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ID at Cornell, John Sanford and Allen MacNeill

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Cornell is considered by some to be among the top 12 universities in the world, and Cornell has an IDist in their biology department! John Sanford is a very successful professor of biology at Cornell and is inventor of the Gene Gun. In his testimony at the Kansas Hearings in May 2005, he revealed he was once a naturalistic evolutionist before becoming an IDist.

Sanford was so successful in developing genetic technologies and receiving patents he was able to retire early. To my knowledge, he still is a courtesy professor at Cornell. Crevo pointed out that Sanford even has a pro-ID book Genetic Entropy: The Mystery of the Genome.

A reviewer writes of Sanford’s book:

The central axiom of evolution is that natural selection acts upon mutations to provide the genetic mechanism for common descent. However, Dr. Sanford, a former researcher at Cornell University, challenges that there are many reasons why this axiom is not a reasonable mechanism for evolution. He demonstrates that various phenomena, such as Haldane’s dilemma, show that mutations create a genetic burden that natural selection cannot compensate. Furthermore, because there are many more mutations than previously thought, the health of organisms is steadily declining, not evolving. This well written book is geared toward the educated layman and deals with many current aspects of genetics.

And then there is Dr. Allen MacNeill, the professor who will teach the first ID course in Cornell’s history. Dr. MacNeill is not an IDist, but everyone on both sides of the issue regards him highly. He strikes me as having a first rate intellect. Also, he offered a bit of news regarding his class:

I’m looking into the possibility of podcasting the course, and especially the class discussions. If it works out, I will announce it in this blog

Wow. This could become one of the most scrutinized college courses in America!

Here are some links to his commentaries on ID and the ID course:

Cornell Offers Class on ID

Evolution and Design; Is There Purpose in Nature

Where The REAL Action Is In Evolutionary Biology

I am told MacNeill has been very respectful to the much besieged IDEA club at Cornell, and I am grateful for his civility toward my embattled comrades there. I hope we at Uncommon Descent will reciprocate the civility he has extended to IDists at his school.


DaveScot wrote:

I neglected to consider the pro-ID students are coming out of the closet into a hostile environment where their beliefs, should they become known, can be detrimental to their chosen professions.

Take a look at this Akron Biology Faculty Members Decry Daniel Ely

Indeed, if undergraduate majors in our biology department revealed such profound misconceptions about basic evolutionary biology we would have serious misgivings about conferring their degrees in biology.

3 Akron Biology Faculty

I don't worry as much about the other majors, but I think the bio majors are at risk. One wonders then how some bio-PhD's end up graduating from secular schools?

Well, they answer the way their professors expect. A few have moral issues about doing so, but by and large to most of them it's like answering test questions on mythology. They can articulate it, but they don't believe it.

Such was the case with Gordon Wilson, until his master's oral exam, the examiners uncovered for the fact Gordon was an IDer. One of the examiners turned absolutely purple with anger, but passed Gordon nonetheless. Had it been another examination board, Gordon wouldn't have been so lucky.

Thankfully biology is in need of engineers, physicists, computer scientists, chemists. That might be the safer route for and IDer to get into the biological science without having to put up with so much politics.

One reason some of our IDEA chapters do not have a lot of biology majors as officers or defenders of ID on the campuses is to protect their identities, especially the doctoral candidates. And definitely we are finding the risk faculty put themselves in if they are associated with us. When Caroline Crocker showed up at our IDEA meeting last year with a reporter from Nature, I was fearful that could be the end of her teaching career, and it was.


Hey Sal, I neglected to consider the pro-ID students are coming out of the closet into a hostile environment where their beliefs, should they become known, can be detrimental to their chosen professions. Considering that I think any preconceived beliefs should remain undisclosed as much as is practical. A "don't ask, don't tell" policy would seem appropriate. What a rotten shame that these kids have to be influenced by the ignorant bigots who will discriminate against them because they doubt or disbelieve an historical narrative of an unrepeatable, unwitnessed past evolution where time and chance take on mythical powers to account for all change. DaveScot


Thank you again for visiting our site. I am quite confident of your civility, but I'm more concerned with how the other students will treat the pro-ID students. At our UVa chapter, the professors were very gracious and civil, but some of the students were down right nasty and at least one was active in vandalizing IDEA property.

The one other concern is that if a pro-ID biology student is in attendance of your class, he will have to divulge his position, and that may or may not be an issue for that student. I hope you'll continue to make it clear in your website that people will be expected to be open about their personal opinions. There is a spectrum of views about how open a biology student can be about his pro-ID position. I personally counsel biology students to keep a low profile, but it really is a case-by-case matter...

I thought your reading list was very fair, but perhaps too specialized for an introductory course for the students to get the big picture, and truly be exposed to the spectrum of issues. There are large numbers of online articles that would be very educational.

The wrinkle you are putting in is brilliant. However, for starters, I'd have the ID position introduced by reading more "big picture" articles rather than entire books.

For example here are some very good articles that present facets of ID theory that are relevant to evolution (chemical and organic):

Origin of Life and the Death of Materialism

Homology a Concept in Crisis

If a pro-naturalistic-evolution student gave a fair representation of those positions, and further add some insights from peer-reviewed literature (such as from Davidson, Yockey, Voie, etc.) that would be impressive.

He he might learn a larger variety of ID issues this way, than if he focused on highly specialized (albiet ultimately important) issues like tractability, kolmogorov complexity and a host of other highly technical issues (all of which are in Design Inference). I would not have them get deep into such material without some serious preparation. It's been my experience that even within our IDEA chapters, these esoteric topics are not easily absorbed, perhaps owing to its highly specialized nature. I love that sort of stuff, but it's been like pulling teeth to get other members to dig into it. I expect this fact may be indicative of the receptivity of your class to such material. I of course, could be wrong.

Finally, the pro-evolution biology students can have a better picture of what ID encompasses if they are exposed the cosmological arguments for ID, because it is from there that biological ID naturally flows. If a Designer designed the universe, it naturally flows He could also design biology.

Though some IDers wouldn't touch the following material by Barrow and Tipler with a 10-foot pole, I don't think it should be ignored. I provided a link to a nice short article by Tipler that discusses cosmological ID:

As a physicist, I am aware that quantum mechanics, the central theory of modern physics, is even more deterministic that was the classical mechanics of which Darwin was aware. More than this, quantum mechanics is actually teleological

--Frank Tipler
See: Peer-Reviewed Stealth ID Classic : The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (1987) That book helped win Barrow the Templeton Prize

(I should point out since you connected Quantum theory with Kimura, you can see Tipler has a very opposite view!)


If any from your side are critical of your course, you may remind them of Eugenie Scott's position

Anti-evolutionists Form, Fund Think Tank

Ironically, from the standpoint of evolution education, it is far preferable to have anti-evolutionary ideas expressed and debated at the university than in the local school board meeting.

Discovery Institute Fellow John Angus Campbell ( who rejects ID, but values the discourse) pointed to words by John Stuart Mills which I think you can identify with:

On Liberty

But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. ...
We have now recognized the necessity to the mental well-being of mankind (on which all their other well-being depends) of freedom of opinion, and freedom of the expression of opinion, on four distinct grounds; which we will now briefly recapitulate.
First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.
Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied.
Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds.
And not only this, but fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious for good, but encumbering the ground, and preventing the growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or personal experience.


Thank you, Lutepisc, that is a very clear description of what I see most of my role in the debate over evolution and design to be.

And, DaveScot, please at least make an attempt to read my other posts (and follow the links I provide) before you make unwarranted assumptions. For the record, I have learned more from my loosing bouts with Maestro Crown than from any that I have won. In any case, this summer (with the exception of the presentation of the argument for teleonomy, a la Ernst Mayr), I will indeed be acting more as a referee and reality check than as an active participant. That's how all the other years that this seminar has been offered have gone. I usually don't even have to start the discussion going, as it's already underway by the time I get to class.

And so, we shall proceed in the same spirit as In Ferro Veritas: "Humble and gentle in victory, gracious and dignified in defeat." To behave in any other way is the swiftest and surest way to dishonor.

Is there something specific you think I haven't read or links I haven't followed? I can't address such a generalized accusation when I know for a fact the generalization is wrong. I'm not aware of anything you've presented here that I haven't read nor any links I didn't follow. In any case I promised Sal I wouldn't pursue this further and I've already pursued it further so I better quit now. Thanks for being courteous in all this. -ds

Dr. MacNeill, I like it. As a psychologist, I occasionally use a technique like this in marriage counseling to lower the combatants' emotional intensity, clear the room of straw men, and help the opponents feel understood even when agreement does not emerge. Also, I introduce my own role as that of "coach," to help the players perform more effectively. To that end, I may occasionally stop the action when I believe a player could do a better job, and give them some instructions on the sidelines about how to perform more effectively. I make it clear that I am not an "umpire," deciding what's right and what's wrong. One's opponent will determine when an argument has been correctly represented...not me. I say, "Carry on!" Lutepisc

For the record, Will Provine invited John Sanford to give a presentation in his evolution for non-majors course at Cornell several years ago. John did so, and then stood for questions afterwards. The following year, Michael Behe was invited to do the same, and the same Q&A session ensued. The year after that it was David Sloan Wilson's turn, and last fall Hannah Maxson (president of the Cornell Idea Club) was the invited speaker. Will has also debated Phillip Johnson several times, including one famous debate at Stanford University (Google Johnson Provine Stanford debate).

Personally, I believe it is incumbant upon myself as a gentleman and a scholar (and a classical fencer; see http://www.classicalfencing.com/ ) to give my opponents every opportunity to put up their best defense. Sniping, ad hominem attacks, quote-mining, and other such underhanded and scurilous techniques only undermine one's own position in the long run (they will always be found out in the end), and thereby dishonor one's self as much as one's opponent.

I'm unfamiliar with classical fencing. Is it normal in this sport for a maestro to duel a scholler and call it a fair contest? In this sport does one of the contestants also function as the referree of his own duel? Forgive my ignorance but this seems to be more in line with my Marine Corps training where we seek overwhelming superiority for our own side and don't care anything about a fair match or any referree. -ds


It might of interest to know that I am considering one more “wrinkle” for the summer seminar course on “evolution and design.” As we have a large reading list (we always do - gotta have something to do while you’re working on your rain tan…this is Ithaca, after all), I have always had one student be the “point person” for each major text, doing a detailed presentation and serving as a resource on that text.

What I am considering for this summer is that, once we have all introduced ourselves and exposed our biases (this is required on day one), we will each take responsibility for one of the major texts, with this stipulation:

“If you have taken a position in the evolution/design debate, you are eligible to present one of the major texts, with this caveat: you are required to present (and represent, to the best of your ability) a text from the opposite side as the one you profess.”

I’m not quite sure about what my role will be, except to moderate and perhaps to handle the Mayr/teleonomy argument myself. Any thoughts?

If you aren't the moderator at all times then who serves in your stead? No fair debate has one person simultaneously a contestant and the moderator. If you must argue as well as moderate it would be much more interesting if you argued against your own prior conclusions to the best of your ability. In any case I think it's a great idea to require each student to argue from both sides of the aisle to the best of their ability. This is how internalized conclusions should be reached and externalizing the process is an excellent exercise. What would be really neat is if you were to grade the NDE presentations and could find an ID maestro willing to grade the ID presentations. Each student's grade would then be a fair mix of how well he studied and presented each side. If he was lax on either side his grade would suffer and the argument from each position would be judged prejudicially by a biased expert. Perfect! -ds Allen_MacNeill
If I may offer further why I am grateful for what is happening in Cornell.... I will not forget what it felt like for our IDEA GMU club as we sat in on Eugenie Scott's talk December 1, 2005 before an audience of 400 students and faculty telling them "Why Scientists Reject Intelligent Design". The science students from various science classes were herded into this talk by their professors as a class requirement. Eugenie, at the sponsorship of the Dean and University Provost, was flown out and paid to give this one-sided indoctrination with no opportunity for any IDEA officers or faculty to say anything in response. We just had to sit there and take it. (No slight however, on Dr. Scott herself, as I view our IDEA club on good terms with her, see: My Correspondence with Eugenie Scott). One would think the GMU administration would attempt to be more even handed given that there are several biology PhDs from GMU who support ID such as Caroline Crocker, Timothy Standish, Tim Brophy, Gordon Wilson. (And incidentally, Todd Wood was Gordon Wilson's student.) These PhDs are in addition to countless other biology and science students who subscribe to ID, not to mention several faculty and administrators who are privately sympathetic to ID. Even if our club president (Christine Chenette, who like Maxson is also a junior and quite gifted) had to face PhD with 30 years experience in debate, that would have been a far fairer hearing than the one sided slamming of ID that the GMU administration put on. Thus, I commend Allen for giving our side a chance to offer it's voice at Cornell. I fully recognize the amount of ire from his own side that he might endure for giving our side a hearing. My best wishes are extended to him. Salvador scordova
Allen, Thank you again for visiting our site. And thank you again for your kind words for Hannah and her club. If I may say, you might get some flak from PZ Myers and friends for offering such high praise for an IDist. For that you have my highest respect!
Hannah Maxson (the founder and president of the Cornell IDEA Club) is a junior triple major in chemistry, mathematics, and physics. If you know anything about the rigor of those majors at Cornell, you know that this is a person of impressive intellectual credentials. I may have started off on the wrong foot with the Club, but have come to realize that there are logical reasons for their positions, reasons that I don’t necessarily agree with, but which do not reduce simply to ignorance nor religious fundamentalism.
Hannah is looking forward to the opportunity, and she has spoken highly of you. I expect she will keep everyone appraised of how things go. Thank you again for giving our IDEA clubs a chance to shine at your school. Salvador scordova
"both sides of these issues have ulterior political and religious motives" The question is not, however, what motivates us. It is whether or not we can deal honestly in the arguments. The entire history of science is built upon people with ulterior political and religious motives. The question is whether or not they are able to deal honestly in their arguments, not whether or not they have other motives. johnnyb

Professor MacNeill

I never said IDEA club members were weak or muddle headed if you were talking about me and I don't know who else you'd be talking about on this blog. I said YOU had 30 years of experience with NDE rhetoric while these students have virtually none. I don't believe that's an arguable point unless I've got a fact wrong about how long you've been teaching biology. Another thing I said is you had a PhD in biology 10 years before your students were born.

Now if you'd care to make a point that with 30 years experience as a professor of biology you haven't advanced in rhetorical skills or knowledge beyond an undergraduate feel free to derate yourself. I'm sure the dean would be comforted to know that one of Cornell's top biology professors can't speak above the level of an undergraduate in his field of expertise.

Give the kids a break and set students against students. You're just setting yourself up to be an intellectual bully otherwise. You know it, I know it, and so does every 50 something year-old professional in the world with 30 years experience in their field. Do the right thing, MacNeill.

I posted the following as a reply to a recent post at The Panda's Thumb (http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/04/_riding_the_evo.html#more). I think it also has relevence here: Far too many scientists take the position that debates and public discussions of controversial topics (like evolution and ID) are outside the domain of what they feel is their responsibility (i.e. doing field and lab research). Admittedly, some scientists do a less than optimal job of defending their own disciplines when the do enter the fray, but I view this as an opportunity to learn as well as to teach. I have found that, by preparing to mount a comprehensive and forceful defense of my own position vis-a-vis science, I have come to a much better understanding, not only of my particular discipline, but also of the basic principles of scientific reasoning and logical argument. And if I may compliment my loyal adversaries in the Cornell IDEA Club, by presenting a forceful and well-thought-out explanation and defense of their position they have made it easier for me to see how and why we differ on these issues. Contrary to what some people on both sides of this debate have been asserting, Cornell students are not weak-kneed, muddle-headed sheep who blindly follow the dictates of either their teachers or some distant institute. As just one example, Hannah Maxson (the founder and president of the Cornell IDEA Club) is a junior triple major in chemistry, mathematics, and physics. If you know anything about the rigor of those majors at Cornell, you know that this is a person of impressive intellectual credentials. I may have started off on the wrong foot with the Club, but have come to realize that there are logical reasons for their positions, reasons that I don’t necessarily agree with, but which do not reduce simply to ignorance nor religious fundamentalism. Indeed, if I may be so presumptuous as to characterize their disagreements with evolutionary biology, I believe they stem from what many philosophers of science (including Karl Popper) have pointed out as among the major differences between the physical and biological sciences. While it is true that some ID supporters exploit these differences for other ends, I believe that there are significant differences between the “historical sciences” (such as biology, geology, and cosmology) and the “ahistorical sciences” (such as chemistry, physics, and astrophysics). I have discussed some of these differences in my blog, at: http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2006/02/incomm… Admittedly, some people on both sides of these issues have ulterior political and religious motives, but my experience with at least some of the members of the Cornell IDEA Club has taught me differently about them. I therefore look forward to a vigorous and productive debate, online and, if all goes well, in our courses here at Cornell. Allen_MacNeill
neutrality, evolution and ID Note: Much of the introduction has been rewritten to correct some errors about the nature of the blog and the name of the blog (PvM) Allen MacNeill, who has announced the Cornell Course “ Evolution and Design: Is There... The Panda's Thumb

DaveScot wrote: "Fair would be setting student against student in the class. Fair is definitely not setting someone with 30 years experience refining his NDE rhetoric against students with virtually no experience."

I appreciate your concern, but David facing Goliath is more than fair. I have confidence the facts will prevail, and I have confidence in the IDEA crew up in Cornell. When a student courageously steps forward, his peers will remember. The peers definitely remember when the student makes a better argument, and that has been my observation in the last couple of years.

Our 4 clubs here in Virginia (UVa, GMU, JMU, FUMA), are accostomed to being the underdog. We like that role, and I expect the IDists in Cornell to have the same attitude, and it is what they want.

If anything I'm sorry it's a fine gentleman like Dr. MacNeill and not PZ Myers that has to be on the other end of what the Cornell IDEA club will deliver.


How about someone makes a course that is taught by two professors, one pro-ID and the other pro-Darwinism? I wonder if that would be allowed to be a science course. jasonng


Fair would be setting student against student in the class. Fair is definitely not setting someone with 30 years experience refining his NDE rhetoric against students with virtually no experience. MacNeill had a PhD in biology 10 years before these kids were born. To add insult to injury the guy with all the experience also serves as the moderator. This is not a contest. It's a sham. It's Evander Holyfield in a boxing match against Tucker Carlson with Evander as both a fighter and a referree. You might however have a point in that it's the fairest hearing ID has attained in a Darwinian dogmatist's classroom.

Welcome Allen, thank you again for your kindness to my IDEA comrades at your school. And thank you for upholding the standards of scholarship and academic freedom. I know you've been taking a lot of flak for offering this course in a way that treats IDists in a respectful and civil way, and I admire your willingness to follow your conscience. You may be interested to know, Professor John Angus Campbell, a fellow of the Discovery Institute, subscribes to Darwinian evolution, is a Darwin scholar of 30 years, and very much agrees with your approach. Campbell argued that Darwin's writings are best understood by understanding the paradigm he was overturning, namely design, and thus it is appropriate to teach naturalistic evolution by being exposed to the teleological framework. Campbell argues one cannot appreciate the full force Darwin literature without understanding the design argument. Best of luck to you sir. Salvador scordova
On a side note, I'm very reluctant to believe the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's world university rankings, which place Brown and Dartmouth (and another famous universities) below my local one. Knowing the kind of people that go to my local university I consider that very absurd. Regardless, Cornell should easily be in the top 30. ;) jasonng
I just discovered that something I did on my blog broke the first link at the end of the post, above. Here is the repaired link: Allen_MacNeill
Thanks charlie, I just made the correction. scordova

Hey Sal, I think maybe Rich's comment ended before the quote.
It looks like -ds- might have forgotten to sign an added comment.

Quite so. -ds Charlie

rich wrote: " “Cornell is considered by some to be among the top 12 universities in the world” is laughable."

Well consider this:

The spirit of discovery and innovation, exemplified by the Voyager mission, helped earn Cornell a 12th place ranking in a recent survey of the best universities in the world.

Hunter Rawlings, President of Cornell, December 2005

Well, by your logic, the President of your alma mater made a laughable statement.

[edited in response to davescots changes] scordova
My apologies for linking to the TalkOrigins website which is often loaded with misrepresentation and half truths, but it was the only place I could get Dr. Sanford's testimony. That said, it is still of value to be familiar with anti-ID arguments, and thus, I'm not averse to linking to such sites if it's the only source of a news account. scordova
ajl askd: "My question is, is that true, or is Sanford right? " Sanford is closer to the truth, but let's consider your next question to clarify why.

ajl asked: “how could anyone not believe that mutations add new information, there are all kinds of papers that prove this”.

It depends on how one is measuring information. A very good exmample to give perspective on this is to consider a 1 Meg Mp3 file that can be expanded to a 10 Meg Wav file.
In fact, when you play back an Mp3 that is exactly what happens, the Codec decompresses the file to 10 Megs with lot of "filler".

Is information really added when decompression occurs? One could make a good case for either position. But let's say I argue that the decompression does not really add information to the 1 Meg Mp3 file, would it be charitable to be citing all the measurments that the Wav file is 10 Megs to prove I'm wrong?

Such is the case in these sorts of discussions. That is why I will use qualifiers such as "increase in large amounts of SPECIFIED information" or "increase of specified information without regress to a more specified cause" when discussing infomation increase. But such formal language tends to hinder clarity. A charitable reading of Sanford or any other IDists ideas would probably be appropriate in such cases. ID opponents however, will rarely if ever be willing to grant a charitable reading.

Here are some excerpts from reviews at amazon.com of Sanford's book, Genetic Entropy. Note that the reviewers refer to "evolution," but it is clear that Sanford is addressing RM+NS specifically.
One point that impressed me was the fact that most mutations are not neutral, as commonly believed, but near neutral. As a result, they are not selected out by natural selection. Consequently, they accumulate in the genomes of all life forms so that, as a set, they reduce fitness for the entire species, eventually producing genetic meltdown. This may be one reason for animal extinction. The harmful mutations are not the problem because those that are dominant are usually soon selected out by natural selection. This, as is well documented in this book and elsewhere, is the main role of selection, to help maintain the stability of the genome by reducing the effects of deleterious mutations. Neo-Darwinists today believe that the major means of producing new genetic information is mutations and selection. As Sanford documents, the problem is not the survival of the fittest, though, but the arrival of the fittest because mutations as a whole clearly reduce usable information, not increase it. [Sanford] discusses topics about evolution that have been swept under the rug for decades and shows how the findings are nails in the coffin for the theory. He discusses the "primary axiom" in research and how most scientists accept evolution blindly with little and vague explanation. He is an insider that has seen the almost religious adherence to this theory by most in his field and has, like an increasing number of others such as Michael Behe, said "the emperor has no clothes."

I went to Cornell. There are some very good programs and the biology / medicine / veterinarian courses are good, as is the Johnson School and the Hotel School.

But the statement "Cornell is considered by some to be among the top 12 universities in the world" is laughable. I'm sure some consider it the best and some the worst, making '12' a bit arbitrary


Cornell ranked 13th in the 2006 U.S. News and World Report "National Universities" ranking[23], and 12th globally in an academic ranking of world universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2005[24].

In its 2005 ranking of engineering programs at universities in the United States, U.S. News and World Report has placed Cornell first in engineering science and engineering physics. That same magazine rated the medical school's departments of psychiatry and orthopedic surgery as second best in the country, while rheumatology was rated third.

It must be Cornell College of liberal arts in Mount Vernon, Iowa you attended as surely any graduate of Cornell University would check the facts before sounding off. -ds

There is some confusion as to the terminology. If you are talking about _planned_ mutation (as opposed to neo-Darwinian mutation), some people use the term mutation, while others use the term recombination. There is quite a bit of experimental for such change events conferring beneficial advantages. The question is whether or not copying errors and other non-adaptively-focused changes can generally contribute to the adaptability of organisms. I have not read Sanford's work, but I have read other papers on genome degredation, and it does appear to be a real process. Rather than enhance change, such degredations actually limit the ability of the planned mechanisms of change to function properly, and limit the speed at which diversity and adaptation occurs. I just finished an overview of a paper on planned change mechanisms here: http://baraminology.blogspot.com/2006/04/luck-favors-prepared-darling.html Likewise, Sternberg has an interesting slideshow presentation about organismal change which is of interest: http://www.intelligentdesign.fi/sivut/in-english/r-sternberg-on-information-shuffling/ The question is, would _unplanned_ changes increase or decrease the ability of organisms to usefully shuffle its data? Another essay of mine on a similar topic: http://www.issuesthatmatter.com/genomicchange1.html This is why organism change, in order to be beneficial, must occur along planned lines of change -- the best you can hope for from haphazard change is that nothing will happen. But, since copying processes aren't perfect, genomes degrade over time, and their ability to adapt degrades with them. johnnyb
There were a few links on the talkorigins site (next to Sanford's testimony) that were basically links to sitge refuting what he said. For example, the links seemed to say "how could anyone not believe that mutations add new information, there are all kinds of papers that prove this". My question is, is that true, or is Sanford right? Are there publications that illustrate that mutations add new information? I didn't think so, so I was wondering what was going on with the talkorigins site. ajl
Hey, good post, thanks!! Shane

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