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Pim Van Meurs Misses the Mark Again

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On Panda’s Thumb Pim Van Meurs preaches confidently to the choir that we are all biased in that we see faces in natural objects created by chance.  Evidently the take-home point Pim wishes to make is that this is equivalent to seeing machinery in natural objects created by chance.  So I guess for Pim a cloud that looks sort of like a face is the same as a robotic protein factory driven by abstract digital program code and a library of abstract digital specifications for thousands of complex proteins, where some of those proteins are parts of the factory itself.  Yeah, Pim.  It’s just my internal bias that makes me see a complex machine there and wonder how it was possibly constructed by chance.  Well, at least I was right about one thing… I always thought Pim had his head in the clouds.  Maybe when he comes back to earth he’ll figure out it’s these things we see that drive our design inference, not faces in clouds.

I've been away for the past couple of weeks and was trying to catch up on things around here when lo and behold I see that good ol' DaveScot's back! Welcome back, Dave!!! crandaddy
"I really believe that deleterious mutations are on a continuum from slightly to extremely deleterious." I was actually thinking of humans. I read somewhere that over 50% of human eggs that get fertilized spontaneously abort due to genetic abnormality. Most of those abort so early the woman never knows she was pregnant. If that's true then catastrophically bad mutations are quite common. DaveScot
DaveScott, well put as usual. I agree with you that natural selection plays a meaningful role in preserving the quality of the DNA, but any other role it plays is negligable -- dismissable. I would add to your comment here, however. You said, "Deleterious mutations are the rule and natural selection kills those before they are born or shortly thereafter." I really believe that deleterious mutations are on a continuum from slightly to extremely deleterious. Slightly deleterious mutations are not easy for natural selection to dispose of. Further, deleterious mutations which happen in recessive genes are difficult for NS to filter. This is why horid diseases are often carried in recessive genes. I think that at some point NS can weed out most of the deleterious genes, but slightly deleterious genes are not weeded out quickly. I wholeheartedly agree with your "signal to noise ratio" argument. This is an issue that really needs to be developed by the ID community. I believe it to be a significant problem for NDE. In defense of NDE, however, the NDE position is that speciation is a very slow process. Comparing a slow process to a fast process is a bit complicated. Consider a tree, it takes hundreds of years to grow, but it is taken down in moments. If one watches a forest for 10 years, one will not see any trees mature from sapling to adulthood, but one will see some trees fall. As discussions here, and on brainstorms around the recent polar-grisley hybrid illustrated, the boundary between "mating" and "non-mating" is very fuzzy. Some "species" pairs experience diminished mating capacity. Others produce "usually infertile" hybrids. With others the male of one can mate with the female of another but not vice versa. As every stage of the process of speciation is represented, it is reasonable to consider that this slow process of speciation actually does occur; just as one can conclude that trees grow from sapling to adulthood because every size and development level of tree can be found. I have personally come to the conclusion that all speciation that I have seen can be accounted for by NDE alone. That said, it is puzzling that the farther up the chart you go, the less common are the missing links. Therefore, I do not believe that the philums and classes can be accounted for by NDE. As far as the balance of new species to extinct species goes, we must factor in two influences of man. First, of course are species that have gone extinct due to man's pursuit of the species. The second are the species whose habitat has been lost because of man's activity. Whether these factors are sufficient to account for the imbalance between speciation and exitinction, I do not know. What I do know, however, is that we haven't seen a new domain for 3 billion years, a new kingdom for 700 mil, a new philum for 500 mil, a new class for ... Its a pattern, evolution is complete. bFast
DLH Credit where credit is due. Here is where I first saw the link to those animations. They are way cool. I'm glad you liked them. DaveScot
Valkhorn Natural selection may be completely non-random. The problem is that completely random factors drown it out most of the time. Hugely beneficial mutations are rare (possibly non-existent). Deleterious mutations are the rule and natural selection kills those before they are born or shortly thereafter. Neutral mutations are the next most common and selection doesn't operate on them. Slightly beneficial mutations are the next most common and they are lost in the noise of random events (the slightly faster antelope isn't the one that escapes being eaten - the slower antelope lucky enough to be in the center of the herd is the survivor). See how that works? It's called signal-to-noise ratio and the signal that beneficial mutations provide are just too weak to be reliably selected amidst the noise of random causes of premature death. The consequence of this is the reason we can't observe RM+NS evolution in action. If it works at all it works far too slowly to see. What we do observe is extinctions. Massive numbers of extinctions. Where are all the speciations? There should be roughly one speciation for every extinction. The reality is the very few speciations claimed to be observed are ambiguous at best and not well tested against the gold standard of not being able to produce fertile hybrids. The biologist community thus moved the goalpost and make the claim that species include those in reproductive isolation whether or not they have the physical capacity to reproduce with other populations. Either creative evolution has ground to a permanent halt or it's not operating at this time in history. Takes yo pick. The bottom line is species are dying out in mass quantities without any replacements in sight. DaveScot
Valkhorn: "Natural selection is a completely non-random process." Hmmm, I stepped on an ant hill. Bunches of ants died. Natural selection is not a completely random process, but to suggest that natural selection is "completely non-random" is unsupportable. Here's the rub -- mutation is not a completely random process. bFast
Natural selection is a completely non-random process. valkhorn
The first comment on the Pandas Thumb website is 'I can actually hear the DI, Dembski, Behe and IDiots et al verbalizing “Curses! Foiled again”!' Maybe this is the type of discussion Allen is looking for. I am glad to know where the rational discussions take place. The paper itself is a harmless paper in the sense that it says nothing about evolution or design that would support either a materialistic or non-materialistic perspective. It makes some dutiful referential comments every now and then to evolution. It is a paper mainly on autism and whether there is a section of the brain that may be defective which causes autism and the ability of autistic people to see purpose in events less readily than others. You have to go down about 50 comments before someone mentions autism and then that is the last time I saw it mentioned. So I wonder how many read it at Pandas Thumb. She surrounds this discussion with a discussion of how we have a tendency to see purpose in things. Nice paper for an undergraduate but hardly anything that indicts either side. We tend to see meaning in lots of things which may or may not be there. That is what a lot of Social Psychology is about. I would have given it a B+ if it had been presented to me when I used to teach. Maybe, Salvador, you should post the paper here. I know you had a thread on the Cornell course which no one commented on but maybe give it another try and Allen can compare our comments to Pandas Thumb. However, after reading it, there is not much there for a discussion relative to the debate on design or not. If Panda's Thumb denizens see something in it then maybe they are looking at too many clouds. But given the fact that autism is rarely mentioned, they may not be reading it or very carefully. I made my first comment above strictly on post-modernism without going to the Pandas Thumb website. Why should Allen MacNeill single out all these comments unless he has some stake in post-modernism? jerry
To get things rolling, I started [http://www.researchintelligentdesign.org/wiki/Micromachines Micromachine Visualizations] at [http://www.researchintelligentdesign.org/ ResearchIntelligentDesign.org] DLH
Allen wrote: And the previous seven entries all illustrate why it is absolutely useless to expect to have any kind of rational discussion at this website.
Allen, What DaveScot posted was not directed at you nor your very fine student, Elena. I had Pim's name on it, and like Yankee Roger Clemens pitching in Fenway Park, one can expect a certain reaction when Pim's name is mentioned here. This is a weblog that is basically a variety show. There will be serious and then not so serious modes of discussion. So I encourage you to look for threads of interest to you, and simply change channels when a discussion is no longer appealing. I would hope you don't leave the website entirely..... I have tried to give you my take on the issue of Elena's paper: here. I wrote a long response to you comment which I think may help your research. I hope however, you realize there are times these threads between UD and PandasThumb are like the fan clubs of two opposing teams: like the Yankees versus the Red Sox, where the gang isn't really in the mode of academic discussion, but following light-hearted comaraderie and tribal mentality.... I point that out to say, each thread will appeal to some more than others.... Salvador PS I personally am a Baltimore Orioles fan. scordova
Here ye here ye to DaveScott and Allen's call back to polite rational objective discussion. Thanks Allen for working so hard to set a good standard in your class blog without ad hominem attacks. Thanks for the link DaveScott to some very inspiring biochemical visualization at: Graham Johnson Medical Media http://www.fivth.com/fiVthSite/web-content/NewFiles/GrahamJcom/web-content/gjPortfolioCBani.html Are there any collections of such visualizations? If not, recommend assembling a reference page here and/or at ResearchIntelligentDesign.org/ DLH
Thank you, Allen, for showing us the error of our ways. Perhaps you would deign to lead us from this, our dark pit of ignorance and despair, into the bright peaks of knowledge and relevance, through further prognostications on your part. After all, to kvetch is plebeian and to lead is noble. I'm sure your venerable fencing master must have taught something similar to that. DaveScot
And the previous seven entries all illustrate why it is absolutely useless to expect to have any kind of rational discussion at this website. Allen_MacNeill
LOL bFast
The best comment I ever heard about post-modernism is that "It is an intellectual cul-de-sac." jerry
Deuce Brutal! Well said! DaveScot
bFast Be nice. Pim head is clever and funny but not nice. I am trying very hard to lead by example here. For instance, I said Pim's head was in the clouds. That's a place where the sun shines. The old DaveScot would have said Pim's head was somewhere the sun doesn't shine, if you get my drift, and I think you do. ;-) DaveScot
DaveScott, it truly is nice to have you actively posting again. You are, of course, so right! Pim is obviously a pim head. bFast
Well what are ya gonna do when you have a deep-seated philosophical commitment to a Victorian creation myth and an inability to tolerate the notion that there may be a higher intelligence out there. Scott
Pim's position is actually a constructivist or post-modernist knock on biology itself, not just design. Do we need to come up with theories of origin to explain how a cloud came to look like a face? Do we have any reason to study that at all? No, of course not, because the face is projected by us - it's an illusion, the appearance that it is important, if any, is all in our heads. If Pim really wants to be consistent in his critique, he must take the same position with regards to biology, banishing the entire topic of biological function to subjectivist relativism, something we're all just making up, rather than a item for objective study. Deuce

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