple example of how functionally specific complex organisation and associated information [FSCO/I] beyond a reasonable complexity threshold is a reliable sign of design. An empirical sign.

    So, we immediately see that we have a reasonable empirical procedure and test for inference to design on specified complexity beyond a threshold. A process that is subject to empirical test and falsification on the very simple challenge: provide a good OBSERVED counter-instance where it is credible that undirected chance and necessity led to FSCO/I beyond say the solar system threshold.

    It will not surprise you, I am sure, to know that there is an Internet full of cases in point, and by contrast there are zero counter-examples that meet the required criterion. (If there were, the sort of debate points commonly used to object to the design inference would not be used.)

    Now, a minimally complex cellular life form may have say 200 proteins, averaging let’s say 200 AAs each, and represented by DNA at 3 4-state letters per AA and with let’s say 10% more for regulatory stuff. 660 * 200 = 132,000 4-state elements; 264 k bits. The config space for this is 8.3 *10^79,471 possibilities.

    An unintelligent chemical soup with possibilities for all sorts of cross reactions and breakdown mechanisms for such will simply not get there on the gamut of our solar system or the wider observed cosmos. Nor is there any credible observed sign of a ladder of development from simple initial components to that degree of specified complexity, regardless of the many just so stories commonly trotted out.

    So, since life as we observe it is reasonably at least of that sort of complexity, and is known to be functionally highly specific. So, just as we can see from the example of post 82, we have excellent reason to infer that the original source of the living cell was design, on the sign of FSCO/I.

    Nor does the fact of self-replication in the cell undermine this, for what we have is a case of a metabolising automaton, which has the ADDITIONAL capacity of replicating itself on a stored copy of digital coded algorithmically functional information, as von Neumann discussed 60 years ago, a von Neumann self replicator. The vNSR facility added to the ability to process energy and materials from environment to carry out operations to build up and break down internal components is yet another manifestation of FSCO/I.

    What is happening is that instead of dealing with such on the merits, politically correct censorship is locking out the ability of science to freely and responsibly think through the issues just outlined.

    That’s politics, and censorship, not science.

    Period.

    So, nope, it is simply not true that science MUST only explain in a materialistic circle of chance and necessity acting blindly on matter and energy, and in fact it was not even true of the co-founder of the theory of evolution, Wallace.

    Call off the rottweilers, it is time for science to proceed as an unfettered but intellectually and ethically responsible progressive pursuit of the empirically based truth about our world, through experiment, observation and related logical and mathematical analysis discussed freely and fairly among the informed.

    Otherwise the core integrity of science will utterly and irretrievably break down.

    GEM of TKI

  87. 87
    Joseph says:

    David W Gibson:

    But they THINK the results support their beliefs, and they THINK that their beliefs are based on their body of results.

    I don’t believe you.

    Well, Linnaeus produced his taxonomy long before Darwin. He lacked any explanation for WHY biological organisms nested so neatly into such a hierarchical model, of course, but the facts were plain even if the reason behind them was not.

    He didn’t lack an explanation- common design- and that is how the tree is built- that is how nested hierarchies are constructed- similarities.

    Common ancestry is a proposal designed to fit this body of observations and in the bargain to be as simple as possible a proposal that fit all the facts.

    Except it isn’t simple as is requires things that cannot be tested.

    And without question, a common design is another proposal that neatly fits all the observations.

    That is incorrect. Common design only fits where there is a common design. If we see things that are radically different then there isn’t a common design.

    So Creation produced at least two publically proclaimed predictions that science has confirmed.

    Darwinism has produced nothing.

  88. 88
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: While natural vs supernatural is open to debates on whether the supernatural can be studied scientifically, it should be plain that this dichotomy begs a question, For, ever since Plato it is on record that the relevant alternative is natural vs artificial causes, studied on empirically testable signs of nature vs art. We have excellent reason to infer that FSCO/I is such a reliable, tested sign of art by design, i.e intelligently directed configuration.

  89. 89
    Mung says:

    But kf, if something shows too few bits you can’t say it’s NOT DESIGNED, therefore your null hypothesis and your alternative hypothesis are not mutually exclusive, and since there is no reliable way to tell DESIGNED from NOT DESIGNED, ID cannot be science.

    When will you ID types ever learn.

  90. 90
    kairosfocus says:

    Ah Mung:

    That null hyp switcheroo game again.

    While my Download Helper and VLC get updates . . . and while the tail of Storm Elsie [?] falls outside [probably tanking up ole smokey down south . . . ], and while a client is in a meeting I cannot interrupt . . .

    First, the issue is does mechanical necessity explain the relevant aspect of a phenomenon, process of object etc?

    If it has low contingency under similar initial conditions, yes. A heavy object, released from support near earth’s surface falls at 9.8 or so N/kg. Null no 1, falsified on high contingency.

    If the aspect shows high contingency chance and/or choice may explain outcomes.

    If the outcomes simply follow what we would expect of a random pop sample under relevant conditions, or the scope of complexity is too small to rule out hitting on needles in haystacks by chance — no 0.1 Light year on the side haystacks here with 1 straw size samples . . . — then the default is chance. Null no 2.

    We happily accept that in many cases design could imitate chance, and bias the test heavily in favour of false negatives; accepting the null in cases where it is false.

    That is because we want a very powerful test conclusion when it comes to rejecting the null.

    So, we do something really stringent: set up a haystack 0.1 light year on the side, and you get to sample as much as 1 straw takes up. Is it straw or needle? (Needles are assumed present, but rare.)

    BTW, that is the comparison for the 10^102 or so Planck time quantum states for the 10^57 atoms of our solar system, to the 10^150 or so possibilities for 500 bits.

    The only reasonable expectation for such a small sample is that if it is at random, it will be typical of the bulk, not plausibly picking up the needles in the haystack. Matter of fact you could have a solar system lurking in that size of haystack and still overwhelmingly likely miss it with random samples that relatively small.

    Now, we find something that is complex and specific, coming from an isolated zone that is UNrepresentative of the space of possibilities as a whole.

    Was it likely that random walks got us there, or that if we are in a needle zone, this was by intelligent choice, not chance? (As in would you accept any claim that the first 72 characters of this comment were produced by lucky noise?)

    So, there are reasons for setting up a test so that it will cheerfully give us false negatives, to make a false positive overwhelmingly unlikely.

    That’s what the design filter does, most easily seen in the form:

    Chi_500 = I*S – 500 bits beyond the solar system threshold.

    GEM of TKI

  91. 91
    Ilion says:

    Mung @ 62:We’re very leery of circular arguments. If Darwinism is an explanation for the pattern, in what way is the pattern evidence for Darwinism, without being circular?

    Oh, you mean like one semester I was “taught” that such-and-such rock formations were known to be x-millions of year old, because they contained the fossils of thus-and-such species which lived x-millions of years ago, and then, the very next semester, I was “taught” that thus-and-such species is known to have lived x-millions of years, because their fossil remains are found in such-and-such rock formations, which were laid down x-millions of years ago? Mind you, these were the *same* species and the *same* geological strata being used as “evidence” in both classes.

  92. 92
    faded_Glory says:

    We’re very leery of circular arguments. If Darwinism is an explanation for the pattern, in what way is the pattern evidence for Darwinism, without being circular?

    ————-

    In the same way that murder is the explanation for finding a dead person with their head bashed in, and the evidence for the murder is that there is a dead person with their head bashed in.

    fG

  93. 93
    kairosfocus says:

    Yup.

    (Though to some extent we must realise that to date events before we came along and made records, is very hard, so we must give room for limitations. But that also means that those who propose or teach or popularise such model timelines of the remote past should give the limitations. Too often that is exactly what is not done. The pretence (or — almost as bad –gross blunder) that we are observing the actual remote past should not be projected. )

  94. 94
    kairosfocus says:

    FG:

    Nope. As just highlighted, we do not OBSERVE the actual state of the remote past.

    We directly observe the body in the case of a murder, and in any case the conclusion murder is not a direct conclusion, though the process may be intuitive.

    Providing there were no eyewitnesses, we infer to death by design, not chance and necessity, on evidence and best explanation.

    Indeed, forensics as applied science is one of the home bases of the design filter, in intuitive form.

    GEM of TKI

  95. 95
    ScottAndrews says:

    In the same way that murder is the explanation for finding a dead person with their head bashed in, and the evidence for the murder is that there is a dead person with their head bashed in.

    In this case we have more information. In particular that having a caved-in head can be fatal, and that people are historically more likely to bash in someone else’s head than their own. That’s why the evidence is not circular. It’s right, although not 100% of the time.

    Take away that information, and here’s a more likely comparison:

    This person was killed by Factor X. How do you know that Factor X killed him? Because Factor X is what causes death. How do you know that Factor X is what causes death? Well look, he’s dead.

    Now we have convincing evidence of Factor X, and we don’t even have to say what it is. Every death is more evidence.

    And unlike the first example which properly leaves room for uncertainty, this conclusion is always correct with no exceptions. In fact, allowing for the possibility of exceptions destroys the theory.

  96. 96
    Ilion says:

    News @ 5:“Wake me up when someone finds a fossil mammal with bird lungs.” Elizabeth Liddle, be careful what you wish for. The duck-billed platypus, after all, shows mammal, bird,and reptile traits. …

    Moreover, the DarwinDefender assertion is that birds are reptiles with bird lungs. If we ought to be leary of assertions that there can be mammals (which are, like birds, and unlike reptiles, warm-blooded) with bird lungs, then ought we not also be leary of assertions that some reptiles have bird lungs?

  97. 97
    Mung says:

    …ought we not also be leary of assertions that some reptiles have bird lungs?

    Absolutely! Or not.

    Some credence may be given to the idea that a reptilian lung evolved into a bird lung, for after all bird lungs are different from reptilian lungs and birds evolved from reptiles, which is to say that bird lungs evolved from reptile lungs.

    Except when, by reason of the fact that birds just are reptiles and that bird lungs therefore just are reptile lungs).

    But then that would ruin that whole tree thingy and would mean that the impossible has in fact taken place and Darwinism would be falsified, so that can’t be right.

    So while it’s just not possibler for mammals to have bird lungs, it is possible for reptiles to have bird lungs.

    I think I’m getting this theory figured out.

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