speciation Uncommon Descent Contest

Uncommon Descent Contest Question 21 reposted What if Darwin’s theory only works 6 percent of the time?

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(Note: There was a problem posting entry comments to the original post, so I am reposting this – I think, very interesting – question to give others a chance. I have posted a link from the previous post to this one for purposes of entry. All previous entries will be judged, so no need to repost. If you have trouble posting, contact us at oleary@sympatico.ca )

Here’s an interesting article in New Scientist by Bob Holmes on a new approach to how animals become separate species (“Accidental origins: Where species come from”, March 10, 2010):

Everywhere you look in nature, you can see evidence of natural selection at work in the adaptation of species to their environment. Surprisingly though, natural selection may have little role to play in one of the key steps of evolution – the origin of new species. Instead it would appear that speciation is merely an accident of fate.

So, at least, says Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading, UK. If his controversial claim proves correct, then the broad canvas of life – the profusion of beetles and rodents, the dearth of primates, and so on – may have less to do with the guiding hand of natural selection and more to do with evolutionary accident-proneness.

[ … ]

“When it works, it works remarkably well,” he says. “But it only works in about 6 per cent of cases. It doesn’t seem to be a general way that groups of species fill out their niches.”

Then Darwin’s theory just barely makes it to statistical significance, conventionally given as 4 per cent.

The otherwise most informative article is marred by the constant need to claim that Darwin was not wrong – but obviously, if Pagels is right, Darwin was indeed wrong, and so are all the people fronting his cause. Natural selection acting on random mutation was, precisely, Darwin’s proposed mechanism.

No one supposes that natural selection doesn’t occur. But is it the main driver of new species, as Darwin thought, and Pagels doubts?

Pagels dances very nervously indeed around that point (presumably from fear of joining the Expelled, given that his genome research has failed to back Darwin up.

So, for a free copy of Expelled, which details what happened to a variety of people who questioned establishment Darwinism, based on its failures of evidence, read the article and provide the best answer to this question: What do you think of Pagels’s evidence? Is it critical? Is he just blowing smoke? Will he be forced to recant?

Here are the contest rules, not many or difficult. The main thing is 400 words or less. Winners receive a certificate verifying their win as well as the prize. Winners must provide me with a valid postal address, though it need not be theirs. A winner’s name is never added to a mailing list. There is no mailing list. Have fun!

65 Replies to “Uncommon Descent Contest Question 21 reposted What if Darwin’s theory only works 6 percent of the time?

  1. 1
    O'Leary says:

    test. Ignore. But please let us know at oleary@sympatico.ca if you have trouble posting.

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    It’s not possible that Darwin’s theory works only 6% of the time, for natural selection is everywhere and at all times scrutinizing all variations, no matter how slight.

    It’s like asking, what if God were awake only 6% of the time.

  3. 3
    David Kellogg says:

    The main problem with the earlier post wasn’t the inability of readers to post comments but the writer’s misunderstanding of statistical significance, which is repeated here.

  4. 4
    pilkington says:

    “Then Darwin’s theory just barely makes it to statistical significance, conventionally given as 4 per cent.”

    You really have no idea what you’re talking about. See http://www.statsoft.com/textbo.....tatistical Significance (p-level) for an actual definition of statistical significance.

    And how exactly does margin of error (which is what you’re actually talking about) have to do with the original question.

  5. 5
    scordova says:

    Natural Selection is daily and hourly scrutinising, throughout the world, the slightest variations; rejecting those that are bad, preserving and adding up all that are good.

    C.DARWIN sixth edition Origin of Species —
    Ch#4 Natural Selection

    Pagels just unseated Darwin. Origin of Species via mean other than Natural Selection!

    And it perhaps bears repeating, Pagels is making an inference that is straightforwardly deducible from accepted principles in the mathematics of population biology.

    For a spectrum of traits such as those found in biology, it is impossible for selection to scrutinize every one. Kimura and friends showed not even the majority, maybe not even 6%!!!!

    To give a flavor for how such deductions are made, consider a haploid population, with each member having a minimum of 3 novel dysfunctional mutations each. It mathematically IMPOSSIBLE for selection to purge them out. The issues for haploids was illustrated in Nachman’s Paradox Defeats Dawkins Weasel. And it has experimental confirmation here: Mutational Meltdown in Laboratory Yeast Populations. That is only a flavor for the mathematical issues. The depth of these issues is explored in theories articulated by Kimura, Ohta, Jukes, King, Crow, Nei, Haldane….so many others.

    Dawkins and Dennett are thus at least 94% wrong.

    It is now only possible to be an intellectually fulfilled Darwinist 6% of the time.

  6. 6
    David Kellogg says:

    Sal, you love throwing around that quote. But the only problem with it is its forcefulness, its use of terms like all and its anthropomorphism. Sometimes, as here, Darwin articulates in terms that are just too religious. But the weakness of the quote is in what makes it most Christian (making natural history have a purpose). That’s hardly something for you to crow about.

  7. 7
    computerist says:

    Mark Pagel must be wrong. Darwin said it 150 years ago (its right there in OOS) that NS & RM didit. Pagel must be insane to question a theory as old as that.

  8. 8
    scordova says:

    Mark Pagel must be wrong, Judge Jones ruled for all time that Darwin was right. LOL!

    PS
    Judge jones was the former head of some liquor control institution, it eminently qualified him to rule in favor of Darwin for all time.

  9. 9
    hrun0815 says:

    If we are all talking about the same Mark Pagel, then there is one peculiarity, isn’t there. Three of the last four papers of Mark Pagel were published in Nature. One of the most prominent journals there is. It is supposedly one of the journals that actually suppresses ID and heavily promotes Darwin.

    This seem puzzling to me.

  10. 10
    scordova says:

    The work of Pagel was anticipated by the ground breaking work of Jukes and King in 1969. The work is celebrated as a classic in evolutionary literature:

    Non Darwinian Evolution

    Pagels work shows that Jukes and King were being too generous to Darwin.

  11. 11
    O'Leary says:

    David Kellogg at 3, watchit.

    The main problem was a service error, due to bad code, now worked around.*

    You can think what you like about my inability to see 6% as the “overwhelming evidence” proclaimed to school board officials.

    I wouldn’t have a pet squirrel put down on that likelihood, let alone think it history’s most remarkable science theory.

    Sorry, but as the cop said, you better come up with something better than that.

    *I didn’t want to delete the original post, as a number of entries were made before the problem kicked in. While the entries could be moved, I prefer to see them intact, to prevent confusion.

  12. 12
    Clive Hayden says:

    David Kellog,

    The main problem with the earlier post wasn’t the inability of readers to post comments but the writer’s misunderstanding of statistical significance, which is repeated here.

    And the problem is………..what, again?

  13. 13
    Clive Hayden says:

    pilkington,

    Where did you get that 6% was a margin of error? It was clearly meant to mean 6% of 100%, meaning 6 times out of 100.

  14. 14
    Seversky says:

    Very interesting research but, as far as I can see, it doesn’t say that natural selection doesn’t happen, just that it isn’t responsible for speciation to the extent that some have thought. But that’s hardly a new position. I don’t see any mention of the Hand of God or Intelligent Designer in there, either.

  15. 15
    Upright BiPed says:

    Yeah Seversky, the whole issue is barely noticable.

    It went from 100%…to damn near 100%…to barely ever…and will now end with “so what?”.

    HEY!, But at least you got a chance to use your booming “Hand of God” line.

    For that we can all rest assured you remain a conformist ideologue of the highest order; prepared to squeeze out a “so what” at the drop of a hat.

  16. 16
    David Kellogg says:

    Clive [12], the problem is that statistical significance is a scientific concept that is (a) connected to hypothesis testing, and (b) not pegged at 4%. To import something from opinion polling (what, I’m not sure — an acceptable margin of error?) is just pointless. We’re talking about science.

  17. 17
    David Kellogg says:

    O’Leary [11], I’ll be happy to withdraw any objection if you can explain what you mean by statistical significance at 4%. How does that work in opinion polling, and why it is a useful metric here?

  18. 18
    O'Leary says:

    I just want to stress that I was not being short with the person I told to “watchit” at 11 above, except insofar as I really did have a coding problem early this morning. Since fixed.

    So, please all – feel free to comment now.

    If you think that I, or the polling industry, or anyone, does not understand statistical significance, please feel free to explain.

    I would sure like to know why 6% is a good bet.

    If Darwinism were a political party, based on the evidence presented above, it would probably LOSE its deposit*.

    *lose its deposit? = Where I live, one must put down a sum of money to run in an election, which prevents purely frivolous candidates from (1) wasting a lot of tax-funded time on the part of election officials who must be paid from tax funds and (2) creating useless public attention when they are very unlikely to win and really couldn’t serve effectively anyway. Losing a deposit means that one did not get a sufficient number of votes that the deposit was refundable. To me, Darwinism is beginning to sound like that …

  19. 19
    scordova says:

    From the article:

    Then, a few years ago, he realised that reliable trees had suddenly become abundant, thanks to cheap and speedy DNA sequencing technology. “For the first time, we have a large tranche of really good phylogenetic trees to test the idea,” he says. So he and his colleagues Chris Venditti and Andrew Meade rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in.

    And the prediction of the effect of cheap sequencing technologies on the debate over Darwin was predicted here at UD!!!! Pagels took the cheap sequencing in a direction I didn’t expect.

    I expect more data from the cheap sequencing technology. And I predict the outcome will continue to be bad news for Darwinism.

    See:

    Solexa: A development which may lead to measuring claims of ID proponents

  20. 20
    David Kellogg says:

    Clive Hayden [13], I think the perplexity is that “statistical significance” is normally associated with hypothesis testing, not opinion polling. When it is connected with opinion polling, it’s directly connected with margin of error. For example, from the New York Times:

    The article should give the probable margin of sampling error for a sample of the size used in the poll, and to aid comprehension it should be explained in a sentence like this: The margin of sampling error for a sample of this size is plus or minus five percentage points, so differences of less than that amount are statistically insignificant.

    Perhaps you, or Denyse, can explain how opinion polling uses “statistical significance.” I’d like to know why it’s not about margin of error and why it’s appropriate to use a measure from opinion polling here.

  21. 21
    David Kellogg says:

    To return to the question at hand, if Mark Pagel is correct, then the world is less Darwinian than one thought but also less intelligently ordered: that is, more chaotic and random than even Darwin thought. If Pagel is right, then the slight damage to Darwin is even more damaging to ID, since what is damaged is Darwin’s sense of evolutionary history fulfilling orderly and meaningful patterns — that is, Darwin at his most religious.

  22. 22
    scordova says:

    I would sure like to know why 6% is a good bet.

    It is fair to say that 6% in favor of Darwinism as a means of speciation is not as significant comapred to 94% in favor of Non-Darwinian mechanisms.

    On the other hand, a phenomenon happening 6% of the time can still be measured in a way that is “statistically significant”.

    For example we might be able to determine with a high degree of certainty that certain rare diseases occur 6% of the time in the human population. With such a small frequency of occurence we need statistically significance to establish that some disease does indeed occur at least 6% of the time. Statistical significance can be established with sufficient sample size.

    6% would be a good bet if one is the pharmaceutical company creating a cure for that 6%.

    What is happening in this discussion the term “statistical significance” is being used by the Darwinists here in the more conventional sense as far as establishing the veracity of a claim (such as a disease occurring in at least 6% of the population). Whereas many readers are thinking in terms of 6% being insignificant to the notion that natural selection accounts for 100% of speciation events.

    The 6% figure does not bode well for Darwin’s ideas. The quibbling over the phrase “statistical significance” is just that, quibbling. It doesn’t dimminish the fact Darwin was dead wrong.

    David Kellog is quick to make accusations of dishonesty. That seems a bit premature.

    On the otherhand we do have Darwin’s own confession, which though about his childhood, might possibly apply to his adulthood:

    I was much given to inventing deliberate falsehoods, and this was always done for the sake of causing excitement

    Charles Darwin

  23. 23
    Upright BiPed says:

    The 6% figure does not bode well for Darwin’s ideas. The quibbling over the phrase “statistical significance” is just that, quibbling.

    It’s not quibbling at all – it’s almost the only defense left available.

    Ideologues can do one of four things:

    1. They can actually lead the evidence.

    2. They can mount a frontal attack on any contrary evidence and defeat it.

    3. They can change the subject.

    4. They can cling to the unsupported, and hope for a change.

    In a strategic sense (or any other) there is not a fifth option.

    David’s first manuever was to change the subject to Oleary:

    The main problem with the earlier post wasn’t the inability of readers to post comments but the writer’s misunderstanding of statistical significance, which is repeated here.

    And his second manuever was to change the subject to Sal:

    Sal, you love throwing around that quote. But the only problem

    The same applies for pilkington, who also tries to change the subject to O’leary’s comment:

    You really have no idea what you’re talking about.

    And then ends with a clever absolution from having the address the evidence himself:

    And how exactly does margin of error (which is what you’re actually talking about) have to do with the original question.

    The same again applies to hrun, who will ignore the evidence as well. He prefers to change the subject to pretending that there is no dogma in evolutionary science:

    Three of the last four papers of Mark Pagel were published in Nature. One of the most prominent journals there is. It is supposedly one of the journals that actually suppresses ID and heavily promotes Darwin.

    And then there is always Seversky. Unquestionably counted upon for a God of the Bible quote of some iteration.

    Of course, these are all the easy ones, visible from around the corner and down the block. What is more interesting are the ones who adopt the stategy of clinging to the unsupported and hoping for a change. They, of course, never say like that, so they have to say it in other ways.

    Perhaps Allen MacNeil can pay us a visit and show us how its done.

  24. 24
    David Kellogg says:

    Sal, you write, “David Kellog [sic] is quick to make accusations of dishonesty. That seems a bit premature.”

    Actually, what I suggested was not dishonesty but a lack of credibility. This seems supported by the misuse of a term (“statistical significance”) — a misuse which is defended — combined with a woeful misreading of the article.

    Denyse writes, “if Pagels [sic] is right, Darwin was indeed wrong.” For the sake of argument, I’ll grant that, although I think the claim is highly exaggerated. But if Pagel is right, ID is even more wrong, because Pagel’s evolutionary history is even more chaotic and less directed than Darwin thought.

  25. 25
    David Kellogg says:

    UB [23], as both Seversky and I have pointed out, the substance of the accusation doesn’t hold up either. The “quibble” about statistical significance is just a way of pointing out the damage such misuse does to Denyse’s rhetorical ethos.

  26. 26
    bornagain77 says:

    Upright,
    thanks for that good bit of humor right before bed:

    off topic:

    This Man has to be the closest thing I’ve seen to a living miracle yet.

    Derek Paravicini on 60 MINUTES – Autistic Savant
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/.....ic_savant/

  27. 27
    scordova says:

    To return to the question at hand, if Mark Pagel is correct, then the world is less Darwinian than one thought but also less intelligently ordered: that is, more chaotic and random than even Darwin thought. If Pagel is right, then the slight damage to Darwin is even more damaging to ID, since what is damaged is Darwin’s sense of evolutionary history fulfilling orderly and meaningful patterns — that is, Darwin at his most religious.

    That is a reasonable objection, however….

    Mark Pagel maybe correct that the majority of RECENT speciation events are non-Dariwnian.

    It says nothing of the origin of first ancetral forms. His line of research, for examples, says absolutely nothing about the Origin of Life.

    The Design inference could easily stand in light of Pagels discovery at the least because of the problem of OOL.

    Further, with more research it could be that we find coordinated broad speciation in many ancestral forms occuring about the same time.

    That could indicate there was a global change of tremendous magnitutde at some time from which we had numerous subsequent radiations and sudden speciations. 🙂

    Pagels seems to agree, the biological record indicates an abrupt event.

  28. 28
    pilkington says:

    Upright Biped, and others:

    The reason for my irritated tone is because I am a statistician.

    If an event has a 6% chance of occurring, as the original article indicates with respect to evolution, that 6% value has absolutely nothing to do with statistical significance.

    Once again, here is a link that gives a definition of statistical significance link.

    If that isn’t adequate, then there’s really no point in trying to continue.

  29. 29
    scordova says:

    If an event has a 6% chance of occurring, as the original article indicates with respect to evolution, that 6% value has absolutely nothing to do with statistical significance.

    That is true if you are using the formal notion of “statistical significance” as used by statisticians.

    Perhaps a little charity is in order regarding more colloquial notions and usages? If you wish to argue formalities, fine.

    But the same standard could be applied to Darwin’s writings, where math seems almost totally irrelevant, and a fact which is showing its ugly head in modern day discoveries.

    As David Kellog points out, Darwin appeals to religious style arguments, not hard-nosed scientific reasoning.

    But since you are a statistician, I’d like a little feed back about Kimura’s work. Does the math square up? How about Pagels? Does the math square up as far as you can tell?

    Thanks in advance.

  30. 30
    Upright BiPed says:

    pilkinton,

    My comments have nothing to do with your tone. They had to do with your position within the debate.

    The “quibbling” over statistical significance has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that natural selection isn’t the force in nature prescribed to it for the past 150 years. For godsakes we are talkiong about a shift in explanatory power from 100% cause to 6% cause.

    There is now significant (empirical, observational, taken from the actual field) evidence that evolutionary biology IS wrong in its assessment. Not a little wrong. A LOT WRONG.

    From a analytical standpoint, I find it interesting that the comments are an attack on OP in repsonse. I cannot remember who posted it in a comment here once, but the comment was something to the effect…

    its a little like asking Mrs Lincoln “Other than that, how was the show?”

    By the way, I am a Research Director with 30 yeas experience is statistical analysis.

  31. 31
    scordova says:

    Of interest is Pagels mention of the exponential distribution. We find such distributions in radio-active decay.

    Is he saying there has been an exponential decay in the number of speciation events or things related to speciation events? It may be too early to argue that inference, but that would be a compelling issue. 🙂

    Creationists especially (and not specifically the generic ID proponent) have argued that there was a broad explosion of allelic diversificaiton which has never again been seen and that the alleles from that major event are slowly disappearing. This is possibly verifiable empirically.

    This is of course a speculation, and could lead to nowhere, but then again….

  32. 32
    Mung says:

    I would sure like to know why 6% is a good bet.

    I’ll make a guess. Because the payoff is 99 to 1?

  33. 33
    scordova says:

    It might also be worth mentioning that Michael Lynch, in his book, Origins of the Genome Architecture argues for the importance of selection being absent in order for evolution to move forward!

    On the grounds that Kimura, Jukes and King articulated, combined with Lynch’s observations, it should be no surprise speciation happens in the absence of selection.

    It’s arguable in some context the absence of selection would be a requirement in order to for variant forms to be prospered.

    Pigliucci commenting on Lynch:

    One of the central theses of the book is that natural selection is not necessarily the central evolutionary mechanism…..

    The developments regarding Pagel were anticipated here at UD:

    See: Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection: the death sentence of Darwinism

    I pointed the following insights from others:

    Darwinism requires that the Fundamental Theorem [of Natural Selection] does not apply most of the time.

    Walter ReMine
    Biotic Message

    and

    a relative lack of natural selection may be the prerequisite for major evolutionary advance

    Mae Wan Ho
    Beyond neo-Darwinism

    and

    Concerning this theory [Darwinian evolution], I believe that we might question (or at least note) the following:
    ….
    (10) The internal contradiction in its major theoretical cornerstone — Fisher’s fundamental theorem

    Stanley Salthe
    Analysis and critique of the concept of Natural Selection

    and

    many genomic features could not have emerged without a near-complete disengagement of the power of natural selection

    Michael Lynch
    opening, The Origins of Genome Architecture

    Bob OH at the time said my claims were rubbish. In light of Pagels paper, all I can say is, “score another point for the UD crew!”

  34. 34
    Mark Frank says:

    If you think that I, or the polling industry, or anyone, does not understand statistical significance, please feel free to explain.

    I would sure like to know why 6% is a good bet.

    If Darwinism were a political party, based on the evidence presented above, it would probably LOSE its deposit*.

    I see a lot of people who understand statistics have tried to explain but maybe I can also give it another go.

    Can I start by asking for a bit of humility on your part? Statistics is a technical subject which most journalists don’t understand and don’t even realise they don’t understand. It is prevalent in all walks of life – not just ID – and does a lot of damage. If one journalist (you) gets to realise this as a result of this conversation then something useful will have been achieved.

    The term “statistical significance” has a precise technical meaning which is completely unrelated to margins of error in polls. Pilkington has explained this in #26.

    I guess you were referring to the fact that the margin or error in polls is often about 3 or 4% (it frequently works out at 3% if you have a random sample of about 1000). This is simply talking about the accuracy of the estimate given the size of the poll. So if the poll says party X has 35%, the real support is probably somewhere between 32 and 38%.

    This has nothing to do with Pagel’s estimate that 6% of speciation is due to Natural Selection. There is no random sample (corresponding to the poll). It is impossible to say what the margin of error is on Pagel’s estimate. It is just an utterly unrelated figure.

    Is 6% high or low? It is not an election where one method of speciation is the winner. It is not a bet on the truth of natural selection. In fact it is not a bet or a likelihood of any kind. It is just the proportion of speciation which is accounted for by natural selection in Pagel’s opinion. For decades evolutionary biologists have been pointing out that speciation has a number of causes over and above natural selection. So it is not such a controversial claim.

  35. 35
    Upright BiPed says:

    I thought it might be Allen MacNeil to show us how its done. Surely his list of generators is handy. Instead it turned out to be Mark Frank.

    He is quite happy to forego defending the paradigm against new evidence which falsifies the origin of species by natural selection, but then again

    it is not such a controversial claim.

    Yeah right. Thats why the authors of the article in question set the stage as if the claim was controversal, then simply called it a “controversial claim” in the second paragraph of the text.

    Its also probably why they wrote:

    The notion that the formation of a new species has little to do with adaptation sits uncomfortably with fundamental ideas about evolution.

    But hey, you are probably right. The evolutionary biologists quoted in the article as having to adjust to the concept were probably just a theatrical set up to sell the story. Since, as you say, real evolutionary biologist had plainly already figured out that natural selection wasn’t even close to being the real motivator in speciation.

    Thats probably why they wrote:

    “Others have since grappled with the problem of how one species becomes two, and with the benefit of genetic insight, which Darwin lacked, you might think they would have cracked it. Not so. Speciation still remains one of the biggest mysteries in evolutionary biology”

    But like you, I am certain that if evolutionary biologists were polled prior to the release of this data, most (if not all) of them would have guessed that natural selection played about a 6% role in speciation. Sure they would.

    “I think what our paper points to – and it would be disingenuous for very many other people to say they had ever written about it – is what could be, quite frequently, the utter arbitrariness of speciation.

    Yup.

  36. 36
    bornagain77 says:

    What if Darwin’s theory only works 6 percent of the time?

    After I read the article, this quote came to mind.

    Mark Twain said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

    The reason this quote came to mind is, first and foremost, any “statistical” analysis trying to determine an evolutionary relationship between sufficiently diverse organisms, morphologically and molecularly diverse, is false. This fact is established since “Genetic Reductionism” is shown to be false in the first place.

    Stephen Meyer – Functional Proteins And Information For Body Plans – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/.....ody_plans/

    Cortical Inheritance: The Crushing Critique Against Genetic Reductionism – Arthur Jones – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/.....hur_jones/

    That is to say, it is now established by “science” that whatever is encoding the Body Plans of organisms ain’t found in the DNA, but resides within the “Ontogenetic” information:

    Higher Levels Of Information – Stephen Meyer – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/.....hen_meyer/

    Since I apparently have somewhat deeper background information into what the limits of Darwinism are than Pagel currently does, About the only thing the 6% figure tells me is that 6% of the 101 DNA trees, upon which Pagel based his studies, have a resolution to the reproductively isolated species within a originally created “kind” of animal. Yet we now know “scientifically” that reproductive isolation is wrought by a loss of genetic information. i.e. Genetic Entropy

    Natural Selection Reduces Genetic Information – Dr. Georgia Purdom – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/.....ia_purdom/

    ,,the mean sequence divergence in dogs, 2.06, was almost identical to the 2.10 (sequence divergence) found within wolves. (please note the sequence divergence is slightly smaller for the entire spectrum of dogs than for wolves)
    http://jhered.oxfordjournals.o.....0/1/71.pdf

    ,,,Thus, the 6% figure for “Darwinian Success” is a very misleading statistic as to what evolutionists would like the 6% figure to mean for complexity generation. As well the 6% figure is somewhat misleading to the IDist who thinks this study has somehow solidly established anything to base his arguments against the evolutionists with.

    Now if Pagel were to bring more resolution into his study, it WILL bear much more fruitful information that can be used to establish solid scientific points.

    Although in its current state, there is one fairly useful quote I found from the article that I shall use in the future;

    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.”

  37. 37
    O'Leary says:

    Mark Frank at 32,

    How about a little humility on YOUR part?

    You write, “Can I start by asking for a bit of humility on your part? Statistics is a technical subject which most journalists don’t understand and don’t even realise they don’t understand. It is prevalent in all walks of life – not just ID – and does a lot of damage. If one journalist (you) gets to realise this as a result of this conversation then something useful will have been achieved.”

    Aw, go on. Basically, if Pagel is right, the theory to which most evolutionary biologists have dedicated their life is in ruins.

    The fact that he talks around the point is meaningless.

    In the age of Expelled, when people can conspire to wreck others’ careers and get away with it, he’d have to, wouldn’t he?

    If evolutionary biologists really believe that many mechanisms other than Darwinism account for evolution, would they like to start saying so, and advising school districts to teach the controversy?

    No, they won’t, because most are, as Will Provine demonstrated, “pure naturalists” and no method of evolution other than Darwinism was explicitly developed to rid evolution of the concept of design, and promote atheist materialism – as Darwin and his followers always intended to do.

    Say what you want about journalists, we can smell blood in the water, and I know that 6% is not 99%.

    Which Darwinists would need for the certainty they espouse.

  38. 38
    David Kellogg says:

    O’Leary [38], that’s pretty non-responsive to Mark Frank’s point, namely that you either misunderstand or misrepresent statistical significance. I have asked for an explanation of why opinion polling is an appropriate model. Could you respond to that directly?

    Your reply is far more beside the point than any discussion of statistical significance. Atheism, Expelled — they have nothing to do with the initial story, which is about the role of NS is accounting for change.

    Darwin, as Gould and Lewontin clarified in their famous “Spandrels” essay, took a pluralist view and never said NS was the only mechanism for change. Or as Darwin wrote in response to another (writing to Nature): “Can Sir Wyville Thompson name any one who has said that the evolution of species depends only on natural selection?” (quoted in Spandrels). The answer, of course, is “No.”

  39. 39
    David Kellogg says:

    Denyse writes: “Basically, if Pagel is right, the theory to which most evolutionary biologists have dedicated their life is in ruins.”

    First, that’s not true (Pagel’s view fits pretty well with a punk-eek model). Second, if Pagel is right, ID is in even worse shape than before.

  40. 40
    Clive Hayden says:

    David,

    I do not see any reason to include, what appears to me to be irrelevant, the notion of a margin of error in opinion polling to the article. My undergrad was in Political Science, and there is no correlation in the article’s mention of statistics of the efficacy of NS and opinion polling’s margin of error. If NS works 6% of the time, and cannot account for speciation, so be it, it has nothing to do with the margin of error in polling practices. This is all the more case for ID, contrary to your assertion, for NS is out of a job.

  41. 41
    bornagain77 says:

    as I somewhat alluded to in post 36

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-349862

    The 6% statistic is fairly meaningless until better clarification is brought to bear on the actual percentage degree of genetic discontinuity between species (how much divergence, & between what life-forms, is the actual percentage of divergence found):

    David Kellogg apparently thinks it is just a minor degree of DNA sequence dissimilarity, as highlighted by his reference to “punk-eek”. David apparently thinks the imaginary lines connecting the species still exists and only minor “streams” need to be jumped by his “punk eek” model.

    What David fails to realize is that the degree of dissimilarity, recently being found, is drastic; to put it mildly:

    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

    Chimp and human Y chromosomes evolving faster than expected – Jan. 2010
    Excerpt: “The results overturned the expectation that the chimp and human Y chromosomes would be highly similar. Instead, they differ remarkably in their structure and gene content.,,, The chimp Y, for example, has lost one third to one half of the human Y chromosome genes.
    http://www.physorg.com/news182605704.html

    Chimps are not like humans – May 2004
    Excerpt: the International Chimpanzee Chromosome 22 Consortium reports that 83% of chimpanzee chromosome 22 proteins are different from their human counterparts,,, The results reported this week showed that “83% of the genes have changed between the human and the chimpanzee—only 17% are identical—so that means that the impression that comes from the 1.2% [sequence] difference is [misleading]. In the case of protein structures, it has a big effect,” Sakaki said.

    Even at this fairly early stage of deciphering the exact percentage of Genetic dissimilarity it is clear that that are great chasms between species, and not the “narrow streams” David has falsely clung to in his reading of the 6% figure.

  42. 42
    David Kellogg says:

    Clive,

    I do not see any reason to include, what appears to me to be irrelevant, the notion of a margin of error in opinion polling to the article.

    OK. Then please, will somebody (you or Denyse) explain what Denyse means by this?

    Then Darwin’s theory just barely makes it to statistical significance, conventionally given as 4 per cent.

    In explanation of this, Denyse has already said she’s using a concept of significance from opinion polling. But that just confuses the issue and certainly doesn’t clarify either what Denyse means or why she thinks it’s a useful measure.

    Most readers of a blog about science will think that “statistical significance” is being used in a scientific sense. That explains our perplexity. OK, it’s not being used scientifically: fine. Well, how is it being used then? Perhaps it’s just used carelessly, like “6 percent ain’t much.” In that case, “statistical significance” is just used to add science-y veneer to a qualitative statement. On the other hand, if “statistical significance” is meant to be meaningful, then the writer is obligated to tell us how.

  43. 43
    David Kellogg says:

    BA77,

    Even at this fairly early stage of deciphering the exact percentage of Genetic dissimilarity it is clear that that are great chasms between species, and not the “narrow streams” David has falsely clung to in his reading of the 6% figure

    Um, “narrow streams” is not my language, and your response to me has nothing to do with what I wrote. I see no need to respond further unless you want to address something I actually said.

  44. 44
    aedgar says:

    I believe Pagel’s evidence challenges Darwinism at its core. Using DNA data provided by modern science and analyzing it using the evolutionary worldview he discovers that something is terribly amiss.

    The fact that the data obtained from his analysis of the DNA-based evolutionary trees fits the exponential distribution is a critical discovery. Exponential distributions reflect independently occurring events. If different species are independent occurring events then Pagel’s evidence is a monkey wrench thrown into the gears of evolution.

    Pagel’s might be forced to recant. In his quest to find support for Darwinism, he discovers that the evidence does not provide the support he hoped to find and is being candid about it.

  45. 45
    Adel DiBagno says:

    I think it would be salutary if the ID supporters who have commented in this thread would read the entire NewScientist article that Mrs O’Leary has linked to above.

    They will see that Bob Holmes clearly said:

    “Of course, there is no question that natural selection plays a key role in evolution.”

    Further:

    “But there is an irony in Darwin’s choice of title: his book did not explore what actually triggers the formation of a new species. Others have since grappled with the problem of how one species becomes two, and with the benefit of genetic insight, which Darwin lacked, you might think they would have cracked it. Not so. Speciation still remains one of the biggest mysteries in evolutionary biology.”

    Etc., etc.

    Are there unsolved problems in biology, just like other sciences? That sure seems to be the case.

  46. 46
    Adel DiBagno says:

    Why am I in moderation? No warning, no reason given. What did I do?

  47. 47
    bornagain77 says:

    David you stated:
    “(Pagel’s view fits pretty well with a punk-eek model).”

    I’m sorry to have mistakenly presumed you were wishing for narrow streams to cross with “punk eek”.

    Since you stated you clearly stated you were not looking for “narrow streams”, Just how much of a genetic chasm would you find too difficult to attribute to Darwinian evolution? 5%? 10%? 50%? 80%? Just what would be too much in your eyes? Is there no boundary that Darwinian evolution can’t cross in your mind?

    Myself, I find that if JUST ONE different protein existed, of which we have countless trillions working in precise concert with each other, between us and our “precursor” species, then that would be too great of a chasm for neo-Darwinism to cross:

    Estimating the prevalence of protein sequences adopting functional enzyme folds: Doug Axe:
    Excerpt: Starting with a weakly functional sequence carrying this signature, clusters of ten side-chains within the fold are replaced randomly, within the boundaries of the signature, and tested for function. The prevalence of low-level function in four such experiments indicates that roughly one in 10^64 signature-consistent sequences forms a working domain. Combined with the estimated prevalence of plausible hydropathic patterns (for any fold) and of relevant folds for particular functions, this implies the overall prevalence of sequences performing a specific function by any domain-sized fold may be as low as 1 in 10^77, adding to the body of evidence that functional folds require highly extraordinary sequences. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15321723

    Evolution vs. Functional Proteins – Doug Axe – Video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/.....hen_meyer/

    Stephen Meyer – Functional Proteins And Information For Body Plans – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/.....ody_plans/

    In the following, Dr. Behe points out that finding proteins of similar function in different species, yet which are separated by merely a few amino acid substitutions, is beyond the reach of Neo_Darwinism:

    Dollo’s law, the symmetry of time, and the edge of evolution
    Excerpt: The very same considerations (“shifts in protein structure-function relations”, “epistatically interacting substitutions”, and so on) that frustrate the reacquisition of complex molecular features will tend strongly to stymie their acquisition in the first place, A time-symmetric Dollo’s law turns the notion of “pre-adaptation” on its head. The law instead predicts something like “pre-sequestration”, where proteins that are currently being used for one complex purpose are very unlikely to be available for either reversion to past functions or future alternative uses.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....f_tim.html

    Even more problematic for you David, it is not JUST ONE protein that sets us apart from Chimps:

    Eighty percent of proteins are different between humans and chimpanzees; Gene; Volume 346, 14 February 2005:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15716009

    Chimps are not like humans – May 2004
    Excerpt: the International Chimpanzee Chromosome 22 Consortium reports that 83% of chimpanzee chromosome 22 proteins are different from their human counterparts,,, The results reported this week showed that “83% of the genes have changed between the human and the chimpanzee—only 17% are identical—so that means that the impression that comes from the 1.2% [sequence] difference is [misleading]. In the case of protein structures, it has a big effect,” Sakaki said.

    So David, just how much of a genetic percentage difference do you think would be too great, even if you were given the entire probabilistic resources of the entire universe over its 14 billion year history?

  48. 48
    David Kellogg says:

    BA77, I have said nothing about “streams” at all, narrow or otherwise, except to protest your putting words in my mouth. The article in Natural Scientist doesn’t talk about this either. So when you ask,

    Since you stated you clearly stated you were not looking for “narrow streams”, Just how much of a genetic chasm would you find too difficult to attribute to Darwinian evolution?

    you are taking the conversation in a direction that is interesting to you but not relevant to this discussion or to anything I have written. The rest of your comment, as your earlier one, is an attempt to hijack the discussion to the question of “how different are species X and Y anyway?” — a question that is not at issue here.

    Good day sir.

  49. 49
    O'Leary says:

    Hi all,

    I only brought up opinion polling because, when you need to file a story by midnite that involves public opinion, and you will find out the results next morning, you like to use a system that has a reasonable margin of error.

    I like 4%. It’s neither Madam Rosa the Infallible Fortune Teller nor too vague to be of real use.

    When I hear that something is only important 6% of the time, that means it’s not a big player.

    Like, if you asked people, which party will you vote for, and only 6% say “Ban Tree Murder Party” (= ban cutting down trees for any reason whatever”*, well, their party would only become a big player in a Parliamentary system (like Canada’s) if they held the balance of power.

    But then we can perhaps appeal to the Governor-General for another election, if stuff gets too crazy.

    Anyway, too many of these Darwinists sound to me like guys arriving at the local bank who want credit for biz props that do NOT work.

    If I am a depositer, what I most want is a manager with the strength to Just Say No.

    * Sometimes, dying trees are a danger in an urban area. One dropped a huge branch in my front yard years ago, and blocked traffic for many hours.

  50. 50
    Toronto says:

    O’Leary @46,

    It’s very misleading to say 6% is not significant regardless of context.

    For instance, would you use a sweetener that only had a 6% chance of causing cancer in a user?

    A 4% mutation rate means that out of every 25 generations, one would be a mutation.

    Starting with a population of 1 million, you would have 40,000 mutations every single generation.

  51. 51
    hrun0815 says:

    Yeah. I agree with Denyse. For example, if only six percent of the population are serial killers, it’s probably not a big deal. I mean, with an assumed four percent margin of error…

  52. 52
    O'Leary says:

    Toronto at 50 and hrun + numbers at 51:

    I don’t think either of you gets it:

    If Darwinism accounts for only 6% of changes, it is simply not nearly as important as the evolutionary biology tax burdens have pretended for decades.

    No one doubts that statistically small items could have big impacts.

    Cf Osama bin Laden and his co-conspirators.

    But no knowledgeable person would say that the course of global politics depends mostly on such effects. Nor is it likely that the history of life depends on small percentage effects.

    Put simply: Darwinists have claimed for decades that their pet theory produces most speciation *when Darwinism obviously accounts for very little of it*.

    You increasingly begin to sound – at least to me – like bankrupts demanding that the bank bail you out.

    Here’s a thought: Could you contribute an item here that explains how Darwinism can survive under a much more modest regime of expectations for it? Many of us would be very interested to hear that.

    While we are here – re Internet handles:

    “Toronto”: About 3 million people live in Toronto, and we can add another couple million if we count all the bedroom communities.

    Calling yourself “Toronto” doesn’t fill me with confidence.

    Also:

    hrun + numbers: If you had a name, you wouldn’t need so many numbers:

    = Hi all. I am Denyse O’Leary, and I live in Toronto [I do not call myself “Toronto”, of course], and I am in the phone book. You only need numbers if you are trying to phone me, and I don’t make those numbers up for vanity reasons. The phone company assigns them, so there is no use trying to figure out what they mean. All they mean is, you could reach me if you really needed to.

    I hope hrun gets a name some day. I hope “Toronto” gets a name some day too, that is not just the name of an incorporated municipality where – I must suppose – he lives, along with millions of others, like me.

    What on earth did I ever do to rate a real name? Has the world run out of real names? But how? It is a peculiar form of poverty, to be sure.

  53. 53
    Mark Frank says:

    Denyse

    There are two different things going on.

    1) Is 6% a significant figure in the context of this paper? (not statistically significant which has a precise meaning – just significant).

    2) Is it relevant to compare this 6% to 6% (or 4%) of some other quantity in other contexts such as the share of the vote in an election or the margin of error in opinion polls.

    The answer to (1) is debatable. The answer to (2) is no. This is not an election, an opinion poll or a business proposition. In other contexts 6% may or may not be very important but these comparisons are irrelevant. Even your ID supporters recognise this (see #40 above).

  54. 54
    bornagain77 says:

    David Kellogg,
    Excuse me sir, the elephant in the living room that you are ignoring, is no problem for what reason again.

  55. 55
    scordova says:

    They will see that Bob Holmes clearly said:

    “Of course, there is no question that natural selection plays a key role in evolution.”

    Reminds me of the standard line when a guy is about to dump his girlfriend or a girl is about to dump her boyfriend: “you’re a really wonderful girl/guy…..You’ve played a key role in the evolution of my life,…. but you’re just not the right one” or something to that effect.

    The discussions of the meaning of “statistical signifcance” is just a side show. The real issue is that Pagels is observing the obvious contradiction in Darwinism and Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection. I stated it in Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem of Darwinism: the Death Sentence of Darwnism

    But let me return to the issue of Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem, and particularly Lynch and Salthe’s observations. Recall Lynch wrote:

    the uncritical acceptance of natural selection as an explanatory force for all aspects of biodiversity (without any direct evidence) is not much different than invoking an intelligent designer

    I highlighted the word “diversity” for a reason. How does fitness improve according to Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem or Price’s Equation? Answer: by reducing diversity.

    If we presume that all life descended from a single species and diversified, how can we logically argue that diversification happens through a process of removing diversification!

    Darwinism is fundamentally self contradictory. You can’t create diversity by removing diversity. Darwinism isn’t science, it’s self contradictory speculation and hard-nosed empricism is sinking it.

    If a mechanims that covers 6% of how evolution works merits a Darwin Day, how much more should mechanims that cover the other 94% merit a non-Darwin Day! Yay!

  56. 56
    O'Leary says:

    Sal at 55, I am perfectly happy with 364 non-Darwin days (365 in leap years).

    That is even less than 6% – so maybe not quite fair to Darwinists. We could revise.

    But, if we are talking about fairness, I am not claiming any public money whatever for not celebrating that old Brit toff who thought black people were closer to gorillas than white people.

    There are some things you just have to get mad about, and say “Enough of this!”

    The average caterpillar could refute Darwin.

  57. 57
    pelagius says:

    scordova:

    If we presume that all life descended from a single species and diversified, how can we logically argue that diversification happens through a process of removing diversification!

    It’s simple. Mutation generates diversity. Selection winnows it. As long as the generated diversity exceeds the winnowed diversity, net diversity increases.

  58. 58
    bornagain77 says:

    pelagius,

    “It’s simple. Mutation generates diversity.” Selection winnows it.”

    Thanks for clearing it all up and Thanks for settling the matter once and for all,,, Yet just to humor others who may have a doubt to your wisdom in the matter, could you please cite an example or two of material processes generating functional information:

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf
    http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/ag

    “There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter.” Werner Gitt, “In the Beginning was Information”, 1997, p. 106. (Dr. Gitt was the Director at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology) His challenge to scientifically falsify this statement has remained unanswered since first published.

    The Sheer Lack Of Evidence For Macro Evolution – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/.....ane_craig/

    As former president of the French Academy of Sciences Pierre P. Grasse has stated:

    “What is the use of their unceasing mutations, if they do not change? In sum, the mutations of bacteria and viruses are merely hereditary fluctuations around a median position; a swing to the right, a swing to the left, but no final evolutionary effect.”

    Random Mutations Destroy Information – Perry Marshall – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/....._marshall/

    Mutation Studies, Videos, And Quotes
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc.....ZnM5M21mZg

  59. 59
    Heinrich says:

    scordova @31 –

    Is he saying there has been an exponential decay in the number of speciation events or things related to speciation events? It may be too early to argue that inference, but that would be a compelling issue. 🙂

    Um, no. The exponential implies a Poisson process: there is a constant rate of speciation. This suggests that the drivers of speciation are random (with respect to the populations’ states). One could actually come up with selective models that would fit this distribution: speciation would be caused by appearance of hopeful monsters, and these are rare.

    For me a better explanation is that populations are split by external events over a short space of time. Once separated, they can diverge due to selection. This would be perfectly consistent with Pagel’s results, and still give a role for selection.

    The bottom line for me is that Pagel’s analysis says rather less about selection and speciation than he hopes.

  60. 60
    Barb says:

    If I were considering having a doctor operate on me and found out that he only successfully treated 6% of his patients, I’d quickly get a second (and third) opinion.

    If I were considering buying a large household appliance—say a refrigerator—and was told that it only kept food cold 6% of the time, I wouldn’t buy it.

    If I knew that I only had a 6% chance of winning the lottery, I wouldn’t waste my money by playing.

    Analogies aside, I will humbly admit to not being good with numbers. I will also admit to squeaking by with a C+ in my college introduction to statistics class.

    If Pagel’s estimation is correct, it means that evolutionary biology is built on a shifting pile of sand. You cannot claim to have overwhelming evidence of natural selection and mutation giving rise to the variety of life today on one hand and, on the other hand, have knowledge that these mechanisms work—if they truly do work—only 6% of the time.

    David Kellogg makes a good point when he states that the world is more disordered than previously thought. This is true, given the second law of thermodynamics. Most religions from Buddhism to Christianity acknowledge that the world isn’t quite right, that suffering exists, and that problems plague believers and unbelievers alike.

    If we are to follow Linus Pauling’s lead and allow science to search for truth, then we must be able to rid ourselves of hypotheses and theories that do not fit the evidence at hand. I submit that Darwinian evolution is one such theory.

  61. 61
    Mung says:

    If I were considering having a doctor operate on me and found out that he only successfully treated 6% of his patients, I’d quickly get a second (and third) opinion.

    If I were considering buying a large household appliance—say a refrigerator—and was told that it only kept food cold 6% of the time, I wouldn’t buy it.

    I’d be happy to get a 6% return on my money right now.

    If I knew that I only had a 6% chance of winning the lottery, I wouldn’t waste my money by playing.

    I’d play if the payout was always $97 for every dollar wagered +/- a $3 margin of error.

  62. 62
    pelagius says:

    bornagain77:

    Thanks for clearing it all up and Thanks for settling the matter once and for all,,, Yet just to humor others who may have a doubt to your wisdom in the matter, could you please cite an example or two of material processes generating functional information:

    bornagain,

    See this.

    But your response shows that you’re missing the point of scordova’s comment. He presumes that life descended from a single species, and then attempts to show that this presumption leads to a logical contradiction:

    If we presume that all life descended from a single species and diversified, how can we logically argue that diversification happens through a process of removing diversification!

    I already explained why this argument fails, but let me try again, this time by analogy.

    Imagine you’re filling a tub from a firehose. The tub has a tiny leak. Will it ever overflow?

    By scordova’s logic, the answer is no. After all, how could a leaky tub ever overflow? It’s leaking!

  63. 63
    scordova says:

    Pelagius:

    As long as the generated diversity exceeds the winnowed diversity,

    If selection is the winnower of diversity it cannot logically be the generator of diversity, period.

    We have blind cave fish and we have seeing cave fish. The origin of the eye is not explained by selection but by what ever mutated or created the eye in the first place. Selection can only act on features that exists, not those that don’t.

    One might argue, the eye was formed because one lineage split off into it’s own ecological niche and then specialized into that niche. Maybe so, or maybe not, but for sure splitting off ensures the different lines don’t compete, and thus one could argue evolution worked because competition between the lineages was prevented! Origin of species by means of non-competition of lineages! Not too far from Pagelism!

    Selection can only be asserted when there is a reduction of diversity such as supposedly with Kettlewell butterflies or Darwin’s finches (and even then there are some questions). When there is diversification, there is the presumed absence of selection, since new phenotypes are not being selected against.

    But even though lack of diversity is a necessary condition to establish selection, it is not a sufficient one to establish selection. Genetic drift and population bottle necks can cause homogenetity in the population which may at first glance cause one to mistakenly presume the action of selection. Thus it is possible the eye evolved via mutation in the absence of selection. There is plenty of observed molecular evolution without selection. Observing selection is the exception, not the rule, as Pagel is discovering.

  64. 64
    bornagain77 says:

    Pelagius,
    a talk origins link??? I certainly hope this is not your main source for what you consider irrefutable information on the “fact” of evolution. Since the first reference listed on the link was by Lenski, let’s dig a little deeper into Lenski’s actual experimental work and see what he has actually established.

    Lenski claims to have “evolved” a citrate ability in e-coli, yet when scrutinized it is found his work reflects the principle of Genetic Entropy:

    These following articles refute Lenski’s supposed “evolution” of the citrate ability for the E-Coli bacteria after 20,000 generations of the E-Coli:

    Multiple Mutations Needed for E. Coli – Michael Behe
    Excerpt: As Lenski put it, “The only known barrier to aerobic growth on citrate is its inability to transport citrate under oxic conditions.” (1) Other workers (cited by Lenski) in the past several decades have also identified mutant E. coli that could use citrate as a food source. In one instance the mutation wasn’t tracked down. (2) In another instance a protein coded by a gene called citT, which normally transports citrate in the absence of oxygen, was overexpressed. (3) The overexpressed protein allowed E. coli to grow on citrate in the presence of oxygen. It seems likely that Lenski’s mutant will turn out to be either this gene or another of the bacterium’s citrate-using genes, tweaked a bit to allow it to transport citrate in the presence of oxygen. (He hasn’t yet tracked down the mutation.),,, If Lenski’s results are about the best we’ve seen evolution do, then there’s no reason to believe evolution could produce many of the complex biological features we see in the cell.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/.....96N278Z93O

    Lenski’s e-coli – Analysis of Genetic Entropy
    Excerpt: Mutants of E. coli obtained after 20,000 generations at 37°C were less “fit” than the wild-type strain when cultivated at either 20°C or 42°C. Other E. coli mutants obtained after 20,000 generations in medium where glucose was their sole catabolite tended to lose the ability to catabolize other carbohydrates. Such a reduction can be beneficially selected only as long as the organism remains in that constant environment. Ultimately, the genetic effect of these mutations is a loss of a function useful for one type of environment as a trade-off for adaptation to a different environment.
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....n-bacteria

    Lenski’s Citrate E-Coli – Disproof of “Convergent” Evolution – Hugh Ross – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/.....evolution/

    Upon closer inspection, it seems Lenski’s “cuddled” E. coli are actually headed for “genetic meltdown” instead of evolving into something better.

    New Work by Richard Lenski:
    Excerpt: Interestingly, in this paper they report that the E. coli strain became a “mutator.” That means it lost at least some of its ability to repair its DNA, so mutations are accumulating now at a rate about seventy times faster than normal.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....enski.html

    In fact, trying to narrow down an actual hard number for the “truly” beneficial mutation rate is what Dr. Behe did in this following book:

    “The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism”
    http://www.amazon.com/Edge-Evo.....0743296206

    A review of The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism
    The numbers of Plasmodium and HIV in the last 50 years greatly exceeds the total number of mammals since their supposed evolutionary origin (several hundred million years ago), yet little has been achieved by evolution. This suggests that mammals could have “invented” little in their time frame. Behe: ‘Our experience with HIV gives good reason to think that Darwinism doesn’t do much—even with billions of years and all the cells in that world at its disposal’ (p. 155). http://creation.com/review-mic.....-evolution

    Dr. Behe states in The Edge of Evolution on page 135:

    “Generating a single new cellular protein-protein binding site (in other words, generating a truly beneficial mutational event that would actually explain the generation of the complex molecular machinery we see in life) is of the same order of difficulty or worse than the development of chloroquine resistance in the malarial parasite.”

    That order of difficulty is put at 10^20 replications of the malarial parasite by Dr. Behe. This number comes from direct empirical observation. double that is 10^40. Thus since there have been less that 10^40 cells on the earth, Behe conservatively sets “The Edge” at 2 protein-protein binding sites.

    Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth Shies Away from Intelligent Design but Unwittingly Vindicates Michael Behe – Oct. 2009
    Excerpt: The rarity of chloroquine resistance is not in question. In fact, Behe’s statistic that it occurs only once in every 10^20 cases was derived from public health statistical data, published by an authority in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The extreme rareness of chloroquine resistance is not a negotiable data point; it is an observed fact.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....est_s.html

  65. 65
    pelagius says:

    scordova:

    If selection is the winnower of diversity it cannot logically be the generator of diversity, period.

    Here’s what I wrote, with the part you omitted in bold:

    It’s simple. Mutation generates diversity. Selection winnows it. As long as the generated diversity exceeds the winnowed diversity, net diversity increases.

    The tub overflows even though water is draining through the leak. Why? Because the firehose is adding water faster than the leak is removing it.

    Net diversity increases even though selection winnows it. Why? Because mutation creates more diversity than selection eliminates.

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