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July 2014: Events that made a difference to ID

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Further to June 2014 (and to Barry’s suggestion that readers kindly remember Uncommon Descent in their year end giving tax receipt) – via the Donate button (our Christmas stocking) on the main page):

My sense is that we are making some headway against what Leon Wieseltier has referred to as Darwinist dittoheads, and I’d like to point to some more stories, this time from July 2014, that explain why:

First, a UD Post where a famous chemist says no scientist understands “macroevolution” passed 200,000 views (it currently stands at 216k and counting). So we must assume some people read us who did not really know that before.

We continued to explore information theory and its implications for evolution, along with the many mechanisms of evolution, each of which can only contribute only a small part to the picture —something is missing. Also, mechanist and materialist claims about the human brain came under fire within neuroscience.

– For a brief introduction to ID and information theory, go hereBill Dembski, who founded this blog by the way, discussed Conservation of Information in Seattle (later in August at U Chicago). See also: Shannon Information, Entropy, Uncertainty in Thermodynamics and ID

– We continued to cover a major June theme, mechanisms of evolution that can actually be demonstrated (typically, they produce small changes, not amazing ones). For example, see Scientific American: Horizontal gene transfer more common than thought. As a result, some now think that the world is just a DNA scrap yard.

A conference billed epigenetics as the meeting point between nature and nurture. If so, it might help resolve acrimonious no-win disputes about, for example, what or who is responsible for low achievement in low-income urban schools. The blame circus goes round and round and where it stops, nobody … well, it never stops, right?

Just a thought: What if low-income urban living in a violence-prone environment favours gene expression for something other than future-oriented achievement; maybe it favours expression just for current survival by fitting in? Could be worth studying.

And how about this: Early abuse changes gene expression in children

In any event, one team found that three generations of mice were affected by initial maternal starvation. Another team found that sugar causes bee genes to express differently than honey does. Not all these findings will hold up, one supposes, but there will likely be many more of them, and the ones that do hold up will sure be good to know.

In other news, epigenetics coverage increases in Ken Miller’s 2014 textbook – by a smidgen. No surprise there; epigenetics is hardly popular news, compared to there’s a gene for that…

– Speaking of genes, there may be as few as 19 000 human protein-coding genes? Yes, the human genome shrinks again, lower than the projected nematode worm. And the human proteome is more complex “than previously thought.” Surprise us again.

In truth, the genome just didn’t do for conventional Darwinian evolution theory what was hoped. But the problem is, after all the years of lectern-bashing and persecution of dissenters, the typical lecturer may well be stuck pretending that it has. Meanwhile, the genome map shows that comb jellies had a separate course of evolution from other animals. The significance of such findings is that they all impact probability claims. A simple Tree of Life might have evolved by Darwinian means, but a complex specified one is most unlikely to have done so.

And how is Darwin’s mechanism (natural selection acting on random mutation) doing, in nature, as she actually is? Well, apparently it’s official: there are no ring species – yet that was a textbook example of explicitly Darwinian speciation. Also, orb weaver spiders do not share common origins, contrary to assumptions. Here’s Nature’s take on that “tangled evolution.” Birds’ eyespot designs likely had independent origins too..

A conventional Darwinian claim for the bad design of the human eye (therefore, stupid, no design) started to smell even worse.

Meanwhile, we still don’t know why sex exists, and we have the theories to prove it. But the difficulty probably lies in the canonical need to come up with an explicitly Darwinian explanation.

Finally, someone tried telling the truth: Darwin wasn’t that great but he met an elite need and still does.

What seems to be happening is that Darwinism is dying and information-related theories are rapidly becoming the only viable ones. But so many people’s career success depends on not putting it all together.

– Two hundred and fifty scientists were protesting the European Human Brain Project. The problem is that if one starts with a simplistic, maybe wrong model, one can easily end up with simplistic, maybe wrong data.

It could end up guiding policy. Incidentally, neuroscience has had this problem before. At one time, neuroplasticity was not accepted as a science concept—with drastically bad results for people who had suffered strokes. (Dogma: Brain tissue does not regenerate so an ability once lost is gone forever.) Today, in part thanks to a controversial experiment with monkeys that nearly ruined the career of the pioneer scientist, we know that neuroplasticity is real. Today, post-stroke rehab is the expectation, not a rarity.

Some reasons just from July why the dissenting neuroscientists are likely right: Why human language is hard to address in a mechanistic way; also, Neuroscience: Illness is not all in your mind—but a lot of it is.

Plu, we looked at what’s wrong with brain science today in general. Well, for example, a “genetic predisposition” to empathy has been discovered in the brain! And someone is looking for the “free will” neuron. Even so, it turns out, free will is just background noise. On the other hand, physicist George Ellis writes on the importance of philosophy and free will. (More on him in December.) Human consciousness is an illusion anyway, but by the way, forests think.

Naturalism actually does not need to make sense; it just needs to wield power in society.

– Besides all that, on a lighter note:

From New Scientist: The “first life-friendly planet” may not even exist.

And from the Claims Department: Claim: Chimpanzee gestures are the only form of intentional animal communication. Oh, and Claim: Robots lie to each other Besides which, Go to church? You’re infected with a devout microbe. No surprise then that the God helmet and “neurotheology” are back.

“Unshakeable truths” got shook. Well, sort of. Mainly, it all shows why we need to replace materialist science with actual science. Science writers, lose the pom poms, will you? For example:

Well, either those [human] genes are pretty significant or else genetics isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Again, this isn’t an especially difficult idea to grasp, unless one of the pom poms got lodged in the cranium … perhaps a more significant risk than we have supposed.

– And lastly,  from the If only this were funny files: Meanwhile, a few of Darwin’s followers contributed to “real” science this year by continuing to accuse everyone who doubts Darwinian race theory of being a creationist.

Nicholas Wade’s Troublesome Inheritance faction was back, like the monthly furnace bill. Charging anyone and everyone (who isn’t a member of Racists for Darwin?) with being a “creationist.” As we had suspected, it wasn’t so much a hissy fit on their part as a strategy – as implied by “Julie,” who writes to the News desk regularly on their behalf:

The example given offers us someone named Holly Dunsworth: “At least @HollyDunsworth is now being open about her creationism.”

Disinclined to pursue a possibly circular Twitter feed, I ran a search on Holly Dunsworth, probably the biological anthropologist at the University of Rhode Island:

I teach courses in biological anthropology which include Human Origins (APG 201), Sex and Reproduction in Our Species (APG 310), Human Variation (APG 350), and The Human Fossil Record (APG 300). Also, I regularly contribute to the science blog The Mermaid’s Tale.

Okay, an unexceptional leftist academic; what’s the news here, among so many thousands?

From Julie again: “Which is really pissing off some of the politically correct academics, since being called a “creationist” is about the worst thing imaginable to them.”

Yes but also the least likely to be believed.

Creationists do have some standards, after all. One must believe that there have been acts of creation that go beyond the Big Bang.

Nonetheless, Wade’s faction stepped up the “creationist” attacks. File under: Creationism: Look, in that case, almost every certifiably sane person writing on these subjects is a creationist. Is that the outcome you sought, Wade faction?

See also: January 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  (My sense is that we are making some headway against what Leon Wieseltier has referred to as Darwinist dittoheads.)

February 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  We are definitely past having to care what Christians for Darwin think.

March 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  Old, taken-for-granted “truths” are collapsing; an information theory approach may help us forward.

April 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  Despite these developments, naturalists would prefer chaos and nonsense to signals that point away from naturalism.

May 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  BUT then things took a really odd turn: It turned out that everyone who doubts Wade’s race theories is a creationist. Hey, is “creationist” the new “think for yourself”?

June 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  In June we began to think seriously about William Dembski’s then upcoming Being as Communion, a more philosophical look at design in nature

August 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  Famous Darwin follower, Jerry “Why evolution is true” Coyne, was really mad that information theorist William Dembski is allowed to speak at his fort, Fort Chicago University

September 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  It was becoming obvious that no one who knows the facts need be defensive about doubting the naturalist spin.

October 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  Even establishment science media are now moving to recognize the problems with Darwinian evolution theory.

November 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  Not only has the kill-ID bomb not exploded, but lots of people besides us are beginning to notice that fact.

December 2014: Events that made a difference to ID  Fake Facebook pages are started in an attempt to discredit ID theorists. (People fake Rolexes, not Timexes.)

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